AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 May 2005
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:	Autostar command line syntax?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 31, 2005 09:32:22
From:	George Dongarra (gdongarra@gmail.com)
my Autostar hand controller display is broken. I use OS X and Equinox
5.2.1 to control my mount. However since my controller display has gone
dead I'm having limited success configuring and aligning my scope in the
blind. Is there a command line syntax reference for initial
configuration and alignment via a console session?

Thanks,
George Dongarra III
Mike here: Well, yes and no. You can send some commands and get some data back via a terminal program. See the item "Autostar commands" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. But I don't recall anyone trying to do an alignment that way. Let me know how it goes.
Subject:	re cables for autostar uppdate
Sent:	Monday, May 30, 2005 12:14:37
From:	David Frieslander (david@frieslander.co.uk)
truly an amazing site! But I can't find the answer to what must surely
be a simple common question.

I have a Meade LPI with three cables in the box. One is the usb cable. I
know that, the other two are black. One short, thin and round, with 2 x
4 pins connectors at each end and a long flat cable with 6 pins at each
end.

I have downloaded from your site the very helpful autostar update
tutorial, but my question is simple. Do I have the right cables or not
to update end remotely control the telescope.

I leave the curly cable in the autostar and in the HBX port on the
telescope.

I have a serial adapter that I connect to a usb/serial cable connection,
but only the small round 4 pin cable fits in the back of the RS232
adapter, the other end of the cable is too small and wobbles in the
socket at the bottom of the autostar, but is the right size for the aux
port on the telescope.

The long flat cable fits in the bottom of the autostar, but does not
connect to either the aux on the telescope or the RS232 serial adapter,
it's too big.

I used to have an ETX 105, great scope but now have an LX90. All I want
to do is update the autostar and remotely control the scope.

Regards

David Frieslander
Mike here: The #505 cable is the one you want to control the Autostar from a computer (and update the Autostar). It is the one with the small phone cord connector on each end (one large and one smaller). The small connector connects to the base of the Autostar and the other to the serial adapter (DB-9). The other serial cable is for an LX200.

And:

There you go, I must have a problem then with the cables. As I said, I
have two cables, neither has one end of the cable larger than the other.
These came with the LPI.

Regards 
David Frieslander
Mike here: Contact Meade then; they will send you the correct cable.

And:

Thanks I will by the as a result of your site my hobby and astro skills
have improved. Check out my new web images here.
http://www.frieslander.co.uk/weather/Night%20Sky/index.htm Feel free to
show them on your site

Regards and thanks

David Frieslander

Subject:	Re: as_lx200.html [:D#] response
Sent:	Monday, May 30, 2005 04:45:10
From:	Andrew Sprott (andrew@crysania.co.uk)
>(b) they don't -think- his description is normal (i.e. they only get
>as many characters as the distance remaining would warrant)

It could possibly be that the scope ain't aligned, but then it still
GOTO's and beeps when done.

>(c) they don't -use- the :D# command (they watch the RA/DEC to see
>it arrive at the spot)

I tried this, but because of tracking, the scope never seems to get to
the destination.

But, would the scope respond to a get/ra/dec request whilst it is
moving? I thought that if it doesn't then send the request until it
does.

Andrew
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>>(b) they don't -think- his description is normal (i.e. they only get
>>as many characters as the distance remaining would warrant)
>
>It could possibly be that the scope ain't aligned, but then it still
>GOTO's and beeps when done.

That should not matter.  If the scope thinks it can (and does) GoTo,
the "how far to go" output should operate.

>>(c) they don't -use- the :D# command (they watch the RA/DEC to see
>>it arrive at the spot)
>
>I tried this, but because of tracking, the scope never seems to get to
>the destination.

You need to define an allowable error zone... so if the scope gets
within (say) 2 arcminutes, it's "there".  With the error dither 
possible in feedback systems, you cannot trust an -exact- match to 
be correct, either.  In engineering terms: define an epsilon.

>But, would the scope respond to a get/ra/dec request whilst it is
>moving? I thought that if it doesn't then send the request until it
>does.

All of the non-Meade programs i have seen serial-line-captures of
do the "get RA/DEC" continuously during the GoTo, with varying 
frequency (from as frequently as 10 per second, to the more typical
one or two interrogations per second.  The scope will (or, since yours
is being whacko: should) respond during the GoTo.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	#495 or #497 ?
Sent:	Monday, May 30, 2005 00:03:09
From:	Innendrin@aol.com (Innendrin@aol.com)
I do appreciate your clear and precise informations on Meade topics.
Recently I purchased a used Autostar control. It came, uploaded with the
latest software, but with serial no. and type identifyer erased. Opening
the device, I found several hints on being produced in 2002. My
question: Is this a #495 or #497, and how can I definitely find out?
Please give me a short answer, thank you!
 
Pulley
Mike here: I don't believe that #495 Autostars were still made in 2002. But a #495 that has been updated to newer software is the same as a #497.

And:

thank you very much for your fast answering - that helps a lot. I'll go
on watching your site and I hope for better seeing for direct
astronomical experience...
 
Bye, Pulley.

Subject:	RE: Problems connecting Meade ETX105/Autostar/PC
Sent:	Sunday, May 29, 2005 12:29:25
From:	John Mitchell (john@allvoice.co.uk)
Real serial port - not a USB adapter. 
 
Regards
John Mitchell
Mike here: OK. Then Dick's comment is probably the correct solution.

And:

Hey guys
 
Thanks for your help  but still having problems.  Here is an update.
 
I went to the dealer yesterday (here in the UK) who has no idea. 
However, he gave me a spare serial cable to try which looks similar to
the one I have, but has a Meade box in it as well and even a new adapter
so that part is also eliminated. However, it says it is for an ETX 70AT
(mine is a 105 - are there cable differences?).  Tried that and have
identical results - except the Autostar does not ask for all the keys to
be pressed - so if it was a faulty cable, that has been eliminated.

If I try "Telescope", "Protocol" "Autostar via N/W server", it takes
about 20 secs to say network connection failed. Interestingly it does
this with or without the Autostar connected or switched on.

OTOH, "telescope", "communications", "start network server", "listen"
gives Run Time Error 8005 then Port already open.

If I try "Telescope", "Protocol", "Autostar via Comm Port", I get "Error
-1", Can't Open Com-1.

The N/W address is 192.168.1.7 and Port 5401.

The dealer added that if it is the Autostar, last time it took 3 months
to get one replaced - which happened to be mine as the unit did not even
switch on - so I got the shop demo one that works fine w/o the PC?
 
Cheers
John Mitchell
Mike here: Change dealers! He gave you a #506 cable which won't work if you connect it to the Autostar #497. Shame on the dealer. For info on setting up the network capability of the Autostar Suite, see my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" and Dick Seymour's article "Network Server Capability" on the Helpful Information: Autostar info page. But since the serial port is still used to communicate to the Autostar, using the network capability won't solve the problem of failure to communicate.

And:

Good news!  Although the second cable is inappropriate, it did have
another converter for the serial connector.  We switched that as a last
resort and suddenly we have a connection.  So thanks for pointing me at
the cable, it is rarely hardware these days.  Still we tested it and it
came out OK, BUT I don't think we tested the adapter.  I guess we
expected Meade to have done that.....

Thanks again

Best Wishes
John C Mitchell

Subject:	Connecting my ETX 125 PE to my laptop via Starry Night
Sent:	Sunday, May 29, 2005 08:51:04
From:	Garry Hood (garryhood@hotmail.com)
I purchased an ETX 125 PE in April of this year.  I immediately bought
Starry Night Pro 5.  My goal was to use my HP4900ZE laptop to control my
telescope.  I have not been able to accomplish this feat.  I followed
the instructions of configuring, using the LX200, as instructed by
Starry Night.

