Last updated: 31 October 2003
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	etx autostar mechanical unit failures
Sent:	Friday, October 31, 2003 01:42:27
mike, you are doing an awesome job. 

i purchased my autostar 497 in july 2003, and after 15 hours of trial
and error i am enjoyning the GO TO. however i do experience sometimes
after 1 hour a MUF which can not be explained by low battery or
obstruction.  this happens perhaps 50% of the time. do you think
downloading the patch update 3.0e will help. what about 3.b or 3.0d.

thanks ron
Mike here: Electrical interference or a loose cable connection could also cause this. Some data corruption in the Autostar software could also be the culprit. Anytime the Autostar acts up, at the least do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Sometimes a RESET first may be required. And updating to the current software version can help.
Subject:	Question........
Sent:	Thursday, October 30, 2003 17:52:27
Hi.........I ordered the "software package with cable connections for my
70EXT. My question is, can I get a longer cable to hook into it so I can
control my telescope from longer distances?

Thanks, Mike
Mike here: See the "Long Autostar Cable" article on the Autostar Information page. But be aware of the cautions there.
Subject:	Autostar Info Autostar Double Stars Excel List Corrupted?
Sent:	Thursday, October 30, 2003 13:30:35
From: (Bill Murray)
I downloaded the above mentioned.  My Excel program wouldn't read the
file.  Comes back with a error message:  " 'autostar_doubles.xls' cannot
be accessed.  The file may be read-only, or you may be trying to access
a read-only location. Or, the server the document is stored on may not
be responding."

I got a 64kb file but Excel 2000 doesn't like it.  It's probably me!

Bill Murray
Owner of a recently supercharged ETX-105.
Mike here: I just downloaded it and it opens fine in Excel v.X. What version do you have?


I use Excel 2000.  I can't change it--it's the University's computer!
I'll see  what our Systems (that what we call them) people can do.  Will
let you know.
Mike here: It should be OK with Windows. That's where it came from.
Subject:	cable from autostar to pc
Sent:	Wednesday, October 29, 2003 13:41:27
From: (kimras)
can you show me ,the cable connection between the 497 autostar, and the
computer , for updating my 497(etx125)

many thanks 
    kim rasmussen
Mike here: See the cable information articles on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	re:  Autostar 497 not functioing
Sent:	Tuesday, October 28, 2003 23:15:15
From: (Richard Seymour)
Before you throw in the towel, try the Safe Load procedure
described in the Updater's HELP section under "damaged handbox"

good luck

Subject:	Autostar Suite with Meade LPI
Sent:	Monday, October 27, 2003 17:12:41
From: (hometownrx)
Has there been any "feedback" on Meade's new AUTOSTAR SUITE with MEADE
LPI.  This is being advertised in the magazines now. Looks to good to be
true. Just wondering if you heard anything on this yet? Tried to find
something on your site, but came up empty handed.


Dave Kayfes
Attica, MI
Mike here: Not yet. It just started shipping.
Subject:	Autostar 497 not functioing
Sent:	Sunday, October 26, 2003 19:55:20
From: (Eric Phannenstiel)
I have admired your site since I got my instrument a little over a year
ago.  I have a situation that you may be able to give me some advice on.

I'm afraid I may have "fried" my Autostar.  I recently purchased a new
Palm Zire71 PDA and discovered that the Planetarium (for Palm OS)
software can interface to the ETX instruments.  I have the ETX-90 and
prior to the recent experiment all was functioning well.  I connected
the Zire to the computer control panel of hte ETX-90 using a serial
adapter from Palm, and a DB9 to RJ11(I think) cable.  When I launched
Planetarium, and tried to take control with the Palm, I got an error
message on the Palm saying that it could not open the serial port.  I
shut down and put it away (it was quite late).  A few days later, I went
to do some observing and when I powered up the ETX-90, I did not get the
usual beep from the handbox controller.  In fact, there was no display
feedback at all, but the keypad was lit and the LED's on the top of the
controller were lit.

When I reverted to the original Controller, it seems to be working
properly (even though I never have used it before).  It slews, focuses,
and tracks which makes me believe that the Autostar hanbox may be
defective.  I have also tried to update the 497 using the latest ASU
(ver 3.61). When I try to connect, I get an error message that says:
"Could not connect to Autostar", and after a COM port search tells me
"Could not find COM port" despite the fact that I know my COM port is
fine (it works with other apps).

It this hte point where I should call Meade?  Are there better options
for me? Are these devices more prone to problems after being repaired? 
Please let me know what you think.

Eric Phannenstiel
Mike here: From your description it sounds like you connected the PC to the ETX instead of to the Autostar. The Autostar needs to be connected to the ETX and the serial cable from the Palm (or computer) connected to the Autostar. If you didn't connect this way you may have fried something inside the ETX. The COM port error may or may not be related to the Autostar problem but without a working Autostar it will be hard to confirm. There are some tests you can run (see the Autostar Information page for the articles) to check communications with the Autostar but I a replacement may be required. You can see what Meade says or you can buy a new or used one. A #495 Autostar can usually be found on eBay and perhaps Telescope Warehouse (see the Astronomy Links page).
Subject:	Autostar Crash???
Sent:	Saturday, October 25, 2003 06:28:30
Last night I set up my ETX125, Punched in the date and time said yes to
Daylight Savings and went to align, w/ telescope in home position. Well
the first star it went to was Sirius, all the way to the East, well once
it got there I relized  I put in 8:30 AM not PM so I  turned the scope
off,put it back in home and turned it on again. No problem, except
Autostar will not Power Up. I tried everything, checked the power
adapter,put batteries in to see if it will run that way, the scope works
fine w/ the Electronic controller, but No autostar. when you turn on the
scope w/ autostar plugged in you can hear a very faint "clicking" sound
,maybe 1 or 2 clicks. No response.  I'v never updated it and the scope
and hardware get treated very carefully. Is this a major problem? I'm
thinking about going back to the Discovery Store (w/ reciept) and see if
they can exchange it. I got the A.S. w/ the purchase of the 125 back in
late Aug. and untill last night it worked like a champ. Also the version
was 2.1e I think. Well if you have any suggestion throw it this way. I
hate for the Autostar to be 100yd target for my AR-15.

Thanks Anthony
Mike here: It does sound like something has failed, either in the ETX base or the Autostar itself. Contacting the dealer is the right start.


Well I called Discovery store this morning and told them about the
Autostar. They could'nt help due to the fact my receipt expired 2 weeks
ago and they have the Autostar paired up already w/ new ETX. Any
suggestions on what might have happened? The telescope works fine w/ the
controller so I dont think is at fault. Like I said earlier you can hear
A.S giving a couple fo faint "clicks" and that is it. I called and left
a messange for Meade they said they would respond in 24hrs. I really
dont want to send it away, cause I use it so much. so what do you think?
Also how is Meades warrenty service turn around and customer service?
I'v heard both good and bad.

Thanks again 

I'll keep you posted

Also to on the $99 eyepiece offer I sent of in Sept. 3 .  Pieces wont
ship till 1st week of Nov. due to backorder.  In case anyone else is
still waiting.
Mike here: If the standard controller works the problem is likely in the Autostar. You could do a couple of things. 1) If the store is local or you know someone else local, have them clone another Autostar into yours. 2) Buy or make a #505 cable and update the Autostar using the software on Meade's Autostar Update page.


