AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 March 2003
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:	LX90 quality issues  and  trouble with alignment & tracking
Sent:	Monday, March 31, 2003 13:38:19
From:	W.Renz@seeburger.de (Renz. Wolfgang)
I'm a hobby astronomer for more than 20 years, but now I really need
some advice. You maintain a marvelous home page, but I didn't find the
hints I was looking for.

For christmas I bought me a Meade LX90 UHTC 8" SCT telescope.

Unfortunately, beside some quality issues:
- scrach on the finder lens.
- coating defects or small oil drops on the inner side of the Schmidt plate.
- dust nests on the inner side of the Schmidt plate (actually all around
the positions of the coating defects).
- scratch on the mirroring plane of the diagonal.
- diagonal totally misaligned (diagonal points 1/2 besides the optical
axis, cuts field of view in >= 20 mm eyepieces)

I've also two major issues with alignment & tracking.

a) The declination drive reacts just with a delay of several seconds
making it impossible to guide and position in declination exactly. The
worm gear of the dec drive is mounted on the left side using a spring.
Either the spring is much too weak or the resistence of the big gear is
much too high. Anyway when I use the dec drive the worm moves away from
the big gear untill the spring is compressed till its mount. Then the
resistence is overcome, the worm catches up and actually moves further
then intended. Even if "alt percent" in the autostar is set to 99
(should be dec movement without any delay) this effect is not
controllable. When I move up and down very fast with one of the higher
speeds, I can hear the worm gear clunking between its mount and the big
gear.

b) As I don't have a free view to the east, I initialize the LX90 using
2 star alignment in alt/az mode, doing everything correct and as
accurate as possible (full batteries, latitude & longitude to 1', time
to 1s, tripod horizonal < 10', north < 10', az firm, OTA horizonal <
10', hight firm, auto star on, 1st ref star in the north west, 2nd ref
star in the south), the Autostar accepts the alignment always as OK.
When I at once GOTO back zu the 1st and then to the 2nd ref star, the
LX90 misses them always by ~ 35'. Stars between the ref stars are missed
by ~ 230' (should be 5' according manual). With time the error increased
by ~ 1 - 2 per hour (should be 0 according manual). The hight is about
OK, but the azimut drifts away. The OTA points always to the left of the
selected target. I also tried it with the original and with my own motor
training, with fastest and slower slew speed, with "true north pole"
instead of Polaris, with first reference stars left, above and below
Polaris. Final tests with high precisition mode showed that the "nearby
bright star" is missed as described above. The originally requested
object is missed by ~ 30' (should be 3' according manual).


I sent the LX90 back to Meade Germany in end of January and got it back
in begin of March. So Meade had he scope for about 4 weeks.
- They replaced the finder but they did not replace the diagonal
although its totally useless for astronomical observations.
- They claim that they cleaned the Schmidt plate but the coating defects
and dust nests are still at the exactly same positions.
- They insist that the mechanics is OK but replaced autostar hand
controller box (both are version 26gc).
When I unpacked and tested the LX90 again I noticed:
- a mirror shifting of ~ 40" (that was not noticable before sending it
back to Meade).
- that the azimuth/RA drive kicks the OTA about every 12 seconds.
Usually just by 3 - 7", but some times the image jumps up to ~ 20" (more
than the diameter of Saturn) at once and has to swing out for 1 - 2
seconds.
- that the above described two major alignment issue still exist.

Have you ever heard of such trouble ?
Any hints ?

Is that a "usual quality" Meade scope ?
Or is it a real "Monday car" ?

As Meade threatened me that I would lose the garantee if I try to repair
it on my own, I'm in fear that when I send it back to Meade again they
still don't repair anything and that I get it back even worse (like the
last time).

Best regards
Wolfgang Renz

-- 
Wolfgang Renz, Karlsruhe, Germany
Mike here: Sorry you have had some problems. I can't really address the repairs that Meade did or did not make. As to the delay in slewing, that can be improved. See the gear backlash in the manual; experiment with different values in the Autostar and see what you like. As to the GOTOs, did you do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN of the drives (both axes)? That usually improves GOTOs a lot.
Subject:	Time Setting
Sent:	Sunday, March 30, 2003 12:56:52
From:	edward@eshipton.fsnet.co.uk (Edward Shipton)
Thanks for a most informative site, wonderful lots of information, and
trick that can make life a little easier.

Question.
Setting the time on my Meade EXT-90ec.
auto star asks you to enter the time , all ok.
When entering the time it gives you the option of either AM or Pm.
Then if you scroll am and pm disappears.
Does this mean that I can enter the time in a 24 hour format IE 3.13 pm
as 15.15 pm.
Been out and about with the scope for a number of weeks now and have
found that when I align the scope is a very long way off from its
appointed star.
Daylight saving I always put as no and set the clock back an hour if in
summer.
Linked to the computer the fault appears to go.
Any help.
 
*	

	Warmest Regards.

Edward GW0DSJ
Mike here: Yep, that's 24 hour time. I use mine that way. Are you starting with True North or Magnetic North? You need to use True North.

And:

Know I know True north not magnetic north, That's were I'm going wrong.
Thanks Again.

Warmest Regards.

Edward GW0DSJ

Subject:	EXT-90
Sent:	Wednesday, March 26, 2003 13:47:54
From:	j.jackson13@ntlworld.com (Jason K Jackson)
Just you let you know that after a months Waite my EXT-90 finally
arrived.

I'm still trying to get it set up for the goto, don't think it helps
much that im using magnetic north and also not sure as to which stars im
looking for Autostar alignment. But im sure after reading your book ill
get things sorted.

The only problem/bug iv noticed is this one with the Autostar is that if
I select a planet e.g. Jupiter and press goto it skews slowly for a
while then reports that its there when its know where near, if I then
select another planet the same way it dose the same. But if I select the
planet then instead of pressing goto I press enter it displays the
coronets if I then press goto it goes to somewhere near. I'm wondering
if its possibly that the batteries are getting done.

So far im very pleased with the EXT-90 especially when I had a look at
Jupiter and her four moons.

Thanks in advance.

Jason....
Mike here: Check the date/time (don't forget the year!) that you enter into the Autostar. If the fixed objects have correct GOTOs but the planets don't, then either the date/time is off or the Autostar version is really old.
Subject:	re:  Autostar update cable!
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2003 21:30:38
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	mteige@yahoo.com
In your situation, you can use a standard telephone -handset- cable.

You have to balance it carefully in the larger hole in the Meade adapter,
but otherwise it works (i use one).  I have occasionally shimmed the
larger hole with bits of cardboard (3x5 card, actually) to hold the
plug centered in the hole.

The other end of the handset cable fits the Autostar perfectly.

In fact... do you -really- need to use your telephone during an
Update?  You could "borrow" the cord... it's just for half an hour...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: Help
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2003 20:39:24
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
First Thanks for getting back but I live in New Jersey.  
I wouln't know if I see the alignment stars. 
I know I'm not suppose to use magnetic north but still haven't perfected
the true north.

Dore
Mike here: Well, the best alignment is done when you can SEE the stars you are trying to align on. However, you can "fake" the alignment if you KNOW you can put the telescope in the proper HOME position (including pointing as precisely as possible at True North). If the HOME position is accurate AND the date/time/location entries are accurate, you can do the Easy Two Star alignment and just accept each star as centered. Alternatively, if you can see one star to align on, select that star as the alignment star but, instead of slewing to center it after the Autostar tries to point at it, pick up the telescope/tripod and physically rotate the whole thing until you get the telescope pointed as closely as possible to the star and then finish the slew to center. This alternative corrects for HOME position errors. I do this whenever I can not determine exactly where North is; I make a guess and go from there.
Subject:	Help
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2003 4:04:01
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
I'm sure you have so much to do but I am really at the end of the line. 
I am a first time telescope owner and have spend well over 1000 on a
etx125 telescope.  I have read every book and everyone of your articles
on autostar and feel I may have made a mistake by buying a goto
telescope.

I can not get the autostar to work.  I have been able to point the
telescope manually  to see great shots of  jupiter, saturn and the moon,
but I want to see more.

