AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 October 2005

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:	Compatiblity quickie
Sent:	Sunday, October 30, 2005 13:39:52
From:	Cenneth Andersson (cenneth.andersson@telia.com)
It is not a strict ETX-AutoStar problem, but....
 
My friend lack the correct cable for LX200GPS to computer. Can we use my
serial connector to my Lunar Planet Imager together with my #497 handbox
cable?
 
Cenneth
Mike here: Sorry. It is a different cable for the Autostar II. And you can't use the Autostar #497 with the LX200GPS.
Subject:	Updating software, but, how?
Sent:	Sunday, October 30, 2005 13:31:51
From:	Cenneth Andersson (cenneth.andersson@telia.com)
Thought it would be easy. Downloaded an installed the latest AutoStar
Updater (version 4.3). Put the Build40Eb.rom in the Ephemerides
directory. Connected everything and started and initialized my #497.
Started ASU and clicked 'Upgrade AutoStar Software Now'. My handbox and
version (34Ec) was recognized correctly, but, The choice 'Local' was
greyed and said 'No upgrade files found on harddrive'. I Cancelled.
Looking at my handbox it said 'Downloading. Do not turn off.' I left it,
but, 2 hours later it still said 'Downloading...etc.' (I felt a bit
shaken, here) I closed the ASU-program and started it again. Then the
handbox started the intializing routine with Date... etc. and I
cancelled the whole project. But something must have happened because it
still says '34E' at start, but, earlier I had Date, Time, Daylight
Savings in that order. Now I have Date, Daylight Savings, Time when the
handbox initializes. Otherwise it seems OK. What went wrong, and, how
can I update the handbox?
 
I hope there is someone who can teach me.
 
/Cenneth
Mike here: You may have gotten a corrupted build file. Try redownloading it. Alternatively, just let the Updater update via the online version. For more on using the Updater application see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	RE: More on continuing etx125 align problem
Sent:	Sunday, October 30, 2005 03:28:18
From:	Ed Williams (hotstrings1@knology.net)
Finally, I meant to get back to you sooner but had to get ready and go
to an art show. My wife is an artist www.domiart.com and I am a
classical & Flamenco guitar player so I played for the Destin show also.
Been busy but I did try your suggestion and two nights it worked great.
Lined up on everything. I am hoping to take pictures of Mars this week.
Thanks so much for your help else the scope would be at Meade and they
would be scratching their heads wondering why I sent it back. Will be
continuing to read your website for great info.
Thanks,
Ed

Subject:	Question about pointing accurancy of ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, October 27, 2005 22:19:44
From:	Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIO (thomas.allen@kirtland.af.mil)
Want to say your site is awesome and I plan to purchase your book.  

I've had my ETX-125 since April, and when I first got it the azimuth
gears went out before I was able to use it.  When I got it back, the
horizontal didn't respond fast enough when when I pushed the Autostar
arrow keys.  Also, the goto aspect did not operate good - it was off and
was not accurate when I used Autostar to point to an object.  I sent it
back again, and when I got it back, it really wasn't much different than
the last time I sent it. Before I send it back again, I wanted to know
whether the inaccuracy of the pointing of the ETX is characteristic of
the scope.  I also have a Meade LX200GPS and find this to be right on
when I tell it to point to a celestial object.  If this is a lemon, I
was wondering if you might have any suggestions in dealing with Meade.
It's still under waranty, and I would like to exchange it for a new
scope; I did ask Meade to replace it the last time, but they didn't.
When I called Meade and asked to talk to a supervisor or anyone
equivalent, I got voice mail, but my call was never returned.  At any
rate, if you have any advice on any of these issues, I would appreciat
it.

Thank you.  Again, you have an awesome site.
Tom Allen  
Mike here: The Autostar pointing accuracy CAN be excellent IF you take the time to make some important inputs. You didn't say; have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES? As to the delay when slewing, see the article on "percentages" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.

And:

Thanks for your input.  I did do calibrate motors and Train drives once,
but it I believe it was when I received it from Meade for repairs the
first time.  I don't think I did it the second time I got it back from
Meade for repairs.  I'll do it again and get back with you if I have any
questions.
Thanks for your input and appreciate your response.
Tom

Subject:	Autostar version
Sent:	Thursday, October 27, 2005 06:34:48
From:	nova1947 (nova1947@hotmail.com)
I have an early version of Autostar (Version 1.1). I've tried a new #505
cable set up and still get the same result. After asking and seeing the
correct com port it then says it can't find it. I use XP sp 2 and
Autostar updater 4.1. I've tried a cold boot and still no change. Is my
version to early to update ? I've tried other info sources and it seems
that they believe this could be the case.
 