Ok, How would I clone a Autostar, if mine doesn't power up? There are a
couple of Discovery Stores close by. I could go there and explain the
situation and see if they would let me do that . How do you clone
anyway? Thanks for your info. But what will probably happen is as soon I
send the A.S to Meade, my eyepieces will be here the next day(oH
Mike here: If it doesn't power up at all that could be a problem but if you can get to the menus you may be able to do it. First connect the other Autostar using a "Clone" cable (comes with the Meade #505 cable kit or see the article "Homemade Cloning Kit" on the Autostar Information page), then power on both Autostars and select Clone from the Setup menu. Just follow the prompts.


Yea the main problem is the autostar will not power up. Plugged into the
telescope it acts the same as sitting on the kitchen table. No
lights,beep, displays ...nothing. Is there any way to jump start, force
it to start, or is there a circuit in the autostar to see if I have
power and make sure  its not the cable. Anyway to tell?

Mike here: Well, there are some tests you might be able to make. See the Autostar Information page. You could also do a continuity test on the cable. Check the pins in the connectors and the jacks too.

And an update:

Well I Ohm tested the autostar cable today and there seems to be no
opens in the cable.

I also opened up the A.S to see if i can see any obvious damage. The
only thing that looks weird is the soder joints that are for the cable
on the back side of the board look a little dark, and the green board
around them looks "stained" or lightly burnt.  I dont know, I'm a GM
auto technican by trade, not computer repair. Guess I'll be talking to
Meade tomorrow.

Ever done warrenty repair through Meade, and ever hear how their
turn-around time is?

I'll keep ya posted 
Mike here: Meade's warranty repair times seem to be 3-6 weeks. Let me know what they tell you.
Subject:	new firmware at Meade: 30Ee (tiny change)
Sent:	Friday, October 24, 2003 17:56:09
From: (Richard Seymour)
Meade has posted a new firmware for the 495/497 at their site.

The only upgrade since v30Ed is a fix of the spinning "busy" indicator.

It'll take a day or so to create the patch kit.

have run

Subject:	Help ID'ing Autostar controller
Sent:	Friday, October 24, 2003 14:07:32
From: (david lee hawkins)
I'm looking at a ETX125 ec on eBay. Seller advises that it comes with an
Autostar controller but theyt don't know if its a 494 or 497. It has
part number 35-4700-03 on it. Can you help determine which Autostar it
Mike here: If it was used with the ETX-125 then it is NOT a #494. The #494 only works with the ETX-60 and ETX-70 models. Also, if it has number keys it is NOT a #494.
Subject:	ETX-90 AstroFinder #505 Connection kills a PC!
Sent:	Friday, October 24, 2003 07:02:26
From: (Chris Lyon)
I found your site, after searching to see if anybody manged to make the
same mistake I did !

I purchase an AstroFinder Limited Edition Astrnomy Software P/N 04512 to
connect my PC to my Meade ETX-90EC. When used with the 497 Controller
supplied with the ETX, both Astronomers Control Panel and Starry Night 
this ran correctly.

I then made the error. I noticed align options on the  Asronomers
Control Panel, and speculated on the possibility of operating the
PC/Telescope combination without the 497 Hand controller. ( by the way,
can anybody read the scrolling text at the start of initialization? ).
Persuing this line of thought I connected the lead between the PC ( 6pin
end ) and the AUX port on the Scope. after approximately 4 seconds there
was a slight pop followed by that recognisable smell of fried component

My PC is now waiting for Dell to come and collect it for repair, and I
am considerably wiser on the subject of standardization. Upon examining
the package carefully the picture does demonstrate the correct
configuration, and the packaging says 'Control your Meade #497
Autostar(TM) equipped telescope from your PC. What this does NOT say is
is do not plug your Meade supplied lead into your Meade supplied
telescope in any of the available sockets Meade present to you.

In effect, Meade acknowledge two standards on the 4 pin connector's they
present. Unfortunately they do not interconnect in a safe manner.

Now I understand the need for standardization of socket for hardware
manufacture, and indeed Meade themselves acknowledge this by the choice
of a 6way connector for the labeled HBX connector. However why is it
possible to plug this lead into an available socket that can lead to a
serious meltdown in equipment on the other side of a perfectly standard
9 pin serial connection ?. Perhaps in future the demise will only occur
among those not using USB, but it will probably still kill USB Serial

So please be warned. I would be interested to hear Meade's response to
this issue.

Chris Lyon
Mike here: Regarding the scrolling text, see the FAQ page.
Subject:	Problems training ETX 125 EC
Sent:	Thursday, October 23, 2003 02:18:34
From: (Sorrell, Michael)
I have just bought a second hand ETX125 and everything seemed fine,
except when I started trying to train the drives.

When I perform the training, the motor moves the centred object to the
left ok, but when it is supposed to have moved the centred object to the
right in the field of view, the object is still centred. Any idea what
is wrong?

I haven't yet moved on to aligning the telescope. Will this problem
prevent the telescope from having accurate GOTOs with the Autostar 497?

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Best regards

Michael Sorrell
Mike here: Since this is a used system, I suggest doing a RESET and CALIBRATE first. Then do the TRAIN DRIVES. If the telescope does not move back, at the prompt center the object yourself.
Subject:	Frustrated new ETX-90EC owner
Sent:	Wednesday, October 22, 2003 23:12:29
From: (Kurt Streeb)
I got my new ETX-90EC about a week ago and have been very frustrated
with the set up of the scope and I'm about ready to give up on it.  The
manuals (telescope and Autostar) have not been very helpful since the
instructions are confusing and contradictory.  I was able to get the
scope mounted on a tripod and align the viewfinder.  Then, following the
instructions, I set up the scope in the HOME position pointing north
(again, contradictory instructions from the manual provided with the
scope and online manual at the Meade website). I turned on Autostar to
begin initialization and since Autostar took me directly to the Align
menu after setting the date, time, location, etc., I began the Easy
align process.  Once I hit the Enter button, the scope slewed across the
sky and stopped in a portion of the sky with no bright stars. I tried to
move the scope to a nearby star using the arrow buttons, but I could
only move vertically with the buttons. I decided to hit the enter button
to see what would happen, and the scope slewed to another portion of the
sky again no bright stars, I hit enter again and Autostar said it was
Aligned.  Using the GOTO function, I tried to move to Mars (a very
visible target) but ended up nowhere near it. Realizing I must have
missed a step and re-reading the manual, discovered that I hadn't
trained the drives.

I reset Autostar then tried to train the drives.  When attempting to
move the scope using the arrows buttons to center on an object (in this
case a utility pole), only the vertical buttons would work.  I tried
moving the scope manually by unlocking the base to center on the pole,
but when I hit Enter to start the Az. training process, there was no
movement.  Then a minute or two later, the scope started slewing on its
own across the sky.  Once the slewing stopped, I could still move the
scope using the vertical buttons, but not the horizontal buttons. I
tried recalibrating the drives but got the motor failure warning
(several times).

I decided to restart the entire process another night (after searching
yours and other websites to make sure I was doing everything correctly)
but ran into the same problems.  Again, I couldn't use horizontal arrows
to move scope to center an object to train the drives.  The motors
appear to work correctly since they move fine when Autostar starts up
(and when they decide to start moving on their own).  I tried
recalibrating the drives again and this time I didn't get a "failure"
message.  (I assume that means they're calibrated correctly.)  I tried
training the drives again but ran into the same problems with the arrow
buttons.  I tried going to another menu, then using the arrow buttons to
move the scope, but again only the vertical buttons would move the

So now I'm back to square one.  I haven't been able to determine if the
problem is with the motors or Autostar or if I'm doing something wrong
in the set up.  Since I've only had it for a few days, I can't imagine
anything's broken.  At this point, I'm ready to return the scope for a
refund if I can't get the thing to work properly.