I turn the telescope on,  I have bought bubble weights, compass and
everything wlse i need.  I align it just as the instructions say (Or al
least I think I am.) I than go to a star in the sky I know,  Jupiter fo
example and it's way off.  (In the right vicinity but way off)

I put the telescope on level ground.  I open the lock turn it counter
clockwise till it stops,  than i turn it to the number slide is over the
controls.  I than take the who telescope and point it north.  I than go
through alignment and that should be it.  I trainded the motors.  I call
opt which I bought it from, Penny she is a doll but I have the same
problem.  Please what am I missing.  I would hate to have this telescope
on e-bay at the end of the month!

Dore
Mike here: Sorry you are having problems. If you are close to Los Angeles, feel free to come to my talk next month in Torrance (info on the current Feedback page). (I may also give a talk at some future Orange County club meeting but no date yet.) Anyway, it sounds like you have down all the initial steps correctly BUT I have to ask about the alignment stars. When you finish the alignment you get a successful align message I presume. What happens if you then GOTO the first alignment star? Obviously it should go back to the 1st alignment star. If it doesn't, recheck that you have set the proper telescope model, mounting mode, location, date, time, and daylight savings. One last point: don't use Magnetic North from the compass; the HOME position is pointed towards True North. Let me know if any of this helps.
Subject:	Autostar update cable!
Sent:	Monday, March 24, 2003 10:24:13
From:	mteige@yahoo.com (Michael Teige)
I lost the cable that came with the #505 cable set that goes from the 9
pin serial adaptor to the Autostar.

I'm ready to go to Radio Shack for a replacement, but I am confused as
to what exactly I need.

A standard RJ11 cable head is too big to fit into the Autostart port.

What is a handbox cable they speak of?

The folks at Radio Shack are pretty brain-dead so I need to be rather
specific about what I ask for. The specs on your page talk about making
the whole kit-n-kaboodle from scratch, but what is one to do if they
have the Meade-issued #505 serial adaptor and have lost the cable?

Thanks,
-Michael Teige
Mike here: Phone handsets use the smaller RJ jack. So your #505 cable has the RJ11 connector on one end and the handset connector on the other end. See the Autostar Information page for more on making this cable.
Subject:	Training Drives
Sent:	Monday, March 24, 2003 10:23:47
From:	rwlange@infi.net (Roger Lange)
It's been (quite) a while since I visited or contributed to the site.
Have a suggestion for training drives. Don't wait for a clear night to
train your drives. Daylight makes it a lot easier. I mounted a couple of
yardsticks in a cross pattern on my fence about 50+ feet away. Focus on
the center. Follow the drive training instructions. My drives work
perfectly using this method.
Roger Lange

Subject:	motor unit failure error
Sent:	Sunday, March 23, 2003 21:17:54
From:	jdeichl2@tampabay.rr.com (Jay Deichler)
Great site!  I've learned a lot, but I'm still having one nagging
problem:  seemingly random "motor unit failure" errors.

I have a ETX 125 with the Autostar controller (version 2.2es).  I have
been very careful to put the unit in the home position before aligning,
and the unit is nowhere near the stops when it fails.  I notice it
usually happens while the unit is tracking during observation, but I
believe it has happened during slewing as well.

I am using the Meade AC adapter.  The first time I noticed this error
was after my initial set of batteries ran low (it hadn't happened once
before that).

Suggestions?

Thanks,
Jay M. Deichler
Mike here: Suggest doing a CALIBRATE and then TRAIN the drives. If you had the problem when the batteries went too low (which can cause the problem) then this may clear it. Let me know.

And:

Did that, but still had the problem.  On a hunch I decided to try Polar
alignment - my first attempt, and the Meade 884 field tripod is ill
suited to the task, but NO MOTOR ERRORS!

I suspect that there may be a problem on one axis (DEC) but not the
other, which is why the Polar alignment seemed to get rid of the
problem.  Go to and tracking were a little off, but getting rid of the
MUF's made the evening much more enjoyable.  The store where I bought my
ETX has agreed to exchange it for one still in the box - I'll send a
note to let you know if that solves the problem permanently.

Now, if I can just find a way to get a precise Polar alignment with the
884...

Thanks for the quick response,
JayD
Mike here: For Polar Alignment tips with the Autostar, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Random Slew
Sent:	Sunday, March 23, 2003 3:02:31
From:	geheniau@xs4all.nl
I have an ETX90 and sometimes there is a random slew up. It's very
annoying, especially when you want to use it for piggyback photography.
Do you know what's causing the problem. I red something about random
slew from ETX125's, but I have an ETX90 with the same problem. I hope
you know the solution for it to stop the random slewing. (I trained all
the drives, have the latest updtae for Autostar, etc)

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands
Mike here: Most times (except for the early ETX-125EC), the random slew like that is caused by low battery power or a glitch in the power supply (if using AC). It can also be caused by a loose connection so check the cabling.
Subject:	Possible ideas for Autostar patches
Sent:	Saturday, March 22, 2003 21:41:30
From:	bdickson@mweb.co.za (Bruce Dickson)
Firstly - a word of thanks for your assistance when I was fiddling with
my '105 - I've got it so that it's nearly  as good as my LX200/12 - I
think the size of the gears is the only limitation.

Here are a couple of thoughts on the Autostar (497) software. I've
experienced both with versions 2.6a - 2.6d, although I can't comment
about earlier ones. The second one seems to exist on my LX200 too.

1. I've been trying to help a local chap with his LX90 - and I found an
interesting effect. If I use the "Easy Align", the tracking and pointing
 to is relatively poor - but if I use "Two Star" it is spot on. (It is
even better if I use Paul Rodman's Bestpair II.). The scope is mounted
in AltAz. I suspect the automatic star choice may be the cause (some
looked too close together), but it's a mystery.

2. The tracking rate is wrong when you tell the scope to point at the
moon - would it be possible to automatically change the tracking rate to
lunar, until the user decides to look at something else?

clear skies & best wishes
Bruce
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
 > 1. I've been trying to help a local chap with his LX90 - and I found an
 > interesting effect. If I use the "Easy Align", the tracking and pointing to
 > is relatively poor - but if I use "Two Star" it is spot on. (It is even
 > better if I use Paul Rodman's Bestpair II.). The scope is mounted in AltAz.
 > I suspect the automatic star choice may be the cause (some looked too close
 > together), but it's a mystery.
 
 Which two stars was it picking when it was poor?
 Their algorithm is: at least 45 degrees apart in Az, at least 20 (or is
 it 30?) degrees above the horizon, no more than 65 degrees above the
 horizon, not Polaris.
 
 Other than changing the three numbers listed above, the star selection
 if beyond a "patch" to modify.
 
 > 2. The tracking rate is wrong when you tell the scope to point at the moon-
 > would it be possible to automatically change the tracking rate to lunar,
 > until the user decides to look at something else?
 
 But when is "decides?"... personally i crawl around the moon so much that
 (a) changing the tracking rate wouldn't do much, i'd move before it took
 effect
 (b) i -do- putter around a lot, and sometime want to remain sidereal
 when i arrive at/near the moon (watching for occultations).
 
 Although adding a kick to Lunar when you GoTo the moon is easy,
 taking it -back- is really, really difficult.. especially as a
 patch (the number of places/ways you can leave are immense).
 I can't even use the fact you're leaving the "Moon" on the display,
 since the Moon section of code doesn't -know- that you've left.
 It's left abandoned at the altar by usage of a totally different
 "state map" section, which itself does not know nor care about
 which sections its leaving and entering.  It just goes...
 
 However, none of the above should preclude you from dropping a note
 to Meade at engineer@meade.com
 ...be sure to put 497 Autostar firmware suggestion (or enhancement)
 in the subject, so it gets routed properly...
 
 Before you do, try to think of -specific- actions which should
 turn off Lunar, and -specific- actions when it's on, but you
 don't WANT it turned off... (such as "manual slewing within 1/2 degree").
 ..and what about Spiral Search? Lunar Off or On?
 
 have fun
 --dick
Mike here: There are times when lunar rate would be handy. Dick, can the Autostar handle a "modifier key" press? That is, hold down one key, say the DOWNARROW (lower righthand corner) and then press some other key and take a modified action. If so, a DOWNARROW+1 could switch to lunar rate and a DOWNARROW+2 would switch it back to sidereal. Just a thought.

