Last updated: 29 June 2006
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: New version on Meade's site Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 20:38:03 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) v43Ea was posted today (29-Jun-2006). The ReadMe just says: -- New scopes added Fixed error with longer strings ----- "New Scopes" i assume is/are the ETX80-TC "longer strings" refers to fixing a bug triggered by sending an :SC command to the autostar. have fun --dick
Subject: Which time zone should I enter on the ETX Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 13:34:49 From: dave (firstname.lastname@example.org) I live in England so have to alter clock to BST during the summer when I use my GPS to calibrate my ETX125 PE it doesn't allow for the 1 hour difference, my question is which time I should put in the ETX. I am sure you will figure I'm new to this hobby and am finding your site very informative great to be able to use it, I look forward to your reply All the best for now Regards DaveMike here: If you search the site for "British Standard Time" you will found this:
Subject: re: question (Daylight Savings) Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 19:48:30 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) The British term for "Daylight Savings" is "Summer Time" You would answer "yes" if your civilian time was an hour faster than your Standard Time Zone would indicate. have fun --dick
Subject: re: ETX 125 / Autostar tracker.. Sent: Sunday, June 25, 2006 20:54:50 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Something Mike didn't mention is the "RA Percent" and "Dec Percent" settings... these are possibly set too high for your scope. They are what tell the scope how far to move "backwards" if the motors are asked to reverse. If you're seeing the "moves backwards" at the end of a slew to the east (so that sidereal drive starts moving the scope west, or 'backwards' again), they could be over compensating for the drive's backlash. Lower them. Backgrounder at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html have fun --dick
Dear Mike and Dick, Thanks a lot for the advice and suggestions. Following Mike's suggested route (after resetting & using high power eye piece) seems to have made it better based on some terrestrial slewing. I have not had the opportunity to look at any stars (UK weather!)but will do so at the next opportunity. I will follow the rest of the suggestions if it is still a problem. Cheers, Mark Roots
Subject: ETX 125 / Autostar tracker.. Sent: Thursday, June 22, 2006 03:58:07 From: Roots Mark R (MRROOTS@qinetiq.com) I have purchased an ETX125 telescope. When I manually slew to a particular object and centre it in the eyepiece the telescope then seems to "motor" the telescope back a bit (you can hear the motor work and see the object move in the opposite direction to that which you motored the telescope). This can be frustrating as the object can move out of the field of view if at high magnification. I have tried training the drives etc but this has not fixed the problem. Are you aware of this issue - is it just the way the telescope works or am I doing something wrong? Any advice/suggestions welcome.. Mark RootsMike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR recently? Did you TRAIN DRIVES on both axes?
I did calibrate and train drives in both axes. Did that quite recently but will do it again tonight and see if it improves. MarkMike here: The symptom you described sounds like "rubberbanding", which can be caused by needing to TRAIN DRIVES. Do that as accurately as you can (use a high power or reticle eyepiece if possible). If CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES doesn't cure it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES. The RESET will put the Autostar back into its "factory default" condition.
Subject: etx 105 aligning Sent: Friday, June 16, 2006 08:34:14 From: keith Bryant (email@example.com) Is it possible to align the scope using just a program such as Autostar or Voyager 111.? What I am thinking is that I set the scope up in the 'home' position, then using the computer slew it to an object via the progamm. What happens is the the scope's position on the screen shows that is not at the object. So I then use the computer's scope control to guide the scope's marker on the screen exactly to the chosen object and press 'sync'. Having done this if I select a second object on the screen, use the 'go to' option in the program and the scope tracks accurately to that object on the screen The thing is..is my logic faulty??? KeithMike here: Well, sort of yes and no. If you are mounted in Polar mode AND you have accurately done a polar axis alignment, you could skip the alignment process. Then when you SYNC on an object the Autostar will possibly get a reasonable alignment FOR THAT part of the sky. I haven't tried this though.