Sorry for the long rant, any suggestions would be appreciated.

Kurt Streeb 
Mike here: Lets see. Starting over. Read the various alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. Do a CALIBRATE and then TRAIN DRIVES (both axes). Be certain you have entered the proper city (or at least one nearby) for your site. Put the telescope in the proper HOME position as described in the articles. Then go through the Easy Alignment. NOTE: each axis must be locked if you want to slew or have the Autostar move the telescope. You indicated you tried slewing with an axis unlocked. Let me know if the articles help.
Subject:	re: ETX90 target settings
Sent:	Wednesday, October 22, 2003 21:21:21
From: (Richard Seymour)
The motion you are hearing/seeing is intentional.

You are seeing (or hearing) a slight change in how the Autostar
operates.  When you are in Polar mode, it -immediately- starts
the sidereal drive, even before aligning.
(after all, if you just had a motor, not an autostar, it would 
begin turning as soon as you applied power).

Likewise, with v30Ed, when you are aligning in Alt.Az mode, 
it -also- starts tracking, based upon its estimate of where
north is at power-up.

This mode of operation is "borrowed" from the way the LX200gps
system operates.  
You might consider it a "feature", since the alignment stars
will no longer be drifting out of view when you are trying to
center them.

have fun

Subject:	re: Controlling the ETX with a pc without autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, October 22, 2003 21:16:43
From: (Richard Seymour)
Mike wrote:
> without an Autostar you'll have to determine
> how the encoders work (count the pulses) 

It's FAR worse than that.
The motors and encoders are on separate processor-controlled cards,
and exist as addresed peripherals on a Phillips Electronics-like I2C bus.

They don't put "pulses" on the wires.  
The Autostar sends an addressed multi-byte message to them,
and they respond with their data (varying numbers of bytes.
Each encoder sends back 3 data bytes (they're 24-bit equivalent)
and a status byte.

The Autostar is the I2C bus master, and provides the clocking signal
which the remote cards use to gates their bits onto the data lines.

It's all explained (mostly) in MEade's patent,. which can be read at:

and search for numbers  6,304,376   and 6,392,799

In the 4 years of the Autostar's existence, no one that i am aware
of has managed to get more than one byte's worth of control from
non-Autostar hardware.. and that took a specially modified I2C bus
interface (since Meade uses a -modified- I2C bus), and all the
non-Meade "system" managed to do was STOP the drive (since that's
a one byte command.)

have fun

Subject:	re:  Autostar battery level question
Sent:	Wednesday, October 22, 2003 21:08:00
From: (Richard Seymour)
On my ETX90, the battery level indicator works for whatever power
supply i'm using... 

The power socket on the telescope switches you from internal to external
power... once that happens, the -entire- rest of the system has no idea
where the electrons are coming from.

The battery level indicator is an analog-to-digital converter inside
the Autostar's CPU itself.  So -it- sees whatever power is coming
to the Autostar... and the Autostar is fed raw "battery" voltage on
the outer two wires of its 8-wire cable. 
That's what the Level sensor looks at.

The Autostar itself also has a "12v" to 5 volt regulator (beside the
display, you might feel the "enter" key area as distinctly warmer than
other parts of the Autostar.)

So i would wonder what's going on with your lower reading.

There are two ways to look at it. Either:
(a) if the scope is operating happily, don't worry about it.
(b) create a cable that lets you measure the voltage reaching the Autostar.

If your external source is an AC adapter, it might be supplying 
half-wave rectified DC instead of smooth power.
I notice you said "fully charged battery".
You might measure the battery's output with a voltmeter (under load).

good luck
From: (Don Sutherland)
Simonich said he had an AutoStar battery level indication of 44% using a
fully charged external battery. The battery level converts to voltage as
follows; Voltage = (% battery level x 0.0475) + 6, so his battery is
only putting out 8.09 volts. I don't know how many or what type of cells
he is using, but he may have a shorted cell (or two) in his battery.

The AutoStar battery level indicator is designed to work with 8 AA
alkaline cells. Lead-acid, Ni-Cad and Ni-M hydride batteries will give
different indications. Ni-Cad  and Ni-M hydride cells have relatively
flat discharge curves. The voltage will be fairly constant until the
battery is almost completely discharged, so the indicator isn't too
useful for these cells. Alkaline and lead-acid cells have more of a
voltage drop as they discharge, so the level indicator is more useful.

The best tracking performance will probably be obtained with Ni-Cad or
Ni-M hydride cells, as the drives work best when they are calibrated,
trained and used at the same voltage. I hope this helps.
Don Sutherland

Subject:	Correct Position of Arm over Control Panel on ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, October 21, 2003 23:37:56
From: (Chris)
I have an ETX-125, and can get alignment without a problem (az/alt
mode).  I do notice that on the 2 star alignment the scope is off about
10-15 degrees (az) to the right of the chosen stars and about 5-10
degrees below.  The tripod base plate (884) is level, base of scope is
then leveled, ota level (all done with 2 levels), left arm centered over
panel, locks locked and tight, and the scope is pointed to true North
via compass with correction and with Polaris also time and location set
correctly. The scope tracks dead-on for hours after the alignment, but
is a hassle with the over slews on Alignment.

I do notice that when I park the scope that the rear portion of the left
arm aligns with the center of the panel, right over the on/off switch
and the scope is pointed down about 3-5 degrees (several test moving
tripod and powering off unit).  Is the correct way to set up the arm
with the back of the arm centered over the panel?  Everything I've read
is to center the arm over the panel, but without any more detail.

Mike here: If you have placed the control panel exactly WEST and the OTA pointed exactly NORTH, then yes, the left form arm will be centered directly above the control panel. But I hardly ever set up that precisely. I put the control panel on the West side, do the counterclockwise rotation to the first hardstop then back clockwise to North (a rotation of about 120 degrees). Then I do the alignments. Your alignment star pointing errors could be due to a location or time problem. Check the Daylight Savings setting (which is about to change for many in the USA). For more on alignments, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Autostar battery level question
Sent:	Tuesday, October 21, 2003 19:03:00
From: (Simonich)
I recently switched to use an external power source for my ETX-105.  All
seems to operate great, but the autostar Battery Level percentage always
seems to hover at the 44% mark, even after a fully charged battery. 
Does this option only work for internal batteries?  The version I am
using is V2.5eA
Mike here: I do believe it only reads correctly for internal batteries.
Subject:	LPI and Autostar suite
Sent:	Monday, October 20, 2003 17:11:35
From: (Claudio A. Chuaqui)
I have an ETX 90 with an Autostar #497. Do you think the LPI and
Autostar suite being offered by Meade would be a good buy to use in my
telescope? The ad from Meade implies that this package works with any
Meade telescope/Autostar #497 but I would like to be sure if it would
Mike here: It will work but whether it will be a "good buy" depends upon if you have a use for it and the computer to use it. The weight of the imager may be a problem unless you add a counterweight. I don't know for certain about that though.
Subject:	ETX Autostar LCD goes dim
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 20:38:17
From: (Marvin C. Sumner)
Its been a busy weekend at home.  I've update the software in both
scopes (1.7k into the LX-200/GPS and 3.0Ed into the ETX-125/EC)...all
the upgrading went like clockwork.

Then problems: In both systems the Autostar display goes dim a few
seconds into the startup sequence.  The same place in the process each
time (like its in the program to do it).  Its not too bad in the LX200
because the screen can still be read (barely) and I can scroll down &
increase the brightness - gotta do it every time tho, a real bother.

