AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 November 2001
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 497 with ETX-70 ?
Sent:	Friday, November 30, 2001 8:49:55
From:	antoine.correia@sames.com
Can i use my etx-70 with an autostar 497 ?
tank you for reponse

Antoine CORREIA
Grenoble FRANCE
Mike here: yes you can
Subject:	Autostar tours
Sent:	Wednesday, November 28, 2001 18:37:50
From:	kenariz@juno.com (Ken W Anderson)
I was looking thru your website and saw a section under autostar info
that gives tour info. Are these listings so you can manualy put in the RA
and DEC?
Mike here: Autostar Tours work with the Autostar. You upload them into your Autostar and then select the Tour from the Autostar. You don't manually enter the RA/DEC. However, if you are asking whether you CAN manually enter the RA/DEC from objects in tours, the answer is "yes". The tour files can be viewed with a TEXT editor.
Subject:	Autostar Upgrade failure
Sent:	Wednesday, November 28, 2001 17:11:47
From:	johncoll@enoreo.on.ca (John Collins)
I seemed to be proceeding nicely through the update procedure of the
"build.rom" when we had a momentary power outage. I shut everything down
and then started my computer and turned on the telescope. All that my
Autostar now says is: (c)01 Meade[22E] A U T O S T A R.

The  ASU program says it cannot detect the autostar even when I tell it
which port my 505 cable is connected to. I would appreciate any help you
can give but I think I'm in big trouble. BTW, the new "build.rom seemed
to get downloaded into my computer ok.

Thanks,

John
Mike here: Have you tried the SAFE LOAD procedure? If not, see the article "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" on the Autostar Information page.

And:

Thanks Mike. Your suggestions worked like a charm.

Subject:	What is the next step?
Sent:	Monday, November 26, 2001 17:16:43
From:	Scott9482@aol.com
Hey Mike,

So far all of your advice has been helpful.  You were right about my
autostar, I have version 2.0.  Perhaps that is why I am having problems
getting objects in the field of view.

Well, I took your advice and bought the #505 cable.  Now, I am unsure of
what the next step is?

Which file do I download, and is there anything else that I should do to
update my autostar?

Thanks!!!

-Scott
Mike here: Go to the Meade Autostar software page, linked from the Autostar Information page. Download the Client 3.0. Then install and run it. There is a button that allows you to download/upgrade your Autostar.
Subject:	Home-made #505 connector
Sent:	Sunday, November 25, 2001 17:51:53
From:	golfing18@msn.com (Michael Knapp)
My father-in-law made a #505 connector cable per the specs on your
website. However, when I try to plug into the Autostar, the "phone" cord
is actually wider than the slot in the Autostar. We used a standard rj11
connector....any idea what could be wrong? My scope (90EC) is a newer
scope...has Meade maybe changed the connector to make it more difficult
to make one?

Regards,

Mike Knapp
Mike here: You have to shave down the sides of an RJ11 connector or use a handset RJ jack (I'm not certain what that number is). Sorry about the confusion.

And:

Thanks Mike. I had a handset connector and tried it and...viola...it
fit. I should have checked before we made the cable. A quick clip and
splice oughta take care of it.

Subject:	re: Training Drives after an Autostar Update, not Upgrade
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 19:57:14
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	berg@ans.net
Kevin,

You are correct in your reasoning... retraining is only necessary
after an Upgrade which reloads the entire 1 megabyte firmware 
program (such as changing from v2.1eK to 2.2eT).

The -reason- it is required is that the different versions -may-
have changed the address used to -store- the training data, not
the data itself.  But if the Autostar fetches data from the (now) 
"wrong" location, than mayhem may occur (or rubber-banding).
(training data is stored in different memory than the main program).

If we can determine that the Training locations (and other stored
data) have -not- moved between the two versions you're dealing with
(say, 22eR to 22eT), then you don't -really- need to retrain after
an Upgrade, either. (nor reCalbrate, but that's quick and painless).
You can always (after Upgrading) simply -try- the existing Training.
If it's not totally weird, or doesn't upset you with rubber-banding,
 great!
If, however, the Upgrade includes (upon Autostar re-initializing) a
not-commanded-by-you Calibration move, and request to re-enter
telescope model, then they've overwritten the old Training data with
a fixed, default value.  Then you do have to retrain (or apply my
patch and restore your old numbers)

I have provided a patch which allows you to read and edit the
Training values on the Autostar's screen.  Thus you could record a
"good" set of data, and manually re-enter it after an Upgrade (which
 included my patch as well). The patch is on Mike's site at
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/22et-kit.html
and
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/as_patches30a.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar II?
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 18:11:42
From:	Briguy730@msn.com (Brian Gaines)
what is auto star II is theer a difference from the first auto star
Mike here: There is a new Autostar II but it is only for use on the model telescopes it ships with.