Thanks 
M.J.D. 
Mike here: I forget exactly which version started the jumping the updates method but 1.2 is on the "Autostar Software Archive" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Schematics of gps->Autostar starpatch connection?
Sent:	Wednesday, October 26, 2005 06:29:20
From:	Japetus (japetus@freemail.gr)
I was wondering if anyone of your fellow readers have sent any
schematics regarding the connection of a gps with the autostar for use
with the StarPatch software.
Kind regards, Nick 
Mike here: Nope. But there might be something on the StarGPS web site (www.stargps.ca).
Subject:	RE: Autostar version
Sent:	Monday, October 24, 2005 22:39:55
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Bruce wrote:
-------------
 When trying to align in
"easy" or "automatic" it aligns, goes to first star (Vega) and then the
arrow keys do not function to "center" the star or at all after that
unless I restart the power.
-----------------

Ya know?  That sounds like the old "didn't change speed" syndrome...
when the scope slews to do the alignment, it sets the speed very low.
So pressing a slew key may well not -appear- to move it.
Tap a number key to kick the speed up to 6 or higher after it beeps
to have you center the star...
THEN see if it moves.

good luck
--dick
From:	Bruce Nethery (brucen@ci.aspen.co.us)
Have tried "reset".  Will try the suggestion from Richard on slew speed.
After that, I will try the update if I can get a cord.  Still trying to
contact Meade. Perpetual hold on the customer support.  Might try a
different time of day and all or leave a message.

Appreciate the replies.

Bruce 

And:

You can try it indoors, daytime... just change the speed and see
if it moves faster...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	On power up, Autostar blinks 5 times, then nothing
Sent:	Monday, October 24, 2005 06:38:37
From:	Roy Meyer (southsky@icon.co.za)
Please help. I have had my ETX 125AT for about a month now. Everything
has been working just fine with a rechargeable 12v battery pack since I
got the scope, but last night, I connected the Autostar, plugged in the
12v plug and switched on. The Autostar lit up and blinked 5 times and
stayed like that, all lit up. The screen remained blank and pressing any
of the keys moved nothing on the scope. I switched off, turned the
Autostar coilcord around, but same thing. I thought it might be the
battery pack, but checked it with a voltmeter and it was 12.1v. Have
since recharged the battery pack ( fully charged to 13.2v), but still
does the light up, blink 5 times, stay lit up and blank screen. What's
up?

Thank you very much.
Roy Meyer

PS    Got your book at the same time as the scope. Its like my own
portable website. Great. Thanks.
Mike here: It sounds like your Autostar software has become corrupted. If you have a #505 cable you can do a SAFE LOAD to restore it. If you don't have a cable you can buy or make one (details on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page). Your computer needs a RS-232 port (not modem); if you only have USB then you'll need a USB-serial adapter (I use a Keyspan one with my Macintosh). To put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD, hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on the ETX. Be certain you already have the cable and software (from Meade's site for Windows, or AutostarX from the Autostar Info page for Mac OS X).
Subject:	RE: Autostar version
Sent:	Monday, October 24, 2005 06:35:23
From:	Bruce Nethery (brucen@ci.aspen.co.us)
But even trying that, the arrow keys lock up on me. If I even hit the
"mode" button after start-up, they lock up on me.  Have contacted
Astronomics and am waiting for a reply.  Hopefully it is just a faulty
handset.

Cheers! 
Mike here: If the key is sticking, perhaps it needs cleaning. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.

And:

Brand new.  Does not stick, all arrow keys simply stop working except
from the original start up "Align: Automatic".  When trying to align in
"easy" or "automatic" it aligns, goes to first star (Vega) and then the
arrow keys do not function to "center" the star or at all after that
unless I restart the power.  Trying a different star does not work
either.  I think it is simply a disfunctional handset, but will
hopefully hear from Astronomics about warranty proceedure.
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET? You could also try updating the Autostar to set if that clears the problem.
Subject:	Blank AutoStar  Window
Sent:	Sunday, October 23, 2005 08:01:24
From:	Barb & Marty (marbar63@peoplepc.com)
While I was downloading the latest update our power went out. When power
came on I tried downloading again, the window had scribbled letters then
went blank. I turned it off for 15 minutes but no change. I can't load
or anything and it is not recognized by the updater I hope you can help.

P.S. Thanks for your web site many of us read and use the information to
make us operate our scopes again thanks.

