AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 May 2002
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	LXD mount and Autostar
Sent:	Friday, May 31, 2002 3:56:58
From:	p.v.camerijk@wxs.nl (Peter van Camerijk)
Hi there, perhaps a strange question: but does anyone know if the LXD
500 mount with the # 1702 motors and control panel can be used with the
autostar (I have the new software version)?
Thanks 
Peter

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, May 30, 2002 4:10:07
From:	MLacey@ScottishLife.co.uk (Lacey, Michael)
Thanks for providing such a useful website

I have just purchased, via eBay, an ETX 90 EC with autostar controller
and various other add ons. From looking at your website I see how
important it is to train the system. I set up to do it last night,
plugged in the Autostar to be horrified to read the message USE ETX
AUTOSTAR WITH THIS MODEL.!

Is this a fix that can be remedied via a software download, or do I need
a new controller? Over here they cost around $195 so I would much rather
have a fix than have to spend more.

Or would Meade swap? The autostar is " as new" - has not been used prior
to my attempt.

Regards

Mike
Mike here: Can you get to any of the Autostar menus to set the telescope model? If not, you can make or buy the Autostar #505 cable (see the Autostar Information page) and if you have Windows, then you can update the Autostar to the current software (recommended). You will probably have to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on) before the Autostar update software will do its thing.

And:

Thanks for the swift response.

Cannot get the Autostar to do anything after the message displayed; I
will get hold of the cable and update via Windows and the web.

I really am impressed by the site - not just flattering to get an
answer! there is a wealth of knowledge there and it exudes enthusiasm. I
am trying to get hold of your book, looks like I will need to order via
the net.

thanks again

Mike Lacey

Subject:	Autostar ?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 29, 2002 13:25:35
From:	hbjr@dutil.com (Hank Blackwood)
Nice site...your advice in the past has helped me immmensly in
understanding the "mighty" etx.  I am still unclear on manually adding
objects to my autostar.  I can download new "patches" from Meade and
load them into my 497 but how do I do It manually?

What if I downlead just one ephimerides (sp?) - can I download it ino
the 497 or do I have to enter it manually?  How do I know it is in the
right form?

Sorry for so many questions..I do understNd the astronomical terms fully
that the Autostar asks for and am not familiar with their typical
written syntax.

Hank B.
ETX125
Mike here: There are several articles on the Autostar Information page covering this, for example "How to use the Updater: Manipulating Libraries" and "Drag and Drop using Autostar application".
Subject:	Solar Viewing
Sent:	Wednesday, May 29, 2002 4:53:13
From:	golfing18@msn.com (Michael Knapp)
Is there a way to add the Sun as a "GoTo" object in the Autostar or is
it in there somewhere?

Regards,

Mike Knapp
Mike here: There used to be a way to add the Sun (see the Autostar Information page). But it may not be allowed anymore. However, if you get the current RA/DEC for the Sun you can always add that manually and GOTO it.
Subject:	Autostar Manual
Sent:	Tuesday, May 28, 2002 15:00:42
From:	donw@crescentresearch.com (Donald Winspear)
Do you have the Autostar manual somewhere on your site?  I tried the
link at Meade, but it returned an error.  I have searched around your
site but have yet to see it.

Cheers,
Don

======================
Donald Winspear, President
Crescent Research, Inc.
Mike here: The best Autostar manual (for the current version) is the LX90 manual. See the FAQ page for the link.
Subject:	Desperate need for original software
Sent:	Tuesday, May 28, 2002 7:34:15
From:	heremans.geert@pi.be (Geert Heremans)
My question is simple:
Where can i find the orginal software for the autostar?
I work in a store and we get the autostars deliverd with 22F (french
software). This is because meade delivers to our werehous in France. Now
I'm looking for the orignale software to downgrade the autostar.

Kindly regards Geert
Mike here: All the old versions of the Autostar software are archived on my ETX Site. Go to the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Autostar on DS
Sent:	Sunday, May 26, 2002 4:15:20
From:	wilhelmn@ozemail.com.au (Wilhelm Nienhaus)
I cant seem to find a contact at Meade directly and keep finding your
name on the web. I wonder whether you may be able to help me.

Ever since I downloaded and installed my first updated AUTOSTAR
software, it doesn't seem to work anymore. Then again I am not sure that
it ever did before either. I am now running version 25Ea, downloaded on
26 May 2002. I am located in Melbourne Australia. The previous download
was 22Er, unfortunately I don't remember the version it had from the
factory.

My symptoms are as follows:
- After initialization I put my DS114 in home position, i.e. level and
facing north.
- Using one star alignment and selected Sirius (tried the other methods
as well but had similar problems).
- Autostar starts moving and keeps going 360 plus another 150 odd
degrees in an east bound direction. It almost turned 1.5 rotations
winding up the cable around the tripod.
- It pointed nowhere near Sirius' direction. The altitude was maybe half
of that required and the Az was around 150 degrees off.

Is it possible that maybe the gear ratios became corrupted through the
downloads? Are you aware of problems like this? I would appreciate if
you could give me some tips or point me somewhere (web site, news group
or similar) if you don't know the answers. Is there some method
available for tuning the drives, i.e. find out the gear ratios?

Best regards,

William Nienhaus
Mike here: After you updated the Autostar, did you do a RESET, reCALIBRATE, and reTRAIN? Did you check to be certain that the right DS model is selected in the Autostar? If the answer to all those is yes, you'll find some potential help on the Autostar Information articles.

And:

Thanks for your quick reply. I did not do the reset and calibrate after
my first download (to 22Er) some time ago. But this time (to 25Ea) I did
choose the automatic "RESET" from the updater. It must have worked as it
ran the calibrate automatically after the download. I also needed to
re-enter my details, location, city, telescope type, etc. I ran the
calibrate a few times from the setup menu. However, I did not run the
TRAIN. So I went and did it tonight.

The results seemed promising at first. After a few more calibrations I
used some distant conspicuous city light, about 35km away, to train the
Alt and Az drives. After that I used "one star alignment" using ACrux as
it was nice and high tonight. Although the altitude seemed to be spot on
this time, the Azimuth appears to be still about 60degrees out. Its
better than before, but obviously no way good enough.

I repeated the drive TRAINing with my high power eye-piece, but without
success. What I did note, though, was that using #5 speed the telescope
did not move in Az for quite a while despite the motor humming away. It
appears to move alright in one direction but to be "sticky" in the
other. I was suspicious when I first got the Telescope about the axis
nuts. Despite being very tight, there seems to be quite some backlash.
The whole telescope seems somewhat flimsy in its mounting.

I'll have a sticky beak around your web site (It looks quite
impressive!) to see if there is more information that could help me.

Thanks again for your support. If you have more ideas about my problem,
I would be glad to hear from you again.

William Nienhaus
Mike here: Could you be overtightening the lock? It should only be "finger tight", not clamp it down until the tube can barely be moved.
Subject:	Re: Autostar characters
Sent:	Saturday, May 25, 2002 15:50:46
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	etx@planet.nl (V.A. van Wulfen)
Hi..

> Any luck on inserting the characters yet?
No... i've been looking into it... and still haven't discovered if
the display chip has a "shift" mode to bring in any other characters.
I was really hoping for the extended European set (ae, cedilla, ene)
(  ).  I have also be unable to find a commonly-available display
chip with -exactly- the Autostar's character set, in the order they
have them.. so i suspect it may be a custom chip.
I have attached a GIF of the usual Japanese kata kana character set.

> As you know I contacted Meade with some suggestions for firmware
> enhancements. Unexpectedly, they did reply, be it no more than a
> 'thank you for your suggestions'.

Better than silence!

> Anyway, I have since introduced the useable characters into my tours.
> They'll be posted on Weasner's site on Monday, albeit only in Dutch
> since I still have to translate most to English.