Subject: motor unit fault Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2006 20:41:25 From: Raymond (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am very new to telescopes and purchased a DS90 from HSN at a very good price (I think) with a Autostar 494. Upon arrival I also encountered motor unit fault. After waiting over 40 minutes on Meade to answer, they sent me two new motors, no questions asked.. SAME PROBLEM..... I called again. This time I waited exactly 59 minutes and 47 seconds before someone answered.. The gentleman advised that he had seen problems with the computer control panel for my model many times. He sent me one at no charge along with several gears, washers,allen wrenches, etc. While waiting, I figured what the hell, I'll dig into the panel since they were sending a new one. The more I messed with it, I found the problem was in the connector from the Autostar cable plug! I replaced the plug on the end of the cable and have not had any problem what so ever since. This may be something that is a production problem that Meade may not be aware of yet. Just wanted to let someone know. Raymond BurnetteMike here: Thanks for the tip. Sometime the pins in the connector (or jack) get bent or moved out of alignment.
Subject: re: updating etx 70 star charts Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 21:43:41 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You wrote: > to the telescope using the ethernet aperture That 8-pin RJ45 socket is **not** an ethernet socket. Many technologies use that socket (multi-line office telephones, for example) without the signals being at -all- like ethernet signals. Likewise, typical ethernet hookup cables cannot be used in -place- of the Autostar coiled cord (although with an Autostar 494, the autostar-end is not removable). The brains of an ETX70 are in the handbox (Autostar), not the base. There is a tiny processor chip on each motor controller card, but it is only for closed-loop speed control of the motor. The Autostar tells it how fast to spin. have fun --dick
Subject: motor unit fault Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 21:00:19 From: amy stone (firstname.lastname@example.org) I finally had a clear night to try out my new ETX 105. It seemed to be working OK and then I got the motor unit fault message and the telescope pointed down to the ground. I suspected the batteries were dead so I connected the power supply cable to the unit and my car cigarette lighter. the power light came on but when I tried to get the scope to align itself, it wouldn't work. Assuming the batteries need to be replaced, shouldn't it work OK if I'm using another power source, like the car cigarette lighter or a battery pack? I'd appreciate any suggestions. I saw posts from someone else who had similar problems. AmyMike here: Assuming the power source was sufficient (12VDC and 1500mA) AND you did a CALIBRATE MOTOR after changing the power source, yes, it should work.
I just tried calibrating the motors. It said it was testing the motor and then I kept getting the same message. So I tried resetting it to no avail. Now when I turn it on, it says "testing motor" and then gives me the motor unit fault message.Mike here: Have you switched back to batteries? If so, are the inserted correctly? When you used that external power source, had you ever used it before or was this the first time? Also, check the Autostar cable connections to be certain the ends are inserted fully and seated. You could also check for bent pins on the connectors and in the jacks. One last thought; try reversing the cable if nothing else helps.
When I was outside and this first happened, I plugged the power cord into my car cigarette lighter, which I had never used before. When that didn't work, I gave up and came home. I did not replace the batteries. When I got home, I plugged the unit into a wall outlet and tried to calibrate the motors as you suggested. It started to do that but kept stopping and giving me the same message. After I tried re-setting it, when I'd turn it on, it would say it was calibrating the motor and then give me the same fault message. I'll try again this morning before I call Meade customer service. I will also check the cables as you suggested. Thanks again. AmyMike here: Who supplied the external AC and DC power cords? I wonder if you fried the circuit board when you used the external DC cord.
I ordered the power cord for the Meade ETX from telescopes.com. I just replaced the batteries. I'm getting the same message. I did discover that I can use the hand controls to move the telescope vertically, it will not move horizontally. I've been waiting for Meade customer service to open because I suspect I will have to send it back.Mike here: One last idea: you could reload the Autostar software. It is possible but rare that the software became corrupted.
