Last updated: 31 May 2003
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to 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:	Training problem w/ cg-5 mount
Sent:	Saturday, May 31, 2003 10:48:20
From: (J Kellogg)
I have the 114eq motor setup with a 497 control, and when I try to do
the train drive, when it says to use ">" to center the target it goes
the wrong way. I have tried it in alt/az, polar, all kind of models,
reverseing the L/R keys. It will slew slew almost to the target orat
least in the right direction and will so-so track.Have set the ratios to
the 6.57067#.Also the motors are mounted in the stock positon am useing
the original drive gears. This is a CG-5 mount by the way.It does the
same thing with both the 497 and the original controller.

> I'm lost in space. Thanks Jim K

PS ask on the roboscopes group but didn't get much help.
Mike here: It sounds like the things are wired backwards as far as the arrow keys <--> drives are concerned. If other operations are normal then there may be nothing you can do about it (just guessing here since I've not seen that). As to accuracy, CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES as best you can; then go for as precise centering on the alignment stars. You might want to update to the current Autostar #497 version (2.6Ed) if you don't already have it.
Subject:	Resetting Autostar 494
Sent:	Saturday, May 31, 2003 02:23:28
From: (kevin keyes)
I'm having a problem and I am wondering if a reset of the Autostar will
cure it. Let me tell you the specifics of the problem. I mounted an
ETX-90 ota to a DS-2114ATS and am using the included 494 Autostar in
ALT/AZ. After custom loading my site at the cabin ( I used GPS), I did
an easy align using Polaris as my home position. My Easy align stars
were Arturus and Capella were right in the veiwfinder and easily
centered. Alignment successful. I had a great night viewing. The next
time I went to use my setup it was in a different location. I again used
my GPS to custom set my site and Polaris as my home position. Thi time
my Easy align stars were not in the viewfinder, and after centering them
of course alignment failed.

There's the scenario. My question is will doing a ' Reset' restore the
factory defaults so I can start over again, or will I lose the factory
defaults along with my own custom info( which I can re-enter)?

I have since bought a ETX-125, so this is my 2nd scope. It would be a
shame if I can't get it going again.

Hope you can help.
Kevin keyes
Mike here: Doing a RESET does restore it to factory condition. But I'm curious as to what the cause of the different location failure was; from your description there should be no reason for the change just be changing to a different site. It sounds like you might have mis-identified one of the alignment stars when you centered it. Did you try other stars? The other possibility is a typo when you input the second GPS coordinates.
Subject:	autostar ETX 70  
Sent:	Friday, May 30, 2003 15:39:50
From: (De Ruddere Peter)
Sorry to ask you again a question, but i am having a problem with my

Last night i want to do a easy alligment, i put in the date and time
(correct , and don it several times), the autostar choose Acturus to
allign, but the motor don't stop, he's keep on turning. So it is
inpossible to allign and used the autostar.

I must say i have not used my ETX 70 for 1 month (to busy with my work

I also dith a reset, and put in al dates and lokations, but stil the
motor won't stop when choosing a star ( acturus and also other star to
allign ).

Please do you have a hint for me.


Peter De Ruddere
Mike here: If you skip the alignment step what happens when you slew with an arrow key? Does the slewing stop when you release the key? But regardless, check the telescope model and the mount mode selected in the Autostar. Then do a CALIBRATE. If that doesn't cure the problem, do a TRAIN DRIVES. Also, check the cable connection.


Thanks for your quick answer.

If have done what you told me in your mail. And... the problem was
solved with CALIBRATE. The scope 'autostar' stops turning by finding a
star to align.

I only check it this evening pherhaps i need to Train the drives. Could
it be that the problem was becouse last time i used the autostar with my
laptop-PC-cable and starynight ?

Now, the problem is solved, and again Mike, a lot of thanks, for helping
me !!

De Ruddere Peter
Mike here: Using software should not have caused a problem. Glad the CALIBRATE solved it.
Subject:	Autostar #494 Adated to ETX 90
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 17:08:24
From: (patrick forster)
Hello, I was gonna reset my Autostar (adapted to the ETX 90), and when I
re-powered up I cant get past the 'daylight saving time?' prompt..hit
all keys ..won't proceed at all.  Unplug power and same thing..motors
slew ok.  Thanks! Patrick
Mike here: How did you "adapt" your Autostar #494 to the ETX-90EC? A normal #494 doesn't work with ETX-90/105/125.


Im sorry, let me correct my statement. I got the Meade DS 60AT on Ebay
with the small refractor and the 494 Autostar.  Then I used a alum
channel to mount the ETX 90  on the Equatorial type mount that came with
the DS 60. I set up the initializing, training date , state, etc.
Started true North, level etc.  It is ok but align 2 stars was not
good..found Arcturus and Vega ( I had to fine slew to target) then
enter.  Still off on goto after that by quite abit.  Then today I want
to reset  the cpu and start over, saw the prompt "cannot delete site",
hit enter then turned off and re-power 494. Can only get to the
'Daylight savings time?" yes<, hit enter and it is frozen.  Cannot go to
settings, alighn, objects.  Freezes on daylight time every time I power
up.. When I power up the LCD says "copyright 01 Meade [E11]....this mean
on boot #11 error?    Thanks for all your are great!
Patrick Forster
117 long 47.43 lat
Mike here: If you keep pressing MODE after power-on, can you get to the Setup menu to RESET? If so, does that clear the problem?


Nope, freezes at the Daylight Savings line.  Will not get to the setup
Mike here: Sounds like it has gone bad. Maybe it is time to look for a used #495, which you can easily upgrade to a #497 using a #505 cable (buy or make) and software from Meade's site.


Wooops!   Didn't know that a #495 or a new #497 work on the DS 60 mount.
Where does the Meade download go? into the cpu paddle? or the Aux port? 
Via my serial output on my main computer?  Thanks Mike...Pat
Mike here: Check the Meade Autostar Update page ( You'll see what model Autostars work with what telescopes. The #505 cable runs from the serial port on a computer to the Autostar #495/497. The software to update the Autostar and the updates are on that page as well.
Subject:	ETX 90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 08:26:17
From: (Tomas Hekkers)
First I'd like to thank for your 'street-wise-mighty-ETX-site'. Last
week I bought the special offer ETX 90 EC UHTC with Autostar and the
tripod. I already knew autostar had a lot of features, but was impressed
when I walked through its menu. As well are the optics in a high
magnification star-test; fine round tack-sharp images in and out focus.
Very nice!

I have one question; I read in the manual that before you use the system
you should train the drive. I neatly did this, but I'm afraid not
accuratly enough;

The question is, when you keep on training the drive, will it keep
improving and overruling previous trainings and the accuracy, or does it
only have effect in the beginning?

Keep on the good work. When I point my ETX up in the skies, I think of
all you fellow-ETX-stargazers in the States.

greetings and respect,

Tomas J. Hekkers, Netherlands.
Mike here: TRAIN DRIVES is one time process EACH time you do it. The effects of retraining are not cumulative. Accuracy helps but the values are overwritten each time you do it.
Subject:	motor failure
Sent:	Sunday, May 25, 2003 20:52:32
From: (christopher shaw)
What an excellent website!
I have a relatively new ETX 105 (less than 4 months). Last night I kept
getting the motor failure message even when I reloaded fresh batteries.
I get it after alignment and during the tracking of Mars - about 10
minutes into the tracking phase. I then removed the new batteries and
stuck in the Meade 12v external power supply and still got the message
during the tracking phase of Mars. I did not do any software download
nor did I switch autostar controller between scopes. I did my drive
training the day before.