A resource of multiple language tours is quite valuable.
(you could pass through German along the way...)

have fun
--dick
Autostar chars

Subject:	Autostar updating
Sent:	Saturday, May 25, 2002 10:33:56
From:	duncan.radbourne@btinternet.com (Duncan Radbourne)
Some feed back on the up date of my Autostar .

I purchaced a second hand ( although brand new and sealed in its Meade
box ) 495 system and made up my own computer cable ( 505) . Successfuly
down loaded the latest updater from Meade and today got up the guts to
do the actual up date .

Plugged all together and powered up the Handbox with the complete 492
motor set attached . Connected to the net with explorer and brought up
my isp's home page ( which I minimised ). Ran the updater and it
searched the web for Meade and down loaded the latest Build.rom file .

When all onto the pc it asks to update now and I say yes . It initially
couldnt find the handbox but did in the end , and then could not
transfer the file ( should I have set up the hand box to the" Down load
" section of the menu ?)

However , reading from the net I put the box into safe load and tried
again , Hey presto it runs the down load and udates my hand box .( truly
glacial rate !!!)

Now for the questions .

Like somebody else I ve read about , at start up the screen is nearly
completely whited out ( full brightness) on the left hand side , but as
you run through the commands ( you can just about make them out ) and
get to the Align set the screen drops back to the brightness and
contrast set ? strange ? and the plastic below the whited out section of
screen gets warm . As soon as you get to a normal display ( after align
, it cools back down ) cant think why this is happening  ?

My hand box was version 1.2 and is now version 2.5Ea , does this just
refer to the data base ? or have I successfully morphed my hand box from
495 to 497 ? how can I tell ? if not how do I go from here ???

By running a safe load have I only up dated part of the system ?

So far so good  , Wonderfull machine . Great web site.
Mike here: Bottom line: as mentioned many times on the ETX Site, 495 Autostars can be updated to 497 Autostars by running the updater application. So, yes, you've updated the software and data to the current version and now have a #497 Autostar. The reason the download didn't start is that versions of the Autostar ROM older than 1.3 (I think it was) do not support the automatic download mode. Once upgraded to the current version, it should no longer be necessary to manually put the Autostar into download mode. You can adjust the brightness under the Utilities menu.
Subject:	easy alignment
Sent:	Friday, May 24, 2002 8:21:34
From:	AEsposit@nshs.edu
I cannot seem to het my auto star aligned correctly and I am following
the instruction manual to the T. Everytime it slews to find an object it
is not even close. Can anyone give me any good advice because I bought
this telescope for the convenience of easy location because I am an
amatuer.
Thanks,

Andrew Esposito
Mike here: See my comments to the Autostar alignment question from DREYNOLDS4@sc.rr.com (Doug Reynolds) further down this page.
Subject:	re: dead autostar
Sent:	Friday, May 24, 2002 0:04:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	kbloodworth@mindspring.com
After you talk to Meade about repairs, and if they wish to charge,
you may find it cheaper to simply buy a new Autostar on the web.
New-in-box from www.ritzcamera.com (495's for $50, upgrade to 497).
Even J.C.Penny was selling them for $69 a couple of months ago.

But maybe Meade will swap it for less...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Serial connection using Windows XP Pro
Sent:	Thursday, May 23, 2002 9:25:30
From:	kberg@ans.net (Kevin Berg)
I'm trying to run Cartes du Ciel astronomy program to drive my ETX-90/EC
scope using a Compaq PC with Windows XP Pro installed. To do this, I
bought a USB to DB9 (9-pin) converter cable, and installed the software,
but for some reason I cannot establish a connection between the Autostar
and the PC.

If ANYONE has the same setup as I do, has a funtioning connection, and a
clue on what I might be doing wrong, PLEASE let me know. You can contact
me directly at berg@ans.net.

Thanks in advance.

Kevin
And an update:
I solved the problem. I hadn't yet tried connecting to the Autostar
using the latest Autostar application, so when I did, the Autostar
didn't initially connect, but after doing an automatic com port search
(a great feature!), the Autostar application identified the right com
port as Com 4. The default com port for Cartes du Ciel is Com 1, but
that program will NOT search for an available com port! So, I just
changed the com port to Com 4 in the Cartes du Ciel port configuration,
and all is well.

Thanks,

Kevin

Subject:	Autostar 497
Sent:	Wednesday, May 22, 2002 19:23:54
From:	DREYNOLDS4@sc.rr.com (Doug  Reynolds)
I just bought a ETX125EC and the Autostar 497 never aligns correctly. I
have it level pointing towards north I hit enter it goes towards
Arcturus and is off center a good bit and the same for Capella. My
tripod is level and in the proper position. Any ideas?
Mike here: There are many variables that will affect the positioning of the alignment stars. Check the initialization settings (date, time, AM/PM, Daylight Savings, location, telescope model/mount). Also, be certain to use True North, not Magnetic North (unless you know the Magnetic Variation for your location is zero or small). Of course, most of this won't matter once you center the proper alignment stars but the more accurate the settings and Home position, the better the starting conditions, and hence the better the pointing to the alignment stars.
Subject:	AutoStar problems
Sent:	Tuesday, May 21, 2002 13:00:54
From:	kbloodworth@mindspring.com (Kevin Bloodworth)
Help!! My Autostar has stopped working and I do not know what to do.
I've had my ETX90EC since Meade first introduced them. The last time I
used it was aweek ago. I went out the night before last switched on the
ETX and the autostar did nothing. Where do I send this to get repaired?
Is there something that I can check myself to get it working? Thanks for
any help you can give me. Kevin
Mike here: Two questions: Does the standard controller still work? And have you checked the batteries?

And:

Yes, the standard controller works, I use a AC adapter to power the ETX.
I've had the ETX since 1999.
Mike here: OK. When you power on the ETX do you hear a beep? After a few seconds does the LED "flashlight" turn on? Even if the display is dark, can you slew with the arrow keys?

And:

Nope, nothing. I have the ETX mounted on a permanent mount so the scope
does not get moved round. I also keep it linked to my computer at all
times.
Mike here: Well, it does sound like the Autostar or the connection (jack or cable) may have died. Sounds like a call to Meade is in order.

And:

Can you tell how to get in touch with them. I looked on there website
but could not find a number or a way to email them.
Mike here: Click the button "Customer Support" on their Home Page; you'll find all the available contact options.
Subject:	A lucky break
Sent:	Monday, May 20, 2002 10:25:48
From:	Jim.Wilkins@trw.com (Jim Wilkins)
An interesting situation came up this weekend.  I was trying to load the
latest firmware into the Autostar and it was hanging up at the 3% mark,
etc. It turns out my flow control setting was messed up (I have no idea
how). Anyway, I had exited the updater which of course makes the
Autostar hunger for the flash load mode.  I fixed the flow control
issue, and ran the updater and loaded the Autostar successfully in flash
mode.  I then asked the updater to download any tours from the Autostar
and imagine my surprise when I discovered that all of my tours and
settings had been preserved.  I guess I hadn't written over those
databases.  Looks like the moral of this story is that after a flash
load, check to see what is in the database?

Jim

Subject:	re:	Autostar and Messiers
Sent:	Monday, May 20, 2002 4:29:14
From:	Typec2@aol.com
Thanks for the help on finding Messiers on the Autostar.  Sorry about
the previous  bogus e-mail address. I was using a different browser
without my info in it.

   Thanks again,
      Bill

Subject:	Autostar Updater 495 to 495
Sent:	Sunday, May 19, 2002 14:53:12
From:	duncan.radbourne@btinternet.com (Duncan Radbourne)
After a slow start Im now the proud owner of a meade Autostar 495 , wow
what a tool .

