AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 March 2002
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:	494 autostar controller
Sent:	Sunday, March 31, 2002 11:36:29
From:	integr2001@hotmail.com (Ryan Davies)
i bid on a 494 autostar controller and missed that it said for ds series
telescopes. does it work on the etx 90ec. if it doesn't why not?
Mike here: It will work with the ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT (or the older EC models) but not the ETX-90EC, -105EC, and -125EC. It was not designed to work with these.
Subject:	Problems with my LX-90
Sent:	Sunday, March 31, 2002 8:28:40
From:	e.de.mooij@hccnet.nl (E. de Mooij)
Last august I bought a LX90 with Autostar. But The telescope doesn't
work properly. After some time, the telescope starts to act crazy, if I
give let the telescope slew to a certain point in the sky, it keeps
turning around its azimuth axis, and I was wondering if this is a
problem with the telescope or with the Autostar.

I hope this is an easy problem to solve.

Greetings,
            Ernst de Mooij
 
The Netherlands
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET, RECALIBRATE, TRAIN drives sequence? That cures many diffficulties. Also, check that the Autostar is set for the LX90 in the Telescope menu and that the proper mounting mode (Alt/Az or Polar) is set. Also, if you can, upgrade to the latest software from Meade's site.
Subject:	Need confirmation
Sent:	Saturday, March 30, 2002 20:22:19
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
My question has to do with where the scope thinks it's viewing from.
Under "site">select I have chosen Rapid City which is used during
initialization..correct? Now for my actual viewing site I scroll down to
edit and enter Lat/Long plus my time zone in zulu..correct? In my case
the numbers look like this: N 4430'18" W-10353'46" Time: -7.0 zulu
(currently MST and off DST) So far so good? Finally, what would cause my
Autostar to not remember all these figures? Thanks again for all the
help. I searched and I searched your website for answers to these
specific questions, but I couldn't quite find any except one little quip
by Richard Seymour concerning the initial read that says put your stuff
in the edit box. Just really want to tell the beast where it's at when
we begin. Thanks for all the help Mike, you are one in a million. Check
six!
        Tony
Mike here: You should put your site location into the Autostar for the alignment. It will (should) remember it. From the LX90 manual (which is the best Autostar manual): "Edit: Edits a selected site, including: the name, latitude, longitude, and time zone. Time Zone refers to the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone shift. Users West of Greenwich, England use - hours, East of Greenwich use + hours."

And:

Thanks Mike,
As usual you are Johnny on the spot. How in the hell do you respond so
quickly? You'd think I was the only guy in the universe that quizzed you
tonight. Suggestions on where to go to get a LX90 manual if you don't
own one? Many thanks and keep up the good work. The skies are prime for
viewing right now so let's do it.
Mike here: See the FAQ for the manual.
Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, March 30, 2002 9:23:12
From:	ray@grcooperjr.com (Ray Cooper)
At one time I saw on the site something about using an autostar to
control motors other than that in an ETX. Is that still listed on the
site. It's been so long I cant remember or maybe I was just dreaming...

Thanks for the Help

Ray Cooper
ray@grcooperjr.com
Tigard OR
Mike here: Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts (Autostar info) on the Astronomy Links page. I have put it on the Autostar Information page as well.

And:

Boy That was FAST

Thanks again Mike

Subject:	re: autostar alignement problem
Sent:	Friday, March 29, 2002 22:11:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	smorren@vub.ac.be
I think the problem is merely one of method.

When Aligning, Do not move the tripod after powering the telescope.  
After the telescope slews to (near) the first Alignment star,
use only the slew keys (the big arrows) to move the telescope
to point accurately at the star.  Press [enter].
After the telescope slews to (near) the second star, again
use only the slew keys (the big arrows) to move the telescope
to point accurately at the star.  Press [enter].
That should give you a beep sound, and the message "Align Successful".

The base of the telescope (or top of tripod) should be as -level- as
possible.  Before turning it on, the barrel should be level (parallel
with the ground) and pointing to true north (directly under Polaris).

Try those methods, and see if it helps

good luck
--dick

Subject:	more on Autostar libraries and Proc Trap 2...
Sent:	Friday, March 29, 2002 20:54:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Remember Anselmo's problem?
-Another- user has sent me an AUD file which -also- crashes the Autostar.
In his case, there's no "Proc Trap 2" message... but when you try to
Select a Satellite, the Autostar freezes with "Select Satellite" on
the top line, and a blank second line.
Adding lots of objects to his Updater file -removes- the symmptom.
Taking some away may not.  (i'm still testing... transfers take time)

It may be an Updater problem.  It's hard to tell.

So this -is- a bug in either A3.32 and A3.40 and/or 24Ea, or requiring
both in collusion (since Anselmo did -not- have the problem with 23eB).
But changing your Library/HBX User Object load may "correct" the symptom.

more news if/when i find anything out
(meanwhile a large note to Meade is being written...)
have fun
--dick

Subject:	New ASU and .ROM Files from Meade - 3/28/02
Sent:	Thursday, March 28, 2002 7:21:02
From:	David_Wylde@AutomationIntelligence.com (Wylde, David)
I was on the Meade site and noticed that yesterday they released a new
Autostar Update program (ver. 3.4) and a new .rom file for the Autostar
Controller (24eb).

Take Care,

David Wylde
Sales Engineer
Systems Integration Group
Automation Intelligence, Inc.
678-330-2089

Subject:	Finding the Comet
Sent:	Wednesday, March 27, 2002 16:40:32
From:	Wryword@aol.com
MIke, thank you again for your informative answers to questions about
the ETX scopes and particularly for you willingness to keep this site up
and answer so many questions.  I have what is probably a very basic
question about the ETX.  I would like to view Comet Ikeya through mine,
even though I have had some nice views through binoculars.  Since the
comet is not in Autostar, how would you get the telescope sited on the
comet and keep it tracking on the comet?  I use an alt/az mounting.  I
don't believe that I can manually train the scope on the comet and then
engage the drives, but I am not sure how to get there with the drives
running after having done the initial alignment.

John Henry
Mike here: The simplest method is to align the Autostar as normal and then just slew to the comet. The next simplest is to align and then manually enter the RA and DEC for that night's comet position into the Autostar. (This is what I've been doing.) The third option is to enter the comet TLE into the Autostar. See the Autostar Information page for info on doing this last one. But for the second choice, again just align the Autostar as normal, hold the MODE key down for 2-3 seconds and then release it. The display will show the current RA and DEC for where the telescope is pointing. Press and release GOTO and you'll be able to manually enter the RA and then the DEC. I've been using the table from the Sky&Telescope web site. There are many other sites with this info as well.

And:

Thanks. Sorry for the stupid question but I did not realize that you
could just slew the scope where you want after alignment.
Mike here: No questions are stupid when you don't know.
Subject:	autostar alignement problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 27, 2002 8:24:29
From:	smorren@vub.ac.be (Serge Morren)
I bought a second hand ETX-90 with an autostar which was just updated.
If I do the alignement like explained in the booklet, and I take the
"easy" alignement he puts himself on a star with a right inclination put
a wrong horizontal alignement. Even if I turn then the tripod exactly on
the mentionned star and afterwards go to the second star the alignement
is wrong again. If I choose the setting "two stars" and put myself the
two stars rightly, the autostar reponds "wrong alignement".
What could be the reason for this?
I think the autostar works correctly but the starting position is wrong.
Maybe after updating the starting position explanation has changed too?
I would be pleased with an answer. 
Serge Morren, Brusselpoortstraat 10, B-2800 Mechelen, Belgium, Europe or
at my e-mail adress smorren@vub.ac.be
Mike here: When updating the Autostar ROM it is necessary to reTRAIN the drives. Did you do that? Is the right telescope model selected in the Autostar? Is the date/time and location correct? What about Daylight Savings? Is the Autostar set for Polar or Alt/Az mounting to match your telescope setup? Check those and let me know.
Subject:	Re: Autostar etc (DS-motor electronics)
Sent:	Tuesday, March 26, 2002 22:41:44
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hp wall)
To:	duncan.radbourne@btinternet.com
Duncan,

no need to be concerned. I have both - a ETX 125 (bought it without the
OTA very cheaply) - and the DS motors. The motors and electronics are 
the same. Well, there is one difference. If you download the latest
Meade firmware with the DS motors attached or if you connect the
Autostar to a DS scope you won`t have -all- telescopes in your telescope
menu (no LX90, no LXD-mounts - but you can use the GEM software with
Dick`s patch).

What do you mean with "more capable"? I drive my scope with the settings
for the LX90 or ETX 125 scope. All I have to do is changing the ratios
in the telescope menu. Like Steve mentions on his page the GOTO accuracy
depends on the worm/gear combination. The encoder wheel (resolution) is
the same with both the ETX and DS scopes.

There -were- some problems with early DS motors - some kind of
unpredictable motor behavior. I have never had that problem with my
motor sets. I would -never- use the motors of my ETX drive base for a
homebuilt mount (too expensive).

Regards

Peter

>From: "Duncan Radbourne" (duncan.radbourne@btinternet.com)
>Peter
>
>thanks for the mail looked and saw , still concerned that the electronics 
>in the ETX base may be different / more capable any thoughts ?
>
>Regards
>
>Duncan

Subject:	Re: Autostar problem -- libraries
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 21:36:24
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
> I guess the problem was a bad library or a corrupted set of information
> in some items of the library.
> 
> Or it could be a conflict between some library data (some Comets, or Tours
> or...) and rom version 24Ea, this because the library that was having
> problems on my Autostar using version 24Ea, was having no problems with
> version 23Eb

Good question... i loaded your library (last.aud) into two Autostars
(patched and unpatched 24Ea) and exercised them for a while. Such as:
Easy Alt/Az align, GoTo Jupiter, take StarGroups tour, GoTo Jupiter,
with many LED on/off cycles during the sequence.

No problems.  Updater 3.33.

So i'm sorry to say that i still cannot duplicate your symptoms. If you
cannot duplicate them either, that is both good and bad: Good... since
you can now observe without Proc Traps. Bad... since we may never learn
with certainty what was the problem.

Please tell us if the problem appears again...

Good luck
--dick
And:
Anselmo,

> Then I turned off the scope for a while.
Perhaps it was jealous?
 
> After 1 hour or so I turned back on, did the align sequence again
> since I changed my position, and trying to track Jupiter
> I got the "Prog Track 2" error again.
> 
> I am giving it up now :-(, I will upload version 23Eb util a new version
> comes out.

I am very puzzled... it truly sounds like some small piece of the
Autostar's main memory is forgetting something over time.
I assume the "Proc Trap" is now permanent, that any time you try to
track Jupiter, you get it.
To help me locate it, -when- in the sequence of "tracking jupiter" did
it occur?
When you selected Jupiter?
When you pressed [enter] to perform the calculation?
After the calculation, when you pressed GoTo?
During the motion from then to the beep?
After the beep?

In a gap between two of the above? (such as the slow-down section after
the main motion)

It is puzzling... certainly i -do- recommend going back to 23eB.
The differences between 23eB and 24eA are: slightly better Mars location,
 slightly better Comet location.  But both only improve by a small amount.
(well, the Comet improvement depends upon the Epoch date)

I still suspect that your Autostar is slightly broken, and that the
bad memory location is still there.. simply in a "safe" (or unused) 
place given the layout of 23eB.  If you are/were here in the US, i
would recommend calling Meade for a warranty replacement.

good luck, and please let us know if 24e??? (the next version) is happier
--dick
And:
From:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
>To help me locate it, -when- in the sequence of "tracking jupiter" did
>it occur?

It happens when I press [enter] to perform the calculation
And this:
> I don't know if this could also be a factor: I am using rechargeable
> Batteries on my Scope. (you know that rechargeable batteries only deliver
> 1.2V  instead of 1.5V like regular Alkaline batteries).
> 
> But thinking this could be a factor, I performed the installations of the
> rom using Alkaline Batteries, and used the rechargeable ones only to operate
> the scope outside.

Low voltage -can- cause problems, but it would have to drop below 8 volts
before i would expect trouble.. and slewing should go crazy long before the
Autostar starts making mistakes.

good luck
--dick
Mike here: Dick, do you know if there is a check on battery condition before the download begins? If the batteries die before the download is complete, the Autostar is hosed, requiring a SAFE LOAD. It would be nice if the ASU application would check the battery level and if not sufficient, warn the user.

And:

The ASU has not got access to that information (i suppose it -could-
look at the memory location the firmware keeps the running average it,
but the firmware only does that if you've asked for Battery Alarm, or if
you're actively displaying that screen in the Status mode.  Othewise it
doesn't check. That memory location would change from firmware to
firmware, too.

But it -would- be feasible for the -Autostar- to check as it goes into
Download mode...  "NOT Downloading... check batteries".  Beep.

Far More folks have hosed their systems by killing the -power- switch
than i've heard of having problems with batteries (only once, i think).

--dick

Subject:	Updating question
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 10:39:05
From:	Wryword@aol.com
Hi. I have a question about the Autostar for the ETX scopes.  If you
wish to download updates from Meade, do you lose any settings in the
Autostar?  Would have have to recalibrate and all of that?
Mike here: You won't lose settings but you do need to reTRAIN the Autostar following any update of the ROM. Otherwise you will experience "rubberbanding" when you try to center objects following a GOTO. For more on updating, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Autostar Information page.

Thanks, I appreciate that response.  I thought there might be a hitch in it.

