Last updated: 30 June 2004
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	Autostar holder
Sent:	Wednesday, June 30, 2004 08:22:11
From: (
Can you advise me if it is possible to obtain a clip holder for the
Autostar hand set as every picture of ETX shows the handset mounted on
the tripod.
Kevin Ford
Mike here: Most times it has been attached using Velcro. That is what I use. Place a strip of the "soft" side length-wise on the back on the Autostar. Then place strips of the "sticky" side on each tripod leg (or wherever you want).
Subject:	lx90 backlash adjustments
Sent:	Tuesday, June 29, 2004 18:47:09
From:	Gary Greaser (
My LX 90 has a fair amount of backlash in the Declination worm gear and
was wondering where I can get information on adjusting it. I'm not sure
how to gain access to it and the adjustment process. Don't want to make
matters worse!
Mike here: See the articles on "percentages" on the Autostar Info page on my ETX Site. Also, have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES?
Subject:	SAO catalog list
Sent:	Monday, June 28, 2004 20:15:31
From:	Cox SMTP west (
I was wondering what web site do you or most other people use to find
SAO numbers seeing that the autostar uses that catalog? Also what
catalog do you or other people use to input in to autostar other double
stars other than the list provided?  I can't find a good SAO catalog web
site.   Thanks Brian
Mike here: See the articles "More on Autostar Stars" and "Star Catalogs, etc." on the Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Re:  Autostar #494
Sent:	Monday, June 28, 2004 19:16:19
From:	Richard Seymour (
My apologies  for being slow in responding...

I do not know what is happening.
On Wednesday night (in two nights) i will have my ETX70 and 494,
and i will be able to try similar tests.

> Now when I try to upload the data my Autostar
>goes blank and no data gets transfered.  Has this been a problem
>with the Autostar handbox?  I was able to do other things
>like edit my personal info thru the ASU program.  But not upload
>any satelite data without my screen going blank.  I'm confused.

Can you use the keypad to enter/edit satellite data?

If you tilt the display, can you see if it is actually
trying to say something, but merely that the back-light 
has turned off?

Can you do a [retrieve data]??

What does Setup > Statistics   report for "free memory"?

(WARNING: this next test/suggestion has risk! 
You could make your 494 unusable if anything went wrong.  
Do NOT try it if you do not want to risk breaking your Autostar!)

Since you can connect, have you tried putting the handbox
into "Setup > Download" mode?  (do this -after- the Updater
has connected with the handbox).

(end of WARNING section.)

Have you called Meade?   (you may have answered that in an
eariler message... but i cannot remember it)

good luck

Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Monday, June 28, 2004 13:29:19
From:	Jonathan Arena (
I'm having some trouble putting Autostar on my Meade ETX-125EC. When i
plug it in, i follow the steps, but when i get to the part where to have
to put it in the Alt./Az home position, i get really confused. once i
finished the steps and it tries to do a test, the star it tries to find
is still not centered. Can you please help me?
                                                     -Jonathan Arena
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette on the ETX Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject entry.
There are several articles on doing the alignment steps on the Autostar Info page; read through those and see if they help.


Nevermind, I fixed the problem but thanks anyway.

Subject:	autoguider and autostar
Sent:	Saturday, June 26, 2004 16:17:54
From:	Alun Halsey (
Over here in the UK we have a firm known as AWE technologies and they
deal in fitting various motors and drives to all kinds of mount,they
advertise on their web site a little box that helps out goto drives to
find and put planets etc onto the chip of a ccd camera,a sort of spiral
search,this box has to plug into an autoguiding socket and they state
that if the mount has not got one they can fit one. So I contacted the
firm asking if a socket could be fitted to the LXD55 and they have come
up with an idea of connecting a 6 pin RJ11 directly to the four arrow
keys on the autostar unit. The guy says that he can do it but I am
worried that this could cause problems with the autostar computer, am I
right or can this be a feasible project? your advice on this matter
would be much appreciated.
  Best Regards
        Alun Halsey
Mike here: Could work since the control is directly to the Autostar.
Subject:	Questions about using Autostar on a Mac
Sent:	Saturday, June 26, 2004 14:42:41
From:	Joey Hazan (
First of all I just wanted to say that I find your web site extremely
helpful and informative.  I read your article about using autostar on a
mac and I had a few questions.  I have an old G3 laptop (233Mhz/2GB
HD/32MB RAM).  I know that I need to first upgrade the RAM, and get a
USB PCMCIA card, but I was wondering if the Virtual PC for Mac softwar
will still work on a 233Mhz machine.  I am currently using OS 8.5.  I
have a copy of OS 9, but I haven't installed it because I think that I
don't have enough memory.  I have a copy of Virtual PC v. 2.1.2 and
v.3.0, but haven't installed those either (same reason).  I was also
wondering if 2 GB is enough space to install all of this (or do I have
to get a new hard drive as well?).  And finnaly do you think it would be
cheaper just to get an entirely new laptop or to upgrade the Apple?  I
look foward to hearing from you soon and I can't wait to get started in
digital  astrophotography.
Mike here: For updating the Autostar you should be OK using that old a version of the OS and VPC. You don't need a USB card since the Autostar #505 cable is RS-232. (Been awhile since I thought about the G3 PowerBooks; does it have a serial port?). More RAM would help but disk space should be OK, depending upon how much other stuff you have installed. Of course, you could consider getting a new PowerBook or even iBook but the more horsepower you get for VPC the better. You would also need to consider whether you need to upgrade your applications; of course, most will run in Classic mode (OS 9.2.2) in Mac OS X. If you do get a new laptop (Mac or PC) you will need to get a USB-serial converter. So the question is really one of HOW or even IF you plan to use the laptop with the telescope.
Subject:	Time in the Autostar
Sent:	Friday, June 25, 2004 05:44:46
From:	Mark Mittlesteadt (
Last night I was out with my ETX105 (I had already downloaded the latest
version of the Autostar...31Ee...and I did a reset and started from
scratch with everything).

It seemed I was off a bit in RA during alignment. I aligned to Antares
and Arcturus. Each were off the same amount East in RA. When I set up
the Time zone I set it up as being -6 GMT, which Wisconsin is. I put in
my actual longitude and latitude (my exact location of my backyard) in
as 4453'N, -8937'W. I also verified this with a city already in the
Autostar which is nearby.

I put my time in when prompted and chose Daylight savings time.

My question is, when I enter my coordinates, my time zone, my current
time and answer yes to daylight savings time...does the Autostar alter
the time zone to -5 GMT (which my location would be during daylight
savings time) to make up for the daylight savings time), or does it
maintain the -6 GMT I originally entered?

If it does not recalculate the Time zone and account for daylight
savings time (-6 normally, -5 during DST), perhaps this is why I was off
the exact same amount East in RA during alignment. After I slewed to
each of the stars and hit enter for a successful alignment, it did put
everything in the FOV afterwards. But I'm curious as to why it would be
off initially.

Any thoughts?

Mark Mittlesteadt
Mike here: Each time zone has a standard offset for GMT. It is then adjusted for DST as set. If you do the adjustment in GMT then you ignore the DST (say "NO") setting. That is how the GPS add-ons work. Does this help?


