AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 October 2004
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	autostar keypad problem
Sent:	Saturday, October 30, 2004 13:56:22
From:	rizzoli@dsi.unive.it
When I hold down a key on the autostar keypad ,I must  do many
keystrokes before the autostar recognize the key. It happen ,above all,
after  two or more weeks tha I dont use the autostar.
What can I do ?. Thank'You very much,

Francesco Rizzoli ( Venice- Italy)
Mike here: You may want to try cleaning. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, October 28, 2004 04:55:15
From:	Dowdle, John H. LTC NGB-ARNG (John.Dowdle@ngb.army.mil)
I have purchased an ETX-125 w/auto star recently, and although I have
the instructions, I have found that they are not that clear to me on how
to properly set up, 'zero' and calibrate the telescope for use; though
I've used other telescopes before, this is the 1st time for me using a
computerized telescope.

Any suggestions on your web site or any books that can help further
define the best way of setting the scope up for use I would appreciate.

Please respond to e-mail address dowdlej@hotmail.com.

Thanks,

John
Mike here: First off, please read the Email Etiquette page regarding email addresses. Thanks.
CALIBRATE is just a menu selection in the Autostar; then you do a TRAIN DRIVES (again, from the menus). You normally only do these once (although there are times you need to redo them). For alignment tips, see the Alignment Tips section on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	LX-90
Sent:	Thursday, October 21, 2004 16:50:08
From:	Ed Talbot (ed-t@ci.arvada.co.us)
I am a new recruit and just getting started having purchased an 8 inch
LX-90 just a month ago.  So my questions are simple to say the least!  I
tried to use the LX-90 following the instructions to "observe a star
using the automatic tracking feature" and following those instructions I
did not initialize Autostar but just followed the instructions which
sounded like initialization was not needed.  I went first to Venus and
then Saturn and then Jupiter and I found that even after pressing ENTER
on th autostar while in "Targets; Astronomical" the tlescope did not
seem to track the objects at all and they moved out of the field of view
of the 26 mm in less than two minutes.  Any advice?  Is the tracking
feature working correctly?

Thanks for your help!

ed talbot
Mike here: You do need to set up the Autostar for first use and then do an alignment everything you go out to observe. The Autostar needs to know several things: Location, Date, Time, telescope mounting mode. You also need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Then it needs to know the current position of the alignment stars in your sky. Once you've done those steps then you can do accurate GOTOs. When mounting in Alt/Az mode, the Autostar can not compensate for the Earth's rotation unless you have done these things. This should all be covered in the manual. I recommend that new users read the manual three times. Then play with the telescope indoors, following the steps in the manual. Once you are comfortable you know how to use the telescope, then you can go outside in the dark and have much better results.
Subject:	RE: Frustration 10
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 2004 17:40:50
From:	Bob (randeshipman@direcway.com)
This is the first night of clear sky that I have had, we have been
traveling a wee bit, and I wish to report that your help cleared up the
set-up problems.  I had success the second sighting in and was pleased
to select the GOTO feature and have it react the proper way.  NOW!  It
is off to the Polar alignment again.  I will try my hand at this feature
and hopefully it will not give me too much of a problem.  The
instructions flashed on the EC unit are ok with the exception of the
notation (180 degrees), whatever they mean by that.  Again, many sincere
thanks for your advice.
Bob

Subject:	AZ/DEC AND ALT/DEC RATIO
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 2004 15:11:24
From:	SMITHDG@gru.com (SMITHDG@gru.com)
I have made the mistake that P. Clay Sherrod warns of under part 2 of
PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT - CREATING THE PERFECT "GO TO" ETX OR LX 90 in
ETX TECHNICAL TIPS. I changed the Az/Dec and Alt/Dec Ratio settings
instead of the Az/Dec and Alt/Dec Percent settings. After returning them
to what I thought were the correct settings the go-to missed every star
widely during alignment attempts as well as everything else. I pondered
how to recover the correct settings, calling MEADE would have to wait
until next week. I decided to do a RESET, couldn't hurt. After writing
down my mythical numbers I proceeded with the RESET. It worked! Autostar
had recovered the original settings. I will have to wait to test another
day, but you my want to pass on this information to others. Autostar
RESET can cure a great many problems it would seem. Lastly I was
reassured to find a ridged aluminum frame in my ETX-125 instead of all
plastic.

Dale G. Smith
Mike here: Yep, RESET cures many evils. Don't forget to CALIBRATE and reTRAIN the drives.
Subject:	Three steps accurate polar home position
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 2004 12:51:27
From:	Fernando Campuzano (fcamp@ya.com)
I use to drive my scope, an ETX-125EC, in Alt/AZ mode. Due to the
incoming Deep Sky Imager, I'm now thinking on a change to Polar mount.
I've been reading a lot of articles about the accuracy in polar
alignment, with quite difficult procedures using bubble levels to adjust
tripod level, fork mounts orientation, set the 90 degrees DEC and so.
But, let's take a minute thinking on the goal of the Polar alignment.
Which is the only important issue in polar alignment? The answer is
quite easy (at least theoretically):

"RA axis must be oriented so it is "touching" the celestial pole". Ha..
(you will say), of course!

Notice that this goal could be achieved independently of the levelling
status of your tripod. Let's be radical... The precise orientation of
the RA axis could be achieved even with the legs of your tripod
"attached" to a wall rather than resting on the floor (please, don't try
this ;).

Here's my proposal (theory, as I have not try it yet. Comments would be
appreciated):

- 1st Step. SETTING A PERFECT 90 DEGREES DEC.

