Last updated: 30 June 2003
Subject: RE: Combining the Autostar and a GPS Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 15:13:23 From: email@example.com (Patten, Scott D) I see somebody has come up with the starGPS system. I say good on them. It gives us techno junkies another item to embellish our little etx's with. You can never have enough gadgets hanging off the little thing......... HAve a great break clear skies drom down under Scott
Subject: Problems with ETX-90EC polar alignment Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 09:47:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Calamai) Hi Mike and Dr. Sherrod Mike: I'm hoping that one of the site's visitors might be able to help be diagnose a serious problem that I'm having with my ETX-90EC. For several weeks now I've been trying to use my scope in polar mode. The procedure that I'm using to put the scope/tripod in polar home position are ... (these are modified versions of instructions by Dr. Clay Sherrod, I believe). After getting the scope is this position I've then tried an easy two star alignment using AutoStar. On every occasion my scope has slewed nowhere near the alignment stars (they are not even remotely visible in my finderscope!). The batteries in the ETX are practically new, I've checked to ensure that the lat/long coordinates for my location are correct (Waterloo is 43n28, 80w31) , that the time zone setting is correct (UTC/GMT -5 hours), that the scope is in polar mode, that sidereal tracking is selected, that the time and date are correct (I use an atomic watch), that daylight savings is selected, that the drives have been trained, and that the tripod/wedge is correctly set to Polar Home Position (as described in the attached pdf) I'm left thinking that there is either something wrong with the drive motors, or with the AutoStar, or with both but thought it best to run this by you and your readers before packing the thing up and sending it back to Meade or, preferably to Dr. Clay Sherrod for his ETX tune-up. Dr. Sherrod - could you please give me some indication of your current backlog?And:
From: email@example.com (P. Clay Sherrod) Hello Paul.... I can tell by the amount of offset that this is NOT due to minor issues such as time zone, location, etc., as it sounds like you have all those set and have checked that. This must be due to either 1) setup issues (have you checked all of my Performance Enhancement Guides, particularly Parts III and IV...making sure you are set up in proper polar home position with finder DOWN under scope, etc.?); or mechanical problems. Frankly this does sound like user error...sounds like the scope is "trying to work" but is going somewhere else due to some default, setup or other user entry problem. I know you think you have checked all the issues, but I would urge you to go back and check every little thing. Remember that the TIME must be reentered each time you power up.....the Autostar automatically goes to 08:00 each time and YOU must change that as well (sounds like you are doing this however......). Please send me a jpg. (please no large files....the last one was about 2 megs and could not download) of your scope set up in HOME POSITION. Please indicate your north, south, etc. in that photo. that will help. Dr. Clay ---------- firstname.lastname@example.org Arkansas Sky Observatory 10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway) Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain) http://www.arksky.org/And:
Thanks for the timely response. I will take a (low res) photo of my scope and send it to you as you've suggested ----thanks. Sorry about the pdf you weren't able to open.....I've sent the Word version which I hope you can open. Just to confirm - I do set the time very accurately each time and, with the exception of your advice to change "Altitude" and "Azimuth" Percent settings, I think I have carefully followed the instructions in Part III of your enhancement guide (see the attached Word file). I haven't implemented your recommendations in Part IV simply because I didn't want to void the Meade warranty yet.And more from Dr. Clay:
Hello Paul....one more thing. Have you checked to make SURE that your scope is defaulted to POLAR mount mode? Look under Setup/Telescope/Mount....scroll to Polar and press ENTER. You must press enter for it to default. Dr. ClayAnd:
To answer your most recent question - yes, I've checked that the scope is in polar mode and I've carefully checked my site settings to ensure that I've entered the proper GMT correction UTC/GMT -5 hours (without DST adjustment) and that I do select Daylight Savings Time when I first get started. Here is my approximate polar home position setup which I arrive at after following the steps outlined in my previous attachment. The tops of the fork arms are level with the ground and the wedge is inclined to our latitude. BTW - I'm using AutoStar version 26Ec which I realize is not the most current.And:
Wrong.....this is why you are having problems. Look at the Performance pages....Part V....the scope must be upside down with the finder UNDER the scope OTA. You have it rotated above it. Look at my photo in Part V....THAT is how the scope must look to start out in polar mode. Good luck. Dr. ClayAnd more:
I really apologize for being thick..... I'm looking at the Part V photo and I don't understand what you are referring to that is different from my setup. I've rotated the tube CLOCKWISE in RA from the hard stop until the eyepiece is positioned in the "UP" position; my DEC setting circle reads "90" degrees, my base control panel is on the WEST side of the telescope/tripod assembly, the tripod leg marked "N" is aimed north, with the fork arms directly above and equidistant from the center of that leg. In the Part V photo the eyepiece is "on top" which certainly means that the finder is "on top" does it not? Thanks again, PaulAnd:
Hmmm....okay, I stand corrected; when you rotate the scope to first achieve the postion, the finder and eyepiece will be beneath the scope; rotating as it is showing will not affect the alignment provided that you have rotated until the hard stops have been determined and that the control panel is on the SAME side as the DEC setting circle (the one with numbers). I think you are aware of this, but NORTH would be left in the photo in Part V. I still think we are missing a setup or more likely at this point a default setting issue here. Have you made sure your time zone is checked properly? -5 should be correct for you. NOTE also that unless you are perfectly level your alignment stars will NOT always be in the finderscope. In no ETX is this the case. Your job is to center those perfectly and press ENTER so that the scope will understand all variables. Once you have done a two star alignment (and you must carefully select stars that are FAR apart and NOT near the celestial pole....never select any stars in the big dipper for example....), your GO TOs after that should be good no matter how bad the initial setup might be. Go through a good two star alignment picking ONLY stars near the celestial equator (zero deg. DEC) and at least 20 degrees apart. Do not worry if they are in the finder or not. Center them and remember to ENTER after each....report back on how the following GO TOs are please. Use bright known stars to test GO TOs. Good luck. Dr. Clay
Subject: etx pc control freeware Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 05:36:00 From: email@example.com (A Franks) Is there any good freeware that I can use to control my ETX90? Many thanks Albert FranksMike here: There are lots. See the Accessory Reviews - Software for Scopedriver and Astroplanner reviews. Others are listed in the Software section of the Astronomy Links page.