Yup, that helps. It makes sense. I left my time zone setting alone (-6
GMT) and chose YES to the DST, so the Autostar must have adjusted for

I still wonder why my alignment was off, but all it takes is one
mis-step in the setup and it can be off. Who knows what I missed. Maybe
I read my watch wrong and put the time in an hour behind and didn't
realize it. That would have put the alignment stars an hour west of
where the Autostar placed the ETX. Come to think of it, I think I was
out at 9:30 CST and I might have put in 8:30. Duh!

I don't recall for sure, but my kids were driving me insane and I was in
a bit of a rush at the moment, so perhaps it was my mistake on the time.

I'll know for sure the next time I go out.

On another note...I hear a lot from people about how GOTO takes all the
fun out of this hobby and that those with GOTO are cheating themselves
out of finding and learning things on their own. But I'm finding the
opposite is true.

I don't think anyone with GOTO, could ever "go to" anything, without
knowledge of the night sky. How would they ever know if the ETX was
aligned properly if they didn't know, say, where Antares or Arcturus
was? Or how would they know if the ETX was slewing to the right object
(or if it was off, in what direction), if they didn't know where that
object was, relative to nearby stars?

I think of GOTO with the Autostar as an electronic Sky Atlas. I still
have my laminated Sky Atlas 2000 out with me, even though I have an
Autostar. But with the Autostar I let it find the objects, which gives
me more time (which is extremely limited anyway) to observe. Plus,
because of the Autostar I am observing, studying and learning more about
specific objects in constellations that I previously passed over.

I am definitely learning way more about the cosmos with GOTO, than I
ever did without it. Not to mention that I've already been out 5 times
with my ETX105, which is about 5 more times than I would have with my 8"
SCT. That alone makes it worth the price.

Thanks again,

Mark Mittlesteadt
Wausau, WI
Mike here: There are two parts of enjoying astronomy. Some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt (looking things on in star charts, using setting circles, star hopping, etc) and then enjoy the thrill of viewing the object. Others enjoy the thrill of viewing objects without having to go through the extra steps. Neither is "wrong"; both are perfectly acceptable.
Subject:	re:   Autostar #497 corrupted
Sent:	Thursday, June 24, 2004 21:12:54
From:	Richard Seymour (
(a) turn off the PalmPilot HotSync program(s) in WinXP.
 They're stealing the COM port from the Autostar Updater.

(b) suspect that you may have a bad serial cable.
Inspect (and perhaps re-crimp) the connector ends.
A normal telephone handset cord can be used as that cable.

Good luck
Whoops... i forgot:

(c) try a different updater.  StarPatch from
frequently overcomes Windows difficulties which swamp the ASU.

(d) with ASU, a full download takes 35 minutes.  If it thinks
 it finishes faster than that, it's broke.

(e) with the free version of StarPatch, a full download takes 18 minutes.
 (it does half the job in one minute, then slows down for the other 17)
 (the paid-up version takes two minutes or less)

have fun

Subject:	re:   Autostar #494
Sent:	Thursday, June 24, 2004 21:08:04
From:	Richard Seymour (
Confusion reigns...

The Autostar Updater (ASU) -can- update the User Objects in your 494.

As Mike posted, the site for it is:

The exact link is:

Once that program is run on your PC (it's an Installation package),
you will be able to update the satellites, comets, asteroids,
and Tours in your 494

have fun


Iunderstand that I cant use the Auto Update feature.  I did not know
this at first, However I was at one time last year able to upload the
coordinates for the HST and the ISS.  Now when I try to upload the data
my Autostar goes blank and no data gets transfered.  Has this been a
problem with the Autostar handbox?  I was able to do other things like
edit my personal info thru the ASU program.  But not upload any satelite
data without my screen going blank.  I'm confused.

Subject:	re:   Norway
Sent:	Thursday, June 24, 2004 21:04:26
From:	Richard Seymour (
I agree with Mike's suggestion (pick a nearby city to start with),
but the answer is: use positive (+) Time Zone offsets for sites
East of Greenwich.  

have fun

Subject:	re: ETX 105 with Autostar v. 31Ee
Sent:	Thursday, June 24, 2004 21:02:30
From:	Richard Seymour (
A -slight- (sometimes) shortcut in scrolling is that you
can scroll UP as well as down... 

have fun
Yes, I have scrolled up instead of down, depending on which direction
was faster. Still, with all the stars in the database, some kind of
shortcut key would be helpful...i.e. - holding down one key while you
scroll could maybe make it scroll faster or jump through the alphabet.

Mark Mittlesteadt
A little-known trick for everything except alignment is that
you can (if you know the numbers) use the Messier (and some other)
numeric entry to jump into a different list.

Example: if you want to reach Polaris (in the named star list),
first key/scroll to Deep Sky: Messier: 50 [enter]
now key/scroll to Star: Named, and you're almost there.

have fun
And this:
I've often wished they had the key-letter lookup in -all-
of their lists, rather than only in the Glossary.

(the alignment/named star list is only 79 entries long...
it's the 200+ and 300+ lists such as Multiple Stars and
Named DSO's which get painful... and then there are the
fully-loaded satellite and comet lists...)

I like the hold-two keys method, or perhaps a mouse-like
accelleration factor on the single scroll key (the longer
you hold, the faster it goes...)

have fun

Subject:	ETX 105 with Autostar v. 31Ee
Sent:	Wednesday, June 23, 2004 06:50:21
From:	Mark Mittlesteadt (
I finally got my Autostar upgraded to version 31Ee. I tried upgrading it
with three different computers (I'm a network administrator and I know
how to use COM ports). I just could not get ASU to find the Autostar,
but it turns out I had a bad 505 cable and needed a replacement. I could
have made one, but I had already purchased it.

Previously, my ETX would slew after sync. I'd get Jupiter centered and
then it would drift back to where it was before I centered it. Very
aggravating. After the update, that's no problem anymore.

I still get some drift after I center an object, but I've found that
altering the Azimuth and Altitude percentages makes a huge difference in
that (mine are currently at about 25%). Also, it seems that the drift
lessens as time goes on. If I center an object and then sync, I get some
drift. But after a few targets are centered and then I do a sync, the
drift is lessened and then after a couple more it stops altogether.
Perhaps the Autostar and the ETX need a period of time to "learn" what
it's supposed to do.

One question I do have is regarding alignment. I have very limited areas
of sky that are not blocked by trees, houses or terrible sky-glow from
the various suburbs. Right now I use Antares and Arcturus to align, but
I would like to use Spica in place of Arcturus, as it is not so far
overhead. Does anyone know of a way to get to Spica without having to
scroll through the entire list alphabetically? Is there a shortcut on
the Autostar that I am not aware of? There are a lot of features in the
Autostar and without letters on the keypad; I find it takes forever to
scroll down the list.

So far, my ETX105 is everything I thought it would be. Those that have
alignment or GOTO problems must not have the latest Autostar update or
not be doing the correct procedures, i.e. - calibrating, training,
setting the correct home position or altering the alt-az percentages,
etc. When done correctly the ETX does what it should...and very well.

Mark Mittlesteadt
Artist / Owner
Mike here: I'm surprised you are still getting some "rubberbanding" following the GOTOs and object centering. Doing the reTRAINING following an Autostar update usually removes that. And no, there is no alternative except scrolling.


Well, that's the strange thing. It starts out that way (though there is
not much "rubberbanding" anymore), but after a couple of times locating
objects, it stops doing the "rubberbanding" altogether.

