Last updated: 28 March 2005
Subject: entering co ordinates Sent: Monday, March 28, 2005 13:51:14 From: john reidy (firstname.lastname@example.org) just bought the etx90at in the states, and brought it home to ireland, the only city it shows in the autostar #497 is dublin, which is 200 miles from me, question, can i manually enter my co ordinates, thanks for all your help johnMike here: Yes, you can. See the article "Entering Longitude" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Meade USB to RS-232 bridge cable. Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2005 19:17:36 From: Dale Smolik (email@example.com) I have just purchased a ETX-125, and I would like my laptop to control the scope. Can I buy any USB to RS-232 bridge cable, which I can get for about $20 or do I have to purchase the cable produced by Meade. ThanksMike here: Most any adapter could work. You will likely need software (like a driver) to handle the conversion. Belkin and Keyspan are two reliable sources of the adapter. I use a Keyspan one on my Macintosh.
Subject: RE: Autostar Alignment Troubles Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2005 17:56:22 From: D Haines (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you for the suggestions. Due to bad skies and work/family I've only been able to get the scope out a couple of times. I've done the Calibrate Motors and Train Drives now on a couple of times on different nights with the same results. I've also verified that it is set to the EXT-90 model. Interesting enough, I tried again tonight (3rd time since my email), and when I went for the easy alignment it went for Sirius, but it then spun around nearly 400deg until it hit the stops! I shut off tried again, same result. I then thought maybe I have my home position backward, so I flipped the tripod around 180deg, set to north, and tried again. It still spun all the way around and then some till it hit the stops. Should I do fail-safe-reset of the Autostar and try again, or is there something else I'm missing?Mike here: Yes, try the RESET.
Subject: Longitude ! Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2005 06:47:05 From: Pipex (email@example.com) Could you please help me with some advice concerning my 497 Autostar, the problem sounds quite simple but I have tried and tried to enter my Longitude into the Autostar with no success ! My Longitude is -3.315 the Autostar will let me enter 3.315 but not -3.315, is there any way around this that you know of ? And does the " - " actually make any difference ? Any advice would be appreciated. Chris LordMike here: Yes, it will matter. See the article "Entering Longitude" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Strange rubber-banding Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 16:56:59 From: Mike Snowden (firstname.lastname@example.org) Last night, we were at friends, and the seeing was excellent. I'd taken the ETX-105 plus assorted gubbins, to try and take some decent DSI shots of Jupiter and Saturn, but failed completely. The main problem seemed to be a form of rubber-banding I hadn't seen before. I was using a 25mm reticule to try and get the alignment right on. After finding a target, a few seconds later, the image would slew horizontally from right to left across the lens, approximately one third of the FOV without moving my eye. I tried approaching from either side, and the same thing happened regardless. The scope is mounted Alt-Az. Pretty much per http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx_tuneup3.html, I tried "Calibrate", wind the correction percentages down, "train motors", then the effect of setting the percentage up and down. Nothing seemed to work On some occasions, the movement when recentring almost it was starting diagonally. The alignment setup seemed right - slewing from Jupiter to Saturn was spot on, but the "drift" after centring the target meant I couldn't get the planet onto the DSI reliably. I then slackened everything off, turned the scope from stop to stop and up and down a few times - and the same effect happened after realignment, Any ideas? MikeMike here: Sounds like you did everything but one last possible cure. Whenever the CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES do not fix any Autostar oddities, doing a RESET and then CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES should help. Also, be certain the correct ETX model and mounting mode is selected.
