AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 March 2004
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: Alignment with ETX-125
Date: 3/31/04, 17:48
From: James.Cody@med.va.gov
I am a new owner of an ETX-125 telescope.  I have properly trained the
drive and follow the required procedure for setting the scope in the
HOME position.  I use the Autostar Easy Align procedure. Usually at
least one, and usually both, of the stars do not appear centered so I
center before pressing Enter. (sometimes, I actually move the tripod to
center the first Star-I then usually hit the second Star right in the
center-is this an acceptable practice?).  I then usually GO TO one of
the planets first and find the object is usually almost dead center or
only slightly off.  However, when I then GO TO to, say, the Great Orion
Nebulae, it is usually off somewhat (either left or down). Is this to be
expected, and when I center the object, should I expect the next object
to be reasonably centered? I ask because I am concerned that, perhaps, I
need to go back to Easy Align after several "hits" that I must center
after the scope has finished slewing. 

Thank you.

James Cody
Mike here: Moving the tripod for the FIRST STAR is a perfectly acceptable procedure. It corrects for pointing errors in the HOME position. But I would only do this in azimuth. If there are errors in GOTO accuracy it can be a result of many factors. Doing an accurate TRAIN DRIVES of both axes is a factor. Moderately accurate leveling of the ETX base and OTA in the HOME position can be a factor; although the Autostar can compensate for some error. No, you should not have to re-align following a series of GOTOs.

Subject: Autostar / ETX 90 Training
Date: 3/31/04, 13:35
From: "R.V. Beckwith" (rvbeckwith@compuserve.com)
Once the drives in the ETX 90 are "trained", should it come back to the
original position if I attempt another "Train"? When I do an AZ train,
for example, it slews off 4 1/2 Az markings and then returns only to
about 2 markings. I then move it to its orginal position with the keys.
It does the same thing on the other side. If I then just do the "Train"
again it performs in exactly the same way. Even if I purposely overshoot
the target when I train it, it does exactly the same thing every time.
Shouldn't it come back to the original position after the first
training?

Thanx. Rio Beckwith.
Mike here: I have always seen this behavior, so it is normal. The training process has its own logic on what needs to occur to determine what amount of training is required to move the telescope a specified amount. Maybe it should "remember" training values when initiating a TRAIN DRIVES but it doesn't.

Subject: Etx 125ec GPS
Date: 3/30/04, 15:14
From: User721401@aol.com 
Great sight and book. It really helped me to finally enjoy my ETX125..

I see that Scopetronix is selling a GPS attachment (for my Garmin 195)
for the ETX. I am wondering if there is a great advantage to using a GPS
with the telescope.
 
 
Thank you!!
 
Dan Cohen
Mike here: You can read some user comments on GPS on the "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Info page. Personally, I don't have a need for it but then I know what time it is and I have a Garmin eMap for my location if I'm in a strange location. The GPS add-ons just enter the date/time/location for you. But some people obviously find these useful; they seem to be selling.

Subject: ETX125 GOTO Rate Change for Meade 125
Date: 3/29/04, 17:05
From: jack (jackdmail@yahoo.com)
This weekend March 26th the very nice people at OPT gave me a new ETX125
cause my 8-month old unit had a stuck aluminum dust cover.  I have a
Stargps attached to my #497 AutoStar.  I did a reset and calibrated and
trained the new motors and it seems to be OK, sought of.   My nice old
unit would wizz fast and GOTO very fast and accurate so I never had any
complaints about how the motors worked, etc. This new one seems to GOTO
much slower  like #4 speed. Slow , smooth but no whiz and it takes a
long time to GOTO places.  Is there a way to speed it up.  Dis I do
something wrong or are some fast and others slow pokes.  The Up/Down
Left/Right keys speeds can be altered but is there a way to adjust the
general GOTO speed.

I was prompted by a question like make motors or slewing quite.  I
accepted.  Could that have affected the GOTO speed.  I woul appreciate
any tips.
 
Jack Dugan
Mike here: There is a QUIET SLEW mode in the current (and recent) Autostar version. I didn't think it worked with the ETX, only the LXD55 series but I guess it does. What is does is reduce the slewing speed, just like you've seen. I don't use it on my LXD55 because it IS so slow. But you can turn it off (from the SETUP menu).

And an update:

I turned off the QUIET SLEW and it works just like my old unit.  Whrr
and very fast.  Thanks for the advice and the great web site.
 
Jack

Subject: proper telescope leveling alignment
Date: 3/29/04, 12:26
From: The Blaisdells (blaisdell25@charter.net)
When levelig my ETX 125 EC, I follow the guide book but notice multiple
discrepencies. I use a bullseye circular level. I get different readings
from the tripod to the frok base to the eyepiece. I am waiting now for
the combo compass/ level from Digital Astronomy. Is the eyepiece the
most accurate location to level both tube and tripod? Rick Blaisdell
Mike here: Personally I don't take the time to perfectly the level the base nor telescope OTA for the HOME position. I let the Autostar do its magic; it can compensate for quite a bit of out-of-level error. However, for best results, leveling is important but I just "eyeball" it. But the base top and the OTA should be level (in Alt/Az mode).

Subject: Malfunctioning ETX after software update
Date: 3/29/04, 12:21
From: Daniel Otto (daan_qcn@hotmail.com)
I just updated the #497 Autostar controller of my used ETX-90 (I bought
it today), but after updating it, the Autostar keeps telling me that one
of the motors is malfunctioning (the motor for vertical adjustment). I
also tried the updated Autostar controller on my ETX-70 and the
controller seems to work fine. I used the safeloader function and
re-updated the controller 3 times, but that didn't help also. Could this
be a software problem or could this be a mechanical failure?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.
 
Best regards,
Daniel
Mike here: After the update, did you do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? If that doesn't cure it, try a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Also, when switching between telescopes you need to TRAIN DRIVES after each switch.

And:


Thanks for your response. I just tried your suggestions and the autostar
also gives the 'motor malfunctioning warning' when I select CALIBRATE.
When I select TRAIN DRIVES first, the ETX simply won't respond to the up
and down buttons (I can't hear a motor turning either).
Again, thanks in advance.
Mike here: Redo the software update. Perhaps something was corrupted during the first download.

Subject: re: etx 125/autostar 497
Date: 3/28/04, 15:40
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: gblount@junct.com
You can test the PC->Autostar communications with the steps
listed here:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html 

The three most common reasons for "can't reach the telescope" are:
(a) wrong COM port number assignment
(b) another program (Palm Pilot HotSync with WinXP)
  has grabbed the serial port
(c) bad cable  (which the above testing page may catch)

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks for the link!  Here is one you can pass along:
cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3807068132&category=29954

This guy has Autostar coil cables for under $10 (for those of us
who don't want to build one).
Greg 
And an update:
Mike,  Thanks to you and Dick for all the help and the link...

I replaced the coil cable on the Autostar due to an intermittent open
circuit when testing.  Still wouldn't connect to computer. I had tested
the cable from serial port to hanbox and found continuity on all pins. 
Just for good measures, I made a new cable and everything started
working perfectly.  Must have been a problem in one of the connectors,
because I tested it again and it still showed good continuity.  It was
the one that came with my Astrofinder software.

Reminds me of the spark plug in my lawnmower.  It had a small crack in
the electrode ceramic insulator.  It would work fine for about 2 hours
and would then start cutting out.  Took me a new coil, carburetor kit,
countless cleanings of the fuel system and 18 months before I finally
replaced the plug and fixed it.