I don't know if it makes a difference or not...and maybe Clay could
verify it, but when I first reset the Autostar and did the calibration,
I had no EP in and the heavy, metal front cover was on. Perhaps when I
calibrate it, I should have taken off the cover and put on the dew
shield (the Meade one) and an EP, and then calibrated, so that it's
calibrated based on the way it will be used.

Of course, when I train the drives I use the dew shield and an EP so
that it is the way it will be when I actually use it. I'll have to try
the training again and see. I use Polaris for training (in Alt-Az mode).
I've only used it about 4 times so far and with each time it is getting
better (the rubber banding as well as the accuracy in GOTO). It could
just be that I'm getting better at setting it up each time.

I have a permanent pier in my back yard and it is always setup the same
way though I have the mount made to be slightly adjustable for accuracy
(I use it in Alt-Az for now), so it's the same mounting position every
time. I'm toying with the idea of using it in Polar mode as that's how I
use my 8" SCT, but I'm not sure if one is any better than the other. I
seem to read conflicting reports on whether Polar or Alt-Az is better.

I can only imagine how many people would be frustrated with this scope
were it not for your site, and yours and Clay's help. Meade should hire
the two of you! :)

Thanks again.

Subject:	Norway
Sent:	Tuesday, June 22, 2004 23:55:27
From:	Jan H Kolst (
I 've just bought an Autostar 497 for my ETX90.Regarding Timezone, I
live in Norway about 5 degrees east of Greenwich,should I put - (minus)
or  + (plus) 1 in Timezone?


Jan H Kolst
Mike here: Pick a nearby city and edit that. Then you won't have to worry about the timezone setting.
Subject:	Autostar #494
Sent:	Tuesday, June 22, 2004 18:06:52
From:	Romeo (
I am trying to find the software for my Autostar 494 but the meade side
doesn't even seem to support this anymore.

I had it at one time but reformated my computer and lost the program. 
Any help you can give me as to updating my Autostar #494 would be


Mike here: Meade has never provided an update for the #494 Autostar.


I know they at least had a program for the #494 to update the Autostar. 
I downloaded it once about a year ago.  Any thoughts on that?
Mike here: There is the Meade Autostar Update Client Application at: but there is no "update" for the #494.


Thanks, so I guess there is now way to update my handbox anymore.  Well
I guess I will call the company directly.  Thanks for your help.

Subject:	Further results on Autostar Time Problem
Sent:	Tuesday, June 22, 2004 05:34:31
From:	Dave Wallace (
I tried again last night, doing another reset/calibrate/train.  It's
still off by one hour in RA.  However, 20:22 on 6/21 EDT translates to
13:39 LST, which my planetarium program (Cartes du Ciel) says is
correct.  So maybe this isn't a time issue?

I've confirmed that the latitude and longitude for Lowell, MA as stored
in the Autostar is correct.  And the time zone is minus five hours,
which is also correct (if setting Daylight Time = YES does what it

I've confirmed that the alt/az for Vega and LST for 22:00 on 6/18 EDT my
Autostar computes is the same as you got (and the same as Cartes du Ciel
gets, too).  So conversion from local civil time to local sidereal time
isn't the issue.  And conversion from RA/Dec to Az/Alt seems to be
correct -- it looks like my Autostar just seems to insist that the polar
home position is off by 15 degrees!

I know that the RA axis is polar aligned; with the scope in home
position, I can see Polaris in the FOV of my 40mm eyepiece (a bit
off-center).  And even if the bubble level in my tripod isn't accurate,
I should think a tilt of 15 degrees would show up just eyeballing across
the arms of the fork -- to my eye, they look level in the east/west

Finally, if I set the local time to be one hour early and do an Easy
Align (which used Arcturus and Vega last evening -- it's darned hard to
mistake those two stars for anything else that's even close when it's
only thirty minutes after sunset!), the Autostar is happy with the
positions, so things aren't wildly off -- just rotated 15 degrees.  (The
Autostar won't accept the alignment when set to the right time: it says
"check stars" instead.)

Anyway, I'm about to go on vacation, so I'm going to have to quit
fooling with the scope for a bit.  When I get back, I'll re-load the
31Ee firmware and try it all again.  Thanks again for your insights and
I'll try misaligning my forks to see if i can trigger that message.
(the system is usually very willing to allow for a 15 degree inital
setup error)

Anyway, I'm about to go on vacation, so I'm going to have to quit fooling with
the scope for a bit.  When I get back, I'll re-load the 31Ee firmware and try
it all again.

I'm hoping that there'll be a new version out by your return
(ever hopeful, i am), and whatever's causing your problems will disappear.

Gee...  you're not taking the telescope?  They enjoy new skies....

have fun

Subject:	Re: Fwd: How does the Autostar Compute Time?
Sent:	Monday, June 21, 2004 05:55:10
From:	Dave Wallace (
Thanks for your quick response, Dick.

I didn't get to read your emails until this morning, so I'm going to
have to get back to you on most of the questions, but a couple can be
answered right away:

>Er, what objects (other than the Moon, and the Easy Align targets,

>have you tried ("all of them" is difficult for me to key in.)

I haven't tried the Moon since I noticed the problem (new moon last
week). Targets were Deneb, Albireo, Vega, Epsilon Lyra,  Arcturus, M3,
Antares, Graffias, M4,  Jupiter, Regulus and Algieba.  All show a
consistent minus one hour RA postilion error (in other words, if I let
the Autostar do its thing with the time set up normally then the
resulting position is one hour RA westward of the target; if I lie to
the Autostar about the time by minus one hour, it slews to the target). 
As I said, the problem is systematic rather than what you'd expect if
the RA axis was not pointing at Polaris.  [And no, the telescope base is
not tipped 15 degrees westward of level.  :)  ]

>Don't forget that being a day off in the setup would also cause

>a very-close-to one RA hour error in the Moon's position.

True, but it would only amount to a degree or so for Jupiter or any of
the stellar and deep sky targets.

>What -time- of night were -your- observations?

>(this might be a midnight-flip issue)

Before midnight local time but after midnight GMT.  (Between 21:00 and
23:30 EDT.  That's between 01:00 and 03:30 GMT.)  And repeated on
several nights spread over a couple of weeks -- like I said, this
problem seems to have been happening for at least a couple of months.

>and i'd appreciate a sky-truth of where Vega really is.

For me, Vega is roughly east north east and at an altitude of about 45
degrees at 10 PM this time of year.  Deneb is around 30 degrees up and
closer to NE. Regulus is due west and 20 degrees up.  Antares is SSE and
about 20 degrees up. Arcturus is a bit west of due south and 60 degrees
up.  Jupiter is WSW and 30 degrees up.

>Vega at 10pm EDT June 19th at your site is Az=78 Alt=51.  LST is 15:08

The position of Vega agrees with my estimate.  I'll have to see what the
Autostar is computing for LST and get back to you on that one.  (If LST
is off, that's a significant clue, I'd suspect.)

Subject:	RE: Autostar has the wrong data
Sent:	Sunday, June 20, 2004 20:18:20
From:	Gibson, Emily (Houston) (
I found something interesting in looking at this ROM file.

The file, asp7a11ee.rom, was created June 17, 2004...the first day I
connected the 494 to laptop.  Is this a backup of data?  I found in the
Help section something about how to restore data, but it looks like this
ROM backup only stores user data, not original handbox data.  Is this

On another note: I'm interested in the 497, but all my research
indicated this would not work with the DS-2114.  Is this true?