Start with a preliminary polar home position. Just in a "seem-see" way.
Of course the more accurate in this preliminary position, the  easiest
the rest of the procedure should be. But don't waste too much time here.
With both RA and DEC axis firmly locked (you will not need to unlock
them in the rest of the procedure), scope/Handbox turned-on (with
terrestrial targets, i.e. motors not running), cover lens removed and
the handbox in your hand, place yourself in front of the OTA. Look at
you in the optics (primary mirror and rear side of secondary mirror)
being yourself "dead-center". Then, via handbox, slew your scope in the
RA axis. In a perfect 90 degrees DEC setting, your image reflected in
the optics should remain dead-center while the OTA is rotating in the RA
axis. If this is not so, make fine adjustments with the handbox doing
slow slewing in the DEC axis. Continue doing so until you achieve being
dead-center.

Take this as an accurate check: Adjust the orientation of your
scope/tripod (DON'T TOUCH THE HANDBOX, NOR THE RA/DEC LOCKS!) with the
aid of the adjustment knobs for azimuth and latitude in your 883 tripod
or equatorial wedge in your 884 tripod until Polaris is in the center of
the FOV. At this point, drive the RA axis while you look through the
eyepiece. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OR YOU'LL BECOME A CIRCUS CONTORTIONIST!
Polaris should remain dead-center. If not, it will be tracing a small
circumference with the center up or down offset from the center of the
FOV. The center of this circumference is your actual RA axis. Approach
carefuly, without reaching it, to this circumference center with VERY,
VERY SLOW SLEW IN THE DEC AXIS and compensate it with the latitude knob
in your tripod or equatorial wedge to recenter Polaris. Repeat this
procedure until Polaris remains dead-center when you drive the RA axis.

When you have finished this step, you should achieved a PERFECT 90
DEGREES DEC SETTING. Don't forget to return your OTA (with the handbox)
to the RA home position. At this step be as accurate as you can. A long
bubble level resting on the base of the two fork mounts would be a great
help.

- 2nd Step. LOCATING POLARIS POSITION

Run in your PC/laptop an starmap software (for instance Autostar suite).
Flip image horizontally and center the map in the celestial pole with
Zenith being up. Set in the starmap the circles corresponding to a
combination of ETX-125 scope and 56 mm Super Plossl eyepiece (in the
Autostar suite you will find this in the menu Telescope/Set Telescope
Fields..). Zoom as needed. Magic! Polaris is almost just in the edge of
the circle. This is not casual. The combination scope/eyepiece gives a
field of view of 1d32m and Polaris is offset from the pole in more or
less 44m. Think on this circle as if it was a clock. What hour is
Polaris pointing to? Remember this and return to your scope.

- 3rd Step. FINDING THE NORTH CELESTIAL POLE.

Are you the lucky owner of an ETX-125 and 56 mm Super Plossl eyepiece?
Congratulations. If not, perhaps another combination would give similar
or (better) wider field of view. Look through your eyepiece and adjust
the orientation of your scope/tripod (DON'T TOUCH THE HANDBOX, NOR THE
RA/DEC LOCKS!) with the aid of the adjustment knobs for azimuth and
latitude in your 883 tripod or equatorial wedge in your 884 tripod.
Adjust until Polaris is in the edge of the field of view (or where you
are seeing it in the PC/laptop screen) and, if this FOV were a clock,
with Polaris pointing to the "hour" shown in the circle of the starmap
software.

Final accurate check: With the handbox, drive the RA axis while you look
through the eyepiece. Polaris must be rotating around the FOV. The
center of the circumference traced by Polaris (i.e. your actual RA axis)
should be at the center of the FOV. If not, perhaps something has failed
in the 1st step procedure or you didn't run this 1st step with the
needed accuracy. Once this is achieved (the center of "Polaris traced
circumference" matches the center of the FOV), you will get a perfect 90
degrees DEC setting and your RA axis will be "touching" the celestial
pole. Congratulations! The final perfect home position would be this
with "Polaris clock" in the "hour". Set this final position driving your
RA axis with the handbox.

Subject:	Autostar problem
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 2004 05:20:23
From:	Co1dSp1d3R@aol.com (Co1dSp1d3R@aol.com)
Just recieved my etx90 yesterday and after setting it all up to see if
it worke (which it did), after about half an hour i noticed that the
autostar would just switch off. only seemed to do it when i moved the
autostar (seems like a bad connection), then after twenty minutes when i
turned it back on the intialising message came up then the text on the
auto star screen would become unreadable. so i turned it off and tried
again and to my suprise nothing appeared on the screen. the led on top
of the auto star flashes intermitantly when the wire connecting it is
moved but nothing appears on the display not even a light. Also
occasionly the telescope will slew for about 5 seconds. Any idea what
the prob could be.
 Cheers Co1dsp1d3r
Mike here: Are you using fresh and good batteries? Are the cables securely inserted?

And:

yea all cables are in fine and used new batteries and main supply. still same problem.
Mike here: Then it sounds like there is an intermittent connection someplace. Since it is new, I suggest contacting your dealer for an exchange.

And:

thanks. Seneding the autostar back tommorow

Subject:	autostar guided tour unknown message
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 2004 21:06:46
From:	Rich Gordley (rgordley@earthlink.net)
During one of my first experiences with "guided tour" instead of slewing
to the one of the objects early in the tour, the message "search spiral"
appeared in the handset and the scope did not move. (It may have been
"spiral search". It's been several days and I didn't write it down.)
Whichever it was, I can find no information about this message anywhere.
 It does not appear in the autostar instruction book, and I haven't
found any documents on your web site that mention it.  I moved past this
object to the next object in the tour and the next object was slewed to
normally.  Can you tell me what this message means?

Thanks

Richard Gordley
Des Moines IA 
Mike here: Search the Site for "spiral search"; you will find info on it that way.
Subject:	RE: Autostar error
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 2004 12:33:48
From:	WallyJulia Scarboro (wallyjulia@scarboro.fslife.co.uk)
Okay I ain't dumb, if you know what I mean. I know one end of a PC to
Another so following your reply was easy. Try telling that to Autostar.
When it is switched back on and goes to Initialize then beep it just
don't Wanna go into any mode never mind safe. WARNING.. is all that
happens so I cant even upgrade to newer version or nothing until it's a
going work properly.