Subject:	Possibility for a high Precision patch
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 1:08:11
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Dick,
I have a DS-127 and the mount has a lot of play so using High Precision
is useful to find stuff. The only problem is that I have to turn it on
every time I use the scope. With your knowledge of the firmware, would
it be possible to allow this setting to be kept when the autostar is
switched off?
Thanks
Raymond Barbour
Johannesburg
South Africa

Subject:	SAFE MODE doesn't work with Autostar 1.0E??
Sent:	Sunday, March 24, 2002 10:45:13
From:	tornerix@terra.es (Jos Antonio Tornero)
I have a ETX-70AT and Autostar says proc. trap 2 when I turn it on. I
can't enter in SAFE MODE (holding down ENTER and SCROLLDOWN) maybe
because I have version 1.0E of Autostar software. Do you know how can I
reload my Autostar software?

thank you in advance.
Jose Antonio Tornero
EMail: tornerix@terra.es
SPAIN
Mike here: You won't like this answer. SAFE MODE only works when there is a ROM that you can download. And the #494 Autostar does not currently have a ROM to download. However, all may not be lost. You CAN use the current Autostar Updater Client 3.33 software with your #494 using the #506 cable. It can correct some types of failures in the #494. Worth a try. If this doesn't fix the problem you'll have to contact your local Meade dealer.

And:

Thank you very much for your answer.
Your website is really impressive, I hope you will follow with your
great job.

Jose and Sonia

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Saturday, March 23, 2002 17:03:12
From:	ken.hurd@verizon.net (Ken Hurd)
I have looked all over your site, I think?, I am trying to update a
brand new autostar 495 I picked up at service merchandise for 31.00. I
am currently in the process of updating the software but want to upgrade
it to a 497 if possible?, What's the steps? if any?
Mike here: Go to Meade's Autostar Update page and grab the Updater Client and the new ROM file. Then just connect the Autostar/ETX and your computer using a #505 cable and start the software. Click the update button once the software is installed on your hard disk. If you want more details, see the guide to using the 3.x client on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Re: Autostar 497 memory
Sent:	Saturday, March 23, 2002 16:01:27
> I have a simple question about the 497 autostar.
> I wonder how much memory is left for the orbital elements,
> comets, tours, user objects etc after 2.4Ea  or 2.4a4..?

*all* versions of firmware for 495 and 497 since 1.3 give
 the same space to the combined User Objects and Tours: 63 kilobytes.
Many of the pre-21 "kits" included some Asteroids, Comets, etc.,
 so the amount of free space appeared to change.  But the
actual space available has remained the same.  Various versions
between 2.1 and now have corrected some bugs which affected 
individual Tour sizing (i think the maximum single tour is 
now about 31 kilobytes).

The 63 KB may be assigned however you wish: all satellites,
all comets, or any mix of the six types of adjustable objects.
I have tested both ends of the range: 0 bodies through overflowing.

The new updater shows the space remaining on the right side,
and the space your libraries are using on the left side.
My current object set has slightly confused that display: 
the Updater says i have "-48" bytes free, the Autostar still
thinks i have 900 bytes free.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar etc 
Sent:	Saturday, March 23, 2002 15:06:55
From:	duncan.radbourne@btinternet.com (Duncan Radbourne)
As a budding Astronomer and an keen builder of scopes I hope to
incrperate the brilliant autostar system in to my next creation ( a 13"
newt on a fork mount ) . Can Any body tell me if there is any difference
between the scope end electronics built in to the ETX 's and the 492
motors ? as I intend to buy a set to use as components on the new  scope. 
On some sites the innerds of the ETX show a circuit board with the RA
drive . Am i to assume that the same electronics are in the 492 motor
box;s as well ?

Any thoughts

D J Radbourne
Mike here: See "Steve Bedair's 'Go To' Mounts (Autostar info)" on the Astronomy Links page. Might help.

And:

Thanks for your response , I did try steve's page a few times before and
have been mailing back and forth to him a number of times , nobody
though seems to have a picture if the inside of the DS motors ! still
need to know that they have the same electronics as the ETX boards ?

And:

Thanks Mike
Never did say that the site is real good , mine of information .
Thanks for your help

Duncan Radbourne 
Secretary
West of london Astronomical Society
London 
England 

Subject:	Autostar rom 2.4Ea bugs
Sent:	Saturday, March 23, 2002 9:20:42
From:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
I only would like to report that after installing the new Rom version
2.4Ea in my Autostar #497 the GOTO function for Planets on Solar System
doesn't work anymore. I always get the message "Proc Trap 2" after
selecting a Solar System Planet.

An other bug I have discovered, is that being in tracking mode and after
several times of turning On and Off the utility light, the system don't
respond anymore "hang-up". "I have pressed the "MODE" button for several
seconds to see if it responds, but no. You have to turn the unit off to
get the Autostar working again.

So I have re-installed the old rom version 2.3Eb, and now everything
works ok.

Thanks
Anselmo
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Very strange... what kind of telescope? Do you have an electric focuser?
Site? Date? Time?  Polar or Alt/Az?

My ETX90 (in both Polar and Alt/Az) is very happy to goto planets (Jup,
Saturn, Mars, Venus) with 24Ea.

More details, please... it -may- have simply been a bad load (there is a
Verify choice under Options, but it extends the download time from the
PC to the Autsotar from 20 minutes to about an hour)

I  shall play with the map light, too... it comes on and off when i use
my focuser, and i have not seen a hang-up

good luck
--dick
And:
I installed the 24Ea version 5 days ago. For the first 3 days it worked
fine, except for the light problem, this was the first thing I
discovered.

Planet Tracking and using GOTO function worked fine with no problems for
the first 4 days.

The "Proc Trap 2" problem happened last night after having watched Orion
Nebula and searched some galaxies with the Autostar #497.

Then I just wanted to locate Jupiter and there it was "Proc Trap 2"

I turned the Autostar off. Then tried again to search for a planet in
Solar System (Mars, Venus, Saturn,etc) and again "Proc Trap 2".

Then I went to reset  the unit with the RESET function.

Having done this, tried to locate again a Planet and again "Proc Trap
2".

So I went back home, and using the ASU333 software, deleted all the
"Handbox" (Satellites, Comets, Tours, etc) I had uploaded before, 
thinking perhaps some of these objects has an error.

Done this I tried again and no luck, "Proc Trap 2".

So I decided to install previous version of Rom 23Eb.

Done this, everything worked fine again. No more "Hang-Ups" using the
map light, and no more "Proc Trap 2" error.

Here is my setup:
Autostar #497
Meade ETX-125
Alt/Az Mode
Site: COSTA RICA - SAN JOSE
TIME: ~22:00:00
DATE: 22 MARCH 2002

I don't have a electric focuser.

Thanks
Anselmo
And from Dick:
Aaahhhh... that is a strange story... my guess is that some of your
Autostar's memory became confused (or erased).  
Luckily it was not the main program portion,  or you would have seen
more problems.
Quite possibly you could have re-loaded 24ea and also (once more)
created a happy Autostar.  Or, you may have a problem which will
eventually affect the old program.   I hope not.

But, since it worked properly for a few days, i don't -think- it
is a propgramming problem, i believe you may have a hardware problem.
I would suspect electrical noise from your power supply, or an 
intermittent connection somewhere in the system.  Perhaps even connecting
your light to other portions of the system (a loose piece of something
metallic inside the autostar, perhaps)?

Please tell us if the problem (or another strange symptom) appears
in the future... 

I -will- test the LED many, many times... and will tell you what
happens (i hope it -does- cause me problems, since that would mean that
your Autostar is -not- broken)

i wish you good luck
--dick
And:
OK
I will try out version 23Eb for some time to see if the problem appears
again (Tonight (3/23/2002) it worked fine with no problems at all.
Perhaps in the near future I will install again version 24Ea or a newer
one to see what happens.

PD: Originally my Autostar came with version 22Es

Thanks for your time

Anselmo
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I have run a few minutes of testing, with two Autostars with 24Ea. My
thumbs hurt. I have cycled the light on both Autostar for over 100 times
each. With my focuser unplugged, to match Anselmo's situation.

The Autostars did not lock up, they still GoTo Jupiter.

(i find it interesting that, if i -hold- the zero key, the two Autostars
show a different cadence in the continuous on/off/on cycle of the light
.. but i -also- did the 100 press/release cycles in my testing.)

just a status report...
--dick
Mike here: Thanks for the update Dick. I still haven't installed 2.4... (something about avoiding Windows, I guess...)

And:

From:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
You don't have to turn on and off the light so many times.

When I noticed that my Autostar lock up, was when I wanted to put the
telescope in Home position. I turned the light ON to be able to see the
Dec Circle to adjust the scope to 0 degrees. After that, the light would
not come off anymore, and the Autostar locked up.

I am beginning to believe that the problem could have been a bad upload
of the rom into my autostar. (this is, because when I uploaded rom 24Ea
it took almost 30 minutes to transfer the information. But when I
uploaded the old rom version 23Eb, it only took 10 minutes or so.)

regards
Mike here: You should probably redownload the ROM file from Meade's site.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> You don't have to turn on and off the light so many times.
..i believe in checking to exhaustion...  (and you didn't say how 
 many times...)

> When I noticed that my Autostar lock up, was when I wanted to put the
> telescope in Home position.
> I turned the light ON to be able to see the Dec Circle to adjust the scope
> to 0 degrees.
> After that, the light would not come off anymore, and the Autostar locked
> up.

If you slew to 00/00 manually, that's one thing.
If you have a Landmark called "home", then a GoTo that should do it.
If you are using the Park Scope command to put the scope at home,
 then, yes, it does lock up.  It is supposed to. 
Park, then power-off is Meade's intent.

good luck
--dick
And:
Mike wrote:
> You should probably redownload the ROM file from Meade's site.

Probably -not- necessary... the code includes a checksum,
the Updater will -refuse- to even start loading it if every byte
(well, every non-zero byte... a zero -could- be lost and the 
checksum wouldn't notice).

So, yes... maybe... (although losing a byte in the -middle- of a
stream isn't easy).

Meade also has the ZIPped versions of their codes on their site:
at  http://www.meade.com/support/auto/

And ZIPped files have additional redundancy checks.

good luck
--dick
And an update:
From:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
I have re-installed version 24Ea and I think the problem is not the rom.
It seems the rom 24Ea has some conflicts with some aditional libraries.
(Comets, Satelittes, tours etc)

I have re-intalled version 24Ea and it seems to work yust fine, but have
not yet uploaded any libraries into the Handbox.

Will try out tomorow, with libaries uploaded to see if "Proc Trac 2"
appears again.
And more from the Detective:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Ahh!   There -is- a change in the Libraries... (which i haven't
explored yet, i loaded the firmware, but kept my in-Autostar 
libraries)

You may need the new (asu3.33) Updater (or, please tell us if you
are using it already).

The New Updater (and the 24eA firmware) both support using 
tenths-of-days in the Epoch of Comets (and probably Asteroids).

I am certainly willing to believe that one of the four combinations
 (new Firmware, old Updater; old firmware, new Updater;
  new Firmware, new Updater; old Firm, old Upd)
is making a mistake and confusing your Autostar.

> I have re-intalled version 24Ea and it seems to work yust fine
> ,but have not yet uploaded any libraries into the Handbox.

Which Updater are you using?

good luck
--dick
And:
The dates for the two comets are "correct", but the fractional
part of Ikeya-Zhang (C1) is wrong... it should be 19.0, not 18.5

(since you have that fractional date, i must assume you are running
ASU 3.33 )

I was surprised to see all of the Asteroids have the same Epoch date
(in the future), but that agrees with Harvard's 2002 data.
(Meade's site links to the 2001 data)

Your total memory load leaves a lot of room.
My current load regsiters as "-48" bytes
(another reason i have not uploaded libraries into 24Ea)
(although i -have- loaded libaries in and out of 24Ea a week or two ago)
(i think)

more after i download your data to my Autostar... tomorrow...
good luck
--dick
And more:
From:	avolio@hotmail.com (Anselmo Volio)
Yes I am using asu3.33

I have now Un-installed ASU3.33 and after that manually deleted carpet
C:\Program Files\Meade  and all of its contents.

After that I have re-installed asu3.33 and imported a new set of
libraries (using less comets and Satellites), not using the old
configuration. Until now everything is working fine.

I guess the problem was a bad library or a corrupted set of information
in some items of the library.

Or it could be a conflict between some library data (some Comets, or
Tours or...) and rom version 24Ea, this because the library that was
having problems on my Autostar using version 24Ea, was having no
problems with version 23Eb

Subject:	Baked autostar
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2002 20:39:11
From:	bats@battleymanor.freeserve.co.uk (Bats)
I have an ETX90 and until tonight I also had an autostar.
After some erratic slewing and a few screen messages in MARTIAN, the
lights went out. The autostar was pretty hot and after checking out Dick
Seymour's autostar schematics it looks like the (LM317) 5V regulator has
been fried.
I am going to try replacing this component myself  as the warranty is
out but I would welcome any other ideas before
I probably finish off the autostar for good.

Many Thanks
Paul Battley, UK
Mike here: Did it get warm from sitting on a flat surface? If so, it may have come back to life once it cooled down.

And an update:

I still have an unwell autostar but it is now starting to show signs of
life.

Now when I power up the scope I am getting a faint beep from the
autostar, sometimes with the initialization screen (but this soon breaks
up) and at other times just the red LED illumination. I have checked out
the voltage regulator and the cable and its connections with a meter and
all appears well. The 5V voltage regulator still gets abnormally hot but
this only occurs when I get illumination and nothing else.

If I find a cure I will pass it on to you.

Subject:	etx60 and 495 autostar
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2002 2:02:03
From:	Typec2@aol.com
I saw a 495 autostar at a local Service Merchandise for $40. Is there
anyway to use this on my etx60? I read in the archives here that it's
possible to upgrade the software in it to turn it into a 497. Problem is
it has to have 1 meg of ram. There was a question as to how to determine
this without opening it up. (Not possible with this unit prior to buying
it. Also this is a liquidation, all sales final.)
  Thanks,
     Bill
Mike here: It is likely it would be upgradable to a #497. There seems to have been only the initial runs of the #495 that were limited in memory. But even if you can't upgrade, having the full keypad may make it worth the $40 for use on the ETX-60AT.