Barb & Marty
Mike here: Simple solution: put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode by holding down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on the telescope. The Autostar display will show FLASH LOAD READY (or something like that). Next launch the Autostar Update application; it will detect this mode and let you re-install the software on the Autostar. You will need to re-enter your site and CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	re: Tracking the Sun and Moion with the ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, October 21, 2005 22:56:25
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Versions of Autostar firmware cirac 34Ec and newer will automatically
temporarily switch to Lunar Tracking Rate if you GoTo the Moon.

They will revert to Sidereal Rate when you subsequently GoTo any
other astronomical target.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	More on continuing etx125 align problem
Sent:	Friday, October 21, 2005 19:59:14
From:	Ed Williams (hotstrings1@knology.net)
Well I think I've had it with this peace of electronic junk. I printed
out the instructions from Clay Sherrod on your web site and meticulously
reset-calibrated-trained-and home position align etc 3 times since I
emailed last. Still the tube never aligns on the two stars right and of
course nothing else. Even though I am not an astronomer I have some
knowledge of where the stars are and this does not even come close. I
would like to get my money back since I have only had it about two weeks
but probably can't and will I guess have to send it off bummer !!!!
unless you have any more suggestions.
Thanks,
Ed
Mike here: Try this indoors. What happens if you set up in the proper HOME position and let the Autostar do its alignment with you just assuming the stars are centered? Do you get Alignment Successful? If so, the Autostar "thinks" all is well. If not, then something is corrupted in the Autostar or the encoders are malfunctioning. Let me know.

And:

I tried it and set it for last night at 9:00 PM. It tried as usual to
line up on Vega and Altair. Since I know where they are in relation to
the trees in my yard I noticed that it was lined up wrong. However it
did show successful even though I did not adjust in any way. So what
does that tell us? You know I just hate to believe that it is a bad
scope and keep hoping that it is something that I am doing wrong.
Thanks for you quick response.
Ed
Mike here: OK, the Autostar thinks it knows what it is doing. Lets try another test. Select a city that is about 100 miles away for your Site and repeat the alignment process. Let me know (in approximate degrees) how far off you think the alignment stars are.

And:

Hi Mike, well I tried tonight again with clouds I guess because of the
upcoming Hurricane. On my zip code I noticed that it seen to be fairly
close to where vega would be possibly about 1/2 the distance of the
radius of the seemingly too low but look like it might have been even
closer to altair.

When trying on a zip code in Pensacola 100 miles away it looked very
close to vega and altair--go figure. Again on both times it showed
successful even though I made no adjustments. Weird.

Thanks,
Ed
Mike here: Perhaps there is a problem with using your ZIPCODE. You could use a different one or pick a City name or even enter your Lat/Long directly.

And:

Ok I put in the lat and long and even though we have clouds because of
the Hurricane it lined up on vega and altair by my guess so I checked it
with my pocket stars program the altitude agreed within I point or so on
both. I then check Mars and the altitude agreed with the pocket program
and seem to be ok. I failed to check after Home position to see if my
altitude setting was as 0 after leveling so that may account for the
slight difference. So all I have to do is wait for a clear night and try
it again. Thanks to you it looks promising and appears to be dummy error
rather than ETX error. I hope so anyway. Were it not for you I would
have sent it back to Meade for repairs. So now I am real excited about
using it in the future.
Thanks so much. I will let you know who it comes out.
Thanks,
Ed

Subject:	Autostar version
Sent:	Friday, October 21, 2005 07:10:37
From:	Bruce Nethery (brucen@ci.aspen.co.us)
When I set up "easy align", the Autostar does go to the appropriate
first star, but the arrow keys will not work to allow me to center the
star.  Any thoughts?  And also the display, when scrolling directions
across its screen, is pretty much incomprehensible.  Like it is
multipled letters per word and jumbled.

One other question, for the Autostar update, is the cable that came with
Autostar Suite the correct cable to use for the update?
 
Will appreciate any thoughts.
 
Thank you
 
Bruce
Mike here: Have you tried to speed up the slewing speed? I usually use a key of 5 or 7 for slewing. You can change the speed of the scrolling text by using the UP and DOWN arrow keys. And yes, if you use the #505 cable and not the LX200 cable, that's the correct serial cable.
Subject:	Tracking the Sun and Moion with the ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, October 20, 2005 10:04:03
From:	keith.sunday@gsa.gov (keith.sunday@gsa.gov)
Is there a menu option to pick to have the ETX-125 track the Sun and/or
Moon.  I can't seem to find out how by reading the manual or browsing
through the menu of the hand controller.