I brought some  of the DS motors as well ( the complete 492 set ) and am
now well on with the scope construction ( Autostar to be used on a home
made 13" fork mount scope)

Ive read many messages which say that it is possible to up date the 495
to the 497 and have , as needed checked that in fact the 495 I have does
have the full 1 meg eeprom s ( rom or what ever )

On looking inside the unit it says that its loaded  with version 1,3 .

Can somebody now explain how to go about the up grade , it seems many
people on the site have had different experiences  and as a newbie to
this area would like to get off to the right start .

I am adept at electronics and can make or buy the 505 cable .

What to do next is the problem , there sems to be too much info around
for a simple mind like mine .

How up to date can I make it ?

Regards
Mike here: Make or buy the #505 cable. Get the Autostar Updater application from Meade's site and install it on under Windows. Connect the Autostar to a serial port on your computer and power on the telescope. Run the updater application. It should detect your Autostar and display the version number. You can then just update it. If the Autostar does not automatically go into Download Mode you put it into that mode from the Setup menu on the Autostar and then do the update. For more info on the process see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Re: Autostar characters
Sent:	Saturday, May 18, 2002 11:57:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	vavw@planet.nl (V.A. van Wulfen)
> "V.A. van Wulfen" wrote:
> I tried to determine as many symbols as I could. Some (most) I can't
> identify, they're probably Asian.

Many are the Japanese kana set.
I went through Victor's list, and have added a few more annotations.
Some of the characters are from the original IBM PC Graphics 
character set (such as the squared corners, and block-backwards-F,
and the two every-other-pixel filled character cells.
I added some more Greek identifiers, and capitalized the ones which
 were capital letters. (Phi vs. phi)

One problem Mike may have is that some of the characters are -not-
the same after being processed by a Macintosh.

The Autostar's display is an off-the-shelf LCD display module.
The manufacturer will have character encoding charts... we only
have to determine the make and model, and a chart is probably
easily available...  time to go digging...

The attached (a ZIP of a DOC) is not finished yet...
have fun
--dick

Subject:	MUFs
Sent:	Saturday, May 18, 2002 9:07:27
From:	tnjwilbur@yahoo.com (Ted Wilbur)
I've been experiencing sporadic motor unit failures with my ETx70.  Here
are the symptoms:

If Polar mounted I'm guaranteed to get at least 1 MUF during the course
of a 2 hour session.  Once it happens, I'll get them regularly (within
10 minutes or less after the first one).

Switching mount to Alt Az cures the problem, I've only received 1 MUF
ever in Alt Az.

In either mode, the problem only occurs with the SAC7 in the eyepiece
port, and only when tracking a target (i.e. slewing with the camera is
ok, and the problem never occurs when just using an eyepiece).  I'm not
using any counterweights, but the balance of the OTA seems perfect with
the camera on board. With the Alt lock completely loose, the OTA will
stay wherever I put it when the camera is in place - without the camera,
the front (lens end) of OTA always drops down.

I opened up the base and did a degrease (wasn't much there) and
tightened the RA bolt slightly, no luck. I also tried a polar mount
reset/retrain but the problem occurred again during the very next
session. I may have messed this up, is it reset-recalibrate-retrain, or
reset-retrain-recalibrate (I did the former).

Any ideas?  I'd really like to keep using polar mode as I'm hooked on
imaging and it seems to allow me to take higher quality long exposures.

Thanks
Mike here: Does the problem seem to occur at a specific orientation? For example, does the problem occur when the telescope is pointed east or west? If so, perhaps the telescope just has a problem tracking with the weight in that orientation. You should recalibrate, reset, and retrain but if there some "dirt" on an encoder that won't help. You might be able to cure the problem by just moving the telescope by hand in both axes from stop to stop. That may clean off any contamination on an encoder.

And:

You are the MAN with those fast, thoughtful responses Mike!

I haven't discerned any pattern yet, and have even recreated it several
times in random positions just letting it run inside the house.  The 70
doesn't have hard stops, but I could move it around both axes, haven't
tried that.  When I had the base open the RA encoder wheel looked clean
although I guess the encoder itself could have some dirt.  I'm not
anxious to open the fork arm so any problem with Dec grease or Dec
encoder will get by me.  Sounds like I didn't do the reset right so I'll
try again in the order you suggest.

Hoping for the best.  As always, thanks a lot!
Mike here: Oops, yep the ETX-70AT doesn't have stops in the azimuth but the altitude range is limited. Anyway, just moving back and forth through several full rotations in azimuth might help.
Subject:	Autostar and Messiers
Sent:	Saturday, May 18, 2002 4:32:37
From:	email@domain.com (Your Name)  <-- bogus email address
I got a 495 that I upgraded to a 497 with a cable I made and now have
ver 2.4e installed for use on my ETX60.

The question I have is: how can I easily goto Messier objects? Can I
just type in the Messier number or do I have to convert it into an NGC
number? I tried finding it out using the Autostar on line manual at
Meade, but couldn't.

  Thanks,
   Bill
Mike here: Select Deep Sky, scroll to Messier, and then you can enter the Messier number.
Subject:	re: search mode
Sent:	Thursday, May 16, 2002 21:13:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
The "spiral search" produces no change on the display... the scope
just does it.
The "Start Search " and "Next Search" are, as you suggested,
sub-choices underneath the Browse function.
But -that- is "merely" a parameter-keyed lookup through the NGC and
IC databases.  After tapping [enter] at the "Browse" display,
you see "start search".
If you tap scroll down, you're offered "Edit Parameters",
tapping [enter] there gets you into the long list of object types,
ma/min elevation, magnitude, etc.etc. which can limit the search.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	autostar firmware enhancement suggestions
Sent:	Thursday, May 16, 2002 14:04:07
From:	vavw@planet.nl (V.A. van Wulfen)
To: engineer@meade.com 
Hello Meade,

As a user of an ETX-125EC with a #497 Autostar I have some suggestions
for enhancement of the controller's firmware.

Recently I discovered, while writing my own tours that the Autostar is
capable of generating symbology/characters which are not listed in the
controller itself (e.g. when entering user name/adress). It is capable
of reproducing most characters entered in a text (ANSI) file using
[ALT]+[number]. However, some symbols show up differently when uploaded
to the controller. [ALT]+133 shows to be "" in the text file, but
displays as the Greek letter 'alpha' in the controller. Not a nuisance
at all, actually an opportunity to enhance my tours by inserting
characters instead of words! To this e-mail I have attached a 'tour'
that can be uploaded to the controller to see which symbol gives which
character in the Autostar display, as well as a list -Word file- of the
results I got. I know when Autostar first came out it supported multiple
languages. However, I have not yet learned about the capability of still
generating non-standard symbology. I actually ran into it accidentally.
My suggestion for improving firmware is to enter the entire greek
alphabet, as well as astronomical/scientific symbology for people to use
in their tours, simply by keying in the correct [ALT]+[number] in the
text files. For the time being I'll use the symbols as per attached
files.

My next suggestion has to do with tour writing as well. Meade's object
descriptions present multiple 'menu's' which can be accesed using the
scroll buttons. For example: Double star's magnitudes -scroll- Class
-scroll- Separation -scroll- Distance, etc. It would make a great
addition in tour writing if this feature could be introduced to home
made tours. I write my own tours, using multiple objects with my own
descriptions in my native language (Dutch) and would like to be able to
introduce this feature.

My final suggestion has to do with you latest firmare enhancement,
introduced in 25Ea: Rise time for all objects. A usefull addition to
this feature would be a rise time for a specific altitude. Any Autostar
user that has part of his horizon blocked by structure of any kind could
use this. As nice as the feature is, its use is limited when there are
mountains blocking the object from view until more than an hour after it
rised. If an Autostar user could tell the controller to predict a rise
time for rise+20 degrees, or any other amount, it would make a major
difference. Observing is very poor anyway for objects close to the
horizon. Maybe you could even make it possible to enter the degrees to
add to rise time for several directions of the observing site (north,
east, south, west, for example).

