AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 June 2005
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	Solar Astronomy/tracking the sun with an ETX
Sent:	Thursday, July 28, 2005 20:30:43
From:	Richard Varner (richardedwardvarner@msn.com)
Coronado tells me Meade already has, or will soon have, Autostar
software for accurately tracking the sun when using a solar filter with
an ETX.

Is this true?

If so, how can I get it?

Thank you,

Richard Varner
Mike here: I have no info on unreleased versions. But for most purposes, you can use the standard sidereal rate for tracking the Sun. Afterall, the Sun only moves about 360 degrees in 365 days. That is about 1 degree per day, or twice its diameter over a 24 hour period.

And:

Thank you for the opinion.

I hear you and agree -- in theory.

In practice, though, the sun slides out of my eye piece in about a
minute.

I am using an ETX-90 EC, which otherwise tracks nighttime objects (Vega,
Arcturus, M-13) very well. I have the same problem using a white glass
filter and a piggybacked Coronado PST.

The tracking rate is set to sidereal and the motors are operating.

Why doesn't it track the sun as we both agree it should?

regards,
Richard Varner
Mike here: At night you are probably able to do a pretty good Autostar alignment. During the day, assuming you don't leave the telescope set up in the same location overnight and sleep or park the scope, then you probably have not been able to do as accurate an Autostar alignment. Hence, the Alt/Az tracking is slightly off. I'm assuming that you ARE using the Autostar and the telescope is mounted in Alt/Az mode.
Subject:	meade autostar control  35-4700-03 defect
Sent:	Monday, June 27, 2005 19:32:29
From:	luis wills (tatowills@yahoo.com)
I saw your web-page with manifold information about Meade Autostar. I
have one question. I gave to two of my nephews a Meade Autostar a while
ago for Christmas. One of them had problems with the handset control,
which is inoperative, it gives no light whatsoever when plugged in. I
used the handset control of the other nephew in the same telescope, and
it worked well, so it is not the telescope the one with problems, it is
the handset control. My question is simple:
 
is there a way to send the handset control for repari anywhere?
 
and if not,
 
Can I buy the handset control replacement?
 
The handset has the following number in the back: 35-4700-03.
 
Best regards, and thanks a lot for your attention,
 
Luis Alberto Wills
Mike here: Did you also try swapping the cable? But yes, you can buy a replacement Autostar from any Meade dealer. You can also find some used ones online. If you find a #495 Autostar, it can be upgraded to a #497 via software using a #505 serial cable. If you want to return it to Meade you can (if new, it may be replaceable under warranty); otherwise you will have to pay them for the repair, which will likely cost almost as much as a new one.
Subject:	Autostar 494 handbox caused Motor Failure Error
Sent:	Saturday, June 25, 2005 08:15:02
From:	Ron Masters (rmasters2@cinci.rr.com)
Thanks again for a system-saving webpage -  your schematic for the 494
helped me identify a problem inside the handbox that was resulting in a
motor failure error (Meade support assured me the problem had to be the
492 motor unit - however, testing with new motors did not help).  Upon
opening the handbox (no screws anywhere - had to pry apart gently -
assumed it would snap together again), I found the green wire had become
disconnected inside -  this handbox does not have a plug-in connector at
the box - it is hard-wired. With the help of the schematic I was able to
resolder the wire and all works OK now.  So, if you get a motor failure
error with this unit, it might be a wire in the handbox.  Now, to my
question - the handbox does not snap together again - I currently have
it assembled and taped together, and it is working.  I need to know what
others have done to assemble it - glue?  Thanks, Ron

Subject:	Re: Follow-up Japanese Autostar 497
Sent:	Thursday, June 23, 2005 19:26:26
From:	etxnewbie@mac.com (etxnewbie@mac.com)
Thanks again, Mike.

I called Meade's licensee in Japan, and they're going to swap my
Japanese-only Autostar for an English-language version. Should receive
the replacement on Monday. I'm quite pleased with their service.

Cheers,

Glenn

Subject:	Re: Updated Autostar Manuals
Sent:	Wednesday, June 22, 2005 23:49:57
From:	Stephen Bird (stephen.bird@btconnect.com)
Certainly some new info is in those later manuals, but features added
after the manuals were first published do not get described in any
detail. We are still it seems left to get to grips with new features by
trial and error. The only real clues for latest features from Meade, are
vague notes in the Readme files attached to each software update. A good
example is the Autostar Suite Autoguiding feature. Something that many
people will want, but something not described in any of the current
manuals. Surely someone in Meade must have written an operational
instruction for the feature, there seems no point in investing time and
money in a feature that is not revealed to users, where is the return
for Meade?

Regards

Stephen Bird

Subject:	Japanese Autostar 497
Sent:	Wednesday, June 22, 2005 04:58:02
From:	etxnewbie@mac.com (etxnewbie@mac.com)
Greetings from Tokyo! Great site you have here! It helped me a lot when
researching what scope to purchase.

I just received my ETX-90AT from Meade's authorized distributor here in
Japan. The Autostar 497 that was included in the package only displays
the Japanese language. There is no option for switching languages.

I'm wondering whether you or any of your readers know whether it's
possible to flash this Japanese unit with the upgrade software available
from the Meade US website. I'm semi-functional in Japanese, but I'd much
prefer to use the Autostar in my native language.