Thanks,

Keith Sunday
Mike here: Under the "Telescope -> Tracking Rates" menu there are two rates: Sidereal and Lunar.
Subject:	etx125 continuing align problem
Sent:	Wednesday, October 19, 2005 19:52:42
From:	Ed Williams (hotstrings1@knology.net)
Hi Mike, just to tell you the latest in my saga to get autostar to work.
On your last email you ask about calibration. So I calibrated, and reset
two different times. Last night I tried to easy align 5 times and
tonight about three times. I feel like throwing this thing in the ocean.
Yes the optics are great but I have a etx 90 and the optics are great on
it too. I expect this thing to do what is advertised. When it slews to
and object the tube lies 10-12 inches away from the object at least. It
always goes in the right direction but never in 7 nights trying has it
landed on anything I ask it to. When I call Meade two days ago I told
them this and they said maybe there was something faulty in the gears.
But I want to try every ave before sending it back. I had planned to go
on vacation the first of Dec. and take it with me to a star party in
Ceder Key. Of course if I send it that's probable not going to happen.
Do you have any more suggestions before I do that? By the way I have not
tried to polar align as it is advertised to work in easy align and that
of course is easier. I would have had a lot more fun setting circles
with my 90.
Thanks in advance for you help,
Ed
Mike here: You need to CALIBRATE MOTORS *after* doing a RESET. Then you need to TRAIN DRIVES after that.

And:

Thanks because I calibrated and then reset and then train the motors. So
tonight I will try that again. Back to the drawing board. The weather as
least has been great no rain for a while and it looks like the Hurricane
come in well below us. I will let you know who this comes out. Again I
appreiciate your help.
Thanks,
Ed. 

Subject:	etx 90 tracking
Sent:	Tuesday, October 18, 2005 05:06:42
From:	Andy Lancour (andy@spe-wi.com)
Should my etx 90 track the moon and planets the same as stars and deep
space phenomena? It seems the moon is out of my fov in no time. Thanks
for help.
Mike here: There is a lunar tracking rate available from the Autostar's menu. Planets can stay at sidereal (star) rate.
Subject:	Updating Autostar
Sent:	Monday, October 17, 2005 19:50:49
From:	Robert B. White (rbwhite@compusmart.ab.ca)
I'm sorry to trouble you with this prosaic question. What is the best
part of your site to which I can refer on the mechanics of updating
Autostar?
 
Regards,
RBW
Mike here: See the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX 125 easy align
Sent:	Monday, October 17, 2005 05:07:49
From:	Ed Williams (hotstrings1@knology.net)
Hi I received my 125 last week and have tried to use it 3 times at night
to no avail.

I used the easy align. I have also reset it 2 times and retrained the
motor on a land object.

It seems to go in the right direction the end of the tube misses by
about a foot.

I have a bad location as I only have at my house a view of east to
northwest and on the other side of the house a view of south with no
view of the north star from that location. I am using the easy align
after home position. I love the optics but am getting very frustrated
spending hours and not finding anything with autostar. I call meade,
after reading many things on your site prior to getting the 125, and
asked it I would need to update the software when receiving the scope
and they said no. By the way I love you site and have a lot to learn.

Please help.
Thanks,
Ed
Mike here: You didn't mention that you did a CALIBRATE MOTORS; did you? Also, did you TRAIN DRIVES on both axes; it is easy for a new user to overlook that. Don't use a compass to get True North unless you correct for your location "Magnetic Variation" (which can vary from True North by up to nearly 20 degrees). If you can see Polaris, try an alternative to locate True North (some locations have streets running True North/South. If that doesn't help AND you can see the first alignment star, pick up the entire telescope and rotate it horizontally until the star is closet to the line of sight of the telescope, then complete the centering. Then do the second star normally. The physical rotation for the first star corrects for any error in True North pointing in the HOME position.

And:

I did train on both axes but this is the first of Calibrate motors. When
doing the align I can see polaris and have been using that so far.
Ed
Mike here: You need to CALIBRATE MOTORS when the telescope is first used and when changing batteries or switching between batteries and an external power supply OR when the batteries start getting low.

And:

I have been using only extenal power from one of those power converters
and I was also going to use the car cig lighter. I installed the
batteries but have never used them. Should I take them out? 

Also I called.  Meade since I did not receive a 497 manual and saw the
menu for calabration. Hate to sound so stupid.

So what should I do about the installed batteries? 