Hopefully these suggestion will be taken in consideration. I'm looking
forward to future releases of Autostar firmware, as well as your reply
to this letter.

Sincerely,

Victor van Wulfen

Subject:	Search mode?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 14, 2002 3:58:44
From:	marc.delaney@ntlworld.com (marc.delaney)
The other night, whilst observing with my ETX-105, I came across
"SEARCH" on the autostar, but not thinking much about it just let it go.
Now I cannot find it again anywhere in the menus. What and where is the
"Search" function, and what does it do?
All the best,
Marc
Mike here: Check the Object-->Browse menu. Could that be what you saw? I've not used it but it is probably the spiral pattern movement to help you look for an object.

And:

Yes, it is! Thanks!
Marc

Subject:	Daylight Savings Time
Sent:	Monday, May 13, 2002 17:10:42
From:	Wryword@aol.com
In an effort to find out why my scope will not align properly, I
realized that I might not understand the use of the daylight savings
time prompt on Autostar.  I am sorry to ask such a basic question, but
if you enter the current DST time, do you also tell autostar "yes" when
it asks for that information?  Or could you enter time an hour earlier,
and enter "No" to that prompt, or does any of this matter?  You may or
may not recall that I wrote earlier to ask about the Meade electric
focuser causing problems.  It isn't.  Something else is going on, but
durned if I know what.

Thank you again.

John Henry
Mike here: You enter your correct local time. If it is 8:30pm on the clock on the wall (assuming it is accurate), then enter 8:30pm (or 2030) into the Autostar. If your location is observing Daylight Savings Time (as do most locations in the USA from April-October), then select "Yes".
Subject:	Autostar Compatible Software
Sent:	Sunday, May 12, 2002 22:14:30
From:	dturner@snet.net (David Turner)
winstars.free.fr/english/
I have been using Winstars for a while now. Good program free and comets
and asteroids can be updated online from the program. It says on the web
site  "drives the Meade LX200 (and compatible) telescope" I don't have
an autostar yet but I plan on getting one in the future. I actually
bought Stella 2000 extended before I found Winstars. Says On there web
site "Control your Meade ETX or LX200 Telescope automatically from
within Stella 2000, via DC3 Dreams' acclaimed Astronomer's Control
Panel."
www.stella2000.com/

Just thought I would pass on this information to you and your web site
readers.
David Turner

Subject:	Help with Astrostar software!!!
Sent:	Sunday, May 12, 2002 8:04:36
From:	PierreCote@Earthlink.net (Pierre Cote)
Thank you for your web site.

I recently purchased a Meade ETX-125EC with an Autostar.

When I updated the software from 2.2Ea that was on the Autostar to
2.5Ea, the controller stopped working. Specifically, it hangs after I
press enter at the Daylight time question at startup.

I have tried downloading earlier version from your web site (2.2E and
2.4Ea) and still get the same result.

HELP!

Do you have any suggestion?

Pierre Cote
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I can think of only two things which might cause this: bad memory in
the Autostar (which means: call Meade, request replacement), or 
simply a (somehow) confused parameter memory.  
Whoops: three: bad communication between Autostar and telescope.

Try this: instead of entering any valid time/date/daylight,
try pressng [mode] to escape from those questions.
Then you may be able to scroll to Setup > Reset
at that point press [enter] twice, and the Autostar will try to
adjust some of its memory to a "factory default" condition.
Then, if it happens again, do the same escape-with-mode,
but this time scroll to "Setup >  Telescope", press [enter]
then scroll to "Calibrate", and press [enter]

The telescope should make a short motion with both motors (one after
the other).  If it doesn't move, something is wrong in the scope
(or the Autostar's communication -to- the scope... you could try
swapping ends of the cable)

If escaping from date/time/daylight still leaves you frozen,
i'd try swapping cable ends.  If you have the little "hand controller",
does -it- cause the telescope to do the short up/spin motion on powerup?
If it doesn't, then i would suspect the telescope.  If it does do that
motion, then the Autostar (or the cable not being seated firmly) is
the likely culprit.

If you bought your ETX125 used, you can replace the Autostar for about
$50 from vendors such as www.ritzcamera.com

Good luck
--dick
And this in response:
Good morning, and thanks for the suggestions.

Suggestions 1:
When I press MODE, it keeps going to the next question, and ends-up to
the daylight question where it hangs.
NOTE: When it "hangs" on the daylight question, the arrow keys still
move the telescope.

Suggestion 2 (bad memory):
This is not funny. It is a brand new unit... On Thursday, I purchased a
ETX105EC... When I got home, the vertical motion was severely limited:
The mechanical stop was malfunctioning.
The dealer ordered a new one. On Friday, it arrived ... with the
horizontal motion limited: Another broken scope. I decided to change to
a 125 the dealer had in the showroom. This would be the third hardware
problem "out of the box" in a row.

Suggestion 3:
Since I can still move the telescope with the arrow keys, I conclude the
communication is happening correctly. Not to be stubborn, I tried it: no
success.

As much as I would like to "reset" the Autostar, I can not get into the
menus to do so.

IS THERE A MAGIC KEY COMBINATION TO RESET IT FROM ANYWHERE?

Thanks for the help,
Pierre Cote
Mike here: Sorry you've had all these problems. As to the Autostar, perhaps you have corrupted download ROM files? Try grabbing a fresh one from Meade's Site. Then force the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN key simultaneously and then power on the ETX). Next, launch the Updater application. It should detect the SAFE LOAD mode and let you proceed from there.

And the saga continues. This from Dick:

> Suggestions 1:
> When I press MODE, it keeps going to the next question, and ends-up to
> the daylight question where it hangs.

Sigh... i was afraid that would be the case (i didn't have a chance
to pre-test with my scope before answering)

> NOTE: When it "hangs" on the daylight question, the arrow keys still
> move the telescope.

Ah... 
 
> Suggestion 2 (bad memory):
> This is not funny. It is a brand new unit...

Ouch... there have been other folks who have also gone through a 
sequence of scopes trying to find -one- which works... 
At least talking Meade (or your dealer) into swapping Autostars
is much more casual than shipping the scope back.
The Autostar is a separate beast, even though we tend to view the
two objects as a system.  In fact...
The next step the Autostar does after the "daylight?" is attempt
to interrogate the scope about its "motor type" and send the stored
calibration data to it.  If either of those steps were messing up,
it could conceivably hang (especially on first power-up from brand
new).  Since you -updated- your Autostar, i was assuming that the
entire scope/autostar system -was- working properly before the Update.
Please advise if not, or if not tested before updating.

> Suggestion 3:
> Since I can still move the telescope with the arrow keys, I conclude
> the communication is happening correctly. Not to be stubborn, I tried
> it: no success.

I fully agree with your assessment... another button-press to try 
(before the next paragraph) is to hold the [mode] key down for 3
seconds, then release.  With luck, you'll reach the RA/Dec display.
Scroll down once (or scroll lots of times and see what -all- of
the status readouts say) to the Alt/Az display.
Verify that they change reasonably as you slew the scope with the
slew keys.  (the displays may not update -during- the slewing, but
should readout properly within a second of releasing the slew keys)
 
> IS THERE A MAGIC KEY COMBINATION TO RESET IT FROM ANYWHERE?

Two:  the second of which is complex enough i'd have to go offline
to write up a how-to, and its function can be partly achieved by the
Updater.

The "easier" one is to "simply" re-update the scope with 25Ea.
I remember that your original posting talked about reloading older
versions... and since it seemed to do that happily, i didn't suggest 
it the first time through.
But -this- time, when updating, choose the "Verify Downloads"
item under the Options menu in the Updater.  That will more than
double the time required by the Update process, but will verify
that the write-to-memory -worked-.