I was loath to do a reset, as I have several custom locations in (including where I was), and this has appeared since the last observation session, which was fine. Model and mount are correct. Rubber-banding, I have seen many times before, but a consistent step to one side, regardless of which side the target was approached from, that is new to me, as was a diagonal shift during fine adjustment on one axis only. I'll try a reset, but it's definitely odd... Mike
Subject: AutoStar freezing up Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 15:41:25 From: JAMES BESTON (email@example.com) I have some problems that I hope you can help me with: When I am doing an alignment with my Autostar, fitted to my LX200GPS, and I have to change the selected stars to avoid buildings I find that the AutoStar freezes after several changes. It appears to do this whenever the star "Dubhne" is selected (but I'm not absolutely certain it is only this star). The AutoStar says it is slewing but nothing happens and all the keys are unresponsive - I have to switch off and start again. I have also noted that when going through the auto alignment recently the 1st star selected for alignment is way, way out from the finderscope even for the circular search. I have my location set correctly and I suppose that, since here in the UK we use Daylight Saving Time, this should allways be set as "Yes" on the Autostar - Anyway I thought that this was set automatically with GPS? Incidently I couldn't get a GPS fix tonight. This is the first time this has happened, the sensor was not at all covered. Do you happen to know if this can happen or should I suspect a fault? Sorry for all the questions I hope you are able to help even though the problems are not with my ETX!! Best Regards, JimAnd from our Autostar expert:
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) >When I am doing an alignment with my Autostar, fitted to my LX200GPS, >and I have to change the selected stars to avoid buildings I find that the >AutoStar freezes after several changes. It appears to do this whenever >the star "Dubhne" is selected (but I'm not absolutely certain it is only >this star). The AutoStar says it is slewing but nothing happens and all >the keys are unresponsive - I have to switch off and start again. Which version of firmware? In one of the recent ones (but not the newest: 3.0i) i think you only had 10 chances during Auto/Easy align. Once you reach the 10th, it "loops" there on that final star. The newest version lets you use the scroll-UP key to revisit previously- skipped choices. Polar or Alt/Az? (from your later comments, it must be Alt/Az) I'd certainly recommend that you switch to using Two-Star align, since that lets you -specify- the stars, rather than taking the Autostar's "pot luck" (its choice algorithm is "brightest" (plus a bit of where-are-they)) >I have also noted that when going through the auto alignment recently the >1st star selected for alignment is way, way out from the finderscope even >for the circular search. I have my location set correctly and I suppose >that, since here in the UK we use Daylight Saving Time, this should allways >be set as "Yes" on the Autostar - Anyway I thought that this was set >automatically with GPS? No... "Daylight" should be "No" when your wristwatch is NOT showing DST, and "Yes" when it is. By having it set to "yes", the Autostar is adding an extra hour to the data it's getting from the satellites. Result: 15 degree error on the initial slews. You also want to perform a Calibrate Sensors to improve initial Auto Align accuracy. >Incidently I couldn't get a GPS fix tonight. This is the first time >this has happened, the sensor was not at all covered. >Do you happen to know if this can happen or should I suspect a fault? The GPS satellites move.. there are times when i cannot get a Fix in the full ten minute timeout, whereas usually i get a fix in 3 asterisks. (15 seconds). As the sun sets later in the evening, -you- are using the system at different "times" in the satellites' orbits. Hence the "viewing" appears to change. It'll get better again, just have patience (or try again 30 minutes later). have fun --dickAnd:
Gentlemen, Thank you for your, as ever, prompt and informative reply. The version of firmware that I have is 3.0i If I remember corrrectly the Autostar froze on the fourth or fifth star selection. I will try the two star alignment procedure the next time I can see the night sky - It seems we have only had half-a-dozen clear nights here in the SE UK since I bought the LX 200 in October!. I should have realised about the Daylight saving time, the trouble is with all the features of the LX with auto leveling, auto north and GPS it is easy to think that all you have to do is switch it on, wait and then "Bingo" the target is dead centre. I'll see if I can improve things on my next outing but since it is Easter we can expect 10/10 cloud for a few weeks! Thanks again. Jim
Subject: Re: Trouble with Autostar 497 Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 00:40:36 From: Marco Bensi (email@example.com) Mike said: > You need to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD (also known as FLASH LOAD) > mode. I Try... Tank you very very much Mike ...you are the very friend !! Marco BensiAnd an update:
You Are Great !! I reinstall all data ...it'is all Ok !! Tanks Marco Bensi
Subject: Trouble with Autostar 497 Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 13:38:45 From: Marco Bensi (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sorry for my very bad english... today I transfer the new Tour from PC to Autostar. When the autostar display " non turn off ..downloadin data"...for many time !! After 5 minute I turn Off ETX and turn on immediately... The Autostar display nothing....Is Dead !! I can re-send data of software but the COM can't open the connect to Autostar. Can You Help Me ?? Thanks Marco Bensi Latina Italy email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: You need to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD (also known as FLASH LOAD) mode. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on. Launch the Updater Application; it will detect that the Autostar is in this mode and you will be able to redownload the Autostar software to the Autostar.