It is so easy to follow the instructions, but what is the use if the
darn thing won't shift from saying WARNING.

Okay, over to you again. If you can find a fix for shifting it back to
get it initialzing again and getting the menu up.

Many thanks to you.
Walter.
Mike here: So you are saying that even when you try to get into SAFE LOAD mode (as I described in my previous message), it still displays "Initializing..." and then displays a warning about the Sun?

And:

You are spot on, sir. It will not even go into Safe mode.
Mike here: That doesn't sound good. Possibly a hardware problem but I'll leave a more definitive answer to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Um...  what's the history -before- this?
Normal operation and it "got sick"?
Problem during an Update?
Dropped in bathtub?

Since the Sun Warning and "Initializing" message both occur
-after- the keyboard check for a Safe Mode request
i can think of only two causes:

(a) he's hitting the wrong keys, or too late.
  The procedure is to press the [enter] *and* [SCROLL down] 
   (the lower rightmost on the keypad, -not- Slew Down)
  and -then-, with your third hand, turn on the power while
  holding those keys pressed.
(b) damaged keypad (be it circuit card, scanning chip, lump 
 of dirt (was the [enter] key being recalcitrant before this?)
  (you could open the Autostar and clean the key membrane and
   contact sites, or look for a loose part)

Without further data, those are my only guesses for the moment.

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks for the info on reboot. I have been pressing the right keys Ie
bottom right down arrow and others all to no avail. So I will open her
up And have a little looksie inside the guts to check for possible loose
Connection/s or dirt or other and will let you know.

My Extreme thanks to you both for all help and watch this space.

Very Best regards, as always.
Walter.
Mike here: "others" won't work except for the ENTER key simultaneously with the DOWN key when powering on.
Subject:	re:  ETX 105 Alignment error
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 2004 22:44:59
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Oh, where to start?

By setting Daylight Saving to NO, yet -telling- it EDT, you're 
going to be that 15 degrees off in RA... AND somewhat off in 
Altitude (since the star is setting in the autostar's mind).

THEN you were using Vega and Altair... they're too close together!

(the Autostar likes stars at -least- 45 degees apart in Az,
and preferably between 30 and 65 degrees in altitude.

The only reason it was choosing Vega may have been due to your
clock error.

When you slew up and down to reach the alignment stars,
the autostar interprets -that- to mean that the base is tilted.
So it tries to compensate.

It's the old computer adage: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Be -consistent- in your Time: either keep saying NO,
but tell it STANDARD Time, or say YES and tell it EDT.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: ASU 3.61
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 2004 22:36:11
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Yes, you CAN  get updated Comets, Asteroids, Satellites, etc.
directly from the net when you are using the Updater.

Just click on the "File" item on the top menu bar,
and select "Get Object Data from WWW"

That will display a tree of object types, and you can pick and choose.
(it uses the same links as the Meade update page uses).

Full details at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/guide-libraries.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar error
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 2004 04:23:55
From:	WallyJulia Scarboro (wallyjulia@scarboro.fslife.co.uk)
Can you please advise with info on Autostar. Having connected the
ETX125-EC to the power

(But not turned on) I then connected a new handset #497 from its
original. When power was then turned on

To the scope one heard the obligatory 'beep'', initialising', then went
into the set up mode. All good so far,

Without warning, as usual when doing the set-up and getting to a certain
point we had a power cut.

This lasted for a short while before everything in my 'snug' (Cape
Canaveral) as it is known, started to reboot

All the PC's and Laptop. I had at that point turned of the power to the
scope so that I could return to it a little

Later, on doing so and when the Handset does its 'beep' to initialise
the handset then goes to show a 'Warning'

And will not let me do anything even a reset. If you can advise or help
with info I would be grateful.

Many thanks and best regards to you and the community.

Walter
Mike here: It could be that the software was corrupted in the Autostar. Hopefully it is ONLY a software problem and not a hardware problem that occurred from the power problem. You can try to correct it by downloading a new version of the software into the Autostar. You will have to put the Autostar into SAFE MODE (hold down the ENTER and DOWN ARROW keys when turning on the ETX power). You will also need a #505 serial cable, Windows, and the software from Meade's site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html).

And:

Wicked Thanks....again Mike, I already have the #505 cables lurking
around somewhere so I shall dig out and go for it....slowly,
methodically etc.
Thanks once again I shall let you know results okay.
Best regards
Walter. UK.

Subject:	ASU 3.61
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 2004 02:13:33
From:	Jan H Kolst (jan.kolsto@online.no)
Question: When I use ASU 3.61 and the Autostar is connected to the scope
and my laptop is connected to the net,do I then get all updates directly
into the scope ( satellites,comets etc or is it just the autostar update
like 3.2.ei)? I know that I get Autostar update like 3.2ei  which I can
read in my Autostar.But is it possible to find the updates of
satellites,comets etc. somewhere?

Thanks again Mike
 
Jan
 Norway
Mike here: That's correct, you get the software not the current data. However, at the bottom of the Autostar update page on Meade's site are links to other locations where you can find data. Also, see the "Orbital Elements: Autostar" on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	autostar firmware update gone wrong
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 2004 18:36:29
From:	Brent Arsenault (brentarsenault@rogers.com)
Have an lx90, and tried updating firmware to ver 32ei.  The handbox
froze up half way through the download, so I retried in safe mode(enter
key and scroll down key). The handbox in safe mode shows flash load 3.0
ready, which tells me its o.k and ready for downloading. When I now try
sending the update over from the ASU program, the autostar does not
display DOWNLOADING DO NOT TURN OFF. It only shows the same
message(FLASH LOAD 3.0 READY), it does not change over. On the p.c side
it gives me no errors when I send the package via website,(though I have
tried local too and same thing happens). When I have hit o.k to download
on the p.c it tells me upload is successful, with the upload complete
box coming up on the screen, but in the lower left of the ASU program
box, it displays the message "initializing handbox-please wait" I have
let it try initializing for over an hour, but nothing happens. My pc is
not set for screen save and I have no other programs running. The only
thing different now is my pc is new without a serial port, but I use a
usb to serial port through com4. (the asu software has had no problems
communicating with the handbox during initial startup of the program.I
have tried all sorts of things like restarting the pc and handbox from a
clean start but for some reason the handbox now is not accepting the
firmware to it.   Any ideas would be of great help, as your web site has
already helped me with so many other problems. One other thing the ASU
upload program is the most recent version, The sad thing is i threw out
all older versions, I this would probably be my next step, is to go back
a version to see if this would work.

