AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 March 2004
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade Autostar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, is covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject: Problems connecting a laptop to a LXD55 and getting Autostar suite working
Date: 3/26/04, 10:53
From: Lankreijer-Kroon (jam.lankreijer@quicknet.nl)
I have read all the relevant entries on your wonderful site and I have
tried all the suggested solutions but nothing did work in my case.

I have a Windows XP laptop without a serial port, so I have to use a USB
to serial bridge cable. I bought one (brand unknown, but certified) in
the local computer shop.

The Meade cable has no official product number so my retailer here in
the Netherlands has an ordering and delivery problem.

When I connect the telescope to the serial port on my desktop PC,
(without the bridge cable), autostar suite works fine. I took the
opportunity to update autostar to version 3.1E.

However, when the telescope is connected to my laptop, autostar is not
recognized.

The ASU automatic search option does not find a COMport, although my
laptop says that the virtual serial connection is working fine.

When I use the 'test com.port' option in Autostar suite, I do get
replies but nothing more.

These findings give me the impression that the bridge cable is the
problem.

Or am I missing something ?

Is my problem solved with the official Meade cable ?

Am I facing a hardware or a software problem ?

Can a software problem be solved with a downloadable patch ?

Thanks for the possible suggestions,

Jos Lankreijer
Mike here: Did the USB converter have a driver? All the ones I've seen require them. I've used the Keyspan USB-serial converter with its driver on my Macintosh and it works fine to communicate with the Autostar.

Subject: Initializing Remote Handbox
Date: 3/26/04, 08:38
From: n01sci2 (Webmaster@101science.com)
I finally got Autosuite's Remote Handbox to work - that is to show the
Autostar Tree in the left window - using a serial COM port.  This only
happened after I upgraded the Autostar to version 30Eb from my original
version 26ec.  Funny thing there was 30Eb was on my hard drive and I
could not get to the WWW site so I just used 30Eb on my hard drive.  I
don't know how it got there.  Now on to my problem.

I went into menu Telescope, Communications Start Network Server.  The
next window come up saying scope port 1, dome port 2, and network port
5401. Status is saying idle.  In Windows XP I went to START, settings,
network connections, Local Area Network 2 support tab, and I see an IP
address of 192.168.0.100 so I assume this is my computers IP address? 
Yes/No? Then back to the menu Telescope, protocol, Remote Handbox
window.  There I set the IP address to 192.168.0.100 (the default
address that was in the window would not work).  Now I check the connect
box and immediately get a connect forcefully rejected error message.  I
now go to the Net Scope window and check the LISTEN box. It says it is
listening on 5401.  Now back in the Autostar Remote handbox window I
check the connect box.  Net Scope now says it is connected to
192.168.0.100 and in the Remote Handbox window on the left it say
Austostar Menu and the word Initializing is in the top log window.  But
nothing else happens.  I use the real handbox keys to try to get it to
respond like it did when using the COM port but nothing happens.

Any ideas?  Am I still using the wrong IP address?  Where exactly can I
get the right one?

Larry
Mike here: First off, I suggest updating to 3.1Ee from Meade's web site. The older version could even be the source of the problem. You might also want to read my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page; I mention some similar problems that I had when I first used the Suite.

And an update:

After 6 hours of working with this problem I got it figured out.  My
Autostar is on COM Port 2 of my computer.  Therefore in the Net Scope
window the "Telescope" port must be set to "2" to match my COM port in
use in my case.  Now I am connected using the network just fine.  They
should relabel the Telescope Port to - Telescope COM Port - in my opinon
as this would have saved me 6 hours of struggling.

Anyway now I can try again to get some LPI pictures.  I agree with you
and others here that they need to provide some sort of zoom capability
with the LPI camera to get in the ballpark first instead of such high
fixed focal length.

Thanks again for you site ant all the help on it.

Larry Dodd

ledodd@bellsouth.net
And more:
Yes I did get it to find the updater on the WWW so I am at 31Ee now. 
Your article was VERY helpful for sure to help me step through it all. 
By the way you mentioned that you wished it would slew slower and it
will if you set the slider marked "Slew Rate" on the virtual remote
handbox but I imagine you know that already now.  Only thing I don't
like about the network set up is one you mentioned in your article that
you can't  use the starmap to point to things as that feature is grayed
out in a network configuration for some strange reason.  Perhaps the
thought was if multiple users were all trying to move the scope at the
same time might be a mix-up. This should have an override though for one
operator control but doesn't. Switching back to COM port sometimes won't
work until you close everything and start over.  Hope they work on the
software and improve it soon.

Thanks again.

Larry Dodd 

Subject: re: LPI an an ETX autoguider
Date: 3/25/04, 22:06
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: dave_mason@totalise.co.uk
Mike wrote:
> The Autostar "tracks" the sky; the LPI doesn't by itself.
> So, yes, you need the Autoguiding capability,
> which the ETX/Autostar doesn't have.