Could it be that I was slewing around too much? I went to three or four
objects before settling on Mars. I also used the 'forced' alignment
procedure - pressing enter key - to align Mars as it was not
centralised. Does that cause this message to appear?

I hope there is nothing wrong with the scope.
Best regards
Mike here: From your description, nothing you have done will cause this. However, some things you didn't say you did COULD cause the "failure". Have you put the telescope in the proper HOME position, including the counterclockwise/clockwise rotations to/from the hard stop? Have you done a CALIBRATE? If those are the problem, check the Autostar cable and connectors; is there is a good connection to the telescope control panel and to the Autostar handcontroller. If you have the standard controller, does it slew it in all directions over the same period of time as when you would get the failure message? Lastly, have you done a RESET on the Autostar to try to clear any problem?


I have done all that you said except RESET. The scope does the
Calibration automatically after the failure notice comes up. By the way
what does motor calibration do?

Also, for the last three weeks, I stored my scope carefully in a flat
position (exactly like in a hard case) in a cupboard  with the vertical
and horizontal locks in the locked position. Could that have affected
the gears in such a way as to produce such error message? Your site does
not mention what happens if someone stores their scope locked up for a
period of a few weeks. I understand from my dealer that if the scope is
locked up, sometimes during transportation, it might damage the gears.
But what if you aren't transporting the scope but only storing it in the
locked position? Any major problems? Rest assured, I now keep it
unlocked at all times in my hard case which I just purchased.

Best regards
Mike here: I keep the axis locks unlocked on my ETX models when not in use. Keeps deformations from occurring. Calibration just "calibrates" the Autostar for the motors and ensures good communications. If RESET doesn't clear it, then one non-mechanical thing you could do would be to load an updated ROM from Meade's site.
Subject:	Re: Setting the date of the Autostar
Sent:	Friday, May 23, 2003 10:51:14
From: (Berit Neegaard)
Thanks a lot, Mike - Was it really so easy! I am not familiar using AM
or PM in daily use; nine o'clock is nine o'clock whether it is morning
or night. Now the rest is going on with no problem.

Arne N.

Subject:	re: New French user of etx
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 23:47:42
From: (Richard Seymour)
Each country which has an international distributor controls 
their own method of distributing firmware.
The German distributor posts theirs on the Internet.
You might check with your county's distributor.

I have been told that in Italy there is one "reference" Autostar,
and other Autostars are "Cloned" from it.

If your dealer has other 26Fd Autostars, you can Clone your
Autostar from one of them to restore your Autostar.

good luck

Subject:	etx90 and autostar
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 17:04:58
From: (Ronnie Blazer II)
I have a couple quick questions about my new ETX90. I am having some
frustrations with my autostar and its accuracy. When I do a quick 2 star
align, the scope always misses the alignment stars by several degrees.
How close should the scope come to the alignment stars? When I have to
slew the scope several degrees to center the alignment stars, does this
throw off the goto accuracy? Also, when I set the scope up, the nearest
city in the autostar is about 60 miles away from me. That is the
location that I am using. Will the coordinates for a city 60 miles away
throw off the goto accuracy by much? If so, how do I properly enter my
location? Thanks for any help. I am trying to do all I can to get the
scope/autostar to do what is should and what I expect. If I can't, I may
have to go for the "Supercharge".
Mike here: Slewing to center the alignment stars doesn't throw the alignment off, in fact it corrects for HOME position errors. But if the initial position of the alignment stars is off by several degrees, I would suspect a HOME position error (typically caused by using Magnetic North instead of True North, which can differ by several degrees). 60 miles will make a slight difference; you can get more accurate values for your location from several web sites; check the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	Setting the date of the Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 16:17:25
From: (Berit Neegaard)
Your great ETX Page was one of the reasons for buying the ETX-105. I
received the scope with the Autostar a few days back and first light was
amazing. Jupiter and the moon were more than expected.

Unfortunately, the Deluxe tripod has not arrived, but I will receive the
tripod + some extra eyepieces within a week.

But I ran into troubles right from the start: just following the steps
from page 3 in the manual: First Operation - everything is ok untill I
shall set time. Default is 00:00:00PM, I enter my local time e.g.
20:42:00PM and press ENTER, nothing happens- only a strange beep sounds
from the Autostar. I had to switch power off/on and by using ENTER/MODE 
I could set telescope site and model.

Best regards

Arne Neegaard
Mike here: Time is entered in 12 hour with the AM/PM selected or 24 hour with the AM/PM field blank. What you've tried to enter is an invalid time (20 hours PM but the max is 12 hours). To use 24 hour time (I do), after you enter the time (HH:MM:SS) move horizontally to the PM field and scroll up/down until it doesn't show either AM or PM. You'll be in 24 hour mode then. This setting is retained when powered off; the next time you power on the time will show 20:00:00.
Subject:	Height of Scope
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 13:48:12
From: (kevin keyes)
I need to pick your brain. This Memorial Wknd. I will be doing some of
my observing from a elevated position( a 12' balcony). My lat/lon will
be the same as if I was on the ground. What I would like to know is, in
your opinion will this effect my Autostar set-up? I can't remember if
there is an altitude/elevation setting on the Autostar. Since I just got
my scope back from Dr. Sherrod today, I have not had a chance to go in
and look for a setting for this yet. Have you had anyexperience with
this, or is there an alt/elev setting in the Autostar directory. 

Kevin Keyes (
Mike here: You could enter the elevation (above sea level) but for most purposes it is not critical for Autostar operation.
Subject:	WinXP Drivers
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 03:44:09
From: (Clem McAree)
I can't get the Autostar update 3.61 to recognize my com ports (which
are working properly).  Do I need special drivers for Windows XP?
Pleeese help. 
Mike here: I don't use Windows so can't help directly. I think it should work with XP; check for something else using the comm ports (like fax software). Does your computer HAVE RS-232 serial ports? Newer computers may only have USB.


Many thanks Mike.  I think the problem is with the lead.

By the way, I bought your book "Using The Meade ETX."  It's excellent.

Subject:	LX200 Autostar?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 08:49:42
From: (paul perlmutter)
I have both an LX-200 and ETX-125 and was wondering if there was some
way of being about the use the autostar on the LX-200 as it's software
is easier to use and more user friendly, Thaks , Paul Perlmutter
Mike here: Sorry, I don't think so. The older LX200 had its system and the newer LX200 GPS using a different "Autostar II" model.
Subject:	go to in polar?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 18:35:40
From: (dan hester)
I have never used my etx with autostar in polar alignment mode.  Does
the go to work in this mode ?  If so, Is it necessarily any more
accurate if you train drives in polar mode?  Dan
Mike here: Yes, the Autostar works in both Alt/Az and Polar mode. Personally I don't think that reTRAINing when changing modes makes any difference. The gears are still moving the same amount.
Subject:	Re: Motor failure warning
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 18:31:35
From: (Tom and Kathi)
I haven't had a chance to go out but I did the upgrade from 23E to 26D.
 I ran the scope inside and let it track for 10 or so minutes and I
didn't get the warning.  I'll keep an eye on it over the next few
days and let you know if the software upgrade was the solution.

Thanks for all your support.  ETX
users everywhere have a place to call home.


Subject:	New French user of etx.
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 04:33:50
From: ()
I'am a new user of etx 125ec telescope since a little month.

First many thank's for your site. It help me a lot in the choice of my

I have a question for you:

Since i bought my telescope in france i got a french version of the
autostar: 26F.