Thanks
Brent
brentarsenault@rogers.com
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The symptoms simply sound like binary communication is
not happening out the serial port (the normal guider commands,
etc. don't depend upon binary.. they're all printable ascii).

Things i'd try (in this order):
(a) Chris Carson's StarPatch  updater (in place of Meade's)
 get it from http://www.stargps.ca  , follow the links to StarPatch.
 (it's also twice as fast as Meade's)(and a  LOT smarter about
  Windows communication).

(b) since this is a NEW pc, i suspect you're running windows XP,
 be sure to be running in an Administrator Level account.

(c) you might try running Meade's driver for your USB->Serial
 device.  Get it from:
   http://www.meade.com/USB_Serial/USB_SER.html

(d) dig up that old PC with the for-real serial port...

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks for the info. I downloaded starpatch and it worked like a charm.
I like the fact that you can see the status and time of download.
Anyways thanks to all for there help, this week will not be a total loss

Thanks
Brent

Subject:	ETX 105 Alignment error
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 2004 19:04:52
From:	Robert Felmly Jr (sc.records@usa.net)
What a wonderful site you have.  Found it surfing looking for some
information to help me with a problem that my ETX-105 seems to have
developed.  I hope you can and would be willing to help me and my ETX.

I have had the telescope since March of 2003 and love it.  Summers here
in Akron Ohio are usually quite cloudy thanks to my close proximity to
Lake Erie so I primarily use it in the fall and winter.  I haven't used
the scope for a few months now, although I have updated the Autostar
#497 software every time I noticed a new one available on the Meade
Website.  My last update is the version 32Ei.

I put brand new batteries in it, performed a reset, calibrated the
motors, trained the drives (and yes I trained both the Alt and the Az)
and waited for night to fall.  The only thing different from my last
time out is I added the Meade #1244 Electric focuser.

I used the Easy Alignment and it chose Vega for the first star.  It
slewed counter clockwise and landed about a fist or so low and a fist
short (or to the right being it went counter clockwise).  I centered
Vega and hit enter. The next star the autostar chose and slew towards
was Altair.  The scope went clockwise and landed much further to the
right (maybe 3 fists?) and high. Again I centered the star Altair and
hit enter.  The autostar read alignment failed, check stars and went
back to the alignment option.  I tried it again several times with the
same exact outcome.

I gave up that night thinking maybe I had done something wrong with the
training.  The next day I did another reset and once again trained the
drives paying close attention that I did everything correctly.  Tonight,
same exact problem.  Has any one reported problems like this?  Could the
new version on the autostar have a bug?  I wouldn't think the new
electric focuser could cause a problem could it?

Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated.  I see on your site
about the "supercharge" for the ETX.  Perhaps I'll look in to this
service as well if only to give the scope a checkup and lube job being
it is a year and a half old.

Thank you:

Bob Felmly
sc.records@usa.net
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (near Akron)
Mike here: You didn't say whether you have mounted the ETX in Polar or Alt/Az but I'll assume that it is in Alt/Az. Have you checked the date, time, daylight savings, location, and mounting mode? If they are all correct, try different alignment stars. Let me know what happens.

And:

Wow, thanks for the quick reply.  Wasn't expecting it tonight.  Sorry,
yes you're correct, the scope is mounted in Alt/Az.  And yes, the date,
time, daylight savings, location, and mounting mode are all correct. 
I'll try your suggestion of different alignment stars tomorrow night.

By the way, I did try the one star alignment method tonight using Vega. 
The initial slew was of course again low and to the right.  I centered
it and hit enter.  Alignment successful read on my autostar.  I used the
named object selection and chose the Andromeda Galaxy since I know I can
find that big thing even without a computer.  (years of using my 10"
Newtonian with NO computer)  Again, it was way off to the right.

Thanks again for the reply.  I'll try a different pair of alignment
stars tomorrow night.  (weather permitting of course)  I'll let you know
what happens.

Thank you:

Bob Felmly
Mike here: Is the error about 15 degrees?

And:

It's Bob from Cuyahoga Falls Ohio (near Akron) again.  Back in from
another night of trying to figure this alignment problem I'm having.  It
was a nice night so I spent a lot of time with my other scope before
coming in to update you on my findings.  I just now see that you had
sent me an email asking if this problem was about 15 degrees off.

15 degrees is about 1 hour, correct?  Daylight savings pops into my
head.  Is this what you're thinking?  Come to think of it, I have been
checking NO on this option.  I guess I'm just used to using this scope
in the winter when daylight savings has ended.  This could be the
problem.  But curious, how important is this setting?  Being as the
scope uses two stars to align it's self, wouldn't the scope just think
that it wasn't pointed due north?  Dose the scope "zero" it's self
internally and then count off the hours and minutes to the next one? 
And if it dose, would the daylight savings setting really come in to
play?

Anyway, this is what I have found tonight.  Set up home, entered date,
time, checked no for the daylight savings part (now realize I should
have chosen yes), and used the easy alignment setup.  The first star the
autostar chose was again Vega.  It slewed to it and yes, it was about
one hour, or fifteen degrees to the right.  It was also about 12 degrees
low.  Centered it, hit enter, and the next star the scope chose was
Capella.  Again, it landed to the right of it approximately 15 degrees
and 12 degrees low.  I centered it, hit enter and alignment successful
displayed on the autostar.  Cool, or so I thought.  I chose the
Andromeda galaxy, hit goto and it was again off.

