AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 November 2006

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, 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 corrupt
Sent:	Tuesday, November 28, 2006 08:25:47
From:	John Fulcher (jfulcher@freenetname.co.uk)
Have been advised to contact your site for the following reason. Whilst
updating my 497 handbox, the download was interupted.  This has, on
advice from the importers in the UK, corrupted the handbox softwareThye
result of this is that the'scope no longer points at the correct star(s)
during initial alignment, but about twentyfive degrees out. Without
knowing for certain, it seems as if the declination is way out. I have
gone through the usual 'flash download' procedure (twice), to no avail.
Is there a way of wiping the whole software clean and starting again, or
is it a new handbox?

If  there is any special procedure for this question, please let me
know, I would be much obliged and willing to contribute,

((from the UK),
Yours,
John Fulcher
Mike here: Lets start from scratch. Download the 4.3Ea ROM file from Meade's web site to your local computer (put it in the Empherides folder in the ASU folder if using Windows otherwise just put it on the desktop (Mac OS X). Then run the AutoStar Updater application version 4.3 (which you should also have downloaded from Meade's page and installed) and select to update from a local copy of the build file (and not from the Web/Internet). Once the download into the AutoStar is complete (will take about 26 minutes), the AutoStar will do a RESET. But to ensure that all is OK disconnect the AutoStar from the computer, do a manual RESET from the AutoStar menu, and then do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (do on both axes). This should resolve any problems. You will have to re-enter your site location (use a City Name). Let me know how it goes.

And:

Thankyou for your reply--- whatever the outcome!
John Fulcher

Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Monday, November 27, 2006 13:56:20
From:	Corey Schwartz (cschwartz@pointcarre.com)
Will an Autostar 492 mount work with an Autostar II controller?

Thanks,
Corey
Mike here: First off, your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette on the ETX Site Home Page to avoid this happening in the future. Thanks for understanding.
According to Meade's site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html), no.
Subject:	497 meade autostar controler
Sent:	Sunday, November 26, 2006 10:00:34
From:	Steve Hartwig (stevehartwig@cox.net)
I have a new LXD75 tripod with the basic hand paddle, wanted to upgrade
to the #497 Meade Autostar controller. Can I buy this from you?

My e-xxx is not working. I can view prods, buy not sign in or manage.
Steve
 
Steve Hartwig
208 S. Placita Aldaco
Tucson AZ 85710
520-850-6003
LX200 12 SMT, Astromart.
LXD-75EC (-autostar) from Optic planet, Tripod (AR-5 refractor lxd55 from Meads outlet store).
Mike here: As noted on the ETX Site home page, I am not a Meade dealer nor a dealer for any accessories. Many Meade dealers will have the #497 in stock.

And:

Sorry

Subject:	Re:Cancelling Motor Calibration
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2006 09:51:45
From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
Shouldn't you be able to power up in the "Safe Load" mode without being
connected to a scope?  That should at least allow installing the current
497 ROM file, which would probably be the first thing you would do
anyway after connecting to a scope.  You still wouldn't be able to get
past the Motor Calibration after the update, but at least you would be
all ready to go once you were connected.  Just a thought.

Regards,
Mike Hogan
Mike here: I think Dick was saying that the very first time the AutoStar is powered on, it has to be connected. After that, you could probably do as you say.

And:

I thought holding Enter and Scroll Down over rode everything. I know
that's the way I've recovered when firmware was totally trashed.
Mike here: No doubt you could put it into SAFE LOAD mode but the next time you powered on with the telescope, it would still think (I presume) it was the first time connected to a telescope and do the "first use" steps.

And:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Both Mikes are correct.  

But for this user's -particular- needs (to play with Autostar whilst
awaiting arrival of scope) it's not applicable at this time.

Subject:	How to update 494 ?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 21, 2006 20:07:22
From:	Paul Dutcher (dutchie130@yahoo.com)
Is there Any way to update the 494 hand paddle I have 1 that is at 13e 
and the otherone is 11e. "Please tell me theres a way"
TIA
Paul
Mike here: Meade has not made any user-installable updates for the #494 available.
Subject:	Re: Cancelling Motor Calibration
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 18:08:46
From:	Fouad Qureshi (fouad.qureshi@gmail.com)
Dick's reply lays down all the cards on the table. Thanks indeed and
also for a great site...which is truly a great service.
 
Fouad Qureshi

Subject:	Cancelling Motor Calibration
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 03:50:19
From:	Fouad Qureshi (fouad.qureshi@gmail.com)
Kudos for a great site. I just received a new 495 autostar that I
purchased through ebay and can't wait to explore it, but the mount that
I ordered seperately will take a few weeks to arrive. I built a battery
cable and a 505 cable (both from your site). I can successfully power-up
the Autostar but can't get past the motor calibration routine. Is there
any way of skipping the calibration step? (I couldn't find an answer to
my problem at your site or the internet.)
 