I must respectfully disagree... when you use the Autostar Suite
between your LPI and the Autostar, it will happily Autoguide.

If you run the normal Meade firmware in your Autostar,
Autoguiding will only work in POLAR mode.

If you apply my patch31e4 patch kit, that restriction
is removed, and it will Autoguide in Alt/Az, too.
This is telescope-model independent, so you can Autoguide
ETX's, DS's, LXD's, 4504's and LX90s.

The LPI/AutostarSuite accomplish their Autoguiding function
by means of new instructions Meade added to the serial command
repitoire of the Autostar.  Therefore you need to be running
firmware version 30Eb or newer.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick. I stand corrected!

And:

Actually, you may get to sit down...

Let me actually -test- this (i seem to remember hitting
a "it didn't work" at one point, but that may have been
the non-Polar factor)

This will take a day or so to sort out (i don't have stars)

have fun
--dick 
And:
I look forward to hearing the results of your tests......

Thankyou both for your input. I had another question that arose today -
do you know why the '70' has a 9 speed drive control but the bigger
scopes only have 4? I would have thought the other way round would make
more sense, given that higher magnification needs more sensitive
control. An effort to keep costs down perhaps?

Regards,

Dave 
And this:
Your funamental premise is incorrect, or based upon partial info:

The little default handcontroller (which came with ETX90's) can only do
4 speeds.  I think the 494 Autostar might also have a 4-speed limit.

The 497 Autostar can command 9 speeds from the keypad. It will do that
to all models of telescope.

The telescope motors themselves are capable of over 200 discrete speeds.
 Again, that's all models.  The ETX70 to the LX90.  The biggest models
(LX90) cannot go as fast at "full speed" as the smaller scopes, but
we're talking 6 degrees per second versus 8 degrees per second. All
models are capable of 3 degrees per second.

have fun
--dick
And:
Heh Heh, my newbie status making itself apparent once again! ;o)

Thanks for the feedback.

Regards,

Dave 

Subject: LPI an an ETX autoguider
Date: 3/25/04, 13:44
From: David Mason (dave_mason@totalise.co.uk)
I have been reading your LPI pages with great interest, as I am
considering an etx-125 or 105 in the near future. I am a little confused
- after reading the LPI manual, I had the impression that you could use
the LPI as an autoguider, as the software tracks your image and sends
info back out to the autostar via the cable. However, I noticed that you
gave a reply to Jim Beston on 6/3/2004 where you said 'Autoguiding
requires an Autoguider. None available for the ETX.' (AutoStar suite
User Feedback page).

Does this mean that the software only tracks objects as long as they
remain within the telescope's field of vision?, or just that the
autoguider part of the software only works with other telescopes such as
the LX200? I was thinking of using the LPI as an autoguider and
piggybacking a camera for long-exposure widefield shots. I would be
interested if you have any info on the exact autoguiding capabilities of
the LPI with Autostar suite for the 105 or 125.

Thanks for any help you might be able to provide - your site has proved
hugely helpful to me already and I appreciate your work.

Warm regards,
 
Dave
Mike here: The Autostar "tracks" the sky; the LPI doesn't by itself. So, yes, you need the Autoguiding capability, which the ETX/Autostar doesn't have.

Subject: ETX and Meade LPI question
Date: 3/21/04, 15:30
From: David Ryle (davidr@wf.net)
I am wondering if the Meade LPI can be used as an autoguider for the
ETX90EC with Autostar?
 
Thanks for a wonderful website!
 
-David Ryle
Mike here: Not currently.

Subject: Re: Meade LPI
Date: 3/19/04, 21:43
From: Dave Kutay (dk1@comcast.net)
still confused if one connects to the telescope from the computer what
is the other one for?
Mike here: If you have an Autostar II, use the LX200 cable. If you have an Autostar #497, use its cable.

And:

hey thanks for the info. i did not know the Autostar was a controler i
thought it was part of the software.didnot make much sence to me.
thanks again
dave kutay

Subject: Meade LPI
Date: 3/19/04, 19:30
From: Dave Kutay (dk1@comcast.net)
hi ive been trying to find someone to help with a quesstion about the
Meade LPI it comes with two cables that look like a phone line one is
flat looking and the other is round could you tell me what the
difference between the two are any help would be greet trying to get
intouch with meade but they dont reply.
 
thanks for your time dave kutay
Astrophotography by Dave Kutay http://dave_kutay.tripod.com/
Mike here: As described in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page, the cables are a a LX200 Serial Cable and a #497 Autostar Serial Cable.

Subject: LPI Autostar suite
Date: 3/12/04, 15:27
From: Jim Beston (james.beston@btinternet.com)
Can't seem to get the remote handbox function to work. Have made sure no
other communications are open ("none" selected in the protocol). On
selecting Remote hand box and checking the connect box "initializing"
appears and nothing further happens??