I setup home again, Easy alignment, 1st was Vega, centered it, and then
chose Altair.  Again off, but much more.  I centered it, hit enter, and
alignment failed, check stars displayed on the autostar.  Setup home
position again and this time chose the one star setup.  Chose Altair
(since this seems to be the problem star) and the initial slew to it was
almost 2 hours to the right. That's almost 30 degrees!  Centered it, hit
enter, alignment successful. Chose the Pleiades (faster to find than a
galaxy) and it landed again to the right but only by about 25 minutes,
and this time, it was about 20 degrees high, or over the cluster.

Any more thoughts I can think about until I try it again next weekend? 
I'll try it a third time only this time checking Yes for the daylight
savings part and see what happens.  Of course in another couple of
weeks, I'll be checking no again.  Computers....only as smart as the
operator right?

Any way, thanks again for your info.  Hopefully we'll figure this out
yet.

Talk to you soon.
Mike here: If the initial time setting is one hour off (due to a data entry error or a DST error), then the INITIAL alignment stars will be 15 degrees off in RA. But once you align, the geometry of the sky should be OK. But lets wait to see what happens when you select the proper DST setting.

And:

Thanks, that's kind of what I was thinking also.  Probably wont be able
to try again untill this weekend.  With the remanants of hurricane
Matthew, looks like we'll be full of clouds and rain here for a while. 
I'll let you know what happens in a week.

Thanks again and I'll talk to you soon.

Bob Felmly

Subject:	Patch v32Ei Bug?
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 2004 03:03:36
From:	Fernando Campuzano (fcamp@ya.com)
I've installed the Dick Seymour's patch kit v32Ei with the optional
"Skip time/date" function enabled. My intention was, at the begining of
each session, to establish the Date/Time/Daylight saving data from my
laptop rather from the handbox.

Starting from a previously parked scope, the longitude site info and
date/time/daylight saving data trasmitted from the laptop should serve
to Autostar in order to calculate which is the RA coordinate that it's
pointing at this moment (Dec coordinate becomes from latitude site
info). The RA coordinate should be 12 hours difference with the local
sidereal time calculated by the Autostar. My experience is that this RA
coordinate calculation is not performed, and seems that always appears
the same RA coordinate (perharps the last one the scope was pointing to
when last RESET Autostar operation was made....I don't know).

The result is that a new align procedure is required, so parking scope
is not useful at all.

Could this be a bug in the patch? or Am I doing something wrong?

Fernando
And from the patch author:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
This will be a two-part answer (one now, one after i've tried it).

The patch for "skip time/date" does exactly that: it simply
jumps past a portion of the start-up code in the Autostar.
So some subtle adjustments performed in that area are missed.

(i wish you had specified the RA's you were seeing)
Are you Polar or Alt/Az?
What flavor of telescope?

Are you PARKing at the end of the previous session?

If you know what RA/Dec you are pointing at when powering up,
you can set that as the "target" coordinates, and then do a SYNC
(:CM#) (which may also want a :EK13# afterwards if the display
prompts to "press enter").  That should "align" the telescope.
(if you are operating in Alt/Az mode, you will also have to
start the sidereal drive by then GoTo'ing that "target" :MS# )

I must wait until i receive the answers to "Alt/Az or Polar"
and "what telescope" before i can give a complete answer.
But i will try the patch in my ETX90.  This will take a  few hours.

The "Skip Time/Date" patch is one i do -not- test.
However it is equivalent to the patch used by StarGPS to
avoid the startup hangup as the Autostar waits for a keypress.
Since StarGPS still operates properly, i think the patch is
still properly placed.

I should also ask: "have you used this patch before?"
If the performance has -changed-, i shall dig into the portion
 of "skipped" code to see if Meade is doing anything differently
 than previous versions.

have fun
--dick
And more:
OK...

I loaded the patch into my ETX, and avoided the Alignment by 
pressing [mode] for three seconds when prompted for Align/Easy.
(the scope did -not- ask me for time/date, so i know the patch "took")

Mount is Alt/Az, Seattle.
RA=05:47.0  Dec=+42* 24'  Alt=00  Az=00  LST=17:48
Lat=47 36  Long=122 20 west.

The Date is the last one i set (before patching),
the Time is 8pm (meade's default)

All of those numbers are perfectly consistent with an Alt/Az
start up in Seattle.  RA=LST-12:00:00

So i changed it to Polar.
Power cycled.
RA=05:46  DEC=89 59'  Alt=47 36  Az=00 00
everything else is "as before".

So i don't see a problem.

Are you perhaps being confused by the Autostar reverting to 
Alt/Az mode as a result of the patch/reboot process?

have fun
--dick
And:
Sorry for the lack of information in my first post.

Perharps the "problem" is I'm trying to use the skip "time/date" option
for a goal it is not intended.

I've patched the code last September 17th (this is the first time I've
used this patch). So, Autostar (in Alt/AZ) shows whenever powered up
(after pressing MODE for 2-3 seconds) the following coordinates (I've
parked the scope in the previous session):

RA 05:35; DEC 49? 25'

These coordinates are the right ones for my site (40?35'North;
3?18'West) and 20:00:00 local civil time at September 17th (local civil
time = UTC + 2). Local sidereal time shows as 17:35. OK.

Then, I proceed to adjust the correct time and date data. For instance
now, October 10th and local civil time 23:05. It's the same behaviour if
I make this adjustment via the laptop or via the handbox. Autostar
doesn't recalculate the local sidereal time and keeps the one that
matches, for my site, the 20:00:00 local civil time at September 17th.