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 15:59:23
From:	c.zurevinski@shaw.ca (Conrad Zurevinski)
I have a ETX-125 with  the autostar controller with version 22Ef. My
problem is the LCD screen.Three or four times I have been using the
autostar when all of a sudden the screen  blankes out. There was still
power to the controller as I could see a red glow as well as here the
beeps when the key pad was punched. This has happened when the autostar
is cold as well as warm.Two different things have happened when I
rebooted: 1) The Initialization screen could be seen fine and then after
that the screen was blank. 2) The screen worked fine with no blanking
out.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
Conrad Zurevinski
Mike here: Cold does affect the display so keep it warm. Also, the screen will go off after a period of no keypad presses. Just press a key to bring it back to life (I don't recall if a specific key was required).

And:

It blanks out cold or warm. The screen blanks out directly after using
another keypad button. Pushing another keypad button has no affect on
the screen.
Mike here: Not good. How are the batteries? Connectors tight?

And:

I'm running on ac power.  There is power to the  controller but the
screen is blank.  I'm thinking not good as well.

Subject:	Re: gear ratios and how the software works
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 11:19:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	indig@earthlink.net (Vicki Smith)
Things Ratio-wise (especially when involved with driving non-Meade
scopes) are handled pretty well by Steve Bedair...

www.aerocom.ws/bedair/ScopeStuff.html

The -specific- ratio page is:
www.aerocom.ws/bedair/Autostar.html

He's the guy who was using Ford Taurus electric window drives as
his final gearing... for starters... 
nope... i can't find it (i'm recently decanted from the airplane
 after a 3 week absence...) write to Steve and he'll (A) tell you
how to do it and (b) point at his webiste, which has the calculation
sequence worked out.

From my side, if memory serves, the Ratio number is the number of
encoder vane ticks per arcsecond of final telescope motion.
(or arcminute?)... there are 36 vanes, the ETX90 is about a 12,000
(or 14,000 ... both numbers have been published) to one motor to
 telescope drive mechanism...  The RATIO is about 1.369

The Autostar has a list of the various telescope models' Ratios.
In non-standard applications you have to redetermine the ratios needed.

> I was wondering if the software adapts the calculations after
> alignment to account for the weird ratios. 
The RATIO is used to convert encoder "ticks" to angular distance
travelled.  How it fits in with the other adjustable parameters 
is described in http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html

> To illustrate. the RA ratio is 8567.70: and the Dec ratio is
> 9134.998:1.
??? WHAT ???  ... My Autostar says tat my ETX70 has an Az ratio
of 00.95197, and an Alt Ratio of 1.01500, and the ETX70 and ETX60 use
 the same gear system.

Perhaps your Autostar is confused?

Or, maybe i should ask: WHICH ratio? Your ETX60's?
OR your planned final system's?

> I would expect that the ratio should be some multiple of 1440:1 or
> 86400:1 for the RA. The dec should be 21600:1 or some multiple of
> this.
Ahh... you're thinking gear ratios... the Autostar "confuses" you
by tossing the gear -and- angular conversion into the same number.

> I am new to the autostar world and it is pretty neet. I can adapt the
> computer control with out difficulty but matching the ratios exact is
> not easy. I can come to within less than 1% of the ratio. If they are
> doing the corrections in the software is being done the way I think
> this should be close enough.
I don't undestand your direction of thought... what do you mean
"corrections"?  "Correction" assumes "error".  The Autostar is not
correcting for an error, it is factoring in the additional 86400
(actually 1296000:1 for 360 degrees to arcsec) to the physical gear
 ratio (roughly 12,000 or 14,000 to 1, in an ETX90) plus the 36-tooth
encoder (making the 14,000 to 1 become 504000) to arrive at their
final number.

I'm sure the above does not directly answer your question.
Let's turn it around: what *is* -your- drive system's gear ratio?
And what are you using for your motor and encoder system (are you
using the motor/encoder from the ETX60?)

And contact Steve Bedair... he has done this at least a dozen times
(i can't find his website at this moment... i'll send along the address
when it surfaces...)
--dick

Subject:	Comet Linear, Autostar & Starry Night Pro
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 7:24:23
From:	jhensche@bechtel.com (Henschel, Jim)
Been reading your website for a few months - very interesting and
informative.  Thanks for making the info available.  Here is some info
you might find useful - copy of an email note I sent to Meade and Starry
Night. Not sure if the email address for Meade is valid.

Regards,
Jim Henschel

 -----Original Message-----
From: 	Henschel, Jim  
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 9:45 AM
To:	'support@starrynight.com'; 'info@meade.com'
Subject:	Bug Report - Comet Linear - LX90 autostar; Starry night pro

To whom it may concern:

Following is a list of bugs I've found on the LX-90 Autostar and Starry
Night Pro with regard to telescope control.