And from Dick:

> There are times when lunar rate would be handy.

agreed.

> Dick, can the Autostar handle a "modifier key" press?  That is, hold down
> one key, say the DOWNARROW (lower righthand corner) and then press some
> other key and take a modified action.  If so, a DOWNARROW+1 could switch
> to lunar rate and a DOWNARROW+2 would switch it back to sidereal.  Just a
> thought.

The usual two-faced answer: Yes, it can handle (at least some) two-key
situations (Safe Load being the best (and only) example).

But, again "as a patch", no.  The -normal- key-scan program isn't
looking for multiple presses, so that would need to be rewritten
to cover that situation, and to isolate it from accidentals.
(this also may add a longer anti-key-bounce delay, slowing normal
repsonse time)

It's difficult to tell if the 497's firmware does -all- of the 
keyscanning, or if they give some over to the PIC chip that's
in the Autostar. ...
hmmm... on 15th thought... i could modify the self-test to report
the key seen, instead of its usual "press the X key" self-verification.
hmmm...
Then it's only a case of trying all 420 two-key combinations to 
see what shows up...

That still doesn't solve the "switch speeds" problem... there is
not one central key-analyze routine... each subsection (such as
Moon, although Moon is simpler than most) has its own key processing.
(that's why short taps of Mode don't take you out of some things,
that's why scroll keys take on different meanings during scrolling text)

So first we locate/define suitable two-key combo's, then we try
to deal with them.

In the LX200gps, the keypad is entirely handled by an outside 
processor, so the 68hc11's firmware (the ROM files) have no
effect upon it at all.. the main computer just receives an ascii
fait accompli, and has to live with it (in fact, it has to 
change some codes to match the rest of the program... which,
in turn, means there -might- be hope, as soon as one finds out
what codes the handobx generates for all
..so we launch on the same 420 keytests... but the LX200gps doesn't
have that self-test to build upon 

hmmm... i may just have to try the key-pattern patch...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX-90EC keep slewing
Sent:	Saturday, March 22, 2003 1:55:29
From:	homidans@hotmail.com (Saleh Homidan)
I tried several times to align my ETX-90EC using easy align, but 
each time the motor keep slewing even the telescope stop. I use #497
autostar controller, date, time and site set correctly. The telescope
was trained. What you think the problem and how can I fix it.
Mike here: I seem to recall one similar report recently. Check that the proper telescope model and mounting mode are selected in the Autostar. Then RESET, CALIBRATE, and do another TRAIN (both drives, it is easy to only do one axis). Let me know if this helps.
Subject:	Help for new Meade ETX-90EC telescope owner
Sent:	Friday, March 21, 2003 18:30:30
From:	fredlori96@aol.com
I would just like to ask a single question please. My wife just bought
me a Meade ETX-90EC telescope with the optional AUTOSTAR handcontroller.
I have a table-tripod (not the more expensive field tripod). I just want
to know the easiest way to align my telescope to make use of the
AUTOSTAR GOTO function. I can locate the Polar Star easy enough and I
have "trained the motors", I just want to know if I can properly align
the telescope to use the computer controlled function. Do I need to
start by aligning the viewfinder with Polaris directly in the middle?
Does the telescope have to be in a Flat position or can it be in the
"tilted" position as it is when it is mounted on the table tripod?

thanks--I would appreciate your help.

Fred Powell
Mike here: See the alignment tips articles on the Autostar Information page. I would recommend NOT using the tabletop tripod for starters. Just let the ETX sit on a stable flat surface; this is the Altitude/Azimuth mode, so be certain to set that in the Autostar. In the Alt/Az HOME position, you point the telescope towards True North but not AT Polaris, the pole star, with the tube level.
Subject:	Autostar upgrade gone bad
Sent:	Friday, March 21, 2003 18:19:47
From:	linny@firehouseinc.com (Linda Laugen)
I just ot my ETX-90EC and wanted to upgrade my autostar with the current
version, I'm not sure what went wrong but not the autostar will not
initialize hen it powers on.  The display reads: "(c)03 Meade[26E]".

Is there anything I can do to fix this?

Thanks,

Chip
Mike here: Does the Autostar Updater Application recognize it? If not, you can put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode (press ENTER and the SCROLLDOWN keys, then power on the ETX) and then do the download again.
Subject:	Autostar Sites
Sent:	Thursday, March 20, 2003 19:23:53
From:	dougbarrett@earthlink.net (Douglas Barrett)
While learning my new Autostar, I was looking at the cities in the Site
directory, I mistakenly ADDed cities already in the directory. So, when
I tried to Add two new sites, I got an Error code that the directory was
full when trying to enter the second site. I know that five new sites
can be entered. I don't remember the original cities I mistakenly
entered. How can I clear this up, so I can start fresh?

Doug Barrett  
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
The Autostar maintains a "short list" of 5 sites that can be selected
by simply scrolling... that is the list which is "full".

Simply select one (or more) you no longer need and use the
 Setup > Site > Delete
to delete the active site .  
That will -not- remove any cites from the basic 400 it
offers when you are selecting them.
You can delete all but one of the short list sites... it does
not let you remove them -all-.  But then you can add one,
and then delete the one remaining "old" site.

A Setup > Reset [enter] [enter] 
removes -all- sites (and many other things, too).

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Req. Inf. Autostar.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 19, 2003 23:58:29
From:	studio.diluccio@libero.it (Luca)
Version of my Autostar is 2.3 Eb

This version has problem ?

Thanks.
Luke.
Mike here: I would recommend upgrading it via Meade's web site.
Subject:	re:   AUTOSTAR question
Sent:	Tuesday, March 18, 2003 23:37:22
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	electra188@comcast.net
The "Flash Memory Err" message happens if the Autostar cannot write 
to its "permanent" memory, when doing operations such as saving
Landmarks and User Objects..  . the blank screen is also not good.

Since the Autostar is still within warranty, i would call Meade and
exchange it.  800-626-3233  in the USA.
Usually they will either wait for yours to arrive at their door,
or, by giving them a credit card number, they will ship the new
one -to- you, and you can return yours in their box (shipping is
usually free this way, too).  If your "sick" autostar arrives in a
timely fashion, they won't charge your card.

Give them a call. It's a sick puppy.

Building a cable and downloading -may- succeed, but inability to
write to that memory means that a download may fail, too.

good luck
--dick
And:
I'm going to send the Autostar back to Meade. I'm also going to make up
a cable and work on the update stuff a little later in the future.
Thanks again for you thoughts and input.

Tim Haller
Nashville, TN

Subject:	AUTOSTAR question
Sent:	Tuesday, March 18, 2003 10:57:52
From:	electra188@comcast.net (electra188@comcast.net)
Kudos and Accolades,
   Wonderful site! 
   
I'm a neophyte sky watcher. Own an ETX-70AT and a ETX-105EC and have had
comfortable and satisfying success using both scopes, in large part due
to the info gathered off of your web site. Thank you for your incredible
efforts to keep this site the ultimate for info on the ETX.

Here's the question: When entering a "user object" (497 model Autostar
(C)02 Meade[26E])  after I have input the magnitude and press enter, the
Autostar screen goes blank and will not respond to any key inputs
(almost like a computer that has locked up). In addition anytime I try
to select an asteroid", "comet", or "user object" the Autostar gives a
"Flash Memory Err" message. I don't know if it is because I have not
been able to enter anything in the "user object" list and there is
nothing in there or there is something else wrong with the Autostar. I
am powering the scope with an AC adapter and all of the other Autostar
functions seem to be working as advertised. I do not have a cable so I
have never tried to do any sort of update nor have I tried a complete
scope/Autostar "reset". What do you think may be wrong? Is there
anything that I may be able to do to fix it? Do you think that I should
send the Autostar back to Meade as the scope is still new?

Mike I appreciate any guidance that you may have for me. Thank you again
for your efforts. I thoroughly enjoy this wonderful new hobby of amateur
astronomy.