Thanks so much for your website.
Thanks,
Ed
Mike here: Doesn't matter whether you leave them in or take them out. When the external power plug is connected the internal batteries get cut out. However, I wouldn't leave them in indefinity as batteries can (and do) leak.
Subject:	re: solar tracking rate 
Sent:	Sunday, October 16, 2005 13:54:54
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Working it out from first priciples:
The sun moves against the starry background one full turn per year.
That's 360 degrees, and there are 365(.25) days in a solar year.

So that's a degree per day.
Custom Tracking is in tenths of percent, so we'll convert
'degree per day' to 0.3% of 360 per day.
Thus a value of 3 in Custom Meade-speak.

The sun appears to move -slower- than the stars (that's
why the stars rise 4 minutes earlier each day).
so the Custom value for the sun is  -3

(the real answer is closer to 0.35%, but we're only
given tenths to play with).

All of the above doesn't factor in that the sun is following
the ecliptic, which is tilted 23 degrees with respect to the
celestial equator... so there's quite a dollop of north/south
motion as well (worst near the equinoxes), which the Autostar
totally ignores.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick. Which all means that it really doesn't matter over a short period of time.

And:

"Short", yes... but for high magnification it does help keep sunspots
fairly centered.

..and it never hurts to provide a worked example of how to
figure these things out for yourself, rather than have
the numbers remain a mystery.

I know so many rules of thumb that it doesn't hurt so much
to -be- all thumbs...

Only the user can assess if 0.3% matters to them
(one of the patches i've developed for the LX200gps
is the ability to set tracking rates to 0.01%, since those folks
-do- care about that extra decimal point... LX90's could use it too)

have fun
--dick

And:

From:	Patrick Reilly (patmreilly@earthlink.net)
Thanks for your reply.  I knew there had to be a separate solar tracking
rate, as other telescopes have this mode.  As an current astronomy
student, I especially appreciate the full explanation of how and why
this calculation was made.  I will put this in the custom tracking mode
when I do solar observing.  The explanation gives me further insight
into the celestial system as a whole.

Best regards,
Pat Reilly  

Subject:	solar tracking rate 
Sent:	Friday, October 14, 2005 14:26:04
From:	Patrick Reilly (patmreilly@earthlink.net)
I was going through the menus on my autostar (35E) and found the
tracking rate.  There is a CUSTOM setting in addition to SIDEREAL and
LUNAR.  I thought that this might be a good place to set up and store a
SOLAR tracking rate.  Do you know what values would need to be put there
to do this, or how to calculate those values?
 
Thanks,
 
Pat Reilly
Mike here: Unless you plan to track the Sun over a period of several days you can use Sidereal.
Subject:	training the drives ETX125
Sent:	Thursday, October 13, 2005 06:28:55
From:	Philip Mann (philip@philipmann.com)
Firstly what an excellent forum you run and very comforting to know help
is at hand from people with such experience.

I decided to include GPS to my newly acquired ETX125 and so had to
install the recent 40Eb upgrade.  After a reset I calibrated then
trained the drives.  During the azimuth training when I recentre the
target the scope is out vertically, putting the target below the centre
of my reticle.  I have repeated this several times and it recurs.  There
is no problem with altitude training.  A second point is that when
slewing the scope left or right it will dip first and then gradually
regain its altitude.  Also very erratic on 1 and 2 slew settings.  Could
this be mechanical (on a scope only 6 weeks old?)
 
Look forward to your reply
 
Philip
Mike here: There have been reports (pre-4.0) of movement in a different axis during training but not as much as you are experiencing. Had you tried training BEFORE updating to 4.0 and if so, did the problem occur there? If you want to go back to a previous version they are available on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info: Autostar Software Archive page on the ETX Site.

And:

Thank you for your speedy response.  I had trained the drives whilst on
the earlier version and had not experienced the movement in different
axes.  This does suggest software doesn't it.  Perhaps I should reload
an earlier version but then I want to keep my GPS option.  Do you know
from what version GPS was introduced?
 
Many thanks again
 
Philip
Mike here: I don't recall direct GPS support but the StarGPS LX doesn't require any Autostar ROM patches so perhaps all recent versions have it.
Subject:	Help for autostar 497
Sent:	Wednesday, October 12, 2005 17:26:54
From:	Jeff Henry (jhenry1@acsalaska.net)
I E-mailed you a week or so ago about my Autostar 497 not working. ie.
"Use ETX Autostar with this model" shows on LED, and will not go any
further.