In the midst of this message, we decided to try something.  In reading
about ASU on Meade's site, I saw that version 3.61 offered a Safe Mode
baud rate of 9600 for 497.  This made me think that the data was just
corrupted while sending back to the handbox because our baud was set to
57,600 (per ASU...port was set to 9600).  I went to another computer and
downloaded ASU.  I copied one comet to the database and sent.  Same

Then, I uninstalled the software again, deleted the Meade folder and
reinstalled.  This time, I made a copy of ASP7a10en.rom and renamed this
file to asp7a11ee.rom and set the file attributes to "read-only".  I
then downloaded one asteroid and sent.  After "retrieving database -
100%" I received an error..."Asp7A11Ee.rom file not found"...I take this
to mean that it could not write to the file.  It ended the

This all brings me to another can a different
asp7a11ee.rom file be used when ASU first downloads the software from
handbox, then uploads the same data, hence the "incorrect" data is
always received from handbox and sent back?
Mike here: Meade's site says the Autostar #497 works on "All DS-2000 Models". And:
From:	Richard Seymour (
The asp7a11ee.rom is most likely a self-made "backup" file of
the data from your Autostar.   (this doesn't explain why i
don't have one left over from my v1.1Ea ETX70, but i may have
only Updated it on a different computer).

The 497 knows the DS-2114 (it's in its known model list internally).

The Autostar only speaks 9600 baud.. the 56K setting is only used
by the AutostarII in the LX200gps (now, it's -possible- that the
506 can go faster, but the actual data rate to the 494 is limited
to about 64 characters per second.  The Updates are done in a
handshake fashion, 64 bytes at a time. 

Ouch... what does it do with Jupiter -now-?

That's a puzzle.. .i'd appreciate a copy of your Asp7a11ee.rom file.
I can compare it to the various versions i have.

Your latest note shall also be sent to Meade...

have fun
And more:
Ahh... a little homework answers this part:

>Then, I uninstalled the software again, deleted the Meade folder and
>reinstalled.  This time, I made a copy of ASP7a10en.rom and renamed this
>file to asp7a11ee.rom and set the file attributes to "read-only".  I
>then downloaded one asteroid and sent.  After "retrieving database -
>100%" I received an error..."Asp7A11Ee.rom file not found"...I take this
>to mean that it could not write to the file.  It ended the

The Asp7a11ee.rom file (and the ASP7a10en.rom file) 
**internally** identify themselves, too.  So simply renaming the file
does/will not make it usable by the Updater.  That's why it choked.

I think that, if you copy the "real"  Asp7a11ee.rom into your
ephemerides folder, it will allow the Updater to restore it.

(be sure to keep a copy safe somewhere else, lest the Updater
suck the corrupted data from the Autostar onto the in-PC copy.)

good luck

Subject:	Autostar #497 corrupted
Sent:	Sunday, June 20, 2004 20:02:48
From:	Don Kelloway (
Thank you for amassing such a wealth of information.  You have a
fantastic website!

I would like to offer my comment in regards to the following post
(provided below for reference).  I too am experiencing the *same* issue
except in my case it involves the Autostar #497 with an ETX-90EC with

Two days ago I purchased the Meade LPI and Autostar Suite.  During the
process of upgrading the handheld to 31e with a RS-232 cable COM port
cable. The ASU (v3.61) program stated the process was complete (took
15-20 minutes), but the Handheld stated that it was still downloading.

Not knowing what to do I let the handheld sit for awhile.  After waiting
another fifteen minutes I powered the ETX off and then powered it back
on. As soon as I did I noticed the handheld reflected '(c)03 Meade [31E}
A U T O S T A R)' so I figured everything was alright.  Unfortunately I
was wrong.

After entering the date/time I soon discovered during the process of
Alignment that the primary star to be aligned to had a name of 'ctr'  I
then discovered that the secondary star to align to had a name of
'cccc'.  At this point I knew something was seriously wrong.  I scrolled
through the listing available of available star names and not one was
valid.  Every name was composed of odd jumbled characters.  I then took
a look through the various modes available and observed that there isn't
a single object that's readable.

Obviously whatever happened resulted in corrupting the Autostar.  In an
effort to fix the issue I reset it a few times, but the issue still
exists. I though I would redownload '31e', but I discovered that my
Windows XP system can no longer locate the Autostar handheld on the COM
port that it previously had no problems locating.

With the information from your website (again thank you) I discovered
how to put the handheld to SAFELOAD.  Unfortunately even while it is in
this mode my Windows XP system still cannot locate it.  Unless you have
any additional suggestions I suspect I will have to acquire a USB cable
to fix this.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Best regards,
Don Kelloway (Boston, MA)

Subject:    ETX-125 Autostar
Sent:   Monday, June 14, 2004 21:40:17
From: (
Sorry to bother you, but I need some advice (if you do not mind).

I just got the Autostar Suite with the LPI for the scope. I tried to
update the Autostar and the system just stopped in the middle. It said
is was downloading then it was done.  I turned off the Autostart and
started it again a little later, and nothing happens. It stays on the
first screen (which says (c)03 Meade [31E} A U T O S T A R)... Nothing
else happens. On top of that when I try to re-upload everything, my
computer (a Windows XP machine) will not recgonize that the autostar is

Just wondering if you have heard of this problem before.

Have a pleasant evening.

Mike here: Regarding the com port, since it worked once I would have suspected the Updater application would find the Autostar in SAFE LOAD mode. Could it be that the port failed? Have you tried cold booting the computer?


Thank you for the prompt reply.

Yes.  I've since rebooted the computer (a laptop to be specific) a few
times and no matter what, it still fails to locate the handheld.  Very
odd as it worked once albeit the same time it appeared to have corrupted
the handheld. LOL

My next step is to try it on my desktop.  Of course I also intend to
call Meade tomorrow to request assistance.
And an update:
Good news.

After trying the process with a second computer and still encountering
the same issue.  I arrive to the conclusion that the common denominator
is/was the cable and/or serial connector.  Figuring the cable itself is
probably alright I focused my attention on the serial connector.  Sure
enough after I opened it up, jiggled the three wires (grn, yel and blk),
plugged it back in (on the laptop).  It was successful in finding the
handheld.  As of this minute it's in the process of Sending Program (20%

Thanks for being a sounding board.

Best regards,
Don Kelloway

Subject:	Autostar has the wrong data
Sent:	Saturday, June 19, 2004 23:15:45
From:	Gibson, Emily (Houston) (
We have a DS-2114 with Autostar 494.  It's a pretty new setup and
everything was working fantastic, until we used ASU.  I found the 494
does not have an update, so I only added some comets and satellites. 
Afterwards, the coordinates for Jupiter (this is the only planet in our
sky and the test subject) are completely incorrect in the handbox. 
(Note: the handbox found Jupiter accurately prior to the ASU usage)  We
checked and rechecked the date, time, DST, etc.  Then, we reset the date
to 2005 and checked the coordinates of Jupiter to the Starry Night
software, coordinates correct.  Changed the date to 2003, coordinates
correct.  Changed back to 2004, coordinates completely off. We
systematically changed the date on Autostar and it seems the coordinates
problem started with 03-Mar-2004.  Feb 29 shows correct coordinates,
Mar. 1 does not.