(Duh!! My wife reminds me that she told me to replace the plug when the
trouble first began, but of course I had already eliminated it as the
source of the problem, (and what do women know about engines anyway.)) 
I still haven't lived that one down.

But as of today, the lawnmower runs fine and the computer has control of
the scope!!

Thanks again,
Greg

Subject: Autostar: Proc. trap 2 - What is going on?
Date: 3/26/04, 15:56
From: fnr@mail.dk
The Autostar #494 on my trusty ETX-70 has suddenly stopped all normal
business. When powered on, The Meade logo will appear for two seconds
and then the message "Proc. trap 2" (sounds like some stone age
programming language). The handset is stone dead and will not respond to
any button. Power/on off (tried 25 times ...) or new batteries does not
help. I searched the mighty ETX site and actuallly found two notes on
this problem, but apparently the problem disappeared after power off/on
in these two cases. It seems like I'm absolutely stuck - Any suggestions
from anybody?

Thanx very much in advance, Finn Rasmussen, Copenhagen.
Mike here: For info on Proc Traps, see the article "Autostar Proc Traps" on the Autostar Info page. Sometimes the problem can be corrected by RESETing (if you can get to that) or uploading a new version of the Autostar ROM. Unfortunately, there is NO update for the #494 currectly available.

And:

Thank you, the article was really interesting. At least I now know more
about what is going on. The bad news are that it looks like there is
nothing to do about it. This autostar is a goner, unless somebody a
knows of a secret harware reset possibility. I wonder the error could be
inside the scope (in which case a new autostar wouldn't help). When does
autostar begin communicating with the scope base after power on?

Finn
Mike here: You can replace the Autostar #494 with a #497 (which has more capabilities, including being able to upgrade its software). You can also get a #495 (typically used) and upgrade it to a #497 with the Meade Autostar Update Application (from Meade's site). As to when communication begins to occur, almost immediately,

And:

Yes, I realize that this may be the only solution. Unfortunately there
is no market for used scopes etc. here in DK, and a new #497 costs about
2/3 of a complete new ETX-70 incl. the #494. I will need to borrow one
first to see if it actually solves the problem - I suppose it could
still be scope that returns a bad signal. I have thought of getting an
ETX-125 someday anyway. How many settings do you need to change in the
Autostar when you move it from one type ETX to another?

Finn Rasmussen 
Mike here: When switching telescopes with a single Autostar you need to change the telescope model and do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Thanks a lot for for the advice and comments! I'll see what the local
ETX importer has to say and, if there is no other way to fix the
problem, get an autostar  "497".

Subject: Problem with 494
Date: 3/25/04, 23:56
From: LilSoulLuv@aol.com
I'm sure you've addressed this before, but I couldn't find it in the
archives. Whenever i turn on the autostar is gives me the initial
message, but no beep and then fades. It says "in download" on the top
but no keys work. do i just go to meade to get a new one?
Thanks
Mike here: That's odd that it goes into some "download" mode on power-on. Have you replace the batteries in the ETX? If that doesn't cure it, if you can get to the RESET menu before it fades, try that. If it does RESET you will have to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

the batteries were fresh. i got it to go out of the mode by turning the
power on with the autostar not plugged in and then plugging it in.
strange but true. I reset it, we'll see if the problem returns.

Thanks a ton

Subject: re: Problems with Asrtofinder software
Date: 3/25/04, 22:10
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: BurrDMB@aol.com
Try the tests listed at:

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

good luck
--dick

Subject: etx 125/autostar 497
Date: 3/25/04, 19:37
From: Gregory and Deborah Blount (gblount@junct.com)
Could someone please help?

I am new to the ETX.  I just purchased a 125 w/autostar 497.  Also
purchased Astrofinder software and cable set.

After installation of the software and cable hook-up as per Meade: 
Computer not connected to internet recognized telescope once.  The Sky
software did not work without internet connection, so I moved to my
I-net computer and did the same. The new setup never recognized the
telescope.  Now the original computer does the same.  I get a message
that the scope is not connected.

I get the same thing when trying to connect to the Meade download site.
What am I not doing or what am I doing wrong?

Thanks for any help.
Greg
Mike here: I can't help with your internet connection problems but as I told another user on tonight's ETX Site update (Autostar Feedback page), "be certain you have the latest ACP version. Also, Windows is known for Com port conflicts; check for other software tying up the serial port."

And:

Thanks for the reply.  I don't have an internet connection problem.  I
just wasn't aware that the software I bought had to be connected to the
net to work.  For an extra $150., you can get it to stand alone.  (no
mention of this in sales description)

When I check the device manager, the com & lpt (com1) says it is
functioning properly.  I am just at a loss as to what to do next.

I'll let you know what happens after I get the download updates
installed.

Thanks again,
Greg 
Mike here: No, the software you purchased DOES NOT need an Internet connection to work. But it does need to be able to communicate to the Autostar via the RS-232 serial port.

And:

You know what?  You're right!  I kept getting a blank sky, but I just
noticed that my longitude setting changed to east instead of west.  I
changed it and the stars came on.  But, after closing and reopening the
program, it changed back to east and a daytime sky.  It doesn't do that
on the computer connected to the internet, so I wrongly ASSumed that I
needed the connection for it to work.

Mike, I really appreciate your correspondence.  I went to the site you
mentioned and found the link for the ACP update.  I may also have a
defective coil cable.  I have contacted the guy at the site who makes
them for a replacement.

I have been sitting here for about 8 hours trying to get this thing
under computer control, and I think it is time to give it a rest. The
125 performs beautifully optically and the alignments are getting better
as I refine my technique.  Got a fair webcam set of Jupiter w/Callisto
in transit a few nights ago.  I have a 10" Dob, but the ETX 125 is gonna
spoil me.

Thank you so very much for maintaining such a helpful website.
Gregory Blount
Northeast Oklahoma 
And:
After updating ACP, I still get the message "cannot find com port".
Could you direct me to a site or tell me how to check the ports in
Windows XP? control panel>system>hardware>device manager  gets me there,
but it just shows that the device is working.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Greg
Mike here: Well, I can't really answer Windows questions here but usually the problem is some conflict (like fax software). Being a Mac person I really can't offer much advice on Windows.

Subject: Autostar to Scope Cable
Date: 3/25/04, 12:18
From: Randall (support@rch-usa.com)
New to your site, and it's a dandy - I commend you for taking the time
to keep it current.

I had trouble with the coiled cable (took several hours and phantom
movements for me to realize it WAS the cable) for my Autostar and after
playing around I decided to make my own (pic enclosed).

I'd be quite happy (I used to be a computer tech, so I have all the test
and cable equipment) to make these for your visitors for a small charge
( I mean small - parts plus coupla bucks and shipping) should you or
anyone else be interested.

-- 
Brought to you by the Wizard.
cable

Subject: Problems with Asrtofinder software
Date: 3/25/04, 05:06
From: BurrDMB@aol.com
Having just purchased an ETX 105, - I decided that it would be useful to
put it under computer control so I purchased the Meade Astrofinder
software CD. First problem that when it arrived it comes with a serial
lead to connect to the computer ( I'm using a laptop with USB ports
only). Have now purchased an USB to serial cable from Meade and
installed the new driver setup file (PL2303).

Having done all of this I'm getting no response from the laptop with the
software (ACP control panel and Starry Night) and keep getting messages
that  no scope is detected on COM port. I've checked all settings which
appear in order, so i'm now turning to any one out there that may have
experienced similar problems. My Laptop is a compaq presario 908 and
running with Windows XP Home edition.

Hope someone can help and I have to say that youv'e got a great site
which no doubt i'll be visiting on many occassions.