I still suspect Autostar-to-scope communications, if the motor-type
interogation was going sideways, you'd never see a blatant display
about it.

There is also -another- memory in the Autostar...
AH!   When you power-up again after a hang-up, does it -remember-
the Date you entered the time before?  (the Time will always powerup
to 8pm)
If the date -is- retained, that's a vote for the parameter memory
working properly.  If it keeps kicking back to 1-jan-(whenever),
it's a vote for parameter memory failure.

So, there's more things to try...

good luck
--dick
And more from Dick:
HOLD THE PRESSES!!!!\  Don't reload (yet)

> IS THERE A MAGIC KEY COMBINATION TO RESET IT FROM ANYWHERE?

Oh: the -first- magic key combo is the hold-enter-and-scroll-down
keys when applying power.

This doesn't do a -reset-, but does put you in Download mode
for the Updater to play with.
Since a lot of your functionality .....

WAIT!  ... i wonder if your display brightness/contrast is simply
totally -blank-!!!

After entering the Daylight, the display drops from "full ON"
to the contrast and brightness dictated by personal choice.

Expect another message in a few moments...

(it could be working, you just can't -see- it)
--dick
Mike here: Good catch. Could be; and it would be hard to see if there was a lot of ambient light at the observing location.

And this:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Let's assume the thing is -working-, and that you just can't 
-see- it.

Try (among other things) simply tilting the Autsotar every which-way,
with a moderate-intensity light source bouncing off the screen
and reflecting towards you.
Can you see slightly darker pixels on the screen?
Maybe saying "Align / Easy" or "State / California"?

If so, we're half-way there...
(a) Press the [mode] key a few times. (4? 6?)
(b) Press scroll UP once
(c) press [enter] once
(d) press scroll UP once
(e) press [enter] twice

If the system is -working-, that should walk you to the Reset 
 function (see below) and the Autostar should restart as if you'd
powered down... but the display brightness/contrast will have been
reset to "normal".

(a) lifts you to: "Select / Object"
(b) scrolls you to:  "Select / Setup"
(c) enters Setup, display now says: "Setup / Align"
(d) scrolls to:  "Setup / Reset"
(e) selects Reset function, performs Reset.

give that a shot... (this is -not- the "too complex" i was talking
about).

good luck
--dick
And some more info:
From:	PierreCote@Earthlink.net (Pierre Cote)
Let me address the different suggestions one at a time.

1. Corrupted download ROM:
NO, because I tried a total of THREE different versions (2.2Et, 2.4Ea
and 2.5Ea). I get the exact same problem with each version.

2. Communication problem . I am trying the SAFE mode restart, then
downloading with verify ON. results in about an hour.
NOTE: From any version, I can still download IF I don't answer the
daylight question.

3. The entire Autostar - Scope WAS functioning before the download. I
think this means the communication between the Autostar and the scope is
working.

MORE ON THE STATUS WHEN IT HANGS.
When it asks about daylight and I press Enter (or Mode), the display
does not change, the serial link no longer works. The display does not
change means I can still read it. The date IS preserved.
In this "hung" state, the arrow keys control the scope, but the digits
(1-9) no longer change the speed of slewing.
Therefore, the problem is NOT that the unit is working and I can't see
it (I think).

Thank you for all the help.

COMMENTARY:
All this leads me to look into Knitting or some other non-technical
hobby. Sad, because I also have the Digi-T for my Nikon Coolpix 5000 and
I was looking forward to some interesting pictures. I really like the
Astrostar and all its features, and am not that interested in the
Celestron Nexstar line.

(downloading now at 45%, I'll write again when it is completed. about 35
minutes)
Pierre Cote
And finally:
The latest, safe, download did NOT work: The same problem persists.

Thanks for all your help; I now think this is a hardware problem.

Pierre Cote
Mike here: Maybe the dealer will exchange it.

And from Dick:

sigh... take two aspirin, call Meade in the morning...
800-626-3233

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: Creeping in the other axis
Sent:	Friday, May 10, 2002 22:51:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com
Yes, other people have seen that problem, too.

Careful Training helps a lot, but it can still appear at times.

You can minimize its occurrance by trying to make your final motions
-with- the sidereal drive (i.e approach from the east, moving west).

have fun
--dick

Subject:	New Patch?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 7, 2002 8:06:55
From:	3_r_fun@www.com (Rory Calhoun)
I updated my 125 with ASU 351 and 25Ea. Is there a new patch for
this, or is the 24 patch covering this too!

Thanks

Will
Mike here: Dick Seymour does the patches; I'll post something once he sends me an update [which is now on the Autostar Info page].
Subject:	Aligning?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 7, 2002 6:01:43
From:	Demi@imagineusa.com (Demian Burkman)
My Name is Demian and I am from Israel.

First I want to say I think your site is great. I find it very helpful
and with lots of interesting details.

Here in Israel the Astronomy is mostly professional and the amateur side
is growing fast but still not much developed.

I bough my first scope, ETX125ec 2 month ago after years of looking
above like an In love guy. I think that the ETX is a fine scope but I
can not use it in Polar alignment because I am confused. Please tell me
what is the best way to prepare the scope. The fork position, control
panel position..exc. I appreciate very much your help.

Thank you and Clear Sky!
Demian.
Tel Aviv
Israel
Mike here: For alignment info, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Creeping in the other axis
Sent:	Monday, May 6, 2002 23:42:16
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com
I've noticed that my scope "takes up the gear train slack" in an axis
even if that axis wasn't moved, i.e. I move the star a bit east and the
scope drives it a bit north. Have other people had this problem? B.T.W I
think it would be great if you could add a glossary section to explain
terms like Creep-after-beep and Rubber banding, as new people don't know
them.
Regards,
Raymond Barbour
South Africa
Mike here: In Alt/Az mode the Autostar (assuming you have an Autostar although you didn't say so) moves the telescope in both directions. I suspect you may need to reTRAIN the drives. Good idea about the glossary. Maybe I will add to the FAQ page at some point.
Subject:	RA-Backlash & Adjusting
Sent:	Sunday, May 5, 2002 6:35:52
From:	patrick.zima@chello.at (Patrick ZIMA)
One question here concerning my ETX105EC and ist ra-backlash and
adjusting it via the ra-percentage from autostar:

Symptom:
.just after changing directions the picture jumps a bit into the other
direction
.after this, my ra-axis almost doesn't react using slower speeds (1-5)
1=nearly endless to 5=about 5 sec's
.if i release the autostarbutton the picture seems to move a bit further
than wanted

Reading your site I found out, that I'm not the only one having that
problem; But I just can't get that fixed. Played a lot now with that
ra-percentage-setting, AND IT DOESENT SEEM TO CHANGE ANYTHING ! I
haven't been into the base yet (scope is new). DEC has only the
picterjump-problem; other reactions are fine.

I realy tried to make everything right. Any suggestions ? I find some
descriptions
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_percentages.html
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_tracking-percents.html

a bit confusing ... Training, setting percentage, training (somehow
loosley described). Maybe thats the Problem.

The other thing is, that I upgraded AS-Version 22Gt to 25Ea , and that
seems to started that all, but I cannot tell for sure, I didn't
check/realised those symptoms bevore.