Subject: re: Oracle.. i have to ask... Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2005 21:18:51 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) In the photos of Oracle, you say: >I had a pretty good night with the LXD55-8"SC w/UHTC. >I initially had a problem with the GOTOs but that turned >out to be my error in the Daylight Saving setting >(Oracle doesn't change). Once I got that solved, GOTOs were pretty good. Ummm... at this time of year for the northern hemi, -everyone- should be answering "No" to the Daylight question. Even at your current home. If Oracle doesn't change, that means you'll always be answering "No", have fun --dickMike here: Yep, it was my error. NO was the correct answer.
What i totally failed to convey was the question: are you telling your scope "yes" -now- in California? (since you shouldn't be, yet) happy equinox... have fun --dickMike here: No, I'm telling the Autostar NO since we are PST right now.
Subject: ETX/Autostar control questions Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 20:12:36 From: Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've been enjoying your ETX website for a while, and I've run out of ideas on a couple of items. I'm hoping you can help 1) I am writing an Autostar #497 interface program for the PC that I plan to make available to anyone interested, and I've had problems with a handful of the interface commands. I haven't been able to locate any implementation details or sample code to show what I might be doing wrong. Can you point me to any info on your site that addresses this? 2) I'm trying to locate a mapping of the Autostar object database, for example, Object #123 = Star ___, or Capella = Object #___. Are you aware of any published mapping that might let me fill in the blanks as shown? Thanks for your time and assistance, Steve BygrenMike here: The article "LX200 Commands and Autostar" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page might help. As to a mapping, don't recall that. But our resident Autostar expert responds:
From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) >1) I am writing an Autostar #497 interface program for the PC >that I plan to make available to anyone interested, and I've had >problems with a handful of the interface commands. Can you provide specific examples? I can't guess which "handful" you're having troubles with. Most, if not all, of the library-accessing commands in the Classic list do not work with Autostars. >I haven't been >able to locate any implementation details or sample code to show what >I might be doing wrong. Can you point me to any info on your site >that addresses this? http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html discusses talking to it with hyperterminal, but only shows :GC# as an example. >2) I'm trying to locate a mapping of the Autostar object >database, for example, Object #123 = Star ___, or Capella = Object >#___. Are you aware of any published mapping that might let me fill >in the blanks as shown? That "object number" mapping is how the Classic LX200 dealt with the database. It is no longer germaine for the Autostar. Stars are indexed by SAO number (497 Autostar) or HIP (Autostar II) NGC and IC are the indicies into the 497's DSO list. In the actual memory layout of the Autostars, you -could- work out an offset number to reach entries, but it would change whenever Meade did a trivial update to the database. For the Autostar, accessing via SAO or NGC is the way to go. ----------------- :LoD# Select deep sky Library where D specifices 0 - Objects CNGC / NGC in Autostar & LX200GPS 1 - Objects IC 2 UGC 3 Caldwell (Autostar & LX200GPS) 4 Arp (LX200 GPS) 5 Abell (LX200 GPS) Returns: 1 Catalog available 0 Catalog Not found LX200GPS & AutoStar Performs no function always returns "1" :LsD# Select star catalog D, an ASCII integer where D specifies: 0 STAR library (Not supported on Autostar I & II) 1 SAO library 2 GCVS library 3 Hipparcos (Autostar I & 2) 4 HR (Autostar I & 2) 5 HD (Autostar I & 2) Returns: 1 Catalog Available 2 Catalog Not Found :LSNNNN# Select star NNNN as the current target object from the currently selected catalog Returns: Nothing -------------------- The way those are -supposed- to work is: (spaces for clarity) :Ls1# :LS308# :MS# Select SAO catalog, select SAO 308. (Polaris) GoTo it. However, the 497 Autostar pretty much ignores the :L commands. ------------------------ Overall, i think Meade's view is: if you're connected to a PC, the PC is going to be able to determine an objects RA/Dec, so let the PC send the RA/Dec, why bother with catalogs? have fun --dick
Subject: re; Autostar alignment troubles Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 12:51:18 From: Flundberg77@wmconnect.com (Flundberg77@wmconnect.com) I suspect that D Haines troubles may have been caused by having the telescope model changed in his Autostar. I had this happen to me once and observed the same kind of problems.