Subject: DS-2000 alt/az gear ratio?? Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 08:48:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Vincent Toh) Would like to congratulate you on this near perfect site of yours. Weasner.com does sound like a well known product page, like sony.com to me now. Haha. I would like to ask for the ratio I have to punch into my autostar 475 on this drive. This drive currently house an ETX90, it doesn't get it's alignment very well and I think the problem lies with the ratio itself. current ratio for RA is +0.9**** and DEC is +1.01500. I don't think it's correct but thats the default reset values. Do you have the numbers for me? Kindess Regards! hope to hear from you soon!
Subject: how do i find out what time zone the Autostar uses? Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 09:39:56 From: email@example.com (W Sturges) I have put in my own observing location ... and it is near the boundary between central time and eastern time zones. there is the option for whether to use Daylight time or not, but I see no way to tell what time zone the Autostar "thinks" it is in. any ideas? my searches on the web have been fruitless. nice web site you have here!!! many thanks, Tony ps I have a celestron 8" Ultima, and it seems that all the controls are essentially "opposite" with the ETX 5 :-)Mike here: I searched the ETX for "time zone" and one of the hits had this response from Dr. Clay Sherrod:
The quickest and most sure-fire method is as follows: 1) on Autostar go to: SETUP / SITE / ADD....[enter]; 2) then scroll to your nearest big city listed and "Enter"; 3) this automatically defaults your time zone offset to your proper location! 4) THEN, scroll on down after it has accepted that listing to "EDIT"; 5) "Enter" again and "Name" will show up...."Enter" that; 6) Key in the name of your site and "Enter" 7) "Name" will show up again...but scroll DOWN ONE TO "Latitude"; 8) Press "Enter" and key in the Latitude you have determined and "Enter" again; 9) "Latitude" will come up again, but scroll down one more to "Longitude" and "enter" that; 10) Key in longitude coordinates and press "enter." 11) You are done! No fuss about time zones....you have merely edited a site that the Autostar already had in its memory for the proper time zone! That way is the quickest and most sure-footed to prevent time zone errors. Hope that helps! Clay Sherrod
So, just edit an appropriate existing location.
Mike, you are remarkable. and speedy! actually, that is what I did ... now I would like to see inside the guts of this thing ... my observing site is quite some miles to the east of my "edited" city. So I'm curious. but I think this note is probably the closest thing I'll find. Did you do a search within your web page? thanks so much tonyMike here: You lucked out when I received your email and replied. I'm attending an Apple conference and they have set up wireless access (both 802.11b and 802.11g). I was on a break between sessions. And yes, I used the search engine on the home page; entered "time zone" and then did an advanced search for the exact phrase.
Subject: Latitude and Longitude for Autostar Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 08:09:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Sutherland) The coordinates of an observing site can be entered into AutoStar with a precision of ±1 minute or about ±1 mile. You can determine the coordinates of your site(s) using Mapquest. Go to www.mapquest.com, select "Maps" then "Lat/Long". Enter the latitude and longitude of your observing site as precisely as you know them, even if it is only a rough guess. Remember that west longitudes are entered as negative numbers and be sure to put zeros in the minute and second fields. Click on "Get Map" and see how close you are to your observing site. You may need to zoom out on the map to see where you are. Click on "Back" and make adjustments to your latitude and longitude according to where the red star is on the map relative to your site. Click on "Get Map" again and see how close you are. Zoom in on the map if necessary. Keep making adjustments to the latitude and longitude, until your latitude and longitude are correct to ± one minute. The maps have scales on them, so you can estimate how much to change the latitude and longitude by how far the red star is from your site (1 minute is about a mile and 1 second is about 100 feet) If you like, you can keep going and get the location of your site down to the second. Mapquest can be used for any site in the world between latitudes 60°S and 78°N. For example, the intersection of 10th Street and Route 7 in Juneau Alaska is at 58°17'57"N and 134°25'14"W. Regards, Don Sutherland
Subject: etx-60 Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 13:45:59 From: email@example.com Greets, and thank you beforehand for helping me if you can. I have an etx-60 w/a 494 autostar, I have the #505 cable and knwo i need to get the 497 controller to enable me to hook it to my computer. My question is, if i get the 497 will i be able to view on my screen what the telescope sees or am i really misunderstanding the whole thing. I thoought that by gettin the new controller I could see what the telescope sees while setting at my computer, if thats not the case then why upgrade and also, how can o do that short of hooking up a ccd of a digital video camera to it..Thanks alot..Tony P.S. as you can tell I'm really new to this but really want to get into it more...ThanksMike here: With any model Autostar, you can use software on your laptop (or desktop) computer to control the telescope for slewing and GOTOs. Some software will also show WHERE in the sky the telescope is pointed if you slew using the Autostar. Note that the software does not show you WHAT the telescope sees; that requires some sort of imaging accessory connected to your telescope and computer. You can use your #494 with a computer but you need a #506 cable (which can not be homemade). Alternatively you can purchase a used #495 or #497 and upgrade to the current version using the #505 cable and the Meade Windows-based Autostar Updater Application.