1)  Autostar - does not locate and track Comet Linear WM1 accurately -
over 1 degree off.  On Wednesday Nov 21 after carefully doing the 2 star
easy alignment, the LX-90 would not go to the correct location for
Linear WM1.  I checked the RA/Dec from Starry Night Pro (laptop not
connected to Autostar) and manually guided the scope to that position
and found it.  Next day, I connected my laptop to the Autostar (inside
the house) and used the Autostar to goto Linear WM1 - it did not match
location in Starry Night Pro by over 1 degree - same error.  I then
checked the websites where Autostar and Starry Night download the
orbital data and the orbital data is the same. conclusion - Autostar has
a bug.  I've seen other reports on the LX-90 uses group indicating
others have had similar problems locating LINEAR WM1 with the Autostar
and are also 1 or 2 degrees off.  I'm running version 22et of the
Autostar.

2)  Starry Night Pro and Telescope control.  Ascomscope.plug (the driver
on the Pro CD) has a bug.  When I slew with the Autostar, the correct
location is shown on Starry Night.  When I slew from the laptop, the
scope does not go to the correct place.  I read an earlier note on
Weasner's ETX site where there is a bug in the Autostar  - something
about it expecting a comma instead of a decimal point (as in the LX200)
and that Meade is fixing it. Not sure if this is correct or not.  See
the last message in
http://www.weasner.com/etx/feedback/current/autostar.html.  I'm running
ver 3.1.2 of Pro and I just got it in the mail direct from the factory 2
days ago.

Note that the ACP plugin, lx200snv3.plug works OK and does not have the
above problem.

3)  For Starry night - both Ascom and ACP (Astronomer's Control Panel)
when running on my laptop connected to the LX-90 really use up a lot of
processing power on my laptop and slows it way down.  I'm running
Win2000 on a 850 MHz Pentium Dell Latitude 600 with 256 MB of memory. 
The Windows task manager shows the ACP or Ascom using 99% of the CPU!  I
hate to think what would happen on a lesser machine.  Starry Night
Bundle actually runs faster when controlling the scope!

4)  Interesting note - I can run Starry Night Bundle and Pro in two
different windows and use both to control the scope simultaneously using
ACP!

5)  Meade & Starry Night - not sure who is right or wrong, but one of
you have M101 & M102 swapped.  I read somewhere that this goes back to
an error or confusion from Charles Messier's time, but I wonder why we
can't all be consistent in 2001.

Hope the above helps you improve your products.  Generally, I am very
pleased with both.

Regards,
Jim Henschel
Mike here: The correct address for reporting Autostar bugs is engineer@meade.com.

And:

follow-up to my previous note to you.  Also, see the posts on LX-90 users
group.  Great service from Starry Night - notice the time of the messages, I
got an answer in a few minutes!

-----Original Message-----
From: Starry Night Support
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2001 10:00 AM
I'll handle the Starry Night aspects of the problem:

>>Starry Night Pro and Telescope control.  Ascomscope.plug (the driver on
the Pro CD) has a bug.  When I slew with the Autostar, the correct location
is shown on Starry Night.  When I slew from the laptop, the scope does not
go to the correct place.  I read an earlier note on Weasner's ETX site where
there is a bug in the Autostar  - something about it expecting a comma
instead of a decimal point (as in the LX200) and that Meade is fixing it.
Not sure if this is correct or not.  See the last message in
http://www.weasner.com/etx/feedback/current/autostar.html.  I'm running ver
3.1.2 of Pro and I just got it in the mail direct from the factory 2 days
ago.

The problem is that Meade changed the format for declination in the latest
version of the Autostar firmware. The newest release of the ASCOM plug-in
corrects for this change. You can download the latest version from this
link:
download.dc3.com/ASCOM_Platform_1.2_Setup.exe

Just double-click the downloaded file to install the new plug-in. You do not
need to uninstall the existing version.

5)  Meade & Starry Night - not sure who is right or wrong, but one of you
have M101 & M102 swapped.  I read somewhere that this goes back to an error
or confusion from Charles Messier's time, but I wonder why we can't all be
consistent in 2001.

There are two schools of thought here. One is that Messier just observed
M101 twice, and so M102 is not a unique Messier object. The other
interpretation is that M102 is indeed a different object, NGC 5866. Starry
Night takes the second interpretation, but neither interpretation is
officially "correct". See this link for more details:
http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m102.html

Astronomy Support Associate
SPACE.com Canada, Inc.
284 Richmond Street East
Toronto, ON, M5A 1P4, Canada
e-mail: support@starrynight.com
website: www.starrynight.com

Subject:	gear ratios and how the software works
Sent:	Thursday, November 22, 2001 23:32:37
From:	indig@earthlink.net (Vicki Smith)
I am not sure if you can help with my questions or if this the
appropriate forum. I have an etx 60 that I bought for the autostar. I am
planning on adapting it to another scope. I have discovered that the
drive ratios are really strange. I was wondering if the software adapts
the calculations after alignment to account for the weird ratios. To
illustrate. the RA ratio is 8567.70: and the Dec ratio is 9134.998:1. I
would expect that the ratio should be some multiple of 1440:1 or 86400:1
for the RA. The dec should be 21600:1 or some multiple of this. I am new
to the autostar world and it is pretty neet. I can adapt the computer
control with out difficulty but matching the ratios exact is not easy. I
can come to within less than 1% of the ratio. If they are doing the
corrections in the software is being done the way I think this should be
close enough. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Randy
Mike here: I believe that the gear ratios are determined by the telescope model. I'm not certain how you would adapt them for a generic drive system.