Regards
Patrick
Mike here: Ah ha! The magic words you said were that you updated the Autostar and then the problem started. ALWAYS reTRAIN the drives from the Setup-->Telescope-->Train menu item after installing an Autostar update. Don't forget to do both the Altitude and Azimuth axis. Normally that is sufficient. But if the "rubberbanding" is still present then RECALIBRATE, RESET, and reTRAIN. (For those new to the Autostar, "rubberbanding" is the term we use to describe the effect of having the Autostar "center" a GOTO object but not quite in the center of the eyepiece field of view, so you slew the ETX to better center the object, and then the Autostar moves it back to where it thought "center" was.) And more:
I am realy pleased, that your replies are so fast ... Some more info now
...
I actualy opened my ETX105EC today (base only), after I recieved your
mail: The gear is coverd with green grease (which doesnt seem to affect
it anyway). ETX125 is printed on the platine *lol*; I wonder if setting
the autostar to ETX125 will make any difference for my problem ? I had
the autostar attached and watched the gears while modifying the
ra-percentage; setting the ra-percentage, adjusts for a certain amount
of time, the gear will "tighten" itself,  just after changing the
direction (pressing the button only once starts the prozess already).
Well that is a nice feature and should work (logicaly), but it seems,
that beeing able to adjust for 99% (about 10 seconds with speed 5) is
not enough; At least with my telescope. Even the enginespeed seems to
slow. -> With slower speeds I have to wait for the gear tightening, but
it is not tigtening enough. I stil have to wait another 5 secs (Button
pressed). Until the ra actualy moves in the desired direction. So much
for the wormgear, which apart from the above, reacts in a reasonable
time with nearly any speed, it seems that the wormwheel is the one that
hesitates the movement as well. I tried to find a nut to adjust
(simmilar to what Jordan Blessing described), but the nut used in the
ETX105 cannot be tightened using a standard nut-tool (ist not hexagonal,
ist round)

Very complicatetd for me and my vocabulary, but I hope that I explained
everything with the right words.

Any sugestions for me Mike ? I'am just about to say: "Hey, look what a
nice telescope the ETX could have been".

I keep you updated ...
And from our hardware expert:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
This sounds very much as if the worm gear is torqued entirely too tight
on the bracket and the nut that he is referring to is indeed needing to
be BACKED OFF, not tightened.  This is "jump backlash" caused by the
torque compressing the applied force and the gears responding by jumping
backwards momentarily and then hesitating while they resume the
appropriate direction.

This is something that the user should NOT attempt to fix; I would say
that a call to Meade is in order....this really has nothing to do with
the firmware loaded.  It is entirely a mechanical issue, provided that
he HAS retrained carefully.  The grease has nothing to do with the
problem, although some of it should be cleaned away to prevent it from
getting up into the encoder assembly.

Clay

Subject:	Upgrading Autostar firmware comment
Sent:	Saturday, May 4, 2002 13:33:44
From:	dmjung@hot.rr.com (David Jung)
I got an ETX125 several years ago and due to some bouts with cancer
hadn't really used it, but plan to get started now.  I finally got a
#505 cable (a clone cable off eBay for $1 plus shipping) and downloaded
the ASU software and latest rom file from Meade.

Absolutely no joy.  The ASU program wouldn't automatically find the
Autostar--it would locate it after a com port scan.  Attempts to update
the Autostar software ended with a message to check the cable and
restart. Attempts to "retrieve" from the Autostar caused the ASU program
to crash.  I figured my cheap cable was the problem even though it
looked fine, but decided to try the "Safe-Loader" option before giving
up.  Loading started immediately and completed fine.   The only goofy
thing after reinitialization of the Autostar was the brightness and
contrast settings of the LCD display were way off causing part of the
display to be unreadable...easily corrected.

I guess the tip/comment is, if you have an older firmware in your
Autostar (mine was 1.3), then don't bother trying the "upgrade", just do
the safe-load method.

--David

David Jung
Waco, TX
Mike here: As noted in the Download Archive, it is sometimes necessary to put really old Autostar versions into the SAFE LOAD mode first. Thanks for the reminder.
Subject:	re: Autostar, cable problems?
Sent:	Saturday, May 4, 2002 12:37:36
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	tberthaume@yahoo.com
Remeber that the -slightest- interruption in power can/will
totally confuse the computer located in the Autostar.
I would -highly- suspect the "auto adapter" cable.
If it had a -slightly- too-large central hole for the power connector
at the telescope end, you could see stuff like this.
I remember tales of Meade shipping slight off-sized connectors
in some of their products.  Sometimes you're just suffering 
a socket on one end of the "acceptable" range, and a plug at the
other.

I'd try a different power cable. (maybe the cigarette plug was
every-so-slightly loose?)

The telescope base itself couldn't care less... that LED will
happily glow with far too little voltage to keep the Autostar
sane.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Autostar Tour Programming
Sent:	Friday, May 3, 2002 8:54:46
From:	beej@supernet.com (WJG)
I have been looking on your site about how one creates a tour to be
downloading into an Autostar.  Is that documented on your webpage?  A
Telescope dealer I saw on the internet, has created a tour that can be
downloaded into Autostar.

Thanks.
Mike here: I have a tour writing guide that I got from someone. There is no copyright info in the file nor author info so I don't know where it came from. I'll post it on the Autostar Information page. It was written in 2001.
Subject:	Autostar, cable problems?
Sent:	Friday, May 3, 2002 8:24:49
From:	tberthaume@yahoo.com (Me)
I set up my ETX-125 with Autostar last night, and had an unusual problem
occur.  First of all I was powering it through the auto-adapter; set up
went well for alignment ( I run Alt/Az configuration).  However the
Autostar started acting peculiar right away.  It lost power one
time---with the power light on the base still lit.  Moving it around, it
came back on.  So I had to re-align, and reset.  Second time, the
background on the autostar went "bright" and it froze up.  Odd, I
thought.  My first inclination was to see if the cable was loose, or
gaining only intermittent contact.  Checking this out, I saw that it was
secured tightly.  So I gave up, when it went "off" for the third time.

Also one time, I got the "drive motor fault" error!  So I unclamped the
scope and reset it, with even less tension on the clamps.

The temp was in the 40's, so I assume it was not acting up because it
was cold....or could I be wrong?  This morning I plugged the
handcontroller in, and it seemed to work fine---this time being powered
through a dc converter in the house.  I rechecked it with the Autostar,
and it seemed to work fine.  No problems, and I attempted to move, flex
and play with the Autostar's cord to see if the problem would reoccur. 
All to no avail.  I am stumped.

It's nice to see it was working fine today, in controlled conditions,
but if it doesn't work in the field, it's not going to be of much use! 
I had the Supercharge and update done to my scope last fall, and I have
never encountered this before, even in the dead of winter with temps in
the 0's!  Now would you recommend replacing the Autostar cord, or should
I have the Autostar looked at?  I don't know!  Any help is appreciated! 
Can I even buy a replacement cord?  I sure don't want to replace the
whole unit, unless I absolutely have to!

Thanks in advance for any advice or insight!
Mike here: I doubt that temperature was the culprit. Could have just been a power line glitch or perhaps moisture (although I don't recall any dew-related problems with the Autostar). You might need to reTRAIN the drives but since it worked fine indoors I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Subject:	Training precision?
Sent:	Thursday, May 2, 2002 12:47:14
From:	liquid@netone.gr (Dimitris Rakopoulos)
I have a question. What is the best way to train the drives of my ETX?
Should I use high magnification and focus on something distant? I think
I read something about that on one of your daily updates.

Recently, I bought the UWA 6.7mm eyepiece for my ETX90. I haven't really
tried yet (just one or twice facing the moon) but I'll let you know when
I do.

Best regards. Thank you for giving us the greatest resource for the ETX.


