Last updated: 30 June 2003
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to 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:	RE: Combining the Autostar and a GPS
Sent:	Monday, June 30, 2003 15:13:23
From: (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

Subject:	Problems with ETX-90EC polar alignment
Sent:	Monday, June 30, 2003 09:47:08
From: (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
From: (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
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
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 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. Clay
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

BTW - I'm using AutoStar version 26Ec which I realize is not the most
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. Clay
And 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,

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 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: (A Franks)
Is there any good freeware that I can use to control my ETX90?
Many thanks
Albert Franks
Mike 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: (Vincent Toh)
Would like to congratulate you on this near perfect site of yours. does sound like a well known product page, like 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

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: (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,


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
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 have merely edited a
site that the Autostar already had in its memory for the proper time

That way is the quickest and most sure-footed to prevent time zone

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
Mike 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: (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, 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

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.


Don Sutherland

Subject:	etx-60
Sent:	Tuesday, June 24, 2003 13:45:59
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...Thanks
Mike 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: (Schlatter, Joe A Jr [LTD])
As I scroll through the functions on Autostar, I run past one called

What is this function?  How do I use it?


Joe Schlatter
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
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 Harman
Mike 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: (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.


Subject:	re:  Display Turning Itself Off On Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2003 22:01:42
From: (Richard Seymour)
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)

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

Subject:	Upgrading Autostar 495 software/firmware?
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2003 22:11:48
From: (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!


Stephen Berghofer
Mike 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: (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

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?



Joe Schlatter
Mike 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: (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

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


Mike 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.



PS, is there anything else not in the manual that I should know about
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.


Subject:	re:  New LX90
Sent:	Wednesday, June 18, 2003 22:28:33
From: (Richard Seymour)
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
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

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 Harman
And an update:
Thanks.  I just spoke to Mike at OPT, and he said they'll replace it no

Thanks again for your help.  You guys are the greatest!

Clear skies,

Subject:	New LX90
Sent:	Wednesday, June 18, 2003 15:25:24
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

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.


Michael Harman
Orange, CA
Mike 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: (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.

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)

Subject:	Autostar question
Sent:	Monday, June 16, 2003 21:10:33
From: (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.

Mike 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


Subject:	Good on Yer
Sent:	Monday, June 16, 2003 18:32:09
From: (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 Sherwin
Mike 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: (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:

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
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)

Subject:	northern hemisphere vs southern hemisphere home position in alt/az
Sent:	Saturday, June 14, 2003 05:15:00
From: (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 appreciated
Mike 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: (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:  
The second states:
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  KC8GLQ
Mike here: Regarding rubberbanding, if you upgraded the Autostar you MUST reTRAIN. Otherwise, rubberbanding WILL result.

And from our resident Autostar expert:

From: (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:

have fun

Subject:	Re:  AutoStar Battery Level Indicator
Sent:	Friday, June 13, 2003 07:17:01
From: (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
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

Tanck you Mister

For ROLAND contry of FRENCH  department 57 MOSELLE  Nord France (Ten Kms

Bye bye
Mike 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: (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

Subject:	re:  Do you know of a good Autostar operation manual?
Sent:	Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:36:35
From: (Richard Seymour)
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:
and here:

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:

> Now it works. YEA!

Congratulations.. i wish you clear skies to enjoy it in..

have fun

Subject:	re:  Newbie Win XP Blues
Sent:	Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:20:37
From: (Richard Seymour)
Watch out for a program like a PalmPilot Sync program grabbing
the COM ports from the Autostar Updater.

good luck

Subject:	re:  LX200GPS Operations
Sent:	Wednesday, June 4, 2003 21:19:08
From: (Richard Seymour)
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

Subject:	Safe mode
Sent:	Monday, June 2, 2003 04:22:50
From: (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 Howell
Mike 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: (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!

Subject:	Newbie Win XP Blues
Sent:	Sunday, June 1, 2003 12:55:05
From: (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?
Mike 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: (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!

Mike here: Check out the LX90 8" manual (see the FAQ page).
Subject:	PDA connection
Sent:	Sunday, June 1, 2003 07:29:18
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 MacCormack
Mike 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: for cables.
Subject:	re:  Resetting Autostar 494
Sent:	Saturday, May 31, 2003 21:18:18
From: (Richard Seymour)
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
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

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: (Richard Seymour)
>  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:
deals precisely with these conversions...

have fun

Feedback Archives

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

Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©2003 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2003 by the Submitter