David Burr
Mike here: Be certain you have the latest ACP version. Also, Windows is known for Com port conflicts; check for other software tying up the serial port. USB converters will work (I use one with my Macintosh to communicate to the Autostar). Have you tried other software, like the Autostar Update Application (from Meade's site) just to see if it can communicate with the Autostar?

And:

Thanks for the quick reply - the ACP version that i have is 1.2 and i
cannot connect to the autostar controller (same problem as with
telescope). I've been looking on Meade's site but cannot find anything
that helps.

I'm beginning to suspect a faulty lead but am i clutching at straws?

Kind regards from Wimborne in the UK

David Burr
Mike here: Have you checked the ACP web site? I think there is a newer version. Did you download the Autostar Update application (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html)?

Subject: Meade ETX question.
Date: 3/24/04, 21:05
From: James Greer (jagreer@adelphia.net)
I bought an Meade ETX 90 in early 2000. I noticed that it could not go
to or basically find anything in the sky. I posted to an astro news
group and got a few positive ideas. Basically I set up the scope and
when the all is done and it fails to find anything I just use it as a
non goto scope and manually find the moon or a planet. I have never seen
or found a messier etc object with the go to. It is usually off by 45
degrees although it can start slewing all over the sky and even try to
go below the horizon etc.

I started intensively using the scope over the last couple months and
have tried all sorts of cures for the go to issue. I called Meade but
basically was told I was doing something wrong. I do have your book and
a 2 in notebook of alignment and setup stuff.

This evening I set up the usual way - point north - counter clockwise to
the stop - level. etc etc. When I powered on I noticed the autostar had
no display. I could use the other non go to controller to run the scope
though and viewed Jupiter for a while. I tried new batteries but there
is still no display. The little red light is on and the motors sounded
fine.

Do you have any idea what I might be doing wrong? Have I reset and
trained the motors to much? Thanks for any ideas you might have on
getting the scope to work.  Well it does work nicely as a purely
portable optical scope.

Sincerely
 
James Greer
Mike here: You are seem to have two "problems". One is the inaccurate GOTOs and two, the "dead" display. Since you can't solve #1 without a working display, we have to deal with #2 first. By "little red light" I presume you mean the one on the ETX, not the one on the Autostar (the "flashlight"). Have you checked the cable connections? Are you plugged into the correct port? If all that is correct, can you slew the ETX using the Autostar arrow keys even though there is no display? If so, then either the display brightness/contrast needs to be adjusted or the display itself may have failed. If not, then the Autostar may indeed be dead. Let me know. Then we'll know how to proceed solving #1.

And:

Thank you. I tried the go to contoller and it does not slew etc. The
standard issue controller does work all functions in the HBX input.  I
looked at the cable and it seems ok. The scope does not have a scratch
except the tripod holes area marring of the plastic - never any drops or
knocks etc. I tried the other contoller and it focuses and slews all as
usual. I am thinking the hand contoller is a "keyboard" and the auto
star is actually inside the ETX but I might be mistaken. I have always
used the HBX input and do not see any obvious damage to the cable. I
have reversed and replugged it a number of times. It is a very odd
happening from my perspective since it has booted up to the sun warning
many hundreds of times. Thanks and I will try to get this running soon.

James Greer
Mike here: The Autostar #497 IS the computer. Since its arrow keys won't slew the ETX there is a either a failure to communicate or the Autostar not working. If you have a #505 cable, Windows, and a RS-232 port you might check to see if the Autostar Update Application can see the Autostar. If it does, try updating it.

And:

Dear Mike,
Thank you very much. I talked to Meade this morning and since we are not
sure the exact cause, I will return the three items to Meade for general
repair. This is not terribly expensive and should solve the problem. I
appreciate the advice and I am genuinely looking forward to some
Astronomy "go-to" time.

Best Wishes,

James Greer 

Subject: Autostar Issues
Date: 3/24/04, 14:05
From: Chris Jones (jones@littlehope.fslife.co.uk)
After using binoculars for eight months I bought a ETX125 last month
(new) and have used it only a few times due to the weather. I had only
used the Guided Tour on the Autostar and the manual controls.

Tonight I aligned the scope as normal, but wanted to use the Object menu
and tried to get to Venus the Autostar siad 'slewing' but nothing
moved... I switched off, switched on, re-aligned and used the Guided
Tour menu and it all worked fine, Venus, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter plus
Mars and Orion nebula all great, switched to Object, Venus, and it said
'slewing' and no movement (or very little). I pressed ENTER and then a
'spiral change' appeared in the Autostar display?

I reset but still the same happened fine on Guided Tour but using other
menu items would not function.

Any help greatly appreciated - your site is excellent, thanks for all
your hard work.BTW the ETX125 is a lovely peice of kit optics wise, I
just hope this Aoustar will work.

Chris, Leics, UK
Mike here: Do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES again. Since it says slewing (after pressing GOTO) something is amiss. If that doesn't work you could update the Autostar to the current version 3.1Ee from Meade's site.

And:

Stupid Me!
Do apologise - answer is 'press enter' then 'goto'.......................sorry
 
Chris
Mike here: Yep, that would make a difference! But it is a common mistake!

Subject: AutoStar Updater - Big Problem!!
Date: 3/23/04, 07:28
From: Andy Briggs (Andy@elmhurstsolutions.co.uk)
Firstly, thanks for a fantastic ETX site that has been invaluable to
me!!

I should be very grateful if you could help me with a big problem I've
having with my AutoStar updater, or at least maybe point me in the
direction of somebody who can. I have searched the archives on your site
and cannot find any similar problem mentioned (it would have to be me,
wouldn't it?)

Recently I decided that, having had my ETX-90 EC for a few years, I'd
get around to buying the #505 cable set and update my AutoStar from my
Win 2000 Pro PC. The AutoStar was connected to COM1.

1. I connected the cables correctly, i.e. as per the instructions that
came with the #505 cable set.

2.I powered up the telescope and went through pre-initialisation until
the "Setup:Align" menu was displayed, again as per the instructions

3. I ran the AutoStar 3.61 updater

4. I clicked on "Connect"

5. The PC said it couldn't find the AutoStar and would scan all the
available ports.

6. After a while, the computer said it had found an AutoStar on COM1 (as
expected). A little later it said "Connection Complete"

7. But...the "Telescope Type" and "Handbox Version" in the Updater
software both read "Unknown". A flashing indicator tells me there are 0
bytes free. Trying to "Retrieve" crashes the software with a memory
exception error.

8. I clicked on "Upgrade AutoStar Now".

9. The Updater software again says it cannot find an Autostar and will
scan the ports.

10. It again finds the AutoStar on COM1. This time, the "Handbox
Version" box at the bottom right of the Updater screen says "Version
1.1j"

11. After a little while, the software advises me to re-cycle the power
on the AutoStar and try again.

12. A message saying "No Response" appears at bottom left of the
software.

In a nutshell, the computer and my AutoStar don't want to chat.

I should add that both the PC and AutoStar are functioning correctly
(before and after) and that the COM1 port settings are correct.

This is a real mystery, and I've made no progress at all. It's even more
frustating for me, as I am a computer programmer and like to think I can
solve most computer problems!!

Any help you could give me with this would be *very much* appreciated.

Many thanks

Andrew Briggs
Girona, Spain
Mike here: I suspect it is the 1.1j version that is preventing the update from occurring. You might need to upgrade to a 1.2 or 1.3 version (available in the archive on the Autostar Info page). But before you do that, I'll forward your inquiry to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour, for his thoughts.