Where can i find this rom version ? The only rom i found are in english.
And because i may made a mistake with "asu" i want to be able to restore
my original rom.

Thank's in advance.

- Denis.
Mike here: Some of the Meade International websites have localized versions. Check to see if there is a Meade site for you.


I do not know how to say this in english, but for us (french users) your
site is like a "bible" :)

Many of french site refer to your home page, and this is not for

so thank's again and keep good work.

>Some of the Meade International websites have localized versions. 
>Check to see if there is a Meade site for you. >

Unfortunaly this what i done first, but nothing anywhere. That's why i
decided to contact you.

I wish you a lot of good night with clean sky...

- Denis.

Subject:	Motor failure warning
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 19:42:02
From: (Tom and Kathi)
I just purchased a new ETX90EC w/UHTC.  I had a chance to get out
tonight and I ran into a problem.  I seem to keep getting the
message of Motor failure.  I replaced the batteries with new ones
but the message still comes up.  The message comes up after a short
time of tracking.  An example would be after sync on Jupiter, the
scope would track fine for 5 minutes then the motor failure message
would come up.  My software version was 23E so I'm updating that as
I write.  Is there possibly another thing wrong?  The message
says that if I keep getting the message to contact Meade customer
support.  I value your opinion.  I can really use the help.

Mike here: Did you CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES before the first use? But do that following the ROM update.
Subject:	AutoGuiding & LX90
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 18:08:27
From: (Craig Colbert)
Dick and Clay should probably note this as well.
Some Background...

I have an LX90 with an EXT90 Mounted atop as a guide scope. A 909 APM
and 201xt autoguider. I have tried many times to get this configuration
to work without success.

I am now on a mission to get it to work...I will not be denied!!!!

To this end I set up using a guiding eyepiece so that I could watch what
happens while the 201xt is calibrating.

According to a MAPUG posting and Meade's instructions...Calibration does
a "Find Star" then moves right (speeds up RA according to MAPUG) Then
computes.. does a Find Star and moves left (retards RA) and so on....

Noted that the move right actually moved the star in the reticle to the
left which is wrong (when you push the right slew button on the hand box
the star will move right...right?)

Today I built a button box as per Dick's posting so I could didle with
the directions in the 909 APM and low and behold pushing the right
button actually slows down the RA and pushing the left button speeds up
the RA. So either the 909 APM I have is reversed or the pinouts in
Dick's posting is incorrect (the smart money says it's Meade's mistake).

Well, I created a jumper box to reverse the left & right wires. Now I
need a clear night.

By the way...has anyone out there successfully used the 201xt with the
LX90 or will I be the first.

I will get back to you with the results.

Craig Colbert
Well guess what...I take back all the bad things I ever said about the
201xt...I was able to center a star within 5 mins. The calibration
routine performed correctly. It guided for 1 hour till I stopped it.
Centered another star...fainter...guided 1 hour. Same result with an
even fainter star. Seeing conditions were not much better than poor with
bad light pollution. During the second guide a very thin cloud bank came
through. The 201xt performed flawlessly.

Someone somewhere goofed.

Anyone out there trying to get an auto guider working on an LX90 build a
button box and make sure your RA pinouts on the 909 APM are not


Subject:	Meade ETX 105
Sent:	Friday, May 16, 2003 09:12:12
From: (Geoff Senson)
I was about to order one, then I read the review which trashed the
Autostar facility. Was this experience typical?  How good is the goto
capability of the ETX 105?

Thanks in advance,

Geoff Senson
Mike here: Some users have difficulties using the Autostar. Most times the problem is "user error" or a misunderstanding of the manual. Occasionally there is some mechanical or electrical problem that can create problems. Also weak batteries or flakey AC power can cause problems. Most times the Autostar is not at fault.


Thanks for your speedy response.  I'll go ahead and order a 105.

BTW, I really like your web site - a great benevolence to the amateur
astronomer community.  Hats off to you.



Subject:	AutoStar problem (old ROM 1.2g)
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 12:29:52
From: (Bouquerel)
First of all, thanks for this web site about ETX.

Well, I've got a problem,

Somebody gave to me an old autostar 497 having a ROM 1.2g (1999 !) I
would like to install the last one : 2.6Ed

With the last ASU software (3.61), no connection is possible.

Do you know why ?

Is it necessary to instal an old ASU version ?

Best Regards,
Mike here: You may need to put the Autostar into Download mode first. Let me know if that works.


Well, Yesterday I try to reset Autostar (press enter+scroll then turn
on) Autostar say "flash load ready" but without any version (more recent
autostar say "2.0")
Now everything is OK (2.6Ed)

This old autostar looks like a new one

Last remark : this old autostar has the same memory

Again thanks for you web site.

Before finishing, i would like to adtt a small critic to Meade : their
site is OK (possible to download ASU or other things...) but their
manuals are poor. The solution of my problems are never in their manual!

Subject:	Re: ETX Training Spreadsheet
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 01:38:38
From: (Martyn Edwards)
Hi Gery

Yup, I see the ambiguity in the spreadsheet comment. What I was trying
to get across was that if, e.g., you had moved the telescope so that it
was pointing up and right of the target then you need to centre by
moving it only in the down and left directions - i.e. avoid overshooting
in either axis. The principle is that you need to move away from the
target and then move back to it in order to force both drive motors to
change direction and thus cause backlash to occur.

As far as tuneups are concerned I'm in the UK so I don't have easy
access to Dr Clay's ETX supercharging, but I have taken my ETX apart and
degreased it. This made an enormous difference as my clutch was slipping
badly - if yours is ok then I suggest you leave it alone!

Training does exactly what you have suggested - it measures the
backlash, which there must be in any mechanical system involving a gear
train. Its deficiency is that it only gives you one chance, although if
you were masochistic I guess you could repeatedly carry out training,
note the numbers, and apply an average - come to think of it that's
pretty much  what the spreadsheet does.....

The Alt/Az percentages are a different type of beast - they don't
compensate for backlash - that's what training does - but what they do
give you is a kick when the Alt or Az drives reverse direction, and thus
the backlash is taken up more rapidly. As far as I know this is used in
GOTOs as well as when driving the telescope from the Autostar keypad
arrow keys. I suggest you don't get too hung up on percentages -
training is vastly more important for ensuring accurate GOTOs. However,
training only works if you've done it properly - it's really easy to get
it wrong and that's what led me to develop the spreadsheet, where the
graphs at the bottom gave me an immediate indication of any oddball
figures which can then be reworked. I guess the bottom line is that when
I got my ETX it wouldn't GOTO and now it does!


Martyn Edwards

----- Original Message -----
From: gery
> Martyn,
> I have downloaded your spreadsheet off Weasner's ETX site.  I am confused
> as to the slewing required.  Do you want to slew in 2 directions each time
> or only one as is done during a normal drive training?  Your example
> numbers make me believe you want 2 direction slews (up left, etc) while
> comments say to re center the target in one direction only.  Please
> clarify.
> Also, have you done all the tune ups that are noted on the site?  I have
> just purchased my scope and while there is backlash in both axis (no
> slipping yet),  I would hope the training's purpose is to compensate for
> the backlash.
> Finally with respect to the Alt/Az percentages, are these even used during
> a goto or are they only used while manually slewing using the arrow keys?
> What is your goto success rate?
> Thanks for your help.
> Regards,
> Gery

Subject:	re:  LX-200/GPS Commanding
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 22:25:38
From: (Richard Seymour)

I wrote:
IF a GPS Fix can be achieved, a  :g+#  (wait some time... ten minutes?)
:gT#  sequence will return the GPMRC string from the GPS unit. 
Date/time/location all in one swat.  
Warning: if a Fix cannot be obtained, the Autostar will
hang during that "********" period.

