ASTRONOMY SOFTWARE FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 25 November 2001
This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the PC, Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject:	ETX-70 computer control
Sent:	Saturday, November 24, 2001 12:08:38
From:	beruberu@freesurf.ch (Philippe HAAKE)
Yes I'm using it for many monthes now... have a look at what it has
been already said about this soft at

http://www.weasner.com/etx/software_reviews.html#thesky_pocket

And you may see on the bisque soft advertisment's pages.... 
************************************************************************
Last week I was able to use TheSky Pocket Edition to place comet
LINEAR in the center of the eyepiece using my ETX-90 - FANTASTIC! I
was unable to find it using just the Autostar's hand paddle. Thanks
again for the wonderful
software. I'm making a lot of my friends jealous... Whoo Hoo!

P. Haake, Switzerland

************************************************************************

at http://www.bisque.com/Products/TheSkyPE/TheSkyPE.asp


It is really great to use......

Best Greetings From SWITZERLAND
Phil
ICQ 3128404
http://astroclub.net/sag/index.html
http://astroclub.net/sag/ephemeride/index.html
http://community.webshots.com/user/beruberu1
beruberu@freesurf.ch

Subject:	re: ETX-70 computer control and Bisque...
Sent:	Friday, November 23, 2001 19:42:14
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Raven50@aol.com
Raven wrote:
> Through Bisque Software's The Sky, you can control the ETX.  
> They offer it as a WinCE version, along with the cables for the
> hook up.  (a lot less than Meades computer connection cable) 

I *really, really doubt* that that's an ETX70-compatible cable.
(by ETX70, i mean a Meade 506 cable equivalent for the 494 Autostar).

I highly suspect it's a 505-cable equivalent for the 495/497 Autostar,
 which is easy to make.

That's not to say the product isn't a good idea/program/deal,
merely as a warning to 494 (no numeric keypad) Autostar owners
to first VERIFY that the cable really works with their system.

have fun, but check first...
--dick
And:
From:	Raven50@aol.com
Hmm..... thanks.  I was hoping someone would raise this before i
invested in the cables!  The ETX-70 uses the 506 cable kit from meade.  
What does that come with?  What kind of port is the AUX on the 70?  I
thought Meade said it was an RS232 on their website.  I may have read it
wrong.  With the upgraded autostar, i would plug into the handle.  With
the stock one, i had the impression that the AUX port took its place. 
Does anyone have any further knowledge on this?  If i end up not being
able to do this the way i originally though, i may upgrade my autostar. 
I've used the SKY software on my desktop for a long time know, and i
think its great.  I wouldn't mind paying a little more to be able to
have it with me.  Printing sky charts is annoying.
Mike here: The #506 cable has some electronics that are required for using the #494 Autostar on the ETX-70AT. Since the specs are not currently available, you can't make one.

And this:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Raven wrote:

> The ETX-70 uses the 506 cable kit from meade.
>   What does that come with? 
Usually the StarryNight/AstroControlPanel C, and the cable.

> What kind of port is the AUX on the 70? 
It's a powered I2C peripheral bus port.  Can accept multiple
addressable peripheral devices, such as electric focusers,
illuminated reticles, the 506 unit, etc.

> I thought Meade said it was an RS232 on their website.
The *495/497 autostar* has an internal rs232 port.
The 494 Autostar does not.  For the 494, they created the 506 unit,
 which has a small peripheral controller and rs232 level converter
 in the lump on the cable.  It is *not* merely a level-shifter.
 It's an intelligent buffered device.

> With the upgraded autostar, i would plug into the handle. 
That is correct.  And the 505 cable is merely a set of wires.
No active components.
> With the stock one, i had the impression that the AUX port took its
> place.  
The AUX port can accept the 506 device, which is an rs232 device
to the PC, but an addressable buffered device to the Autostar's eyes.

>Does anyone have any further knowledge on this? 
More is covered in a number of places on Mike's site, as multiple
topics on the  http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html  page.

> If i end up not being able to do this the way i originally though,
> i may upgrade my autostar. 
Usually feasible for about $50 via Ebay.  And the 495/497 Autostar
 is much more flexible.

> I've used the SKY software on my desktop for a long
> time know, and i think its great.  I wouldn't mind paying a little 
> more to be able to have it with me.  Printing sky charts is annoying. 

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX-70 computer control
Sent:	Thursday, November 22, 2001 16:04:21
From:	Raven50@aol.com
I recently came upon something i think will be incredibly usefull.  I
didn't see anything about it on your site, maybe i just missed it. 
Through Bisque Software's The Sky, you can control the ETX.  They offer
it as a WinCE version, along with the cables for the hook up.  (alot
less than Meades computer connection cable)  So basically you can take
your ETX anywhere and control it with a Pocket PC, and have great
software to locate anything in the sky.  (i use the desktop version of
this software currently)  Has anyone tried this?  Any known issues?  Or
is it as good as it sounds?