Sincerely,
Tim Haller
Nashville, TN 
Mike here: Sounds like a bug or a corrupted memory location. If you don't have 2.6Ed you might want to make the cable (see the Autostar Information page; it is easy) and update. Alternatively you could do a RESET and see if that clears the problem.
Subject:	Req. Inf. Autostar.
Sent:	Tuesday, March 18, 2003 9:21:52
From:	studio.diluccio@libero.it (Luca)
I am Luke from Italy. I have bought an ETX 125 with UHTC. with Autostar
and deluxe field tripod. Mike when i put on scope Autostar display:

01 Autostar 23E

Which version is this ?

And  it doesn't display languages.

Another question: to be sure that is a very UHTC what i must control ?

SORRY FOR BAD ENGLISH
Thanks. Luke. 
Mike here: Most recent versions of the Autostar have been in English; you might be able to find localized versions on Meade's various international websites. To get the full version of the Autostar ROM do a Setup-->Statistics and scroll until you see 2.6Ec or something like that. 2.6Ed is the current English version. As to the UHTC, that is either included when you purchased the telescope or not. There should be a label on the telescope (besides on the bottom of the tube) or on the box.
Subject:	Autostar problems
Sent:	Monday, March 17, 2003 16:23:18
From:	Anthony8720@aol.com
Hi, thanks for taking so much time to answer questions. I was wondering
if you have heard of this problem that I am having. I was able to use my
ETX-90 at high magnification for the first time last night.  While I was
observing jupiter, I noticed that whenever I centered objects in the
fov, as the telescope resumes tracking it would move the object back out
of view! This, of course, gets extremely annoying as it is impossible to
do any precise observing at close to 200X. I was wondering if you have
any info on this.
Thanks alot for your time
Anthony
Mike here: What you are describing is known as "rubberbanding" and usually comes from upgrading the Autostar and NOT reTRAINing the drives. However, it could also come from switching the Autostar between telescopes and NOT reTRAINing. Or there could be other factors as well that TRAINing the drives would correct. Bottom line: whenever this rubberbanding occurs, TRAIN the drives (both altitude and azimuth).

And:

thanks alot!! I'll train the drives my next night out.
Thanks again
Anthony

Subject:	slew after GOTO
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2003 23:32:31
From:	pence73@bellsouth.net (Kameron)
After getting my Autostar problem resolved, I went out to take some
photos.  I noticed that the tracking was working, but if I slewed the
scope, the scope would move the object quickly out of view before
tracking would kick in.  I have to find the object, slew the scope so
that the object is no longer in view, and the tracking will swing the
object back into view and track.  The is really annoying especially
since I don't know where the object will finally stop in the FOV.  Is
this normal?  I have my targets set to astronomical, even though
terrestrial seems to track as well.
Mike here: What you may be seeing is called "rubberbanding" and is usually caused by failure to TRAIN the drives following an upgrade. You mentioned earlier that you had upgraded to the new version but did you reTRAIN? I usually forget to do that myself but the first GOTO following the upgrade will remind me! And:
yep...figured that out...works fine now....boy was I panicing...now I am
trying to get the hang of this astrophotography.  It really is more
difficult than I anticipated.  Do you know of anyone else who uses the
Sony F707? I would like to find someone I can get some tips from.
Mike here: Don't recall anyone uses that Sony. Is if a digital or 35mm? You can see the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for lots of tips on different cameras and a lot more.

And:

its a digital

Subject:	re:  Scope-AS-PC Problem
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2003 21:32:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	michal@tampabay.rr.com
The  Autostar's display screen should NOT "go blank" when talking
to a PC... even when it's downloading it displays a message.

I'd try another cable, or use a telephone handset cable in place of the
one Meade supplied (it will fit loosely in the DB9/rj11 adapter, 
but just carefully center it, and don't wiggle things during operations)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re:  Contacting Meade
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2003 21:22:12
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	svdwal@xs4all.nl
There are two items at issue here.

You are correct in there is a bug.. but it seems to be with Meade's
website, not the ASU361 they have there.

Use a right-click and perform a "save as..." to retrieve the file.

Meade's web -server- is incorrectly sending the MIME header information
if any tries to double-click on the ASU link on the support page.

Browsers will think it is a text file to be displayed, rather than
an executable to be run.

I think this occurred due to a crash their website had on 20-Jan-2003,
but was only reported today. (or perhaps it happened within the last
few days).

The second item is Meade's email address.
For firmware, and this kind of problem, you can use  engineer@meade.com
They may not -reply-, but if the Subject says "firmware bug" 
(or, in your case "Autostar Updater Bug") it should go to the correct
people.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: I noticed one day recently that their web site had been apparently restored from a backup; the build shown was 2.6Ec instead of the more recent 2.6Ed. Later that day the proper version was back up.
Subject:	re: Theodolite
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2003 21:13:58
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	cagb6@rovin.net
Some company makes a mechanical joystick clamp-on for the autostar.
It's just a rocker-plate which presses on the slew keys, and has
a stick rising vertically above the rocker.

You can access the position of the telescope by sending commands to
the autostar via a 9600 baud serial link.

  :GA#   yields Altitude,  :GZ#  yields Azimuth.

The entire command set is documented at:
http://www.meade.com/support/LX200CommandSet.pdf 

I'd be happy to answer questions regarding remote control and
operations.

have fun
--dick
And:
I thank you, I have recieved a response from your site and I hope this
project will move ahead now.

Terry in Arizona

Subject:	Re: Problem with ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2003 21:02:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I  have to ask: what are you using for a Power Source?
(that can cause Moter Unit Faults, too, and calibration would
provide temporary relief.)

If you're using an AC adapter, you might try again with batteries.
Or vice versa (new batteries alone might not fix it, if it's
a fault in the battery wiring)

When you've swapped Autostars... have you replaced the CABLE, too?

Poor connections are another subtle source of MUF's

good luck
--dick (with Seattle weather, 90% of my scope time is indoors)
And:
From:	pence73@bellsouth.net (Kameron)
I got it fixed.  It turned out to be the Autostar.  I took it back to
DCS and they swapped it out.  I had the scope out in the truck, so I
tried it out in the parking lot and it worked fine.  The AS was an older
version though, 22et.  I updated it when I got home to 26ed (with patch)
and it still worked fine.  YEAH!!
And:
>  And to finally top it off, I found
> that the the original AS worked fine...the instructions are printed wrong
> and you have to press "enter" before "goto" when you are looking at solar
> system objects...instructions just said press "goto".

That is correct... you have to press [enter] before pressing [goto]
for  almost -everything-, other than some Tour operations (since the Tour
scripting includes commands which simulate an [enter]).  
If you analyze your normal keypresses, you'll see that [enter] happens
(such as terminating a Messier number) before the [GoTo] will GoThere.
Otherwise you tend to see "Slewing..." with little or no motion.
(since it's "Slewing..." to the target you are already looking at)

That quirk in the operation has tripped up many, many people.

It's a pity you didn't post that original problem to Mike's site,
it would've saved at least one cycle through Meade.

The "bad sockets" have also affected a number of people..
mostly i've heard of that with Autostars shipped with LXD55's.

Ah, well at least now you can...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	THEODOLITE
Sent:	Friday, March 14, 2003 18:20:58
From:	cagb6@rovin.net
First things first!  A great site for we owners of the ETX my thanks to
you!

I own an ETX 125EC and it is great fun.  I also work with a local school
group that is interested in aerospace science. We would like to utilize
the 125 as a theodolite for tracking their ballon flights and some of
the model aircraft.  I have tested a C8 on a special mount and it works
well.  However it is a giant thing and way too combersome to be really
mobile for school events.  I seek a way to interface with the software
to control the drive motors with a joystick, and incorperate the angle
readouts into a data readout .  If this is not possible, I could do the
dreaded 'break into it' thing and run the motors offboard and add
external encoders, but I hope for a much more simple solution.  Can you
point me to some one with the expertese or some one to speak with at
Meade?  Thanks for your time and help with this.  ANY help will be
appreciated.

Terry in Arizona
Mike here: I believe there is a way to do that using the LX200 command set (see the Autostar Information page). You'll have to write your own software.
Subject:	auto star
Sent:	Friday, March 14, 2003 11:30:00
From:	tipipple@crosslink.net (Ross)
Ok I made a 505 cable ,went through the whole routine and when I tried
to upgrade kept coming up it wasn't seeing autostar. So I thought this
was my wiring.Checked it a bunch of times all is well but keep getting
the no connect then wants to search for the port etc.