And:

From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike is correct that it's the ancient version of the firmware fighting him.

However you can overcome that by invoking the Safe Load procedure,
as detailed in the ASU's HELP pages under "damaged handbox",
or on your website.
The trick is to put the Autostar into Safe (Flash) Load -first-,
then start the Updater.  Once you have started the updater
-only- click the big UPDATE NOW button (if it asks you -before-
that if the Autsotar is in FlashLoad, then you're already under way)

Be sure to also pre-kill any competing PC programs trying to grab the
COM ports, such as Palm Pilot HotSync.

...and we -are- talking Autostar 497 (or 495) here, right?

good luck
--dick
And:
Mike,

What can I say? Many, many thanks for your help. Dick's solution looks
good;I shall be trying it very soon.

I have also e-mailed Dick to say thanks and I am exceedingly grateful to
you both. Keep up the good work!!

Thanks again!!
And:
As the murky light of a damp Seattle morning creeps into my
head, i come to realize that Mike's answer (update to 1.3,
or better yet, to 2.1) is a BETTER answer.
(if Safe Load doesn't work/exist in your version)

You will have to use an updater of that vintage (avoid
the Updater version 2.3!!!) to do that... they sometimes
packaged the firmware with the Updater as a single large
download.

good luck
--dick

Subject: Re: ETX-90EC polar alignment mode
Date: 3/22/04, 20:08
From: komsan (komsan@ele.kyutech.ac.jp)
Thanks for your reply. Actually I 'm very new with ETX-90EC.

I didn't use Autostar controller. Now, I'm using only Electronic Control
with Meade #884 Tripod in Polar position. I'm curious why I could not
activate mode changing by pressing and holding the mode button. There is
no response at all. Is there any material tell how the operation of
internal motor does?

I think there are only two motors for each axis. How ETX-90EC knows
whether the telescope is not in polar alignment because it is said in
the manual that automatic tracking cannot work in Alt/Alz mode.

Anyway, if I use Auotstar controller, can I use automatic tracking of
stars for taking pictures? I will get Autostar controller and 505 cable
to control with PC. Now I have no problem in Alt/Alz control mode.

Thanks for your helps. I love your website. Any comments will be very
much appreciate.

Best regards,
Komsan
Mike here: Sorry that I misread your email. There is a screw on the back of the standard handcontroller which you can remove to default it to polar (see the manual). There have been some reports that pressing the button doesn't seem to change the setting. And yes, using the Autostar the ETX will track in Alt/AZ mode. However, keep in mind that field rotation will occur when tracking the sky in Alt/Az mode, so long exposures will display arcs.

Subject: Older BIN Files
Date: 3/21/04, 07:41
From: tim@orionnets.com
I recieved an email from one of your fine readers who suggests I
downgrade to version 30d, as the description of the "3.0 Post Bleep
Refinement, Dance and Drift" problem lead him to try this and it
resolved his problem.  However, though I see the Patch Kits on your
site, I don't know where I can find older .bin files.

Does a historical archive of these files exist?

Thanks,
 
Tim
Mike here: Yep, it is available. See the "Autostar Software Archive" on the Autostar Info page.

Subject: ETX-90EC polar alignment mode
Date: 3/20/04, 03:44
From: komsan (komsan@ele.kyutech.ac.jp)
I just got ETX-90EC UHTC few days ago. It is a second hand telescope,
but the previous user did not use it for a year. Once I got it, I tried
to set the telescope in alt/az alignment, everything was OK. The motors
in vertical and horizontal aixes moved very smoothly. Then I set up my
telescope in polar alignment by using Meade #884 tripod. I was carefully
set up the telescope, put it in a proper postion of high ladtitude.
However, I could not initialize the electronic controller in polar
alighnment mode. There was no signals shown on the LED as in the manual.
I just wonder that this is controller problem or motor problem. I have
no diea to solve this problem. Anyone had same kind of problem, please
report to me.
Thanks.
--Komsan--
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.
Mike here: Did you change the mounting mode in the Autostar from Alt/Az to Polar?

Subject: re: Rubberbanding won't quit!
Date: 3/19/04, 22:36
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: tim@orionnets.com
Be sure to check that your Percentage settings are reasonable, too.

they have a direct effect upon rubberbanding

good luck
--dick

Subject: re: Using autostar on my ETX125 EC, problem with stops
Date: 3/19/04, 22:30
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: design@armastoke2.fsnet.co.uk
You wrote:
>When I set the scope up in the home position, level and pointing North,
> I also followed the instructions for rotating the scope away from the
> stops, which seems to allow for about 300 degrees clockwise or
> anti-clockwise.

When properly set up for Alt/Az home,
the power panel should be on the west side,
and you should only have about 120 degrees of travel anti-clockwise
(from pointing due north) before hitting the stop.

The clockwise direction should be able to make a full 360-degree spin,
and then go another 120 degrees before hitting the CW stop.

have fun
--dick

Subject: ETX-125 easy align problems
Date: 3/19/04, 15:29
From: Carol and Bill McCarey (carolandbillmccarey@yahoo.com)
When I try to easy align my new ETX-125 with the furnished Autostar, the
scope ends up spinning all the around to the hardstop--by passing the
first star it is looking for, Sirius. I have followed the directions
multiple times:

1. rotate tube all the way ccw until it hits the stop
2. backoff and go cw until the fork arm is over the computer panel
3. lock the horizontal axis
4. I physically move the tripod to point the tube north (polaris is very visible)
5. I level the tube
6. I hit enter for easy align and the tube swings by
Sirius twice before running into the hardstop.

Any suggestions?

Thanks. Good site by the way. Do you know if Digital Astronomy is in
business. No emails from them in reference to an order I placed three
weeks ago.

Bill
Mike here: A few questions: Did you set the right telescope model and mounting mode? When you did the CW rotation to North did you move about 120 degrees? Have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? As to that dealer, I haven't heard that they gone out of business although anything is possible.

Subject: Rubberbanding won't quit!
Date: 3/18/04, 19:02
From: tim@orionnets.com
I've been reading your site for years and would like to thank you once
again for your incredible gift to all of us who love these great little
scopes.

I've had my ETX90EC for a few years, and have experienced rubber banding
before.  Based on tips I found here on your site, I have always been
able to resolve it with a reset, and training.

However, I didn't use the scope much during the winter.  I got it out
recently and changed to fresh batteries.  I upgraded to the latest
Autostar software, and did a full reset and drive training.  I've done
it 3 times now (resetting each time) and still, the rubberbanding is
terrible.  Alignment is great and targets are found near the center of
the 26mm field, but even minor adjustments cause severe rubberbanding,
often beyond the original point.

I've searched your site and read everything I can find that's relative. 
Do you have any other suggestions beyond reset and drive training?

Thanks,

Tim

p.s.  Got an LPI and tried it out.  After fighting with the RB to get
the camera tracking with the Autostar suite, I did manager to get a few
images of Saturn, but nothing worth sharing.  I hope to get some nice
shots after  I fix this terrible rubberbanding issue.
Mike here: Couple of things you can try or check for. Be certain that the proper telescope model/mounting mode is set. After that, do a CALIBRATE and then TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't cure it, redownload the ROM file from Meade's site and reinstall into the Autostar.

Subject: A meade 494 autostar question
Date: 3/18/04, 16:46
From: "G.P. Sirna" (gsirna@net-link.net)
I hope that you can help me as I have a Meade autostar 494 system. I
would like to use it on my CG-5. I can mount the motors easily enough,
but can I make the system work on a GEM mount in the eq mode?