When attempting to connect however, the program informed me that it did
not recognize the Meade scope.  I then visited the ABSCOM site and
downloaded a platform of drivers that should have fixed the issue. 
Unfortunately it still gives the same message when trying to connect.

I was hopeful you might have some advice on how to correct the problem.
 
Thank you for you time
Garry Hood
Mike here: Are you connecting through a USB-serial converter or a real RS-232 port on the laptop? Also, does the Autostar Upgrade application or the AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition that came with the PE see the Autostar?

And:

It is a  converter.
Thanks for the quick reply!

To be honest I am not sure.  I can do the align with autostar.  I can
slew to objects with the auto star unit but just can not get the laptop
to recognize the scope.

Garry
Mike here: Try them out on your PC. If they work OK then you know that your Autostar and PC are talking together.
Subject:	Re: Autostar Upgrade
Sent:	Sunday, May 29, 2005 11:32:22
From:	Denis Simoneau (info@birim.com)
Thanks for your patience!

Hooked up everything in the right  order; flicked on the Autostar while
holding down the "enter" and "scroll down" keys; saw the "Flash Load
Ready ver. 1.2" on the Autostar; powered up the PC, went to the freshly
downloaded ASU program on my PC; it loaded up something(?), then it
proceeded to start up the handbox (which I saw on the Autostar (welcome
message: MEADE [33E] AUTOSTAR; once that was done, the only active
button on the ASU dialog box was the "Upgrade Autostar now"; nothing
(greyed out) on the right hand side. I clicked on the upgrade button but
then it couldn't find my COM Port. But I know that COM Port to be active
and working properly because I saw in it in the Device Manager (COM 5)
under  "COM & LPT Ports". Before giving up, I pressed the keys on the
handbox but there is no sign of life.

I uninstalled and reloaded the software for the USB High Speed Serial
Converter (to USB), did everything all over again, but to no avail. I
must add that prior to my mishap (interrupted power connection during
download which led to these emails), it was working and the COM5 port
was recognized. Go figure!

As you can see, I am still lost!
Merci!
Denis Simoneau
Mike here: When you did the FLASH LOAD from ASU, how long did it take to load the Autostar?

And:

About one minute! It said "Handbox re-started". Don't know how it
managed to do that when, upon clicking the "Update Autostar", it tells
me that it can't find the COM5 port to which the handbox is linked!
Thanks,
Denis Simoneau
Mike here: It should take 25-30 minutes. It sounds like the USB-serial converter is failing to maintain the communication for some reason. I'd suggest using a different computer if you can and using a real serial port to get the Autostar back to normal.

And:

Thanks Mike - I'll give it a whirl at a friend's place.............who's
got a built-in serial port. They're harder and harder to come by!

Denis

Subject:	broke
Sent:	Sunday, May 29, 2005 03:24:22
From:	jim allen (jimmyjack@supanet.com)
hi my autostar has died there is nothing their when i power up my lx90
can i get it fixed or do i have to buy another
thank jim 
Mike here: First off, your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX Site to avoid future messages being DELETED UNREAD.
Does the LED on the LX90 base come on? Have you tried replacing the batteries in the LX90 or use an alternative power source? Have you checked the cable connections?

And:

no theres no power at all,though the unit seems to be getting hot near
the enter key so i think its dead
Mike here: Since you indicate there is no power on the LX90, it sounds like some internal failure has occurred. Time to contact Meade.

And:

sorry mike there is power on the telescope
Mike here: OK. Try reversing the Autostar cable. Probably won't help but can't hurt either. Do the slewing arrow keys work even if there is no display on the Autostar?

And:

no mike the slewing keys dont work nothing happens
Mike here: Well, if you want to do some tests, there are some test tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page as well as articles on making an external power source for the Autostar. You could try that and see if you get any response from the Autostar.

And:

thanks mike i'll have a look ,if i have no luck where can i get another
one from ,i cant find them for sale on the meade site
Mike here: You can check any Meade dealer or eBay or Telescope Warehouse or even the For Sale page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Meade ETX Autostar Problem
Sent:	Saturday, May 28, 2005 23:20:02
From:	alphamad1wanadoo.es (alphamad1@wanadoo.es)
I'm a complete beginner with a Meade ETX mounted on the delux field
tripod.  I'm raring to go but seem unable to get past 'Setup' with
Autostar.  The scope is correctly set on the tripod, algned to true
north and set horizontal.  Initially, Autostar cosistently pointed the
scope at the ground to the south-est when searching for Vega in the
'Align' phase.  I used the 'Reverse Up/Down' facility to stop this.  Now
it points at the sky, but seems nowhere near its target.  I live in
Spain, which uses Daylight Savng and is one-hour ahead of England. 
Could this be a time-related problem?  Should  I enter the time in
Spain, England or on Pluto?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Regards,   Bob.
Mike here: Did you do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES? If not, I suggest you start over and do that. Let me know.
Subject:	Dont need a Serial to USB adapter
Sent:	Saturday, May 28, 2005 05:42:42
From:	Dennis Rogers (dennisrogers@xtra.co.nz)
I have been reading where people have had trouble with XP not
recognising the Autostar 497, and cannot find the com port. Have read
where people bought a Serial to USB adapter, but you don't need to do
this.

I had the same trouble hooked up my Autostar 497, with serial adapter
then could not find the com port. Then on cloudy nights I mentioned this
and someone suggested I delete these ports and let XP find them again.
Well the trick works and now have no trouble with my computer not
recognising my Autostar and now have a fully updated ROM.
 
Cheers
Dennis

Subject:	as_lx200.html [:D#] response
Sent:	Friday, May 27, 2005 15:45:27
From:	Andrew Sprott (andrew@crysania.co.uk)
When my program NTC sends a LX200 scope to a destination I am trying to
use the :D# command to know when the scope has slewed to it's target.

I gather that the LX200 sends a series of $7f characters followed by a
#. Finally when the scope is finished :D# just sends a single #. But it
doesn't even after the scope has beeped indicating that it has finished
the response is still 32 $7f characters followed by a #.

I thought another way to see if the scope is ready is simply ask for
it's position, assuming that when I get a correct response the scope is
ready.

TIA

Andrew Sprott

Subject:	Autostar Upgrade
Sent:	Friday, May 27, 2005 12:28:28
From:	Denis Simoneau (info@birim.com)
Well, almost made it!
 
Started downloading the upgrade to my Autostar 497 (original version 21e
that came with the LX-90) when someone in the house (who shall remain
nameless for the moment) tripped over the power cord and abruptly
interrupted the ongoing session of the upgrade. When one reflects on the
BOLD print that comes with the Autostar which says "DOWNLOADING DO NOT
TURN OFF", one suddenly breaks out in a cold sweat apprehending what the
consequences will be. Well, I found that soon enough when I attempted to
(naively) re-do the process ending up with only the welcome screen on
the Autostar and nothing else. None of the buttons gets me anywhere. So,
instead of having a perfectly usable version 21e, now I have nothing at
all!
 
There's gotta be a way out of this one!
 
Many thanks,
 
Denis Simoneau
And:
I must clarify by saying that, contrary to when I was downloading the
upgrade before the tripping incident, the PC was "seeing" the Autostar
whereas now they are both blind to one another, although the USB/COM
ports are active and working properly.
Mike here: You need to do a SAFE LOAD (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on). Then you can reload the Autostar ROM fresh. You will need to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Problems connecting Meade ETX105/Autostar/PC
Sent:	Friday, May 27, 2005 08:03:41
From:	John Mitchell (john@allvoice.co.uk)
Using Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron notebook, I seem unable to get
Autostar to function through the serial port.  So I asked my computer
staff to take a look and two days later they report that on different
machines (they even tried different versions of Windows) they get
identical problems which are as follows:-

The Autostar unit works fine with the telescope. On connecting the
serial cable, the Autostar controller when switching on goes into a
different routine ie asks you to press each key in turn and then rewards
you with the same error message ( something that includes PIC and a
number - sorry scope not to hand). Autostar updater reports that it
cannot find anything attached to the COM port.  The PC Autostar suite
reports Read Timeout, communication terminated.   We have tried all the
Autostar connection protocols and get the same result. We have tested
the COM port with several other devices and it works perfectly We have
checked the serial cable connections are OK using a meter.