Cheers,

Glenn
And:
A quick follow-up to my previous inquiry.

I read the FAQ on your website, and attempted the Autostar reset as
explained. The unit does reset as described, but there is no language
selection option once the reset is completed. Apparently, this Autostar
is only loaded with Japanese software (version 32J, according to the
startup screen). Frustrating, to say the least, especially when Meade's
authorized dealer charges about twice the price for the ETX-90 in Japan
($1,100) as it does in the United States.

Anyway, if you or any of your readers know if it's possible to flash
this unit with the English software, I'd love to learn how.

Thanks again,

Glenn
Mike here: Current and recent versions of the Autostar ROM have not included the language option. However you should be able to update to the current version using the ROM file on Meade's site. You will need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 serial port and updater software (Meade's, StarGPS, or AutostarX).

And:

Thank you for your very fast reply. You do a wonderful service to ETX
users worldwide!

I will attempt to upgrade the ROM from the Japanese version to the
current English version on the Meade site. (Guess I should have ordered
that serial cable when I had the chance earlier!)

Another quick question, if you don't mind. When I peer through the lens
at the front of the telescope, I can see a few bits of dust or lint on
the back mirror. The mirror isn't caked in dust (thank goodness!), but
there are a few stray bits here and there. I'm just wondering if this is
normal from the factory, or something I should be concerned about.

Best wishes,

Glenn
Mike here: A few bits of debris is not going to affect the view. By the way, you can easily make the cable; see the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Updated Autostar Manuals
Sent:	Wednesday, June 22, 2005 04:36:25
From:	Stephen Bird (stephen.bird@btconnect.com)
Does Meade ever update its manuals to cover the procedure for later
software facilities such as Autostar Autoguiding? Seems we get hints of
these new features on the ETX site, vary vague mentions of them in the
Readme files with the updates from Meade, better hints from Dick
Seymour, but I have not been able to find an updated manual on Meade's
site.

I would write to Meade, but they seldom if ever respond, and if they do,
just refer me to the UK distributor, who are just box shifters!
 
Regards
 
Stephen Bird
Mike here: The separate Autostar manual does not seem to get updated. But new info is in the latest telescope manuals like for the PE and LXD75 models, available on Meade's manual page (http://www.meade.com/manuals/index.html).
Subject:	Autostar is dead
Sent:	Tuesday, June 21, 2005 10:27:23
From:	a.desmarais (a.desmarais@shaw.ca)
I was upgrading my autostar when i had a power failure  and everyting
shut down. After power came back on  i tried to reload autostar but now
i have no display. I have check the connections it seem fine  still no
display I  did tried to safe load but no response.

Is it ready for the trash or could it be repaired
Mike here: By power failure you mean a general AC power failure? Have you tried using fresh batteries (not that that should matter)? Does the ETX power on LED come on?

And:

Yes the power on led does come on but  still  the autostar  does not
show any display and will not respond  to any buttons.Thank you for your
prompt reply regarding  my autostar problem.
Mike here: When you put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode I presume that the display was still blank but does the Autostar Update application see the Autostar or not?
Subject:	eratic autostar behavior
Sent:	Sunday, June 19, 2005 11:11:21
From:	Mark (ab2ml@optonline.net)
I was taking some pictures of the moon last night and have the camera
mounted on the scope for eyepiece projection photos. The moon pictures
were fine but when I went to Jupiter it would track erratic after I made
some minor adjustments in object centering. I've never seen it be so
jumpy before....do you think I need to train the drives again?....is it
necessary when you change batteries?...can low battery power do
this?.....Mark
Mike here: Whenever the power source is changed (batteries or switching between AC and batteries) a CALIBRATE MOTORS motors needs to be done.

And:

Well I calibrated the motors like you said and tried using the scope
(ETX 90AT) again and I could fine tune slew sometimes with no trouble
but then at others it would start jumping instead of moving smoothly. at
one point it even took off in the opposite direction at a faster speed
then I had it set for....don't know what's wrong. I don't think it is
anything with the gears. The tracking once it is on an object is fairly
good... there is some rubber banding when trying to center something and
some drift too......some of these things were there before but the
jumping around is new . I am wondering if having the camera bracket on
the scope is too much weight for it. It jumps around now even when the
adaptor is not on. I'm using the Scopetronix EZ PIX 2 adaptor that
clamps on the eyepiece..Hope I did not do anything to damage the
autostar system...Mark
Mike here: Well, any time the Autostar misbehaves a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES can be a good remedy.
Subject:	AutostarX First Flash
Sent:	Thursday, June 16, 2005 15:56:35
From:	thomas robison (tbrobison@mac.com)
sorry i hadn't responded sooner to some of the help you sent my way a
month or so ago, just got back from europe and didn't have the chance to
try out AutostarX until now.  i am happy to report that everything seems
to have worked perfectly in respect to updating my autostar 497 hand
controller to Build 34 Ec.  i wasn't exactly sure how to use the
application but this is what i did: connected the hand controller to the
etx-125, connected the powerbook via usb to serial adpater (Keyspan
28X), connected serial adapter to hand controller.  turned on etx-125,
started AutostarX application, located new Build 34Ec file on desktop,
navigated to "download" on hand controller and pressed enter, pressed
"connect" in AutostarX application and then "Flash".  Everything went
smoothly after that and update was completed.

here's a question; was it necessary to navigate to "download" on the
hand controller followed by pressing "enter"?  or would AutostarX have
taken over without doing that step?

thanks for your site and your help.  i will definitely be emailing the
creator of AutostarX with a big thanks, too.

indebted,

tom robison
Mike here: AutostarX use is as you did; very straightforward. The "Download" menu item in the Autostar is a holdover from early version of Meade's updater application and ROM code in the Autostar; it was necessary to manually put the Autostar into download mode. That is no longer necessary.
Subject:	Autostar / ASU ver 4.1?
Sent:	Thursday, June 16, 2005 13:51:23
From:	Ken Jeffrey (ken@fluffs.freeserve.co.uk)
You have recently shown communications relating to the new ASU posted on
the Meade site.