K I tried it in both of my com ports, no good.Did the whole routine with
the computer as well. Ports are working (or so windows says).

So I have progressed to the self check of the hand box,figuring that was
going to check my wiring too. The self check starts and goes all the way
through till I get to the scroll down button and then the message  "PIC
FAILURE V12 C001" then the test stops. So is this my no connect problem
with the ASU program? and what is the problem with the handbox.I hope
this is a home fix!!!!!

Thank you,Ross Franklin
Mike here: Could there be some other software (like fax software) that is tying up the ports?

And from our resident Autostar expert:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Taking it last question first: you are seeing the -correct- self-test
response.  The self-test assumes it is connected to Meade's factory 
equipment, so at some point (and the PIC message is that point),
it "fails".
However, since it -started- the test, you're halfway there: the Autostar
is capable of talking and listening on the rs232 port.

I suspect either: your pins are swapped (you've got talk and listen
reversed), or (more likely) that your PC has some other program
fighting for control of the COM port(s)... usually a Paml Pilot Sync
program.

The test is to follow
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html

If you don't see the "X", then i really suspect the cable.
You can also type   :GC#
(it should not "echo" (you won't see those on the screen).. if it
does your cable has short-circuited the talk and listen wires.)
After typing those characters, it should reply with the date.
If it doesn't, then you're still facing the likelihood of a sick cable.

If it -does- reply with the date, then we're back to a program
like PalmPilotSync fighting you (bet you're running Windows XP).
Kill all other applications and try again.

Give the above a try, and report...
good luck
--dick

Subject:	Contacting Meade
Sent:	Friday, March 14, 2003 1:45:32
From:	svdwal@xs4all.nl (svdwal)
I have found a bug in the ASU 361 distribution as available now on the
Meade website. Basically, I cannot set the com port and I cannot connect
to the scope. When I use ASU 351 (downloaded from your excellent site)
everything I tried worked fine. Astronomers Control Panel also had no
problems  connecting to the scope.

Why do I email this to you? Because it appears to be impossible to email
such a bug report to Meade themselves (in 2003, I thought it was against
the law not to be able to receive emails |%-$ ). I even tried using the
product registration form on the meade website, but that crashed. An old
email address I had from a Mr Scott Roberts bounced. You appear to have
some clout with Meade, do you know a way to report a bug to them?

Best regards

Sander van der Wal, The Netherlands
MIke here: As noted someplace in the Autostar Updater Application readme info or help file, send bug reports to engineer@meade.com.
Subject:	Problem with ETX125
Sent:	Thursday, March 13, 2003 19:08:54
From:	pence73@bellsouth.net (Kameron)
I just wanted to share my experience with Meade Customer Support this
evening.  My 125 is not working right.  When I originally purchased the
scope a month ago, the Autostar I received didn't work, so Meade
replaced it.  They replaced it with a defective Autostar; Meade was
quick to fix the problem and send me a new Autostar immediately and that
was when the major problems began.  The new Autostar would give a motor
fault error everytime you turned it on.  I would have to recalibrate the
motors for it to work right, and I had to do this everytime I turned it
on.  I spent an hour outside trying to train the motors only to have to
recalibrate when I took the scope out tonight.  I called Meade about the
problem and got a rep that started to argue with me.  After explaining
the problem, he took my name and number and told to reset and try it
again and he would call me tomorrow to find out how it worked.  I asked
him to stay on the phone while I did it.  Still didn't work.  It was
then that he must have heard the TV in the background and asked me if I
was inside or outside.  I told him that I was inside.  He stated that
was my problem.  Their scopes, he says, are designed to be used outside
(really??!!) and that the Autostar was giving me the motor fault error
because the scope was inside.  I told him that I had the scope set up in
the home position and even had it pointing North in my living room,
everything was the same as it would be outside.  He again stated that
the problem was that the Autostar "knew" it was inside so it wasn't
working right.  Now, I'm not stupid, and I know perfectly well that that
scope and autostar have no way of knowing were they are.  So, I told him
that it didn't matter if it was inside or out, the scope still
functioned the way it was programmed to.  He insisted that the Autostar
knew it was in my living room and so wasn't going to function.  The rep
told me to do this outside and it would work fine.  I told him I had
been outside for an hour dealing with this while I was trying to do some
astrophotography and it didn't make a difference.  He told me to calm
down and if I wanted his help I had to do what he said.  I finally gave
up and instead told him to send a call tag for UPS to pick up the scope
and Autostar to have it repaired.  Instead, though I think I will
probably return the scope to where I got it.

Do you have any advice on this????? I am going to call Meade tomorrow
during the day and speak with a manager.  Unfortunately, I was so
floored by his Autostar that appearently has AI, that I forgot to ask
this guy's name.  Oh well.  But, have you heard of this type of problem
before???

Kameron Pence
Mike here: Gee, a new model of the Autostar? Maybe you got one of the pre-announced enhanced models with a "house sensor"! But seriously, that report is amazing. Obviously you got someone who was either new or just a jerk. Let me know what the Meade supervisor tells you.

And:

Well they couldnt believe that one of their reps told me that.  The
thing is that I ended up taking back the scope to the Discovery Channel
Store where I got it.  After telling them the problem and what Meade
said, they just exchanged the scope.  Problem still exists thought, so
it appears that it is the Autostar that has the problem.  This will make
the 4th Autostar I have had that doesnt work right.  DCS said they will
try to find me a good unit. As it ends up, the manager of the DCS is the
head of the Meade/DCS committee and she wrote the training manuels for
DCS's Meade line. She wasn't too happy with what I told her the rep at
Meade said and she is going to make sure Meade addresses this problem
when she meets with them next month.

Here is a question for you.  I can't remember if I said what the scope's
problem was in the first email.  Basically after resetting the unit, and
calibrating the motors, if the scope is turned off then back on, you
have to recalibrate again.  You have to calibrate the motors every
single time you use the scope or it won't work.  My guess is that you
have to retrain the motors as well.  Have you heard of this problem
before with the autostar?  I know it is the autostar because it does it
with the new scope I got from the DCS.  It is the latest firmware, but I
am wondering if I update it again with the same firmware it will fix the
problem....what do you think?????

Thanks
kameron pence
Mike here: I'm concerned about your having to recalibrate and retrain everytime. Obviously that is not the way it is supposed to be. How about a test: do those and check the percentage and ratio values. Then power off. Power on and again check the percentage and ratio values. Do they change?

And:

No they don't.  I had looked at that.  From the sysmtoms, Meade and the
DCS swore that it was the scope motors themselves that had the problems,
but after getting a new scope (this makes 3 scopes) with a different lot
#, the problem remains.  This tells me it has to be the Autostar.  I am
about ready to return the scope for a refund and get a Celestron scope.
I just don't know what to do with this.

Subject:	re:  Autoguide
Sent:	Wednesday, March 12, 2003 21:11:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	geheniau@xs4all.nl
There are programs which can "autoguide" an ETX90ec,
but they all lsuffer from one  limitation:
they will slew the telescope at the last speed commanded by
either themselves -or the keypad-.

The ETX Autostar does not have a below-sidereal "guide speed"
when used with any scope other than an LX-90 (using the APM 
accessory).

Any program or device which can autoguide an  LX200 using the
rs232 serial port (instead of the CCD Autoguider socket) will
work (somewhat) with the ETX90.  But not very well.
I would expect lots of overshooting and extra movement.

I cannot remember the names of specific programs and devices which
offer this form of control, but they do exist.  I will try to find
references...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Scope-AS-PC Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 12, 2003 20:53:45
From:	michal@tampabay.rr.com
Well, I was using a third-party program -Astronomer's Control Panel, but
then I tried to simply upgrade the Autostar data through the updater
distrubuted through the Meade website. The screen on the AS went blank
for a couple seconds but soon returned to its normal state. And the
message " Could not connect to Autostar..." on the computer. I am using
a cable, I believe rs-232 from the Meade set (#505). I am positive about
the port being free of any other activity. Thanks for your speedy reply.

-Michael
FL
Mike here: What version is your Autostar ROM? Are you sure the port is OK on the computer? Can you try an alternative port? You might try the suggestion in the article "Testing Autostar Communications" on the Autostar Information page.