Subject:	Training Drives after an Autostar Update, not Upgrade
Sent:	Wednesday, November 21, 2001 9:00:19
From:	berg@ans.net (Kevin Berg)
As a long-time user of the ETX and knowing that we all need to retrain
the drives after an Autostar "upgrade", I needed to get something
confirmed. Is re-training really required or even recommended if the
scope is already well-trained, and the only "update" to the Autostar
made is a change in the library information, such as the addition and/or
deletion of tours (as opposed to an actual "upgrade" of the VERSION of
the Autostar software)? My guess is no, but again would like to see
confirmation of this. If re-training is really unnecessary after an
"update", I think it will save some folks a LOT of time in this area.

Thanks,

Kevin
Mike here: Retraining is only necessary after installing a new version of the Autostar firmware.

Subject:	Help!
Sent:	Monday, November 19, 2001 17:54:02
From:	briand@buckeye-express.com (Brian)
I am at my wits end.  I have had my ETX90EC for a little over a year now
and I am so frustrated I could scream.  I do not know were else to turn
so if I may, I would like to ask you or your readers what I should
do...First off I am a novice at best in astronomy, but I have a true
desire to learn.  I have had all the problems that your site points out,
broken parts etc and made all the repairs....I am using the latest
version of the AU Software, I have trained my scope per Meade's
instructions.  I live in Sylvania Ohio (just outside Toledo) Here is
what I am experienceing now.

I had mistakenly used the scope for some time in daylight savings mode
when it was not daylight savings time..Believe it or not the scope
worked its best that way.   In the ALT/AZM configuration the GOTO worked
almost flawlessly.  My problems began when I realized what a "putz" I
had been and started using it in daylight savings time when I was
supposed to.....DUH!..anyway now after I put in the date, time and
select daylight savings time, I attempt to align it (easy alt/azm).  It
is quite a ways off to the west of the alignment star (tries for capella
and Vega) on both stars it is off by approx the same amount to the west
and by quite a bit.  If I put it in non-daylight savings time mode it is
much closer but still close as I think it should be.

Next when I do get it to goto an object (after making the huge
correction and pressing enter to complete the alignment) it will allow
me to manually slew to the object (say Saturn) but after I manually slew
there it corrects and takes me back to where it thinks Saturn should be
but is not (probably a fists width away)....I am almost ready to give
up...I have also never been able to get it to goto anything in polar
mode or even get it aligned (probably why the goto does not work)....I
am ready to put it in a garage sale and take up gardening..I thought it
was supposed to be fun and relaxing....My blood pressure is at an all
time high over this....If you can help I would appreceiate it....Thanks
for your time and space on your site.

Clear Skys
Brian Davis
Mike here: First off, TRAIN the drives. The "rubberbanding" you are experiencing when slewing to center an object is typically caused by failure to TRAIN the drives following installing an Autostar update. Since you indicate you are using the latest version (which is 2.2Et) I suspect you didn't TRAIN after the update. After you do that, try the aligning again with the correct DST setting. Let me know what happens.

And:

I will do that thanks Mike....and I will let you know what
happens...thanks again

Subject:	re: another meade Q
Sent:	Monday, November 19, 2001 16:50:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	feis@erols.com
> Also, your wrote: DO NOT expect good results when using GoTo on moving
> objects (planets, Moon etc).   Reason: The Autostars algorithms for
> calculating the position of these objects does not seem to be very
> accurate ...

Again, muchly obsoleted by improvements in the Autostar programming.

The fundamentals are still true: calculated (vs. absolute) positions
-may- be less accurate for moving objects.  Meade's algorithms are still
not perfect (no one's are perfect.. that's why accurate amateur timings of 
occultations are still a valuable contribution to astronomy), so errors
can/will occur... but the magnitude of the error gets smaller with every
improvement they make.

If you are running firmware dated at the time of that posting, then the
statement still holds.  If you've updated, then the situtation has improved.

The outer planets improved greatly (it's in Meade's readmes for that update)
at one point... after that article.  The Moon is one of the most complex
operations they do.  Satellites still vary depending upon the particular
characteristics of the orbital parameters (they don't do geostationary well).
Comets have gotten *much* better.