This is listed on the site as version 4.1.  It seemed that this version
had a bug which was reported by one of your readers.  Downloading the
file though reveals something different.

The Meade site download now delivers a version tagged 4.2 which I would
hope has the bug fixed.

You published a message stating the date stamp has changed which
prompted me to try installing the version.

I have not had the opportunity to check weather the problem has been
fixed but I can report the version number is definitely not 4.1 any
more.  Perhaps Meade will change its web site soon to reflect this.

Thanks for a great site,  I access it most days and find all the info
very interesting.  Now all I need is a few clear nights so I can put
some of this knowledge into practice.

Ken Jeffrey
London England
Mike here: Thanks for the report. They did change the date from 06/09 to 06/13; just not the version number in the description. I have just installed this in Virtual PC and it is version 4.2.
Subject:	Autostar 497 language
Sent:	Thursday, June 16, 2005 07:06:09
From:	Keith Bryant (keith@maxey3.co.uk)
Having fried my Autostar handset I set about finding a replacement in
the UK. To cut a long story short no one in the UK could lay there hands
on on! Trawling the Internet I found one in Munich and bought it,
Arrived today and all the menus are in Germa (but of course!) I cannot
find any way of switching the language to English.

Is it possible?

Can it be done by downloading the English version of the latest update?

I suppose I could learn German but at the age of 74 that would present a
kleine difficulty!

Keith Bryant
Mike here: You need to install the English version.

And:

Thanks for the prompt reply. I assume I can install the English versio
using the ASU program?
Keith 
Mike here: Yep.

And a followup:

Some weeks ago my 497 handset stopped working after I tried to upgrade
the software. Having just prviously had the kitten drag it of the scope
onto a tiled floor I assumed it was broken.

I could get it to the 'safe mode' and tried several times to upload a
new ROM set but the 'serial to USB' setup kept failing to maintain
contact between laptop and handset.

To shorten a long episode I purchased a replacement via the internet
from Munich (no one in the UK could get their hands on one for me). It
arrived but all menus were in German (of course, 20/20 hindsight)

I set about uploading the latest firmware and found myself in the same
position, unable to make contact between laptop and handset.

Carting the scope into the den where I connected it to my main computer
and still the problem remained.

Finally I recalled that the main comp had a proper com port!

Plugging directly into this and everything worked smoothly.  I uploaded
the English version to the German sourced 497. Then I tried the 'broken'
handset and it too was revived!

So all the time the problem lay with the Meade supplied USB to Serial
cable. The only downside (apart from the coct of the replacement, part
of which was covered by our household insurance) is that the screen on
the original is very dim and unstable.
 
Moral of this tale is that Serial to Usb kit is unreliable.
Keith in cloudy UK
Mike here: There have been some reports of that!
Subject:	re: Autostar displaying date 66 Jun 2005
Sent:	Tuesday, June 14, 2005 21:20:56
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
From the -symptoms-, it sounds like your "6" key was stuck
(or a bit of conductive dirt was caught behind the membrane).

have fun
--dick
And another odd date report:
Subject:	Goofy Autostar dates
Sent:	Wednesday, June 15, 2005 01:51:55
From:	Rogerarlngtn@aol.com (Rogerarlngtn@aol.com)
When doing some warranty-voiding tuneup work the other day on the 125, I
was running the RA motor for an extended period on high slew speed with
marginally charged batteries.  Sure enough, when the motor started
slowing down and growling somewhat, the keypad began to become
unresponsive; I turned the autostar off, then on again, and noticed that
after initialization, the version number on the display was incomplete,
and then it was the 33rd of June, 2005.  Upon recharging the batteries,
then turning the autostar off and on a couple of times (or three),  the
display version number and date entry screen returned to its normal
self; I breathed a sigh of relief, just grateful that I had not
corrupted the program.        Roger Johnson
And:
Letting  an Autostar run too low on the batteries can seriously
corrupt its programming.  In some cases (such as older 494's) it
can be rendered (functionally) inoperable.  
That was the problem faced by:
http://home.comcast.net/~lynol1000/as_494_gc/index.html

Never keep it running on weak batteries!

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Meade ASU update update?
Sent:	Tuesday, June 14, 2005 09:45:46
From:	adam reisner (adamreisner@lanset.com)
the date stamp on the ASU update is now 6/13/05... did they fix the
bug??? if they did, strange that file size remains the same unless they
just changed an address value or something... gee sure would be nice if
they hinted what they did?!?!?
Mike here: I haven't installed it yet so haven't looked for any README file.
Subject:	Changing Language
Sent:	Sunday, June 12, 2005 06:58:55
From:	Abel Cardia (abelcardia@netcabo.pt)
Recently I proudly bought Meade ETX125 AT and I can't change the
language from Spanish to English.