Perharps this is correct for the StarGPS ussage (StarGPS adjusts the
data in the powering-up process?) and the patch was not thought to be
used for my purpossed of setting date/time from the laptop.

Sorry for your time consumption. And thanks a lot for both of you...
Mike and Dick.

Fernando (Guadalajara. Spain)
And this:
Oh, no... please do feel sorry at all.  
Your question (and follow-up information) revealed a VERY interesting
strangeness of the normal Autostar programming.

First, it's not a "bug" in the patch... the normal Autostar program
performs -exactly- the same way.

(if you simply press [enter] to the first time question,
and then go back and Set the Time from the keypad, the
LST (Local Sidereal Time) will -not- change.  It will
remain believing whatever the -first- Time-set made it.

But that's not all.  If you then GoTo a star (i used Alcor),
and then SYNC to "move" the star an hour west.
Again: the LST does NOT change.  
But the RA/DEC readout now matches your "moved" star.

I shall be looking in to the many consequences of what you
have discovered.

I can "explain" -why- it is operating as it does.
When you "skip" the time (and "skip" alignment)
the LST is set from the "default" time. (8pm).
If you align, then the alignment controls what LST the 
scope -really- thinks is at Alt=90.
That may -differ- from the LST specified by the clock.
(if the scope base were tilted slightly east or west,
the GoTo's would have to take that tilt into account).

In much older versions of the firmware, the Autostar
reported that derived-from-alignment LST as "LST".
For Alt/Az people, that was good enough (no one noticed the "error").
For Polar people, it was VERY confusing.
The LST was the point in the sky that the RA axis "touched" the sky.
It was close to the pole, so -any- error would have it touching
somewhere -near- the pole (with who-knows-what RA value) at a 
very high (near 90) DEC.
People were reporting (apparently) totally random LST's.
Meade "fixed" that by making the displayed LST derived from 
the clock  (but the invisible internal LST derived from alignment).

So now we have the poor Autostar trying to deal with you changing
the *time*.  It "knows" that the LST was (say) 17:35 based upon
the (skipped) "alignment".  If you adjust the Time, it believes
that the stars have -not- moved to match your idea of "time"
and keeps using the "old" LST.

Headache.

I will attach my StarGPS and see what it does.
Since it performs the initial Time setting at the same spot
in the program that the keypad initial Time setting happens,
it may get the LST correct.

The original idea behind the patch was to answer the request
of a German site which wanted a totally automatic Autostar.
The normal 497 Autostar stops and asks for the time and date.

There  -is- a way to use the normal Autostar code and somewhat
bypass this issue.  The current Autostar accepts new serial 
commands to be compatible with Autostar Suite.
You can send the answers to the on-screen time/date/daylight 
questions using that protocol.  So you can give it the correct
time the -first- time it wants it, and thereby have it set LST
correctly.

The sequence is  :EKnn#  for each keypress.  
The "nn" is the ascii code (expressed in decimal) for the key you want.
For Time, the digits are  48 (zero) through 57 (nine)
"Enter" is :EK13#
So, to tell the telescope 09:25:31 (enter) , you would send:
:EK48#:EK57#:EK50#:EK53#:EK51#:EK49#:EK13#
For changing only the day (of 12-Oct-2004 to 13-Oct-2004)
you can send only the first digits, then [enter]:
:EK49#:EK51#:EK13#
Daylight you just answer with an [enter]:   :EK13#

*That* sequence, with the normal (or patched, but -without-
the Skip Date/Time patch) firmware will give you everything.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Versions
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 2004 02:17:03
From:	Jan H Kolst (jan.kolsto@online.no)
I'm having a great time with my ETX 90 now thanks to Weasner's Mighty
ETX Site.  My problem is the weather here on the western coast of
Norway,too much rain in the autumn.This night is going to be
nice.Question: Is there a difference between Meads' Autostar updating
version3.2Ei and Dick Seymour's patch 3.2i ? 
Have a nice day!
Jan from Norway
Mike here: The patch kit adds functionality. See the text for the patch kit on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page as well as the patch kit README.
Subject:	Autostar/ETX-125 random slews
Sent:	Friday, October 8, 2004 15:06:11
From:	Fernando Campuzano (fcamp@ya.com)
As you suggested me, Ive changed anew using new batteries (internal
batteries in the scope compartment). From my last post October 2th, I've
been using the scope in two different sessions and all seems going OK
(random slews seems go away). I hope this will be the final solution.
So, I hope this is not a name related problem (Hola, Fernando Pertuz :);
encantado de encontrar "spaniards" en la red). You said "Recalibration
reseting and re-training is a waste of time..". Is this the correct
sequence? Perharps, your intention was to say "Reseting, recalibration
and re-training". Sorry if "me he pasado de listo".

Please, keep posting about this problem. I will post if the problem
reappears.

Best regards. And.. no clouds
Mike here: Super. Glad exchanging batteries helped. As to the order, RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Frustration 10
Sent:	Friday, October 8, 2004 08:31:48
From:	Bob (randeshipman@direcway.com)
I read your web site item, Meade Ext-90EC and Autostar of 3 June 1999,
and can place myself in your shoes at that time.  The only difference
being I, a lad of 76 years young, have been trying to align my ETX-90EC
from day one. This telescope was a gift from my daughter and her son. 
Either they love me or hate me, I can't determine which but I am
beginning to suspect that the latter is the case.  I thought I could
handle most any equipment but in this case I have no clue what to do. 
If I have struck a sympathetic chord I would be most grateful for advice
on how to set up this scope so that I can enjoy a night of "Go To".  I
have learned to manually locate a few double stars but would really like
enjoy the heavens with less stress. All of my attempts to setup in the
Polar mode have met with dismal failure and last evening was that
proverbial straw.  I send you sincere thanks in advance.