SO: reword the above paragraph to:
You can expect decent results for most moving objects. Some may be less good.
Reason: The Autostars algorithms for calculating the position of these objects
is limited by the Autostar's capacities and the compromises Meade has made
in the programming.  Thus moving objects will be less accurate ...

In all things Autostarrish, Meade -is- continuously attempting to improve
its performance.  My recommendation is to do what i do: TRY IT!
If you find it performs to your level of expectation/satisfaction, smile.
If it does things which seem in error, Investigate the error... try other 
objects, try to determine contributing factors.  Then Document and describe,
and send it along to me, Mike and/or Meade (all three?).
Since late 1999 (when i got my Autostar) it's gotten much, much better...
but some folks are still happy with firmware older than that (pre v1.1).
v1.3 was a particularly nice version, but was one hour off with Jupiter
and/or Saturn (it'd get one right, and the other wrong).

Meade's trying... and have become less of a case of "very trying".

Amateur astronomy is much an empirical science/hobby... don't fret over
-possible- problems (such as you're reading into my postings)... TRY 
and OBSERVE... 90% of most Autostar "problems" these days are user-
technique related.  From many postings on many egroups, i see that there
are crowds of folks who never expect to see their scope get its Easy Align
stars into the field of view of the Finder, let alone the eyepiece.
And there are also (smaller? larger?) crowds who -regularly- have the Easy
Align arrive within a degree of dead on...  (myself? i bounce between the
two states, but i *don't let it bother me*... i've learned that the alignment
-will- succeed either way.  But it -is- a direct measure  of *MY* quality
of initial setup... it *CAN* dead-center Easy Align stars if *my* physical
setup of the scope is accurate.)
That's part of it, too: don't get *frustrated* by apparent problems.
They can (by and large) be worked out... there *are* many examples of bad
motors, poor electrical contacts, slipping gears which are beyond "technique"
to repair.  But they are by far the rarity, rather than the rule. (usually).

above all,
have fun...
--dick

Subject:	Re: iss
Sent:	Friday, November 16, 2001 5:55:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	exp2@fyi.net
Dan wrote:
> mike, i entered the numbers from both sites for ISS under different
> names ,the 494 gave me the exact same rise time for both
> entries...should i trust my autostar???am i miss reading  the posted
> times [HEAVENS-ABOVE]??????.........dan

*may i PLEASE have a concrete example*???
(TLEs dates time locations)
(although i won't be able to process it until Nov 24th)

Anyway: the data at sites like Celestrak and Heavens-above are based upon
(extrapolated from) *actual sightings*... so, if the "sighting sites"
are different, they'll end up generating different (to the eyeball) TLEs.
But (hopefully) they'll be describing the same orbital path.
Your useage of the two TLEs with different names is great! 
That's certainly one of the things i do when facing questions like this.

The Autostar's orbital math is (a) slightly inexact (b) has various errors
introduced by the shortcuts and algorithms Meade has chosen.

If i can document a clear error in calculation, i create a note to
engineer@meade.com and ship it along... over the last two years the Autostar
has gotten *much* better at satellite chasing.

A "suitable" report includes:
the TLEs as *reported back by the Autostar* (using the Edit function)
The TLEs as *entered* (this locates possible input problems in their code)
The AOS/LOS times/angles as reported by the Autostar.
(reselect the satellite a number of times... you'll get slightly different
 numbers.. again, they should be on the same -path-, just at different spots)
I capture the Heavens-Above chart of the pass (i.e save the webpage and
 make sure the GIF of the AOS horizon gets captured.  (you can "pan" that
 chart).  
If the problem involves the actual pass track, i might capture other H-A
charts along the way.
I also have EuroSat, a satellite-prediction program (SattelliteTracker is
another) which lets me capture/compute the pass, and lets me capture (via
rs232 connection to the Autostar) the path the scope actually took.
They get -that-, too, if appropriate.  (if the Path is ok, but "late",
then i merely use EuroSat as an additional check that the TLEs i have 
agree with H-A instead of the Autostar.)
Time/date/location (as both H-A and the Autostar know them).

Simply citing the H-A webpage is NOT enough!! You have to capture it.
The TLEs H-A uses change (almost) daily.. so -their- pass prediction may
change.  A  chart page viewed in 5 days in the past will differ from the
 one seen on the actual day.

There *are* TLE sets which can (or, have in the past) cause -definite- errors
in the Autostar. (there was the version which sped up, then slowed down, then
 sped up... but only for -some- TLEs.)
Satellite chasing is one reason i -do- install updates when they are published.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Contradiction re Autostar controllers?
Sent:	Friday, November 16, 2001 5:54:15
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	clayton@fullers.org
The page you cite was written before the current crop of scopes existed.
Since Meade puts no model identifier on any of their controllers, i
now try to be very careful to state: "with a numeric keypad: 495/497;
without numeric keypad: 494/Starfinder". (makes for overly long sentences)
So, for cables, it's therefore: "with numeric keypad: 505 (can be home-made);
without numeric keypad: 506 (cannot be home-made)"

I hope that's clear and explicit.