And:

Thanks for the information you directed me to. Well, the hyperterminal
'connected' (screen of AS went blank), but all the tests for
communication failed. I tried it on a second laptop -same deal. Without
doubt, it must be the cable, or the recieving end of the AS. I'm going
to do the recommended tests on the cable tommorow, and let you know the
outcome. Also the scope turning 220 vs 720 problem -I'm going to attempt
to look at the wires and see what's up. Thanks for the 'real-time'
problem solving, and congrats on the great book.

-Michael
FL

Subject:	Scope-Autostar-PC Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 12, 2003 18:28:29
From:	michal@tampabay.rr.com
My Autostar is correctly ( as stated on the Meade website) connected to
my ETX- 125 scope and my laptop, but I can't get any response when I
attempt connecting through any computer control program. All the
settings (port, type of scope etc) are also correct, that isnt a
problem. The Autostar exhibits normal behavior under independant
operation, all the cables are firmly in place, and the equipment is
pretty new. Any ideas?
Thanks 

-Michael
FL
Mike here: Well, there are a lot of variables here. Are you connecting via the Autostar Update Application or some planetarium software? Have you tried both? What software? Could some other communication software (i.e., fax software) be tying up the comm port? Are you using a USB converter?
Subject:	Autoguide
Sent:	Monday, March 10, 2003 15:21:26
From:	geheniau@xs4all.nl
Do you know if it's possible to autoguide an ETX90, and if so...how? If
you don't maybe others do know or have experience with it. I hope to get
any response on this subject because I really want to autoguide my
ETX90.

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands

Please reply to me by email

geheniau@xs4all.nl

THANKS!!!!
Mike here: Directly, no. And even if you could, the slewing accuracy would be lower than needed. But if you want to try it, you would need an imager, software that tracks changes (movement) in the image, sends appropriate commands to the Autostar to slew the telescope, and then watch for movement again. Several users have wanted to do this but I don't recall any finished product.
Subject:	ETX90EC problems
Sent:	Monday, March 10, 2003 15:11:17
From:	gnason@esatclear.ie (Gordon Nason)
Since updating my Autostar to 2.6Ec from a much earlier version (2.2Er I
think) using Updater 3.61, my ETX 90 is experiencing a couple of weird
problems:

1. Pressing the left or right arrows sometimes moves the scope up or
down instead. I can only counter it by pressing the opposite up or down
arrow at the same time.

2. The scope will not track the planets but will track deep sky objects.
Planets rapidly disappear out of the FOV but DSOs remain centred. Last
night, by accident, I discovered that by pressing Enter after Autostar
has located a planet and beeped, it will track reasonably well but I
shouldn't have to do that.

I upgraded again to 2.6Ed a week or so ago but despite a couple of
resets, retraining etc, the problems remain. I even downloaded the files
again in case the 3.61 updater or 2.6Ed files had become corrupted but
it made no difference.

Can you help please?

Regards,

Gordon
Mike here: Since you've done the retraining, all should have been OK. Perhaps doing a CALIBRATE will clear it.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I had seen this list of symptoms on the ETXASTRO group (i think),
but this is the frist chance i've had to turn on my ETX90 and check
them... indoors (it's cloudy/rainy out).  At least i can see if
tracking is turned blatantly off by GoTo'ing a planet.
Since we haven't heard from thousands (or even three) of unhappy 
26Ed users (not that -that- many have upgraded), my first impression
is to fear it's your scope, not a generic v26Ed problem.
(and lots of people run/ran 26Ec without these problems).

However, i would recommend -manually- (re)setting both Percentages
to  zero or one %, and verify that the Tracking Rate is "Sidereal".

At the very worst, Mike's site archives the firmware all the way back...

I'll have more data in an hour or so...
um... what is your Site?  (.ie .. i'll assume Dublin for a first guess)

good luck
--dick
And more:
> 1. Pressing the left or right arrows sometimes moves the scope up or
> down instead. I can only counter it by pressing the opposite up or down
> arrow at the same time.

Is this at all speeds?
and in all directions? (pointing N, S, W, E)?

> 2. The scope will not track the planets but will track deep sky objects.
> Planets rapidly disappear out of the FOV but DSOs remain centred. Last
> night, by accident, I discovered that by pressing Enter after Autostar
> has located a planet and beeped, it will track reasonably well but I
> shouldn't have to do that.

Does it display anything when you press that final [enter]?

Ummm... that almost sounds like you have inadvertently entered a 
SYNC or High Precision sequence... during that time (and the display
should be prompting you to center the object) the sidereal drive
is, indeed, turned off.  

Are your drives loud enough that you can hear the motors when the
sidereal drive is running (normal tracking)?  If so, do they sound
different after GoTo'ing a planet?

I'm quite puzzled... the "wrong direction" i could almost explain 
if a cable was being weird (i have to assume you have not replaced
the handbox cable with a home-made one).
Nights of -heavy- dew (And low batteries at any time) can also 
cause strange effects (the moisture looks like keypresses to the
Autostar).

Does it happen indoors in the warm and dry, too?

I've done some testing.. my ETX90ec seems to track normally after 
reaching a planet, and the slew keys all operate in the correct
directions.

Ah!  Do you have one of the "default" hand controllers?
Do its slew keys operate properly?
If so, then the finger of blame really points at the Autostar,
or its cable.  And the fact that tapping [enter] has any effect
points more to the Autostar.

Is there anyone local you could swap Autostars/telescopes with
for testing?  Even a vendor?

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks. I didn't do a CALIBRATE so I'll try that too in addition to the
the things Dick suggested.

Gordon

PS. I really enjoyed your book and have learnt a lot.

Subject:	autostar - lx50
Sent:	Monday, March 10, 2003 7:56:28
From:	hdmanon@hotmail.com (Herve De Meyer)
do you know if i can use the autostar on an LX50?

Thanks a lot for your answer.

Best regards.
Mike here: Not easily. The LX50 is not directly supported by the Autostar. I don't know what the interface would be since I don't have an LX50. You might check "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" on the Autostar Information for some ideas.
Subject:	Re: Re: Aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh! My Alignment Hurts.......
Sent:	Monday, March 10, 2003 2:29:47
From:	vampirelestatsoulreaver@msn.com (Vampire Le Stat)
I've had the #505 for a couple of weeks now, but only just got around to
updating the handbox on Saturday night. It's that cloudy sky time of
year...........

It updated well, I found it pretty easy to do. I then tried out my
theoretical alignment again (Moon due South) and it appears to line up
perfectly. I've also find the #505 handy for entering my details and my
exact co-ordinates. Anyone in the UK can use www.multimap.com to get a
map of your postcode area, the co-ordinates are listed at the foot of
the map.

Thanks for your help in getting my scope sorted out, now just a
calibration and motor train to do.

Vamp

>From: etx@me.com
>Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 22:16:53 EST
>
>The #495 will be upgraded to a #497 when you do the update.  You will
>have to put the Autostar into download mode to do the update.  But once
>you've updated to the current version you won't have to set download mode
>before doing future updates; it will happen automatically.

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, March 8, 2003 15:52:07
From:	reboston@highstream.net (The Bostons)
I really don't want to be such a pest but,

I bought an Autostar from a Nevada dealer. When I plug it in to my new
105 and turn the scope on, the display on the Autostar shows (C)02 Meade
[26E] AUTOSTAR. I enter the date, time, PM, NO, for Daylight Savings
Time, and the screen goes to a very faint red with no captions. When I
push the buttons on the Autostar nothing happens. I turn the scope off
then back on. It has saved the date but nothing else and I still get the
very faint red screen but nothing else.

What am I doing wrong?