Dimitris Rakopoulos

PS: Last night I was on Meade's authorized dealer in Greece and we
installed a brand new LX200 GPS 12" (with UHTC). It was fantastic! Great
instrument. Great optics, great tripod, great fork. I just loved it.
Mike here: Personally I just use the 26mm eyepiece on Polaris when training the drives. I don't have any good terrestrial objects so Polaris works for me. However, for really precise training you want a stationary object and always get it back into the exact same location in the eyepiece field of view. Using a high magnification reduces the amount of error in this location.
Subject:	DOA 495?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 1, 2002 19:25:31
From:	ccopley@dodah.com (Chip Copley)
Just picked up a 495 at Discovery for my ETX-70 (never browse Discovery
while waiting for the better half to finish her shopping).  Anyway, got
home, plugged it in & nothing (zip, nada, zilch).  Unless you can tell
me that the power requirements for the 495 are different than those of
the 494 (i.e. ETX-70 controller may not pass the same amount of juice to
the Autostar that the bigger ETX & DS models do), I'll assume that I
just happened to get one that was D.O.A. - Any thoughts?  (Yeah, plugged
the 494 in & it works).

Dark,clear calm nights to you!
Chip
Mike here: Same power requirements. Must be DOA.
Subject:	polar alignment help
Sent:	Wednesday, May 1, 2002 16:34:48
From:	benypj@99main.com (Paul Benyeda)
Help!  I have had an ETX 90 for about three years now and am interested
it using it for astrophotography.  My wife and I have enjoyed the scope
but the Go To doesn't really work that well.  I have tried everything
listed on your site and it is better but still not great.  I am still
having trouble in trying to Polar align the scope.  My wife recently
purchased your book (Using the Meade ETX) and I tried to do a polar
alignment.  I started out by setting it up as in figure 6.19 (pg 189).
Figure 6.19 seems to make sense as far as tracking a celestial object.
Is this the FINAL polar alignment home position?  How do you get it to
the position shown in figure 6.20 (pg 191).  Do I have to have it in
that position or should I leave it at figure 6.19?  This picture in
figure 6.20 appears in many other pictures in your book.  I'm confused.
I would appreciate you wisdom.

Thanks

Paul J. Benyeda
Mike here: Figure 6.19 (bottom) is the correct HOME position for beginning the Autostar Polar Alignment process. Figure 6.20 is to just show the fork positioning; the telescope tube itself is in position for observing objects to the South.
Subject:	Question about training drive in ETX90EC
Sent:	Wednesday, May 1, 2002 13:02:03
From:	d_carmichael@earthlink.net (David Carmichael)
I got a lot of very helpful info from your ETX website but I have a
question for you. In your Telescope Tech Tips section you say that you
should use Polaris for ALT/AZ training but on Meade's website they say
to use a terrestrial object for training the drives. Which is the
preferred method? Does the fact that I am using Autostar change the
preferred method? Thanks in advance for your help.

David Carmichael
Mike here: You only TRAIN when using the Autostar, not the standard handcontroller. The intention is to use a stationary target, hence Meade's recommendation to use a terrestrial object. You can use Polaris if no other source is available as it moves very little during the TRAINing operation.

And:

Thanks Mike, I must have been having a brain cramp or I would have
realized that you only have to train the Autostar. It's a moot point
anyway since it turns out that I have a broken hard stop. I've already
contacted Clay Sherrod and he has referred me to Meade for the repair.

David Carmichael

Subject:	Meade ETX-70AT
Sent:	Wednesday, May 1, 2002 8:11:20
From:	r_shoesmith@madasafish.com (Richard Shoesmith)
Just thought I'd update you on the problem I mentioned in my first
e-mail. I couldn't get my scope to work with Starry Night Pro and ACP.
Well since upgrading to the #497 Autostar it all works perfectly.

Makes me wonder if it was due to a problem with the Aux port or the #494
Autostar.

Richard

Subject:	Is a "Successful" upload always 100%?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 1, 2002 0:21:58
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
This is to Mike for general posting, and to Dick for the "professional"
answer...

Aside from having problems (described below) in updating the Autostar,
I've noticed that for the 2.4Ea and 2.5Ea versions that were recently
released, my "percentage complete" indicator at the bottom left of the
ASU (both 3.5 and 3.5.1) have never reached 100% -- I think they've
ended at about 86% in both cases. Everything about the Autostar SEEMS to
be fine -- all menu items appear to work as expected, tours, satellites,
comets, asteroids, etc. appear to be there, no glitches in the display
-- all hunky-dory (or so I believe). Dick, can you (or anyone else)
confirm (or deny) this, or else explain it? Is the "86% complete" really
100% -- is that last 14% data that doesn't need to be updated (user
sites, user info, whatever) or is not affected by the update?

As for the problems encountered in updating the Autostar, I've already
posted my frustrations earlier on this site. Although the new ASU is a
joy to use as far as its GUI is concerned and it is so much more
"user-friendly" than the earlier updaters, I still have increasing
trouble in performing a successful download to the handbox before I get
a handshake problem or a time-out error. I'm running on a Mac G4 450/DP,
Virtual PC, Keyspan adapter -- you know the stuff. ASU 2.4 (the last
incarnation of Meade's updater before it got nice and pretty) at least
allowed me to finish a complete update to the handbox every time -- the
newer ASU 3.x versions have not. When I try for a "download" FROM the
handbox into the ASU application, all goes well each time. But in the
other direction, sending TO the handbox, it rarely, if ever, has worked.
Dick already suggested that I try changing the READWAIT value from 60
(milliseconds) to 120 -- that didn't work. In trying to experiment with
that value, I've "upped" it all the way to 20 and "downed" it all the
way to 240 (thinking in reverse, here), but to no avail. -- same
handshake loss or timing error. I've also had the "percent complete"
dialog show about 3% or 5% or 7% and up pops a dialog box saying
(paraphrasing) "The update to the Autostar handbox has been successful"
-- not with 7% complete it ain't!!

>For the last two updates, I have had to physically lug my scope,
Autostar, cables, and AC power adapter to my next door neighbor's and
use his Gateway running Windows to get a successful upload (and on the
first attempt) -- how embarrassing  :-(

I'm still waiting for that Mac version we were (ahem!) promised many
moons ago -- why is it I don't expect to ever see that?

Thanks for any replies...(have fun -- Dick?)

Stan Glaser
And:
How's about a nice, firm "maybe"?

'm a -little- unclear... are you talking the [update now] button
(in which case the answer is "yes", and it pops up a little 
message box saying "transfer successful" [ok]  or something
reasonably close to that...)

Or are you talking about the [send data to handbox] button,
in which case the answer is "not necessaily"

In that puppy, the percentage they're talking about is
-sometimes- the -possible- percentage... of the 64kb space
in the 497 autostar.  This is especially true when you're
doing a [retrieve data] operation,... the updater doesn't
know how much stuff you -have- in the autostar, so it's merely
showing percentage-of-possible, not percentage of truth.

This chunk:
>. When I try for a "download" FROM the handbox into the ASU
> application, all goes well each time. But in the other direction,
> sending TO the handbox, it rarely, if ever, has worked. 
sure sounds like you're talking about the User Bodies, not the
firmware  ([update now]) itself.

> I've also had the "percent complete" dialog show about 3% or 5%
> or 7% and up pops a dialog box saying (paraphrasing) "The update to
> the Autostar handbox has been successful" -- not with 7% complete it
> ain't!!

**WHICH BUTTON DID YOU PRESS???**  [update] or [send data]?
If [update], i would expect the above to leave you in "only Safe Load
works" mode.  But if User Bodies, (and you don't have many/any) then
7% is a believeable number.  I've sent 0% (zero) at times, just to
(try to) confuse it.

> For the last two updates, I have had to physically lug my scope,
> Autostar, cables, and AC power adapter to my next door neighbor's and
> use his Gateway running Windows to get a successful upload (and on the
> first attempt) -- how embarrassing  :-(

Three ideas: (a) build a power-the-autostar small unit as detailed on 
a few of Mike's pages (b) buy a used PC ($50 at Goodwill?) so you can
do this in the closet (c) umm.. dang, i forgot the third... 

have fun (now that it's loaded)
--dick
And more:
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Hi, Dick --
sorry, sorry, sorry -- you engineers are all alike  :-)
How's about a nice, firm "maybe"?