Most Sincerely,
Bob Shipman
Mike here: That was my INITIAL report. Since then, much has changed. First, I suggest mounting in Alt/Az mode; it is simplier to work with until you get comfortable. Second, read through the manual (indoors) three times. Play with the telescope (indoors) to get a feel of what happens at each step. If you still have problems understanding things, read through some of the alignment tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. Lastly, if you still have issues, drop me a note with specifics on what is happening at each step and what you are doing.

And:

Many tks for your input.  I will do as you suggest and should the
weather cooperate this evening I will put it to test.  You will be the
first to know when I succeed. Oh yes, I logged in on your web site and
enjoyed my first visit.  You certainly have been busy over the years.

Bob

Subject:	Slewing against the stops
Sent:	Friday, October 8, 2004 00:07:17
From:	Ian Harris (ianh@nortelnetworks.com)
I am in agreement with everyone else, this is a great site and a
tremendous resource.  I am the proud owner of an ETX105 AT and have been
very careful and diligent in all uses. Two nights ago, after very
careful training, I allowed my girlfriend to use the scope.  While I was
getting us both a drink, she placed the scope in the "home" position and
proudly announced she was ready to go.  The initial 2 star alignment was
OK, not perfect but OK, then she elected to slew to an object
essentially over head.  As the OTA slewed up and clockwise, it came to a
halt.  It took me a couple of seconds to engage brain and realise the
scope was slewing against its stops before I managed to hit the power
switch.  It was then obvious what had happened, during the initial
set-up, she had turned the OTA clock wise to the stop rather than
anti-clockwise !!!

My question is simply this, is there any substantial risk of damage to
the drives or gears, in either direction, because of this accident.

Regards,

Ian

Nortel Networks
Mike here: Damage is unlikely from a brief contact with a hard stop. However, you do have realign after hitting one.

And:

Thanks for such a quick response Mike,
Keep up the great work!!!
Ian

Subject:	re:  Help With Slew Then Downward Drift
Sent:	Thursday, October 7, 2004 21:11:04
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Ready?  

Try to Ignore it.  Or at least learn to minimize it (see below).

And there's -probably- nothing physically wrong with the telescope.

What you're seeing is a combination of "rubberbanding" and "creep
after beep" (see http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/30dance.html ).

If you make your final slews in a -westward- direction, 
you will probably find that the effect disappears.

Mike's question of "always down?" should've included
the qualifier: "at all targets?  East, West, North and South?"
Since a major contributor is the silent resumption of
sidereal drive causing the motors to reverse, and the
(over-enthusiastic) anti-backlash system to kick in.

Have you been adjusting the "RA/Az Percentage" and "DEC /Alt Percents"?
IF not, try -lowering- them to 1% or zero.
That alone may completely squash the symptom.
(you'll then start getting "lag", where an eastward slew
seems to continue past the point you release the key...
it's not, it's just that the telescope hasn't started moving
-west- yet to follow the continuously-moving star.)

You can prove to yourself that the overall -drives- are good
by choosing Targets/Terrestrial, and puttering (slewing) 
around a landmark... you'll see -those- motions don't 
walk back to where you came from.

have fun, it's at heart a good scope
--dick

Subject:	version
Sent:	Saturday, October 2, 2004 08:48:07
From:	Saverio Riboli (saverioriboli@hotmail.com)
Why in your site you write many on 21ek version of the autostar?
Is the best version? What kind of particularity have?
Where i can find it?
Mike here: That's an OLD version. But all (or most) of the older versions are archived on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Help With Slew Then Downward Drift
Sent:	Tuesday, October 5, 2004 14:53:57
From:	JJJ (jsmarto@NEO.rr.com)
What a wonderful site, it's helped a lot.  I'm an engineer familiar with
technology, but new to astronomy (my verbage may be technically
incorrect)

When trying to align my new ETX-105 using a lighted reticle, I'll
commonly slew upward to center the star vertically.  Then slew
horizontally to bring it into the dead center.  When the object is
centered, and I release the button, the star immediately and quickly
drifts downwards nearly out of the FOV.  I've downloaded the newest
software for the controller, and have read almost every post to no
avail.  I've reset and recalibrated several times, made sure the tripod
is level, tightly secured the clutches, and used several speeds.

Must I face facts and return it for repair?
 
Thank you for your time,
 
Jack Smarto
Mike here: You said:
> I've reset and recalibrated several times...
Ah ha, you need to TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Thanks for the response where you told me to train the drives.  I was
verbally incorrect, I'ved trained and retrained approaching from the
directions listed on your site to eliminate double backlash
compensation.

I've done everything at least four times.

Should I do it some more or have I missed anything that you can think
of.

I hate the thought of sending a new scope back.
Mike here: Is the motion ALWAYS downward?

And:

Yes the motion is always downwards.  I've been very careful to train the
drives at low speed, using a reticle, moving down to the left. (As
specified by one of your posts)

The clutches are tight, it's a controlled motion, not slippage.

I've replaced the batteries, and will run through the sequence again
tomorrow. Any words of advice would be appreciated.

After reading the posts on your site, I recognize how low on the ladder
of understanding I am, and I appreciate you taking the time to help a
Newbie. I've followed the instructions to the letter.

I really want to make this thing work, but if I can't make it work
tomorrow nite, I'm putting a mirror ball on it and I'll use it for a
lawn ornament. I might buy another and use them for bookends.