We used the "reset" option in Autostar, but it seems this did not really
reset anything except telescope model and location.  All the recently
downloaded comets and satellites were still stored in Autostar"reset"
didn't even reset the date;  when we turned on after reset, date was
still set to today's date.

I've seen the info on resetting firmware, using the "enter" key and
"down-arrow" then turning on, but I think this applies to the 495 and
497I tried on the 494 and nothing different happened with power-on.

Any help is very much appreciated.

Mike here: The ENTER/DOWN-ARROW is the SAFE LOAD and doesn't apply to the #494 since there is up ROM build to load. Running the ASU obviously should not have made any changes and since RESET help, I suspect something has become corrupt and there won't be able you can (easily) do. But I'll forward your message to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour, for his thoughts.

And more:

Well, a little more information...and WOW, what a quick reply...

We found that this problem occurs in every leapyear...tested 2008, 2000,
1996, each year had incorrect coordinates from March 1 through the end
of the year.

Also, something had slipped my mind.  The scope was packaged with the
Starry Night Bundle and ACP (Astronomers Control Panel).  ACP was not
recording the correct date (Feb. 8, 2006 was displayed), and we found an
update for this problem on their site.  Previous to this, we received an
error when synching the time/date from pc to scope (illegal format). 
So, we made various changes to the date format (it was only the date
that wouldn't update, time was ok).  We changed to Julian, and every
imaginable format, each time clicking the "synch scope time with pc"
button in the ACP.  Then, we downloaded the update from ACP's site (this
was attributed to y2k problem) and then the date/time updated
successfully.  Is it possible that during this process we somehow
accessed and corrupted the firmware (in relation to date)?

Thanks for you help.
Mike here: Glad you got the ACP update to fix the date problem. Since it is NOT supposed to WRITE to the Autostar, it should have NOT corrupted anything.

And from our Autostar expert:

Good detectiving...

And congratulations on finding the updates for ACP and StarryNight,
my recent forays into those sites (So i could tell other folks 
where to find them) came up empty...
Do you happen to remember the addresses of the downloads?

But back to your problem... could you please supply the version
number of your Autostar's firmware?   
You can get the full identifier at
Setup > Statistics > (scroll up).

My own 494 is out on loan with my ETX70 to a friend's house,
but i can call them and have them do a Jupiter look-up.

In anticipation of that, could you provide the numbers behind
one of these failures?  i.e. set in a date and time, then
select Jupiter and tap the [enter] key to "run the numbers".
Then please provide the RA/DEC which should be displayed.
Then please send me those numbers, along with the date, time, daylight
saving status, and your Site data (if it's an "autostar city",
just the city name is fine).  (for extra points, you're certainly
welcome to send along the "correct" RA/DEC, too, to give me a cross-check
for when i set it up here, too)

What surprises me is that i haven't heard about this from the
4504 telescope crowd... that model also uses a 494, with modified
programming to handle the 4504's GEM mount.

As Mike said, there's no way that the StarryNight/ACP update
could've trashed your Jupiter computations, especially to such
a fine degree... i'm pretty sure it's a fundamental bug in the
494's original programming.  I think that there are two broad
classes of 494 firnware (version 1.0 and version 1.1), hence the
need to hear which firmware version you have.  (perhaps you've
received a new, third generation, version)
The 4504 uses v1.0g ("g" for German Equatorial?)
If my tangled notes are correct, my 494 has 1.1Ea

thanks for the report
have fun
Mike here: The link for the Astronomer's Control Panel ACP is on the Astronomy Links page.


That's the -site-, but i was looking for the specific ancient v2 downloads.
(and there's one for StarryNightBundle itself, too)
They're buried deep (although i'm told that the current ACP will 
work with the old bundle, i haven't tested that)

(that's like saying "visit" when trying to tell 
people how to find the portable-power-supply-comparison page)
((a hunt i've done at times due to lack of having it specifically
noted in my "file of URLs"))

have fun
Mike here: Yeah. I could only find the main download page ("Try It!" page).

And this:

Attached is the RA/Dec information requested.  We tested 4 different
planets (all incorrect), the Moon (correct) and Polaris and Spica
(correct).  Only the planets are included in the spreadsheet.

The firmware is 11Ee. I looked around the ASU software and didn't find a way to re-download the standard Solar System data. Is there a way to just replace the existing values with correct data, short of manually re-entering everything? Your help is much appreciated. I'd like to figure this out instead of sending it back (although it is still under warranty). Thanks, Emily
Thanks for the spreadsheet, those certainly are whacko.

A few more bits of data, please... what is your SITE,
and what date/time were those calculations ran at?

(it helps convince Meade that there's a problem if one can
-duplicate- the user's "experience")

I'm stunned that the MOON is coming through correctly,
it's usually the most sensitive body in the bunch.
(but Meade is good at stunning me at times)

>I looked around the ASU software and didn't find a way to re-download
>the standard Solar System data.  Is there a way to just replace the
>existing values with correct data, short of manually re-entering

The planetary data are merely another set of orbital parameters, 
and the Autostar calculates the expected current positions.

Although... you ARE allowed to manually add/change Asteroid orbits.
We could dig up the values for the planets, and you could just add
 a few new "asteroids" to the list.

I'm going to be putting your notes into a message to Meade, so
at least 1.1Ef can be corrected.   The trick will be how to
get a properly-updated version into -your- hands.

(there's also the -tiny- chance that your unit has a bad memory
chip affecting only this data... but i put that as a -very-
remote likelihood.)

I'll see if i can cast the planets' orbits in terms the Asteroid
entry would like to receive.  It may take a day or so.

have fun
And more:
Ohhh.... a second penny dropped...

Was it doing Jupiter -correctly- before the Update session?

If so, i think i -do- know how it got it wrong (and that you
simply haven't discovered the other errors it may have induced).

The Updater includes a few files (Asp7Axxxx.rom) which live in
the Ephemerides folder.  These are to replace main database stuff
erased when the Updater plays with your User Object files.

Perhaps the ASU grabbed/inserted the wrong one?

That might make it -easier- to fix than i'd expected....

wish us luck
And more:
Sorry, I forgot that information:

5:30pm in Daylight Savings Time.

Oh yes, I wish you luck...

Yes, everything was working beautifully last weekend and ASU was first
used Thursday afternoon.  Then, no luck this weekend.

Well, in a bizarre way, that's good news.

The problem (once Meade is kicked into action) will be solvable
by you (a) receiving a new Asp7Axxx.rom file from meade, and
(b) updating the Comets again with it in place.

("(a)" may entail a new Updater, too...)

I don't have a "dump" of 11Ee, or i'd be able to provide the
corrected file for you (i think).  

have fun (until Meade acts...)
Thanks so much for your effort and knowledge.  I'd be at a loss without
the help.

Do I now need to call Meade?

Mike here: But this is a #494. Shouldn't be updateable. Or is it if you have the ROM file?


Due to the memory chips used in the 494 and 497, the Updater
has to -erase- and -rewrite- 64 Kbytes at a time.

The User Object area in the 494 is only 32Kbytes.
(the 497's area is the full 64 Kbytes)

The Updater therefore comes with five "extra" files:
Asp7A1.0j.rom, Asp7A1.0k.rom, Asp7A10El.rom, Asp7A10En.rom
and Asp7A10Gl.rom  
(look in your Ephemerides area, they're there)

Those "extra" files are used to restore the "extra" 32Kbytes
(of permanent object data area) when the Updater updates
(erases/replaces) the Comets, Asteroids, Satellites, User Objects,
and Tours  in a 494 Autostar or 4504's Starfinder.
Each Asp7A file works with some specific version of 494 firmware.
You'll note they all have "1.0" in their names.
Emily's 494 is a version 1.1  (as is mine).