If you could help or direct me to infomation. I hope this is not an
intrusion on your time.

Thanks
Greg
Mike here: Check Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts site (link on the Astronomy Links page).

Subject: ETX125 tracking problems
Date: 3/18/04, 10:15
From: Johnzotzz@aol.com
Last night, March 17 I set up for a little viewing session, and find
myself at a complete loss.  My Autostar wont track and I cant figure out
why.  When I am not using it I store it between the tripod base and the
bottom of the motor housing.  It fits in that space quite nicely.  I
have checked everything I know to check, and am at my wits end.  Could
there be an electrical field generated by either the Autostar or the
drive motor that is causing this problem or do I have drive problems. 
Is it possible that I need a new Autostar (model 31Ee)    .  Am using a
12V 7Ah Gel-Cell battery as a power source.  I would appreciate any
advice you could give me on this.       Johnny Craig
Mike here: Well, you say you checked everything. But you didn't describe the problem enough for me to help. By not tracking do you mean that when you GOTO an object the Autostar doesn't move the telescope at all or is just not tracking accurately? How are the GOTOs? Are they accurate?

Subject: Using autostar on my ETX125 EC, problem with stops
Date: 3/18/04, 04:33
From: Richard Moon (design@armastoke2.fsnet.co.uk)
I have just purchased an ETX125 EC and have set up the scope using Easy
Align through the Autostar. This was relatively successful.

The last star used for the alignment was Capella, and once I had
received the successful alignment acknowledgement, I picked Jupiter and
chose goto.

To my suprise the scope tracked clockwise for approx 270 degrees instead
of taking the quicker route anti-clockwise.

My next choice which was a cluster was somewhere maybe 180 degrees
(opposite) jupiter. The drive slewed the scope clockwise again, and
naturally it came up against a stop.

When I set the scope up in the home position, level and pointing North,
I also followed the instructions for rotating the scope away from the
stops, which seems to allow for about 300 degrees clockwise or
anti-clockwise.

My question is, why did the autostar take the route it did, and why
wasn't it aware of the implications? I'm fairly new to this, so there
may be something I have overlooked, but I don't want to damage the
drive.
 
My name is Richard Moon
I live in England, close to Manchester.
Last night was my first chance to use the scope.
 
Mike here: The hard stops are about two revolutions apart (but not quite 720 degrees). So if you do the proper rotations for the HOME position the Autostar should never hit a hardstop. It will go the "long way around" at times to be certain it avoids the hardstops and prevent cord wrap.

And:

Thanks for such a speedy response.
It seems I must take more care in setting my Home position.

Regards

Richard Moon

Subject: Autostar Memory Capacity
Date: 3/17/04, 06:30
From: KlaraColli@aol.com
With Autostar Suite, I now have the ability to download many objects
into my Autostar #497.  Can I select everything or is there a limit to
Autostars memory?  And if there is a limit do I have to remove an object
to add a new object?
Mike here: Yes, unfortunately the Autostar's memory is not infinite. So if you have lots of objects and tours you might have to delete some. But you can keep local copies on your hard disk if you ever do need to delete something. But just keep adding until the Autostar won't let you add more. (By the way, its 1MB.) Also, the Autostar Suite didn't add this capability; it has been around for years.

Subject: ETX90EC Bad Behavior
Date: 3/16/04, 11:58
From: Joyce Stenstrom (sten@rconnect.com)
Just put my ETX thru a checkout to get ready for viewing. I have some
bad news, Venus is now due North! Outer planets locate properly but
someone has moved Venus. Do you suspect Autostar? Bob Stenstrom
Mike here: What version of the Autostar ROM do you have? If not reasonably current I would suggest upgrading it via the software on Meade's site. Otherwise, try a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES again.

And:

Thanks for your quick response. The glitch was due to the operater so I
am pleased to announce that Venus is back in its correct orbit. Do I
have to order special cables to do downloads? Bob
Mike here: You can buy or make one. It is the #505 cable. See the Autostar Info page if you want to make it. You will also need Windows and a RS-232 serial port.

Subject: set azimuth target
Date: 3/16/04, 10:12
From: andru (andrew@crysania.co.uk)
i'm havin problems slewing to a az/alt coordinate. the autostar,
accordin to the instruction manual, doesn't support the #:Sz
instruction. and i am wonderin how i can slew to a az/alt coordinate.

the reason i'm askin this is i have a slight problem wiv my search
control. the idea of the search control is to find a object that was
centered in the eypeice but isn't visible wiv a camera because the
camera has a much narrower view.

so i have a function that moves out of the current frame, and moves
around it and out of it, until the object is found. i read the scopes
coordinates and calculate a offset to the gnext area to move the scope
and add/subtract that offset from the scopes position and then slew.

k, so it works wiv equatorial coordinates fine except for a slight
problem. as the scope moves further south or north, the lines of right
ascension get closer together. so i have to correct for this so that the
scope moves the same distance right or left.

the correction involves calculations usin spherical trigonometry. but it
has been suggested that this can be solved if i use az/alt coordinates.
so we are back to the problem of setting a azimuth target wiv the
autostar.

is it possible to slew to a az/alt target?

btw, the ntc software was tested last monday 8th. my sister managed to
control my scope here in wales, from stratford ontario. we sent the
video signals via yahoo messenger, so she was able to explore the moon,
wiv only bout .5 second delays after each operation.

we also mange to use ntc to focus.

andrew sprott
And from our resident Autostar expert:
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike Weasner wrote:
> Dick, If I'm understanding his question, he wants to use software to
> tell the Autostar to slew to an Alt/Az position.  Possible?

Yes...

The Autostar (at least the 497 running 31Ee, and i believe most
older versions) DOES accept/honor/understand
:SzDDD*MM#  (set azimuth) and :SaDD*MM#  (set altitude)
then you command  :MA#  and it will go there.

> i'm havin problems slewing to a az/alt coordinate. the autostar, accordin
> to the instruction manual, doesn't support the #:Sz instruction.
> and i am wonderin how i can slew to a az/alt coordinate.

The manual can be confusing.  For all of the :commands,
i recommend -trying- them with Hyperterminal.. usually the
suprise is a happy one.

Ahh... i just read the manual.. what they are trying to say
is that the syntax of  DD*MM*SS  only works in the LX200.
The syntax of DD*MM  works with ALL autostars.
(and will probably work with the 497, too).

have fun
--dick

Subject: How do I connect my Autostar to a USB laptop usb port?
Date: 3/14/04, 13:41
From: Dave Gallant (gallantengineering@shaw.ca)
I just got a new Toshiba Satellite Laptop and was shocked the first time
I went to try to connect my autostar to update it.

There is no serial port!!  only USB.  Guess I should hav checked the
specs on it.

Is there any sort of conversion cable available?  How do I do this with
ease?
Mike here: You can get one from Belkin or Keyspan; they have ones for Macs and PCs (I use a Mac one from Keyspan). Or you can get a PC only one from Meade (or its dealers). You install a driver and attach the #505 (for a #495 or #497 Autostar) or #506 (for a #494 Autostar) cable to the adapter.

And:

great..thanks for the help....below is a link to what I think that I
need...can you have a quick look for me?

www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&
dept=2&WLBS=fsweb16&sku_id=0665000FS10010579&catid=&newdeptid=2
Mike here: Yep, that should work. It has the DB-9 port that you will need for the #505 cable adapter.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply....by db-9 you mean rs232?  Same thing?

Is there windows software changes required too?  I am running windows
XP.
Mike here: Yep, the DB-9 is for the RS-232. And the adapter comes with software and instructions.