Subject: Identify function? Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 10:00:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Schlatter, Joe A Jr [LTD]) As I scroll through the functions on Autostar, I run past one called "IDENTIFY." What is this function? How do I use it? Thanks. ----- Joe Schlatter ETX-90EC UHTC -----Mike here: Center an object in the eyepiece (after you have aligned the Autostar). When you select Identify and press ENTER the Autostar will attempt to identify the object it thinks is centered.
Subject: re: New LX90 Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 12:51:11 From: Michael_Harman@edwards.com Just want to give you guys an update: OPT replaced my LX90 Friday afternoon - no problem at all. Mike Fowler and I took the new one out of the box, set it on the counter, and performed the test procedure that Dick recommended. It's slewing was right on the money on both axes! Now, if we ever see a clear sky again... As a So Cal native, I can't remember a gloomier or longer lived "June Gloom". Seems like November! I'm sure you can relate, Mike! :-( I wish you all good seeing! Michael HarmanMike here: Yep, June Gloom has taken hold for the last six weeks. But I'm in Sunny Northern California right now (for the Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference). Nice weather here!
Subject: GPS Unit for the Meade ETX Product Line. Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 06:39:46 From: email@example.com (Rossi, Peter (Peter)) I read email regarding the GPS Unit for the Autostar 497 with great interest. I read the recommendation by DR. Clay and saw that Dick Seymour was involved in the software development. THAT was all the information I needed. I contacted the StarGPS company and ordered one within an hour of reading the Web Site. As always - THANK YOU FOR YOUR FANTASTIC WEB SITE!!!!! Pete
Subject: re: Display Turning Itself Off On Autostar Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 22:01:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: email@example.com In all of that description, i didn't see any mention of attempting to -change- the display brightness or contrast. Utilites > Brightness [enter] and Utilities > Contrast [enter] Once selected, you can adjust the brigthness and contrast up and down with the scroll up/down keys. See if adjusting the brightness upwards (scroll up during the scrolling display which should appear after the [etner] is pressed) helps. The display goes from VERY BRIGHT at the Time/Date/Daylight questions, to the above-controlled brightness and contrast for the rest of the session. Does the -keypad- backlighting also turn off when the display blanks? If you shine a light directly or obliquely at the display, can you see the characters (even though they are not back-lit)? Have you done a Setup > Reset [enter][enter] during your trials? That may also kick the brightness and contrast to usuable levels good luck --dick
Subject: Upgrading Autostar 495 software/firmware? Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 22:11:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen Berghofer) I have owned a Meade 70EC with the Autostar 495 controller for the past two years. Your site has been a great help to me, but all this stuff about updating software/firmware has me pretty anxious! I have never downloaded any software from Meade (didn't have the #505 cable, so didn't bother). I now have purchased the cable, but am thoroughly confused about how to go about upgrading. Do I need to update firmware before software? Is there an order to upgrade these in? Does the Meade ASU program look after all these things for me (or am I a wishful thinker?)? Will updating the software allow my Autostar to recognize the 70 vs. the 70EC (it doesn't at present)? Any SIMPLE outline/references would be helpful. Remember: this is not something I've done before, and I don't want to mess with upgrades if they're going to crash my system! Thanks. Stephen BerghoferMike here: Grab the Autostar Updater application from Meade's site. If you have a fast internet connection that's all you'll need for starters. Install the application. Connect the Autostar to your computer (you need Windows to run the app) and turn on the ETX. Run the application and click the button to update the Autostar. If all goes normally, that's it. Following the update you will have a #497 Autostar and you can set the telescope model to the ETX-70AT. You will need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES once you have set the telescope model. For more on using the application, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject: Motor unit failure every time I use my ET90EC UHTC Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 15:32:49 From: email@example.com (Schlatter) This is a long message about a serious problem -- at least, it's serious to me. I have an almost new ETX-90 UHTC that Clay Sherrod tuned up in April. After the scope came back from Clay, I was caught up in selling my house and moving into an apartment, plus, we have had months of rain so the scope got little use. To keep it lubricated, every couple of days I loosened the locks and manually moved it around from lock to lock, up and down, clockwise and counterclockwise; and, I turned on the Autostar and used the arrow buttons to slew it through its entire range, both axes. Now that we are moved and the weather has cleared up, I have been using the scope for the past couple of days -- big problem. I do a two-star alignment and it aligns spot on -- target stars show up almost centered in the finder scope and I do only a little slewing to center target stars in the eyepiece. After the scope is aligned, GOTO objects show up nearly centered in the eyepiece and tracking is smooth and right on -- except for Mars, which runs out of the FOV. After 15-30 minutes of observing, the scope suddenly takes off on its own, slews rapidly counterclockwise to the stop and stops with the motor continuing to grind. None of the buttons on the Autostar have any effect. Autostar then shows "Motor unit failure." I turn off the power, unlock the RA, put it back in the right position, turn it on, align, and go through the same routine -- excellent setup and alignment, very accurate GOTO, then 15-20-30 minutes into observing, it takes off wildly again and shows "Motor unit failure." I am powering it from the Meade AC adapter -- there is not a battery within half a mile. Locks are snug -- inside the white dots that Clay put on the scope. This is not an occasional happening. We have had two clear nights during which I chased Messier objects and the following two mornings I got up at 0400 to check out Mars. EVERY TIME I turn the scope on, it does this. Any ideas? Thanks. ---- Joe SchlatterMike here: Well, I would have suspected low battery power, which will cause a random slew. But since you are on Meade's AC, power is not likely to be the problem. A loose Autostar cable can also cause a problem; could you have been pulling on the cable while using the Autostar? Check the connectors, jacks, and cable condition. Is everything mating correctly? By the way, you may need to reCALIBRATE if a hard stop was hit. Also, any time the Autostar acts up, reTRAINing may help. If that doesn't clear it, then a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES may solve it.