Subject: Autostar 'mis-alignment' can be calculated? Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 12:05:02 From: Lisette (Lisette.Edgarsson@telia.com) I hold a ETX-125EC and it is a great scope. However I live close to the Polar Circle (64 45 00 North +20 55 00 East)and as an engineer I fully understand that directions at my position can be miscalculated when the scope set itself vertical to find the object. My question is: Any idea of quantification of this 'mis-alignment'? Good to know when searching vague objects in Deep Sky. E.g. last Saturday I was aiming for the Owl Nebulosa but got M107 in the eyepiece. Assumption is of course that I have a fairly decent alignment from start. Best regards, Lisette EdgarssonMike here: Near the celestial poles, the lines of RA get closer together, and so any error in the initial alignment will be compounded (by an amount determined by the error in the initial DRIVE TRAINING and the alignment). Don't know if those variables can be easily quantified. However, you can overcome this by using HIGH PRECISION in the Autostar or using the SYNC function.
Subject: re: Slewing+++ Well, no Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 22:23:24 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hate to say it, but yours are the -classic- symptoms of simply failing to tap [enter] before tapping [goto] for a target. If it didn't say Saturn or Mizar on the -top- line of the display, they weren't truly selected. (this is even on the Meade FAQ) have fun --dickAnd:
From: Cussons (email@example.com) I have had problems with the power supply cable for my 'power station' so was testing battery power for the first time - I didn't think to recalibrate -can't do any harm. However I do accept that I may have been over concentrating on one problem and induced 'driver error' in another area! Thanks for the web site - I gained enough information from it to convince me to buy an ETX ( woops - Christmas present from husband). Many thanks Stephanie Cussons, London
Subject: Autostar Alignment Troubles Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 09:38:57 From: D Haines (firstname.lastname@example.org) Im nearly at my wits end. I cannot get my ETX-90 Autostar to align. I usually use the Easy alt-atz, and have no problems. But it is now -way- off, the alignment stars it slews too are several viewfinders away. Let me start from the beginning. Back in late December or early January, I upgraded Autostar to 33Ef and added comet Machholz. That night everything went well and Autostar took me right to everything, even Machholz. So I figured the new firmware and update went fine. The next time I took out the scope, I put the scope in the usual home position using my usual landmarks. The telescope start slewing and then stopped. I looked at the controller and the characters where all jumbled. I figured the batteries where really low and being affected by the extreme cold (just a few degrees above 0F). I tried some other batteries I gathered from various electronics around the house, and had the same results and gave up that night, figuring I needed new batteries on such a cold night. A few weeks later, I had some fresh batteries and clear night. No more jumbled characters. I took out the scope and put it in the usual home position, but the first alignment star was way off. I centered it and went to the next. It to was way off, so I centered it and I got the alignment failed error. I tried again and again for at least two hours with no success. I gave up and figured something was goofy and Ill try again another night. A few weeks later, I tried again with the same result. This time, I have tripled checked the date, time, and location to make sure nothing was wrong. Everything was entered ok, but I still couldnt align. The alignment stars where still nowhere close to where autostar said they should