Subject: Finding and tracking the sun with Autostar
Date: 3/13/04, 09:03
From: Jack Fox (jackfox@mindspring.com)
Is there an easy way to find and track the sun (using a solar filter)
using the Autostar?

I could not find it in the Autostar section of your web site.
Mike here: You mean the article "Adding the Sun" on the Autostar Info page? Don't know if it works with the current version (3.1Ee).

Subject: What version of autostar update to use?
Date: 3/13/04, 06:13
From: russellrma@comcast.net
Although I have owned my etx-125 for several years now I have just
suffered my first motor failure message. I've decided that it is time to
up date my autostar and upon going to the Meade web site have found that
there are three 3 different updates;

A)    Autostar ll version 2.0i (1793KB) 1/06/04 -

B)    Autostar model #497 version 31Ee (446K) 12/02/03-

C)    Autostar update ASU client application for windows, version 3.61
(2079KB) 8/21/02-

Any assistance / info you could supply would be greatly appreciated.
 
Sincerely,
 
Russell
Mike here: As Meade's update page says, the Autostar II is for the LX200GPS telescopes. Since you have the Autostar #497 you want that update (3.1Ee). You use the Autostar Update Client Application to download and install the update into your Autostar.

Subject: Autostar Power Consumption
Date: 3/10/04, 13:08
From: Don Sutherland (don_sutherland@yahoo.ca)
Anthony Beach was wondering about Autostar power consumption. I made
some measurements on my Autostar handbox to see if running the display
at full brightness would produce enough heat to keep the handbox from
crashing in cold weather (it didn't).

The handbox draws about 90 mA with the display at full brightness and
about 40 mA with the display just legible in room lighting, so cable
length should not be an issue unless the digital signals don't like the
extra capacitance of a long cable.
 
I hope this helps.
 
Don Sutherland

Subject: re: Problem with the LX200GPS
Date: 3/9/04, 23:15
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: D.J.C.Delattre@iaea.org,
For LX200gps problems (or even if you don't have problems)
I highly recommend that you join the LX200gps Yahoo discussion group.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LX200GPS/

The symptom you describe is discussed there (all too) frequently.

It may simply be a loose connector in the telescope base or the
left fork.

You can tell the Autostar to not use the Home Sensor, and it
will still (or should) use the rest of the setup.

good luck
--dick

Subject: re: Meade ETX-125
Date: 3/9/04, 23:06
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: Nlsjwions@aol.com
You wrote in the 22 Feb in  Autostar Feedback:
> no matter which mount I used. ( Polar or Alt ) I can have
> the tripod and scope leveled and pointed at Polaris in the home
> position, for which ever mount I'm using...

Home position for Alt/Az mount is NOT pointed at Polaris.
It is pointed due true north (so "under polaris") but with
the barrel parallel to the ground (so pointing at the horizon).

good luck
--dick

Subject: re: Question about Magnetic Variation and the Autostar
Date: 3/9/04, 22:57
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: william.werner@mhmr.state.tx.us
You asked:
> WHY didn't the software engineers include magnetic variation in their
> subroutines of the program for the autostar??? It would seem that it
> would have been simple enough.... the value inserted in the equation
> could come from the location enetered when the autostar was set up

They did... inside the LX200gps Autostar II.
(they also use a fluxgate magnetic sensor, AND have a lot of
correction-by-showing-Polaris in the firmware)
And it's still far less accurate than locating a "true north" landmark.

What you can do is align as per normal, then tell your telescope
to Utilities > Park Scope [enter].
It will slew to Az=00  Alt=00 and ask to be turned off.

Look through the viewfinder.  If it's pointed at some recognizable
landmark, REMEMBER WHERE WE PARKED (J.T.Kirk, ST-IV).
The next night, point the scope *there* before powering up.
It's "at home".

P.s. by Parking, the scope will not ask to be Aligned the ensuing
power-up.  You can use the keys to get to Setup > Align > Easy
if you wish... or you can just GoTo any Star, and see how well it does.

have fun
--dick

Subject: Re: Fwd: Controlling LXD-55 slew speed with computer
Date: 3/9/04, 21:37
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: Andrew.Amiet@dsto.defence.gov.au
(i have been on a 3-week off-line vacation, am am now back
and catching up on my email)

> Subject: Controlling LXD-55 slew speed with computer
> Date: 2/24/04, 14:11
> From: "Amiet, Andrew"
> I just took collection of an LXD55 SN-6 and I'm going to control it
> using a computer (I have had previous experience controlling an LX-200
> mount). The LXD55 has 9 slew speed settings available on the Autostar
> handset, but it appears that only the fastest two and slowest two are
> available via the RS-232 cable (obviously a hang-up from the LX-200
> where only 4 were possible) using the :Rx command. Does anyone know if
> it possible to get all 9 speeds when controlling the mount with a computer?

You are correct that the 497's coding allows only the four speeds.
Likewise, the :Sw command only allows four values (1->4) which equates
into the same four speeds.

I encourage you to write to engineer@meade.com
(with "497 Autostar firmware enhancement request: more serial speeds" as
the subject.. that gets it routed properly.)
requesting an expansion of the syntax.
Don't ask questions in such a note (beyond "could you please add...?"),
or they'll view it as a customer service message, and not respond properly.

The LX200gps allows full control of both axes via a new command:
:RAnnn.nn# and :REnnn.nn# 

Those commands could be added to the 497's repertoire with little effort
(on their part).

good luck
--dick

Subject: Autostar Update speed control problems
Date: 3/9/04, 15:42
From: Petz2@aol.com
I have become the custodian for my astronomy club's ETX 125.  I also own
an ETX 90.

On Saturday I updated the autostars for both to 3.1 from the Meade site.
 Did not clone.  I did a reset and went through the menu to train the
motors on both. Training went fine.  No problem there.  I'm following
instructions in your book to the letter.

While I do the easy align, the speed control for declination does not
seem to work .  The RA works fine and I use speed control #5.  However
declination seems stuck on 9 (autostar reads 64X), which I never saw on
it before with previous versions of the software .

I am not able to use speeds 1-4 for some reason.  I have attempted to
adjust the ratio to 10 and 15 like the good book says to do.

Any ideas to correct the problem will be appreciated.

Thanks

Steve Petzold
Mike here: If RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN DRIVES doesn't clear it, I suggest redownloading into the Autostar.

Subject: ETX-70AT and the Autostar #497
Date: 3/9/04, 15:33
From: "Lightfoot, Tom" (tlightfoot@dot.state.nv.us)
Thank you for a great site devoted to the ETX user.  I have recently
read on your site that you can use the Autostar #497 HBX and the Meade
LPI.  With that in mind could you use the GPS accessory with the 70AT to
attain a small GPS enabled GOTO scope?

Also, what is the diference between the PC cable #505 and PC cable #506
from Meade?  In the near future I plan on picking up one of the larger
brothers of the ETX family to keep my little 70AT company.

Thanks again for your time and effort,
Tom Lightfoot
Mike here: See the article "Cable #505 vs #506" on the Autostar Info page. Yes, you could use one of the GPS/Autostar devices but keep in mind they only give you the location (and maybe the time, I forget). They really don't provide a full GPS-enabled GOTO system like that of the LX200 GPS.

Subject: ETX 90EC In Alt/Az, following an Easy Align
Date: 3/8/04, 11:20
From: Eric2 (e_orta7@bellsouth.net)
I would first like to thank you for this site. It's great.