You'll find the same Asp7A files (no more nor fewer) 
in the Emphemerides folder  of an Autostar Suite installation, too.

have fun
And more:
>Do I now need to call Meade?

I would recommend it, if only to get your "warranty" claim in
the works... and remember that you don't have to -act- upon
a request to "send in the scope".  You can request that
-they- send you a replacement Autostar *first* (they may request
or require a credit card number to guarantee you returning the
sick unit, that's acceptable).  If they -do- send an Autostar,
TEST IT before sending yours in... there's a non-zero chance 
they'll send you a Starfinder (doesn't know 2114's) or an older
version.  (on the other hand, they may send you a 497, which
would be a win).

By calling Meade, you'll prevent other folks from getting an
honest "gee... we've never heard of THAT before" response.

have fun (with all the other stuff it CAN find)

Subject:	How does the Autostar Compute Time?
Sent:	Friday, June 18, 2004 12:57:07
From:	Dave Wallace (
This is either a very simple operator error-type problem or I've found a
very subtle bug in the Autostar code.

First, let me say that I *do* understand time as it applies to
astronomy, I *have* updated to the latest firmware (31Ee) and done
RESET/Calibrate/Train Drives.  I can see Polaris from my site and am
dead on it and the telescope is level to within a degree.

But my Autostar seems to want to be an hour (RA) west of the correct
position! I have to enter a time that's an hour earlier than current
local time.  The error is definitely systematic:  every GOTO is off by
exactly one hour westward in right ascension, no matter what declination
-- if I GOTO an object and then use the arrow keys to move one hour RA
eastward, the object is centered in the FOV of the 26 mm eyepiece.


Latitude:           42:38.5 N
Longitude:      71:24.0 W
Time Zone:      -5      (Nearest Meade site = Lowell, MA, about 5 miles away)
Daylight:           YES
Mount:          Polar
Time Format:    24-hour
Targets:            Astronomical
Telescope:      ETX-90

This set-up requires that I enter a time an hour earlier than the
correct time. If I change the Time Zone setting to -4 and *still* answer
YES to daylight time, the Autostar will then point properly with the
correct time set (and an Easy Align succeeds in slewing to the stars
picked, within the FOV of the 40 mm eyepiece or better).  This behavior
could have started happening since we went to daylight time or since I
updated to 31Ee -- the two events were roughly coincidental.

Could our resident Autostar expert (hi, Dick!) please explain what the
code thinks it's doing?  My experience with astronomical time
computations tells me that the correct behavior would be to use the
right time zone (EST, -5) and offset it an hour when Daylight Time is
set TRUE (to EDT, -4) to get GMT civil time and then convert that to
LST, but it appears that the Autostar isn't doing this (and that could
be a bug that only appears if you use 24-hour time format and possibly
only with the combination of 24-hour time and polar mount; I haven't
"rung the changes" on all the possibilities).  Or that the Autostar is
converting the time correctly but getting local sidereal time off by an
hour because it's not including the daylight correction in that
computation too.

In any event, I've been living with this bug (if that's what it is) for
a couple of months now.  It's not terribly serious, but I'm afraid that
if the Autostar is indeed messing up the conversion from civil time to
local sidereal time that the positions of solar system objects
(especially the moon) will be off by an hour if I just lie to it about
the local time.  (Not that the moon moves much in one hour!)

Anyway, thanks in advance for any insight you or Dick might be able to
provide to me.
And from our resident expert:
From:	Richard Seymour (
It'll take me a day or two to check into that...
(i'll set my scope to the same location, and compare Alt/Az readout
against StarryNight for some objects.)

Meanwhile, i'll distract you by asking what the TIME display
shows when it's being weird... (hold [mode] 3 secs, release,
scroll to TIME).

Since the entire population of Lowell, Ma, (and environs)
has not been rioting in the streets over this, i suspect it's unique...

Er, what objects (other than the Moon, and the Easy Align targets,
have you tried ("all of them" is difficult for me to key in.)
An example Star would be adequate.
Don't forget that being a day off in the setup would also cause
a very-close-to one RA hour error in the Moon's position.
(but in the wrong direction (eastward) from your description)
(i'm not saying that -you're- a day off, (Meade could be, or
living in GMT day))

Gimme a day or so...
have fun
OK, i'm confused...

Where, when in Lowell MA at 10pm on Jun 18th, WAS Vega?   
Was it north or south of due East?

My ETX points to Az=77 deg 23 min, Alt=50 46'
In both Polar and Alt/Az, 24-hour clock and AM/PM. EDT.
(advancing to 20-Jun only moves Vega to Az=78 deg, so
you don't have to spin the earth backwards a day).
(and my LST is shown as 15:08 approximately)

What -time- of night were -your- observations?
(this might be a midnight-flip issue)

When i try to mimic it in StarryNight, it's at Az=122 deg.
(i must have set something wrong in there...)

So i'll need at least that one more datum:
 your time and date of testing

and i'd appreciate a sky-truth of where Vega really is.

have fun
And more:
Less confusion... (i've added coffee)

OK... using Autostar Suite's starmap (which is unambiguous about
daylight savings time), it agrees with my ETX90's GoTo's.
Vega at 10pm EDT June 19th at your site is Az=78 Alt=51.  LST is 15:08

My v31Ee ETX90, in both polar and alt/az, thinks it goes there.
Since i haven't got real stars to align upon, i have to just
accept (tap [enter]) when the alignment slews happen.

A thing you could try, even if Polar mounted on a pier,
would be to tell the scope it's Alt/Az mounted, and do a 
One Star align to Vega.

Just looking at the fork's alignment relative to the base
when it thinks it's pointing there should be adequate...
For an Az=78 deg  Vega, the forks would not have passed
due south.   
For an RA-hour-later displaced Vega (Az=85 33', Alt=62) 
the scope would appear to be pointing almost exactly due
east.  (at 23:30 20-Jun, it's Az=91 deg).

So, at the moment, i cannot duplicate your symptoms.
If you can suggest a setup which demonstrates the issue,
i'd be happy to try it.

have fun

Subject:	Was a computer Problem
Sent:	Thursday, June 17, 2004 13:05:27
From: (
I had the computer checked and found there is a problem with my serial
port..for some reason they can't find there was a conflict between modem
port 3  and com port 1.

Thanks for your help gread site you have.
        Marty B

Subject:	ETX 90 - daylight saving
Sent:	Thursday, June 17, 2004 03:04:18
From:	Michael Radcliffe (
In the UK we are now on daylight saving and I would normally set this
facility to "on". However I will shortly be using a GPS to derive the
co-ordinates and time. Does this mean that the time signal will be UTC
and that the daylight saving facility should remain on "off".

Many thanks in advance and thanks for a great site - all the best -
Mike here: Check the manual that came with your GPS unit. With the StarGPS-LX that I have, you set the Daylight Savings to off.
Subject:	Newbie-ETX-90 Autostar setup
Sent:	Thursday, June 17, 2004 07:01:30
From:	Lou (
Of course the sky here in Santa Clarita, CA (N34 25.197      W118
31.841) has been quite poor since I bought the scope last Friday.