That was the wrong command!  :gp#  (lower g, lower p)  
returns the GPRMC string.  

 :gT#  actually performs a full GPS Fix on/to the scope.
the :gp# does not affect the scope's date/time/site, it
merely returns the result on the rs232 line.

sorry 'bout that
You wrote (and i missed seeing in my in-heap):
> The Meade literature says the :g+# doesn't return anything...but this
> sheet has a lotta fibs.  How long of a string will it spit out? 

No fibs there.. the :g+#  does not return anything.  It just quietly
activates theGPS receiver.

The :gp#  can return up to an 80-character string.
Full details of what you'll get are at:   <-- GPS readout
and an explanatory text page is attached to this note on
"how to interpret a GPS" information.
(now that Mike's beginning to post LX200gps q's, i should package it for him)

> D'Ya 'spose it'll be quicker that the "conventional" readout I've coded?

Far, far slower.  If you can't get a fix when you issue the command,
you'll have a ten minute wait until it gives up.  :GC# is instant.
> I've written a lead-lag the clock routine to account for sleepy
> readouts. Also, I'll bet a direct readout from the GPS will be GMT & I
> won't need to convert from the local time the scope delivers.  It will
> be ASCII characters?

Yes, it will look like:

> Oops, I just remembered: I preceed all my commands with a leading #.
> Sombody suggested that a while back.  Could that be part of this
> problem?

No.  What you send to the telescope is not echoed.

have fun, sorry i mislaid your note

How the LX200gps GPS receiver reports GPS satellites

(c) Richard Seymour June 2002, redistribution permitted with
authorship notices intact (so you'll know who to blame for errors)
05-Jun-2002  rev 1.0b

** Note: sending a :gp#  or a :gr#  to the LX200gps will probably HANG
the Autostar if the GPS unit did not achieve a fix during power-up.
Do NOT bypass the initial GPS fix before playing with those commands.**

The LX200gps has an embedded GPS receiver.

GPS receivers do not simply tell you where you are,
they actually have a variety of outputs, and it's the rest of
the system (in this case the Autostar II) which decides what to
use and what to ignore.

The output of the GPS receiver is marked by a 5-character 
"sentence identifier", followed by a bunch of comma-separated data.

In the case of the LX200gps firmware rev 1.2b, the only "sentence"
they use is the GPRMC.  This provides the Time and two-dimensional (2d)
location on the planet.  It does not provide Altitude, but can be generated
with fewer visible satellites than the third dimension would require.
(The GPGGA sentence provides Altitude information).

You can already ask the LX200gps to tell you what its GPS receiver is saying 
by sending it a  :gp#   (colon, lowercase g, lowercase p, number-sign)
to either rs232 serial port.  (see footnote for "How to talk")
If it can receive a fix, it will eventually return a reply similar to:


(if it cannot receive a fix, your Autostar II will hang, and you will
have to power-cycle to recover.  Don't try this indoors...)

But, what did it -say-?

Breaking the line at the commas, it says:
GPRMC,  --  Recommended Minimum specific GPS Coordinates
032727, -- Time of Fix: 03:27:27 UTC
A,      -- Navigation receiver warning: A = OK, V = warning
4740.1036, -- Latitude 47 deg. 40.1036 min
N,      -- Latitude  North
12221.3465, -- Longitude 122 deg. 21.3465 min
W,     --  Longitude  West
000.4,  --  Speed over ground, Knots
051.7,  --  Course Made Good, relative to True north
050602,  --  Date of fix  05 June 2002
, --  Magnetic variation (like 20.3 deg , East)
*0F#   ---  checksum (0F) and LX200 reply terminator (#)

I was fascinated to learn that my telescope was moving (it wasn't)
at about a half-knot in a northeasterly direction.

OK... so that's what a :gp#  will tell you.  Today.  Without patching.
It's a currently Undocumented feature (don't complain to Meade).

But that's not all the GPS receiver is busy reporting....
The receiver in my LX200gps also reports these GPS sentences:

*   $GPGGA - Global Positioning System Fix Data
*   $GPGLL - Geographic position, latitude / longitude
*   $GPGSA - GPS DOP and active satellites
*   $GPGSV - GPS Satellites in view
*   $GPRMC - Recommended minimum specific GPS Coordinates (above)
*   $GPVTG - Track made good and ground speed
*   $GPZDA - Date & Time

I've developed a patch which avoids some Hangs, and which sends any type
of GPS report the receiver provides out through the rs232 port...

You send it a :gr#   and it will return the next 16 sentences the GPS 
receiver generates.  It doesn't select for only the GPRMC report.

Since the Autostar is busy sending the data to your PC, some of the
 intervening reports are lost.  (GPGSV suffers from this)
But you get pretty much the full set over the course of about 16 reports.
I hope to modify the patch to  provide an LED display,
to avoid hangs, and to allow better control for the rs232
version.  So expect a couple of updates to this fairly soon.
I shall also keep this patch current with future patch kits for the LX200gps.

I am posting this "1g2B" patch now so that the brave among you
can also extract and start playing with the GPS data.
The patch must be applied to an original BuildLX12.rom file from Meade.
It includes my full 1.2b patch kit functionality.
See the "readme" and "patch1g2b.txt" files for more explanations.

Here's how to interpret the  GPS sentences the LX200gps can generate:
(each entry includes an example produced by my LX200gps in Seattle)

*   $GPGGA - Global Positioning System Fix Data
GPGGA,  ---  identifier
032726, ---   time  UTC hhmmss 
4740.1034,N, --- latitude: deg min, hemisphere
12221.3468,W,--- longitude, E/W
1,   -- Quality: 0=Invalid, 1=GPS, 2=DGPS 
04,  -- Number of satellites used for fix
02.4, -- Horizontal Dilution of Precision
0095, --  Altitude above mean sea level
M,  --- units of altitude (Meters)
,  --  height of geoid above WGS84  ellipsoid (can be negative)
M, -- units for that (Meters)
000,  --- time since last DGPS update (seconds)
0000  ---  DGPS station ID
*66#  --- checksum and terminator

*   $GPGLL - Geographic position, latitude / longitude
GPGLL,   ---  identifier
4740.1036,N, --- latitude, hemisphere
12221.3465,W, --- longitude, E/W
032727,   ---   time
A   --- data valid flag
*3E#  --- checksum and terminator

*   $GPGSA - GPS DOP and active satellites
GPGSA,    ---  identifier
A,    ----  mode. A=Automatic (2d/3d), M=manual 
3,   ---  mode: 1=fix not available, 2=2d, 3=3d
01,20,22,04,,,,,,,,,  -- Satellite IDs.. 12 spots to fill.
03.7,  --  PDOP  overall Position Dilution of Position
02.5,  --  HDOP  Horizontal Dilution of Position
02.8   --  VDOP  Vertical Dilution of Position
*0C#   --- checksum and terminator

*   $GPGSV - GPS Satellites in view
GPGSV,    ---  identifier
3,  --- number of messages  of this type in this cycle
2,  --- this message's sequence number
09, --- total number of  satellites in view
20, ---  Satellite PRN number
59, ---  Elevation in degrees
180, ---  Azimuth in degrees from true north
50, ---  Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), 00-99 db, null if not tracking
22,45,108,39,  --- same as above for another satellite
24,07,333,00,  --- same as above for another satellite
25,23,057,00   --- same as above for another satellite
*77#    --- checksum and terminator

If you catch -all- of a GSV's message set, it will look like:
So there are three messages, sequenced 1,2,3.  The nine satellites visible
 are listed four each in the first two, and the remaining one in the third.
I would guess that satellites 01 (43db), 04 (39db), 20 (50db), and 22 (39db)
are the four being used for my fix.  The GPGSA record confirms that.