I have no idea -what- the Autostar II will require, so i do not permit you
to extrapolate/extend the above delineations into that unknown future. Yet.
(although i sure expect it'll take a 505)(but maybe not)

have fun
--dick
(resident?? i haven't lived in California since 1952)
Mike here: You practically live on the Site so I consider you a resident of the Site...

Subject:	another meade Q
Sent:	Friday, November 16, 2001 5:46:42
From:	feis@erols.com (Feis Family)
Also, your wrote: DO NOT expect good results when using GoTo on moving
objects (planets, Moon etc).   Reason: The Autostars algorithms for
calculating the position of these objects does not seem to be very
accurate (when compared with the SkyMap  computed position).  Also it is
highly dependent on you correctly entering the date/time, daylight
saving, TZ offset, latitude and longitude.

Could you tell me what the TZ offset is and how to deal with that?
thanks again!
Mike here: I don't recall writing that but "TZ" = Time Zone. It should automatically be calculated from your location setting. Just don't forget to set the Daylight Savings Time setting correctly.

Subject:	Contradiction re Autostar controllers?
Sent:	Thursday, November 15, 2001 19:32:21
From:	clayton@fullers.org (Clayton Fuller)
I was looking through your website (BTW, its a great resource - Thanks!)
and noticed a contradiction that has me confused. In one area, you say
that the Autostar 497 and 495 have identical electronics, but in another
(about the 505 vs 506 cables) you clearly state that the 495 uses a
different communication bus. So which statement is correct?
Thanks in advance...
Clayton Fuller
Bend, Oregon
Mike here: According to our resident Autostar expert, the #495 and #497 do have identical electronics. The #494 is the one that is different.

And:

So this would mean that a do-it-yourself 505 style cable should work
with the #495 controller supplied with the ETX 60AT?
Mike here: The ETX-60AT comes with the #494, not the #495. So you can't use a homemade #505 cable. Sorry.

And more:

Thanks for clearing this up. Your website does state that the ETX60
comes with the 495 Autostar on this page:

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_schematic.html
the original 497 Autostar, required for the ETX90, ETX125 and LX90 the 495 Autostar, used by the DS- family and ETX60 and ETX70
Mike here: The #495 can be used with the ETX-60AT and 70AT. In fact, the original model -60 and -70 were "EC" models, just like the -90 and -125 models. So it was expected the user would add the optional #495. Later, they bundled the #494 with the AT models.

Subject:	2.2er/telescope model
Sent:	Wednesday, November 14, 2001 19:33:42
From:	LReidno@templeinland.com (Reidnour, Lawrence (TIFPC))
Just loaded 2.2er finally on my ETX125EC and noticed that when I put in
the TELESCOPE MODEL initially, if for some reason later on I went back
through the menu and pressed TELESCOPE MODEL again, it defaults back to
ETX 90EC. On all previous versions, once I keyed in ETX125EC after reset
for example or uploading a newer version, it would remember and if I
checked TELESCOPE MODEL again at any time just for the heck of it, it
would always come up ETX125EC (just like SITE, if you press SITE after
keying in your city initially, that city will always come up whenever
you press SITE unless you reset). Now, no matter how many times I select
ETX125EC, if I go back and press TELESCOPE  MODEL again, it goes back to
ETX90EC and I have to switch back to ETX125EC.  Am I making a big deal
out of this?  I am concerned that the Autostar thinks my scope is a
ETX90EC.  I have scoured the archives to see if this has been addressed
and didn't see anything.  Thanks.

Larry Reidnour

Larry Reidnour
lreidno@temple.com
Mike here: The telescope model is stored; the pointer just defaults back to the ETX-90. Not a problem.

Subject:	505 cable...
Sent:	Tuesday, November 13, 2001 21:46:20
From:	Scott9482@aol.com
Mike,

Just out of curiosity...

Where do I obtain a # 505 cable?

Thanks.

-Scott
Mike here: Meade dealers. Or you can make one (see the cable information on the Autostar Information page).

Subject:	Re: iss
Sent:	Tuesday, November 13, 2001 12:03:51
From:	exp2@fyi.net (dan walter)
mike, i entered the numbers from both sites for ISS under different
names ,the 494 gave me the exact same rise time for both
entries...should i trust my autostar???am i miss reading  the posted
times [HEAVENS-ABOVE]??????.........dan

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Many things can cause this.. the simplest is that the Autostar will
predict the *next* pass which it deems "visible".
But: "visible" means different things to different versions of Autostar
 Firmware..  and you didn't cite your version.
Older versions would not report passes which did not rise above 15 degees
 above the horizon.  I don't know which 494 version lowered that "horizon"
 to the current 2 degrees.
Heavens-above factors in the Earth's Shadow. The Autostar doesn't.