Subject:	Software
Sent:	Tuesday, November 20, 2001 6:42:14
From:	golfing18@msn.com (Michael Knapp)
I am interested in purchasing software to control my 90EC from a laptop.
I am a bit confused though. Can the Epoch 2000sk software from Meade be
used for the 90EC or it specifically for the LX200 series? I seem to
recall a post on your site where someone was running a 125EC with
Epoch??? It seems like “too much” software for a 90EC (not to mention
that it is a bit $$). Do you run your 90EC with a computer and if so, do
you have a software preference?

Regards,

Mike Knapp
Mike here: I'm not currently using any software with my ETX. Carina Software was supposed to send me an evaluation copy of their ETX controller software but hasn't yet. There are several packages that can control the ETX/Autostar. See the Astro Software Feedback and Accessory Reviews - Software for more info.

Subject:	StarCalc software...
Sent:	Sunday, November 4, 2001 20:39:52
From:	bryangm@excite.com (Bryan Morris)
I've been trying out this software for the past few days... its not
spectacular but its FREE!  Its called StarCalc.  I found out about it on
TheScreensavers television show.

http://www.relex.ru/~zalex/main.htm

Subject:	Starry Night Pro
Sent:	Thursday, October 25, 2001 11:07:21
From:	patrick.mcgeehan@gte.net (Patrick McGeehan)
Love your excellent site. I too tried to control my ETX with StarryNight
Pro, but the supplied controller is scripted in LX-200 protocols. I
emailed Starry Night Pro, and they responded:


We have replaced the ACP telescope software with a newer plugin that
lets you control the 125 directly from within Starry Night. This new
plugin can be downloaded free from:
http://www.starrynight.com/pub/starrynight/telescope/TelescopePlugin.zip
The download is a zipped file that also includes a read-me file with
instructions. Before you install the new plugin, delete the file
"lx200snv3.plug" from your Starry Night Pro Data\Plug-ins folder,
because Starry Night will not work properly with 2 plugins installed.
Then install the downloaded plugin and you will be able to control your
ETX from Starry Night.

-Mike

Mike Parkes
Astronomy Support Associate
SPACE.com Canada, Inc.
284 Richmond Street East
Toronto, ON, M5A 1P4, Canada

I have downloaded this but have not yet had an opportunity to try
it--Pat

Subject:	etx 125 and Starry night pro
Sent:	Monday, October 22, 2001 22:07:28
From:	rs@stepperequipment.com (bob sharpe)
I am having trouble getting Starry Night Pro to control the etx125ec
from a PC laptop. I sent an email to starry night tech support, but they
have not replied....Can you post this to see if someone has had this
problem, and a possible solution? Here is the email to tech support

Hi,
I just bought starry night pro from you. I have a meade etx 125ec
telescope, with autostar 497. After hooking the autostar up to the
scope, and the autostar up to my laptop running starry night pro (latest
version). I set up the telescope in starry night for Model LX200 and
autostar, with the 16" option unchecked.

When right clicking on an object in starry night, and telling the scope
to move to it, the right ascension drive works as it should, but the dec
drive does not move, or moves very little, resulting in huge scope
pointing errors in the dec axis.

The cursor on the screen of starry night reflects the scope's true
position, as it too is off in the dec axis! When I move the dec axis by
using the autostar hand controller, it moves without hesitation! It
seems like the autostar is getting the RA data from the computer OK, but
the DEC data is not!

I have the serial port configured for N,8,1, with no flow control. I am
also polar aligned!

Any suggestions?  I bought Starry night pro so I could control the scope
with it as advertised on your web site!

thx,
Bob sharpe

Thanks for your help!
Bob

Subject:	TheSky for Mac OS X
Sent:	Friday, October 19, 2001 9:56:52
From:	pst@ksu.edu (Paul St. Amand)
There is an update
(http://www.bisque.com/Products/TheSky/TheSkyForMacV5.asp) of TheSky
Version 5.0.6 for Macintosh. It now features support for Autostar
telescopes, new photography features, the ability to display paths for
minor planets and coments, improved stability and accuracy, interface
enhancements and a number of bug fixes. It will now run as a Classic app
under Mac OS X.

Paul St. Amand

Subject:	WinStars - Freeware Astronomy program with LX200 control
Sent:	Monday, October 15, 2001 7:28:19
From:	constons@kaisere.com (Conston, Steve     x4704)
I found this program on ZDNET but have not had a chance to evaluate it.

http://www.zdnet.com/downloads/stories/info/0,10615,83339,00.html

Here is the origination site:

winstars.free.fr/english/

Steve

Subject:	Best Pair Autostar/LX200 alignment star software
Sent:	Tuesday, October 9, 2001 19:44:29
From:	paul@ilanga.com (Paul Rodman)
Your readers might be interested in this:

www.ilanga.com/bestpair/index.shtml/

Freeware application for Mac and Windows that selects the best pair of
alignment stars to use for your location/date/time in order to minimise
pointing errors.