I would be grateful if anyone has any ideas as I sure am frustrated with
what should be a straightforward connection.

Best Wishes

John C Mitchell
Mike here: I would think that getting the error from the Autostar would indicate either an Autostar or cable problem (but I will leave that determination to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour. Are you using a real serial port on the computer or a USB-serial adapter?

And:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Very simple... the serial cable has a short-circuit between the Tx and Rx
wires.  That kicks the Autostar into self-test (press the keys) mode.

You'll see that's how i build a test cable in:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html

How to fix:  buy/build a new COM cable, per wiring at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	HBx restart from download mode = power cycle ?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 24, 2005 07:55:44
From:	BONNEMENT Michel (mbonnement@bn.ccomptes.fr)
I am a french amateur using a LX90 updated to E33Ef and also "myscope"
by Andrew Johansen. I find your autostar pages quite useful and wish to
thank you a lot for them. May I ask a question?

I read in the help file of Johansen's "myscope" that : "If you use this
option to read, by going into download mode, you must wait for the HBx
to restart and the app to reread the data back in before pressing any
more buttons."

That's what I have done, and the HBx DID restart indeed.

As it did so without having first PARKED SCOPE, does it mean that the
scope will have lost its position among the 150 worm steps, thus making
my previous PEC useless ? In other words, does this restart work like a
complete power cycle, or does it keep memory of the position etc... ?

Thanks in advance for reply if you can.
Greetings from
Michel Bonnement
Courseulles, Normandy, France
49 20' N 0 27' W - elevation 0 m
home page : http://www.astrosurf.com/albireo14
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> Was PEC position lost?

I don't know.

It is possible that if the telescope was in the PARK position at the time
of the reboot, then the position was not lost.  I think.

I am forwarding a copy of your question to Andrew... perhaps
he can change the download/reboot code to include a PARK command.
We will certainly investigate the issue.

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	andrew johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
As Dick has already noted, the answer is "not sure"

There is no internal PEC counter to check against.

When i did the original programming, it was based on data provided by
Dick, ie that in the new Firmware they had introduced PEC and that the
PEC may need to be flipped ( similar to the Sth Hemisphere bug in the
LX200GPSs ), and it grew from there.

The problem of "synchronisation" came up then, but that was a looong
time ago, and i dont think it was ever resolved.

This post is the first i have heard  of anyone even trying it, so back
to the drawing board.

I will talk with Dick today and see what the ramifications are??

Andrew Johansen
And:
Thank you very much for your fast reply. It seems probable, indeed, that
Andrew has managed to keep PEC position while the HBx reboots, otherwise
any previous PEC training would be of no use (and thus, no interest in
comparing, editing, averaging as allowed by his software...)

I'll train another PEC and check if the result is different or not from
the first one. If not, it'll mean the reboot does not work as a power
cycle. (I think).

Just have to wait for the clouds to move away from Normandy skies...
Thanks a lot and greetings again
Michel
And:
This is going to take much more analysis...
(an 8-word 4th rewrite of what was becoming a 3-page message)

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	BONNEMENT Michel (mbonnement@bn.ccomptes.fr)
Hi Dick and Mike, Gday Andrew !

I could train another PEC from scratch yesterday night (this is a 24/24
discussion due to time zones !)
This is a summary of the data :

- 1st PEC, may 20th, running firmware rev 33Ef UNPATCHED - Then scope parked
- Firmware rev 33El downloaded on may 24th and PATCHED with Dick's 33El4
- HBx restart - Editing PEC file, backloading to HBx, exporting to Excel
and all sorts of tries to test Andrew's app - Scope parked again.
Noticed that reading PEC causes no going to download mode, BUT
backloading a modified file to HBx DOES go to download mode
- 2nd PEC from scratch, may 25th : file compared with may 20th's one :
slight differences, same general shape, no obvious offset.
Averaging both curves gives a third one whose general shape seems
coherent with the first two

-> my current conclusion is that the worm step count seems not to have
been lost in the restarts ; has to be confirmed by further testing.

If the sky keeps clear, I'll try a third (or more) train and send you
the resulting .com files.
If the conclusion is confirmed, no further modifications should be
performed (I think ?)

Thanks a lot to you all.
Greetings
Michel
And:
I have omitted an important point : I find Andrew's app really GREAT. It
is very usefull and interesting to visualise PEC curves, edit, modify,
average... (not to mention other datas retrieved and displayed from
HBx's brain).
Having myself absolutely no skill in computer programming, I admire the
work done and wish to thank all like Mike, Andrew and Dick, who spend a
lot of time working on such apps or sites, and offering the result to
other amateurs on the web.
It had to be said. Thanks a lot again and clear skies to you
Michel


Subject:	497 Hand Box Problem
Sent:	Saturday, May 21, 2005 21:50:53
From:	Donti@aol.com (Donti@aol.com)
I pickup a 497 Autostar hand box in a trade, but the hand box has a
problem.  It seems as though there's a short in the female cable
connector.  The handbox cuts in and out (turns itself off, and may
restart the handbox).  I've thought it might be the cable, but after
trying two good cables and then testing the cable from the bad handbox
on a good handbox, I can confirm that it's not the cable.  Can you or
can you point me to anyother user/group that might repair handboxes?  Or
to a  DIY's site for some testing methods.

 Thanks, Don
Mike here: There are some tests on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page on my ETX Site. But you might check the pins inside the jack; they could be depressed and so a good contact is not being made when the cable connector is inserted. I don't know of anyone who repairs Autostars (other than Meade). You can probably pick up a used #495 (which you can upgrade to a #497 via software) or a #497 for less than the repair cost.

And:

Thanks Mike for the helpful information.  One last question:  Will a
Meade 497 ETX Autostar, has the words printed ETX Autostar on the hand
box, work with my LXD55 mount?

Thanks again, looking forward to the Mighty ETX starparty.

Don
Mike here: Yep, it will work fine, as long as it has a recent version of the software. Just select the right telescope model and mounting mode AND do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES when you switch it. You must do this EACH you move the Autostar from one telescope to the other.

And:

OK thanks a bunch, Don

Subject:	re: Austostar manual slew keys response problem
Sent:	Friday, May 20, 2005 21:13:56
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
(Two scopes... but how many Autostars?)

> On pressing an arrow key in some directions it's often up 10 second
>before I see any movement response in the eyepiece.
>Slewing is sometimes erratic and variable in speed.

and

> I was meticulous about Drive Training on a terrestrial target for each
>scope during set-up but have not done a calibrate motors yet (not sure
>how or if it's necessary).

How:  Setup > Telescope > Calibrate Motors [enter]
(whirr, whirr.  It's done... but then you have to realign)

>I also tried different speed settings from 1 to 9 but no real improvement.

Let's be specific: there's still a 10 second delay, even at speed 8?

>I've switched over to Targets /Astronomical since drive training.

The scope should automatically switch to Astro at the end of aligning.

The "kick back" you saw was the anti-backlash operation... 
playing with the setting of 
Setup > Telescope > RA Percent    and Dec Percent 
(try 1%, 11% and 40%)  will affect it.

If you are using one Autostar on -both- telescopes,
then you MUST do a Calibrate Motors whenever you move it.
And the Train Drive results are probably different between the two.

I've only heard of one other scope (that i can remember in 5 years
of this) that had a ten second delay in keypad response... and we
never did figure out why ("faulty autostar" is the best bet, once
Cal Motors have been ruled out).