And:

Thanks for the reply. Will it work as is without being upgraded on the
ETX60? I thought it wouldn't recognize the ETX's without being upgraded.

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
And from our resident Autostar expert:
No problem... the 495 was first -shipped- with the -old- versions of
the ETX60 and ETX70.  It'll think it's in  heaven.
The current codes still recognize that there are two models of ETX60,
and has provisions for them.

(but i've got to state that i think Mike made a statement that's never
been verified:)

> There seems to have been only the initial runs of the #495 that were
> limited in memory.

No one, and i mean -zilch- (and other resources which have drifted past)
has -eveer- seen/reported (to me) a "real" short-memory 495.  They have -all-
(even pre v1.2) been able to be brought to full 497-hood.

If anyone ever shows up with a true half-meg 495, i'll buy it (or replace it
with an operating 497)... just to hide the evidence..

(now, it's -possible- that 1/2 meggers existed.. and escaped from Meade.
However, (i should go check before running out on -this- plank) i think
every 495 firmware kit MEade published is -also- greater than a half-meg
(i -was- wondering how they squeezed 640 K into a half-meg can)
The 494 -is- a half-meg beast, and a bunch of shop-floor-dummies escaped...
power them up, they report  "Version 0.1" .. press any key, they say "BOZO"
and refuse to budge from there.  I have one (Dick's Museum of the Arcane)
(ohh... it's the one i cut open and photographed... i should take a full-
frontal shot with the display active!)

The only quirk in upgrading an -old- version (1.3 and earlier)
(and this holds with both 495 and 497) is that you need to put it in
Setup > Download   mode manually.    Since the 495 will be happy to
run on and ETX60, you don't need to use the Safe Load trick that a 
495-on-an-ETX125 would require.

>     Thanks for the reply. Will it work as is without being upgraded on
> the ETX60? I thought it wouldn't recognize the ETX's without being
> upgraded.

It'll love it....

have fun
--dick

P.S. ... in fact, thinking about it ('tis morning.. neurons not up to
speed yet), i think the -only- Autostar-like beast which -won't- run an
ETX60 is the "Starfinder" variant of the 494 which is shipped with the
4504 (and 114eq-dh4)... that is a standard 494 core load, but with the
GEM mounting hard-coded... "Telescope Model" does not appear in the
Setup Menu. These have "Starfinder" printed on the front.

Subject:	Autostar problems & a possible WARNING!
Sent:	Wednesday, March 20, 2002 15:46:51
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
I just had a semi-major incident regarding my #497 Autostar.

I've been performing updates on it regularly (since 1999 when I first
purchased it) as Meade has been introducing changes to both the Autostar
ROMs and to the Updater. My setup is a Mac G4/450 DP with the Keyspan
USB-to-serial port adapter, OS 9.2.1, and Virtual PC 4.0 running Win 98.
Since 1999 there have been changes to that hardware/software
combination, but I've always "eventually" had a successful update of the
handbox. I say "eventually" because I almost always need to perform the
update several times before I get a complete 100% load of the newest
version. My first attempt is usually a failure -- I'll get some
percentage complete and then loose the connection between the
computer/software and the handbox -- trying to perform a subsequent load
has required putting the handbox into the FLASH MODE (or SAFE MODE) and
then trying again.

My latest attempt (last weekend) was similar -- I was using the new ASU
3.33 and the new 2.4Ea build.rom and had tried the update to the
handbox. First attempt got me about 11% loaded, and then timed out.
Second attempt was about 4%. Next attempt was about 54%. Somewhere in
there I even got up to 97% (!!!!!), and then a timeout and lost
connection. It was getting frustrating. I had tried and tried over 10
times, with no luck.

Here's where my stupidity took over, and here's the background -- I also
own a Garmin eTrex Vista GPS unit and it, too, requires the use of
Virtual PC to download updates from Garmin. I've had similar problems
with timing errors in regard to Garmin's updating software. When I first
had the problem, I called Garmin's tech support and the suggestion was
to lower the baud rate -- apparently the data was being pumped to the
unit too fast for it to accept it, and slowing down the data transfer
would help. Garmin's software had that capability built-in, so I tried
it, and it worked. It took longer to load the update, of course, but at
least it went through without a hitch.

Now, back to the Autostar update -- after so many attempts, I thought
maybe if I lowered the baud rate I'd have success (dumb idea in
hindsight -- Dick Seymour informed me that the ASU automatically selects
the best connection speed, and I think I read somewhere previously that
it didn't go faster than 9600 baud anyway -- but did I pay attention to
that or remember -- NO!). So, stupidly, I started to tinker around
within Virtual PC to see if I could set a different connection speed, or
at least FORCE a 9600 baud rate. Again, stupid, stupid, stupid -- since
I'm a Mac guy, I know diddly-squat about Windows, but somewhere in the
Modem Control Panel I found a way to set the Modem port to 9600 baud --
so I did. (Dick has since told me how to do it CORRECTLY, IF I want to
try it again -- which I don't think I do!!) Meanwhile, the Autostar was
STILL connected to my computer and the power to it was on. It was still
in FLASH MODE from the previously failed attempt, and the display was
showing FLASH MODE READY. After making the baud rate change and closing
the Modem Control Panel, I went back to ASU, fired it up, and tried to
connect to the Autostar. I got the message about not finding the handbox
at COM1. So I walked over to the ETX, turned off the power (always
connected to an AC outlet for updates, never batteries), and holding
down the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN keys I switched on the power. Uh-oh!!!
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. No FLASH MODE READY. No nothing -- just a
blank Autostar. There was no sense of power to it at all -- no keys lit
up from behind. It looked dead. Sh-t!!!  What did I do? I fiddled
with it some more, but nothing. I plugged in the original hand control
that came with the ETX and all worked as expected, so it wasn't the
scope. Did I "fry" the Autostar by making a software change to the baud
rate going to the modem port? Was that possible?

I wrote to our resident Autostar guru (Dick Seymour) and explained
everything. After giving me a tongue-lashing, his diagnosis/prognosis
was this: Somehow, it might have been possible that when I sent the baud
rate change, an "E" (or "W") (Erase/Write) with a string of zeros was
sent to the handbox, effectively wiping out page 0 of memory, the area
that holds the FLASH MODE routines. Soooo, even though the Autostar
looked "dead," (and basically it was), it wasn't "electronically" dead,
only "brain" dead. With the FLASH routines gone and power supplied to
the Autostar, there was nothing there telling the handbox to do anything
(such as go into FLASH MODE and display that on the screen!) Dick
thought that Meade engineers should have a way to re-program/resend the
FLASH MODE routines to the Autostar -- hey, when Meade gets them off the
assembly line, they're like babies -- they need to be taught somehow,
right?

Now it gets better -- luckily, I live about 20 minutes from Meade (down
in Irvine, CA). I called on Monday morning and talked to tech support
(which was temporarily manned by "sales personnel" -- a bad sign!) I
explained EVERYTHING (along with Dick's suggestion), including not being
able to get the handbox into the FLASH MODE state. He put me on hold for
about 3 minutes while he went to talk to Engineering. He came back and
his response to me was, "Engineering said to hold down the ENTER and
SCROLL DOWN keys and turn on the power -- that should do it!" Okay, I
could tell this wasn't going to get anywhere after that. We agreed that
I'd come in later in the week and see if they could fix it, possibly
"while I waited (?)" Well, that wasn't to be.

I went to Meade on Wednesday, talked to a "real" tech support person and
explained everything again, he went off to engineering, and came back
with a brand new Autostar that he had at his desk. My options were to
either leave my old one and they'd look at it (for free), but I wouldn't
get it for 2 to 3 weeks -- or -- take the new one with software that
wasn't quite up-to-date and perform the update myself (oh, God,
again!!!) -- or -- I could wait until the end of the day and they could
CLONE the newest software for me to the new unit. I decided, under the
circumstances, to take the new Autostar and run. Besides,  I knew
sometime in the future I WOULD decide to update the handbox again as the
software changed, so there was no getting away from that. And CLONING
was just putting off the inevitable. I do want to (and DID) thank Meade
for resolving the issue fairly -- I DID NOT go in expecting to get a new
handbox, and the old one was way out of warranty, so they could have
charged me. I am curious, though, as to what is really wrong with the
old unit, and CAN Meade Engineers do what Dick suggested -- simply
re-program the page 0 FLASH MODE memory? I suppose at this juncture,
I'll never know. I did suggest to tech support that if THIS dummy could
screw up his Autostar through some inadvertent software mod, another
dummy (like me) could do it, too. He nodded in agreement  :-)

What I learned was that I WILL NOT mess with any of the settings within
Virtual PC unless I really know the hell I'm doing.

What others should learn from this is that it IS "easily" POSSIBLE
(although not that PROBABLE) to wipe out your Autostar using the
software that you have at your disposal -- it didn't take my poking
around with wires and probes and applying unknown voltages and building
my own cables and switching pins accidentally. This mishap all seems to
have happened by trying to change a setting in the Modem Control Panel
of Virtual PC. Now it IS also possible that the Autostar really did
"electronically" die at the exact same time -- that it truly is a dead
unit -- but what is the probability of THAT happening?

Meanwhile, I have a brand new handbox. The joy of upgrading it to
version 2.4Ea awaits (and awaits, and awaits, and awaits)...

Stan Glaser
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
etx@me.com wrote:
> By the way, and this is just me wondering, if the Keyspan is handling the
> USB to serial conversion, where does the speed change occur?  Virtual PC
> tells Windows to use the USB as the serial port.  Keyspan handles the USB
> to serial conversion.  But the Mac is really using the serial bus.  And
> Windows is really using the USB (faked serial).  So, what "speed" is
> really being used?

Sigh... i spent over half an hour writing a tour-de-farce answer to
that, correct in the tehcnical details but (hopefully) understandable
and enjoyable by all....

but got distarcted, did other stuff on the net, and (as i was -just-
remembering that i hadn't posted it yet) Netscape crashed and took it
(and another) with it. foo..

Maybe the creative juices will flow again, but at the moment , i'm
pooped.

Fast, dry, short answer:  the Keyspan lump does the baudrate stuff. The
Mac commands it "do 9600!", and it does. Data flows from the Mac to the
Keyspan at USB speeds, the Keyspan trickles it out through the serial
port at 9600 hiccoughs per second.

The ASU just knows that it's sending data to Windows to meter out
through the serial port, whereever and however that is. It waits until
Windows says "done", or "incoming data ready". I suspect that the many,
many, MANY layers of software it's puddling through, or simply a
poorly-handled character overrun condition (data arriving before
previous character fully disposed of) is what's killing you.  I provided
Stan with a short how-to-tweak-Windows-registry note on increasing teh
ASU's READWAIT timeout from 60 millisec to larger.

--dick

Subject:	505 cable
Sent:	Monday, March 18, 2002 11:47:52
From:	divenuts@gte.net (divenuts)
I was reading some of updates for the last 10 days(we were on a cruise)
and saw some comments about the expense of the 505 cable and the price
to build one. I purchased a clone on e-bay for less than $10 shipping
included. I haven't used it since Dr Clay just supercharged my scope and
updated the autostar. Here is the URL of my purchase and the same seller
has many more. It looks to be just fine.... is the picture on the URL
the correct cable?
cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1072514501
Thanks as always,
Chuck Callaghan
Mike here: Looks OK.
Subject:	Autostar 2.4Eb and Electronic focus question
Sent:	Sunday, March 17, 2002 14:21:49
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
Here is one for the experts. I am at a loss to explain what took place.

After recently successfully updating my Autostar to the latest Version
2.4Eb, I decided to test out the training of my ETX 125. I used
Terrestrial Mode during the day and focused on a street lamp cover on a
lamppost about 500 yards away. I used my newly acquired Meade Plossel
9mm Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece to focus on a metal screw in the
lampshade on the lamppost. The eyepiece  was securely tightened on the
ETX 125.  I need to mention that I have a Meade Electronic Focus
assembly attached to my ETX 125 and connected to the Autostar. That's
when my apparent problem started to show up. I carefully trained the
telescope (after I reset the Dec and Ra percentages back to 1% each) in
Ra and Dec, calibrated the motors and loaded the lamp post screw into my
Landmarks and named it 1111. The idea was to try to see how well the
telescope tracked when I randomly slewed from the landmark position. I
chose the highest speed and began to slew at roughly a 45-degree angle
in each of the four quadrants ( the screw was at 0,0). The telescope did
rather nicely in returning to the landmark screw when I gave the goto
command. However, to my amazement, the screw was grossly out of focus
each time I returned to the landmark. I would refocus each time. The
amount of time the motor ran was quite a bit, since the focus was REALY
out! Again and again the focus changed when I moved off of the landmark
and gave the goto landmark command. When I disconnected the electronic
focuser power chord, nothing shifted and all stayed in focus during
these same tests.

Has anyone else seen this when they used the Meade electronic focus and
the latest Autostar update? Or is this some fluke of mine. It has been
raining here for the last two days, so I have not been able to repeat
the test. In astronomical mode, all seemed well, and no focus changes
occurred. Any thoughts would help.

Thanks,
Paul Boudreaux  
Mike here: That does sound not right! Unrelated but important: don't forget to reTRAIN the drives after any Autostar update. That won't have anything to do with the focus motor running though.

And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I have heard already so far of four other ETX telescopes with the Meade
electric focuser taking off while the scope is slewing....ALL have been
fitted with v2.4eb.  There is most definitely a bug in this software
which is activating the "0" command key while actuating a slew.

Dick??

Clay
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
24eB ???   I've only got 24eA...