You suggested downloading new firmware...I did, and nothing will work to
connect handbox...keeps telling me no com port..lalalalalalala

I've followed all the directions useing

MEADE AUTOSTAR UPDATING 
Using your computer to maximize your GO TO potential 
by 
P. Clay Sherrod, ASO 

I've followed all directions...I'm so bummed....I can't believe I've
wasted so much money........  :-(

Do you, or anyone you know upgrade the #497 for payment?

I just want my ETX-125 to work!

I would send it to anyone who would fix it for me, and would be willing
to pay for the trouble.

Thank you,
Jeff Henry
Mike here: Perhaps you have a bad #505 cable. Where did you get it? If your computer can't see the Autostar to do the update, perhaps you have a port conflict (typically fax software) or if using a USB-serial adapter, perhaps it is a Belkin one? (There have been problem reports with Belkin models when used with the Autostar Update application.)

And:

I have purchased two #505 cables, Not that.
I have try'd many port configs as described in directions.
Not Belkin adapter, and have try'd both USB and direct serial port.
As you can see, I am just missing something I'm sure.....user error...LOL
I sure would like to have GOTO capability...
I guess I'm gonna end up with just the standard controller,.......
and I wasted alot of money on the Autostar.....
Mike here: Going back a step I see in your email that you were successful in downloading the new firmware to the Autostar but then after that there is no com port found. Is that correct?

And:

No Sir, I setup and downloaded all firmware and updates to both my
Laptop and Desktop computers.
All that went as described.  When I plug everything in power up computer
and than power up scope...
The Autostar gives the Meade [2.0] Autostar 1999 lalalala than goes to
Use ETX Autostar with this model.
It stays at that point...almost like it's "locked up" there.  I try to
connect to the scope useing the Autostar Updater as instructed,..
all I get is can't find Com.  I have troubleshot the Com port settings
as described but it just will not connect.
The Autostar continues to show above messege constently...no changes.....?
Mike here: Well, assuming your cables and connectors and jacks and drivers and Autostar are all good, and assuming that there is no port conflict, lets try one more approach before potentially making things worse. Go to www.stargps.ca and download their software; it will update the Autostar and do it in less time than Meade's software. See if it can connect to the Autostar and update it. If that doesn't work you likely have two choices. SAFE LOAD or call Meade. You might also want to testing the communications to the Autostar (see the article "Testing Autostar Communications" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page). If you do try the SAFE LOAD procedure, it can not be undone; once you start it must complete or your Autostar is dead.
Subject:	ETX/LX Question
Sent:	Monday, October 10, 2005 11:20:05
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
If I wanted to input the sun's data directly into the autostar handbox
for goto use/tracking, How does the decimal point get input? or maybe it
is implied!

regards

Jim Holland
Mike here: Do you mean RA/Dec values via the direct entry MODE selection? If so, just follow the formats on screen.

And:

Nevermind, I see how it works. I guess it helps if you poke around in
the handbox.

Jim

Subject:	#497 ?
Sent:	Saturday, October 8, 2005 09:54:19
From:	Jeff Henry (jhenry1@acsalaska.net)
I've searched your ETX site extensively for an answer to the question
i'm going to ask, and have not found it listed anyway.

But first let me say that you have a "Great" site ! Very informative and
a huge help to many people. I just wanted to thank you for that.

I have a ETX-125 and I just bought a Autostar #497 for it.
 
When I plug it in the red LED reads: 
USE ETX AUTOSTAR WITH THIS MODEL
 
Than it quickly changes to:
(C) 99 MEADE [2.0] AUTOSTAR
 
At this point I can do nothing with it.  It's just continues to show
this last messege.  I have try'd powering off and on, checked batteries,
and all conections are good.  The standard hand controller that came
with the scope works fine.

Do you have any idea what maybe wrong?
Thanks much,
Jeff
Mike here: It sounds like you bought an OLD Autostar #497 since it has such an old Autostar software version. Two things could be occurring; either the Autostar isn't seeing the ETX when it is connected (cable problem) or the ROM is corrupted and needs to be reloaded. I doubt (but don't remember exactly) that the version is too old for the ETX-125. The ETX-125 came out in May 1999 but I don't recall the ROM version that supported it. In any case, I would suggest updating to the current version using the Autostar Update application from Meade's site (or AutostarX if you have a Mac). You will likely have to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode to do so (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN arrow keys and power on the ETX). You will need a #505 serial cable (purchased or you can easily make one yourself). Depending upon your computer you may also need a USB-serial adapter.
Subject:	re: Autostar 3.4Ed?
Sent:	Thursday, October 6, 2005 20:13:42
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I've never met 34d, either... however:

> My other issue which is also Autostar related is that I last
> night as I was going through some objects and while I had
> Mars in the FOV I tried to do a GOTO Orion and Autostar
> informed me it won't raise until 11:41 PM.
> After this no matter what I tried to GOTO it kept telling
> me the same thing. Even a GOTO Mars which was in the FOV
> produced the same messge telling me Orion Nebula won't
> raise until 11:41 PM.