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Where to get the correct modem cable for uisng Palm T3 with Planetarium Software?
Sent:	Thursday, May 19, 2005 16:47:53
From:	ranger (leofran2@connecttime.net)
In attempting to use my Palm T3 with the Planetarium softare and my
Autostar 497, I get a 'Serial Port Communication error' from the Palm
device. Burried rather deep in Planetarium's website for the type of
cable required to use a Palm handheld to drive the AutoStar 497 for my
ETX90 is reference to the following:

"For the handheld do not just buy a serial Hotsync cable! This might
work well with the PC, but not with the telescope. The reason is that
many Palm devices have serial ports with digital voltage levels only.
They need level converters to bring the signals to proper RS232 levels,
and these are usually built into the serial cable."

Having already purchased a regular modem cable, I could use some help in
finding a level convertere or a cable that meets the above referenced
reqirements. Most posts to this site related to this topic are a few
years old when the palm cables did not require the level converters
described above. Any help would be appreciated.
 
Thanks, Frank

Subject:	AutostarX
Sent:	Saturday, May 14, 2005 18:46:53
From:	thomas robison (tbrobison@mac.com)
>I was wondering if AutostarX (ver. 1.4) is working well as I am anxious
>to try it but still worried about it's performance.
Mike here: I just updated my ETX-105PE from version 3.3Ef to 3.3El. Worked fine, with one caveat. The PowerBook went to sleep during the downloading process, corrupting the load. When I woke up the laptop AutostarX had detected the communications failure. Redid the download using SAFE LOAD mode. Maybe the author can code to prevent the sleep from happening.

And:

From:	Rodolphe Pineau (pineau@rti-zone.org)
I can have a look at it.
I'm really busy with my job as of now and don't know when I'll release
the next version (with Autostar II support as well as user objects).
I'll check to see if I can do a quick fix on the existing version to
prevent the sleep.

Rodolphe

Subject:	Autostar 497 ,, has my cat killed it?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 18, 2005 09:25:03
From:	Keith Bryant (keith@maxey3.co.uk)
Our playful kitten managed to drag the Autostar hand set from the Velcro
patch holding it to the tripod. It fell heavily onto the tiled floor and
now does not work at all.

When I switch it on the display lights up but is patchy in brightness.
There is a strange clicking noise from the handset (is it trying to
beep?) and none of the buttons work.

I have tried 'safe mode' and get the correct message showing. I have
then downloaded the latest Autostar program and the computer shows a
successful download. But the handset is just as unresponsive as before.

I fear the cat has killed it. Or is there some resuscitation routine
that I can try?

Keith
Mike here: Sounds like something was knocked loose from the fall. If you want to open it up and take a look, can't hurt at this point.

And:

OK Done that, with trepidation, and nothing loose. Still get the
flickering display and can sti;; get the 'Flash Load 3.0 Ready' message

Should the handset slew buttons  able to work the scope anyway without
the autostar loaded?
Keith
Mike here: I haven't tried to use a corrupted Autostar ROM load so don't know if the slew arrows will work.
Subject:	Autostar Error
Sent:	Wednesday, May 18, 2005 03:07:57
From:	Steve Jenkins (SteveJenkins@docsmarineservices.co.uk)
Got a problem with my Autostar #497. It hasn't been used in a while (12
months) and last night I connected it all up. The power supply is a
12VDC car battery which has worked effortlessly in powering the scope
etc and has always been kept topped up.

The Autostar once connected and turned on however displays utter
gibberish in the display. If you hold down enter and scroll down then
turn on you get the Meade default safe load message. I then connected to
the Autostar through to my PC to try either rest it to cure it or to
update it. The ASU finds the autostar but then either fails to upload or
aborts at 49%.
 
Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
 
Kind regards
 
Steve Jenkins
Mike here: You do not need to connect it to a PC to do a RESET. Just select that from the SETUP menu. If your download has failed to load properly you may need to do a SAFE LOAD. Depending upon your Internet connection speed you may find it best to first download the Build file from Meade's site and then update the Autostar using the local file.

And:

thank you for your very swift response!

The display is utter gibberish therefore I can not tell where I am
within the menu's

When it starts its says Autostar version 33Ee, but after then the
display corrupts.

If I try a safe load, it will then fail halfway through.

Regards

Steve Jenkins
Mike here: Have you tried to download a fresh copy of the Build ROM file from Meade's site? Perhaps you got a corrupted copy. Also, you might want to try the StarPatch application from StarGPS (www.stargps.ca). Lastly, be certain there is no process (like fax software) that will interrupt the serial communications.

And:

following on from our previous correspondance I am now at home and have
tried your suggestions with Starpatch 1.6.

In Safe Load mode I get the error message "NumBlocks: failed to clear
last page" then I press ok and get the following "update failed please
try again" and 4 instructions to carry out the process again but in safe
mode.

I turn the Autostar on and then get the following when it tries to
update

"Found: "line of gibberish text"

This version of StarPatch can only update the Autostar model 495, 497 or
Autostar II"

Regards

Steve Jenkins
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Before falling into total despair, i'd try a few more things:
(a) use a PC with a hardware COM port (instead of USB->serial) if possible.
(b) try StarPatch (from http://www.stargps.ca ) instead of the Meade updater.
 It's more robust about working at restoring the Autostar.

Don't be doing other things with the PC... don't browse, or do Email,
and consider disconnecting it from the 'net and turning off virus checking
during the download.

There is always the possibility that a memory chip has gone bad,
but keep poking at it...

good luck
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick. I think he did try StarPatch (those errors he mentioned at the end of the thread). But good point about not doing other things.

And:

Whoops... i missed the futher (pre-)adventures (i'm reading this
thru a small web-based window).

That error message tells the tale:
The Autostar performs updates by first erasing a 64KB chunk of
the FlashRam, then verifies that all bits went to "1" (the erased state).

If they didn't, it stops the process and complains.
If they -did- all go to "1", it then starts "burning" that 64KB chunk
of the new firmware.

StarPatch at least provides a (nearly-)English message describing
where the fault was.  Meade's updater just says "failed".

So you have an Autostar with a physically bad chip.
(or, in other words, you now have a source of a spare
display, a spare keypad, a spare case...)

c'est la vie...

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick! I was afraid that was going to be the case.

And:

Much appreciated on your quick repsonses.

Steve

Subject:	re: Using an ETX-90 for surveying
Sent:	Tuesday, May 17, 2005 20:47:08
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The Autostar is perfectly happy to GoTo Alt/Az coordinates.

Press [mode] 3 seconds, release.
Scroll down to the Alt/Az readout.

Tap [goto]

The readout now becomes an input screen,
key in your coordinate, tap [enter],
key in the 2nd coordinate, tap [enter]
Scope will GoTo that location and stop.

You can do this under remote control, too.
You use :SaDD:MM#  and :SzDDD*MM#  to set the alt and azimuth ,

Then :MA#  makes it GoTo.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Austostar manual slew keys response problem
Sent:	Tuesday, May 17, 2005 20:33:28
From:	Garry Telford (gtelford2@yahoo.com)
Great website thanks Mike!
 
I've just bought one ETX 90 & one 105. Excellent optics (razor sharp
shadows of mountains on the Moon last night during field testing) but
both scopes are sufferring similar problems with poor responses to
Austostar commands.

During the two star alignment I'm encountering difficulties centering
the stars using the Autostar manual keys. On pressing an arrow key in
some directions it's often up 10 seconds before I see any movement
response in the eyepiece. Slewing is sometimes erratic and variable in
speed. On releasing the key the telescope sometimes experiences
over-run. After stopping the other axis motor sometimes pulses in giving
a sideways kick to the star in the eyepiece which makes things even
worse. All of this makes trying to center the star like trying to grasp
a greasy pig at a sideshow!