By the way , FYI and anyone else who's sent an ETX back to Meade for
repairs, from the date Meade received my scope for repairs till I got it
back was 33 days. Not bad for a big outfit.
Thanks, AGAIN
BBoston
Mike here: The Autostar goes dim (for night use) once you enter the data. Perhaps you just need to adjust the display to be brighter (under the Utilities menu).
Subject:	ETX-90 Questions
Sent:	Saturday, March 8, 2003 11:38:30
From:	rosenjoe@chartertn.net (Schlatter)
Well, Mike, the temptation was too great!!  While I love my 8-inch Dob
and my EX-70, when Meade put the ETX-90/105/125 on sale and threw in the
Autostar 497 and deluxe tripod, plus continuing the $99.00 eyepiece
deal, what could I do . . . .  so . . . a big box showed up on my front
porch yesterday and there was ETX-90EC UHTC with AC adapter, dew shield,
along with the Autostar and deluxe tripod.  (The AC adapter is neat --
the cord from the adapter plugs into the adapter or into an automobile
cigarette lighter . .  good thinking.)

Questions:

1.  As I read the Autostar manual, the 497 functions only as an Az-Al
device, not in the polar mode.  Is this correct?

2.  When I set up the scope, the nearest city to me is 25 miles south. 
I would like for the scope to default to my exact location -- I think I
see how to enter the geocoords of my backyard into the Autostar, but, is
there a way I can tell it to use my backyard geocoords as the default
location?

----
Regards,
Joe S.
Mike here: The Autostar can be used with either mounting mode. Just Add or Edit an existing Site. It retains the last used Site as the current location.
Subject:	Autostar 26d4 patch
Sent:	Friday, March 7, 2003 5:33:59
From:	jgraham@mounet.com (Jgraham)
I was wondering, I had installed the patch on the 26Ed to patch it to
26d4 so it had the GEM mount telescope. It load find but as soon as I
select the new telescope in on the handbox I get "Under Construction"
and I have to kill power and start again while it is still selected if I
make it back to the telescope selection menu before it may do that again
I was wondering if this was normal or was I just missing something?

Thanks,
Jarrid Graham
And from the patch author:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
i'll be trying to load that version tonight,
and shall test it with my 4504 motor set.
Until then, i cannot guess... i -did- look at the program
to see how "Under Construction" is called, and the -only-
place it's invoked is in a database lookup section.
(at first i thought his problem was due to MEade having 
reassigned some bit-flags, and me missing it... but the
bit-flags (Polar and GEM) are where my patch expects them
to be.

have fun
--dick (it has been a week's worth of "one of THOSE days",
all wrapped into a Friday... the smoke is gradually clearing
from the office (really))

And an update:

I get "Under Construction", too...

drat.

working on it...
--dick
And more...
More details: before crashing, it sets the Focal Lenght and Model,
but does NOT change the ratios... that pretty much pinpoints the 
problem.  (i hope)
And lastly:
Found and fixed...

Just replace the ZIP file you've got.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Done.
Subject:	autostar etx 125
Sent:	Thursday, March 6, 2003 16:56:15
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
One more question I can't figure out.  When I goto an object I am just a
little off.  How do I use the arrows to line the object up.  The arrows
don't move the telescope?  Do I need to hit something first?  Should I
move the whole scope?

Dore
Mike here: The 4 slewing arrow keys at the top of the Autostar should slew. A typical error is that the speed is set too slow to easily see the slewing. I usually set the speed to 3 or 5 (press that number key) for position corrections.
Subject:	Re: Autostar, Computer control and USB
Sent:	Thursday, March 6, 2003 10:48:58
From:	eturner@g4irg.freeserve.co.uk (Eric Turner)
Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply [see further down this
page]. I was given the word that a UK electronics store (Maplin) supply
them. I got one and it seems to work with Windows XP even though it's
non-signed softeware. All I have to wait for now are clear skies.

    Regards
    Eric Turner

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2003 15:01:07
From:	tipipple@crosslink.net (Ross)
I'm very new to this autostar.I bought a handbox from ebay which was
advertised as a 497.How do I tell if it is a 495 or a 497? Under the
statistics it says version 22et.Does this help? That is all I can find
in the menu of the handbox.
Thank you,Ross Franklin
Mike here: You have a #497. Whether it was a #495 or a #497 at birth doesn't matter. 2.2Et is over a year old; I would suggest buying or making a #505 cable and updating to the current version 2.6Ed, assuming you have Windows available.
Subject:	stuck in safe mode..HELP!
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2003 10:41:22
From:	ptmoseyn@plateautel.net (James Lofton)
Here is the message that I never wanted to write. Downloaded the
latested Autostar updater and version of software this morning. (I have
been putting this off for some time) I have version 2.0g, and everything
looked OK untill I started the download. ..it failed, and I then tried
safeload, but it too is failed. Updater now can't seem to even hand
shake with autostar. Autostar just sits with FLASH LOAD READY. Guidance
please..? Some how I just knew this would happen. (and yes, I followed
the directions to the letter).

I am using a sony C-1 picturebook, and a usb to serial adapt. I am
beginning to wonder if that is part (all) of the problem..? I see no way
to change the baud rate from 9600, so not sure if that is part of the
problem. I use this setup on my Garmin and have no problems tho.

Anouther thing; does the latest updater run on windows 95? The sony
laptop is running XP, but all other computers here have only W95. I
thought I might reload the updater to anouther computer and try with a
computer that has a serial port.

..just thinking out loud.

I'm open for any suggestions, as for now I am dead in the water.

Thanks!...and a great site!!

James,
Mike here: I've used the updater on Windows 98 and Windows 2000 (on my Mac, via a USB to serial converter). I think Windows 95 should be OK but I'm no Windows expert. I would suggest checking for a later (or maybe older) USB-serial converter driver; I had Autostar communication problems on my Macs with older drivers but the current version works OK. Also, check for some other software getting in the way, like fax software.

And an update:

Thanks for the come back Mike.

I "just" now got it loaded and working. As I said, I had ver. 2.0g, but
found an old updater and a version 2.0e on anouther laptop running W95,
but having a serial port. Nothing to loose, so gave it a try. One hour
of very slow save load got the older version up and going. I then put
the new updater on the W95 computer(thanks to a friend that downloaded
it to a CD for me). It then updated the autostar to 2.6Ed without a
hitch. I even put 4 tours on, but don't seem to have much mem to work
with(114107 Bytes total), as per what the updater says.

..again, thanks for the come back, and I will let you know what I find
out on the USB to serial adapter, as I will give it anouther try
tomorrow.

I might mention that it would retrieve from the autostar, even when it
was in safe mode, and not letting me update. Still not sure what was/is
going on with it. Might have a bad or glitched install??
Cheers,
James
And further info:
The usb to serial adapter on the sony laptop, running windos XP seems to
work fine this morning. I have swapped tours, etc back and forth, and no
problems at all.

One thing. When I first tried the upgrade, I put the autostar in UPLOAD
mode. As I had read that this was necessary on the older versions..
anyway..

When I did the upgrade next, after putting the old version in), I DID
NOT touch the autostar, but the ASU did all the hand shaking and
launching autostar.

Not sure if this caused the problem the first time or not. Just thought
I would pass it on for the information.
Thanks again.
James
Mike here: I forget just when the auto-download mode was enabled.
Subject:	AutoStar #495 to #497 Upgrade Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2003 9:28:39
From:	jimkeenan@comcast.net (Jim Keenan)
Following upgrade instructions as closely as my feeble mind permits, I
have to go from Setup to Download to Downloading to SAFE MODE (Flash
Load Ready) to get ASU to read the handbox memory available, then I
reach a point at which I get the following:

Autostar #495, #497 box is greyed out.
Internet selected as source.

Avail. Mem. 64512.
Model Unknown
Version Unknown
Build.rom complete
Download complete
Check Autostar cable then power cycle Autostar and try again.

Everything seems to be properly connected. I may be overlooking
something simple; I have before. Any suggestions? I've written before,
but I want to reiterate that your site and book have given me -- a rank
amateur -- hours of enetertainment and instruction. Thanks!

Jim Keenan
Indianapolis, Indiana
Mike here: There are many possible causes of the failure to communicate. Lets start with the easy ones first. Check for some other software using the same com port (like fax or printer software). Did you make or buy the #505 cable? Do you know it is OK? Check the connections. Let me know.

And:

Actually, by stumbling around, I seem to have gotten everything to work.
My Palm sync software was using the port. After freeing up the port, I
still had to use the SAFE LOAD and then manually download through ASU,
but suddenly, as if by magic, the memory was recognized, the Autostar
and handbox versions were recognized, and the download began.
Incidentally, with a cable modem, the download took approximately 30
minutes. Thanks for standing by!