Subject: Display Turning Itself Off On Autostar Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 09:33:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Carter) Hi! Great information that you have on your site. I've used several of your ideas and suggestions. Here is something I haven't been able to figure out. While observing the other night, the slewing and tracking was perfect. After a couple of hours, the display went blank. The telescope continued to function normally and becase I was in the Messier Object menu, I was able to continue observing because I had memorized the keystrokes for entering objects. Slewing was normal and targeting had not changed a bit. After wanting to look at something else, I had to turn the Autostar off, reset to polar home position and start from scratch. The display stayed on for the rest of the session. Last night the same thing happened (with a fresh set of batteries) except that the display kept going off at the alignment menu after selecting a two star alignment. This got old in a hurry so I called it a night. I've had the scope for two weeks and after working out some alignment issues the scope has performed flawlessly up to this point. The handset has not been dropped or tampered with, so I can only assume I have a bad display driver or a software glich. Has this fault ever been reported to you before? I have a letter typed up to send off to Meade with the unit on Monday after I contact them for an RA number. Before I do this, do you have any suggestions or comments on why the display will not stay on? The telescope is the 6" achro on the LXD55 mount with Autostar version 26E. Regards, MichaelMike here: The display does blank after a period of inactivity to save power. Pressing any key should return the display.
But in my message I stated that the screen was blanking off last night almost immediately after turning the Autostar on. It did this about a half a dozen times right at the alignment screen. I called Analytical Scientific where I bought the scope to inquire as to whether there were any complaints about this since Meade is closed today. My salesman said there had been incidences of this occuring, but it was due to low batteries. I explained that they were tested and were fresh. He still disagreed, so I cut the conversation short and decided to go back to the scope and take further meter readings. After fooling with it for almost an hour of cycling it on and off, it decided it was going to stay on for awhile. I tested the batteries under load and at no time did the voltage fall below 11.5 VDC. I did a reset and re-entered all of my information and performed a test alignment in my basement. It appears to be working now, but I can't explain why it did this last night and several times this morning. I parked the scope and it returned to the polar home position after slewing to numerous targets that would be visible if it were dark. I will check it later and see if this occurs again. I'm clueless as to why it did this and has now, for the time being stopped doing it. Thanks for your message. Regards, Michael PS, is there anything else not in the manual that I should know about Autostar?Mike here: Could the air temperature have been 30 degrees or so? The Autostar doesn't like low temps.
No, temp was around 70 or so. I just finished messing with it again. The display will not remain on. I'm contacting Meade on Monday morning for repair or replacement. Michael
Subject: re: New LX90 Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 22:28:33 From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) To: Michael_Harman@edwards.com I vote: dirty encoder. To test: bring up the Alt/Az readout (hold Mode 3 seconds, release, scroll down once or twice) Point at landmark, note readout. Slew completely around in Az until you are again pointed at it. Note readout. If the Az value returned to the same value, it is NOT a dirty encoder. If it is quite a bit LESS than indicating a 360 rotation, it is. ("quite a bit" means 5 degrees or more) If the readout shows a good deal MORE than 360 degrees of travel, suspect slipping/loose gears. The above assumes you have done a "Setup/Telescope/Calibrate[enter]" good luck --dickAnd:
Thank you all for your quick responses, I really appreciate it. I have already gone through reset, calibrate, and training at least half a dozen times, and reversed the reset/calibrate order to see if it made a difference. After emailing you yesterday, I found the same procedure that Dick described on the Yahoo LX90 users' group. It appears other people have experienced the same problem, and this is a good test for it. I went through the process last night and found Azimuth to be -32 degrees off, and Alt -5 degrees. Starting as close to 0 degrees Az as possible (a couple of seconds off), I slewed completely around clockwise, but the AutoStar only registered about 328 degrees; then coming back counterclockwise a full circle, it only came back to 10 degrees. I had similar findings with the Alt reading: starting at 0 on the Dec circle, the AS read within seconds of 0 degrees, as well. I slewed up to 90 degrees on the Dec circle, but AutoStar only registered 85 degrees; however, returning back to a 0 reading on the circle did bring the AS back to 0, as well. I ran this test three times last night, running a reset and calibration between each, and got the same results every time. I did not train the drives between, but that would not account for the 32 degree discrepancy. Both axis' seem to slew pretty smoothly, but obviously, I have gummed-up or defective encoders. Since this scope was brand new out of the box on Sunday, I will be calling OPT this morning to find out their defective merchandise return/exchange policy. I am hoping they will simply exchange it, because I have heard horror stories that it can take months for Meade to turn around a warranty repair to the customer's satisfaction. There is a story on the LX90 UG from a guy who sent his brand new LX90 back to Meade 3 times for this same problem, and received it back in the same condition twice before Meade finally replaced it. He said it took him 6 months from date of purchase before he had a working telescope! Two grand is a lot to shell out for something you can't use for 6 months. Thanks again, Michael HarmanAnd an update:
Thanks. I just spoke to Mike at OPT, and he said they'll replace it no problem. Thanks again for your help. You guys are the greatest! Clear skies, Michael
Subject: New LX90 Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 15:25:24 From: Michael_Harman@edwards.com I have just purchased a new Meade LX90 w/UHTC from OPT. (Mike, I had emailed you several weeks ago and your response helped me to make my final purchase decision - thanks!). Well, the scope is beautiful, bigger than I remembered (I haven't seen an 8" Schmidt for awhile), and the optics are fantastic; even with our hazy "June-gloom", I was able to get a good glimpse at Jupiter Sunday evening, after getting the beast home and set up for the first time, before the clouds rolled back in. It was amazing what detail I could see even though it was low in the sky and seeing was poor. But, now the bad news, and I thought either of you might have a quick suggestion before I contact Meade's tech support: The scope overshoots everything - seems to be mostly in RA, but probably Dec, too. During alignment, it slews way too far, and once I've centered each star and the Autostar claims success, it again overshoots any item I attempt to "GoTo". (I had to line up Jupiter manually to be able to see it.) The scope appeared to bypass the target by at least an hour's distance, so I double-checked that I had set it to DST. I also verified my location, the telescope model, mount, time, date, etc. Having owned an ETX70 for a couple of years, and been a frequent reader of Mike's ETX site and the ASO site, among others, I am no newbie to Autostar or ETX setup and alignment; the 497 may have more features than the one I'm used to, but concepts and procedures are the same. So, Sunday night I went through setup and alignment, calibration and drive training several times. I had even gone as far as to say "no" to DST, but no matter what, the scope would overshoot the alignment stars by a great deal. I kept trying for about an hour and a half, until the clouds rolled in and there was nothing to align to anymore. Then last night, in my living room since it's still cloudy (#$%&!), I tried again. Here is what I did: Calibrate, Reset, Initialize, then skipped alignment, pointed to a streetlight out my patio door, and Trained the Alt and Az drives on that. I then turned off the scope, picked a line in the room (the edge of my wall unit) and called it North, and set my Home position manually, aiming toward that line and leveling the OTA to 0 degrees. I turned on the scope, entered the correct date, time, DST, and began an "easy align". The scope slewed right and up "to" Vega, and I accepted the location. It then slewed further to the right "to" Antares, and I again accepted. Both these points seemed to be in the general neighborhood of where I would find those stars, relative to my imaginary "North". However, there is no way to know how far off they really were. So, as a test, I picked Polaris from the "Named Stars" menu and hit "GoTo". Had the alignment been successful, I could expect the scope to slew back very close to my "North" line, and be at about a 34 degree angle. The scope began moving back to the left as expected, but did not stop at my imaginary North; it continued past it and stopped at least six inches to the left of that line. Altitude angle seemed close, although I didn't think till just now to have checked the Dec circle. So... any ideas? My ROM is ver 26ec, and I am running on a 17ah 12v power supply that works flawlessly with my ETX. I have downloaded the ASU and a new ROM version, 26ed, from Meade, and have the correct cable (home made, based on specs found on Mike's site). When I get home tonight I plan to try upgrading the AutoStar and going through this exercise all over again (hopefully outside - but it's not looking good!). I know you warn not to change them, but can either of you tell me what the Alt and Az ratios should be for an LX90? I plan to make note of the current entries before upgrading, just so I can see if they change with the new ROM. I'll also want to have, among other things, if I need to call Meade tech support. Thank you for all the help you both continue to be for the whole amateur community out here. Sincerely, Michael Harman Orange, CAMike here: I don't know what the ratios are for the LX90 but have you selected the LX90 as the telescope in the Autostar? Simple thing to miss.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (P. Clay Sherrod) Have you checked your TIME ZONE setting to make sure it is correct; this clearly sounds like a location default problem; however, if that does not seem off, then a total RESET and re-train of the scope is in order. In this order: RESET/Calibrate Motors/Train Drives and then enter you locations, time date, etc.....I suppose you are making sure that you enter your exact time each time you initialize...otherwise it reverts back to the LAST time entered. This is a setting problem at some point....not mechanical nor electronic. There is a default off somewhere. In other words: the dreaded "user error.' Check all this and get back. Best of luck. Clay ---------- Dr. P. Clay Sherrod email@example.com Arkansas Sky Observatory Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway) Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain) http://www.arksky.org/
Subject: Autostar question Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 21:10:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gregory R Krykewycz) I just bought an Autostar and began playing around with it this evening. I found that it generally worked quite well, except that at a certain point, it began slewing only a very small amount as if every object I was searching for were located in the same small area of the sky. I turned it off and then on again, and it seemed to slew a normal amount when attempting an alignment. Would you say this may be battery related (as I suspect), or could there have been some effect from the dew I mentioned earlier? Thanks. GregMike here: Low battery power will affect the Autostar, sometimes in odd ways. But did you CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES before using the Autostar the first time?