'm a -little- unclear... are you talking the [update now] button
(in which case the answer is "yes", and it pops up a little 
message box saying "transfer successful" [ok]  or something
reasonably close to that...)


YES, when performing an Update Now on the Autostar FIRMWARE -- and I will get a "Transfer successful" [ok] message box after only a small percentage has been transferred (maybe 5 or 7% -- something small like that) -- then I assume I'm getting the timeout/handshake error...

Or are you talking about the [send data to handbox] button,
in which case the answer is "not necessaily"


NO (see above) -- this all relates to the FIRMWARE update, NOT sending data (i.e., user objects, comets, etc) to the handbox

In that puppy, the percentage they're talking about is
-sometimes- the -possible- percentage... of the 64kb space
in the 497 autostar.  This is especially true when you're
doing a [retrieve data] operation,... the updater doesn't
know how much stuff you -have- in the autostar, so it's merely
showing percentage-of-possible, not percentage of truth.

This chunk:

>. When I try for a "download" FROM the handbox into the ASU
> application, all goes well each time. But in the other direction,
> sending TO the handbox, it rarely, if ever, has worked. 

sure sounds like you're talking about the User Bodies, not the
firmware  ([update now]) itself.


(guess I confused you here, kinda mixed apples and oranges and came up with grapefruit juice) -- YES, in THIS case I'm talking about GETing the User Bodies -- I can easily GET the user bodies each time I try -- it's the UPDATE NOW process that doesn't work (and as a new piece of FYI -- I can successfully SEND DATA to the handbox with no problem -- i.e., tours, comets, asteroids, etc. -- it's the UPDATE of the firmware that's the problem).

> I've also had the "percent complete" dialog show about 3% or 5%
> or 7% and up pops a dialog box saying (paraphrasing) "The update to
> the Autostar handbox has been successful" -- not with 7% complete it
> ain't!!


again, see above

**WHICH BUTTON DID YOU PRESS???**  [update] or [send data]?
If [update], i would expect the above to leave you in "only Safe Load
works" mode.  But if User Bodies, (and you don't have many/any) then
7% is a believeable number.  I've sent 0% (zero) at times, just to
(try to) confuse it.


NO (to the end of your thought -- i.e., User Bodies -- i.e. Send Data button -- NO, I am not talking about User Bodies) -- YES to the Update Now button -- I am talking about UPDATING the Autostar FIRMWARE -- the percentage will show about 7% complete and the message box will come up saying "Transfer Successful" (and, of course it isn't)...

> For the last two updates, I have had to physically lug my scope,
> Autostar, cables, and AC power adapter to my next door neighbor's and
> use his Gateway running Windows to get a successful upload (and on the
> first attempt) -- how embarrassing   [:-(]


but my question was, when I DO take the whole thing over to the neighbor's and I DO get a successful FIRMWARE update, the "percentage complete" showing at the bottom has been about 86% (both for version 2.4Ea and 2.5Ea) -- sooooo, is that number correct, or should it show 100%?
 

Three ideas: (a) build a power-the-autostar small unit as detailed on
a few of Mike's pages (b) buy a used PC ($50 at Goodwill?) so you can
do this in the closet (c) umm.. dang, i forgot the third...


re: (a) -- thought of that, though that doesn't solve the actual upload problem described, only keeps me from getting a hernia (glad the -90EC is so light!!)  (b) ix-nay on the PC -- I have enough complications in my life -- I don't want to add Bill Gates to the brew -- I'm confused enough trying to use Virtual PC half the time -- I'm a tried and true Mac diehard and (c) well, I can't think of a (c)...
have fun (now that it's loaded)
that I CAN do!!! -- at least until the NEXT update  :-)

Stan Glaser

And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> sorry, sorry, sorry -- you engineers are all alike  :-)

Do you leave you car at the mechanic's saying "it's got a noise",
only to get it back with (a) the same noise (b) the squeaky
 wheelcover removed, (c) a LARGE bill (90% "diagnosis")?

Ok... so it's the UPDATE operation.  Got that.

> YES, when performing an Update Now on the Autostar FIRMWARE -- and I
> will get a "Transfer successful" [ok] message box after only a small
> percentage has been transferred (maybe 5 or 7% -- something small like
> that) -- then I assume I'm getting the timeout/handshake error...

Ya know? it should -say- "Check Connection" if it thinks it can't talk
to the Autostar (lemme rephrase that: on a WinTel box, it does.)
So you're facing a multifaceted bug: (a) it doesn't successfully 
Update (b) it doesn't know it (c) it lies about the outcome.

Time for (yet another) note to Meade...

>> (b) buy a used PC ($50 at Goodwill?) so you can
>> do this in the closet ..

>  (b) ix-nay on the PC -- I have enough complications in my life --
> I don't want to add Bill Gates to the brew -- I'm confused enough
> trying to use Virtual PC half the time -- I'm a tried and true Mac diehard 

I have a few old PCs (and bigger) of various brands and operating
systems lying around both home and work.. which are only turned on to
perform -one- task for which they're the "best answer".  Then they're
turned off for another long period (i power up my RadioShack Color
Computer about once per four years... but when i do, it's because 
i need it to run programs written in 1984.).  
 
Imagine the joy of a clunky $50 laptop with crummy screen.
Usually it's tossed in a corner with "I wish i was a Mac!" painted
on the cover... use it as a trivet under hot dishes, as a speaker
stand, cover for aquarium or support for the cat's litter box..
But once every few months, you scrape the kitty litter off, and
fire it up... stuff in a PC floppy which you wrote with the Mac
holding the new firmware... have a PC-conversant friend put the
ASU into the "Startup folder" so it fires up at boot time too...
do the download... then turn it off.
No Virtual PC infiltrating/infecting your Mac, fewer frustrations
due to house-of-cards emulations stacked 50-deep.
Then the laptop can go back to its proper place, and the cat
can resume with its business....

have fun... until 2.6Ea comes out...
--dick

Subject:	Re: ETX 90 EC Servicing
Sent:	Tuesday, April 30, 2002 20:47:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Linda.Jennings1@btinternet.com
You asked:

> I have one further question if I may. I understand from recent
> advertisements that the 497 Autostar controller now contains a
> database of 30,000 objects. Does the latest download from the Meade
> web site cotain the extended database?

Mike wasn't clear:  YES.  If you download the new firmware, you get
30,000 objects.

> If this is not the case as I have bought my ETX-90EC kit second hand
> how can I tell how many objects are currently in its database.

Setup > Statistics [enter][scroll up]
displays the full firmware version number.
As Mike said: if it's below 21(anything) it's 14,000
If it's 21(anything) to 22eR, it's 30,000, but with a completely
weird set of SAO stars (programming error on MEade's part)
If it's 22eT or newer, the 30,000 objects include the 16,000 stars
from the SAO catalog down to and including magnitude 7.0

The 22eR stars are described at 
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_content.html
and http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_stars.html
The 23Eb stars are at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/23eb-db.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re:  Problem when installing Meade electric focuser?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 30, 2002 20:37:34
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Wryword@aol.com
That's (almost) a new one on me...

There -have- been issues in the past with focuser interactions
with the Autsotar, but i don't remember this one.

Something you can try: unplug the focuser.
Then power up, align, etc.
When you -want- to focus, plug it in.
When you don't -need- the focuser, unplug it.
(of course, the other alternative is to simply use the focuser's
hand unit, so it's totally separate from the Autostar.

If it's not electricalyl connected to the AUX port, there should be
no way that it can affect your scope's performance.
The "weight" of the beastie sure doesn't affect my ETX90.

good luck
--dick

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