I still have not installed the Autostar.  I am a bit confused what can
be done with the Autostar.  Can the scope be moved in a manual mode?  If
I can see the moon, can I just use the Autostar controll to bring it
into view without the computer function?

In a previous message you indicated that there are tips for aligning the
Autostar.  I don't seem to be able to find them.  I presume that since I
have to bring my scope in after each use, I will have to align it each
time I set it up?

Also I found this on Ebay

Do you think this is worth buying?

He has lots of telescope item available, even the D cell external supply
I mentioned earlier.


Warm Regards,
Mike here: You can manually move the telescope to point pretty much anywhere you want (within the limits of its movements). But unless you either do the Autostar alignment OR you mount the telescope in polar mode, the telescope will not track the skies movement, meaning that objects will move out of the eyepiece field of view quickly. As to the alignment tips, as I indicated, they are on the Autostar Info page (which is under the Helpful Information section on the ETX Home Page). Once you are on the Autostar Info page, scroll down until you see "Alignment Tips". You can also use your web browser "find" function to locate text on a web page. As to a #505 cable, you can buy one or you can make one (info on the Autostar Info page). You can use the cable to connect to a RS-232 serial port on your computer and control the Autostar with the computer (Mac or PC) and update the Autostar ROM (Windows only).
Subject:	Rubberbanding & Random Slews
Sent:	Thursday, June 17, 2004 02:26:04
From:	Phil Price (
Reading your site for some time I've noticed a number of people having
trouble with either/or rubberbanding and random slews. My ETX-125 will
track quite happily, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes hours before it
would suddenly veer off course. I've RESET, CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVE on
numerous occasions to no avail.

For a few weeks I had the scope indoors and simulated RESET, CALIBRATE
and TRAIN DRIVE and then a simulated two star alignment and left the
scope running. I work in IT and usually have a collection of base units
running. Since I had the scope in the same room I noticed especially if
the lid was off the base unit it would cause exactly the same symptoms.
My mobile phone can have a similar effect but not every time. If I
switched the PC's off and tried it again, it would be hours sometimes
not at all before symptoms would occur again.

Could stray RF be the cause of most of the ruberbanding and random
slewing problems? Has anyone tried any RF shielding around the drive
electronics within the scope?

Your comments would be much appreciated
Mike here: Thanks for the report. Electrical interference could cause the random slew problem. Typically anything that interrupts the communication will create it. That could be due to "dirty electricity", low power, dirty encoders, bad connections, or some external interference. I suppose it is possible that the same thing could apply to rubberbanding, possibly as a result of an accumulative effect of the Autostar losing track of encoder pulses.
Subject:	re:   auto star
Sent:	Wednesday, June 16, 2004 19:02:39
From:	Richard Seymour (
>can you pick which stars auto star uses for alignment ?

To fill out Mike's answer just a bit, you tap the [scroll down]
key to tell the Autostar "i don't like that star", if you're
using Easy Align or One Star.  You can do it during the slew,
or after it's arrived.

have fun

Subject:	auto star
Sent:	Wednesday, June 16, 2004 04:53:07
From:	gilly and gill (
can you pick which stars auto star uses for alignment ?
Mike here: You can skip stars when the Autostar selects them in the Easy alignment or you can use One or Two Star alignment.
Subject:	ETX90 Question - Can you help ? 
Sent:	Tuesday, June 15, 2004 03:40:08
From:	James Jefferson-Wilson James (
I have been using my ETX90 without the Autostar for about 5 months now
just so I get used to the stars myself and Im now wanting to use it with
autostar.  As I have been pushing and pulling manually do I need to do
anything Before using autostar ?


James Jefferson (JJ)  
Mike here: Read the manual. Look at some of the info on aligning on the Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX-125 Autostar
Sent:	Monday, June 14, 2004 21:40:17
From: (
Sorry to bother you, but I need some advice (if you do not mind).

I just got the Autostar Suite with the LPI for the scope. I tried to
update the Autostar and the system just stopped in the middle. It said
is was downloading then it was done.  I turned off the Autostart and
started it again a little later, and nothing happens. It stays on the 
first screen (which says (c)03 Meade [31E} A U T O S T A R)... Nothing
else happens. On top of that when I try to re-upload everything, my
computer (a Windows XP machine) will not recgonize that the autostar is

Just wondering if you have heard of this problem before.

Have a pleasant evening.
Do you know if meade has an email address?
Mike here: You say it stopped in the middle but said it was done? Anyway, you can always try to redownload via a SAFE LOAD. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN arrow and then power on the ETX. The Updater application should recognize this and let you redownload. Meade has for bug reports but not tech support. If you use this address, don't expect a response.


Thank you for the advice, it worked.  I did get the USB adapter for it
which made things easier.

I do have one more problem.  After I got it working again, the display
on the autostar is really dim, it is just about unreadable in the house
lighting.  Any ideas how to get it brighter?

Thanks a ton for the help...
Dan Cohen
Mike here: Glad that worked. Use the Utilities menu to adjust brightness and/or contrast.


Thanks for everything!!!!

Subject:	I need some help
Sent:	Sunday, June 13, 2004 17:07:00
From: (
I'm having a problem of communication between my ETX 125 autostar and my

Is running XP PRO and the other Win 98. Problem is my communication
ports lock up. If I try to get on the Internet to update it won't
connect because comm port being used. It is identical for both
computers. It is an autostar 497 used with DS 90 several years ago and
haven't used it until I used it on the 125 and now updating or
controlling the scope by computer is impossible.

Hope you can help! Marty B
Mike here: First off, you should read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page. Your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the subject (it looks like SPAM).
Next, I need more info. If you are using the same comm port to connect to the internet (via an external modem) as you are trying to use for the Autostar, then you will get a port conflict. So lets back up a step; I gather that you can't connect to the Autostar at all from your computer. Lets solve that first. Then, once that is working you can always download the update file to your computer, disconnect from the Internet, and run the updater application using the file from your hard disk. So, what happens if you just try to connect to the Autostar?
Subject:	Autostar keypad lockup
Sent:	Thursday, June 10, 2004 19:15:03
From:	The Blaisdells (
I just encountered a problem with my ETX125-EC. I started up the scope
in the usual fashionand after the Sun warning appeared I pressed 5 and
nothing happened.The keypad was totally locked up. Nothing would
function. I tried repeatedlybut still the same thing,after going through
the initial setup sequence and arriving at the Sun warning nothing
happened when pressing 5 or any other key. Please help!!!! Rick
Mike here: Are you running on AC or batteries? If batteries, what happens if you replace with fresh ones?


Disregard the previous message. The ENTER key was stuck. I noticed the
rubber pad did not spring back when pushed and pried it up and VIOLA the
lockup disappeared. Rick
Mike here: Actually, that is a good point. See the Autostar Info page for keypad button cleaning info.
Subject:	Voice activated autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, June 9, 2004 21:09:37
From:	Daniel Hayes (
I wasn't sure if you had seen this yet:

It adds voice recognition capabilities to autostar enabled telescopes. I
downloaded it for kicks and installed it on my PII 400 mhz laptop (256MB
RAM) and hooked it up to my etx-90 with #497 autostar and it works
great! I haven't had a chance to get it out under the sky, as it's been
raining here for about a week solid, but the voice recognition is pretty
accurate and it definately interfaces well with the scope. Good for
keeping the hands in the pockets on cold nights!