*   $GPRMC - Recommended minimum specific GPS Coordinate data 
GPRMC,     ---  identifier
032727, -- Time of Fix: 03:27:27 UTC
A,      -- Navigation receiver warning A = OK, V = warning
4740.1036, -- Latitude 47 deg. 40.1036 min
N,      -- Latitude  North
12221.3465, -- Longitude 122 deg. 21.3465 min
W,     --  Longitude  West
000.4,  --  Speed over ground, Knots
051.7,  --  Course Made Good, True
050602,  --  Date of fix  05 June 2002
, --  Magnetic variation (like 20.3 deg , East)
*0F#   ---  checksum (0F) and LX200 reply terminator (#)

*   $GPVTG - Track made good and ground speed

GPVTG,     ---  identifier
046.1,   --- Track direction (relative to True North)
T,   ---  T meaning above is True
,M,  ---  Magnetic track (M for Magnetic)
000.7,  --- speed over ground (Knots)
N,   ---  "N" meaning above is Knots (really!)
001.4,  --- speed over ground, (Kilometers/hr)
K    --- "K" meaning above is Kilometers
*61#  ---  checksum  and LX200 reply terminator (#)

*   $GPZDA - Date & Time

GPZDA,     ---  identifier
032727,   ---  UTC  hhmmss
05,   ---  day of month
06,  ---  month (6=Jan)
2002, --- 4-digit year
,    --- local time zone (+/- 00 to 13)  hours
      --- local time zone, minutes (between above comma and checksum asterisk)
*48#  ---  checksum  and LX200 reply terminator (#)

GPS Sentence types i have -not- seen the LX200gps produce:

   $GPBOD - Bearing, origin to destination
   $GPBWC - Bearing and distance to waypoint, great circle
   $GPHDT - Heading, True
   $GPR00 - List of waypoints in currently active route
   $GPRMA - Recommended minimum specific Loran-C data
   $GPRMB - Recommended minimum navigation info
   $GPRTE - Routes
   $GPTRF - Transit Fix Data
   $GPSTN - Multiple Data ID
   $GPVBW - Dual Ground / Water Speed
   $GPWPL - Waypoint location
   $GPXTE - Cross-track error, Measured
Footnote: How to Talk to your LX200gps.

Connect the PC-to-LX cable as if you were going to Update.
Start up a "terminal emulator" program, such as Hyperterminal under Windows98.
Configure the session to be "direct to COM1" (if your cable is in COM1),
9600 baud, 8-bit, no parity, no hardware flow control, no FIFO buffering.
See  for other details
on manual typing to the Autostar.
Once connected, simply type into Hyperterminal's screen.  
You will not see an "echo" of what you typed, but you should see the results.
IF you type a   #:GC#   you should receive today's date   06/05/02#
Responses end with a number sign (#).  There are no "line breaks" so sequential
responses will run end-to-end:  06/05/02#06/05/02#06/05/02#06/05/02#
Hyperterminal (under the Transfer menu) can Capture the incoming text to a file.
I use that for later analysis.  You can also highlight-and-copy from its screen. 

So hook it up, try a #:GC#, then try a :gr#  (or :gp#   outdoors)

have fun  (service mark)
rseymour -at-

revision history: original release 5-jun-02,
5-jun-02 1.0a PDOP correction, typo corrections
5-jun-02 1.0b multiple readouts for one :gr#, Hang warning.

(c) Richard Seymour June 2002, redistribution permitted with
authorship notices intact (so you'll know who to blame for errors)
(short quotes with looser attribution ("Dick said:") OK, too)
Thanx for the help guys - I got it all.  Now to see where to fit it into
my code.  btw: That problem of offset bytes from the LX-200/GPS hasn't
occurred lately - maybe I was doing something wrong that has since been

I know all about long searches for the GPS satellites.  When I first got
the scope, there wasn't anything in the instructions about giving the
receiver a hint at where you are.  AND, I find it useful to remove the
finder scope to give the antenna a better view of the sky.  It works
fine now.
Marv Sumner

Subject:	LX200 command language question
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2003 07:14:56
From: (Peter Thejll)
I have a question about the LX200 command language. As you may recall, I
have, with the help of Richards modification of the Autostar software,
been able to get a Meade ETX telescope with an Autostar to the point
where the time/date/daylight savings menus are skipped. In this state
the telescope is able to receive LX200 commands and for instance slew to
a given point,or park in home position.

My question probably has most to do with my ignorance of the LX200
language. First of all, I know that the ETX series obeys only a limited
part of the LX200 set of commands, but how would one tell the telescope
'GOTO RA X and Decl Y and start tracking' with LX200 commands?

As it is, the modified version of Autostar's software has the telescope
just sitting there following power-on. 'Align' has not been performed
(there seems to be no way of doing that with LX200 commands), and now
I'd like to tell the telescope to go to a particular coordinate (no
problem) and start tracking  - how do I do the last part?

I have probably overlooked some command - but on the other hand, it
could be that the tracking (which, in an un-modified Autostar, stars
after selecting an Object) does not start at all until an object has
been selected. However, in the LX200 command language it seems that none
of the Library commands are yet implemented for the Autostar.

What am I missing out on?

Any help would be warmly welcomed!


    Peter Thejll
From: (Richard Seymour)
Since you didn't say, i don't know if you have done the obvious:
:Sd30*00# :Sr15:00.0# :MS#  (wait for :D# to return no "bar")

But i do not know if the modified-for-no-time/date system will
turn on sidereal tracking.  Now that you -ask-, i remember that
being an issue in older versions.

Regarding aligning, in theory you can GoTo an object,
center it and issue the SYNC command:   :CM#
(i have vague memories that that may simply pop up the
"press enter to sync" on the handbox)

Another sheer before-i-look-it-up guess is to try setting the
Trackingrate ( :TQ# )

It will take a while to dig through the codes...
at worst, it'll be another patch

You might -try- doing the Library commands to set a star
as a target, then doing the :MS#  ... i've been following
Meade's gradual implementation of that into the LX200gps,
but have not been keeping up with how it is going into the ETX.
That is part of what i will look into.

have fun
I tried the :Sd30*00# :Sr15:00.0# :MS# suggestion on the modified
version of Autostar. That will slew the scope (to apparantly that
coordinate) but does not start tracking. I can confirm that MS does not
work if MA has previously been used. Any idea why? It might be useful to
slew both by using Alt/Az and also acquire targets with RA/Decl.

The :TQ#  does not appear to do anything (before or after the SdSr
commands above TQ does not cause any apparent difference).

So, still the idea that I want to be able to start tracking. I have yet
got the Library routines to do anything.

A question - would all of the LX200 language work on an LX200 telescope?

Thanks for your help and suggestions!


Subject:	LX-200/GPS Commanding
Sent:	Sunday, May 11, 2003 15:35:26
From: (Marvin C. Sumner)
A question for some of your LX200 software oriented readers:
I'm writing my own programs to control my ETX-125/EC and my LX-200/GPS.
Many commands aren't expected to work in the ETX (a fact explained often
in your pages), but most work fine in the LX200.