In the manual says to:"Press the key for the desired language".

My question is: wich key and how can I do this?

Thanks in advance.

Abel Cardia
Porto, Portugal
Mike here: I don't know if the latest Spanish version has this. But you can download the latest ROM (in English) from Meade's site). You will need a #505 serial cable.
Subject:	lx90 not listed in new firmware
Sent:	Sunday, June 12, 2005 02:26:22
From:	Richard Pigott (rich@stuandrich.plus.com)
just updated my autostar to the very latest firmware using meades new
autostar update software and the lx90 is not listed in the telescope
model list. Where am I going wrong or is this a bug?
 
Thank you
 
Richard Pigott
Mike here: Was your Autostar connected to another scope when you did the upgrade? While the LX90 should appear when you switch to the LX90, maybe it needs to be connected to the LX90 and then upgraded. Otherwise, it should just show up. Try removing the Autostar and reconnecting it (with the power off).

And:

i used to the usb power cable made with instructions from your site (a
wonderful device which allows me to plan my night in astroplanner and
create a guide in advance) i have not had chance to connect the autostar
to my scope yet it just looked odd that nearly all other autostar
telescopes are listed.

thanks for the help will test straight away - and fantastic site :)

Subject:	Autostar displaying date 66 Jun 2005
Sent:	Friday, June 10, 2005 23:02:46
From:	Garry Telford (gtelford2@yahoo.com)
Great web-site for ETX owners thanks Mike.
 
My Autostar connected to the ETX-105, which I've only had a month, is
exhibiting an intermittent fault where the keypad intermittently freezes
after pressing GOTO to view an object. The telescope won't even begin
the slew and no single button being pressed will do anything..

I switched Autostar off at the telescope, waited a few seconds then
switched back on. This time after the brief initialization process it
displayed the non-sensical date of 66 Jun 2005 as the default, with the
cursor blinking on the second digit of the 66. This immediately caused
the keypad to re-freeze. Eventually after a LOT of experimentation I
found by simultaneously pressing ? and 9  I could get the keypad buttons
working again, so I changed the date to 10 Jun 2005, repeated the two
star alignment and continued observing - much delayed.

I thought this had fixed it but the next evening after an hour of
trouble free viewing the same thing happened again! I can fix it with my
? and 9 trick, but the whole process gets a bit tedious and annoying
after a while having to go through the two star alignment process yet
again.

Could it be a faulty chip in Autostar or perhaps a bug in the software?
I have Autostar version 32. Have any other owners seen this date of 66
June come up on their Autostar?
 
Garry Telford
Australia. 
Mike here: I don't recall any similar reports. It could be that a RESET will fix the problem or you may have to redownload the ROM (upgrading to 3.4Ec in the process!). Either way, you should CALBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES again.

And:

Did a RESET followed by CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES and sure
enough that fixed it.
 
Thanks again Mike.
 
GARRY TELFORD

Subject:	NEW Meade ASU 4.1 updater is now posted
Sent:	Thursday, June 9, 2005 23:44:51
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
NOTE that the new Autostar updater program is now available for putting
on your PC:

      06/9/05
     Autostar Update (ASU) Client Application for Windows, Version 4.1
     (1,692 KB). This is the latest Autostar Update. Rev. 4.1 is
     compatible with the RCX400 Telescope. This version is compatible
     with all versions of AutoStar II, #497 and #494 AutoStar computer
     controllers. This installation will automatically update the Update
     Client Application in AutoStar SuiteT Software. If you have
     previously installed the Autostar Update (ASU) Client Application
     for Windows, Uninstall the old version before installing this new
     version

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H45 / Petit Jean Mountain South
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain
http://www.arksky.org/
And this:
Subject:	bug in new ASU Updater
Sent:	Friday, June 10, 2005 07:47:07
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
At the moment (v4.1), the new Updater will crash if 
you attempt to do a Tools -> Edit User Data
to a 497 Autostar.

have (careful) fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar Upgrade info
Sent:	Tuesday, June 7, 2005 04:36:21
From:	Christos Bohoris (sirius86ly@yahoo.co.uk)
Do you know of any guide for upgrading the autostar firmware (version
34ec)? Any experiences to share? Any problems/things to be careful of?
Any USB to serial connection issues? How much time it takes?

Thanks,
Chris
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for upgrading information. This is not specific to 3.4Ec but may help you. There can always be issues with USB converters (problems have been noted most recently with Belkin ones). I haven't done the upgrade yet but I presume it will take the same time as time (25-30 minutes).
Subject:	v34Ec released by Meade
Sent:	Monday, June 6, 2005 18:30:59
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Meade has released v3.4Ec on their support page
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

The ReadMe says:
-----
Upgrades to 34Ec

Fixes moon tracking problem
Improved pointing on second star with LNT module
New LX90 scopes added
-----------
have fun
-dick
And:
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
A new Autostar firmware for the LX90, ETX and LXD55 scopes is available
at the Meade site:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html
It is version 3.4eC; note that a new uploader program to replace v3.61
ASU is also going to be posted very soon.