Well, -i- have an electric focuser, and 24eA (and my patched 24a4 in
test...), and haven't seen focuser runaway (or wander)...

However (and this is -not- your case from the description).. if you are
running the focus motor and tap the zero key (or hit mode), the scope
flips to slewing mode... with the focuser still running!. The only way
to stop it is to tap zero (or hold MODE) to get -back- into focus
mode... then it'll stop. The reverse is also true: if you're manually
slewing, and simultaneously tap zero, you'll flip to focus, and the
scope will continue slewing...

But... i have -not- tried running a slewing-landmark test on 24eA. I'll
go do that and report back...

have fun (fuzzily)
--dick
And:
i've now run a bunch of slewings and landmark GoTo's...
and my focus didn't budge.

Next time -you're- trying it, slew to another 500-foot landmark
to try and see if it's the manual slew out, or the GoTo back,
which is causing it.

--dick (sharp as a , um, billiard ball?)

And an update:

Yesterday I got a short time to try the landmark set up again. I did
this before I read your latest email. This time I manually slewed
directly from the lamdmark creation (ADD)site in AUTOSTAR without going
to another mode (staying in the landmark command AUTOSTAR location and
simply using GOTO). After pressing GOTO, it worked as advertized. Each
GOTO from this AUTOSTAR point returned close to the landmark without a
change in focus. I believe the other day, I did not do it this way.
After creating the landmark in the AUTOSTAR, I used MODE to leave the
landmark creation site (ADD) in AUTOSTAR by returning to OBJECT via the
MODE command.  I then  slewed to a random point and then loaded the
particular landmark back into AUTOSTAR by returning to landmark
selection(SELECT). It was then that I believe that I saw the focus
change after that GOTO. To the best of my recolection, this is what I
did. I now will try to replay my exact steps to see if I can duplicate
my focus problems. It is possible that I hit a "wrong" button along the
way, but I don't think so. I will verify and document the specific steps
that generated this "problem" (if there is one).

Thanks for your time on this,

Paul Boudreaux

Subject:	Alignments
Sent:	Saturday, March 16, 2002 13:08:26
From:	jennyart@hotmail.com (Jenny Mehlenbeck)
Just thought I'd send you a follow up on my scope woes.

Mike I did what you said indoors.  The easy align from scratch worked
flawlessly several times.  Doesn't seem to be any motor problem.

Dick, I think your onto it.  I tried my two star align with the same two
stars I wrote about and sure enough, alignment failed.  Then I tried
with Sirius and Aldebaran, a little further apart and again alignment
failed. So, I tried with Sirius and Mizar and YEA!!!  Success!!!!    So
you know, I am aware the stars I picked were too close to really give me
an accurate map but I had no idea the scope just wouldn't accept it. 
Where are the "rules" for how far the two stars have to be???  Mizar is
probably too close to Polaris to be all that accurate an alignment too
but at least these are two stars I know I won't get wrong.  I bought a
damn expencive star chart but little black dots on a card just don't
resemble the real thing.  Even with chart in hand I can't be sure what
I'm looking at unless it's near one of the few constellations I know. 
Hopefully, once aligned enough to get close, along with my chart for
this scope can be my teacher.  Do ya think?

SUpposed to be clear tonight. Even heard there is a commit visible
tonight. I'll let you know how the real test goes.

Thanks for your help.  Thank you thank you thank you

Jenny
Mike here: You might find the "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Observational Guides/References page useful.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> Mike I did what you said indoors.  The easy align from scratch worked
> flawlessly several times.  Doesn't seem to be any motor problem.

Great! (it's easier to perform "User retraining" than motor-fixes by email)
 
> Dick, I think your onto it. 
...dang... i'll need to buy even bigger hats...

>  Where are the "rules" for how far the two stars have to be??? 
In alt/az mode, at least 30 degrees apart in Azimuth, 
between 20 and 65 degrees above the horizon.

But, if you can see/point at Polaris to get your "north" alignment
fairly decent, then use a Polar or Alt/Az **One** Star align.. -only- 
Sirius (for example) is then needed.

I use a $7 planisphere .. one of those spinning-disk star finders.
I like the paper model of The Night Sky, which has 
(a) dark stars on white paper (handy at night)
(b) many stars -named- (pretty much matching the Autostar's list)
(c) windows on both faces (minimizes distortion)

Continuing on the star list:  Sirius and Aldebaran (right next to Saturn)
Procyon or Betegeuse and Aldebaran  (Betel is the upper left shoulder of
Orion)
Even the Pleiades might serve... i -think- Alcyone is offered as an alignment
star .. it's teh one in the center of the cluster.  Use with Sirius.

Of course, here at 47N in Seattle, things are at different altitudes..

Oh! ... try the Easy Align.. learn where the two stars it chooses -are-
(in the quiet of your living room).
Another approach is to try the Easy Align, and if it picks a star you
don't know, tap the scroll down key and it'll pick another! You get
ten tries before it stops offering new ones.
Mizar is actually not too bad... if you're in Alt/Az, it's proximity
to the pole isn't really -that- bad.  The Autostar would choose it.

So give it a few more shots... this note is too late for tonight's 
comet (i suspect), since it sets around 8pm.  Easy binocular object due
west at 7pm, 20 degrees above the horizon.  (at least it was last night..
tonight's completely clouded ovber, with snow)

> I can't be sure what I'm looking at unless it's near one of
> the few constellations I know.  Hopefully, once aligned enough to get close,
> along with my chart for this scope can be my teacher.  Do ya think?

My ETX has taught me a -lot- about the constellations...

Good luck
--dick
And an update:
Lets label this letter   Good news, wierd, and bad news.

First,  SUCCESS!!!!   Two star align successful!  Yipeeeeee!!!

It aligned just fine, found the moon OK, but here come the wired part. 
I set it to go find Saturn.  It slewed into place, and when I thought it
was about done it kept on slewing.  It was making a box pattern.  Left,
up over down and it kept doing that until I gave up and had it go find
something else.   Wazzup with this?  It only did it once.  After that
one time, it seemed to find things OK and would beep when it was done
slewing.  Found Jupiter, or I think, then Saturn, or so I think, then
back to the moon.

Now for my bad news and another problem for you experts out there. 
First I think this scope is a real dissapointment.  Are the planets
supposed to only appear as white dots just like the stars?  According to
the box, and directions, I should see the bands of Jupiter and the rings
of Saturn.  Heck even a cheap scope should see the rings of Saturn.  All
I get is an oblong blip.  Is Saturn sort of turned on it's side now?  
As for Jupiter, the only tip off I even had it in the field were it's
moons.  or at least I'm guessing those three tiny dots all on the same
plane would be it's moons. No chance of seeing anything remotely
resembeling bands.  I sent the scope back to the moon and switched eye
pieces to the higher power one that came with the scope.  Only chance of
focusing is at the moon.  Then tried those two planets again.  Not much
differance at all.

AND....  I swear, I am seeing double images.  Especially with Saturn.  I
tried moving the eyepiece a bit and it doesn't seem to matter.   Before
you mention temp I had the scope outside a good hour before sunset.  
It's almost nine PM here, several hours since I set it out and it's
seeing double.   I have perfect vision too. No glasses.  Again, focusing
on planets is almost impossible since just touching the scope wiggles
it.  But if the moon looks sharp shouldn't the planets too?  I can't
tell if it's seeing the moon in double vision.  It's so big and bright
in compairison it looks clear.

I wasn't expecting to see hubble quality images but for the amount of
money this thing costed I was expecting just a little more than a blip. 
I did have it point to the crab nebula as long as it seemed to be
finding things OK.  I don't see anything.  Can't believe it actually has
black holes included in the computer.  What's the point?

So, thanks for the alignment tips.  Any clue as to the image quality???

Jenny
Mike here: Congrats on the alignment success. As to the views vs your expectations, you might want to read my ETX-70AT comments (linked from the top of the current "ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT" feedback page). If the Moon and stars appear sharp, the planets should not appear double. Did you refocus trying to image the image as you changed objects? As Saturn gets lower in the west, its Rings will be more "up/down" when observed through at Alt/Az mounted telescope.

And more from the Autostar expert:

SFrom:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> My scope aligned just fine last night. Again, must have been the too close
> together thing.  Using Mizor and Sirius worked just fine.  I still had to
> tweak a few times during the evening.  Is that normal?

Sometimes... it'll be a mix of you improving your technique (is your base
-really- level?), improvements in the telescope's setup (Training, 
Calibration... although i think you're well practiced in those by now),
.. but SYNC (and/or High Precision) exists simply because minor inaccuracies
-are- still in there, ranging from slight wear and travel differences,
consequences of the computational shortcuts the Autostar uses, accumulated
error (if you align in the SE corner of the sky, there stands a chance that
the NW corner might be not-quite-perfect, etc.etc.
Don't sweat 'em... if you find that an area is a tad off, GoTo at target,
wait for the beep, lean on the [enter] key for three seconds and release,
 then center that target.  Tap the [enter] key again, and you've told the
scope -here- is where that's at... thereby improving alignment in that
region.

> Tell me how this "easy align" would work.  No way even with a compus that
> the starting position would be 100% accurate. 
It doesn't have to be.  -You- are the intelligent eyeball who will correct 
for physical setup inaccuracies. 

But let's drop back to "how it's supposed to work": it's the same as a 2-star
align, except the Autostar picks the two stars from a short list of 79.
So you power up, tell it date, time (and location, assuming your site is
the same as whatever you've told it)... it chooses a star and swings to
where it -should- be, if all were perfect.
If you had a dead-level base, a level barrel, and a perfetly-north-pointed
home position, that first star may arrive -dead- centered.  (mine are close).
(usually).  But, so what?  If they're not centered, you merely slew around to
center them, and then press [enter].  The Autostar notes how far you had to
slew, and goes to the 2nd Easy star.  *but it doesn't use your first slewings
to adjust that second GoTo*.. (don't worry about it, it's just the way they
do it).  So, at the second star, you again slew to center it, press [enter].
*now* if factors your two adjustments into its model of the Universe, and
that night's GoTo's should be pretty close.

You can also improve the "with a compass" north-guess by (if Polaris is
]visible) berofer power-up, unclamp the Alt clamp.  Swing the whole 
telescope to point north(ish). Lift the barrel to point at Polaris.
Swing the whole telescope (base and all) until Polaris is centered in your
eyepiece.  You are now pointed within 3/4ths of a degree of -true- north.
Now lower the barrel to level it.  Clamp the Alt knob.  Clamp the Az lock
(if it wasn't already).
You now have a -very- well-home-positioned scope.

Stop.  Look through the scope... is it pointing at a usable landmark?
(here at home, it's a neighbor's chimney.. at my in-laws house i put a piece
of blue masking tape on their white fence).  If so, use -that- landmark
for quickly aiming north in future viewing sessions!  No need to do the Polaris
bit at all.  (this does depend upon you setting up in the same spot each time,
although if the "neighbor's chimney" is a couple of blocks away, it'll allow
you about a 10-foot wide area of placement without affecting the quality of
setup)

> It doesn't give the chance to tweak the scopes position so how would it work?
It does allow you to -point- the telescope at the EAsy Stars...and the 
slewing you do (from the moment you power up) is -measured- by the Autostar.
From those measurements it mathematically corrects its ideas of how to reach
targets.

>> Also, I was told Polaris wouldn't be a good star to use since it stays in
>> the same place all night.
That is *not* the correct reason for why Polaris is a bad alignment target.
The -real- reason Polaris is a bad target is that all of the Right Ascension
(RA) lines (like Longitude lines on the Earth) -meet- very near that point.
So aligning on Polaris provides -little- help in measuring the RA of that star.
(and the -slightest- error in your pointing throws -all- RA calculations into
the wastebasket).  A second rason is that Polaris is very close to 90 degrees
of Declination (the latitude-like sky coordinates)... and the Autostar uses
the trig Tangent function in a lot of its calculations.  The Tangent of
90 degrees is Infinity... and angles close to 90 degrees have rapidly 
changing values. So again, a -tiny- error in alignment/pointing could have
vast effects upon the accuracy of the calculations.

So that's the real reasons Polaris is not offered for alignment.

> It did to something very odd.  Right after I got the alignment successful
> note, I sent it to find Saturn.  It stopped but before I got the "beep" it
> started slewing in a box pattern.  Over, up, back accross, and down.   Did
> that for several minutes until I just sent it to GO TO something else.  Only
> did that one time all evening.  Wazzup with that?

You didn't notice it... but you pushed GoTo a second time while waiting
for the beep... which triggered a "spiral search".
Perhaps your GoTo button is overly sensitive, perhaps you were wearing
gloves/mittens and didn't feel that you were doing it.. but that's what 
happened.
If the GoTo button is ever pressed twice in succession, it will start
(or stop, if one is already happening) a box-pattern motion from where 
you're at.  Any key will -stop- a "spiral search".  Leaning on GoTo
for more than 2 seconds and releasing will start a Spiral Search, even
if the previous key was -not- GoTo.
That's what happened... it's a "feature", not a "bug"

> I should be able to at least see the rings of saturn and the bands of Jupiter.
>   Is this correct? 
Yes, to an extent.  (Warning: arm waves and waffles approaching!)

> Then sent back to Saturn.  All I get is an oblong blip.
Those are the Rings... you're seeing them.  (otherwise it'd be round like
Jupiter).  How -well- youo see them, and how much -detail- you can resolve
depends upon dozens of factors... from the quality of the air around you
I'm in the city of Seattle... my ETX90 has never shown me "Cassini's
Division".. the gap between the two major ring bands... but my $18 Dime
Store 3-inch reflector Telescope in 1957 -did-, clearly and distincly.
In rural Massachusetts... in DARK skies... clear non-polluted, non-smoggy air.