Paul Rodman

Subject:	re:  Meade Astrofinder pc connection software and cables
Sent:	Wednesday, October 3, 2001 21:41:04
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	atozcom@hotmail.com
> I just bought the #505 cable set, it comes with the Skychart (a 
> limited edition of Starry night) and Astronomer's control panel. 
> I have the same problem with the Feb 2006 date. I called Meade Tech
> support this morning.  The tech support guy told me the Feb 2006 show
> the date the data in the software expire and cannot be changed by
> user. Everything in the software is program up to that date.

How do i politely phrase this?  "Bogus". (Meade support, not Ringo Li)

If you download the -two- v1.3 patch kits from ACP, the Feb 2006 goes
away and it shows the correct time and date.  I've done it.
Last June 19th.
(i also updated StarryNight, which is the planetarium program on
that CD).
It's a HUGE update (15 megabytes for the full ACP update, and then
another 780KB for the ServicePack1 addendeum.)
The files (and i may have renamed them) are:
 acp_13-full.exe   and   acp_13-sp1.exe

Here's the note from DC-3's website: ( acp.dc3.com/meade.html )

The date always reads 8 Feb 2006. Why? 
    The version of ACP that ships on the SkyChart is well
    over a year old. The problem you see is a Y2K
    problem that was fixed last December (1999). DC-3
    Dreams has revised ACP to compensate and to correct
    bugs. You can update your copy of ACP free of
    charge. Simply click on the Try it! link in the left
    margin, fill out the form so we know who you are, and
    you'll be given downloading instructions for the latest
    version (1.3) of ACP.
    DO NOT UNINSTALL YOUR CURRENT VERSION! Simply run the 1.3
    installer and let it detect and update your current
    installation. 

Meade Tech Support should be chastised for flat-out-wrong info....
Grump.
have fun
--dick
And this response:
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com (Raymond Barbour@i-Commerce)
I couldn't work out if the problem the people where having was with the
Starchart (Starry Night) or with the Astronomer's Control Panel (ACP). I
suspect the problem is with ACP as I had a similar problem with the
software supplied with my DS-127. It is a Y2k bug in the supplied
version of ACP. It is fixed in the latest version that can be downloaded
from http://acp.dc3.com/.
Regards,
Raymond Barbour

Subject:	Mac astronomy program for OSX
Sent:	Monday, October 1, 2001 12:36:26
From:	pst@ksu.edu (pst)
I just noticed that there is now a Mac astronomy program for OS X (works
with OS9 too). It is called MPj Astro II. You can download the shareware
program at:

http://www.total.net/~mpj/MPjII.html

I have not had much chance to use it, but it looks useful and can
control autostar telescopes and has a voice command option for
controlling your scope. My first impression is that it is attractive but
not quite as full featured as Starry Night nor as easy to navigate. If
you or anyone else has time to give it a full review, I'd love to read
it!

Paul St. Amand
Mike here: I recently installed Mac OS X 10.1 on a G4 PowerBook. Once I get some free time I'll have to check this out.

Subject:	Meade Astrofinder pc connection software and cables
Sent:	Monday, October 1, 2001 10:11:06
From:	atozcom@hotmail.com (Ringo Li)
I just bought the #505 cable set, it comes with the Skychart (a limited
edition of Starry night) and Astronomer's control panel. I have the same
problem with the Feb 2006 date. I called Meade Tech support this
morning.  The tech support guy told me the Feb 2006 show the date the
data in the software expire and cannot be changed by user. Everything in
the software is program up to that date.


Ringo Li (MCSE+I, MCT, A+)
ATOZ Business Computers
atozcom@hotmail.com

Subject:	Meade Astrofinder pc connection software and cables
Sent:	Monday, September 17, 2001 21:14:26
From:	CaptainCookRN@cs.com
Mike from OPT gave your card to me at "nightfall".  I purchased an LX90
on the way to Anza and tried to run my autostardrive system from my pc
with the above product.  Mike helped me align the scope and we messed
around with the program, but couldn't get the computer to talk to the
telescope.  I gave up Friday night and during the day with a friend who
was computer literate we finally got the scope to give the ra, dec,
etc., but the date it gave was in Feb, 2006.  We rechecked the dates in
the autostar and on my pc, but could never find anything showing those
dates.  I was at this time able to slew the scope with the direction
arrows, but nothing else.

Saturday afternoon after discussing the problem with several people, one
of them installed his SkyChartIII CD in my pc which ran perfectly Sat.
night, after I figured out why it kept telling me I was in San
Francisco.

My computer is new and has Windows ME.  Could this be my problem, or do
you have any clue as to what it could be?  Will it be worth it to try to
make it work?  Does it have some feature that can't be found in other
programs?  I am only a little more than a beginner handling a scope
myself and a true computer illiterate.   At this point, I would just as
soon give up, return the Meade program (which contains only a part of
StarryNight), and just work with the SkyChartIII that I now have, but,
in all fairness, wanted to ask for some advice from the astronomer who
everyone says knows this program!

Thanks for your time.

       ~~~~ __/)~~~~~       
~~~__/)  ~~~~~ __Annette  ~~~
Mike here: Well, actually I don't know the program (since it is Windows-based).

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