I purchased an ETX-90AT which included the Autostar 497 and I had a
couple of questions;

Telescope alignment Easy

1) I noticed that the manual states for me to unlock the Horizontal
lock, turn the scope counterclockwise until it stops. Next turn the
scope clockwise until the fork arm is directly over the computer control
panel and lock the Horizontal axis.
 
1) At what point do I do this?
2) Before I plug in the Autostar?
3) Or do I plug in the Autostar and wait till the menu prompts me for
alignment?
 
I just want to make sure that I do not ruin my gears.
 
Thanks for all your help.
 
E.O.
Mike here: You can do this before or after you plug in the Autostar (just don't plug in the Autostar with the power already on). I usually do it BEFORE I power on, unless I'm redoing the alignment. For more on alignments, see the Autostar Info page.

Subject: Autostar not sidereal tracking any more
Date: 3/6/04, 18:00
From: saiful islam (saif1a@yahoo.com)
I know you're mainly an ETX site, but I wonder if you can help me with a
worrying LX90 problem that's giving me sleepless nights.

The autoguide circuit I built from Bonduelle's design:

http://www.astrosurf.com/astrobond/eblxing4.htm

was powered up and all connected to the LX90 and I was playing with
guiding on a fixed target whilst the LX90 was tracking in sidereal mode.
During testing stage, I couldn't get 'AstroSnap' to keep the drifting
land target in field of view (the red target box in software) with my
Toucam Pro II (non-mod) on the eyepiece. The sidereal rate of the LX90
was drifting the stationary target away slowly. Then it suddenly seemed
to fix on it. However, what had happened is that the scope is no longer
tracking in sidereal mode. Not as I was expecting that the interface is
autoguiding the LX90 motors. The motors are slewing OK when I press the
Autostar buttons, and I suspect the go-to is fine, but RA just refuses
to track sidereal or any rate. Can anyone tell me if I've blown
something or is the tracking signal something in the Autostar which can
be reset somehow ?

I tried Reset, Calibrate and Train as advised for the go-to problems on
the yahoo groups.

Please HELP. Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

Regards,

Saif
Mike here: I don't know if it was changed somehow but check the Setup-->Targets-->Astronomical setting for sidereal rate.

Subject: Re: Dead but ticking Autostar #497 controller
Date: 3/6/04, 07:55
From: Matt Greenwood (matthewgreenwood@hotmail.com)
Thanks for the reply, just a quick update. I recieved a new Autostar
from the suppliers of the telescope two days ago and it seems to be
functioning fine again correctly so i thought i'd let you know in case
anyone else has the same problem. Yet again we had lovely clear nights
while i was waiting for it and now the clouds are back!!!!!
    Thanks again for the advice.

Matt........

Subject: long cable for auto post
Date: 3/6/04, 05:37
From: EWil1779@aol.com
I read Richard's post made about two years ago about lengthening the
autostar cable to the HBX.  Had a question about his wiring diagram. 
Sent an email to him, but guess He thought it was a Spam or something. 
How could I contact him about his wiring diagram?
Thanks,
Emmit Wilson
Mike here: Sorry, the only info I have is what is posted.

Subject: speed
Date: 3/6/04, 05:21
From: spirosvlx (spycron@freemail.gr)
Dear sir   ,    the  informations   that  apear  on the ccd  display  of
the  AYTOSTAR  goes  fast  and  I cant  read them. how  i can  make them
goes  slower     ??  thank you very much.
Mike here: See the FAQ page.

Subject: Not complete autostar update using a MAC!
Date: 3/5/04, 12:34
From: Anke & David (Anke_David@t-online.de)
I try to be brief!

I am a new (two month) owner of a ETX 105. This week I decided to update
my autostar 497 from the german version (27Go) to the last english
version (31Ee) using my MAC:

Computer: Apple PowerBook 17" running MAC OS X 10.2.8 Software: Virtual
PC 6.0 running Windows XP or NT + ASU 3.61 Cable: Keyspan USB PDA
Adapter (Serial adapter RS232 DB9) version USA19 and the original Meade
505 connector cable kit.

Now, here is the result. Everything worked fine except that the
downloading was interrupted with or without error message. This happened
after 7, 10, 20, 50 and up to 80% was transfered. The filling of the
autostar and the EXT out of work made me to ask a friend to use his PC
(Windows 98) to download the file. It was fine!

Any idea?

THANKS for your great site and your TIME and EFFORD! Keep going!

David
Mike here: I've had no problems updating with my PowerBook 17" running VPC 6 w/Win2K and 10.3 (nor with 10.2 before that). I did have problems with earlier Keyspan drivers but the current one works fine. Do check your Windows configuration and be certain that nothing is trying to communicate on the serial port except for the Autostar Update application. One other thought: if you are doing the update with the PowerBook running on battery (which is what I do), set the Energy Saver to highest performance.

Subject: Re: Disappearing Autostar Display & Autostar Power Consumption 
Date: 3/5/04, 06:59
From: Anthony Beach (trbeach@ukonline.co.uk)
As a new ETX 90 user I have with the aid of many useful tips on your
site, overcome many of the initial FAQs on aligment etc.

However, one thing that I can't seem to fix is the Autostar (497 model)
display disappearing after a time if left alone.

Eg. I got home from work, turn on scope (previously parked in polar
ailgnment position from last obsevations). Engage an object for GOTO,
lunar at present, scope finds Moon no problem and tracks relatively
accurately (26mm stock eyepiece).

If I then go and have my tea (as we do in Britain !), if I come back
about 1/2 hour later, scope is still tracking successfully, but Autostar
display is blank. Scope is running on mains adaptor so no shortage of
power.

Have tried all usual things, like press a numeric key first (not ENTER)
just to see if display in fact goes to sleep !? But no response and even
pressing or pressing and holding ENTER or MODE does not get the display
going.

Have I missed something in the manual here ?

Does Autostar turn off the display when tracking the same object for
extended periods of time ? (I could understand this if running on
batteries only).

As a seperate point, do you know hw much mAh power the Autostar consumes
? (I'm planning on making up some extension cables to 150 foot or so).

How do I re-activate the display for GOTOing to another object ?

Excellent and essential site for ETX users.
Your advice or recommendation appreciated.
Sincerely - Anthony Beach.
Mike here: The Autostar has a power-saving mode which it enters when there is no activity on the Autostar itself. It will dim the LCD. Pressing any number key should get the display back. As to its power requirements, there are a couple of articles on the Autostar Info page about external power for the Autostar but they don't mention any requirements.

And:

Thank you for help with regard to display, have discovered this power
saving mode in a small paragraph in the instruction book !

I was wondering about power consumption having tested a 5m length of
CAT5e, (cross over design / sourced from one of your other contributors
on making up longer control cables / thought MEADE would have thought
this would be a good little earner as an accessory !), have found 5m
presents anything up to 1 - 2 ohms resistance, over 100' this could
prove a problem, but I'm prepared to have a go and buy the bits
required.

If successful, I will submit a report as this is probably one of the
most common things people would like to have, especially now MEADE have
brought out the LPI package. I noticed one of your previous articles
with regard to straight through design of MEADE Autostar cable, it is
most definately of a crossover type, (probably to discourage use of
readily available telelphone extensions terminating in RJ45's !), I will
list the components I use as I am only pursing a simple method, the same
applies to using the new autostar LPI software, I expect the RJ11 /
RS232 cable will be far too short no doubt ! However, ready made up to
30m long RS232/RJ11's extenders are already available from
BCF-Astro-engineering in Great Britain. Anyone who wants to explore
their full range of accessories can find them at;

www.astro-engineering.com

Will let you know how I get on. Personal circumstances have stopped me
from getting outside at present (broken leg !), but even through a dirty
patio window, Jupiter, with belt details & 7 moons beautiful in SE sky
at 51 degree / Greenwich Latitude at present.