Thanks for your time,

Jack
Mike here: In rereading your comments, I'm beginning to wonder about your training technique. You say you have always try to move in a certain direction when training. In fact, you should be following the prompts on the Autostar for training. Also, are you training in BOTH axes? I ask this because some users have not realized that there are two steps to training. You just select one axis and train, then you select the other axis from the Autostar menu and train again for that axis.
Subject:	Autostar turns telescope to hardstops and tries to keep going.
Sent:	Monday, October 4, 2004 16:02:14
From:	Mattchecketts@cs.com (Mattchecketts@cs.com)
I am grateful for your website.I own an ETX-90EC with a #497 autostar. I
have not used my telescope for two years, and just the other night, I
tried to align it using the "easy" align option.(I did have the
telescope in home position). The telescope said "searching," then tried
slewing to Vega. It pointed upward until it hit the hardstop and then
tried to keep going.  I am frustrated because I already had one
telescope and autostar before that I had the factory replace for similar
problems. What is wrong, and did it damage my telescope when it tried to
keep going after it hit the hardstop?
Sincerely,
Matthew Checketts
Mesa, AZ
Mike here: With the long period of non-use, try replacing the batteries. Also, if you left the old batteries in for that length of time, check for leakage in the battery compartment. Also, check the telescope and mounting mode settings in the Autostar, do a CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Lastly, if none of the above helps, cleaning the encoders might; unlock the axes and move the telescope by hand from hardstop to hardstop, back and forth several times. Then redo the CALIBRATION and TRAIN DRIVES. Hitting the hardstop normally won't damage anything if the Autostar does it but stopping it right away should be done.

And:

Thank you so much for the advice, and the quick response!!

Subject:	Autostar/ETX-125 random movements
Sent:	Sunday, October 3, 2004 22:30:33
From:	Fernando Pertuz (monopertuz@yahoo.com)
It seems the problem is closely related to our names. I have had the
exact same problem as Fernando Campuzano on my autostar but with my ETX
90. The autostar suddenly decides to move the dec (alt) drive in a
random manner and obviously disrupts the ailignment. I have yet to
upgrade to the newer 32Ei version, Recalibration reseting and
re-training is a waste of time as it does nothing to fix the problem.
This has happened with  either a meade A/C power suply as well as with
an external battery pack of 8 "C" size batteries.

Fernando Pertuz 
Barranquilla, Colombia                                   
Mike here: I wonder if dirty encoders is the problem?
Subject:	ETX 125EC/Autostar power requirements
Sent:	Saturday, October 2, 2004 16:19:08
From:	Fernando Campuzano (fcamp@ya.com)
do you know which are the power requirements (current consumption) to
correctly feed an ETX125EC/Autostar with an AC/DC adapter? I haven't
found any information about this in Meade web nor in the scope or
Autostar instructions (apart from the 12 V DC voltage required). Thanks
for your helpful information.

Fernando (Guadalajara. Spain)
Mike here: 1.5A for the ETX series.
Subject:	Autostar/ETX-125 random movements
Sent:	Saturday, October 2, 2004 15:19:47
From:	Fernando Campuzano (fcamp@ya.com)
First of all, thanks for your great site.

I have an ETX-125EC scope with Autostar #497. I use the latest firmware
with Dick Seymour's patch. Be sure I have followed the procedure RESET,
CALIBRATE and TRAIN. Nevertheless, during a normal session when all
seems going OK, suddenly the scope begins to make random movements
mainly in the Alt axis. It seems like if it loose its home position
reference (Alt/AZ mode). Indeed when I request to park scope it goes to
a different position than the one set as home in the alignement
procedure.

Do you know if somebody has reported such a behaviour? What's your
opinion about this kind of failure?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for my English

----------------------------
Fernando (Guadalajara, Spain)
Mike here: Have you changed the power supply or batteries?

And:

Recently, I've change from using batteries to an AC/DC adapter (not the
Meade one). It's an adapter with 12 V DC stabilized output. The RESET,
CALIBRATE and TRAIN have been performed with this power source. I don't
know exactly which is the output performance in current of this power
source. Could this be the problem?

(I'm really surprised for your fast answer. Just 2 or 3 minutes from my
first message. Really a great site....)

Fernando (Guadalajara. Spain)
Mike here: Power supply fluctuations or low power can cause random slews. So can dirty encoders. I suggest switching to new batteries and see if the problem goes away. Don't forget to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES again.
Subject:	ETX-90/Autostar 497- early download versions
Sent:	Friday, October 1, 2004 16:47:59
From:	John Deriso (seaotter@bellatlantic.net)
Do you have early versions on your website?  I've downloaded a current
one from Meade within the last 6 months, but I'd like to revert back.
John
Mike here: See the archive on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	LX200gps firmware v3.0d posted by Meade
Sent:	Friday, October 1, 2004 13:57:01
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Meade just posted LX200gps firmware version 3.0d on their support site.
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Quoth the ReadMe:
Fixed PEC for Southern Hemishere.
Fixed Backlash in Polar guide.
Fixed some serial commands.
Added full-sky stars for Polar Alignment.
Some data base error were fixed.

-----------------------
..and i'm sure there's other stuff, too...

have fun
--dick
(patch kits will appear in a few days, as usual...)

Subject:	ETX125+Autostar497+Sky Charts
Sent:	Friday, October 1, 2004 11:17:37
From:	Christian Hanke (christian-hanke@t-online.de)
I just tried the french astro-software Sky Charts or Cartes du Ciel
(free download also in english: http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/). The
autostar #497, is connected to the serial COM1 of the computer running
under Windows XP. It seemed to work properly. You can either control the
telescope motion and the goto-feature with the software or the motion
controlled by the autostar is displayed on the sky chart on the computer
screen. Unfortunately I couldnt test the accuracy at the sky due to
everlasting clouds here in Munich.

Thanks for your great job.

Regards

Christian

Dr. Christian Hanke
Mnchen

Subject:	re: Polar Mode ETX
Sent:	Thursday, September 30, 2004 21:45:44
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
When Mike says: "set in Polar mode",
he means:

Power up.  Press [enter] three times to get past the time/date prompts.
Press [mode] to "lift" out of Align/Easy to Setup/Align.
Press [scroll down]  4 times to reach  Setup/Telescope
Press [enter] to reach  Telescope/Model
Press [scroll down]  3 times to reach Telescope/Mount
Press [enter]
Press [scroll down] until you see "Polar"
Press [enter] to make it become ">Polar"

Turn off power.
Turn on power.

The telescope will now perform Polar Alignments.

have fun
--dick

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