And an update:
The telescope is one its way back to the vendor. I waited for an hour (no exaggeration) for Meade customer service to pick up. I even called on another phone so I had 2 calls in to them at the same time to see if they would answer one of them. Nothing. The sales rep at telescopes.com was not surprised with my experience. I can't see keeping something as technical and delicate as one of these computerized scopes if customer service is not available to help with problems. You, on the other hand, offer a great service. Thanks for all of your suggestions. Amy
Subject: updating etx 70 star charts. Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 14:39:35 From: Tiggerzfamily@aol.com (Tiggerzfamily@aol.com) My name is Bill and am wondering if there is a way to download star charts directly to the telescope using the ethernet aperture, or if that is solely for the controller. I noticed there is another that reads aux. maybe? Thank you in advance for the reply.Mike here: I'm not certain I understand your question. Yes, you can update some objects the Autostar library database using Meade's Autostar Update application. You don't use ethernet to do that but a serial RS-232 port connection from the computer. The ETX-70 Autostar #494 requires a special serial cable which you must purchase (making one is not trivial). Alternatively if you have an Autostar #497 (the model with number keys on the keypad) then you can use the simple to make #505 serial cable. NOTE: you need a serial port on your computer; if you have only USB then you will need a USB-serial adapter that works with the Autostar (see the article "Autostar and USB" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page) on my ETX Site. There are also articles on the cables on the Autostar Info page. On the other hand, if you asking about star charting software for your computer and updating that, it depends on the application you use.
Subject: Re: Autostar fault ETX 125 Sent: Sunday, June 4, 2006 21:11:12 From: James M Cox (email@example.com) Yes, the problem of "motor fault" occurred there in the shop, so hopefully when they show the Meade rep the problem he'll be knowledgeable and will drill down quickly on the cause. I have to believe that anything that might occur with any one scope is bound to have happened before with other people. Is Meade good about honoring their warranty obligations?Mike here: Yes, the warranty is covered. As to the problem, it might not be a common problem but rather something that shifted/broke during shipment.
Subject: Re: Autostar fault ETX 125 Sent: Thursday, June 1, 2006 18:32:44 From: James M Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org) I checked the pins and they were fine, and made sure the cable was totally seated at both ends. Unit still would, after a short period of working properly, stop with the "motor fault" message. I don't know if this is a clue at all but I also occasionally get a "spiral" search message sometimes after punching "go to" a destination. Doesn't seem related, but maybe that gives you an indication of some sort. I'm pretty disappointed right now in how the unit is working. One of your first responses to me indicated that maybe if I did again the "train drives" that might help. Is that still your best quess at this point? Thanks again for your time and thought, James Cox San DiegoMike here: After a GOTO, if you press and hold GOTO again you will get the Spiral Search. So I don't think that is happening automatically. I still do wonder about the randoming occurring "testing motors". That should NOT be happening. You said you did TRAIN DRIVES so doing it again likely won't change anything. Could you be overtightening the axis locks? They should be just finger tight; tight enough to hold the OTA in position and let the motors slew the telescope without slippage. If too tight you can have problems. One other thing to try: reverse the Autostar cable.
I did several things this evening - 1) Reversed the cables 2) Did a "reset" 3) I did have the vertical and horizontal locks pretty tight, so I loosened them up a bit, but still tight enough to hold the scope in place. 4) Put in fresh batteries Scope worked for a while, found Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, tracked for a while on the moon - then "motor fault" again. I turned off the motor drive, did a new start and align. Then was scrolling through the options to select a new go to, and the scope just started off on its own, slewing off to the side, started slewing down towards the sidewalk, and I then cut it off. Man, I'm stumped. Do these units often have problems requiring sending back to the factory? The shop I bought the unit from seemed like pretty nice folks, so possibly they might help. But this is sure disappointing.Mike here: It sounds like there is a communications problem (for whatever reason) between the telescope and Autostar. I suggest working an exchange with the dealer.
I've taken the scope back to the dealer who says that Meade has a representative who will be at the store for a scheduled visit on Friday, and that they will get the Meade rep to look at the scope. I guess I'll see what sort of commitment Meade makes to its quality and whether or not they stand by their product. Is their reputation good in this regard? Think I can expect that they will step up and take care of the problem? Thanks again, James CoxMike here: Let me know if there is a further problem. Were you able to demonstrate the problem to the dealer, who can then show it to the Meade rep?
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