Fouad Qureshi
Mike here: I don't recall hearing of this problem with the AutoStar #495 and an external power source. But I'll let our resident Dick Seymour tackle it. I suspect that somehow you will want to get to where you can update it to a #497 with the ROM file from Meade's site.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The short answer is: No, you need a telescope (with one exception).

The long answer:
When a "factory fresh" (or Reset before packing) Autostar is first
turned on, it does the Calibration operation as a part of finding
out -what- it's attached  to.

There are three things you can try:
(A) if you know -anyone- with an Autostar telescope, connect your
 autostar to their scope, and let it "set up" on their scope.
 That will satisfy the "first time" programming, and from then on
 it will be happy.

(b) wait for your scope (this may be the hardest method)

(c) it is -possible- to use the serial port to command the Autostar
 to "burn" portions of the EPROM with numbers which would make it think
 that it had performed the Calibration and Setup.  I do -not- recommend
 this approach for two reasons: (a) it's possible to damage the autostar
 during the process such that it would -not- operate once your scope arrived,
 and (b) i'd have to do a few -hours- of digging to come up with the numbers
 and commands involved.  And i'm simply too busy at this time.  And i could
 not guarantee that (a) would not happen.

have fun (and patience for (b))
--dick

Subject:	Bluetooth Starlink connection ETX
Sent:	Saturday, November 18, 2006 02:44:55
From:	henrik.van.holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Hello Jan,
 
I do not know Starlink but what I do know that the AUX port on ETX
scopes is not a RS232 port but should be use for accessories like
electric focuser. You can damage the scope by connection RS232 cable to
AUX port. My Bluestar Bluetooth adapter is connected directly to the
RS232 connector on Autostar and this working perfectly no slowdown on
communication speed. I did even the upgrade of Autostar via Bluestar.

I looked at the Starlink site and my conclusion is as follows, the
Starlink get its power from the ETX AUX port but the communication part
of the cable is going to the RS232 port on the Autostar. I think you
have connected your Starlink is this way otherwise it would not work.

But I will look deeper into  the Starlink connection for the moment I
have no time I am leaving now for Holland.
 
I will come back to you Jan next week.
 
Cheers Henrik

--------- original message ----------

Comments to your article in Weasner's Mighty ETX Site

Bluestar ETX/PC connection;I bought from the Starrynight Company the
Bluestar adapter, this unit isa Bluetooth and serial/USB adapter in one.
The Bluestar is connected tothe serial connector on Autostar. If you
have a laptop with integratedBluetooth adapter, do not confuse with
WIFI, you are ready to startotherwise you have to buy a Bluetooth
adapter and there are many on themarket. I use Starry night 6.01 pro
plus, the control of the ETX with thisadapter is perfect as well with
the Autostar updater. The big advantage is there is no cable going from
the ETX to the laptopespecially in the dark there is one thing less to
stumble over, you canstill be floored by tripping over the tripod of
course. Do not use theAUX port on the ETX90/105/125 very bad idea the
problem is that Autostarserial port has the same connector as the AUX
ports this might confusesome people.

What do you actually mean by the underlined sentence? Do you mean that
the the wireless bluetooth should not be connected to the AUX-port on
the scope?

I've bought the STARLINK  http://www.stargps.ca/StarLink.htm and I'm not
satisfied. The main problem is that the Bluetooth connection is much
slower than cable connection. And it is not stable. As you can see from
the description at STARLINK it is supposed to be connected to Autostar
and the AUX-port on the scope.

I have a ETX 125 and use Carte du Ciel for my Bluetooth connection. It
is supposed to work with Astroplanner 
http://www.ilangainc.com/astroplanner/ as well, but I had no success
with astroplanner.

I'm very pleased if you could assist me in using Bluetooth.

Clear skies!

Regards

Jan
Mike here: As I reported in my review of the StarLink on the Accessory Reviews: Showcase Products page, I had success using AstroPlanner (for Mac OS X).

And:

From:	Jan H Kolst (jan.kolsto@online.no)
Thanks a lot for the answer.I discovered that I've installed
Astroplanner on my D disk instead of C.When installed on C it worked ,
but still it is unstable in finding the right port (5).Sometimes the
port is not found.

Anyway thanks for responding and have a nice weekend with your family!

Regards
Jan
Norway
Mike here: I don't have port problems like that on my Mac.