Dr. Clay
--------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H45 (Petit Jean Mountain South)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	Upgrading an older Autostar 497
Sent:	Monday, June 6, 2005 04:06:26
From:	Bill Kamon (kamonw2000@yahoo.com)
I haven't used my ETX-90 with an Autostar 497 in years and I'm ready to
start up observing again. I'm not sure what version of Autostar software
(firmware?) I have, but it's pre 2000. Can I just download the latest
version from Meade and upgrade or do I need to go through several
upgrades first? Thanks in advance.

Bill Kamon
Mike here: Check the version via the Statistics menu item. If newer than 1.1 (I think it was) then you can go right to the latest version. Otherwise install 1.2 from my Autostar archive and then go to the latest version.
Subject:	Autostar Update - No Handbox detection
Sent:	Monday, June 6, 2005 02:03:01
From:	Tom and Lori (lortom7@earthlink.net)
Very simple question, however, not an easy answer;  I have taken the
initiative to update my Autostar, however when I click on Update
Autostar, I get a box that says the progam cannot detect my Autostar.  I
am using the #505 Connector Cable set.

Is there a driver I am missing, or something else?
 
Thanks Mike.
 
TF
Mike here: Simple question but many possible answers depending upon your hardware and software. Check for serial port conflicts (fax software typically). If using a USB-serial adapter, check for driver issues. Did you make or buy the cable? Check for cable connection issues or continuity or wiring issues.

And:

I do have a Fax Software program installed; however, it utilizes the
phone jack input on my computer.  Do you think it might conflict with
the serial port?  I have the Dell 8400, and it looks like there are two
serial ports (one male and one female) the same size as the connection
jack.  I am using the port with the male pins (of course).

The cable I am using is the one which came in the Autostar Suite with
LPI pack, not a homemade one.

I'll report back with my findings.

Thanks again, and also for the great site!!!

Tom
Mike here: If the fax software has the serial port tied up as well as the modem port, then yes it would a culprit.

And an update:

Ok, it worked!  I found the best way to download the update . . . Use my
other computer.  My other Dell does not have anything tying up the Com1
port.  It worked and I'm good to go.

One other question.  Since I only updated the firmware, could you please
point me in the right direction to update the comets/asteroids, etc to
current ones?

Thanks for your help . . . You're a great resource!!

Get ready for Deep Impact !!

Clear skies,

Tom
Mike here: Check the links at the bottom of Meade's Autostar Update page.
Subject:	Up-dateing (Autostar) Software
Sent:	Sunday, June 5, 2005 12:16:11
From:	Billy (yagis@piggysurf.com)
Can you tell me what cable I need to connect my ETX-125EC to my laptop.

This is to facilitate updateing any software needed.

The laptop has no serial port, so I pressume I need a USB from laptop to
Scope.

Can you tell me what is needed and vendors if possible.

Meade will not sell outside USA.
Any Ideas Mike!
 
Best Regards,
 
William Conlan.
Limerick, S.Ireland.
Mike here: Yes, you will need a USB-serial converter. I use a Keyspan with my Mac laptop; works fine. I've had reports of difficulties with Belkin converters. You will also need a #505 serial cable, which you can easily make. See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for more on USB and making the cable.

And:

Thanks Mike..will do a search now.

Subject:	ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, June 4, 2005 21:26:59
From:	Frank George (fgeorge@pclnet.net)
I have a problem with my 125AT. I have been doing an align and it slews
to Arcturus and hits the DEC hard stops or clutch stops and grinds away
till I shut it off. It does it on every align, I do and now it is
clicking in elevation every time it moves. I guess I am going to have to
send it back to Meade for warranty repair. Also prior to our last e-mail
I have reset, trained drives, calibrated motors and yet it does this off
of my AC adapter or my portable battery supply. I checked the output
voltage again on the 541 AC power supply and it has yet gotten higher
than last time it is up to 16.57 volts DC when I first got it it only
put out 15.4 volts so do you think it fried something in my Autostar
making it act crazy? Thanks Frank George
Mike here: The order needs to be RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then TRAIN DRIVES. When doing the training, be certain you are doing both axes. Also, after the RESET, check the site location and telescope model and mounting mode.

And:

I am sorry that is the order I did it in! Just was putting it down
rambling tired and frustrated after fooling with it for about 2hrs! What
about the heavy clicking sound I am getting out of the right side clutch
when it is moving? Do I need to call Meade about it?? Thanks again! 
Frank
George
Mike here: Could you be overtightening the axis lock? It might be that the Autostar ROM has become corrupted. Is this the first time you've used the Autostar or has it been working well for a long time? You might try reloading the ROM from Meade's site; you will need a serial port and a #505 serial cable.

And:

I don't think I am overtightening the lock as I thought that might be
it, so I loosened it and tried it again. It really sounds like something
is damaged or broken to me. All of this started one night when hooking
up my 541 it made the Autostar screen corrupt and lock when I turned the
scope on so I turned it off and back on and it worked ok, but everytime
I hooked it up that way it would always do that everytime. Then recently
I downloaded and installed the newest rom and it started having
alignment problems so in reference to your site and my own computer
knowledge I then redownloaded and installed it again and did all
necessary things that you do when you update the rom as far as reset
,calibrate and retrain and it still was acting up last night so I
installed the old 33ef rom and did the same reset, calibrate and retrain
and am still having this alignment problem where the scope is driving
itself to the DEC limits and trying to go overcenter in elevation and
starts clicking so I turn it off and try the alignment again and now it
has the heavy clicking noise in the R/H side where the DEC clutch is. So
I am at a loss for ideas so I wrote you. I have had this AutoStar since
I got this ETX 125 back in March. Never gave me any problems at all and
I thought I had gotten a good scope then here in the last month bam it
has gone crazy and acting weird and stuff. I am saddened by these events
having been working hard on a roll off roof observatory to put my scope
in at night and now the scope is gone off the deep-end on me! Thanks
Frank George
Mike here: I'm surprised the Meade power supply did this. Have you tried regular batteries? Remember, you need to CALIBRATE again.