One factor, however, is bothersome: When I ask a question of the
LX-200/GPS, it sometimes works fine, but sometimes the same code gets a
response that is one byte to the left (leading in time?) of the correct
response.  For example, a readout of local time should get:  hh/mm/ss#,
but occasionally #hh/mm/ss is delivered.  One might guess that the
erroneous leading # is the trailing pound of whatever data is in an
adjacent memory slot in the telescope.

I'm hoping that one of your readers will know of some command I can send
to coax the scope responses into the correct phase.  One goal is to get
the GPS in the scope to set the clock-calendar in my laptop.

I'm running version 1.3t in the LX-200/GPS.  (I have a rough time
updating Meade programs.)  Do ya 'spose a newer version will have a more
user-friendly command structure?
Marv Sumner
And from our Autostar expert:
From: (Richard Seymour)
> but occasionally #hh/mm/ss is delivered.  

I'm in medium-constant contact with a number of other program authors,
and this symptom has -never- crossed my doorstep, nor have i seen it
in any of the datastreams i have captured from v1.1a to present (v1.6b).
And i did a lot of capture of 1.3t

May i suggest loading a program like Astroplanner?
It's shareware, but fully functional for free.

What it provides is a "dataflow" window (and logging) which captures
both sides of the PC/Telescope conversation.
Use it with your scope.. see if the extraneous "#" appear.
If they -don't- appear with Astroplanner, then suspect either:
extraneous commands -from- your PC 
(such as :D#, which does indeed return a naked "#")
or incomplete receive-buffer-clearing in your PC
(did the -previous- command you issued have a trailing # you were
not expecting?)

> One might guess that the erroneous leading # is the trailing pound
> of whatever data is in an adjacent memory slot in the telescope.

One might, but this one (and others) haven't seen it.
The strings for rs232 responses are created from whole cloth...
there are no "adjacent slots" hanging around.  The trailing #'s are
sent directly to the output device, rather than as a part of a
string being assembled in a buffer before transmission.

> I'm hoping that one of your readers will know of some command I can send
> to coax the scope responses into the correct phase. 

The ack (control F) command gets your mount-type as a response,
and flushes the command buffer.  Be aware that the LX200gps -can-
buffer a command or two, so if it was busy (seeking GPS Fix, for
example) when you sent commands, you may be getting their responses
quite delayed from when you sent them (but in the correct order).

> One goal is to get the GPS in the scope to set the clock-calendar
> in my laptop.

Umm... your PC may end up one or two seconds behind the LX200gps.

> I'm running version 1.3t in the LX-200/GPS.  (I have a rough time
> updating Meade programs.)  Do ya 'spose a newer version will have a more
> user-friendly command structure?

Nothing has changed in the "friendliness", but since 1.3t, things have
gotten better for totally remote control of the telescope from power-on.
No need to touch the Autostar keypad.

IF a GPS Fix can be achieved, a  :g+#  (wait some time... ten minutes?)
:gT#  sequence will return the GPMRC string from the GPS unit. 
Date/time/location all in one swat.  
Warning: if a Fix cannot be obtained, the Autostar will
hang during that "********" period.

so: capture your dialogs, and analyze.  And/or use other programs which
do, to verify that you are seeing the same performance they are.

have fun
If the glitch continues, I'll try adding the ACK you suggest to clear
the buffer (I use that already to verify the mode, but late in my
sequence - it works fine unless corrupted by the glitch I'm chasing).

The Meade literature says the :g+# doesn't return anything...but this
sheet has a lotta fibs.  How long of a string will it spit out?  D'Ya
'spose it'll be quicker that the "conventional" readout I've coded? 
I've written a lead-lag the clock routine to account for sleepy
readouts. Also, I'll bet a direct readout from the GPS will be GMT & I
won't need to convert from the local time the scope delivers.  It will
be ASCII characters?

Oops, I just remembered: I preceed all my commands with a leading #.
Sombody suggested that a while back.  Could that be part of this

Thanks again for the help.

Subject:	program for Autostar
Sent:	Friday, May 9, 2003 08:10:53
From: (Juan Snchez Prez)
I use Starry Night Pro, Skymap, ACP and satellite tracker with my
Autostar. There are other astronomy programs for Autostar?

Best regards
Mike here: Yes, there are. Voyager III 3.60 (Windows and Mac OS 9) now includes Sky Pilot, plus there are ScopeDriver and AstroPlanner (recently reviewed on the Autostar Information page).
Subject:	Re: Starry Night Pro and ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, May 8, 2003 21:55:51
To: (Richard Seymour)

Thank you very much for the info on AstroPlanner. We tried it and it
works great. I plan to send them the $20 so we can get access to the
Digital Sky Survey.

Thanks again.

Harry and Ann Koons
And this:
A new version of the telescope controller is available that fixes this
problem. Click this link to download the new plug-in. The download is a
zipped file which contains a read-me file with complete instructions for
installing and using the telescope plug-in. You do not need to uninstall
the existing telecope plug-in.

Astronomy Support Associate 

Subject:	Autostar LCD goes Red
Sent:	Wednesday, May 7, 2003 22:51:21
From: (louis mell)


Mike here: The Autostar can get very warm when in use. If there is insufficient airflow around it the display may either blank out or turn red (I've personally seen the red screen). Once it cools back down it should be OK.
Subject:	Slewing percentages
Sent:	Wednesday, May 7, 2003 08:41:29
From: (Jean-Bernard MOENS)
You must have read this many times now but, it is still true : your site
is really worth something for all of us wishing to get the best out of
our wonderful little equipments. Thanks for your contribution to the

I have two questions :

1. I had some troubles doing a correct alignment procedure with my
ETX-105 + Autostar in Polar Mode, until I realized you actually had to
switch off the scope first, put it in Home Polar Alignment and THEN
switch on the scope. Starting an alignment procedure after having played
with the scope for some minutes (i.e. slewing it in all directions) is
not a good idea as it seems. Am I right ? I could not find any
confirmation of this in the manual, nor on your site (maybe it is too
obvious for everyone except me ?).

2. Changing the slewing percentages does not affect the behaviour of the
scope in any way EVEN if I press ENTER and re-calibrate the drives each
time I do a change. Even with percentages like 50% or 99%, both axes
still behave the same way when I use speeds like "5" and "3" (there is
some lag of +/- 5 sec. at speed "3" when I reverse Az/RA slewing
direction and it is not affected by any change in percentage). I use the
latest firmware version (2.6Ed) of the autostar. Is this normal ? Have
other people also this kind of no-effect thing ?

Thanks for your feedback,

Mike here: You can slew around all you want, manually or electrically, before doing an alignment. The clock keeps running so no matter how long it takes to do the alignment, the clock stays accurate. Just don't forget to start the alignment process by doing the HOME position rotations (ETX models with hardstops). As to percentages, personally I have never felt the need to modify the factory defaults. I'm satisfied with the responsiveness.
Subject:	re: spiral 
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2003 22:13:40
From: (Richard Seymour)
Mike neglected to mention one little thing: how to -start- a spiral scan.

GoTo a target.  Once it arrives, tap the GoTo key again.
The motors will start doing the spiral scan.

You can also start one by holding the GoTo key down for 4 seconds
and releasing it.

have fun

Subject:	re:   Autostar headaches
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2003 22:11:09
From: (Richard Seymour)

> I enter the date, time, etc.

Did you give it your wristwatch time, and then properly answer
YES if your wristwatch is set to Daylight savings?
And NO if your wristwatch is NOT set to daylight savings?