> It's on it's side more or less right? 
Um... that depends upon the time of night you're looking at it.
In the early evening, when it's more-or-less overhead, it'll be one way.
As it nears the western horizon, it'll appear to rotate in the eyepiece
(this is called "field rotation", and is why for long-term photos, you
have to use Polar Mounting rather than Alt/Az mounting.. but it's only an
amusment to us eyeball observers, but it does mean you have to be careful
when you say "up" and "down".

Look at the moon (by naked eye).. as it nears the horzion, the crescent
is bowl-like.. the bright face is pointed almost straight "down", and the
two points reach "up".

But look at it either earlier in the afternoon, or evening as it progresses
toward first-quarter, in when it's high in the sky the illuminated face is
 pointing -sideways- (to the west), and the "points" are pointed the other
way (east)... any water you put in that bowl would fall out.
So "sideways" is relative to where and when in the sky you were looking at it.
(to me, at 7:30pm, Saturn is "tilted", if memory serves)

But then you said:
> I am seeing double.
There was recently another poster with seeing-double reports, too.
There are -lots- of possible causes of -that- too.
From send-back-to-Meade misalignment of the two primary lenses in the nose
of the scope (it's an "air-spaced doublet") to loose lenses in the eyepiece,
to slight misalignment of the flip-mirror, to merely not letting the telescope
adjust to the nighttime air temperature... (my usual sin).[added later...
after seeing your "3 hours" note, note that i listed that factor last]

What happens on -stars-??   Jupiter is "too bright" in my 90mm telescope, too..
and attempts to see detail are -fought- by my city air.
My ETX70 -has- split the rings of Saturn from the sides of the planet.
It -has- resolved (briefly) two cloud bands on Jupiter... but only by using
eyepieces better than the ones Meade ships with the scope.
(i used my 26mm Plossel from my ETX90, and a Televue 8mm... -and- a bunch
of harry siebert's eyepieces when somebody visited)

> As for Jupiter, the only tip off I even had it in the field were it's moons.
>  I see one large white ball with three tiny ones very close
> by and on the same plane. Must be it's moons.  Very unimpressive. 

(Ah... this Hubble Generation!... back when i was a lad...)
Well, that's possibly true (for some folks)...
Me? I'm -always- entranced by -any- chance i get to view Jupiter and its 
moons.  If you watch them across the course of even a half-hour, you'll 
see them -move-.  That's hard to see with our own moon (not the motion
due to the Earth's rotation, but the motion due to the moon's orbit).
But here you can watch Jupiter's moons make significant, visible-across-
millions-of-miles changes in their positions!  It's a dance -i- never tire of.
(My wife prefers to look at Saturn.. boring.. no motion there...)
Remember my "dime store" scope mentioned earlier?  Even though it showed
Saturn's rings, it never showed shadow belts on Jupiter.

> It's also got a bit of double vision too.  As long as this scope seemed to be
> locating things OK, I sent it to find the crab nebula.  Nothing!
> Just black with some tiny stars in that field. 
> if it's there I sure can't see it. 
and, indeed, i'm not sure i'd see it in my ETX90, either... it's an 8th
magnitude diffuse object... and when the books say 8th magnitude and are
talking about non-point objects, the number given is as if the light -were-
concentrated in -one- spot... so i doubt that you'd see it (off-hand) in
a sub-4-inch scope... and even then, you'd probably -not- see it until you
have learned through experience -how- to see stuff like that!
That's not a put-down, it's a combination of human perception (physical eye)
and training your brain to -catch- the subtle nuances that are there.
Take -any- field -you're- good at, be it cooking (subtle twists and touches
of flavorings), fabric (feel, "hand", subtle color combinations), music
(from subtle variations to knowing a good riff when you hear one)...
* any * area like that reveals -far- more depth and range to someone who's
-experienced- a lot of it than to someone just listening/looking in.
And it's the same way with "seeing" in astronomy... i see things (although
it may take 5 minutes of doing -nothing- but peering intently into the
eyepeice until the subtlety -does- finally appear) that less-experienced
folks don't see, and more experienced observers see and report things that
i have to stare and STARE to finally discern... or i come back the next
night and keep trying.  Two night ago the ETX90 GoTo'd Comet Ikeya-Zhang.
It was a "bright" 4.5 magnitude object... and i could see it in the scope.
But i could -not- find it with binoculars!  With the scope sitting there
-pointing- at it.  I'll blame a slight haze, city muddy sky and haste
with binoculars... but i could -not- see it.  Two nights later it was almost
easy.  Easy enough that i could call a friend who walked out and saw it
naked-eye (but i couldn't).  And he lives a roaring 3 miles northeast of 
my house.  Conditions, and what you can and will "see" vary all over the
map... no one night is going to reveal all.

> I couldn't believe there are black holes listed in objects.  What's the point?
The choice of objects in the database often amuses me, too... but i -did- 
tour the black holes... Why? To see where they are -at-, if not to see them.
The LX200gps has about 1500 Lunar Features in its database... 17 are landing
sites for Apollo or satellites.  Why?  Can't see 'em, there's nobody there
-now-... but, for some of us, looking -at- such places does satisfy a bit
of history, and helps scratch the "where -was- that, anyway"? itch.

And one of the Quasars in the database -is- visible to this range of scopes,
on a -very- good night.
(your ETX70 also shares its database with the larger DS-130, which -can- 
resolve many more objects than the 70)

> AT least I got it to align.  That is an accomplishment in itself.
Yup.
> WIsh I could see what it describes on the box though.  Meade is a bunch of
> stinking liers!!!  
Well... we could get into a long argument about advertising and hair-splitting.
The box's words only claim that'll -locate- the planets, not show them...
An ETX70-taken photo was published in Sky&Telescope's gallery section within
the last couple of months (i can't -find- that issue in my stacks, or i'd
cite the page).  In a way, that's like an Instamatic photo getting into 
National Geographic... but it -was- worthy of it.
The photos on the box were probably taken with far better scopes... 
but images of near that quality -can- be taken with the ETX70.
And that's another whole thing to learn about scopes and using them... the
human eyeball -cannot- perceive most of the stuff you see in astrophotos.
Our retinas do not -accumulate- light like film and CCD's.  They pass on
news of the photons arriving and forget about them.  Images which take
minutes to hours to gradually build up enough photons for fine (or color)
detail take just that: film or CCD and -hours-.  Looking at mu box, i'd
say the the Jupiter picture is the only one i'm really suspicious about,
and even that one can probably be achieved with an ETX70, a -lot- of effort
(which people -expend- on astrophotography, even with HUGE telescopes),
and adding the moons from a subset of the frames.

> Couldn't find that commet either.  How low in the sky was it?
At 7:30 pm Friday night, it was 20 degrees above the due west horizon.
I required a telescope or binoculars to see it at all.  It was near 
Eta Pisces.  It'll have moved a bit by now.
I think http://www.heavens-above.com  will generate a finder chart for
tonight's position.

> I can't translate those tiny BLACK dots into what's above me.
I still get lost with a -lot- of charts, too... either too much detail,
or too little.  'tis a pain.

> I should make my own chart.  I'd use something like an umbrella and show
> the stars in their actual distance from each other. 
> Hey!!!  Might be a market for that huh?  $$$$$$
Here in Seattle we'd all buy one... (a) for the stars (b) for the umbrella.

There -is- a rubberized star chart (think deflated basketball) sold..
your roll/distort it to create a bowl showing the skies above at your date/
time/location, and hold it overhead.  I think i've seen it at Edmonds Scientific
and perhaps in the Sky&Tele catalog.   Discovery Channel stores and the like
probably also carry it.

> Haven't seen the comet yet...

Well, this message is probably going out too late to be of use Sunday
night, but for all -future- nights, here's how to have teh Autostar
point the telescope pretty close to the comet:

Object > Solar System > Comet > (scroll to) Add (or Edit)
Name:  Ikeya (or whatever you'd like...)
Epoch: 19-mar-2002

after that date, the rest of the numbers are in the order the Astar
wants them:
Perihelion:  0.507061 
Eccentricity: 0.990111 
Arg of Peri:  34.6666 
Lon Asc Node:  93.3718 
Inclination:  28.1206 
Mag:  7.5 

just key 'em in, and press enter...

Now scroll to Comet > Select  and select the name you gave it.
Press [enter]
It'll think about it, and present the RA/Dec coordinates.
Press [GoTo].  If it can, it will.

And it'll continue to work whenever you ask it to.

As a final note, you may see posted the phrase "aperture wins"
..and that's true ... a 10" scope will gather more light, and allow more
magnification, than your 70mm or my 90mm (as it happens, due to its design,
my "90mm" is only as effective a light-gatherer as a 76mm refractor).
The 70mm ETX is really better at presenting wide, "rich field" displays.
The carpet of stars which are the Milky Way, globular clusters (there's
a dynamite one for small scopes in Scorpio...)
Its short focal length makes it very difficult to attain the "240x"
magnification.  The usual rule of thumb is 60x -maximum- per inch of
aperture.. 70mm is just shy of 3 inches, so about 180x would be pushing 
it in -really- good conditions.  Ditto for my ETX90... but two nights ago
i cranked it up to 310x... -yes- it was fuzzy and blurry and -impossible-
to focus clearly.. but it showed what i was trying to see ... 

Yes, the 70mm is at the small end of the aperture scale... so are binoculars.
But it still gathers over 100 times the amount of light your naked eye can.
It can show you things that -my- scope misses (you'll get a wider view of
the Andromeda Galaxy than i will... in dark skies you'll see its oval shape.
My ETX90 will continue to deliver the fuzzball of the central core... it
just doesn't do extended faint stuff all that well.. it's one of the 
compromises forced by its choice of optical design... conversely, the ETX90
will deliver slightly "better" views of the planets, or for splitting double
stars, than the ETX70.  At over double the price.

I must admit that i tend to recommend something like the DS-114, DS-127
 or the 4504 or 114EQ-DH4 as "beginner" scopes... they -do- gather more light,
and have longer focal lengths (so it's easier/cheaper to reach a bit higher
magnification, or dimmer magnitudes).  The ETX70's attraction is its -much-
smaller physical size, fast setup (once you're used to it), it's wide-field
views.. and it's simply a -fun- scope to play with.  I loan mine out to
friends all the time (it's currently with a co-worker's 12-year old daughter).

Keep at it, it -can- serve as a friend to help find the sky.
The double-imaging -is- a bit worrying.. i prefer star tests instead
of planets (you -will- get color fringing with the planets... usually a 
blue or violet edge.. it's a consequence of the lens design.. and VERY hard
to design out of a sub-$1000 refractor)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Dead Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, March 13, 2002 9:32:37
From:	dand@fes.org (Dan Delzell)
I have an LX-90.  During an observing session Monday evening the unit
suddenly died and I cannot revive it.  The LED on the scope itself is
lit; I've tried multiple power sources and nothing.  There is no
activity on the Autostar at all.  I cannot connect to it from my
computer.

I'm trying to find another scope to try the Autostar on to see if the
problem is in the hand unit or the scope itself.  I was wondering if
anyone has had success reviving this problem on their own, or does it
take service from Meade?
 
Thanks for your help!
 
Dan Delzell
VP Information Systems
Foundation for Educational Services
dand@fes.org
Mike here: Have you replaced the batteries or are you running on AC?

And:

I'm running on an external battery pack.  My first thought was that it
was bad, but I've tried the scope on other sources too with no success. 
I've been planning to purchase an AC adapter, I may try that but it
seems to me to be a strange symptom of a low battery.
Mike here: If the juice falls too low the Autostar will not operate. But if it doesn't operate on a known good power source, then it is likely that something failed.
Subject:	ETX Commanding
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 21:25:49
From:	marv.sumner@juno.com (Marvin C. Sumner)
I'm trying to write code to set and verify observing site parameters in
my SuperCharged ETX-125/EC.  My GPS receiver gets the data to the
laptop, then my program is to format and forward the site number, name,
latitude, longitude & time zone into the telescope.  I'm a pretty good
(but old fashion) programmer, and most commands work, but a few don't. 
Now in desperation I'm wondering if anyone out there knows any
tricks.......

1.  I can set all the site parameters and get the Boolian "accept"
message, then I can read out all the items except the name.  The
AutoStar verifies that my chosen site name is in there, but I can't seem
to get the name into the laptop.  There seems to be no command to read
out the site number.

2.  The Boolian response for setting the Calendar Date is said to be
accompanied by two long strings.  None of the word-lengths I've tried
work, and the computer hangs up when it tries to read the "accept"
message.  For now I need to bypass that function.

3.  Once I get the program running, I'll need to verify a few "polarity"
conventions that are recognised by the ETX: a. Is longitude 0 to 360
degrees, East or West?  Is North America 70 to 120 degrees?  Or
is it in the 200 degree range acording to the ETX?

b. Is the "hours from Greenwich" 0 to 24 hours East or West?  Is
California + or - 8 Hrs, or is it 16 hours counting the other way?

c. I 'spose the date as well as the time of day are Local, not GMT. When
North Americans are admiring evening stars, the GMT date has
already switched to the next day.

4. Setting polar or land mode of the mount in my program doesn't work.
My readout command verifies that the 'scope is in the Alt-Az mode by
default, and that the AutoStar can change it to the Polar mode.  I
haven't tried the AutoStar "terrestrial" selection yet.

My AutoStar has the  version 2.2Eg that Dr. Clay installed when he
SuperCharged the machine.  Does the AutoStar software version have any
effect on the commands sent from a laptop to the ETX?

Regards from sunny Silicone Valley.
Marv Sumner
Mike here: Have you looked at the Command Set articles on the Autostar Information page on the ETX Site?