I was meticulous about Drive Training on a terrestrial target for each
scope during set-up but have not done a calibrate motors yet (not sure
how or if it's necessary). I also tried different speed settings from 1
to 9 but no real improvement. I've switched over to Targets /
Astronomical since drive training.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated Mike. Have other owners
reported similar problems with centering objects manually with Autostar?

Garry Telford
Darwin, Australia 
Mike here: CALIBRATE MOTORS is required. Simply put, it tells the Autostar how to control the telescope properly. So it needs to be done for each telescope. If you only have one Autostar you will have to do it each time you switch the Autostar between telescopes. Same with TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Using an ETX-90 for surveying
Sent:	Monday, May 16, 2005 09:12:28
From:	Dave Wallace (d_wallace@ecrm.com)
Here's an oddball question for you, Mike:  How would one go about using
an ETX-90 or similar Autostar-equipped telescope to survey a site for
the purposes of determining how much of the sky is visible?

I presume that you'd have to put the mount into Az/El mode and set the
drive for terrestrial targets.  But how do you get the telescope to slew
to a specific azimuth?
Mike here: Do you mean you want to use the Landmark function of the Autostar for marking specific pointing directions and then go back to those?

And:

No, what I want to do is aim the telescope to specific azimuth, then set
the elevation to measure the (angular) height of the horizon so I can
tell how much of the sky is obscured by local structures, terrain and
vegetation.  Basically, I want to get a plot of horizon elevation versus
azimuth at ten degree intervals.

I guess this is similar to the problem of "go to a specific RA and DEC",
except that time isn't part of the equation.
Mike here: With an assistant you could use the ETX to "trace" the horizon and have the assistant read the altitude and azimuth values from the Autostar MODE display.

And:

If there's no specific "go to coordinates" capability the workflow would
have to be something like:
1. slew to azimuth while watching the coordinates display.
2. using the telescope, slew in elevation to the apparent horizon.
3. record the coordinate pair.
4. repeat until the full 360-degree azimuth space has been obtained.

 (I know how to get the Autostar to display coordinates, though since I
 normally run in polar mode what I see / look for is RA and DEC -- does
 this change to AZ and ALT if you're not using a polar mount?  Or are
 both sets available all the time and I was just ignoring the AZ/ALT?)

 All this discussion is apropos of my trying to find the best location
 for a backyard observatory.  I suppose I could rent a transit, but the
 Autostar-equipped telescope I already have seemed to embody the same
 capability!
Mike here: Both sets are displayed; I never tried to GOTO to a Alt/Az but it might work just like it does for celestial coordinates. Worth a try. But actually I think that for your purposes the slew and record steps are more appropriate.
Subject:	long term use of 'sleep' function?
Sent:	Sunday, May 15, 2005 10:45:08
From:	m clark (photonovore@gmail.com)
Hi, couldn't find any info on this specifically on the website.  I was
wondering if you had any information of any possible negatives to
routinely leaving the scope on 'sleep scope' between observing sessions
instead of using the 'park scope' function?  I was just concerned that
perhaps this function was designed for short term use only and might
burn something up if left that way day after day...my scope is housed in
an observatory and i would find it more convenient not to have to enter
date & time everytime i want to take a quick look.

Thanks for any info you might be able to provide!  Awesome website by
the way. :)


Mardia
Mike here: Haven't heard of any long duration tests of the sleep function. Since it is a battery saving mode power is still being drawn vs Park, in which you shut down power.
Subject:	AutostarX
Sent:	Saturday, May 14, 2005 18:46:53
From:	thomas robison (tbrobison@mac.com)
I was wondering if AutostarX (ver. 1.4) is working well as I am anxious
to try it but still worried about it's performance.  I currently have
the Keyspan Adapter (USA-28X) and Mac cable for connecting the  serial
port to Autostar controller.  I am using a powerbook G4 12" 867mhz, 640
Ram and OS X 10.3.9.

Just looking for assurance and whether or not you have been using this
combination to update your hand controller (897).

Thanks,
Tom Robison
Mike here: It certainly worked the last time I used it. Haven't had any problem reports with the latest version.
Subject:	Problem with Autostar 494
Sent:	Saturday, May 14, 2005 08:55:32
From:	Francisco de Paula Martnez (sagitta@mundofree.com)
I'm sorry for this interference in your life, but I need some help.
 
I own a Meade Autostar 494 and just today I've bumped into an error
message I've never seen before.

Specifically the display shows at start-up the message "Proc. Trap 2"
and does nor permit to do anytnhing else.

Neither the manual nor Meade's Customer support mention this problem.

Do you know what it means and how to fix it?

I thank you for any help you can provide

Best regards
 
Francisco de Paula Martnez
Mike here: For info on proc traps, see the article "Autostar Proc Trap" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. With the 494 there may not be much you can do if you can't get to the RESET menu item since there is no user-installable upgrade available. You might try changing to fresh batteries though.
Subject:	Sateliite Helper utility for Meade's ASU program
Sent:	Saturday, May 14, 2005 02:56:47
From:	Martin Larsen (martin@larsen.dk)
When observing satellites with the ETX scopes, you can download TLEs
directly  from Meade's AutoStar Update (ASU). The problem is, though,
that you get a very long list of satellites, many of which aren't even
visible at the observation time. It can actually be downright difficult
to find the satellite on the list within the one minute interval after
the alarm in the handbox sounded.

Then you can of course go to http://www.heavens-above.com and get a list
of observable satellites for the night in question, and that helps a
lot, especially if you exclude the other satellites from the list in
ASU.

But much easier is it to use my freeware utility, MarSat, that will
actually compare the list from Heavens-Above with Norad's elements and
compile an intersection of the two, ie. a TLE consisting of satellites
listed on Heavens-Above. Furthermore, it can show the pass time in the
satellite name so that the satellite will appear in pass time order in
the handbox. If the ASU program is present, it will open the program
with the compiled TLE, ready for uploading to the handbox.

I have got a lot of help and info from your site, and it is my wish that
this program will contribute to the ETX community. But before I launch
the program I would like some testers to give it a try to see if it
works outsite my test environment. If you even can post a message,
looking for a few other people to test it, that would be great!

Here is how to use it:

When you run it, you normally only need to enter one line of
information, namely the URL from Heavens-Above.  There are two different
ways:

1. Go to the web page and log in (if you have registered) and then go to
the "daily predictions" page
2. Manually select the observing data such as 
http://www.heavens-above.com/allsats.asp?lat=55.6183333333333&lng=12.5875&alt=5&loc=Copenhagen&TZ=CET&Mag=4 Option 2 has the advantage that you don't need to log in before using MarSat. In either case, copy the full URL and paste in the appropriate field in MarSat. Then press "Get NORAD Elements" for a liste of satellite groups and select those you want. You can select all by right clicking in the tree structure. Finally, press "Create TLE File". If everything works, you will now get a list of observable satellites. And if ASU is present (and the path is correct in the Options), MarSat will open it, ready for use. It is really simple! Here is a sample screen shot:
photo
Download it here: http://www.kreacom.dk/tools/marsat.zip Thanks for your help, Martin Larsen

Subject:	Erratic slewing
Sent:	Thursday, May 12, 2005 07:25:09
From:	Denis Simoneau (info@birim.com)
Sent you a query on April 11th and just managed to find time that
matched clear skies to try out your suggestions. I noticed after a while
that it was the horizontal axis that was off since the altitude of the
object looked for was correct (e.g. Polaris was at 45 deg. which, from
Montreal is just fine). I did a RESET as well a motor calibration as
described in the manual and, lo and behold, everything is now in good
working order.
 
Many thanks for your help.
 