And:

I feel I have tried everything to this point!

Subject:	Autostar help - termination during upload
Sent:	Saturday, June 4, 2005 19:56:20
From:	Matt (mmw09@yahoo.com)
I'm the scopesim.com author... I was getting my LX90 ready to snap some
pics of Mars for a summer update. In the preparation process, I have
crashed my Autostar. I have followed the instructions throughout your
site, but no avail.

Cause of Problem:

I downloaded the current version of ASU and was learning the system. I
downloaded the handbox data and then clicked an upload for a new guided
tour. I thought the ASU indicated complete, however Autostar indicated
download still in progress. I stupidly powered down Autostar, thinking
it was a glitch. This results in dead Autostar.

Attempted Solution:

To remedy the problem I have tried the following procedure several times
using 2 diff PC's. Each time the whole process takes only a few seconds,
making me think the ASU is not talking to Autostar.

1.       Power up LX90, holding "enter" "down" (SAFE MODE)

2.       Dialog: "Flash Load 1.2 Ready"

3.       Launch ASU program

4.       Dialog: "Is the handbox in SAFE MODE? (does the display read
FLASH LOAD  READY?)"

5.       Click "Yes"

6.       Click "Upgrade Autostar Software Now"

7.       Select "Local", Select "33IE" (also have tried 23eb)

8.       Dialog: Click "OK"

9.       Dialog: "Are you sure you want to upgrade now?"

10.   Dialog: Click "OK"

11.   Dialog:  Clear "User Data: User objects, Blacklash Training, User
Sites and Motor Calibration will be retained. Use <SETUP> - <RESET> from
handbox to reset."

12.   Dialog: Click "OK"

13.   Status bar reads: "Initializing Handbox"  lasts 1 second

14.   Status bar reads: "Sending Program... Please wait"  lasts 1 second

15.   Dialog: "Complete: Data successfully sent to Autostar"

16.   Click "OK"

17.   Status bar reads: "Upload Complete"

18.   Turn off/ on LX90... Autostar displays blank screen & clicks a
little.

Help! What's the prognosis? Thanks for all your help! Very impressed
with amount of info on your site.

Matt 
/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of
His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they
display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is
not heard."
 ~ David, Psalm 19

Matt's Telescope Simulator:
http://www.scopesim.com

/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /
Mike here: You didn't say whether you were using a serial-USB converter but if so, you might need to re-install its driver. Has the Autostar updating ever worked or was this the first time you have done it? If you are using a real serial port you might try the StarGPS software from www.stargps.ca. If you have a Mac OS X system you might try AutostarX from http://www.rti-zone.org/macosx_autostarx.php. If you have Linux, try Lin Autostar from http://www.rti-zone.org/lin_autostar.php. I suggest these alternatives as they sometimes work when Meade's software won't.

And:

Using a USB / Serial Portable Adapter from Belkin. Just bought the
adapter  this afternoon. Will re-install the driver. This was my first
try at updating. Thanks for such fast response!
Matt
And an update:
I reinstalled the USB driver & had the same problem. Your suggestion
sparked an idea to removed the USB adapter from the equation and connect
directly to the serial port. Seems to be working... the ASU upload is
showing status now... it's now 18% complete.

My other PC, a laptop, does not have a serial port, so the USB adapter
seemed like a good idea. My actual plan was to use the laptop to drive
some observation and imaging using the DSI connected via USB. Guess I'll
tackle that tomorrow

Thanks again for your FAST help! 
Matt
Mike here: I see more problem reports with Belkin adapters. I use a Keyspan one with my Apple PowerBooks running Mac OS X 10.3.9 and 10.4.
Subject:	Re: F/back: Autostar 497 wiring
Sent:	Saturday, June 4, 2005 18:16:02
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
teg001@ntlworld.com said:
> Hope you realise that I'm not a fully registered geek - 

There's no escaping it, you've already mentioned being an engineer... 
that's a geek, just harder to spell,  (and a lot of geeks don't seem
to be able to spell)... 
 and predates the invention of the word (just 'cause there wasn't
the term doesn't mean that the "position" didn't exist).

> I mentioned in my original mail  to Mike that a list of numbered pin outs is
> the safest bet- sequential data will usually scan, one way or another.

For many people, a picture is better than a list.
For many people, a list is better than a picture.
If you ever look up Meade's official pin-out on the Classic LX200
serial socket, it the worst of both worlds... they provide a
"1-2-3-4..." list.  But the -=picture=- showed that the arrangment
was "officialUS  phone company" arrangement in the socket:6-3-1-2-4-5
or some such (i -know- the "1-2" was in the middle, straddled by 3/4))

> If jpg's are ok, that is what I use for screen capture of scanned
> images/schematics(Grabzilla is OK).