Subject:	re: My Autostar has stopped working
Sent:	Tuesday, March 4, 2003 20:44:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	gavin.slater33@ntlworld.com
You should be able to access the Setup > Reset  choice by
pressing [mode] when it's asking for Date/Time/or Daylight.
That should lift you to (say) Setup / Date
Now press the [scroll UP] key a few times, until you see  Setup / Reset
Press [enter] twice.

If it's "crashing" after the D/T/Dylt ... it may be unable to talk
to the motor circuit cards (or a wire in the telescope is being 
pinched, causing problems).

What flavor of telescope is it?

good luck
--dick

Subject:	My Autostar has stopped working
Sent:	Tuesday, March 4, 2003 14:02:18
From:	gavin.slater33@ntlworld.com (Gav Slater)
I went outside one evening for a spot of observing with my ETX125.  I
did my usual routine setting up the scope everything was fine.

I turned on the autostar (497) , entered the date, entered the time,
selected 'NO' for daylight saving and pressed enter.  My Autostar has
never worked since, everytime I press enter or mode at the daylight
saving stage it crashes.

I have upgraded it to 26E which hasn't made any difference.  Is it
possible to reset autostar without accessing the menu?

I have trawled your site for hours, and although very rich with
information, I cant seem to find anything like this happening before... 
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Gavin Slater
UK 
Mike here: What do you mean by it crashes? What error is displayed? When you downloaded the new version, did that go OK? That is, did the Autostar show Download in progress and then did it do the reset automatically after the update? And no, there is no easy way to RESET without using the menu. I would suggest forcing the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode and re-do the update. Perhaps that will clear out the problem.
Subject:	LXD55 Powered Mount
Sent:	Monday, March 3, 2003 21:01:56
From:	bedair@sbcglobal.net (Steve & Cathy Bedair)
Here's a new mount I just finished for my Celestron C-11. It uses a set
of the new Meade LXD55 motors and the 497 Autostar controller.   Works
great !!   Here's a link:

"http://bedair.org/LXD/C11LXD.html"

As always thanks Mike for the best ETX / LXD sites on the web,
Steve Bedair

Subject:	hello etx king~!
Sent:	Sunday, March 2, 2003 22:20:15
From:	PjAoReK@aol.com
my name is joseph, and i had a quick question. i am trying to locate a
star with the "right assention, etc.." coordinates. how do i do that
with the autostar telescope? thanks for your time.

joe
Mike here: Once you have successfully aligned the Autostar, press the MODE key for 2-3 seconds and release; the display should change to show the current RA/DEC. Press GOTO to enter new coordinates. When finished entering the RA press ENTER and the cursor will move to the DEC field; press ENTER when finished. The telescope will now slew to that RA/DEC.
Subject:	Autostar, Computer control and USB
Sent:	Sunday, March 2, 2003 13:07:24
From:	eturner@g4irg.freeserve.co.uk (Eric Turner)
I want to control my ETX125 via my laptop. Problem is it has only USB
connections. Is there a cable for connecting to the Autostar that
terminates in a USB connector? If not do you know the connections so
that I can make one and probably more to the point - does it need
special software to make it work? I currently use SkyMap Pro 9.0 which
works fine via RS232.
Regards,
 
Eric Turner, Cheshire, UK
Mike here: I use a Keyspan USB to serial converter with my Macintosh. They have drivers for Windows as well. Belkin (I believe) also has an adapter. Even Meade now has one (of course, Windows only since it is from Meade).
Subject:	scrolling on etx 125 pad
Sent:	Sunday, March 2, 2003 1:46:39
From:	broroq@hotmail.com (roque villarreal)
The directions on the pad for my ETX 125 scroll when I turn on the
unpower. I can't read the directions and am having a hard time aligning
the scope.
Help!
Mike here: Use the up/down arrow keys on the bottom of the handcontroller to adjust the speed.
Subject:	RE: ETX behaviour!
Sent:	Saturday, March 1, 2003 10:28:59
From:	Langton-Gilks@tinyworld.co.uk (Langton-Gilks)
Firstly, thankyou for your site, it's a source of many mins/hours spent
at my computer.

Can you offer any advice on the following?:

A few nights ago I was out with my ETX 90EC when suddenly... "motor
failure" came up on the screen and she died on me...ok batteries were
flat and I replaced them straight away.

OK ...then I noticed on subsequent nights that she wasn't as accurate as
she had been in GO TOs etc., -assumed it was my align error so I didn't
think anything of it.

BUT

I've just noticed that, on start up, she's not giving me the reassuring
alt/az slew that I used to get on start up....? ---otherwise fine with
normal slewing but not very accurate on GO TOs

I've now just downloaded the latest Autostar update, -all seemed to go
ok,

BUT

"proc 2 error" has appeared at least once and when attempting to track
some Sats that I knew were rising(via Satracker), and using the same
up-to-the-min TLEs from Celestrak.com,  Autostar just sits there after
I've selected a Sat(that is above the horizon).......just searches and
then every time comes up with "no passes soon".

I haven't resetted and re-trained the ETX yet, but are all the strange
things I've mentioned above going to be sorted by doing this or do I
need to re-download the update software and start over from scratch?

I hope you can help me out, many thanks once again for your site.

Regards,

Toby Langton-Gilks
Mike here: First off, there is no start up slew with the Autostar; that only happens with the standard handcontroller. As to the errors, I would suggest doing the RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN steps. That should clear out any problems. If not then check the cable connections.

And:

Many thanks for your patience -you can tell I'm fresh to ETX-ing.
Very much appreciated.

Subject:	updating autostar
Sent:	Friday, February 28, 2003 20:13:42
From:	mcoco@cox-internet.com (mike coco)
I followed all instructions ( I think) properly to  update my 495 controller.
The ASU program flashes the message "zero memory available". 
Is there a work-a-round or can I not upgrade my unit?
BTW- I have tested and I do have communication, however I must force ASU
to find the autostar.
thanks, mike coco
Mike here: I suspect that you might have one of the real early #495 Autostars with only half the memory of later units.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> Dick, weren't there some early #495 Autostars that only had half the
> memory?

To which my answer is: not that i have -ever- heard of.
Even Meade simply removed the ASU's refusal to push 497 code into the 495
(they used to say "incompatible handbox").
And i do have to verify that your Autostar -has- a numeric keypad?

> From:   mcoco@cox-internet.com (mike coco)
> To: etx@me.com
> I followed all instructions ( I think) properly to  update my 495
> controller.
> The ASU program flashes the message "zero memory available".
> Is there a work-a-round or can I not upgrade my unit?
> BTW- I have tested and I do have communication, however I must force ASU
> to find the autostar.
> thanks, mike coco

But there -is- the User Object area, which -can- be filled.
Are you trying to put Objects/Tours into the Autostar, or a new firmware?
If it's only the objects, you may need to remove a Tour, or a 
few satellites, comets or asteroids... there is a "space available" 
display below the right-hand pane (which appears if you click
 "Advanced Functions").

Please describe the sequence of clicks you did from the time of
starting the program, so we have a better chance of figuring
out what and why is happening...

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks, as always, for your reply.
As a last try effort, I used the safe mode and was successful!
I loaded only the Meade 26ed (no patches, etc.).
What, if anything, else should I do? I guess my question is, should I
now go back and redo using the patch(es) om your site?

Thanks for helping newcommers like me!
mike coco
Mike here: No need to apply patches unless you want something that a patch supplies.

And from Dick:

You apply the patch to the copy of Build26ed.rom in your PC,
by double-clicking on  "Click_me_26d4.bat"
Then use the ASU Updater to copy 26d4  to the telescope.
The file names in your Ephemerides folder will become
 Build26ed.rom  <-- the patched version
 Build26ed.rom_bak  <-- the original Meade version

If you wish, after patching, you can rename "build26ed.rom" to
"build26d4.rom" to help keep things clear.  But that is not necessary.
(i do it to reduce confusion).

When you run the Updater, it will offer 26d4  and 26Ed  in the
box next to the (*) Local   choice, but it will only show -one-
of them until you click on the little [v]  down-arrow beside the
small window.

Good luck
--dick

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