AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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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 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:	New version on Meade's site
Sent:	Thursday, June 29, 2006 20:38:03
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (davemills26@tiscali.co.uk)
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
Dave
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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

And:

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 Roots 
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR recently? Did you TRAIN DRIVES on both axes?

And:

I did calibrate and train drives in both axes. Did that quite recently
but will do it again tonight and see if it improves.
Mark
Mike 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 (keith@maxey3.co.uk)
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???
Keith
Mike 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 (rburnette@i-america.net)
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 Burnette
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (amstone1@comcast.net)
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.

Amy
Mike 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.

And:

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.

And:

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.

Amy
Mike 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.

And:

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 (pete_cox2000@yahoo.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 (pete_cox2000@yahoo.com)
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 Diego
Mike 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.

And:

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.

And:

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 Cox
Mike 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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