I actually prefer GIFs for line drawings... jpegs are fuzzy due to
the compression algorithm (low-pass filters).   But folks can do jpegs.
Cameras do.

> The pics some people put on, showing 'work done' are well meant but it's
> impossible to see much real detail.

As i mentioned in the original response, we have a wide variety of
submitters... ANY information, even if fuzzy, is better than NO info.
Putting a "must be thus" hurdle is a great way to dry up the flow...
(this attitude is dangerous in submarines, but neccessary in back-and-forth
banter of ideas, techniques and discoveries).
Take (well, don't if you're sensitive) my photos on LX200gps Polar setup.
Fuzzy, poorly focused, but **it's the only digital camera i had** (then).
They convey the -idea- (focuser -under- the OTA), if fuzzily.

> IMHO One of the major problems all round, on line ,is the 'Lack of Feedback'
> on how things get across...hence my comments....all part of the fun till
> things cook up.

Many of Mike's "info" pages have multiple postings and follow-ups,
which is frequently -exactly- such feedback... That's another reason
his site is so valuable.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: cables for AutoStar Update
Sent:	Thursday, June 2, 2005 07:38:20
From:	Mike Hogan (mhogansr@comcast.net)
I saw your post on the ETX site about which cable to use for updating.
Check the round cable again. While both ends have four pins, one end is
slightly larger than the other and has space for two more pins which are
empty.  The end with empty spaces goes to the Serial adapter, the other
to the AutoStar.

If this is not the case, then it _is_ and incorrect cable. Hope this
helps.
And:
From:	David Frieslander (david@frieslander.co.uk)
For your info the cables that come with the LPI are not the 505 cable
needed to update the Autostar. I have now purchased the correct cable
and updated the software.

Regards

David

Subject:	RE: Problems connecting Meade ETX105/Autostar/PC
Sent:	Thursday, June 2, 2005 06:22:50
From:	John Mitchell (john@allvoice.co.uk)
I continued to have a problem with the serial connection once we
resolved the cable adaptor.  However we solved this after a while - so
thought you might like to have something in return.

One of my other software apps (for linking and updating a Sony Ericson
cellphone) had control of Com-1 and didn't let go despite being
"inactive". A standard configuration has an icon on the toolbar and that
was grabbing Com-1 FIRST.  The solution is to disable the connection
prior to attempting to connect the telescope(right click on the icon and
the offending connection shows itself which you can click off) .  Hope
you can use this snippet for another!

Best Wishes
John C Mitchell

Subject:	Autostar 497 wiring
Sent:	Thursday, June 2, 2005 06:11:33
From:	Trevor Gillett (teg001@ntlworld.com)
Thanx for your good site.

I just need to comment that a lot of burn outs seem to be reported
regarding usage and 'modding' of connections,power supplies cables etc,
and it is noticeable that people are posting pin outs that don't
translate the format barrier on posts getting offset in display on your
site.

Even if the information is correct at source it will cause more
confusion and worse- damage if people are not on guard here !!

A particularly bad case is how this text presents

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_power.html

Maybe a format /protocol is needed to be established on your site?

A physical list of pins -stating Male/ Female and orientation would be
safest, .....schematics..er... No !!

I agree with you that    

http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/power4.html 

is the best 505 data  on your site, but even that could be corrupted in
transmission from different fonts, when relayed via 3rd parties.

I hope you don't see this as carping from outside. I'm a retired
engineer !!

Best regards Trevor
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Thank you for the comment (i have occasionally pestered Mike when
other format problems occur, such as only /lf in Unix-sourced files).

On the as_power.html page you cited, the text is designed for the
oldest format: fixed-width characters (Courier, for example).

If you have your reader insisting upon variable-width (Times Roman),
it will, indeed, destroy the ascii images.

The critical information in the power4 page is a jpeg file
which is also a very basic format.  Only GIF files are "simpler".

What format would you suggest, and then how would we convince all
of the senders (with a -wide- range of computer expertise) to 
conform to it?  Telling us there's a problem is merely "preaching
to the choir"... telling us how to -fix- it is magic...

have fun
--dick
(this message composed in fixed-with, pure-ascii, no-markup form)
(all electrons used in this message were fully recycled)
Mike here: As I note on the Email Etiquette page, I do prefer plain text email as opposed to html formatted email.

And:

Hi Dick

I 've seen your many useful tips on the use of electron flow in the line
of sight application ;)

Hope you realise that I'm not a fully registered geek - so will just
give a quick follow up. (I have my kids for the week !)

I mentioned in my original mail  to Mike that a list of numbered pin
outs is the safest bet- sequential data will usually scan, one way or
another.

If jpg's are ok, that is what I use for screen capture of scanned
images/schematics(Grabzilla is OK).

The pics some people put on, showing 'work done' are well meant but it's
impossible to see much real detail.

I almost always have to use IrfanView to lighten pics to see any  useful
detail IMHO One of the major problems all round, on line ,is the 'Lack
of Feedback' on how things get across...hence my comments....all part of
the fun till things cook up.

(I just had to send a just aquired etx90 back to seller for refurb! -
nothing to do with current discussion btw)

My view on Meade- ref.all the finger trouble people have is- a good
source of dodgy toys to keep us going but I wouldn't sail on one !!