Denis Simoneau

Subject:	RE: autostar on my ds2114 (alignment problem)
Sent:	Wednesday, May 11, 2005 14:11:23
From:	Estrada, Dennis D SPC EAMC (Dennis.Estrada@se.amedd.army.mil)
Alright, I was able to take out the telescope last night and this is
what I've come across so far.  I reset it (multiple times) and done the
Alignment where you focus on a land object, the telescope moves, and I
move it back.  I also did the calibrate motors option, but I'm not sure
if I'm doing it right.  Is there something I'm supposed to be doing when
I do so?      The telescope simply moves about a degree each right and
up.  I've tried aligning the telescope with Arcturus and Capella but all
my alignments fail, and during the process, the telescope is literally
vertical and still going.  You hear the motor pushing but the scope
isn't moving.  I don't have anything to connect my telescope to the
computer with so I know I haven't installed anything on it.  Any ideas
or recommendations?  Thank you for your time.
-Dennis
Mike here: First off, the order needs to be RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, then TRAIN DRIVES. Other than selecting CALIBRATE MOTORS and pressing ENTER, that step is automatic and requires no user action. For the TRAIN DRIVES be certain you do both axes. The more careful you are when doing this step the better the results. Using a distant terrestrial object and a high power eyepiece will give the best results.
Subject:	Re: Problems initializing etx125at
Sent:	Wednesday, May 11, 2005 01:36:02
From:	botter (botter@loxinfo.co.th)
Further tinkering with the etx125:
The Train Drive Az routine works in a strange way. If I run it first, it
won't work. It slews to the side of the object I have centered, then it
slews back too much and gets on the wrong side of it. Pressing the
handpad key it wants just moves it further away. I have found that if I
ignore this and press enter, it will work in the other direction.??????

The El part of this works okay.

Solid cloud, so no chance to go out and try it.

What is the Target thing? It was set to terrestrial. I changed it to
astronmical. What does that do anyway? Would having it set to
terrestrial explain why it doesn't work as expected?

My comclusion after looking at this and the other programs that I got
with the DSI, Meade really needs a couple of good programmers.

Botter

Botter Reeves
Mike here: Odd about the training. See Dick Seymour's reply immediately below to another message.

And:

Thanks for that, Mike. I deduce from Dicks explanation that it doesn't
really matter what you set it to. One wonders why they bothered with it.
Mike here: Well, it does matter depending upon how you use it.
Subject:	re:  Target selection in Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, May 10, 2005 19:09:41
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The Autostar will switch back and forth between Terrestrial and Astronomical
based upon the last target you GoTo'd.

If you GoTo a landmark, it'll become terrestrial, without you having to
manually change it.  (this applies to direct-entry Alt/Az coordinates, too)

If you GoTo an astronomical target (star, planet, moon, deep sky, comets,
asteroids, etc.etc.), it will automatically shift to Astronomical.
(this applies to direct entry of RA/DEC coordinates, too).

If the scope is Alt/Az mounted, it powers up in terrestrial mode
,.,, until you align (which is a GoTo a star, right?  Bingo: Astro).
If you never do a star align, it won't kick to Astro until you GoTo
an astro target.

If the scope is Polar mounted, if kicks to Astro as soon as you tell
it the time and date.

It's not a bug, it's how they chose to implement it 
(which may be a bug, for your particular style of operation).

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	Jack Fox (Jack.Fox@vdacs.virginia.gov)
It appears when you select "Targets" and you have to push the down arrow
key to select "Astronomical" and push enter.
Mike here: That is true.
Subject:	autostar failure after upgrade
Sent:	Tuesday, May 10, 2005 07:29:26
From:	brian george (briangg2000@yahoo.co.uk)
after upgrading my handbox to 3.3ei on sunday I started to experience
problems with my scope. The autostar led display kept fading and finally
refused to come on at all. I managed to reinstall the upgrade in safe
loader mode but still having problems, the autostar starts, gets up to
the initialization then the display just fades away with no response at
all.

Hope you can help thanks

brian
Mike here: Sounds more like a power problem. While it is possible that some component could have failed at the same time as the upgrade, I would check the batteries and the cable connections.
Subject:	Target selection in Autostar
Sent:	Monday, May 9, 2005 11:10:42
From:	Jack Fox (Jack.Fox@vdacs.virginia.gov)
I have a Supercharged ETX 125.  I check my settings periodically.  They
seem to all default to the settings Dr. Clay originally entered except
in Targets.  It defaults to Terrestrial even though I change it to
Astronomical  every time I turn on the Autostar controller.  Is there a
way to default to Terrestrial so that I do not have to manually change
it each time?  Does it matter to the Autostar which Target is selected
for alt/azm or polar modes to work properly?

Jack
Mike here: Are you saying that the ">" pointer always shows by "Terrestrial" or that "Terrestrial" appears when you select "Targets"? The latter is not a bug (although it is a poor UI design). If the former, then it is a bug and should be reported to Meade (meade@engineer.com).
Subject:	autostar on my ds2114
Sent:	Sunday, May 8, 2005 14:25:06
From:	Estrada, Dennis D SPC EAMC (Dennis.Estrada@se.amedd.army.mil)
Hey, I got a telescope a few weeks ago and the autostar hasn't been too
accurate per say.  It's always a few degrees off.  I tried to fix it
giving it a Reset, I set my timezone, location, and everything (multiple
times)  and now it's about 30 degrees above what I intend to hit.  If I
ask it to go to arcturus during alignment, rather than being halfwy up
the sky, it is pointing straight up and still going.  Any idea on how I
can fix this or maybe what's wrong with it?  I appreciate your time and
help.

If you email me back try to do so at WARHAWK874@AOL.COM
Mike here: Please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page regarding email addresses. Thanks for understanding.
Not certain what you mean by "everything" but just to be certain, how you selected the right telescope model and mounting mode, and done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES?

And:

I'm going to try it tonight again.  I was unable to last night. Once
again, thanks for the help and I'll let you know tomorrow how everything
goes.  I did a little work on it yesterday (calibrating the motors and
training the drives) but it was during daytime.  It wasn't a good night
out here last night.  Either way, thanks again and I'll let you know how
it goes tomorrow-ish.                        -Dennis

Subject:	ETX-125EC + Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, May 8, 2005 04:26:27
From:	Alon Wolf (alon.wolf@cmu.edu)
I have a Meade ETX-125EC + Autostar and it seems to me that the autostar
is not "calibrated". Even after I point the telescope to the sky objects
while calibrating it, it will not track and goto stars etc but will be
off. Is there a way to calibrate and enter motor/encoders data to the
unit? Also, what type of tracking speed/mode should I choose in the
autostar?

Thanks

Alon
Mike here: It sounds like you need to do the following: CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. You select these from the Autostar menus. When doing the TRAIN DRIVES, be certain to do both axes. Doing these steps should avoid you having to manually enter values for the encoders.

And:

It worked! thanks !!

Alon

Subject:	Problems initializing etx125at
Sent:	Saturday, May 7, 2005 23:34:20
From:	botter (botter@loxinfo.co.th)
I hope you can point me in the right direction to help solve a problem
with my etx125at. The scope was bought about a year ago, and a friend
then brought it out to me late last year.

I have never been able to get the thing to work right, and since
returning it is not an option, I must try to get it working myself.

First thing off, it will not align correctly. I set it up according to
the instructions, and enter the location and time from a GPS receiver.
North is determined by sighting Polaris. Level is set with a bullseye
bubble. It says it is slewing to a star, but winds up nowhere near the
named star.

I tried to run the telescope/drive train/ az routine, and it moves the
opposite direction from what it shouild when it asks you to return to
the centered object. I think it has actually moved the wrong way
initially and is starting off on the wrong side.

Another problem is that if I fake the initialization and get it sort of
tracking, if I move with the handpad, it immediately moves itself back
again.

At times, the elevation motor refuses to run; either in response to
handpad contro;, or as part of the slew to an alignment star. It usually
starts again after i tap it on the side of the fork.

I haven't disassembled the scope. I consider that to be a last ditch
measure.

Just so you know, I'm not a novice at goto scopes. I have a 16 inch that
I built and computerized using mel Bartels' program.

Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated, but I fully
understand if you choose to ignore my wierd problem.

Botter

botter@loxinfo.co.th
Botter Reeves
Chiang Mai
Mike here: From your description of what you have done (and not done) and what the symptoms are, it sounds like you have not done a CALIBRATE MOTORS, nor done the TRAIN DRIVES in both axes (easy to miss one). So, for starters, do the CALIBRATE MOTORS and then do TRAIN DRIVES in both azimuth and altitude. Also, be certain you are not over-tightening the axis locks; it sounds like you might be doing that for the altitude axis. Let me know how it goes.

And:

Thank you very very much for the quick reply and constructive
suggestions.

I have done the calibrate and train routines, but the train routine
didn't seem to work correctly. I'll try it again.

No chance to do any real star alignments as it is now the beginning of
the rains here. It has been raining for the past three days now.

Thanks again.

Botter

Subject:	re: ACP errors
Sent:	Saturday, May 7, 2005 18:52:38
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Yes, there are bugs in the programs supplied on the CD with the 506.

There are two or three patches (some very large) which have to be
applied to make ACP and the Starry Night Bundle operate properly. There
is a "read me" text file on the CD which describes some of them.

(i use them on my Windows 98se laptop).

The patches -can- be found on StarryNight (software bisque) website, and
the ACP site (i think it's dc3dreams.com, but that is from my buggy
memory)

I am 5000 km away from home this week. but i will try to locate the
patches when i return home, but that will not be before 15th May.

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	Aneta (maraneta2@wp.pl)
The Autostar Update helped a lot - thanks for suggestion. I can operate
the telescope as well as send / receive data to / from the Autostar 494
properly now

I lived under impression once this portion is done I would be able to
film or take pictures of selected objects (the Moon, planets, etc) - but
I cannot find any suitable option in Starry Night (bundle edition) nor
ACP itself. Can you please explain how to start shooting the photos via
my Meade DS-2114ATS ? Should I purchase something that is missing ?
Software / hardware components ? I promise to send you some nice
pictures of the night sky over Warsaw as soon as you help me with
getting this one done :-)

Best,
Pawel.
Mike here: Well, you need a camera or other imager to take photos. You don't necessarily need the Autostar to control the telescope during photography. See the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page as well as the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page for more info.
Subject:	ACP error 
Sent:	Saturday, May 7, 2005 11:34:15
From:	Aneta (maraneta2@wp.pl)
Please let me introduce myself shortly. My name is Pawel Marciniak, I am
40 years old Pole (living in Warsaw, Poland) whose friend has recently
been awarded with a Meade DS-2114ATS telescope (operated via Autostar
494). Neither my friend nor me are experienced users of that sort of
devices - lucky enough I am IT scientist, who knows the best usage would
be through a personal computer. We therefore requested the dealer
(closest one in Germany) for a #506 cable (that is not delivered with a
telescope by default) some time ago. After #505 has been delivered
(ooopss ...) we sent it back with respective explanation and, ... yes it
was yesterday when the postman knocked my door and handed me over a #506
cable together with RS connector (9pin) and the software (which for a
change is a part of telescope package). I started the connection
immediately after my wife let me leave the supper. What I did included:
 
1. Installing Starry Night on a PC
2. Installing Astronomer's Control Program - ACP (ver. 1.2) on the PC.
3. Connecting the Meade Telescope to the PC via the #506 cables
delivered recently.
4. Switching the Meade Telescope on.
5. Starting the ACP and checking in "Preferences" if COM 1 was selected
(yes it was).
6. Selecting "Connect" option, that gave me a following error
notification displayed on the PC (please see the screenshot in the
attachment).
 
The error message reads: Scope I/O failed in ACP: Type mismatch (code=13).
 
Mike,
 
I am sure you are busy - seeing on the web all the answers and
suggestions you have for the beginners I can also say you are
undoubtedly a patient person. This encouraged me for asking my
questions: WHAT IS WRONG ? WHY IS MY PC NOT TALKING TO THE TELESCOPE ? I
checked with Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional operating systems
- NO DIFFERENCE (the same error screen comes up regardless the OS
version).

Could you please take a look into my problem and suggest the best way of
handling this ?
 
All the best
Pawel (SkypeID: marciniak_pawel)
Mike here: Does the Meade Autostar Update application see the Autostar? If not, then I would suspect a port conflict (typically fax software). For more troubleshooting with ACP I would suggest contacting the developer directly.
Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Friday, May 6, 2005 08:03:01
From:	Sam DiRocco (samd@mvobservatory.com)
I am at my wits end. I cannot figure this out and it seems to have the
people on the groups stumped also. I would appreciate your input.

OK my LXD75 N6 EC arrived today. I am using an Autostar from an LX90
that was updated to the most recent version. I assembled everything and
did a test drive in the living room. It did not seem to be pointing to
where I thought the alignment stars should be. Anyway I took it out this
evening and gave it a test. I set up in the Home position (Counter
weights over the tripod leg that points north and the OTA pointing
toward the North. Correct ??) I proceed with the easy alignment. (Date
05-May-2005, Time 09:25:12PM). telescope type is set to LXD55/75 New6
and mount to Polar. My site is set to my home town, I even check to be
sure Lat/Lon were correct... they are. Daylight saving to Yes. When I
hit enter to slew to the first star it picks Arcturus. Arcturus is more
or less due east. The telescope slews to the SSE and is pointing below
the horizon. What am I doing wrong?

I have done all the normal things. Updated to version 33Ei, Reset,
Calibrate and retrain drive. I even checked the Time Zone.

What I did try was ... After the slew to Arcturus, I loosened the axis
and manually pointed the scope to Arcturus. I then used the keypad to
center Arcturus. I then pressed enter. It picked Vega for the second
star. I could not see Vega as it was behind some trees. I guessed to
where it should be and pressed enter. I could barely see Vega through
the trees when I moved down the yard, so I knew that the scope was
pointing in roughly the right area. It then slewed to Jupiter and a few
other objects although the accuaracy was very poor.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!!

--> Sam D

--
" A Black Hole Is Where God Divided By Zero "
Mike here: Your message was originally DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the blank subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX or LXD Site. Thanks for understanding.
My first thought was that you hadn't done all the CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES steps (you did do both axes in the TRAIN DRIVES?). So my next thought would be to redownload the Autostar ROM; maybe you got a corrupted load.
Subject:	ETX125 Slewing Questions.
Sent:	Thursday, May 5, 2005 07:58:35
From:	Shanna L. Schultz (slschultz@mchsi.com)
My fiance and I recently purchased an ETX125, we have used it a few
times without the AutoStar program, but we took it out a week ago to try
out the AutoStar. We had two problems. The first was that while we were
aligning and trying to view, the scope was moving faster than the Earth
was rotating; it seemed to be over compensating. Any suggestions on
this? Also, the AutoStar, after alignment, was telling us that nothing
was viewable; that everything (even the moon and jupiter which were
clearly visible) would rise at 5 in the morning. We are not sure what to
do with this problem and I hoping that you may have an idea how to fix
this.
Thank you,
Shanna S.
Mike here: Did you set the Autostar for your current location? Did you set the right date, time, and Daylight Saving settings? Did you CALIBRATE MOTORS? Did you TRAIN DRIVES? All of these if not done can cause the sort of problems you experienced.

And:

Everything but calibrating the motor...I am not familiar with this. Are
there instructions for doing this? I didn't see anything like that in
the manual (which has basically nothing in it!)
Thank you,
Shanna Schultz
Mike here: Same menu as TRAIN DRIVES. Just select it; it does the rest.
Subject:	Polar Home position for the ETX125 PE
Sent:	Wednesday, May 4, 2005 09:53:20
From:	Ed Stuckey (stuckeymiller@comcast.net)
I have a situation that is puzzling me. Maybe you can help. I set the
scope in equatorial mode, OTA pointing to north star, DEC set to correct
latitude, etc. I turn on autostar, set to polar mode, target set to
astronomical, enter Easy Align.