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I did calibrate and train drives. It was finding things with reasonable accuracy initially. Then I synched to a star, looked for some other stuff, and got it to return to the star. At that point it decided suddenly that every object was located very close to that star.Mike here: Odd. Obviously should not do that. If you don't have the current version (2.6Ed) you might want to update via Meade's Autostar Update page.
I bought it OEM off of Ebay, and it supposedly has the latest software. I'll check the version the next time I turn it on. I'm hoping my problem is just a battery problem, although I have retrained the drives. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for your excellent book and web site. Greg
Subject: Good on Yer Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 18:32:09 From: email@example.com (Adrian Sherwin) Its Adrian Sherwin again with the 105. I think its fantastic that you spend time to help others with ETX's. Meade should give you a medal for all the help you give there customers. I was wondering if I could ask you another Question. How accurate do you have to be when lining up the two stars on easy align. First I have trouble identifying them against all the other bright stars in order to centre them in the middle of the scope. Once the 105 says align successful, i asked it to goto the moon. It only just got it in view, the went to 47 Tucana (I think thats the name) and I got a Motor Unit Fault, not once but twice. I rang the store about it and they said it was the batteries, you need a external power source like mains. The batteries were new, but I was told if one drops voltage slightly,you get that fault. Is this correct. Thanks again for all your help. If you are in Adelaide South Australia drop me a line. I'll buy you a beer! Yours sincerely, Adrian SherwinMike here: The more accurate you make the inputs the better the GOTOs. So yes, precisely centering the correct alignment stars does help. MUF can come from low battery power, unstable AC power, or even from hitting a hard stop (you did do the rotations on the HOME position setup?).
Subject: New GPS unit available for ETX, LX 90 Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 14:55:27 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (P. Clay Sherrod) This may look like a commercial, but it is not; I had the opportunity to check out and test a new GPS sensor, receiver and plug-in unit for Autostar 497 which works essentially just like the Autostar II unit for the LX 200 GPS scopes. The GPS system for LXD 55, ETX and LX 90 Meade scopes is found at: http://www.stargps.ca/ The unit was put on the market today and I have no interest in it other than to say that it is simple, works great and is a terrific bargain; I could find nothing wrong with the unit nor in the process in which it worked, and in fact was amazed at the simplicity and how fast it actually got a fix and incorporated that into the Autostar 497 database. I normally have a strict rule against endorsing any product but this is really a bargain for the price. I am very partial to the wonderful LX 90 and this really puts that scope in a new realm in my opinion..... Dr. Clay ---------- email@example.com Arkansas Sky Observatory Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway) Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain) http://www.arksky.org/
Subject: northern hemisphere vs southern hemisphere home position in alt/az Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 05:15:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Claudio Custodio) First off all I would like to congratulate you on a great web site... I just recently read that even if you are in the southern hemisphere, the Alt/Az Alignment is the same as the northern hemisphere.... I was wondering if these information is correct... My problem been that occasionally my etx tends to hit the hard stop, not very often, but it can be annoying after just viewing a few objets having to start all over again... Maybe I`am just not setting the home position right since I'm in the southern hemisphere... Any help you can give will be greatly appreciatedMike here: According to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour, in the article "Southern Hemisphere Alignment Tips" on the Autostar Information page, for Alt/Az you do point North for the Home position. Be certain you have rotated counterclockwise to the hardstop and then back to North (about 120 degrees from the hardstop).
Subject: Correct time to set percentages Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 04:12:22 From: email@example.com (mark adams) Hello, I have an ETX-90ec and I am trying to get rid of the rubber banding issue. I have seen two ways to do this on your site. Using current software. The first is to set the percentages after: RESET CALIBRATE TRAIN SET PERCENTAGE The second states: RESET CALIBRATE SET PERCENTAGE TRAIN Which one is correct? It seems that the second would be best since you will be helping backlash, etc. before you train. Thank you, Mark D. Adams KC8GLQMike here: Regarding rubberbanding, if you upgraded the Autostar you MUST reTRAIN. Otherwise, rubberbanding WILL result.
And from our resident Autostar expert:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) The first is correct: Reset, Calibrate, Train, Set Percentage. "Percentage" is actually a percentage of the Training result. So you -have- to Train before "percentagizing". The full background information is at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html have fun --dick
Subject: Re: AutoStar Battery Level Indicator Sent: Friday, June 13, 2003 07:17:01 From: email@example.com (Don Sutherland) The AutoStar has a nice battery level feature, but it needs some interpretation if you are not using the standard 8 AA cells. Find the battery level by pressing on the MODE button for 2 seconds and scroll up to the battery level. If you are using an external power source, the % battery level reading can be converted to volts using the following equation; Volts = 0.0475 x % battery level + 6. A 12 volt lead-acid battery will show 100% until it is almost completely discharged (10.5 volts or 1.75 volts per cell would read as 95%). If you are using Ni-Cads the end of the line is about 1.1 volts per cell. The battery level circuit has quite a bit of filtering built into it, so you have to wait about 10 seconds for the % battery level indication to catch up to the actual voltage.