And:

I've just bought STARLINK http://www.stargps.ca/StarLink.htm and
Bluetooth Billionton Class 1 (100meters).I 've followed the  steps when
installed. My problem is when using Astroplanner
http://www.ilangainc.com/astroplanner/index.html the system works,but I
hear sounds like bum,bum.... on my computer for about a minute. Am I
supposed to use " Don't use Long Format on telescopes using Meade
commands"?This is on the Preferences on Telescope/Gps. I have a Meade
ETX 125 with Autostar 497 and have marked for the mentioned format.I'm
using Windows XP.Any suggestions what to do?
 
Regards
Jan Kolstoe
Mike here: I have never heard that sound on my Mac with Bluetooth in use. Is it a sound from the speaker or a sound from the hardware? As to the setting, seems right.

And a followup:

Hello Jan,

As promised I come back on your communication problem ETX/Starlink and
PC. First of all to make things clear My Bluestar adapter has its own
power supply, Starlink uses the power from ETX via the AUX port.

Starlink uses a split cable, a long one for connection to Autostar RS232
port and short one for connection to ETX/AUX port for power. Do not
interchange these cables and be careful this possible because both cable
ends have the same plug. But I assume you connected the Starlink
correctly otherwise it would have worked at all.

So why does your connection not work properly?

1.	Possible conflict with the Starlink driver and the com port on
your laptop (or PC) this means Astroplanner and Starlink should have the
same com port. It is possible that you have already an other device on
the same com port.

2.	Did you do the configuration correctly for Starlink driver and
Astroplanner baudrate, stopbits etc should be the same. The baudrate
should not be to low lets say 9600 Baud otherwise the connection is to
slow.

3.	Bluetooth is a wireless connection this means it is a transceiver
(send and receive) and uses a radio signal for this. Both Starlink and
bluetooth adapters are transceivers. Do you have maybe another bluetooth
or other wireless device connected to your PC using the same transceiver
frequency?

4.	The range of standard Bluetooth is 30 feet that is about 9 meters
but only when you have free view to your PC, if you have a wall in
between it will be less. This can be also the case try to put PC closer
to the ETX.

5.	You use the power of the ETX (AUX port). This can also have
influence on the bluetooth connection. The internal resistance of the
internal used batteries (8 X 1.5 vdc) is bigger then from 12 VDC power
packs. If you use the command GOTO from ETX or Astroplanner, you will
notice that both motors will turn at the same time AZ or DEC
(hor./vert.) the currect used will be relatively high. Because of the
internal resistance of the internal batteries this will result in a
voltage drop. This will influence Starlink as transceiver (less
transmitting power) this might be also the cause off a temporary bad
wireless connection. If this is the case I advice you use an external
power pack for the ETX, these 12 VDC powerpacks are not expensive and
have a low the voltage drop for the current used by the ETX.

6.	Keep in mind that already after 10 hours of operation the voltage
of the 8 internal batteries have dropped to about 10 VDC instead off
12.8 VDC when they are new.

In my case as the Bluestar uses its own power. I do not have this
problem and what is more I always use an external power supply for the
ETX. I hope these remarks will help to solve your communication problem
if not I need more information from you. Unfortunately I do not know
Astropanner there I will not be of big help.

Have fun and regards Henrik

And more:

Hello Jan,
Try to put the Starlink driver to another com port i.e. 5 of course you
have to change Astroplanner accordingly.

You say that you hear a bum sound I do not know exactly what you mean by
this but it sounds that windows is detecting a conflict.

Ask somebody ,a computer expert, to help you to find the conflict this
not very well possible without the PC in front of you.

You say your bluetooth adapter has a range of 100 mtr this might be also
the problem use an adapter with only 9 to 10 mtr' s. If you live in a
heavy populated urban area other Bluetooth adapters might cause
interference.

If you mean by wireless connection the normal wireless router for
network operation then this will not have an effect on Bluetooth
adapters as you already found out.

Have fun Henrik

Subject:	re: Nubie with a couple of questions
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2006 22:45:44
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
1) yes, with a 497  (there is no upgrade path for a 494)

2) NO...  very different.   The AUX port is a special addressed
 bidirectional bus system, i have no idea what the "Lx200" port
might be (since LX200's have at least -three- different "ports",
all wildly different in signals and usage.)

3) as Mike said, 494's firmware isn't updatable.  If  yours knows the 2130,
it's fairly new.

If the 497 won't let you select "polar" for the 2130, lie to it
and cliam it's an ETX90, but you may havr to changr the two axes'
gear ratio settings to match whatever the 494 is using.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Nubie with a couple of questions
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2006 17:38:04
From:	Ian McIntosh (imcdundee@hotmail.co.uk)
Hello,first off i'd like to say I love the website ,especially the
cats!(except for maybe the font used for the articals)

Second, Im a big fan of the A7 (way cool bird,way more distinctive than
the F18,and all of that from an EE lightning fan !).

Third I have the followiing questions ;

1 Can the DS (2130){90.00 from Ebay!} series mounts be mounted and used
equitorially with a fully upgraded 494 or 497 autostar? (the base 494
V12Eb has no option for this)?