In the ETX Autostar, tho, the dimming is so far that I can't see to do
the corrective scrolling.  Give up, shut it down & go watch a movie.
This is all on a Truck Battery at 12.5 Volts.  The displays are bright
long enough to see that the updating worked.

The ETX one is several years old & warrantee surely dead...time to go
buy another?
Marv Sumner
Mike here: After you select the date/time/DST, the Autostar dims to night mode. Is that what you're seeing? You can adjust the brightness and contrast for better reading under brighter conditions.


From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
Hello Marv...
It is supposed to do that; you can brighten by going to
Utilities/Brightness and holding down one or the other scroll key until
you get the desired brightness. It actually has always done this after
your entry of date and time....

Good luck!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain

Subject:	re: Slewing Problem in AltAz Mode - ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 13:31:53
From: (Richard Seymour)
To answer your follow-up question:
> Thanks.  Rather than rotate back to North, I was picking up the tripod
> and moving the entire unit (to align to North)- leaving the base locked.
> Would that not work, also?


When setting up Alt/Az home, you unclamp, rotate CCW to hit the stop,
then CW to point north.  NOW clamp.

The Autostar expects to be able to slew the scope
 -at least- 90 degrees CCW from the power-up clamp position 
during normal operations.

By doing what -you- were doing (rotate CCW to stop, clamp, spin tripod CW)
you were denying the Autostar that region of motion.
Don't do that, it doesn't like it.

have fun

Subject:	re: SYNC question
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 13:27:59
From: (Richard Seymour)
One of your problems was that you SYNCed on  a Planet.
Don't do that.

Planets are -calculated- objects (from their orbital parameters).
Those calculations are approximations, and if you SYNC on them,
any error in that calculation will be impressed onto the Autostar's
model of the sky.  

Result: bad GoTo's to everything else.

So only SYNC on "fixed" objects, such as stars.
I'm a little biased against syncing on -extended- deep sky objects, since
their center may not be a clear-cut item.  M31 is 3 degrees wide. 

Your gleaning from your reseach is correct: SYNC mainly improves 
the area near your SYNC.  It does that by effectively stretching the
model of the sky the Autostar is using to -nail- the SYNC spot
with its real RA/DEC values.
If i find i am having to SYNC a lot, i stop and realign.
When the Alignment is good (assuming non-slipping mechanicals),
you should never need to SYNC.  Planets or the Moon may be missed
a bit, but everything else in the sky should be spot-on.

have fun

Subject:	Controlling the ETX with a pc without autostar
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 12:14:43
From: (Marcel Rommens)
You have a amazing site about the Meade ETX telescope! I  have a ETX 90
EC telescope for 4 years. I got a question about the ETX.

How can i control the ETX directly without a autostar from a PC (USB or
serial)? I don't have autostar and i will write my own teleccope drive
program? Witch cable do i need?

Marcel Rommens.
Mike here: Well, without an Autostar you'll have to determine how the encoders work (count the pulses) and then write your own software to move the gears. Not impossible but is it worth the time? You can find used Autostars, especially #495 models, on eBay and elsewhere, for less than a new model. With a #505 cable (which you can make, see the Autostar Information page, or buy) you can update it to the current #497 software. If your computer has only USB, see the Autostar Information page for more on USB from Macs or PCs.
Subject:	ETX90 target settings
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 11:44:46
tnx for your previous reply ive download the new 30ed autostar software,
however as i have updated i have also pressed reset and done the train
drives again, (i think thats what the book says) since i have set it in
my usual polar mode and 2 star alignement and its tracked n found
everything as good as id hope it would, so as i see it no probs except
one little thing, before the update and reset etc when i turned it on
and did the date, time and daylight saving and pressed ok and it went to
align, it still does this but after pressing doing the final bit of
setup (daylight saving) when i press it it slews very slowly at slowest
speed, so i go to targets and it says >astronomical,  so i stop it
slewing and carry on and go to "mount" and it says >polar , if i press
that it slews again whereas before (update n reset/traindrive) if i
pressed polar it didnt slew, i hope ive made it clear for you to
understand, can u pls help me on this, if i havent explained myself to
well basically it seems somehow set to "target": >astronomical and slews
automatically after basic nightly setup and did not before the new
update, (but in polar mode works great no probs)
  tnx for your time,
Mike here: I haven't installed the 3.0 versions but maybe something changed. But it used to be that before you completed the alignment, tracking would not start unless you manually turned it on by setting the Target to be Astronomical. We'll see if anyone else reports this.


tnx for your fast reply mike i appreciate it,
ok thats great at least i know it dosent sound like a fault,
oh and the triangulum galaxy is clear tonight in binoculars,
tnx  eddie

Subject:	Additional ETX Tours?
Sent:	Friday, October 17, 2003 18:09:53
From: (John)
Do you have any idea where I could download or get any other 'tours' for
the ETX-90?

Again, you have a great site, and thank you for all your trouble.

John Hughston
Dallas, TX
Mike here: See the "Autostar Guided Tours and Info" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	ETX90 technical problems
Sent:	Friday, October 17, 2003 15:55:00
ok here we go, i was doing my rounds in the sky tonight and eventually
came to mars, using high precision (with etx90). so it went to the star
"sandalmelik" asked me to centre and then slewed to mars, then i asked
it to go to uranus, again in the past it has gone to sandalmelik and
onto uranus, but tonight it went to another star i didnt recognise lower
down, when i tried to move it back using the electronic keys i noticed
it had hit the hard stop (dec hard stop and yet it was set to 90deg as i
use polar mode at start) and refused to go up again, so i gently lifted
the tube up as i tried to slew up, giving it a helping hand, eventually
it went up, but then it moved in every direction except up, so again i
gave it a hand by gently pushing it, after a few minutes everything was
fine, so i found mars and pressed "sync", then tried for uranus again
and it went to sandalmelik as it should have done before, and then onto
uranus, i asked it to go to vega then just to check all was ok, fine, so
then i came back to mars, then i asked it to go to neptune, same thing,
as in past, no probs but tonight it did the same thing as i described
above with uranus but didnt hit the hard stop this time, it just found a
low star away from sandalmelik, so of course i went back to mars and
"sync" then tried again and all was fine it went to sandalmelik then
neptune and was fine for the rest of the night locating various other
objects, the batteries were at 95% by this time so its not them. At the
start of the session i made sure everything was fine like, RA full lock
test, the polar mode, the site, the locks on the RA and the Dec, what is
strange is this has never happened before, and only in mid session did
this happen and on the 2 planets which has gone like clockwork every
other night ive looked there,  have u ever heard of this problem before,
when i said i had to gently push it and electronicly move it would or
could this have caused any damage, im baffled why it did this and why it
was only on them 2 planets and not the other stuff i looked at, if you
know of any possible reasons id appreciate your help but as i said
everything seems ok now, strange, well hope u can shed some light on
this, many thnx for your time, oh and i just got my special offer eye
pieces, great so ive been testing them out.
Mike here: Don't recall this problem being mentioned before. What Autostar software version do you have? You might update to 3.0Ed (the current version).
Subject:	Motor Fault - First Time Trying to Use AutoStar
Sent:	Thursday, October 16, 2003 11:50:51
I've been using my new ETX-125 with the basic controller provided with
no problem the last few nights.  Last night I made the effort to connect
the AutoStar controller I purchased and have not been able to get past
the Motor Fault Error right after the Sun Warning.