Your site is rapidly becoming the only place to get quality information
on the ETX, keep it going !

Thanks - Anthony UK

Subject: [Fwd: Question]
Date: 3/4/04, 07:37
From: Alfredo and Nadine (poonboo@ekiva.net)
Could you tell me if the 497 auto-tracking device might compatible with
the telescope I have for sale: Meade ETX-90 EC?  The telescope has the
Autostar.

Thank you...Alfredo
Mike here: I'm not certain you are asking. The Autostar #497 is compatible with the EC models and provides tracking in Alt/Az or Polar mounting modes. If you are asking about the LX90 autoguider, no it is not compatible. By the way, please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page.

Subject: Autostar go to inaccuracy
Date: 3/4/04, 06:26
From: Theodore Solgot (TedS@mosquitomagnet.com)
This is not a unique problem that I have according to all the support I
see in your site relating to go tos, and their accuracy.  Heres what
has been troubleshot so far with specs.

EXT-125

Performed manual reset to Autostar

Calibrated

Trained Drives

ALT/AZ position

(22E) version ROM

Home Position correct and verified. Lat/Long verifiedday light saving
correct

Still after the reset, the startup one or two star alignments are quite
inaccurate.

Is the ROM that far dated that I should update to the latest?

thanks
Mike here: I would definitely recommend updating. But alignments were certainly possible with 2.2E. Read the various alignment tip articles on the Autostar Info page; something you are overlooking might be there.

Subject: Any way to go back to an earlier Autostar version?
Date: 3/2/04, 17:53
From: R&JS (rosenjoe@charter.net)
I upgraded to 31Ee and the "post-beep refinement" is driving me nuts.

Is there any way to downgrade my Autostar to an earlier version, say,
26XXX?

I note that on the Autostar tips page are several patches for various
versions -- are these the full versions that I could download and
overwrite my version 31Ee?

Thanks.

----
Joe Schlatter

Mike here: Yes, you can downgrade. See the "Autostar Software Archive" on the Autostar Info page for most of the prior versions. If you want to apply one of Dick Seymour's patches, you would then apply the corresponding patch to match the Autostar ROM version.

Subject: ETX-70 and Autostar
Date: 3/1/04, 21:27
From: Ralph Smith (felices2@sbcglobal.net)
I just bought a ETX-70 with Autostar last week and have not had a
successful alignment yet. I have trained and calibrated so have moved on
to the alignment. I noticed that every time I power off the Autostar, I
loose the time and date. I have to start all over. Should this be
happening? Also, when aligning, I was told to use polar north, not the
north that the arrow on compass points to, is this correct? Also, when
it asks for Daylight Savings: Yes/No, shouldnt it know by the date if we
are in Daylight Savings or No? That is a little confusing....thanks for
any help you can give. Ralph
Mike here: The date and time are not saved when you power off. You must use True North, not Magnetic North. Some locations could have a difference of up to about 20 degrees. Currently, most locations should answer NO for the Daylight Savings question. When the time changes in the Spring, you answer yes. For alignment tips, see the Autostar Info page.

Subject: Re: Help please with Meade LX 90
Date: 3/1/04, 08:45
From: Paula (cricket258@comcast.net)
Thank you so much for responding Mike!  Yes, I can change the skewing
speed...
Ed
Mike here: Since you can change the speed, we know that the number keys on the keypad work. So if you go through the alignment steps and use a faster speed, does the telescope slew?

And:

Yes, the telescope will slew, just the arrow keys don't work, not
allowing me to align it on a specific area ???    I have contacted Meade
and there seems to be a problem with the internal computer....Sooo, they
have asked that I return the telescope for repair or replacement.  I do
thank you for your time and assistance. It was very frustrating to have
received the telescope only to have a major problem with it!  It will
take up to a month just to get it back!!!   On the bright side, I will
have it when the weather warms up enough to have it out as often as
possible.

Again, thank you for your assistance!!!
 
Ed

Subject: Question about Magnetic Variation and the Autostar
Date: 3/1/04, 06:08
From: "Werner, William J." (william.werner@mhmr.state.tx.us)
I am a pilot and an owner of an ETX90-EC... I am still having alignment
problems, and was wondering if, when you setup the scope in it's home
position, if you have to compensate for the fact that TRUE north is
different than magnetic north... I know in my flying I have to make that
copensation for navagation, etc......

Thanks,

Bill
Mike here: Since the Earth rotates on its axis the telescope has to move to compensate for this rotation. As you know True North, which is aligned with the rotational axis, is not aligned with Magnetic North. Therefore you must use True North, not Magnetic North. See the Autostar Info page for lots of alignment tips.

And:

Thanks for the info.... The problem was that to the north of my very
poor observing site there  is so much light pollution that the stars are
not visible, so I have been using a compass to set my scope to north...
and the thing never did line up right. Then it hit me.... the magnetic
variation!!!! Thats' why I wrote. NOW I'll figure in the variation
(7degrees east) and see what happens....

And:

WHY didn't the software engineers include magnetic variation in their
subroutines of the program for the autostar??? It would seem that it
would have been simple enough.... the value inserted in the equation
could come from the location enetered when the autostar was set up....
Mike here: As to coding for the local magnetic variation, yes, it could be done although like many things in the Autostar it would have to be updated. HOWEVER, you would still have the errors of using a Magnetic Compass around metal or other sources of interference. Hence, using real True North rather than a calculated one is best.

Subject: Not quite alligning properly
Date: 3/1/04, 05:20
From: Lee Johnson (lee10@fsmail.net)
Sorry to bother you again,

Yet again thanks for your last reply it really helped I think I
indenified the star. I am still having difficulty in aligning, however
and I'm not sure what I am doing wrong. I have entered my custom
location in with the requested langtitude and longtitude with the
correct time zone also.

When ready I align it with the tripiod and tube level pointing north at
0 degrees but when I slew to a bright object, say Jupiter it doesn't
appear within the eyepiece, and it doesn't exactly go where I want it to
go, the same applies for the Moon and Saturn.

Do you have any further ideas?
Mike here: Not a bother. Glad to be able to assist. Read through the alignment tips on the Autostar Info page; perhaps something there will stand out as a step you are missing. If nothing there helps, describe in detail all the steps you have taken to get it to work and perhaps I'll be able to guide you.

And:

OK,

Thanks for your advice, I will try to explain to you what I am doing.

My ETX-70AT is on a Tripod and it does not have a Finderscope, just a
eyepiece and the tripod for support. When putting out outside I make
sure I am pointing the tripod north as directed by the compass. This
also applies to the tube of the telescope also pointing north and 0
degrees

Though not exact it is near precise enough for viewing, when done I turn
on the AutoStar and then enter the time and date.

I then align to one star for example I let the EXT-70 slew to Regulus
which is clear, however I miss the object by a several degrees, going
above and then right to the slecged object, so I am close but still too
far away.

By reading the advice you gave me, I use the Alt/Az position. I believe
this may be the problem as the telescope goes above the object. Though
I'm not to sure how to fix this error, as I have entered the right
latitude and longtitude and everything is working fine.

Any further ideas?
Mike here: You said the magic words: "north as directed by the compass". Magnetic North and True North can vary up to about 20 degrees depending upon your location. You need to use True North. If you can see Polaris, use that to indicate where True North is on the horizon.

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