And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Can't help you much on the "computer-eze" part, but I will attempt some
others:

> 3.  Once I get the program running, I'll need to verify a few "polarity"
> conventions that are recognised by the ETX:
> a. Is longitude 0 to 360 degrees, East or West?  Is North America 70 to
> 120     degrees?  Or is it in the 200 degree range acording to the ETX?

FOR AUTOSTAR, LONGITUDE is measured from Greenwich WESTWARD .... 0 to
360 degrees.
>
> b. Is the "hours from Greenwich" 0 to 24 hours East or West?  Is
> California
>     + or - 8 Hrs, or is it 16 hours counting the other way?

FOR AUTOSTAR, the offset is "negative" toward the west, and all U.S.
sites for example are "minus"
>
> c. I 'spose the date as well as the time of day are Local, not GMT.
> When North     Americans are admiring evening stars, the GMT date has
> already switched     to the next day.

CORRECT
>
Not much help, Marv....but there you have it!!

Clay Sherrod
And:
Just what I needed, Clay - Thanxamillion!
I'll adjust the "polarities" in the program & one more set of
uncertainties is solved.  These answers might be good fodder for Mikes
pages, in case others are trying to program.

By the way, I'm still patiently waiting for my 7" LX200/GPS.  The 7"
models are likely the last ones off the production line, & maybe more
bugs will be worked out.  I expect this code I'm writing for the ETX
won't be needed in the new machine.  But coding is part of the hobby, so
I'll still play around.
And more:
I have several sources suggesting what the ETX and LX200 command syntax
looks like, and they are all a little different.  -makes it interesting-
Meade sent me a (free) copy of the early LX200 manual when I asked about
buying a programmer's manual.  I found several typos in the command list
& sent them suggestions with the thank you note.

Now I'll surf around your pages (again) & see if there is anything I
missed the first pass.  This "GPS2ETX.BAS" program is only a page or so
of text, so (if it ever works right) I plan to post it with you so that
others can play with it.
Marv Sumner
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Egad... deja vu' all over again....

If memory serves, this sort of thing was a hot topic two years ago
 on Mike's site (mid-2000-ish)...

And let me start the session by inviting you all to join me in repeating
the Mantra:  An Autostar is NOT an LX200...
It does not implement the full range of LX200 rs232 commands.

Second thing, beyond the Meade Official Document:
http://www.meade.com/support/CommandSet.html
there's also my posting in the middle of:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html

> My AutoStar has the  version 2.2Eg that Dr. Clay installed when he
> SuperCharged the machine.  Does the AutoStar software version have any
> effect on the commands sent from a laptop to the ETX?

Normally i'd say "no difference", but 22eG is ancient enough (May 2001)
that there -may- have been changes in the LX200 command set implementation.
Somewhen near that version Meade finally implemented the "long format"
(:U#) properly.

The list posted at Mike's of "what works" was written for v2.0i ...
i periodically review the firmware to see if they've added or changed
anything, but i haven't sat down and -exercised- the command set to that
depth since that original posting.  I haven't looked at 24ea's yet at all.
But i -believe- that, other than correcting Long Format, nothing's changed.

> I'm trying to write code to set and verify observing site parameters in
> my SuperCharged ETX-125/EC.  My GPS receiver gets the data to the laptop,
> then my program is to format and forward the site number, name, latitude,
> longitude & time zone into the telescope.  I'm a pretty good (but old
> fashion) programmer,
I speak Fortran as a preferred tongue...
> and most commands work, but a few don't.  Now in
> desperation I'm wondering if anyone out there knows any tricks.......
 
> 1.  I can set all the site parameters and get the Boolian "accept"
> message, then I can read out all the items except the name.  The AutoStar
> verifies that my chosen site name is in there, but I can't seem to get
> the name into the laptop. 

Without testing, i can't say for sure... i -think- i used to get the site
name back (or i'd have noted it as non-functional)
So #:GM#  should yield your site's name
[added tonight] ... well, for v24ea my Autostar responds SEATTLE
to sending it :GM#   and BARCELONA  to sending it :GN#
And i'm pretty sure it responded appropriately with v2.0i.

>  There seems to be no command to read out the site number.

Correct.  True also in LX200.
I think the LX200 mentality is "if attached to a computer, the computer rules"
so lacking a readback merely indicates that they expect you to -force-
a site number (and you can (theoretially) read back which name goes with 
which number)

In all honesty, there -is- a way to determine the site number, but it
requires kicking the Autostar into download mode and extracting it via
Updater Protocol commands... and the only escape from that state is a reboot.
So that's not a useful method.

> 2.  The Boolian response for setting the Calendar Date is said to be
> accompanied by two long strings.  None of the word-lengths I've tried
> work, and the computer hangs up when it tries to read the "accept"
> message.  For now I need to bypass that function.

My 2.0i notes say:
#:SC   Calendar (buggy) (responds: "Updating planetary database#")

I'll revisit it (i know that i sent my "what's broke" list to Meade)

> 3.  Once I get the program running, I'll need to verify a few "polarity"
> conventions that are recognised by the ETX:
>     a. Is longitude 0 to 360 degrees, East or West?  Is North America 70 to
> 120         degrees?  Or is it in the 200 degree range acording to the ETX?
> 
>     b. Is the "hours from Greenwich" 0 to 24 hours East or West?  Is
> California
>         + or - 8 Hrs, or is it 16 hours counting the other way?
> 
>     c. I 'spose the date as well as the time of day are Local, not GMT.
> When North      Americans are admiring evening stars, the GMT date has
> already switched        to the next day.

*all* of the above can be pre-tested via Hyperterminal... (just like
i just did for the City name) just type at the Autostar and see what
 it responds.  No fancy programming required.
That's how i generated my "what works" list 
(old programmer's technique: use someone else's effort)
If memory serves (but firmware update can mess it up), the US is -70 to -120,
and the time zones are negative (as is appropriate) too.

> 4. Setting polar or land mode of the mount in my program doesn't work.
> My readout command verifies that the 'scope is in the Alt-Az mode by
> default, and that the AutoStar can change it to the Polar mode.  I
> haven't tried the AutoStar "terrestrial" selection yet.

My posting on Mike's Site lists the "A" command as one of the Ignored.

I'll look into some of the above (perhaps tonight) and send a follow-up.
But play with Hyperterminal for stuff like the Calendar, and look at
my posting, too... especially the "ignored" line.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar 494
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 6:07:27
From:	r.rondjeff@verizon.net (Ron)
I am curious as to why the Autostar 494 with my Meade Telstar 2130 Ate
has started completely missing my alignment stars.  It use to come
pretty close when slewing, at least in view with the finder scope.  Then
all I would have to do is center the star in the finder scope and center
the star in the eyepiece.  Now when the telescope slews to the alignment
star it goes in the right direction but when it slews up to the star it
passes it completely.  After I have made my alignment the autostar still
does a pretty good job of  the goto function.  Its just that now during
the alignment process the Autostar completely misses the alignment star
by long distance.  I have to sight the telescope inline with the
alignment star. I'm sure I am looking at the correct star also.  I have
also noticed  that after viewing Venus or lkeya-Zhang and I select
another object to goto the autostar doesn't know where to go and usually
goes in the opposite direction of the object I have selected. Motors
have been recalibrated, retrained and all other information reset.  The
only thing I have done differently is added the coordinance for the
Comet lkeya-Zhang.   Would this have anything to do with the above
problem?
Thanks,
Ron
Mike here: Adding an object shouldn't change the alignment process or data. Perhaps something has been corrupted. Do you have the #506 cable and a Windows OS system? If so, you can fix any corruption by running the current Autostar Update Client.

And:

I don't have the cable but I am returning the telescope to Walmart
anyway so I guess I don't need to worry about it anyway. I just hope I
can get another view of lkeya-Zhang before I return it.

Subject:	505 cord and other bits (bytes)?
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 3:51:01
From:	berjac@southwest.com.au (Bert Denovan)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
G'day Dick,
Nice to hear from you again.
In another instalment to Mike I realised that I had indeed kept the 2.1e
version.  You guided me through a lot of it and I took your information
to Camera House and they got a 5 year old to upgrade the version for me.
 I think I had 1. something. However I contacted a phone company office
locally and one of the technicians made a cord for me and I took
delivery tonight. I bought the DB9 (like that techo bit?), @ Dick
Smith's (like Tandy), for $3.55 and the cord cost me $22 including GST. 
That means that I have the 505 cord for A$25.55.  It retails @ Camera
House for A$65.  I have to thank you and the other contributor that you
'sponsored' on Mike's site for the wiring diagram. I also used the
address of the site for updating on your latest to Mike.  I have an icon
ASU33? on my desktop and from that I unzipped the programme onto a file
in the 'Start' menu.  I did as you once suggested long ago (I kept the
hard copy) and tried to download it to the Autostar but it told me that
it could not find a com port.  Just as you predicted!  I was overjoyed
and when I took delivery of the 'jury rig' cord I was prepared to update
the Autostar tonight.  We have an Astrocamp coming up this weekend and I
want to use the ETX to guide me with the LX50.  I have made a great list
[MS Word, Zipped] (attached if your interested in my pro-forma), of objects to
view this weekend.  But, as I indicated to Mike, after fresh batteries
(actually the car battery via the cord that came with the LX50) and
training motors as accurately as I could, I was delighted with the
results that night when I tried it out.  A couple of objects were
actually in the eyepiece!  I thought you could hear the Whoopee from
there. However the download did not take me anywhere as near as long as
you suggested.  I think it was about....Oh!... 13 minutes or so.  It did
give me the time taken and I put the kitchen timer on and went away and
read while it downloaded.  Then when I was able to follow the
instructions and unzipped it to file I thought I was made.  Now I am
confused. Incidentally I was asked information about my e-mail address
and country which I duly entered.  Next thing that pops up is a page
asking me for a location nearest to me.  In the left hand column it had
Seattle WA three times (great choice) and the other two columns were
middle and 'far' eastern countries.  I suppose the e-mail address sent
it back to Western Australia (WA) and so it thought I was in Washington
State.  No way would it budge.  So I simply accepted one of the Seattle
locations and all went smoothly.  I have no idea what that had to do
with the download, but I did write that I lived in Australia! I have
gone to the site you kindly put into the e-mail you just sent me and
have so far only read it and filed it for later. But I think I have
already successfully downloaded the upgrade.  So before I try to
download it into the Autostar I will wait to hear from you again if you
don't mind. I have asked the people @ the Perth observatory to provide
me with a link to information that they supplied to the Astronomical
Society of Western Australia about a tour they are organising on a
return trip to Ceduna for the eclipse in December.  My intention was to
pass it on to you.  But apart from an e-mail asking me if I have had a
reply yet???? I have not had a reply!
Thanks for the help both of you have provided.
Cheers!
Bert

Subject:	re: Various
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 23:26:39
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	berjac@southwest.com.au
G'Day, Bert,

Long time no chat...

> 4)  In re-setting I also realised - too late - that I had wiped the
> software version that I had cloned from another user that now lives
> about the same distance away as the moon!  Going back to the default
> setting I now have 2.1e again.  However, as I said, it worked...

Resetting does *not* "wipe the version"... you still have whatever 
version you cloned... all a Reset does is wipe your Site, and your last
Training values.  That's all.. everything else (favorite Objects, etc)
are still intact.

>  Should I go to the expense of buying the #505 cord and
>  updating, will I be getting anything better?  
The newer versions (your -real- version number is under 
Setup> Statistics > [enter][scroll up]) do improve a great number of
small details.. but probably no -killer- reason to update.
(although the Comet and Mars would be better targeted.)

> I notice that contributors are talking about a new programme that sounds
>  a bit 'techo' to me.  Is this worthwhile and would a computer nitwit 
> (ask Dick Seymour), be able to install it without too much drama?

The new Updater is (in my opinion) -far- easier to live with than the old
one.. if you're updating the firmware, it a "one button" operation...
(followed by about 6 [ok] buttons...)
If you were wanting to create custom lists of things-to-watch, it's far more
powerful/easy to do -that- too (doesn't -everyone- want to sort their 
asteroids by Right Ascension of Ascending Node?)

The Updater is, however, HUGE... 2.7 megabyte for the Updater.
The firmware is another megabyte.  So they take a half hour or so to
 download over a modem.

Once you've got the updater rolling, -it- makes a fair go at collecting
Comets, Asteroids and Satellite orbit directly from the web for you.
You don't have to create a pricate hoard that you cram into it.
It's a self-crammer.

You can pre-scare yourself by reading:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/guide-asu3x.html
and
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/guide-libraries.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Remember me? ETX 70
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 20:42:10
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	jennyart@hotmail.com
> I'm still doing something wrong.

> OK, I'm trying to do the easy two star align.  I'm using Betalgeuse and
> Sirius (the two I absolutely know I can find.)

OK... you have me confused... are you doing EASY ALIGN  or TWO STAR align?
In EASY align, the scope -will- automatically start slewing to the first
and second star -before you do anything- after either the ENTER authorizing
the Alignment, or immediately after the ENTER meaning "first star is centered".

In a TWO STAR align, it wait for -you- to choose the stars.

If you're doing the latter (2 star), i believe the two you are choosing 
are too close together.. hence the "alignment failed" message.

It's also quite possible there's dirt or grease interfering with the 
angle-detector (angle encoder) inside the telescope's base.  That causes
it to lose track of where it's at, and if it notices that lost-track,
you'll also get "alignment failed" or "motor unit fault" messages.


>  At least this time the scope starts heading in the right direction and
> does in fact come fairly close.  I then have to set the speed to max (or
> I'd still be out there,) and use the direction keys on the pad to find
> the star and center it in the field.  Hit "enter." 
> The first try, when I hit enter it started slewing again. 
> Why? It should ask for the second star right? 

YES in 2 star, NO in Easy Align.  In Easy Align it just heads for it...