I've read most all of the archives I could find on the subject; no
obstructions, not too tight, changed batteries, noted that the basic
controller move both ways then blinked on start up, then 1 blinking
light. What I was unable to ascertain was how to perform the RESET I've
seen referenced so many times when I can't get past this 1st time usage
error.  I hoping I missed something obvious.  Thanks!

Mike here: You might be able to get to the SETUP menu by pressing the MODE key several times after power-on. Check that the cable connections are secure. It sounds like there is a communication error with the ETX. If not a loose cable connection, if the Autostar is new and you can exchange it, I suggest doing that. Alternatively you could update to the current (3.0Ed) version. You would probably have to put it into SAFE LOAD mode to do the download to the Autostar.

And an update:

Thanks for your quick response!

Inspired by your ideas and with renewed persistence the AutoStar
completed the initial motor test late last night.  I wish I could
explain the exact chain of events that lead to success but after a
couple more hours of trying I began to lose patience and concentration
again.  What I clearly remember doing, right before the ETX passed the
initial test, was to, right after a motor unit failure, for the
umpteenth time, power down & loosen the clutch moving the ETX by hand a
couple degrees, then re-apply the clutch, disconnecting the Autostar
handbox, reconnecting, then powering up.  All's well that ends well I

Thanks for all of your time and assistance!

Mike here: Thanks for the update. Perhaps you were overtightening the lock.
Subject:	SYNC question
Sent:	Wednesday, October 15, 2003 19:18:20
From: (R&JS)
I just learned about the sync function -- find an object, center it,
hold down the ENTER key for 2 seconds, release it, scope beeps, press
and release ENTER, and scope is sync'ed.  My scope is an ETX-90EC UHTC,
Autostar, with the latest upgrade downloaded from the Meade site.

Now, what little I have read about the SYNC function is that it makes
the scope more accurate for THAT AREA OF THE SKY.

Tonight I tried the SYNC function for the first time.  It seems that
when I SYNC in one part of the sky, then GOTO another area of the sky,
the scope's accuracy is off.

For example, after aligning the scope, I did a GOTO to Mars -- Mars
appeared almost centered in the eyepiece.  I then did a SYNC.  Mars was
in the SSE sky.

Then, I went to M31, Andromeda galaxy, which was in the ENE sky.  The
scope missed Andromeda by a large margin -- M31 was on the edge of the
finder scope but nowhere near the 20mm eyepiece.  I centered in the
finder scope and there it was in the eyepiece.  Then, I did a SYNC.

Then, GOTO Albireo -- almost straight overhead, slightly west of zenith.
Again, Albireo was in the edge of the finder but not in the eyepiece.

I shut down the scope, turned it back on, aligned, etc., and repeated
the above sequence -- Mars, M31, Albireo, but did not SYNC.  In each
case, the scope went to the intended object and stopped with the object
in the eyepiece, not only in the finder scope.  It seems, then, that
while SYNC may improve accuracy in the area of the sky to which it is
SYNC'ed, it degrades accuracy in other areas of the sky.  Or, am I doing
something wrong?


Joe Schlatter
Mike here: You could got it. SYNC improves accuracy for nearby objects. Therefore it may degrade accuracy elsewhere depending upon a lot factors.
Subject:	Slewing Problem in AltAz Mode - ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, October 15, 2003 08:58:37
From: (Hebenstreit, Gary W (Bill))
Have you ever heard of the problem where, after placing this scope in
the HOME position, the scope attempts to slew to the LEFT in an attempt
to find a guide star?  Of course, since you must first turn it as far to
left as it can go and  then LOCK it during the process of moving it to
the HOME position, it cannot move any further left in this initial slew.
I just cannot figure out why it tries to do this.  Any suggestions would
be GREATLY appreciated!
Bill Hebenstreit
Oak Ridge North, TX
Mike here: You are missing an important step in the HOME position. After you rotate to the first hardstop you rotate back clockwise to North (a rotation of about 120 degrees).


Thanks.  Rather than rotate back to North, I was picking up the tripod
and moving the entire unit (to align to North)- leaving the base locked.
Would that not work, also?
Mike here: The Autostar assumes you do the rotation as directed back to North. That's how it knows to avoid the hardstops.
Subject:	ETX-90EC, RA GoTo error
Sent:	Tuesday, October 14, 2003 13:53:58
Thanks for your site.

I received my ETX90EC in April 2002 with GoTo Autostar.  I have not been
successful with the GoTo capability. During star training when a star is
selected it will goto this star very accurately. The autostar will
indicate successful alignment.

If I than select an object, enter and goto it will slew to the correct D
but the RA will be off by a huge amount 90 or more degrees.

Any suggestions?


Dennis Gimpert
Mike here: So it ends up perpendicular to where it should be? Have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES (both axes for training, easy to miss one)? You might try upgrading to the current version from Meade's site (you will need to buy or make a #505 cable and you'll need Windows).


Yes.  I was very careful to calibrate and train both axes having read
your site regarding the ease of missing one.

The OTA after the GoTo command seems to end up in the correct "up and
down" but, the wrong rotational position.

Any other suggestions.

Thanks for the quick reply.

Dennis Gimpert
Mike here: Check the HOME position. If that's correct, I suggest updating.
Subject:	Daylight Saving Time
Sent:	Tuesday, October 14, 2003 13:28:50
From: (Terry Hass)
I have one really basic (and probably really dumb) question about the
use of Autostar. When Autostar comes on and asks about Daylight Saving
Time, is it asking if you are CURRENTLY in Daylight Saving or does it
just want to know if you live in an area changes time due to Daylight
Saving? In other words, should the answer be YES to Daylight Saving from
April to October and NO the rest of the year?

Mike here: Yes, that's the idea for Daylight Savings and the Autostar.
Subject:	new 497 Version at Meade: 30Ed
Sent:	Friday, October 10, 2003 19:06:56
From: (Richard Seymour)
due to a bug involving: Lx90, the 909 APM -and- Polar operation,
(all three factors required together to expose the bug)
Meade has just (10-Oct) posted an update: v30Ed.

Here: Here:

My 30Eb patch kit will NOT work with that new version.
It'll take a few days to create a new kit 
(but i won't be able to -test- the kit until 17th Oct)

have fun

Subject:	Battery Strength
Sent:	Friday, October 10, 2003 12:27:54
From: (Greg McMurdo)
I could swear that somewhere on your site I saw a way to have the
Autostar display the strength of the batteries in the ETX.  In fact, I
thought I had copied and printed the instructions.  A search through my
many pages of saved tips, instructions and advice from your site
revealed nothing on this subject.  I have also searched the Autostar
Computer Controller Instruction Manual to no avail.  I even tried a
Windows "Find" on your site but found nothing.  I looked around the
"Battery Alarm" function in the Utilities menu and found nothing.  Was
it just wishful dreaming, or is there a way to display the battery
Mike here: Well, had you done a search for "battery level" you would have found it (2nd item on the ETX Site list). Anyway, hold the MODE button down for a couple of seconds and then release. Use the up scroll arrow to display the battery level.
Subject:	control with pda
Sent:	Friday, October 10, 2003 04:10:01
From: (Luca Levoni)
I've just bought an ETX-70 and I try to control with an Ipaq 3630 and
the program The Sky for ppc. I use a cable with NULL modem but the
program not find the telescope. What can I do?
Luca Levoni (from Spain)

Subject:	Meade posts v1.7i for LX200gps
Sent:	Thursday, October 9, 2003 18:55:37
From: (Richard Seymour)
For those of you with LX200gps scopes, Meade has posted a
firmware update, version 1.7i

On their page:

The Readme says:
 Version 1.7i

 Add User Object initialize RA and Dec to current location
 Works with AutoStar Suite
 Fix solar eclipse duration
 Fix solar eclipse witdh
 Southern Hemisphere PEC reversed polarity
 Serial Commands improved
 Derotator Commands fixed
 Some Data Base errors fixed

have fun
--dick (who's 2546 miles from his telescope until next Thursday)

Subject:	Can't track ISS
Sent:	Wednesday, October 8, 2003 21:19:05
From: (Windorski, Dave)
Satellite -> ISS tracking isnt working for me.  Im a newbie to a ETC90ec
with Autostar.  I thought is might be fun to try and track the ISS. 
Looking at, I
found that ISS should pass over nicely tomorrow at 19:11.  I downloaded
the latest TLE for ISS from Meade.