That can cause a 15 degree (3 full finder widths) error in GoTo
to the alignment stars.

> as close to north as my compass will allow me to get

You do realize that MAgnetic North is rarely True North?
(mine in Seattle is 19 degrees off)
Do you correct for that?
(if you can see Polaris (assuming northern hemi), point at it,
and drop the barrel to level from there.. that's within 3/4 degrees
of true, and more than good enough for the ETX)

Which way from Arcturus did the scope point?
Too high? Too low? north/up? south/down?
Was it the same displacement from Capella (which a mis-pointed
"north" would cause).

Where is your site, what was the time/date?

With more data we can provide better answers.

Another trick is: let it slew to Arcturus... now grab the entire
telescope, base and all, and spin it to correct the gross Azimuth error.
Then use the Autostar to center Arcturus.  Then tap [enter]
and see if it doesn't do a much better job at landing at Capella.

(the spin-base may correct your north-pointing errors)

good luck

Subject:	re:  etx125/Autostar Accuracy
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2003 22:00:07
From: (Richard Seymour)
Have you ever SYNCed?

SYNCing is when you GoTo a target, and it misses.

IF so, lean on the [enter] key for 3 seconds.  Release.
It will prompt you to center the target.  Do so.
Tap [enter]

You have just told the telescope: "it's not -there-, it's HERE!"
..and that will affect subsequent GoTo's.

Likewise, you could do
Setup > Telescope > (scroll up) High PRecision > ON [enter]

That will precede every dim-target GoTo with a slew to a 
bright(er) star, and the request to center it.  After doing so,
tap [enter] and the telescope shall continue on to the dimmer,
original, target.  And it'll (hopefully) be dead-center.

good luck

P.S.  oh, i forgot to mention:

I Truly doubt that doing a Reload will have any effect.

Subject:	re:  Starry Night Pro and ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2003 21:48:32
From: (Richard Seymour)
I don't have SNP, either, but you could try another program
(such as Paul Rodman's excellent Astroplanner, reviewed on Mike's site,
free download and usage, $20 shareware if you'd like to support him)

That program has a "dataflow" window, which lets you see (and capture
to a file) the scope/pc dialog.  If there's a problem, having the chit-chat
recorded helps locate the source.

Be sure to be running -all- of the Autostar-related patches from 
StarryNight... they had at least two a year or so ago... one fixed
-most- problems, and the other fixed a date problem.
(but that was two years ago... it might be inherently better now)

good luck

Subject:	Starry Night Pro and ETX-125
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 20:50:00
Last night we tried to run our ETX-125 with Starry Night Pro. We could
only get it to work in one direction.

If we picked an object in the Autostar and slewed to it both the scope
and the computer screen would slew to it OK.

If we picked a new object in Starry Night Pro and slewed to it the scope
did not come within a few degrees of the correct location, By that I
mean the autostar cross on the screen was way off the object and I'm
pretty sure the scope was not pointing to the object either. We were
doing this inside but I'm pretty sure the scope was really pointing to
the location shown by the cross on the screen and not to the object. I
checked this by selecting the object with the autostar and the scope
would dutifully move over to the object on the computer screen.

We ran a dozen tests with the same result. We tried all of the options
in Starry Night Pro such as slew to object, slew to gaze etc. All with
the same negative result.

We have Version 3.1.2 of Starry Night Pro and Version 25E of the
Autostar firmware.

Is this a known problem with this combination?

How does the software know which scope we have? Does it read the
firmware and memory from the scope?

We are using Windows XP. I see no reason why this should be an operating
system problem or a COM problem because the computer screen always
followed the scope when we drove it with the Autostar. Thus our baud
rate etc must be OK.

I see no way to debug which side the problem is on since I can't
intercept and interpret the serial communication's link.

Is the RA and DEC the only information passed between them?

Any help with this problem will be greatly appreciated.

By the way my wife and I enjoyed your presentation to the South Bay
Astonomical Society in April.

Harry Koons
Mike here: Regarding SNP and the Autostar, I don't have SNP so can't comment directly but it should have a setup where you tell it what telescope/GOTO system you have. Then when it connects to the telescope it reads some data from the Autostar. You might have to tell it what type of mounting mode you are using, alt/az or polar. You might also have to be certain that the software has the same date/time/location as the Autostar if it doesn't read that from the Autostar. But once proper communication is established it should pass the proper slewing information.
Subject:	Serial Port Detours??
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 16:54:17
From: (Spencer Petzold)
As my father and I were looking at some of your listed autostar updating
cable creations, we noticed a little "bump" in the road. Me don't have a
serial port on our two-week-old laptop. We have a zillion pin port
(printer?), and I a 15 ( I think) pin port with three rows. I was
wondering if adapters would work for these or if there are any cabling
instructions for these situations.... Maybe even for USB? Unfortunatly
we cannot update using our G3 iMac because of lack of needed software.
Please e-mail me with any suggestions....

Mike here: if you have USB (and you do), you can use one of the serial to USB adapters (Belkin or Keyspan; I use a Keyspan one). But you'd still need Virtual PC to run the Windows-only Autostar Updater Application. See the "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Daylight Savings Time
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 14:04:46
From: (Tom Gardner)
Have a question on the ETX 60 and the start-up. When you start the scope
up and it ask for the time, you enter it and then it the scope will ask
for DST yes or no. Now why even have that question when the scope can't
retain the time. I have to enter the correct time anyways, so what
different can DST make? I have been answering "no". Am I making a
       Thanks Tom
Mike here: If your locale changes time, then it will make 15 degrees of difference (1 hour). So, yes, you should be correct when selecting yes/no.
Subject:	Sun-Tracking & Finding North
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 08:03:20
From:	Marv.Sumner@ONIZUKA.AF.MIL (Sumner Marv C Contr CWNO/SCNC)
Here is a litle help for two of your recent questioners.

Sun Tracking:
The sun moves VERY slowly against the background sky - 360 degrees in a
little over 365 days is close enough to sidereal to ignore the
difference. With the sidereal motor running, the movement of the sun in
the eyepiece for a few minutes will be nil.  For visual use, no problem,
and for photo use, your exposures will be in the milliseconds, so also
no problem.  Remember, the Autostar allows sidereal tracking even in the
Alta-Az mode.

Finding North:
If you can't find a Boy Scout (or airplane pilot) to ask, buy a road-map
(north is usually at the top). Notice the direction of your street and
the adjacent cross-streets. From there, find the big-dipper, etc. 
Alternativly, use a compass to easily get within 20 degrees of true
north depending on where you live; then look for the big-dipper. If you
live in northern Canada, use of a compass requires more thought.

Marv Sumner

Subject:	etx125/Autostar Accuracy
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 06:20:12
From: (Sam Edmonds)
I've had my etx125 for about 1.5 years and I am having some problems
with accuracy of goto's.  After initial "easy" setup, the first goto
accuracy is pretty good, but the object will end up low to the left in
the finder.  As the night wears on and depending on orientation from the
initial setup stars, it gets a bit worse, but always misses in the same
direction, low to the left. I've Calibrated, Trained and Reset,
Calibrated and Retrained.  Makes absolutely no diffence.

I've checked date, time, leveled, DST, location, everything I can think
of, but still consistant low to the left after initial setup. The scope
did sit for a year while I was out sick.  It did show signs before
sitting.  Kept indoors, AC, dry, etc.