Subject: Connecxion USB ---> DB9 Sent: Thursday, June 5, 2003 10:07:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (AMAT~RADIO. MARAS ROLAND) My english is not good, i am search on cable for ETX MEADE 70 connetor via USB -----> DB9 male, i am possession one PC SONY PCG-FR105 USB-2 , ethernet, print, enter PCMIA, give my one solution for connectly and PC SONY, and ralisation cable connector Tanck you Mister For ROLAND contry of FRENCH department 57 MOSELLE Nord France (Ten Kms Luxemburg) Bye byeMike here: Both Keyspan and Belkin have these converters. I use a Keyspan with my Macintosh (see the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page).
Subject: re: Training problem w/ cg-5 mount Sent: Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:39:41 From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) His "goes the wrong way during training" was actually an Autostar bug. If you set the Ratios to 5 or greater, then the -automatic- slew of a Training session goes the wrong way. His "Press > to slew" was correct.. and his manual slewing was correct. It was the scurry-out-and-come-mostly-back which was going the wrong way, which left him with the scope on the wrong side of centered. Meade has been notified... have fun --dick
Subject: re: Do you know of a good Autostar operation manual? Sent: Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:36:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: email@example.com Well, there's Mike's book... You're seeing the effect of two things: (a) continuous improvement/enhancement of the Autostar firmware (b) documentation lagging far behind. Mike's suggestion of the LX90 manual is a good one, also the LXD55 manual. Try here: http://www.optcorp.com/cart/ProductDetail.asp?PR_ProductID=1889 and here: http://www.astronomics.com You wrote: > Also, I discovered that if you are in the Az-El status display > mode and you press enter, you can then edit the AZ-EL numbers > and then manually slew to an AZ-EL. I have never seen this > written down however. Actually, it's GOTO which starts the "enter coordinates" process, and it -is- documented in the Autostar manuals, but for the RA/Dec screen, not Alt/Az... but many things for RA/Dec can be extrapolated to Alt/Az. > For example. Changing from low to high precision mode should > change the display and the interface format. It -does- change the interface format, but it does not (and the manual's use of the word "Displays" either means that it -returns- the long format.. it may be that the Classic LX200 changed its display, too.. if you look at the "what works where" grid on page one of the serial document, you will see that the Autostar is listed as "Partial" compliance with that command. For what it's worth, the LX200gps does not change its display, either (it's always in long format) > So I am also looking for a good interface document. Mine is not great, but they've been posted on Mike's site for years: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_commands.html and http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html > Now it works. YEA! Congratulations.. i wish you clear skies to enjoy it in.. have fun --dick
Subject: re: Newbie Win XP Blues Sent: Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:20:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: Joey@5mile.com Watch out for a program like a PalmPilot Sync program grabbing the COM ports from the Autostar Updater. good luck --dick
Subject: re: LX200GPS Operations Sent: Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:19:08 From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) To: firstname.lastname@example.org What? Pardon me, but you have a critical step very backwards. > 1. Set up the tripod, scope in Alt-Az mode, control panel > pointing close to (true) north, scope base reasonably level. Power panel should point SOUTH (as you noticed, in a way:) > (I notice now that half way between the hard stops has the scope > looking away from the control panel (to the south in my case). If you had the power panel on the SOUTH side of the base, then the half-way-between-stops position would point NORTH, as it should. Steps 2 and 3 are immaterial in my opinion (at least with v1.6b), or at least there's no reason to power off in-between. > Is there a better way? Have I missed something? Power panel facing SOUTH. On SOUTH side of base. Much better. Matches book. Matches hardstops. have fun --dick
Subject: Safe mode Sent: Monday, June 2, 2003 04:22:50 From: email@example.com (David Howelll) I have found your site to be extraordinarily helpful over the years. Maybe again...I accidently cut off download to current revision (3.61) on Auto star #97at a very early stage "0 percent", and now I cannot get even "safe load" to come up. Is there a workaround to allow the download to be completed? Thanks, Dave HowellMike here: If SAFE MODE won't come up by holding down the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN ARROW keys (at opposite corners of the Autostar #497) then you may have to return it to Meade.
Subject: LX200GPS Operations Sent: Sunday, June 1, 2003 15:36:54 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Marvin C. Sumner) Mike, Dick & Dr. Clay - - I see Dick Seymour's note on working an LX200GPS (26 March 03) and it leaves a few questions. Here is how I've been doing it, and it works sometimes but not always. I may have something backwards or maybe I'm not consistent in the procedure. 1. Set up the tripod, scope in Alt-Az mode, control panel pointing close to (true) north, scope base reasonably level. I think the starting azimuth isn't important because the automated GPS/Level/North is going to do it's thing anyway. (I notice now that half way between the hard stops has the scope looking away from the control panel (to the south in my case). 2. Turn power on (a 12 volt truck battery under the tripod), bypass the initial GPS search and accept the default date & time (not important because the GPS will fix it in a minute). 3. Scroll to the site-selection & choose the current location - check the Lat-Long-DST then power off. 4. Remove the finder scope (to give the GPS antenna a better view of the sky), then power on and let the GPS acquire & do the level/north thing. When the system stops at the Align menu, replace the finder scope and install an illuminated cross-hair eyepiece in the main scope (mine is a Meade 9mm). 5. Accept and center the automatically chosen alignment stars, first in the finder, then in the main scope. Is there a better way? Have I missed something? Are there pitfalls in the details? Thank you, Marv Sumner Once I've mastered the Alt-Az mode, I'll try polar - then more questions to you guys???? This hobby can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be! MCS
Subject: Newbie Win XP Blues Sent: Sunday, June 1, 2003 12:55:05 From: Joey@5mile.com (Joey Barkhouse) We bought our first telescope recently, a DS 80 and still can't get the software to see the telescope. We suspect it is Win XP. Any suggestions? KentMike here: What model Autostar and serial cable did you get? Does your computer have an RS-232 serial port or are you using a USB-serial adapter? Have you checked for other software using the serial port (ie, fax software)?