> I centered it again, hit enter, THEN it asked for the second star.
>  After I found and centered Sirius and hit enter, I got a message
> "alignment failed."   What's up with this?

I agree with Mike's suggestion: do it indoors, TRULY select EASY ALIGN
(it's the power-up default.. just press ENTER once when you see
Align
Easy
and again when the scrolling message talking about the Home position plays.
Then wait until it has chosen a star and slewed to it (beep!) before
pressing ENTER again.  It will then choose a 2nd star and slew to it ...
again wait for the beep before pressing ENTER.
That procedure -should- gain you an "Alignment successful", and the scope
will drop into sidereal tracking of the 2nd star (you'll hear the motors
slowly running).

If your experience differs from the above sequence, feel free to describe
it and i'll try to duplicate it with mine...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: Autostar #497 For LX-90 Firmware?
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 20:16:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	astronomy_steve@yahoo.com
> Can I download a version of firmware to my Autostar # 497 that
> will allow me to sellect LX-90 as the scope?

Any version of 497 firmware since 21eI has the LX90 threaded throughout
the code... but that's the problem.  The program -keeps- checking LX90-hood,
whereas for most models it goes by the scope-select dialog.

Hence tweaking the code to make it think it's an LX90 is -not- a simple
task (the day i get my ETX90 to use the APM shall be an occasion for 
champagne...)

But: (other than the APM)  why do you need it to be an LX90?
All of the other fork-mount models (any ETX) would work the same way
for your LX-10/DS ... just change the ratios.
The other items you -might- want to change would be the maximum and
minimum elevation limits (currently 90 degrees for any ETX, and about
-20 degrees minimum for the ETX90... your DS- motors might only allow 
the ETX60 and ETX70, but they're similar).

Nice project... send photos to Mike...

have fun
--dick
And:
My progress to date on the LX-10DS:
Have both motors mounted.
Programmed new Alt and AZ ratios.

The AZ motion and position feedback is consistent using the built in
180/1 worm gear.

For the Alt, I installed a 82/1 ratio worm gear taken from a GEM. When I
slew from horizontal to vertical (90 Deg.) at high speed it's accurate.
If I stop and start the motion and use different speeds it gets lost
after a while and is off by up to a couple degrees. I'm not sure if too
much torque is required of the motor, which may affect position
feedback.

In go-to - it will get the first object or two, after that it gets off.

Any suggestions are welcome
Thanks again
Steven Jindra
And:
The theory which is mine is this:

> For the Alt, I installed a 82/1 ratio worm gear taken
> from a GEM. When I slew from horizontal to vertical
> (90 Deg.) at high speed it's accurate. If I stop and
> start the motion and use different speeds it gets lost
> after a while and is off by up to a couple degrees.
> I'm not sure if too much torque is required of the
> motor, which may affect position feedback.

I can think of two possible causes:
(a) slipping clutch (assuming you have one)
(b) jumping gears... this happend to a friend's 4504 (DS-114 on a GEM).
 The gears -inside the Meade gearbox- would skip a tooth once in a while.
 During slow tracking we could -hear- it (a "tick" every 13 seconds),
 and if you held the gearbox in your fingers you could -feel- it.
 It turned out that the inner motor support was letting the motor slip
 out of gear (hop a tooth) once per rotation, under certain loads.
 The fix would've been to more firmly press the motor retainer down onto
 the motor.  The -actual- fix was a new motor set from Meade.

The fact you're not getting Motor Unit Faults means that the motor itself
 isn't being stalled by the load... so it's something between the motor
 and the telescope.. which is/are the gears...  It could (as you surmised)
 be during the start-up overcoming of the scope's inertia... which only
 happens -once- during a fast slew, and many times during start/stop.

Good luck
--dick

Subject:	Autostar #497 For LX-90 Firmware?
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 10:00:46
From:	astronomy_steve@yahoo.com (Steven Jindra)
I have an LX-10 fork arm base I have adapted with DS motors. I would
like to operate as if an LX-90 but with different gear ratios. My
question: Can I download a version of firmware to my Autostar # 497 that
will allow me to sellect LX-90 as the scope? If so, How?
Steven Jindra
Mike here: I think you'll have to connect it to an LX90 once.
Subject:	Remember me? ETX 70
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 7:26:05
From:	jennyart@hotmail.com (Jenny Mehlenbeck)
I was the one with the ETX 70 with ths sick computer that pointed down
when the moon is up.  Remember?

Well the computer has been replaced and last night was the first clear
night I had a chance to try the new one out.

I'm still doing something wrong.

OK, I'm trying to do the easy two star align.  I'm using Betalgeuse and
Sirius (the two I absolutely know I can find.)  At least this time the
scope starts heading in the right direction and does in fact come fairly
close.  I then have to set the speed to max (or I'd still be out there,)
and use the direction keys on the pad to find the star and center it in
the field.  Hit "enter."  The first try, when I hit enter it started
slewing again.  Why? It should ask for the second star right?  I
centered it again, hit enter, THEN it asked for the second star.  After
I found and centered Sirius and hit enter, I got a message "alignment
failed."   What's up with this?

Second try.  This time find Sirius first.   Center it hit enter.  Now it
does ask for the second star.  Find it, center it, hit enter and again,
"alignment failed."

Can anyone shed some lignt on this?   And please, assuming this gets
posted, we can all rule out the obvious.  I do have the correct time,
date, location (within 12 miles) daylight savings is NO, (Michigan.)  I
start level and pointed north. (Even swiped my kids compas to be sure.) 
I kept the betteries and key pad inside (where it's warm) while the
scope equalized in temp outside.  I've gone through this process so many
times with the defunked computer pad I think I have it down.  So why the
alignment failed notice?  Should I not use the key pad to zero in on my
selected stars? Perhaps if I losened the scope and found stars
manually???  (That's NOT what the directions say to do.)

Very frusterated now!  I watch Jack Horkheimer's Star Gazer and he
always talks about how beautiful Saturn looks in "any cheap dime store
scope."   I am ready to ship this * expencive computer driven pain
in the ass scope back to Meade and go buy a "cheap one!"  Please tell me
I'm not the only person having problems.

Thanks,
Jenny Mehlenbeck
http://artmakersworlds.com
Mike here: If you swapped just the Autostar you should probably reTRAIN it for the telescope. Would not hurt to RESET, RECALIBRATE, and then reTRAIN. I don't think that's what causing your difficulties but it probably should be done since you have a replacement Autostar. So, lets try a couple of simple tests. Set the telescope up INDOORS. Put it into the right HOME position (for Alt/Az; check that the AS is set for Alt/Az). Enter the date and time. Select Easy Two Star align. When it asks you to press ENTER do so (don't do any slewing since you can't actually see the star). Does it then start slewing to the second star? If so, press ENTER when prompted. Do you now get Align Successful? If so, we can rule out hardware problems. If not, then I suspect some sort of hardware problem with the telescope or the connection to the telescope. (By the way, the AS is set for the ETX-70AT, right?) If you have success with this test indoors, try repeating it from scratch. Power down and back on and go through it all again. Try several times. If you continually have alignment successful, try one or two runs with doing a minor slew to fake centering the alignment star. See if you get align successful after doing that. If you continue to get successful aligns indoors on these tests then we have to assume that operator error may be the culprit. If you misidentify the alignment star (which can be very easy to do with some stars), then the alignment will fail. Let me know the results of the indoors tests and we'll go from there.
Subject:	Autostar upgrade failure
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 21:57:25
From:	dgibbon2@maine.rr.com (Dan Gibbons)
Thanks for your great site and the wonderful info you post there.

I have an LX-90.  I tried to upgrade the Autostar from 21 to 24 tonight.
I got the download ok and opened ASU.  I connected to Autostar and
retrieved my data before upgrading.  No problem.  Then the upgrade sat
running for > 2hrs.  I tried the Safe Loader trick and got Flash Load
1.2 Ready.  Nothing since then on the display.  I hear Autostar click
when I power on but that's it.  I followed your note and checked all the
connectors/cables - worked fine.  Hyperterminal did not elicit a
response from Autostar.  Any ideas??  Thx for your time.
And from our expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I suspect the answer is going to be: call Meade, request replacement.

WARNING to other readers: do NOT casually play with the following.
You -can- trash the firmware in your Autostar (never EVER send an E, P or W)

Once you're in Flash Load mode, about the only things which the Autostar
will say to the serial port is a "D"  in response to a control-F,
It should flip to "Downloading... do not turn off" if you send a control-D,
and then further control-D's should elicit a ">"
Once -in- Download mode:
"V" should get the version indentifier.
An "I" tries to reboot the Autostar.
Finally, it'll respond with a "?" to any character which
 is -not-  F,  T,  V,  R,  P,  E,  W,  J,  I

Don't send -any- of the above list... (well, in your case...)

If you don't get the control-F or control-D response, it's toast.
(be -sure- the cable is well-seated)
The only other things i can think of is flakey power... i do not
recommend downloading on batteries, but if you must, use new ones.
A download takes about 25 minutes.
The Updater's Status report (percentage sent) is in the lower left margin
of the window.

I hope you have already downloaded the firmware, and are working from
an on-disk copy... otherwise the fetch-time from the net gets buried
in the apparent download time... which can add yet another half hour
to the process.

Good luck
--dick
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> Does the Flash 1.2 level have something to do with it??  I seem to remember
> one note/document which stated it should be 2.0.  I took the back cover off
> the Autostar -hoping for a reset button - and see the two ROM chips are
> clearly marked Flash 1.2.  Also what kind of reception should I expect from
> Meade - ready agreement to send me a new Autostar or a battle with a charge?

Taking that last-first, at -most- they'd want a charge card number to
guarantee that you return your old one... when yours gets to them, they
don't charge it.  But that's rare.. most folks report instant service on
matters like this, with little to no hassle. *i* have not had to deal
with Customer Service, so i cannot speak from direct experience.

My Autostar both have Flash 1.2 ... the way it works is that v1.2 was
the first to have the Flash Loader... and from then on, the Updater does
*not* write to that memory page.. so the Loader is safe from
destruction.

There is no "reset button"... the closest thing to that is to write xFF
into one memory location... and that only takes effect -after- a full
download. It doesn't affect a half-loaded unit.

Back when Updater 2.3 was converting Autostars from 497 -down- to 495's
(and thereby rendering ETXs and LX90's inoperative), Meade was -really-
pumping replacement Autostars out the door...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Peaceful Coexistence of Firmware
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 10:07:10
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Clay asked:
> Can Build.rom and BuildLX.rom  both be in the Ephemerides folder together?

(build.rom is the "old" autostar's firmware, and BuildLX.rom is the one
for the LX200gps's Autostar II)

And the answer is: Yes.

When using the -new- updater (ASU332), you are given a drop-box offering
 a selection of -all- of the XXXXX.rom files it finds in the 
ProgramFiles/Meade/ASU/Ephemerides      folder.

So what i do is rename "build.rom"  to something like "build24ea.rom"
so that i can have -many- versions in there at once.
What the Updater shows is not the -filename-, but the version identifier
from -inside- the file.  So the drop-box will show "23Ea", "23Eb", "24Ea"
(and, in my case, "23b4", "23bb" ...and so on...)

So you can have as many versions of "build.rom" as you wish, just rename
them after downloading (from Meade) to keep Windows from overwriting them.

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
wonderful summary as usual Dick.  This is very helpful and I thank you
for it!

Clay

Subject:	Autostar and High Precision
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 8:17:57
From:	djdavenport@earthlink.net (Donald Davenport)
Regarding Tom Brown's observation of Autostar 2.0 ignoring M81/M82 under
high precision, you can be comforted that you are not only in the
universe. Exact same deal with me.  So I guess another Mac user without
Virtual PC is going looking for a friend who can help me upload/clone
new firmware. Anyone in Santa Fe area that could help?  If not, think
I'll try the personals.

Donald Davenport 

Subject:	Add align star
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 1:48:46
From:	airproduct@tiscali.it (Airproduct)
My name is Andrea Rizzi, i live in Italy, in little town near  Venice. I
have a little problem with my ETx 90 EC. In list of align star there
is'nt Sirius, how can I add this star?(in star catalog there is this
star). Autostar Rom is 2.4ea.
Thank you, and sorry for my bad english!!!! 
And from our resident Autostar Expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Dear Andrea,

Sirius -is- used as an alignment star...
 but only if it meets tbe Autostar's rules for selection.

And if you are -not- doing Polar Easy Align,  (it will not choose a star,
like Sirius, which is on the "other" side of the equator).

The rules for choosing an Alt/Az align star are:
  more than 20 degrees above the horizon
  less than 65 degrees above the horizon
  more than 30 degrees in Azimuth from the "other" star.

So if Sirius is too high in the sky, it will not be chosen.

My Autostar (in Seattle, Latitude=47N) uses Sirius only when doing 
  Polar One Star, but it -does- choose it.  It does -not- choose it
   for Alt/Az (it prefers Procyon)

I will tell my telescope it is in Venice, and see where it thinks Sirius is.
(also running v24eA)... since it is snowing here in Seattle, i wish i could
perform a -real- test by -being- in Venice....  que sera sera...

i shall send the results in a few hours...
have fun
--dick
And:
OK...

My telescope has not fully returned from Venezia, but it has sent a
postcard or two...

In Alt/Az, on 9-mar-2002, at 20:00 (through 22:00) it is VERY happy
to pick Sirius as the first Easy Align star.  v24Ea 
(at 20:00, Sirius is 23+ degrees above the horizon.. if you are located
more than 3 degrees north of Venezia, it would not be chosen)

Andrea did not specify her mount style (Polar or Alt/Az) or the time
of night she was observing... after 11pm (23:00) Sirius would be too
low for Alt/Az to choose for Easy Alignment.

If she was observing before 11pm (23:00), i suspect she was trying Polar.