I wanted to get an idea how satellite tracking works.  So, I set the
date and time on Autostar to just before the AOS time of the ISS (10/9
19:00).  When I try to select ISS from the list of satellites, Autostar
says Calculating Tracking, and then No passes soon.  Its my
understanding that it should be able to find an AOS up to 6 hours in the

Im not sure what Im missing.  Ive configured Autostar with the correct
coordinates and timezone for my location, Milwaukee, WI.  Can anyone
explain how this should work?

Mike here: There are some articles on ISS and satellite tracking on the Autostar Information page. See if those help you.
Subject:	New Autostar Software
Sent:	Wednesday, October 8, 2003 07:30:39
From: (Hank Blackwood)
Just wanted to update you on the fact that apparently, the new 3.0b
software has eliminated the MUF problems I have been having.  No matter
what the circumstance, my etx125 would experience the fault when pointed
near the zenith or track something high in the sky facing east - Messier
110 and the Ring Nebula were the worst (for this time of year and my
observing location in NW Georgia).

I have tried it in the living room with a fake alignment and it tracked
M110 for over an hour with no problems.  Usually observing M57 or M110
for more than about 15 minutes would give the MUF error.  Meade may have
scored big on this one - if your software can compensate for mechanical
issues (at least in my line of work), you have done a good days work!

Keep up the good work!


Subject:	new autostar update
Sent:	Monday, October 6, 2003 17:50:14
From: (dan hester) I missing something or has anybody noticed the new Autostar
Update on the Meade site?  Dan

dan hester
Mike here: If you mean 3.0Eb, that was mentioned last month on the Autostar Feedback page and also noted on the Autostar Information page. Or did something new appear and then disappear? (3.0Eb is there now.)
Subject:	Autostar PC connection problem
Sent:	Sunday, October 5, 2003 13:50:03
From: (Debbie Rhea)
Hello!  Thank you so much for dedicating your time to this website.  I'm
getting this error message after connecting #505 cables to #497
Autostar, PC and ETX-90EC: Autostar Update could not find COM port. 
I've already verified with PC manufacturer (Gateway) that my serial port
COM1 is working and is the one the 505 cable is plugged into.  My 497
has been working fine; I just wanted the latest software version.  
Since I've spent almost $300 in accessories already (including this new
505), I'd rather not buy the bus adapter and try that, especially if my
COM port is supposed to be working.  Any ideas (I will call Meade
customer support when they open Monday) or experience with Autostar
software issues?  With appreciation, Debbie
Mike here: Many times there is other software that ties up the serial port, typically fax software. Check for that.
Subject:	ETX-105 Easy Align Issue
Sent:	Sunday, October 5, 2003 07:34:45
From: (Andy)
I have just received my sparkly new ETX-105 and I have a small problem
with the Autostar. When setting up in easy align mode the scope lines up
on the first star which is just out of the field of view, the autostar
beeps and prompts to press enter, but....the slew keys on the autostar
do nothing and I am unable to bring the star into the centre of view. I
have trained drives and set the scope up according to the manual (and
many helpful bits of advice found on your site). I can however slew the
scope when looking at Mars. Could this be a software glitch or am I
missing something?

Can I just say that your site kicks ass, ExAminer was just superb as
well (seems like a long time ago now!!)


Mike here: You remember ExAminer. Wow. Thanks!
Have you tried changing the slewing speed when centering alignment stars? I typically use 4 or 5 (press the 4 or 5 key on the Autostar) when centering alignment stars.


Thanks for the speedy reply Mike. That's sorted the problem.

Subject:	re:  etx-90 autostar comm problem
Sent:	Saturday, October 4, 2003 16:03:54
From: (Richard Seymour)
> today i tried richard seymour's tip on testing rs-232 comm within
> autostar by shorting db-9 terminals 2 & 3, and after asking me to press
> every key, autostar returned an error message: "Pic Failure V12 C001".

That is the normal final result of doing the self-test without
having Meade's Test Bench hardware attached.  
So your Autostar  "passed the test".

It does sound like a cable problem.
Shorting pins 2 + 3 does not tell you if you have them swapped or not.
If you have a voltmeter, check that pin 2 is asserted -negative- 
(at least 3v, maybe 5v to 12v) with respect to pin 5 (DB-9 pin numbers),
and that pin 3 is "floating" with respect to 5.
(the Autostar is "driving" pin 2, but only listening on pin 3)

In your PC(s), be sure to turn OFF "FIFO Buffering"
It's under the System > Hardware > DeviceManager > COM > properties.

v1.3 of the firmware is old enough that the ASU cannot "find"
the telescope in some circumstances, but get Hypterterminal working first.
However the simple [connect] operation should work (i think).

Once you have communication working, 
For firmware updating the Autostar, you will probably need to 
manually set the Autostar into Download mode.
Setup > Download. 
But again, get the hyperterminal portion working first.

The loopback test shows that the Autostar is emitting an "X" on power up.
When plugged into the PC, you should be able to SEE that in Hypterminal.

good luck
And an update:
tom cirillo wrote:
> Hi dick-
> Late breaking news. It does communicate in hyperterminal mode.  But
> meade's update software produces weird results when locating the scope.


> I'm almost completely certain that I have send/receive pins correct, but
> I'll recheck them per your note.

If hyperterminal works, the pins are correct.

> Are you suggesting that the firmware is so old that it needs a reburn of
> current firmware from scratch, instead of updating the version? 

Um... an Update and a "total reburn" are exactly the same.
The only difference is that i would suspect that your update will
also replace/install the Safe Load section, too.

So set the Autostar into "Setup > Download" mode, 
start ASU, and if/when it asks you if you are in Flash Load mode,
answer YES.

An alternate approach (not really needed) is to run an older version
of the Updater (v2.4) to Update to a mid-range firmware, and then
ASU 3.61 will bring it to current.  But i no longer recommend that path.

good luck
And more:
> dick, thanks for the help,  one last thing, if i might see below

Drat... the Curse of The Indirect Object strikes again...

>> So set the Autostar into "Setup > Download" mode,
>> start ASU, and if/when it asks you if you are in Flash Load mode,
>> answer YES.

> (it being the autostar?  or the asu?  because the asu can't find the
> scope, right? only communicating in hyperterminal mode).

I could say "the last noun used was ASU, so i meant ASU",
 but we'll try a different approach:

First, a clarification: you -are- getting active responses during
hyperterminal testings, such as the date to the :GC# command,
and the Local Time to  :GL#  ?  
For that matter, what does it say to :GVF#   ?

Back to updating:
Connect all cables, start PC, leave telescope turned off.

Hmm... question: are you trying to run a serial mouse?
Or anything else sharing the Com port?
Also, if you have a program like PalmPilotSync running, kill it.
Any other program running on your system which tries to monitor the
serial ports will block the ASU from accessing the ports.
The ASU is very timid in its approach to the Com ports, and needs a clear field.