be. I have just finished updating the firmware again, and will try again tonight. I do have hope, Autostar is telling me that Moonrise is at 8:40 AM and set at 11:10PM today, and the Sky & Telescope almanac for my location (the lat/longs are the same as the autostar) say 8:43AM rise and 11:08PM for set. Heres my checklist Ive come up with. Is there anything else I should look into if I still cant get it to work? _ Pointed north _ Level _ Date & Time _ Location _ Batteries _ Firmware _ Compare rise/set times with another sourceMike here: Sounds like the Autostar memory was corrupted by the failing batteries. Good checklist. But keep in mind that when changing power sources, even when changing to fresh batteries (or even using getting weaker ones!), do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject: Slewing+++ Well, no Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 01:00:16 From: Cussons (email@example.com) Last night major frustration. I thought I would start my observing with my ETX105 with Jupiter ands Saturn before getting down to my planned programme. So: Initialise OK 2 star Align OK Go to Jupiter - very pretty Go to Saturn, slewing... But, no actually, the scope wasn't moving at all. SO; Reposition and lock off securely Reinitialise OK Realign OK Go to Saturn OK Go to Jupiter OK Go to Mizar, slewing...beep. No - no movement although Autostar was happily thinking it was looking at Ursa Major, the telescope is still looking at Jupiter. Any ideas? It was pretty cold, about -3degrees C but I can't see how cold would cause this effect. I have had some dodgy aligns in the past when it has told me an object was in completely the wrong place but it still knew where it was and got the next object right. Grateful for any ideas. Stephanie Cussons LondonMike here: You didn't specify whether you were using batteries or AC. Battery efficiency is dramatically affected by low temperatures. Doing a CALIBRATE MOTORS may be all that it is required. One other possibility: the lubrication can stiffen up at low temperatures. You can loosen it by unlocking the axes and moving the OTA back and forth several times by hand.
Subject: 180tooth gear Sent: Friday, March 11, 2005 15:42:13 From: George Giesen (firstname.lastname@example.org) yes i am confused. Is there a patch to allow a fork mounted scope(homemade) using autostar to operate just like etx90,that is what i use when i do two star alighnment , the only difference is i am using 180 tooth worm gear and ds motors. My scope is not a lxd or is it a 4504/114.I tried using lxd 8sct and it doesnt operate right when i do a two star alighnment or calibrate motors. I did change ratios for the 180 gear under etx90,but the train pec takes 24 minutes.
Subject: re: correct time Sent: Friday, March 11, 2005 07:42:30 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) Alternate sources for "the correct time" are: Local radio stations' "beep" at the top of the hour http://www.time.gov (click on the "UTC" choice if you're not in the US) Shortwave radio: 5, 10.000, 15, 25 MHz (and others) in the US, other countries have their own broadcast time standards (CHU in Canada, i forget the freq) have fun --dick
Subject: correct time Sent: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 17:11:32 From: Barb & Marty (firstname.lastname@example.org) Owning a so called atomic clock it appears to be 2 minutes + faster than the local time. A friend has one also and the time difference is the same. Should I use clock's time or local time. Living in Cleveland, Ohio. does it make a difference setting the scope I have ETX-125. Probably a stupid question. ThanksMike here: The atomic clock should be showing accurate local time. Banks and the telephone companies may have different times. A couple of minutes won't matter that much for most objects in the sky (except for earth orbiting satellites).