There are also instances when a day's predictions at Heavens-Above will
 be based upon inaccurate data... calculation and transscription errors
 -do- occur... and occasionally (for spy satellites) the data are simply
 wrong (when issued by NORAD).

> starshine is only off by 4 min....
and, again, 4 min can be partially accounted for by the elevation angle at
which the time-point is taken.  Heavens-above reports zero and 10 degrees
 above the horizon (although squinting at the pass chart shows 15-second
 time-ticks).

*normally* i'd ask for the data and TLE of the pass you're reporting.
(time/date/TLEs etc.)  
This allows me to duplicate the conditions and get some hint of what's
 happening.
However, i'm travelling without my Autostar (until Nov 22nd), so i cannot
 test anything until after then.  Sorry 'bout that.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	ETX90EC Tracking Problem
Sent:	Tuesday, November 13, 2001 10:40:05
From:	baondayko@yahoo.com (Brock Ondayko)
I have an ETX90EC.  I have the Autostar computer, and it has shown me
many things that I would have never found.  Most times autostar will put
the objects into the field of the 26mm eyepiec.  The problem arises when
I center the object.  Immediately after centering an object the
telescope sometimes starts to run to where the object initially was in
the eyepiece.  This is really annoying.  What makes it worse is that
this does not happen all the time.  Is there anyway to keep autostar
from doing this?  Is it possible I should re-train the drives?  Any
thoughts would be appreciated.  P.S.  Great Site!

Brock Ondayko
Columbus, Ohio
Mike here: Retraining may or may not help. I suspect you have you a version of the Autostar older than about 2.2Eh. What you are reporting is "rubberbanding" and is fixed in the later versions (current version is 2.2Et). If you have the necessary cable and Windows) you can update it using the software on Meade's site. Alternatively, your dealer may be able to clone the current version for you. Or Clay Sherrod can do it (for a small fee). If you don't want to update to the current version, see the "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" article on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	All is at peace on the SE-MA front
Sent:	Monday, November 12, 2001 23:49:00
From:	marbla@naisp.net (Blais Klucznik)
A thank you to Clay and to Dick for responding to my ETX125/Autostar
temperature range question.

Yes I was aware of the LCD-Cold trick but don't really understand Meade
not taking this into consideration when they design equipment to be used
outdoors, especially in the winter time.  I guess that's why I never did
like designing for a commercial firm.  MilSpec was and still is the only
way to go.  In the end it isn't that much more expensive for the end
user.

Speaking of cold temperatures and the Autostar, it is interesting to
note that while the 497 was shivering and becoming lame in this cold
weather, my Discovery DSC's, which are not rated to operate below -10
Degrees C, still clicked just like a Timex.  Of course the Discovery
designers used LED's which are a better choice for this environment. 
Hence they appear to be the wiser, that is, if the Meade bean counters
didn't win again  Hmmm.

In any case I will build a protective heated wrapper to remedy this
problem.  The more difficult task will be to design a protective heated
wrapper for my wife and myself.

We have extremely beautiful and very clear skies tonight but oh, is it
cold outside.  I need one more night to recover from last nights/this
morning's sky watching episode.

Good clear sky to all of you

Blais Klucznik
marbla@naisp.net

Subject:	Autostar Command Question/Bug?
Sent:	Monday, November 12, 2001 18:02:34
From:	panderson@altecsolutions.com (Paul A. Anderson)
Have you heard of any problems with the command set for Firmware 22Et?
Trying to read/Get the Site "Hours from UCT" with #:GG# yields +06
instead of -06 for me in my Central Time Zone. The Autostar box
calculations seem to be correct however because "GOTO"  work OK.

Thanks for all the great info. 

Paul A. Anderson
ALTEC Solutions Inc.
1720 Valerie Lane
New Brighton, MN 55112
Mike here: First report of this. I'll check with our resident Autostar expert.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Ready for it?

That's the way it's -supposed- to work!

To match the way the LX200 works.

Meade's stuck between a rock and a hard place... since all LX200-controlling
programs (probably) already take this idiosyncracy into account, therefore
the Autostar has to stagger down the same rocky path of performance.

have fun  (but set your watch correctly...)
--dick

Subject:	Autostar updates...
Sent:	Sunday, November 11, 2001 18:29:53
From:	Scott9482@aol.com
Mike,

Thanks for all of the advice you have given me so far...

One more question for you:  How do I go about updating my autostar?  Do
I need to buy a special computer cable?

thanks...

-Scott
Mike here: For the Autostar #494 that comes with the ETX-60AT and -70AT models you need the #506 cable. For the #495 and #497 Autostars you need to buy (or make) a #505 cable. For more on Autostar cables, see the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site. You will also need a computer running Windows (or a Mac with VirtualPC) and a serial port.