That sounds like the "did not press [enter] before pressing
[goto]" syndrome.
If the target's name is not on the -top- line of the display,
it is not yet truly selected.  Press [enter] before pressing
[goto] and see if your problem stops happening...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: Version 4.0 firmware for 497
Sent:	Thursday, October 6, 2005 17:19:48
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
Hello Bill....
Many folks agree with you on this, among them ME.  The new version has
some major and necessary changes and additions, but to just go off and
find a "bright star" is asking for trouble.

Dr. Clay
--------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H45 (Petit Jean Mountain South)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

----- Original Message ----- 
Dr Clay,

I downloaded it Sunday and tried it out Tuesday--I might go back to 34E
for my new LX-90 LNT UHTC.

I definitely don't like the slewing to an anonymous alignment star. 
Yes, I know about where it is pointing but a real rookie might wonder
when he/she looks in the viewfinder and sees no bright star to center on
as I did.

I read that the update was supposed to make the acquitision of the
alignment stars better in the viewfinder but I really had to search for
them.  Glad I knew what I was looking for.  One of my first steps after
mounting the scope on the tripod is to align the scope and the
viewfinder with a TV tower light several miles away so they're looking
at the same thing.  Then I usually check it when I'm doing the actual
alignment.

I'd use the red dot finder but 1) I broke the screen's little tab when I
was packing up and 2) I'm red-green color blind! LOL

Anyway, my two bits worth.

Bill
Eugene, OR
Mike here: Would be nice if it was user-configurable... Maybe a patch from Dick Seymour?
Subject:	New ASU firmware posted on Meade site
Sent:	Thursday, October 6, 2005 15:04:29
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
Now posted on the Meade updater site:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Autostar Update (ASU) Client Application for Windows, Version 4.3 (1,692
KB). This is the latest Autostar Update. Rev. 4.3 is compatible with the
RCX400 Telescope. This version is compatible with all versions of
AutoStar II, #497 and #494 AutoStar computer controllers. This
installation will automatically update the Update Client Application in
AutoStar SuiteT Software. If you have previously installed the Autostar
Update (ASU) Client Application for Windows, Uninstall the old version
before installing this new version.

Dr. Clay
--------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H45 (Petit Jean Mountain South)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	Autostar 3.4Ed?
Sent:	Wednesday, October 5, 2005 17:26:03
From:	Payam M (payam81@yahoo.com)
As you heard from me I recently got an ETX-90PE but as luck had it,
Woodland Hills Camera had a $75 sale on almost all their ETX scopes past
weekend and since I was whitin 7 days the folks there agreed to upgrade
me to an ETX-105PE.

The Autostar that came with my new scope has a version 3.4Ed which I
cannot find any documentation or even a mention of. I was wondering if
you are familiar with this version and is it newer than 3.4Ec?

I'm thinking of sticking with the 3.4Ed for now and wait to see how
4.0Eb works for others. I specially diliked the fact that it won't show
the name of the alignment stars until after finishing slewing and
pressing "?". The LNT routine does indeed take longer.

My other issue which is also Autostar related is that I last night as I
was going through some objects and while I had Mars in the FOV I tried
to do a GOTO Orion and Autostar informed me it won't raise until 11:41
PM. After this no matter what I tried to GOTO it kept telling me the
same thing. Even a GOTO Mars which was in the FOV produced the same
messge telling me Orion Nebula won't raise until 11:41 PM.

Is this something you are familiar with? I did a reset and all was fine
but of course had to realign. I'm wondering if my Autostar is defective?
It has the new 4.0Eb loaded but it showed a similar behaviour another
night with 3.4Ec loaded so I doubt it's the new firmware.
 
Thanks for your assitance.
Mike here: Hadn't heard of 3.4Ed. Might have made it into the channel and then pulled from distribution? Hard to say. As to rise times, be certain to check the date/time/DST/location settings.

And:

I'm positive about the date/time/DST/location since the Autostar does
indeed finish alignments properly and starts showing me some objects
until the raise time error kicks in but thanks for the advice anyways.
 