Regards  Trevor
PS  Ex RN submariner !

Subject:	Your Faulty Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, June 1, 2005 15:30:16
From:	Niall J. Saunders (niall@njs101.com)
To:	jimmyjack@supanet.com
I saw your plea for help on Weasner's site - and sympathise with you. My
own LX90 Autostar blew the other night as well. So I swapped it out with
the one off my ETX105 - and blew that one as well !!!

If you open up the Autostar (you probably have nothing to lose !!) I
think that you will find one of the larger black i.c.'s will have a
small crater in it. It is a proprietary Meade component - so no chance
of getting it replaced outwith Meade themselves.

By the time you ship it back and forth to Meade, and by the time they
fail to help you replace it for free, you would be better off trying to
get a replacement through the likes of eBay.

The only problem is - will you blow the new one up as soon as you
connect it to your LX90? The answer to that is a very highly probable
"YES"

My symptoms were that the scope was forever 'dying' - usually within
minutes of it being switched on - and seemingly as a result of loose
connections at the Autostar end of the curly cable. However, with both
an ETX105 and an LX90 at my disposal (and an LXD55 in my neighbour's
observatory - although he had been using the ETX Autostar for the last
three months whilst his brand new Autostar was being swapped out under
warranty for an unresponsive keypad) I had been swapping curly cables
around without improving matters.

I haven't opened up my LX90 yet so see if there is a problem (basically
because I am currently fed-up with the whole hobby, having now seen a
$3000 investment evaporate in smoke and flames). But, once I get over my
anger at not being able to get decent customer service from Meade here
in the UK, I will get inside the scope and see what is amiss (I had to
totally strip and rebuild my ETX105 because that arrived from the
previous owner with a smashed RA stop peg, and totally mangled wiring
running up through the RA axis). After all, I still have the several
thousands of dollars invested in accessories to consider - as well as a
rather nice shed at the foot of the garden that burned up another
$2000-odd to provide me with a solid base and roll-off roof - just for
the two or three semi-clear evenings that we get each month !!

Perhaps my wife IS correct - I really AM totally mad. After all, if I
want nice pictures of stars, why can't I just download them from the
Internet?? (It is certainly a LOT cheaper).

Regards from Scotland (where it is a fine summer evening - total cloud
cover and a cloud base of about 6 inches, with visibility of around ten
feet!)

Niall Saunders 
Clinterty Observatories

Subject:	RE: Autostar Upgrade (Denis Simoneau)
Sent:	Wednesday, June 1, 2005 15:12:32
From:	Niall J. Saunders (niall@njs101.com)
Yes - 'real' serial ports seem to be harder to find - but they ARE
available. And they are definitely worth looking out for.

As someone with a controlling influence on commercial purchasing of PCs,
I absolutely INSIST on 'legacy compatibility', especially when
specifying serial ports.

As a result it also gives me great satisfaction NOT to have to deal with
some of the major 'brand names' - companies who are just too 'mean' or
'lazy' to consider incorporating such a useful piece of hardware into
their PC designs.

Whilst the USB interface has its uses it should not EVER be considered
as being a replacement for the RS232 serial interface. Moreover,
everyone should, at all times, bear in mind that a USB to Serial
converter is NOT (and can NEVER be) anything but an APPROXIMATION of the
original specification of a hardware-based Serial port.

If you really DON'T want to have serial connection problems, then use a
PC with a TRUE serial port.

Bon Chance, 

Niall Saunders 
Clinterty Observatories 
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND

Subject:	105 PE Dead Battery
Sent:	Wednesday, June 1, 2005 13:25:30
From:	Ron Wright (rwright@greenridge.com)
I was out last night and inadvertently ran my batteries down to the
point that I got a motor fault.  The autostar said right on the screen
that the fault could be from dead batteries.  I checked and I was down
to 3% on the battery level.  My question is, did I loose all my
calibration settings or will I be able to put fresh batteries in and go.

Thanks
Ron
Mike here: Whenever the power source is changed (AC to battery, battery to AC, or battery to battery) a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES should be done.
Subject:	Re: Autostar command line syntax?
Sent:	Wednesday, June 1, 2005 06:09:21
From:	George Dongarra (gdongarra@gmail.com)
after briefly reading through the command set, my hunch is that you
cannot do the alignment via the CLI (command line interface).  That is
unless a combination of the S  Telescope Set Commands might achieve the
same thing. These are the commands Im going to play with first:
--- mount mode?
:AA#      Sets telescope the AltAz alignment mode

--- Time:
:SLHH:MM:SS#
Set the local Time
:SGsHH.H#
Set the number of hours added to local time to yield UTC

--- Location:
:SgDDD*MM#
Set current site's longitude to DDD*MM an ASCII position string
:StsDD*MM#
Sets the current site latitdue to sDD*MM#

--- Target position:
:SrHH:MM.T#
:SrHH:MM:SS#
Set target object RA to HH:MM.T or HH:MM:SS depending on the current precision setting.
:SdsDD*MM#
Set target object declination to sDD*MM or sDD*MM:SS depending on the current precision setting

I'm feeling kinda pessimistic because of the need to target more than
one object for alignment and that I'll need to rely on the accuracy of
my software's object position information.
I'll let you know

Regards,
George Dongarra

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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackJun05/autostar.html