Any ideas??

Thanks once more

Jim
Mike here: As I discussed in my article on "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page, "When I first brought up the Remote Handbox it would not connect to the Autostar. Oops, the Autostar Suite still had the comm port. This Remote Handbox is a separate Windows application so it was necessary to disconnect the Autostar Suite application from the Autostar before using the Remote Handbox application. Once that was done I was able to use the Remote Handbox..." Could this the problem you are having?

And:

I was aware of your article Mike.

Updating the Autostar software version (from 26E I think) to 31Ee has
solved the problem.

It is now 18:30 hrs in the UK, the skies are (for once) clear so, once
I've let a rather large dinner digest a bit I'm off out to see what I
can see here by the sea! (Feeble joke!).

Thanks for all your help Mike, you're a Star!

Jim 

Subject: Using Autostar suite for PC to ETX connection
Date: 3/6/04, 12:15
From: Jim Beston (james.beston@btinternet.com)
Having just had some success with astrophotography using the LPI Imager,
I am now trying to set up control of my ETX 105 from my Laptop. The
laptop has various connections, the most obvious of which to use is the
LAN which I think is an RS232 socket having 6 connectors

It appears that I need to connect the laptop LAN socket to the Hand box,
the available connection on this is another RS232 type but has only 4
connectors.

The LPI comes with two RS232 type cables one having two 6-"pin"
connectors and the other 4 "pin".

I'm totally confused. Obviously I nees some sort of an adaptor. Can you
advise please?

Grateful thanks,

Jim
Mike here: The #505 cable supplied with the Suite connects to a serial port on the computer, not the LAN (ethernet) port. The supplied adapter has a DB-9 connector. If your computer has only USB then you will need a USB-serial converter (hardware and software).

And:

Obliged Mike,

My Laptop has USB, parallell, firewire, LAN, Modem and WiFi but no
serial comnnection. I can connect from the Autostar handbox direct to
the modem where the phone line would go. I thought this would do it as
there is an option in the autostar suite to connect via a modem.
Obviously I doesn't mean what I think it does.!  I'm suprised Meade does
not supply the USB connection it would save a lot of problems. I bet the
converter costs an arm and a leg!!

Thanks

Jim 
Mike here: Belkin, Keyspan, and Meade have USB converters. I use a Keyspan one with my Macintosh. And no, you can't connect to the modem port; that expects to talk to a telephone.

And:

... To see if I can test the guiding of my ETX 105, I've just installed
the Autostar suite on my desktop PC which has a serial port. I have used
the supplied cable which fits into the Autostar handbox and the adapter.
I note that the adapter has six contacts on the cable side but the cable
connector has only four. On trying to set up the connection in the
software using the "Autostar via comm port " option I get the error
report "Invalid ACK response from LX200" I really would like to assure
myself that the guiding works before I purchase the serial to USB
converter (40) to use the suite on my lap top! Can you advise again
please?
Thanks & regards
 
Jim
Mike here: Autoguiding requires an Autoguider. None available for the ETX.

And an update:

Its working Mike: All I did was turn off the telescope and then back on
again. Off it went - nist have initialised itself!

Pity about having to buy an adapter for my Laptop thopugh.
Mike here: Sounds like you got the comm going.

Subject: suite
Date: 3/4/04, 05:55
From: spirosvlx (spycron@freemail.gr)
thanks first. I recently received the autostarSuite  and  dowload  the
manual  from meade   site.this is not the same with the manual  the cd  
has. new manual version from meade site{ 3.12}  says that ......at
starmap section the  viewpoint  allows me tochange the possition in the
sky. THIS command there is not in the program  the cd Ihave.I upgrated
the program but the problem is still here. any  suggestions????
Mike here: Yes, that function is not there. The manual is wrong.

Subject: ETX-70AT question
Date: 3/2/04, 10:45
From: Alan_Brittain@cargill.com
Do you know if the Etx-70 can be updated so it will run with the
autostar suite?  I purchased the autostar suite this winter and updated
my LX200GPS 10", and it works great.  But I was just wondering if the
Etx70 will work the same way.  I hooked the laptop up to it one day,
just for fun. But it behaved about the same way as the LX did without
the update that is needed.  If you know thanks!

    Alan Brittain
Mike here: The Autostar Suite will work with the #497 Autostar, so you would need that instead of the standard #494 Autostar.

And:

Can the #497 Autostar work with the Etx70at, and can I buy it?
Mike here: Yes and Yes.

And:

Sorry to bother you again, do I need to contact meade for this or can I
buy the #497 from oceanside photo and telescope? Can you tell me who to
talk to about this.   By the way thanks, you have been a big help.
Mike here: Dealers sell the Autostar #497 so OPT should have them. Here's the direct link on their website:
www.optcorp.com/cart/ProductDetail.asp?PR_ProductID=792

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