If you wish to -force- a star, do not use Easy Alignment.
When you see    Align / Easy  on the screen, press the Scroll Down key
 and it will become   Align / One Star
    and (scroll down) then  Align / Two Star.
The "Two Star" choice lets -you- choose the stars.
Sirius -is- one of the 79 stars offered.

One reason Meade has the 20-degree-altitude limit is the earth's atmosphere
bends (refracts) the light near the horizon... moving the apparent position
of the star (as much as a full degree upward).
So an alignment to a very low star would be hurt by that image shift.

have fun
--dick
I was surprised to see that Venezia is more than 45 N Latitude...
(roughly the same as Boston... but the -weather- is not the same...
 (although Boston -is- about 20 C today... despite the snow a few days ago))

Subject:	New Firmware!! New Updater!!
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 11:53:56
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Feeling Lucky?

Meade has posted a new Updater (knows lx200gps's ) and firmware for your
Autostars on their website!

The main page is: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

The Updater is: www.meade.com/support/auto/ASU332.exe

The LX90 Firmware is: www.meade.com/support/auto/Build.zip

The LX200gps Firmware is: www.meade.com/support/auto/BuildLX.zip

...in case of problems, the Secretary shall disavow any knowledge of the
product line, the Updater, Macintoshes, etc.etc.

Among the firmware updates are Satellite Tracking in -Polar- mode (all
you folks with fixed piers can finally have some -fun-!) and increased
precision in Comet and Asteroid calculations (you can enter the Epoch
date to a tenth-of-a-day now, instead of being limited to whole
(ineteger) days... which -does- make a difference with fast-moving
comets)

I hope to have my usual set of patches ready by Monday or so, but my
schedule's somewhat crammed...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar and High Precision
Sent:	Thursday, March 7, 2002 4:58:11
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
I have been using the "high precision" setting with my Autostar and ETX
125 for some time.  As a Mac user who hasn't gotten all the hardware to
upgrade my Autostar system I'm still working with Autostar 2.0 [1999
date].  As long as I'm using the high precision setting the pointing is
pretty good, [so long as I can figure out which star is being referred
to when the Autostar says "center star" usually the brightest in the
area, but this is sometimes not always so clear].

Anyhow, I've noticed that there are some objects that, when I'm trying
to use high precision the Autostar will say "searching" but do nothing
else, these are usually NGC objects.  Two of my favorite objects are the
twin galaxies M-81 and M-82 in Ursa Major, quite high in the sky.  If I
don't use "high precison" the scope will try to find them [but usually
miss by a mile]; when I'm using "high precision" Autostar "searches" adn
then says "below horizon" which is clearly not right.  Any idea what
this is about, and whether this happens in later versions of the
Autostar system?

I notice that Clay is quoted in the latest edition of Sky and Telescope!

Tom Brown
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
you are correct in that you are missing NGC objects if you have not
upgraded to the latest (v2.3eB) firmware....there were many NGC objects
that were not listed properly in older versions and apparently this
slipped through for some time.

Even some of the tours include these objects which were always
inaccessible via older versions.

I would suggest you find some way to upload to the newest firmware....in
addition to having all the objects listed properly (as far as I
know....haven't checked ALL of them out!) it also improves the "rubber
banding", backlash and many other troublesome areas.

You are welcome to send the Autostar to me with return Priority Mail
postage and I will be happy to upload for you....I can turn this the
same day I receive it...all you would need to do would be to
"Calibrate..." and "Train Drives."

I do this as a courtesy through the Supercharge service, provided that
return postage is always paid!  The package will include 18 fine tours!

But that is your problem....you need an upgrade!

Clay Sherrod
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> Anyhow, I've noticed that there are some objects that, when I'm trying to
> use high precision the Autostar will say "searching" but do nothing else,
> these are usually NGC objects. 

There -were- known bugs in the NGC lookup during -tours-, but i don't 
remember if that affected normal GoTo's.
I have experienced (near) fruitless HP searching, but that's usually near
the horizon, where all of the good guide stars are below the horizon.

> Two of my favorite objects are the twin
> galaxies M-81 and M-82 in Ursa Major, quite high in the sky.

Well, in Polar Mount, i just asked my v23eB Autostar to HP GoTo M81.
And it chose Dubhe as the Guide Star (and i remember it doing that for
real, too.. many times i seek M81 and M82, and haven't seen other than
the faint central core from here in-city)

>  If I don't use "high precison" the scope will try to find them [but usually
> miss by a mile]; when I'm using "high precision" Autostar "searches" adn then
> says "below horizon" which is clearly not right.  Any idea what this is about,
> and whether this happens in later versions of the Autostar system?

It does not happen with 23eB, and it hasn't happened to me for a long long time.

>  As a Mac user who hasn't gotten all the hardware to upgrade
> my Autostar system I'm still working with Autostar 2.0 [1999 date]. 

Step one: swallow pride
Step Two: borrow a WinTel PC for 40 minutes.
(hey! i do that the other way around.. when i -need- a Mac, i use one.)

> I notice that Clay is quoted in the latest edition of Sky and Telescope!
*twice*!!

There really -have- been numerous improvements in the firmware...
It you've got a friend with an updated Autostar,  use the 505 clone
cord to quickly fill yours... no PC need touch your fingers...
(and a Clone only takes 8 minutes, not 25!)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	I am in deep trouble
Sent:	Tuesday, March 5, 2002 11:06:27
From:	swarovski@cytanet.com.cy (Christos Spyrou)
Hello from Cyprus

I ve just bought an ETX 125 ec with autostar.
I dont seem to manage to operate it correctly.
I went according to the manuals but still wont work for me. It just
points anywhere but to the desired planet or whatever.
I start with home position, I point towards north and then I  turn it
counterclockwise till it stops and then clockwise for 180 degrees. I
lock base and arm. Do I have to point this again towards north? Then  I
start autostar and after i put correct local time and date I reach a
point where I have to use easy allignment. I press enter and it searches
for two stars. Then I press enter and it tells me that allignment is
succesful. As soon as I tell it to go to moon lets say it just goes off
about 25 degrees.
WHAT DO I DO WRONG?
I am getting realy desperate, please help.

Thanks in advance

 Christos 
Mike here: You were correct in rotating to the hardstop. Where you went wrong was rotating 180 degrees away from the hard stop position. With the control panel on the West side, the rotation back to True North is only about 120 degrees.
Subject:	Autostar 495 to 497 Upgrade
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 11:14:05
From:	Lang.Michael@Orbital.COM (Michael Lang)
To:	bobrose500@comcast.net
Bob:

I have an Autostar 495 (from the Natural Wonders fire sale) that I'm
going to try and upgrade to a 497 for my ETX 125. I have read thru your
comments on Mike's site, and have a couple questions:

1. How can I tell if my 495 is a 1 Meg unit capable of even being
upgraded ? Is it really just as easy as opening the unit, and verifying
there are 2 ROM's on the board ?

2. I only have an ETX-125.  Must I build/utilize an external power box
to program the 495 into a 497 ? (Otherwise the 495 will recognize the
ETX-125, and lock up ?)

thanks !

Mike
Mike here: I don't think you need worry about the memory.
Just connect it to the ETX-125EC, upgrade it, and you'll be OK. You may have to put it into SAFE LOAD before upgrading since it won't like the -125 at first.
Subject:	Re: altitude problem (wire re-routing)
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 9:53:31
From:	loking01@earthlink.net (loking01@earthlink.net)
I am having more troubles than you can imagine. I took the scope out( by
the way is a 125) and tried to train the motors it did not train very
well the first attempt was off by at least 1.5 degrees out of view from
the 26 mm eyepiece. The second time I tried after resetting it was out
by a little over a degree from the field of view. The weather got bad
and work got in the way so it sat for a few days the next time I took it
out it came up with a motor unit failure or fault. I did your clean up
of the clutch plate and got rid of as much grease as I could which was
filled with flecks of metal and a big piece of solder which I believe
came from the battery terminals on the battery lid itself there was
still a big chunk of solder left on it and the black battery wire was
off the computer board. Thats when I asked the question below. I was
thinking that had something to do with the problem. I just called Meade
and they are taking the scope back free of charge to find out what
happened.

This is what I tried to do to fix it: First I cleaned all the grease and
flecks of metal from all the surfaces that I could including the
altitude motor and gears. Then I tried to recallibrate thats when I
would get the motor unit failure, reading through that message at the
end it said to hit mode on the autostar and I guess this was to clear it
up but it would keep repeating the message, I would then turn the scope
off and try it again and it would do the same thing again over and over.
Next I tried to reset it would stop the reset message and lock up, again
I would turn the scope off and try that again, it was resetting because
I would have to reset the state and city and the type of scope. Tried
again, the same thing would happen. I looked on Mikes web site to find
this problem it doesn't seem that any one else has had this problem
because I could not find it. I don't know if you have any ideas as to
what might have happened but I would like to hear from you. I would
really like to talk to you on the phone my dime of course if that is
possible. Thank you Dick and Mike for all the help you can provide. I am
sorry if I did not explain the problem any better but if you have
questions I will try to answer them. Thank You  Brian.

Earlier Richard Seymour wrote:

>You asked:
>
>>One question I have is can you do away with the internal battery wiring and 
>>make a jump wire between the terminals on the board? I want to go with ac 
>>converted power all the time and if  I need to clean the scope again not to 
>>worry about the delicate wiring.
>
>I don't know what flavor of telescope you have, nor if this is -exactly-
>what you meant, but take a look at:
>http://home.socal.rr.com/hotweb/enh/etx.html
>
>-especially- the picture on the bottom of the page...
>
>have fun
>--dick
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> I just called Meade and they are taking the scope back free of charge to
>  find out what happened.

Which makes this a bit moot, but anyway:

> ... Then I tried to recallibrate thats when I would get the motor unit failure

ahh... i missed that "recalibrate" the first two times i read the message.
I was going to suggest a CALIBRATE run, but you did that.

MUF's occur when the Autostar/ETX doesn't see the expected number of 
encoder teeth pass the optical sensor during motion.
That can happen if there is dirt covering the (infrared, so you can't -see- it)
LED light source, or the optical sensors themselves (two on each encoder wheel).
Or if there's grease and goo spanning the encoder teeth, or (in your case)
little metal flakes quietly short-circuiting the sensor electronics.

> I would really like to talk to you on the phone my dime of course if that
> is possible.
Given the symptoms, the above causes sorta drain me dry... beyond that is
the possibility of individual circuit component failure, and that's well
beyond home repair.  

> .... I am sorry if I did not explain the problem any better but if you have
> questions I will try to answer them. Thank You  Brian.
I find your description quite clear... and it's a good thing you did NOT 
apply the external wire-routing, since Meade will do a warranty repair..

good luck on the repair
--dick

Subject:	re: Zipcode
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 8:22:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	Tpshoe@aol.com
Yes, Mike... he said Zipcode.

You reach the  Zipcode field under
  Setup > Owner Info > [enter][scroll down](many times)

None of the Owner Info is -really- important for operation,
and can be cleared during a RESET operation.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	SIte Location
Sent:	Sunday, March 3, 2002 10:58:59
From:	jonparisi@msn.com (Parisi Family)
Within the Auto menu for SITES, the nearest city is about 10 miles east
of my home.  Should I be concerned about the distance difference and
therefore the "sky" difference?  Is there a way of entering my exact
location (assuming I can find it out via other sources)?

Joe Parisi
New Hampshire

P.S. Using information from your site, I recently successfully made my
RS232 cable and successfully upgraded the firmware in my Autostar. 
Thanx for the great site!
Mike here: Well, once you align that difference won't matter too much. But you can enter a better location; see the Astronomy Links page for some sites that provide latitude and longitude for locations. Then you can add that to the Autostar.
Subject:	Help with my Meade ETX-70AT
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 9:48:23
From:	Tpshoe@aol.com
Hi Guys!
I am having a problem programming the zipcode information into my
ETX-70AT telescope! If anyone is familiar with this telescope please
call me as I would need to be talked through it. I live in West Chester,
PA, but I want to be able to use it in other areas, like the Cherry
Springs Park. That park sounds great! If you can help, e mail me, and I
we can set up a phone "appointment" to work on it.
Thank you!
Margie
Mike here: If you mean you need help adding the your Site location to the Autostar, it is pretty simple. Just get your longitude and latitude from a web site like (http://geocode.com/eagle.html). The go to the Autostar Setup-->Site menu and select to add or edit a site.

And:

I will try that. However, I wish to use the telescope in other
locations, so I need to learn how to program it. What happened when I
had originally tried to get it going was that I passed our zipcode on
the key pad, and could not get it to go back. It was late, I was tired,
and my ten year and I old became frustrated with it and put the
telescope away! I have to go now! Thank you for your help! I'll keep you
posted!
Margie
Mike here: By the way, you said "zipcode". What version of the Autostar software is loaded on your Autostar? You can determine that from the Utilities-->Statistics menu. Scroll the display until you see the version number.
Subject:	Proc. 2
Sent:	Thursday, February 28, 2002 21:47:41
From:	jrogers14@msn.com (John Rogers)
I get this error "proc. 2" when I turn on the EXT-90 and could not get
past that point. I had this problem in the past and somebody told me to
put a paper clip in the serial conection that goes into the computer. I
was able to download the update and all worked well. Well, I get this
error again and I can't find his email with the fix because of an
upgrade in the computer. His fix was to put a paper clip into two of the
nine holes and turn it on, but I don't remember which holes on the
serial conector. Whatever he had me do worked. Any input would help.
Thanks,
John
Mike here: I'm not certain what the paperclip into the computer would do (at least, nothing good anyway). Since you obviously have the #505 cable you can put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power it on). Then use the current Autostar Update Client 3.0 and try to connect and update the software.

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