2 Is the aux port the same as an "LX200 port" on this mount (just a
terminology question really)

3 What is the latest version of update that the 494 can take?
 
Thanks in advance ,Ian McIntosh
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette on the ETX Site Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject line. Thanks for understanding.
Once the AutoStar detects the DS mount, I don't believe it will show the Polar option. Don't know if the #497 AutoStar would be any different from the #494 as I don't have a DS model. AUX port is likely different, but again, I don't have a LX200. The #494 AutoStar is NOT user updatable (for software).

And:

Thanks for the info,i will see if a friend will let me try his 497 on my
mount and i will let you know if polar alignment is still available.
thanks for the feedback!

Subject:	AutoStar updating
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:50:08
From:	Chris and Claire Nuttall (c.nuttall@tiscali.co.uk)
sorry, this is a really dumb question and i have looked everywhere
before asking it but........do i plug the autostar direct into the pc to
update the software, or do i plug the autostar into the ETX and then
plug the ETX into the PC?

Thanks in advance

chris nuttall
Mike here: You might want to read the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more information on updating. That should answer your question. Generally, it is also applicable to version 4.

And:

thanks

seems i didn't look EVERYWHERE after all!

chris

Subject:	autoatar ?
Sent:	Friday, November 10, 2006 20:23:21
From:	Gerald Jenny (gjenn3@earthlink.net)
I just noticed tha the Autostar menu has aitem called Cal Sensors I
looked on mine and I do not have that item is it just for another model
or what

Another question on the Az and Alt ratio where do you start  also on the
AZ/RA precent and the ALT/DEC precent where is a good place to start on
these  

thanks for a great site
Clear skys Jerry
 
Gerald Jenny
Mike here: CAL SENSOR is to calibrate the sensor for determining North on the Premier Edition telescopes (i.e., they have the Level North Technology, or LNT, module). If your telescope does not have a LNT this menu item will not appear. As to ratios and percents, do not adjust the ratio unless you have a specific reason to do so as it is telescope specific but you can adjust the backlash percentages; there are some articles on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on this. The best place to start is from the factory default condition, which you can restore if you have messed things up by doing a RESET on the AutoStar. This returns the AutoStar to its "out of the box" state, meaning that you will have to re-enter your site location and any user objects you entered. But all the settings in the AutoStar will go back to "standard".
Subject:	Should I reset autostar after download new basis software?
Sent:	Friday, November 10, 2006 02:55:32
From:	henrik.van.holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Recently I have bought an ETX105PE a very satisfying telescope and easy
to use although one has to get used to laser dot assisted sighting.

My question is as follows; I have updated the autostar with the new
basic software 43EA, the update itself was smoothly but just for the
last ok in the last window in the update procedure there was some text
hinting reset of the autostar. I could no find conformation about this
eventually needed reset, not in the ET105 handbook not in de ASU help
files etc.

The instrument works fine after the upgrade so why should I do this, I
do not understand. Of course I can do this, I know how to do this, but
if it is not necessary I prefer to avoid this reset.
 
Thanks in advance for your response.
Regards Henrik
Mike here: Point of clarification: it is not a "laser" red dot finderscope, just an LED. The AutoStar resets itself after an update. HOWEVER, I always recommend doing a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES following any update. This avoids problems.
Subject:	ETX #506 Cable
Sent:	Wednesday, November 8, 2006 08:44:35
From:	Daniel & Sarah Paulson (kalkisquirrel@comcast.net)
Hello there Fellow mac user..I was wondering if you can send me to a
place (for info) so i can make my own cable to connect my ETX 70 to my
mac and my Winblows laptop.

thanks for the great site you have put together.
Daniel P
Mike here: Making a #506 cable is not easy as it has some "active" electronics in it. If you want to try, see the articles "#506 Cable Information" and "#494 AutoStar & #506 cable info" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Alternatively, get a #497 AutoStar and make the easier #505 serial cable. Keep in mind that if your computers do not have a RS-232 serial port and only a USB port you will need a USB-serial adapter. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page as not all adapters will work well with the AutoStar. I use a Keyspan one on my Apple PowerBooks.
Subject:	About Autostar handbox buttons
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2006 16:53:35
From:	Seinbest@aol.com (Seinbest@aol.com)
Another question I have is concerning the Autostar handbox.  #494  I
need to push the buttons fairly hard to get them to do anything.  When I
move the telescope with the arrows on the handbox, I need to use both
hands to keep the button done and keep it moving.  I read something
about cleaning the buttons, but is that for this type of problem?

Thanks
Mike here: If dirt or something is holding the buttons out when you try to depress them, then cleaning may solve the problem. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackNov06/autostar.html