If you have not already done so, download the firmware itself -before-
starting the procedure. (the ASU will do it, or you can visit Meade's
support page and use your Browser's "Save As..." function)
Do NOT be doing other things (web browsing, etc) while trying to Update.
Disconnect from other activities and concentrate on the Updating.

The Update will take over 35 minutes, so have your telescope on
AC adapter, or FRESH batteries.

Set the AUTOSTAR into SAFE LOAD (if Autostar will do that)
Press both the Autostar's Enter Key  and the Scroll Down key (lower righmost)
and hold them while powering up the telescope (this is also described
in the ASU's Help page on "damaged handbox")

If the Autostar has the Safe Load code (and i believe 1.3 does) ,
the Autostar will come up saying "Flash Mode Ready" and then
"Downloading, do not turn off"

Now start the ASU.  
Hopefully ASU will ask you if the Autostar is in Safe Load.
If ASU doesn't, click the [update now] button and see if -that-
convinces ASU to find the Autostar.  
(i do hope you're working on Com port 1 or 2)
If ASU STILL cannot establish any contact, it is safe to turn off
the telescope (after exiting ASU).

If none of the above works, send me a more detailed description of
your system and hookup (PC brand, serial or USB adapter, Com Port #,
 version of Windows, amount of memory, other peripherals, etc.)

good luck
--dick (who just went back and replaced a lot of "it"s with ASU/Autostar)
And this response as well:
From: (Iain McClelland)
Salisbury UK is N51:04:08 W1:47:40


Iain McClelland

Subject:	re:   Help working Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, October 4, 2003 15:50:06
From: (Richard Seymour)
I hate to say it, but your problem was obvious in your first posting:

> Wiltshire, UK.  ...longitude and latitude which is N5111 and W143.50, 

and then repeated in the third (you were -so- close to solving it):

> Long/Lat for Salisbury is 51:04:09N and 1:47:14W,
> on the Autostar the format seems different; and I am
> having to put the Long/Lat as 51:04N and 147:14 
> is this where I am going wrong? 


> I don't seem to have the two dots between the 147 and I have no
> room to put the 09 on the end of the 51:04N. 

Your postion statements ( 1:47:14) is in degrees/minutes/seconds.
The Autostar only works to "minute" precision.
So it wants degrees/minutes, or  1:47
That's it: ONE degree FORTY SEVEN minutes. (forget the 14).
Your entry of 147  put you at 147 degrees West of Greenwich,
or somewhere 600 miles or so out in the Pacific Ocean.
Roughly the longitude of Papeete.

The latitude is 51 degrees 4 minutes.  51:04 in Autostar-speak.

By using Oxford, you were letting the Autostar set the numbers,
and it got it fairly right.  Many people have been tripped up
by this.

have fun
Dear Mike and Dick, thank you so much for all of your valuable help, we
have done it!!  All we need now is the dark.  We were out for the
evening last night so didn't check the mail until this morning, we have
just finished aligning everything now and can't wait to try it out
tonight.  We are also extremely grateful that we don't have to move out
to Papeete, which from the sound of your email this morning seems a bit

Kind Regards,

Paul & Steph
Salisbury, Wiltshire
And this:
From: (Arthur thomas)
From reading Paul's post in the autostar section of your web site, it
looks like he his trying to enter his longitude as 147+ degrees west,
which would put his location somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  I think he
should ne inputting 1 degree 47 minutes west, or just west of the
Greenwich meridian.

Great site...keep up the good work.

art thomas
And another:
From: (Don Sutherland)
Paul in Salisbury was having problems entering his location in his
AutoStar. From my reading of his email, it seems that he is trying to
enter degrees, minutes and seconds, when the AutoStar accepts only
degrees and minutes.
I hope this helps.
Don Sutherland
And one more:
From: (Violette, Daniel R)

Regarding your message to Mighty ETX Web Site:

You need to enter degrees and minutes only.

Enter 001:47 for your long (or however you enter one digit).  You have
been entering it as 147 deg which is other side of the earth (almost). 
You can carry out more decimal places if you'd like to account for
seconds of lat/long.

Dan Violette

Subject:	Star GPS Question
Sent:	Saturday, October 4, 2003 15:43:33
From: (R&JS)
As I understand the descriptions of the Star GPS, when powered up, the
GPS takes a satellite shot and feeds to the Autostar date, time, and

I am interested in the location part of this equation.  If I haul my
scope to another state -- as I do from time to time -- I must take a GPS
shot and manually enter the location into the ETX SITE function, or, if
it's a place I have loaded as a site, I must select the site.  Either
way, there is room for operator error and if I forgot to haul along my
GPS receiver . . . .

Will Star GPS do this for me so that I no longer need to enter the new
site -- just plug in the GPS wherever the scope and I may be and let it
set the date, time, AND LOCATION?  If so, it's worth the price -- I have
a compatible Garmin GPS so I'm looking only at an expense of  $99.00
(plus shipping).

Joe Schlatter
Mike here: I don't have one; I suggest directing questions about the StarGPS to the developer.


Thanks.  I found several sites dealing with the StarGPS for the ETX
scopes and they answered my question -- yes, the GPS feeds date, time,
and location to the scope so you no longer need to enter a site when
changing locations.

I ordered a StarGPS from Scopetronix -- I ordered the one that operates
with my Garmin.  After I have used it for a few weeks I'll send you a
report on it.


Subject:	Help working Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, October 4, 2003 07:21:26
From: (paul&steph)
I am having real problems with the Autostar, I live in Salisbury,
Wiltshire, UK.  I have found my longitude and latitude which is N5111
and W143.50, when I put these coordinates into the Autostar and try to
align all the stars it picks are ones that are below the horizon, as if
I'm in a different part of the Country.  Is there a format to put these
numbers in.  Thank you.

Mike here: The simplest way to enter Lat/Long is to EDIT an existing entry. Pick a nearby city and edit it. That way you will get both the format correct and the correct time offset.


Mike, thanks very much, but, every time I put in my Lat/Long for
Salisbury it picks stars to align and thinks they are there now but they
aren't up until 6am next morning, I have been checking this with Starry
Night software on the computer, which is set up to my current location
in Salisbury, and I have even tried to enter the Lat/Long to the
Autostar from what Starry Night says my Lat/Long is, my Autostar runs
Version 2.2, driving my absolutely crazy!!  Thanks for your help.

Mike here: Try using a nearby city for your Site location. See if you have the same problem. Also, be certain to check the date and time entries.


Mike, thank you ever so much for taking the time to answer, yes I have
tried a different location near to me, one that is already set on the
Autostar which is Oxford, 59 miles from my location, and it seems to
work fine, looks for two stars to align and when I check with Starry
Nights it comes up the same, it looks like its looking in the right
location, can't check for sure as it is still day time, mind you i've
spent two nights in the cold with no luck, but as soon as I try to edit
Oxford Lon/Lat it then looks for stars that aren't there until the next
morning, I have checked time and date, thats all fine, is it the way I
am inserting Long/Lat, my current Long/Lat for Salisbury is 51:04:09N
and 1:47:14W, on the Autostar the format seems different; and I am
having to put the Long/Lat as 51:04N and 147:14 is this where I am going
wrong?  I don't seem to have the two dots between the 147 and I have no
room to put the 09 on the end of the 51:04N.  Make any sense to you??  I
am grateful for any help you have to offer.  Thanks.