Following the instruction on the autostar display I rotate to optical
tube counter-clockwise until it reaches a hard stop, then rotate it back
clockwise until the smartfinder is in the upright position (the
instructions say to be within 180 degrees of the hard stop), about a
quarter turn. However when I use easy align (alignment procedure) to
align the telescope, when the scope starts to move to the first
alignment star, before it has a chance of aligning to the first star, it
hits the hard stop or limit. I abort the procedure at this point,
because this cannot be correct.

However if I reverse the procedure described above and first rotate the
scope clockwise until it reaches the hard stop and then rotate
counter-clockwise until the smartfinder is positioned upright, about a
quarter turn, then when using easy align procedure the scope does not
hit the hard limits and will align to the 2 stars. This is exactly
opposite to the instruction manual, I think. Of course it depends which
way is clockwise and counter-clockwise. If I face north (standing behind
the scope) counter-clockwise is one way and if I face south (standing in
front of the scope), counter-clockwise rotates the scope in the opposite
direction. Could there be something wrong with the scope or is the
second procedure correct?

The second method (rotating clockwise) was only tried in the house due
to bad weather, however, just accepting the default location of the
alignment stars seemed to work OK. After alignment, I went to different
star, planets, etc, and the scope when to the general location of the
objects. I will try the second method (Rotating the OTA clockwise) in
real conditions when the weather cooperates.

I called Meade and they were no help. Nobody their has done a polar
alignment. Also I'm at the latest software upgrade, 33EI. I downloaded it
the other day and installed it. Just a note, when using the telescope in
the atl/az mode, the operation of the scope works OK.

Any help clarifying this matter will be appreciated.
Thanks, Ed Stuckey
Mike here: The simplest way to explain this (I think) is to imagine the telescope being in Alt/Az. Do the rotation CCW to the first hard stop (a rotation of about 120 degrees). This will swing the OTA upwards on the left side (as you stand on the south side of the tripod in the Northern Hemisphere). Now rotate CW back to North to place the ETX in the Alt/Az home position; the OTA should be pointed down towards the ground (unless you are at the poles) but in the direction of North. Now you can move the OTA to point at the celestial pole and proceed with the alignment. Once you have done this a couple of times you will see how it can be done and so can just put the ETX in the Polar Home position from the start.

And:

Thank you. I will give it a try.
Ed Stuckey
And:
With your help and a few other tips from users, I was finally able to
get the telescope in polar alignment. My problem seemed to be the
correct order of steps in which to put the scope in alignment.

I want to thank you for the great job you are doing. No matter how
simple the question, you are willing to help. It takes a lot of patience
to repeatedly answer some of the same questions as new users find your
site.

Thanks,
Ed Stuckey

Subject:	setting up the LX 90 
Sent:	Tuesday, May 3, 2005 22:54:49
From:	Sherie M Wall (starwall@sbcglobal.net)
I've had an LX90 for a long time and have not been able to get it to
find its backside with both hands and a compass. I found the
instructions maddeningly incomplete. For instance the north direction
used to align, is that celestial north? 'Cause regular compas north does
nothing for it. Do you know if Mead published a brochure on the handheld
autostar unit? Last, but not least, does Windows make an astronomy
program that could act as the guide for this computer?
 
Thanks for any and all help you can give this frustrated novice.
Tom Wall
Mike here: The Autostar HOME position is True North, not Magnetic North. So, don't use a compass; use the position of Polaris in the sky to indicate the direction of True North. Beyond that, check the alignment tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; most of them are applicable to the ETX but you should be able to easily understand the steps for use with your LX90. As to the manual, check Meade's site for the latest version of the LX90 manual; it has a pretty good description of the Autostar usage. There are lots of applications for Windows that can control the Autostar. Check the Accessory Reviews: Software page for several.
Subject:	AUTOSTAR 494
Sent:	Sunday, May 1, 2005 17:56:20
From:	Matt (mattlori@sympatico.ca)
I was initializing the Autostar and everyhing seemed fine until right
after the "daylight savings time" question and then it jumped to Align
instead of the info for what country or state, telescope model, etc.....

I tried this a couple of times and the same thing happened.
 
Can you help?
 
PS. I have the ETX-70AT
 
Regards,
 
Matt
Mike here: You should only be asked for the location when the Autostar is new or you do a RESET. Otherwise, once you enter the date, time, and Daylight Saving, it should go to the Align menu.

And:

It is brand new.  I went step by step according to the maual and it
never prompted me to enter Country, etc...

Can you pls. tell me how to reset it?  I looked through the manual and
found no info on this....

Thanks! I appreciate your help.....

Matt
Mike here: Apparently the dealer set the location. RESET is under the SETUP menu. Scroll until you see it and then press ENTER.

And:

I'll try that tonight.
THX!

And:

I tried for about 30 min. to get to the Menu to enter "Country" and it
just isn't there....

I took out the batteries, (thinking this might reset the memory within
the computer), unplugged the Autostar but nothing.

I did manage to somehow get to the setup menu, which then listed all the
parameters of the telescope BUT it never prompted me for the "Country"

I must have read the manual 15 times.........is there something I am not
getting?

Thanks!
Mike here: Did you do the RESET I mentioned? You didn't say so.

And:

I was never prompted "RESET"..........I went through all the Menus I
could find........
Mike here: Get to the SETUP menu and then press the SCROLLUP arrow key. You should see RESET appear.

And:

Got it Thx!.............I truly don't know why it never came up the
20-or 30 times I tried before.

Thx again!

Subject:	Initializing Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, May 1, 2005 12:34:41
From:	louis (lwelke@sbcglobal.net)
Here is a story that happened to me that I hope others will avoid.

I had an eyepiece in the straight through the tube configuration of my
ETX70AT and while I was initializing the scope it went straight up to
slew to Capella(I think) and of course the eyepiece jammed against the
platform base and caused a "Motor Fault" It seemed after that I had
nothing but problems and a lot more "Motor Faults"

After trying to fix things I gave up and called Customer service at
Meade and after telling them the problem they concurred that the Motor
was faulty and even after my scope was over a year out of warranty they
told me to send it to them and they would fix it free of charge(all I
had to do was pay for shipping to them) I received a new scope about a
week and a half later. I am impressed with this type of service and will
buy a Meade product again.

Anyway be sure to have no interference when initializing.
 
Lou

Subject:	Autostar 495 update to 497
Sent:	Thursday, April 28, 2005 09:19:09
From:	Colin Martin (colin@cfwmartin.co.uk)
If I install the latest 497 firmware 33e onto a 495 handbox will it load
the larger object database at the same time or do I have to perform
separate download after I have converted to a 497 unit.

Thanks

Colin
Mike here: It is a one-step operation. Nothing else to do.
Subject:	492 and 493 kits
Sent:	Wednesday, April 27, 2005 04:22:11
From:	Freddy Diaz (fdiaz@telcel.net.ve)
Is that possible to know the differences of the 492 and 493 kits?

Can I control both with a 497 controller?

By the way, I made a posting about a dead ETX-70, well, Meade made an
excelent job and I'm more than happy with my brand new unit!

Thanks in advance,
Freddy Daz
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
On Apr 27, 2005, at 04:22, Freddy Diaz wrote:
> Is that possible to know the differences of the 492 and 493 kits?

One came with a 495 Autostar, the other only had the simple hand controller.
(i forget which was which, i -think- the 493 had the 495).  
The motor units and "power panel" are exactly the same.

> Can I control both with a 497 controller?

Yes.

If the kit you get includes a 495, it can be converted to 
being a 497  by uploading Meade's current firmware to it.

have fun
--dick
And:
Thanks!

I will wait for their arrival... and give details of what i got.

Rgds,
Freddy

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