We purchased a autostar 494 and a #506 Meade Astro Finder kit. We are using both a serial port and USB adapter on various PCs . It was working ok with windows 98 then we changed to XP. Will check the port.
Thanks, Kent & Joey
Subject: Do you know of a good Autostar operation manual? Sent: Sunday, June 1, 2003 11:02:25 From: email@example.com (Hamil Cooper) Do you know of a good (probably not from Meade) Autostar operation manual? Here is why I ask. If you press the MODE button for 2 seconds you go to a status mode where you can then scroll between RA-DEC, AZ-EL, and a bunch of other items. I have found out that if you then press the GOTO button, you enter a scan mode. Somewhere I read about this but I cannot find it in the OnLine Meade documentation. Also, I discovered that if you are in the Az-El status display mode and you press enter, you can then edit the AZ-EL numbers and then manually slew to an AZ-EL. I have never seen this written down however. When in the AZ-EL display mode, there is a "marker" on the right side of the display. A square or a small rectangle. I think this indicates whether you are scanning or in edit mode, I am not sure. Anyway, I am guessing there are other things I have not discovered yet. The AutoStar commands are supposed to be documented on the Meade site. I downloaded the document and have been writing a Visual Basic program to control the AutoStar. I find out the documentation is many cases is either not clear or incorrect. For example. Changing from low to high precision mode should change the display and the interface format. So far, it does not seem to work. So I am also looking for a good interface document. Maybe I will have to write one and let you post it. BTW, about a month ago I sent/received a few emails about my ETX90EC not aligning properly. After getting advise on doing all the obvious things, i.e. calibration, training, initial alignment, etc I finally sent it back to meade and paid the $75. As it turned out, the scope has always been defective. Now it works. YEA! Hamil.Mike here: Check out the LX90 8" manual (see the FAQ page).
Subject: PDA connection Sent: Sunday, June 1, 2003 07:29:18 From: Charandbruce@aol.com I've tried desperately to find a resource on how to connect my Toshiba PDA to my Meade 497 Autostar. I've installed Steve Tuma's Pocket Deepsky program and am very eager to fire it up. Can you lead me in the right direction? Thank You and clear skys Bruce MacCormackMike here: You will need a serial cable for your PDA. Check for a serial cable (for a modem, for example) from the vendor; you will need one that mates to the #505 cable. Alternatively, you can use the instructions for the #505 cable (on the Autostar Information page) and make your own cable if the PDA vendor supplies serial port information. I checked out the PDA articles on the Accessory Reviews --> Software page and found a reference to this site: www.markspace.com for cables.
Subject: re: Resetting Autostar 494 Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2003 21:18:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: email@example.com Sometimes RESETS help because they force you to walk through ALL of the setup steps, and don't let you skip one. A question: was your second site in a different Time Zone than the first? Did you remember to adjust -that- when you keyed in the new lat/long? Describing -how far- and =in what direction= the alignment stars were "wrong" greatly helps us in diagnosing your problems. The Autostar can handle quite a wide variety of setup misalignments. I also think that Mike's suggestion of simply having aimed at the wrong star is a VERY likely candidate... i do it all the time (without moving my site) Resets aren't that drastic a step, either. I used to do them at the drop of a hat (or lens cap) with my ETX90 have fun --dickAnd:
Thanks, for your help. Mike I will probably do a 'Reset', when I get the scope back from my brother in Bay City, Mi. Like Dick said it doesn't hurt to do reset ever so often. Mike you are probably right and a typo was entered. I can't ck. because it is in B.C. Dick and Mike, the 3 positions I normally veiw from are: 1) Lansing/Home Lat 42:41:55N Mag. Dec. 5: 46 W Lon 84:33:09W 2) Mom's/Bay City Lat 43:39:40N Mag Dec. 6: 41 W Lon 83:52:13W 3) Cabin/Grayling Lat 44:43:23N Mag Dec 6:32 W Lon 84:24:05W As you can see all my viewing places are basically 1* N Lat from each other and all within a degree of Lon. So a typo could very well be the culprit. Dick, I can give you a very rough est. for distance off the mark at about a handwidth at arms length. I'll let you know as soon as I get the scope back from B.C. and reset everything. Until then I'll be viewing wirth my 125 it's dead on. Clear Skies, Kevin
Subject: Training problem w/ cg-5 mount Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2003 21:12:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: email@example.com > when it says to use ">" to center the target it goes the wrong way. Your motors are turning the "wrong way", compared to a real 114eq. Three ways to fix it: (a) Setup > Telescope > Ratio (of the affected axis) ** change the sign of the number ** (if it's positive, use the slew key to position the blicking cursor over the +,use the scroll down key to make it - ). That'll fix it. (b) open the motor housing and reverse the leads to the motor itself (this requires careful soldering) (c) flip your motor box to the other side of that axis' gear. So, if it's left of the axis, put it on the right side. === For self-adapted systems like yours, i highly recommend joining one or more of the Yahoo interest groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope deals precisely with these conversions... have fun --dick
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