Mike here: Astroplanner (Mac and PC) also has voice control. See the review on the Accessories Reviews - Software page.
Subject:	Where to find prior Autostar ROM Versions?
Sent:	Tuesday, June 8, 2004 19:02:59
From:	Richard Chitty (
I am the recent and happy owner of an ETX 125 with UHTC and have been
having a wonderful time catching up on exploring the skies as I once did
as a kid many years ago. However, I have fallen victim to the sin of
lust in hoping to improve my ETX's performance by upgrading to Autostar
version Build v31Ee. Not that I was having any real problems, but as I
now have the 505 cable, I wanted to use it.

Big mistake. As now related in other messages, this new build has all
sorts of drift, erratic motions,and novel "features" that would make
Microsoft proud. I should have paid more attention to the warnings to
not upgrade unless necessary.

But now I would like to go back to the version I had originally which
was v26Ec. Do you know where can these older build files be found?

Thanks and kudos to you for one of most helpful websites ever created!
Mike here: I maintain an archive of older Autostar ROM files on the Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Meade Autostar 497 ver 31Ee and Meade LXD500 EQ mount
Sent:	Monday, June 7, 2004 23:33:38
From:	Rob&DonnaF (
I picked up both of these recently for a good price. I was told that the
Autostar referenced above an be used for the LXD500 mount, with some
adjustments. I also purchased the mount with the elctronic controller
and the HBX port. What adjustments must be made, and are they software
only? Or is there a patch some where for easy downloading and setup to
the Autostar for this mount? Thanks,
Rob Fifarek
From:	Richard Seymour (
This is a question best answered by joining the Roboscope group
on yahoo, and asking it there:

I'm fairly sure some of the people there have done this exact conversion.
I do not know if the LXD500 (??what -is- an LXD500??) motors can
accept the Autostar's signalling, or if you'd have to install LXD55
motor units.  But the group could answer that.

have fun

Subject:	autostar blurred scroll
Sent:	Monday, June 7, 2004 07:29:07
From:	Stanley Harrison (
My autostar display characters do not seem to extinguish properly, so
the scrolling display is blurred, and unreadable. Have you seen this

I am  competent at simple electronics repair. Is there anything I can
  Stan     Bethlehem NH
Mike here: Could the scrolling speed be too fast? What happens if you slow the speed down (using the UP/DOWN arrow keys)? Or do you need to adjust the brightness or contrast?


Thanks for the reply.

I am an extremely slow reader. One word at a time. Yet at the scroll
rate at which this is not too blurred to read, I can read it out loud
one letter at a time. Brightness and contrast do not help. Does everyone
just put up with an extremely slow scroll rate? Or are they simply able
to never need to read the scrolled stuff?

Is there a capacitor that can be replaced with a smaller one?
PS this is an EXT 70, 494 autostar. Fresh charged NIMH batteries, at
room temp.
Mike here: If the brightness is too high then the letters may tend to blur out during the scrolling. Try to find a combination that works for you.
Subject:	Percentages/Training
Sent:	Monday, June 7, 2004 04:09:25
From:	Ray Schmidt (
Would it be reasonable to think that logically the ETX percentages
should be fiddled (adjusted) before training the drives?
Mike here: If you do CALIBRATE first, no, you shouldn't have to fiddle with the percentages. Check the Autostar Info page for more on percentages.
Subject:	re: Burnt Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, June 5, 2004 22:35:18
From:	Richard Seymour (
Unfortunately, the PIC chip is custom-programmed by Meade,
and no one i know of knows the programming.
(Meade prevents a "readout" of the program, so no one has 
successfully extracted it).

If it is a new LXD55, you might request a warranty exchange
from Meade.  They could/should have designed protection
(or chosen different connectors) to prevent accidents like yours.

good luck

Subject:	Re: AUTOSTAR e-bay buy =align read point to german north
Sent:	Friday, June 4, 2004 22:10:27
Nope  I believe it's a #494...
Mike here: Well, the #494 should also allow setting of DS models.


To tell the truth I've forgotten just what model it is. I got it off
ebay last year, with the intention of fabricating it with the motors
that came with it to my original celestron tripod.  when I first plugged
it into the Meade mount ( also a ebay find) the first thing I did notice
was in the initialization it did not ask the model of telescope.(and of
course the original question ie german north)
Mike here: If it has number keys then it is either a #495 or #497. If no numbers then it is a #494 (or similar model that shipped with older telescopes).


From:	Richard Seymour (
If it is a "494" Autostar (no numeric keypad), then it cannot be 
(easily) reloaded with Alt/Az firmware.   It is probably a "Starfinder"
controller, and programmed for use  with the 4504 and 114EQ-DH4
telescopes, which do have German Equatorila Mounts (such as
the LXD55's mount, but the 494/Starfinder won't work on them, either).

Many people -do- put the DS motors on GEM mounts, and they
hang out in the yahoo roboscope group:

Likewise the 4504 crowd
could perhaps help.

have fun
Yea no numbers. I'll just  start looking for another autostar.(or find a
LXD55 on ebay )I have the EC paddle for now.  Thanks for your help. Bob

Subject:	AUTOSTAR e-bay buy =align read point to german north
Sent:	Friday, June 4, 2004 19:09:31
I bought a autostar controller off ebay and in the allign set up, it
reads point to german north. Although everything is in english, is this
set for germany? I've never heard the term german north before.. thanks
Mike here: That's for a "German Equatorial Mount" (also known as a GEM). The LXD55 uses that type of mounting. What model telescope have you connected the Autostar to?


The OTA is a celestron short tube 114. the auto star is connected into a
meade DS 114 tripod. hmmm since the tripod is a Altazimuth mount this
might explain why so far I've had trouble with allignment.Can the GEM
program be changed to  Altazimuth configuration or should I just keep
the auto star as a spare for my etx? Thanks.Bob
Mike here: If you connect the Autostar (and it is a correct ROM; 3.1Ee, assuming you have a #497 Autostar) then you should be able to select the DS model and Alt/Az.
Subject:	Burnt Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, June 3, 2004 12:07:54
From:	Sandro Sandro (
I would like to know if you can lend me a hand to resolve a problem with
the autostar:

I have been wrong to connect the spinottis between autostar and motors
(LXD55); therefore I have burnt the autostar.

After having opened (you see enclosure) the autostar I have noticed a
swelling on the pic 16c57-hs marked MEADE with writing

* 9944SAT  

Do you think a pic can be found 16c57-hs and then as you/he/she must be programmed? Can you tell me where I can find the file. hex to program the pic? I thank you for the help that you can give me.

Subject:	ETX 125 Autostar and the Sun
Sent:	Thursday, June 3, 2004 06:33:00
From:	William Burgin (
I have a new ETX 125. My old telescope was a ETX 90 without Autostar. I
want to photograph/observe the transit of Venus on Tuesday. I am sure I
can figure out how to use the Autostar thing by then but I am not sure
how I can just lock on to the Sun and set up the sidereal rotation to
track it. Can anybody give me a short course?

Mike here: Put your solar filter on the telescope (and cover the finderscope unless you have a solar filter for it). Set up in the Alt/Az Home Position. Do a fake alignment (just assume the alignment stars are centered; which if your leveling and True North pointing are accurate will be very close). GOTO Venus. Now you are tracking and have the telescope (hopefully) pointing at Venus.


Thank you Mike.


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