Subject:	ETX-90 computer cable wiring diagram
Sent:	Sunday, November 11, 2001 17:13:37
From:	davehh65@home.com (Dave M.)
I am looking for a wiring diagram to connect my ETX-90EC to my serial
port. I would like to make the cable myself and not shell out for it.
Mike here: See the cable info on the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site.

Subject:	iss
Sent:	Saturday, November 10, 2001 21:04:20
From:	exp2@fyi.net (dan walter)
why when i load  iss values into my 494 from heavens above, the times my
autostar comes up with doesn't match  the posted times for my
location????

11 nov the chart says it rises at 04:49:20 my auto star says09:38...i'm
at 41N-80W
-- ....thanks dan
Mike here: Have you tried other satellites? Is the time difference always the same?

And:

starshine is only off by 4 min....dan
Mike here: Then I would suspect the ISS entry.

And:

i reentered new numbers for iss and starshine3 , but the times the494
comes up with don't match the times  posted ,i'm doing everything per
rich seymour's instructions [autostar info 6 mar 01] .am i correct that
the posted are my local time???   hst isn't visible for awhile here so i
couldn't check it. i'm not to good at this computer stuff but it seemed
easy enough .......dan
Mike here: Dick Seymour likes: http://www.celestrak.com. You might try that one.

Subject:	manual
Sent:	Thursday, November 8, 2001 8:58:42
From:	marcianna.hartman@hetnet.nl (Marcianna Hartman)
Thanks for your quick answer. In the mean time I've translated the
manual for the Autostar. Maybe ther's somebody who can use that. If so,
I'm happy to share.

Again, thanks for your effort,

Marcianna Hartman

Subject:	Meade 505 Cable & Software Scam on eBay
Sent:	Friday, November 2, 2001 11:17:45
From:	david@carter.net (David Carter)
Thought you might want to make people aware of a seller on eBay who is
selling homemade #505 cables along with someone else's freeware
astronomy software under the titles:

"Meade ETX-90EC #505 Cable w/Computer Software"
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1656854399
"505 Cable & Star Software Meade ETX Telescope"
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1658251919
"Meade DS Autostar telescope 505 cable softwar"
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1658255490

These are being sold with a minimum bid of $19.95. 

If you take time to read the fine print, you will see that the seller
does state that the software is freely available, but does not provide
the download link. The screen prints in the ad, and the ad text are
taken directly from winstars.free.fr/english/ , or from the
software itself. I have notified eBay and the author of the software,
who expressed surprise & thanks for the notification.

(As an aside, for those of your readers who have not taken a look at
WinStars, I would recommend they do so. It appears to be very capable,
and the price is right! Note also that the legitimate author of this
software does accept donations to support the continued development of
this software -- see his website.)

In my opinion, these ads are (at best) misleading, and may violate
copyright laws.

In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I do sell a
competing product on eBay 
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1026806348
and on my own website http://people.atl.mediaone.net/david-carter/store/

Regards and thanks for your great site!

---
David Carter
david@carter.net
Update:
Fyi - eBay has taken action on the Meade #505 cable + software scam I
notified you about yesterday. They cancelled the just-completed auction.


It appears the seller has modified the titles of his remaining auctions
to indicate the software is FREE, but he still gives no credit to Mr.
Richard, the author of the software, while continuing to use descriptive
text directly from Mr. Richard's website & screen shots from his
software.

David Carter
Mike here: Just points out the need to be aware of you are buying before you purchase, whether online or elsewhere.

Subject:	etx125ec and starry night pro
Sent:	Wednesday, October 31, 2001 22:21:13
From:	wisepotatochipowl@stepequipment.com (wisepotatochipowl)
I downloaded the "telescopeplugin.zip" file from starry night, installed
it, rebooted, and starry night still failed to control the DEC axis of
my etx.

Luckily, the visual basic source files that generate the "meade.dll"
file used by the starry night plugin, were also included in the zip
file. Since I have VB6, i decided to do a little debugging and found the
cause of the dec problem in the dll.

apparently, the formatting for the DEC commands that the autostar 497,
running firmware 22et, recognizes, must have changed from when this dll
was first written. The DLL was sending the dec command in the following
format:

sDD:MM.S

Autostar did not like this, and refused to move the dec axis. Reviewing
the latest LX200 command set on Meade's site, I noticed that autostar
wants the DEC information in the following format: sDD*MM      ( s=sign,
D=degrees, *=degree symbol, M=minutes)

I made the appropriate changes in the DLL, and starry night pro finally
controlled the etx scope successfully in all axis! I notified Meade tech
support, and they indicated that the problem should be fixed in a couple
of weeks....So look for another update from starry night in the next few
weeks, for a new version that will work with autostar 497, v22et!

Bob.

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