Subject: training drives Sent: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 11:49:20 From: Richard Guerra (Rich.Guerra@asml.com) Rushing to beat the clouds to do a little DSI imaging the other night, I remembered that I had replaced the batteries that afternoon. So, when I got out I did a reset-calibrate-train routine. I used a streetlamp some distance away as a terrestrial target. HOWEVER, I forgot to set TARGETS to TERRESTRIAL! Gotos were initially okay, and visually there was a little drift, but I attributed that to a hasty set up. Anyway, I started taking images of M51 with the DSI set to 30 seconds exposure. What a mess! Stars trailing visibly in RA between exposures when summed. Ugly result. I was fighting clouds so I forced the issue and dropped to 15 second exposures. I ended up with 18 usable frames. By then the clouds were in and I went inside. What I assume happened was, the mount was happily driving in the sideral direction while I was training. So in effect, I was adding the sidereal rate to the moves in one direction. So when I tried to track M51, it didn't move in RA properly when I moved the arrow keys. If I get some clear nights I will train properly and try the 30 seconds exposures again. RichMike here: There is no tracking during the TRAIN DRIVES operation. You can leave the Autostar set for Astronomical.
Great info! Thanks. Now I really have to figure out why I was driving at 2x sidereal! Rich
Subject: Re: etx 90 help Sent: Wednesday, March 2, 2005 01:54:42 From: Bryan (email@example.com) Hi Mike . Thanks very much for the prompt reply and help.I recalibrated the motors ,and then trained the drives as you said ,and all seems to work fine now .However I'm yet to try it out at night as still awaiting a clear night .I will let you know how I get on. Once again ,many thanks Cheers Bryan
Subject: Linux version of my updater Sent: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 11:32:18 From: Rodolphe Pineau (firstname.lastname@example.org) I just release a command line version of my autostar updater for Linux so you might want to mention it on your mighty website. http://www.rti-zone.org/lin_autostar.php Regards, Rodolphe -- | Rodolphe Pineau RTI-Zone | | http://www.rti-zone.org/ | | Robotics / Unix / Mac OS X / Astronomy |
Subject: Re: Autostar alignment error Sent: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 01:07:52 From: Gary Hayden (email@example.com) Cheers. Great site, and great personal service, Mike. Much appreciated. Gaz
Subject: Rosetta flyby ephemerides for ETX Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 22:31:43 From: Duncan Rosie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Is anyone calculating/posting ephemerides that can be uploaded to the ETX handbox for the Rosetta satellite flyby (visible from Europe and Africa on Friday night? ESA are running a photo competition on this and decent ephemerides would make it a cinch (assuming everything else, including the weather, plays along). Regards, Duncan Rosie
Subject: LST times Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 20:38:31 From: Frank George (email@example.com) Do you remember the e-mail conversation about my 90PE and we talked a little about the LST time being off some few hours in it, if you remember? Well to make a long story short I still have that 90PE but I got aperture fever and went ahead and bought myself a 125AT setup to go with it and let me say that my first GOTO from it was a centering to Saturn dead on in the center of the eyepiece! But let me tell you the story after getting off on this tangent. I had ROM 31E in the 125's Auto Star I believe and I did some playing around with it checking out differences and all, especially the LST time which was correct for the time I entered. I finally decided to update the ROM to the newest 33EF and after I did it, low and behold I did some checking and the LST time was off on it now after setting the time in it, just like the 90PE 's was when I checked it was almost to the minute. So the LST time difference error is induced by Meade's ROM update but why?? FrankMike here: I haven't seen any reports of this problem with 3.3Ef.
Well I have set the time in the 125's autostar 11:19pm and the LST time is 13:54 both autostars read the same now! Should read 10:14 and it is now 11:26pm. So can you tell me why this is like that? Thanx FrankMike here: Go to a star on your local meridian; what is its Right Ascension? Is it correctly shown in the Autostar display?
I am sorry I think I am just talking about something that really doesn't amount to a hill of beans in all reality!! But I will check and tell you that! I have not had any GOTO problems though with either of these scopes except the 90PE seems a little flaky at times on an auto align. It just seems like whoever wrote the update (which in computer terms would be a bios update to the ROM) set the calculation for the LST to California and made it where it wouldn't change when you put your local time into the AutoStar. That is all I am trying to say. Thanks for listening to the rant! :) FrankMike here: Hopefully it is still meant to be Local Sidereal Time and not Local Solar Time.
Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Autostar Feedback page.
Return to the top of this page.
Go to the ETX Home Page.