Mike here: Are you entering E or W longitude? That could explain why things might be half a sky off.
Subject:	ETX Sync
Sent:	Saturday, October 4, 2003 03:44:28
From: (Schlatter)
I was reading the updated e-mails and your replies and found this
statement: "In the ETX, if an object is not centered in the eyepiece,
the user simply presses ENTER for 2 seconds, waits for the beep and then
centers the object using arrow keys and after that he presses ENTER
again. This is called sync."

I had never heard of this process but it seems to be useful and is
exactly what I'm looking for.

So, suppose I tell the scope to GOTO an object; when the scope stops
slewing and beeps, the object is not centered.  I press and hold ENTER
until the scope beeps; then I use the arrows to center the object and
tap ENTER.  Does this sequence then tell the scope that the object it
was supposed to GOTO is now centered and it corrects its alignment --
which must have been slightly off because the GOTO object did not


Joe Schlatter
Mike here: You got it. The Autostar's alignment is improved for that part of the sky.
Subject:	Controlling Autostar with Starry Night Backyard...
Sent:	Friday, October 3, 2003 18:26:36
From: (Electrics)
I have Starry Night Backyard installed on my laptop, and an ETX 90 with

How can I control my 'scope with the Starry Night software? I'd
appreciate any help.

You rock!
                                   Dave M.
Mike here: I don't have SN. If you are asking about the software, I can't help directly. If you are asking how to connect the computer to the Autostar, you need a #505 cable (which you can buy or make; details on the Autostar Information page). You will also need a RS-232 serial port or a USB converter (Meade has one for Windows only; Keyspan and Belkin have Mac and Windows versions).
Subject:	etx-90 autostar comm problem
Sent:	Friday, October 3, 2003 10:14:50
From: (tom cirillo)
hi mike, great site. thanks.

i have a very early etx-90, which has never had it's autostar flash
updated; i believe it's version 1.3.

i have spent countless hours trying to get my pc (actually, three of
them) to communicate with the etx, to no avail.  This based upon a cable
i built, which has been very thoroughly tested.  I also took the hand
controller apart to make certain that the db-9 was electrically
connected through to the circuit board.

what happens is that the autostar updater software fails to find the
autostar.  this is regardless of comm port. in the case of my laptop, it
fails through a usb/serial converter, but in two other cases, it fails
directly through the serial port.  I have also tried using hyperterminal
software, to no avail.

today i tried richard seymour's tip on testing rs-232 comm within
autostar by shorting db-9 terminals 2 & 3, and after asking me to press
every key, autostar returned an error message: "Pic Failure V12 C001".

I don't know what this means.  It seems to be undocumented.  Can you
help? What do you think is happening here?

thanks, tom cirillo.
Mike here: Since you have tried several computers, it does sound like a cable or Autostar hardware problem. I presume you have checked for serial port conflicts though.
Subject:	problems in searching for objects-deep space with LX200 gps 10" mount equatorial
Sent:	Friday, October 3, 2003 07:15:26
From: (saverio)
my name saverio delle monache and i live in central italy.i have a LX200
10" gps telescope with an equatorial mount.

when it is stationad in polar alignment and after having alignment it
with and two stars i get a "successful alignment" message but when
searching for deep space objects the telescope does not centre the
object but misses it by 2 andi must find it can i adjiust
the telescope and update the software so that it funcztions property?

i have tried every thing even with the help of meade technicians but
without successs.please help me.

Subject:	autostar 495
Sent:	Wednesday, October 1, 2003 15:54:05
From: (Hans de Koster)
Hello , I am a newbie in the sky.

We bought ourselves a second hand Meade ds 114 with a autostar 495.

There are some problems with the cradle.I can move the scope on both
axes about 2 inches. Did the leather ring between the washer.Performed a
bit better but still.

Think it is not the creep after beep but slack between the gears of the

I can read the postings on the net about it.

I am not in luck because the autostar seems to be blown up.It only gives
me a humming sound now.I did not reverse the polarity of the power

It worked for four days in my room but the skys were clouded so i had to
practice indoors.

Opened the 495 and the voltage regulator is getting hot. the 5 Volts are
in fact 3 volts. Read on pin 3  about 90 Ohms without power on. Seems to
me there must be a short in it but nothing else is getting hot.Is it a
know problem?Maybe a shorted capacitor , but I do not have any
schematics or could find something.The manual handbox is working fine.

Any Suggestions?

Greetinx, Hans de Koster, Holland
And from our expert:
From: (Richard Seymour)
> I can read the postings on the net about it.

There is a Yahoo group dedicated to the DS- telescopes:

> Opened the 495 and the voltage regulator is getting hot. the 5 Volts are
> in fact 3 volts.

I have not seen that problem (well, i only have two autostars, and they
both work).. have you tried powering -only- the autostar, without
applying power to the motor units?
That might help decide if it is the Autostar or the motors.

As you say, it could be a dead capacitor, but it would be radiating
the heat of the power it is stealing from the regulator. 

> Read on pin 3  about 90 Ohms without power on.

I have never tried measuring the resistance at the data pins,
so i just tried with a scrap 494 i have... and it is over 20,000 ohms
from any datapin (positive) compared to ground reference.
(i had my ohmmeter set to 20K, and it was not registering a reading).

So 90 ohms is definitely different from what i see.
But, by itself, is not low enough to drag the power regulator to 3v.
I can only suggest trying to find a used 495 on markets such as eBay,
but i would also worry that something in the motor units may have
caused the damage.
The 5v regulator in my 497 does run moderately -warm- (30C ?)
but not quite -hot-, given a 13 v supply.
The normal current draw of an Autostar is only about 100 milliamps.

good luck

Subject:	re:  Autostar works in guided tour but not in go to mode
Sent:	Tuesday, September 30, 2003 21:45:38
From: (Richard Seymour)
The answer to your problem is very simple:

Press [enter] before pressing [goto]

Failing to do so causes the Autostar to GoTo the -previous- 
target, where you (probably) already are, so it doesn't move (much).

The Autostar does not really -select- an object until the object's
name or identifier appears on the -top- line of the display.
(Tours are different, they auto-select).

So, if you are seeing   

Solar System

"Mars" has not yet been selected. 
If you press [enter], the Autostar may say "Calculating",
and then will display the RA/Dec of where Mars is -now-.
Now press [GoTo], and the telescope will GoThere.

Similar for Stars:
is -not- selected,  press [enter] to get:
SAO xxxxxx
is.  Now GoTo.

have fun
(Mike: memorize this message.)
Thanks Dick

It's too cloudy to try tonight but I guess you've seen this question
before so I have no doubt it's going to work, it makes sense.

Now did I miss this in the manual somewhere or is it something Meade
should maybe make clear(er)????
Mike here: I do keep forgetting that new users sometimes miss this step.


> It's too cloudy to try tonight 

No, this is something you can demonstrate indoors,
just power up, tap  [enter] to answer time/date,
and again [enter] when it ask for  alignment centerings.

Then tell it to GoTo things.  
If it moves across the "sky", it's "fixed".
One reason i -can- answer questions like this is that i -do- play
with the scope indoors, in the light and warmth of the day,
when i'm awake... 
frequently intractable problems of the night disappear in the light of day.

>but I guess you've seen this question before

many, many times... (plus lots of personal experience)

> so I have no doubt it's going to work, it makes sense

> Now did I miss this in the manual somewhere
> or is it something Meade should maybe make clear(er)????

It was far worse than that... 
(a) it's not emphasized in the manual
(b) they had (past tense) the WRONG answer on their website's FAQ page.  question 7.
  I see they have now corrected that.

have fun, press [enter] frequently..

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