Best regards,
Mike here: Have you ever updated the Autostar to a more recent version? The current version is 2.6Ed. I suggest you buy or make (easy) a #505 cable. You will need Windows to run the Autostar Updater Application (available from Meade's site). Once you update, do a TRAIN DRIVES (required after ever update to the ROM). One other suggestion, not necessarily related to the accuracy. Since the telescope sat for so long, unlock both axes and manually move the telescope from hard stop to hard stop in all directions several times. That should redistribution the lubrication.


Updated to 2.6Ed 3 months ago.  Reset, Trained and Calibrated first
thing after that.  Checked freedom of movement before I used it the
first time. They were stuck when I bought the telescope originally.  No
problem, just like I left them, stop to stop.  When the clouds clear,
I'll try again.  May try to reload 2.6ed.  Had a bit of a problem, if I
remember right when loading.  Do you have a procedure to download and
load in the autostar?  I can't remember exactly what I did.
Thank, Sam
Mike here: To download the firmware to the Autostar just run the Autostar Updater Application and select to update the Autostar. By the way, if the telescope was stored with the axis locks fully engaged the mechanism may have a slight detent. You may be able to clear reduce it by locking the axis just to the point where some resistance is felt when moving the telescope by hand. Then rotate the telescope by hand several times back and forth across where the detent is (if you can determine that). Don't do this unless you are certain there is a deformation.
Subject:	Autostar headaches
Sent:	Sunday, May 4, 2003 19:16:03
I have tried to use the Autostar three times since my last e-mail. Here
is what I do:

I program my approximate location (I am within a ten-mile radius of my
programmed location, usually)

I enter the date, time, etc.

I point the tripod so the computer control panel is west

I move the telescope manually counterclockwise to the hardstop, and then
as close to north as my compass will allow me to get

I eyeball it until it looks level (I change the vertical position with
the Autostar manually before alignment)

Then, when a try to do an alignment, it does not go where it's supposed
to! For example, last night I had it going to Arcturus. Now, I know
where Arcturus is, and it was at least 5 or 6 viewfinder lengths away
from where it should have been. Then, when I center Arcturus, it started
looking for Capella, and left me in an absolutely blank patch of sky.
What is going wrong? Am I being too inexact on something? Is there
something else I have to calibrate (I did train the motors)? This thing
is really causing me headaches. What is the simplest, absolute
bare-bones most basic thing I can do to get the thing working? The scope
works fine without the Autostar, but it seems to have so many
capabilities. What should I do?
Mike here: I forget (too many emails!): did you CALIBRATE before doing the TRAIN DRIVES? Can you see Polaris to use as a reference to TRUE NORTH (not Magnetic North)? If you've done those things, lets try a test: pick difference alignment stars by pressing the up or down arrow key when it stops on a star name in the list. Let me know.
Subject:	re:  Meade Starfinder Go-To
Sent:	Saturday, May 3, 2003 21:22:56
From: (Richard Seymour)
You can use a 495 or 497 with the Starfinder motors...
you will have to manually tell the Autostar their gear ratios
(or use my patch kit, which adds the 4504 telescope they came from).

If you use any of the Meade motors on a custom mount, you'll have to
adjust the ratio values anyway.

have fun

Subject:	random slews
Sent:	Saturday, May 3, 2003 19:19:44
If you are using a 110 volt to 12 volt power supply it could be the
source of your random slew problem.

I tried two diferent Meade power supplies and a Radio Shack regulated 12
volt power supply and experienced occasional random slews with all of
them. The Autostar seems to be very sensitive to power irregularities
and I suspect that occasional minor irregularities of the incoming 110
volt power is causing the problem.

After switching to a rechargable power supply using a 7 amp hour 12 volt
battery, about a year and a half ago, I have not experienced any random

 Forrest Lundberg
From: (Michael Knapp)
I always use the AC power supply.


Mike Knapp
Mike here: Unstable power supplies can cause the power glitches.
Subject:	spiral
Sent:	Saturday, May 3, 2003 16:45:36
I red this on your site:

"Seems to me there is or was a "spiral scan" utility on the Autostar - I
used it in the past but have totally forgotten how to get to it - can't
find it on any menus. "

What is a spiral scan?

Job Geheniau

The Netherlands
Mike here: As explained in the Autostar manual (later versions), the "spiral search" traces out an ever-expanding spiral movement. When you initiate it, the telescope slews a short distance and stops, it changes direction by 90 degrees and slews again, then another 90 direction change and slew, and so on. It can be used when you don't see the object you are looking for in the eyepiece.
Subject:	ETX Spiral scan
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 17:47:32
Seems to me there is or was a "spiral scan" utility on the Autostar - I
used it in the past but have totally forgotten how to get to it - can't
find it on any menus.  Can you help?


Mike here: Following a GOTO an object, press the GOTO button again to initiate the "Spiral search". Press the MODE key to stop to the search.


Got it, thanks very much Mike,

great ETX site!


Subject:	Re:  ETX 125 AutoStar Easy Alignment 
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 13:50:32
Changing the slew speed did the trick.  Thanks for putting up with such
a newbie.  John

> Have you tried increasing the slewing speed by pushing one of the higher 
> number keys?  I usually use a speed of 5 or 7 when making alignment 
> adjustments.
> Mike

Subject:	Improved "goto"
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 06:06:19
From: (Michael Knapp)
I read a few recent posts on your site concerning "goto" accuracy and
thought I might add a couple of tips. Last Fall, at the 2nd annual ETX
Star Party in Springfield, IL, Dr. Sherrod mentioned performing the
"callibrate motors" function every time the AutoStar is turned on. I did
this for the first time this past weekend (I always forget to do
it) and it helped soooooo was amazing! I would highly
recommend this for everyone. This should be the first thing done.
Don't bother leveling the tube or turning it north prior to
this since it does engage the motor drives of both axis. The
other change I made to my setup is that I leveled the base of the scope
with a small level. The tripod does have a bubble level on it but, as I
found out, that does not guarantee the scope base is level. I have
adjusted the tripod now so that if the bubble is level then the
scope base is level. I don't worry too much about the optical tube
being absolutely level or facing dead North for the 2 star
alignment as both of these are compensated for in the alignment
process. Finally, if you have dirty optics, follow Dr. Sherrod's
cleaning techniques and solution from here

I am still experiencing one problem. I have updated the software
many times and I always reset, retrain and recallibrate. Every time I
use my scope, at some point during my observation session, the
telescope (or Autostar) will randomly slew the scope location
in both alt. and az. It still thinks it's pointing at the object I
was last at...but it is not. To fix it, I loosen both axis,
manually relocate the object and then relock the drives. I am fine from
that point on. I just don't know why it does what it does. Software
glitch??? Buggy Autostar???

Mike Knapp
Mike here: Thanks for the update. Some early shipping ETX-125EC telescopes had a glitch that caused a random slew. The telescope had to be returned to Meade to correct it. I don't know if that's what you're experiencing or not. Other causes: dirty encoders, loose cable connections, electrical interference, low batteries.
Subject:	Meade Starfinder Go-To
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 04:44:00
I have just bought a Meade Starfinder Go-To controller and motors from a
party off the internet ($65.00 plus $10. shipping). I havent tried it
yet but read on your web site about Meade 495 and 497 Go-To controllers.
Can they be bought with motors etc to install on generic mounts ( Synta,
Vixen clones etc.) ? If so, approximately how much. I am looking for a
cheap Go-To for my Synta mounts. Thanks
Web Thomas
Mike here: Meade used to sell drives for older DS models but I don't know if they are still available anywhere. You could check with some of the online dealers (listed on the Astronomy Links page). See the link to "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" on the Astronomy Links page; also take a look at the Autostar Information for more on other mounts.

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