Thanks again.
Payam
Mike here: Could be a bug in that version that was pulled...
Subject:	No Site Line to Alignment Star ETX70
Sent:	Tuesday, October 4, 2005 07:12:45
From:	Robert Mata (smata671@yahoo.com)
I have a great deal of obstructions around my viewing site, is there
anyway to pick which stars are used for the alignment on initial power
up?
Mike here: Not on startup but you can choose Two Star Align (instead of Easy) and choose the stars yourself. Just be certain they are at least 90 degrees apart. Alternatively, in Easy Align, you can skip a selected star by pressing the DOWN arrow (not the slew arrow). Keep doing that until you have a star you can see. A third approach is to just accept the selected star as centered. If you put the ETX into a really accurate HOME position then the star should be close.
Subject:	clearing the sun warning signal
Sent:	Monday, October 3, 2005 18:08:58
From:	Kmary92543@aol.com (Kmary92543@aol.com)
I am having difficulty with my telescope - I cannot clear the sun
warning message.  Can you help?  I changed the batteries to see if it
was that.

Did not work.

Thanks,

Kathy
New user
Mike here: Utilities: Display Options

And:
Thank you for the quick response.  Are there any books out there to help
new users like myself?  I am having the greatest difficulties in
aligning this thing up.
 
Thanks,

Kathy
Mike here: There is my Book on the ETX plus there are several tutorials (see the Helpful Information: Tutorials page).

And:

Thank you.  I have had my telescope for 2 years and I have never been
able to align it.  I cannot figure out the "home" setting.  Turn counter
clockwise until it locks - then turn it back clockwise to align the fork
arms.  Question - do you go to the "numbered" wheel in alignment with
the computer control panel; or do you align the unnumbered wheel?

This may seem silly, but I cannot seem to get this thing working.  I
have to say, the manuals are poor.

Thanks,

Kathy
Mike here: There are many alignment tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. Set up the ETX with the control panel on the West side, do the Counterclockwise rotation to the hard stop and then back about 120 degrees to North. This will place the left fork arm over the control panel.
Subject:	Drive training in the Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Saturday, October 1, 2005 04:09:14
From:	Barbara & Tom Andrews (tombps@bigpond.com.au)
Hello Mike, having read Dr Clay's tips for a perfect ETX, I'm wondering
about the importance of training the drive at a considerable alt
setting. Giving the dec motor some work while training makes sense, but
we have no easily identifiable star anywhere near our pole. I also live
in one of the more elevated parts of Sydney, so the best object I have
is a TV tower 4 or 5 miles away, which is about level with my house.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but would it make sense to
train using this TV tower, with the scope atop the 884 tripod, but with
the tripod's polar mounting tipped forward about 40 degrees in the
direction of the target? That way, though the OTA would still be about
parallel to the ground, it will be elevated 40 degrees relative to the
base. Will this provide the extra work suggested for the motors during
training? I don't have any peripheral devices right now, so I'm not
experienced in attaching extra weight to the tube.

Clear skies and naked-eye globular clusters,
Tom
Mike here: Meade has told me that altitude makes no difference to the training. Personally I'm not convinced of that but have done it level and raised. Both worked OK.
Subject:	I need help saving landmarks into my autostar on my meade etx-70 at
Sent:	Friday, September 30, 2005 15:27:44
From:	Zakary Burkley (thesax_machine@yahoo.com)
Hi, i just got my first telescope which is a meade etx 70 at with the
#494 autostar controller.  Every time i try to save more than one
landmark it will only go to the last one i added.  I am wondering how i
am supposed to align and set it up so this won't happen.  Thank you for
getting back to me as soon as you can.
Mike here: Do you mean that you can not ENTER more than one landmark or that only one landmark appears when you scroll through the list of landmarks?

And:
Hi again, I meant that I can't enter more than one landmark.  It will
accept more than one name, but say I type in one name and then I type in
another.  If I want to go to the first one I typed in it will just go
the last I typed in and that one only.  Thanks for getting back to me.
Mike here: Sounds like the memory is full. Have you entered any user objects?

And:
I am pretty sure the memory isn't full.  I have not entered any user
objects either.
Mike here: Try a RESET. You will have to re-enter your site info as well as do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:
I will try that.  Thanks for your time and emailing me back as quickly
as you did.
And an update:
I just tried what you said and it does help a lot.  Thanks.

Subject:	AutoStar Version 40eb
Sent:	Friday, September 30, 2005 15:16:59
From:	John Zimmerman (john@z-family.com)
This version addresses confusion beginners experience when they see the
message "CTR <Star name>".  Apparently some users believe they need to
take some action when the scope is slewing and this message is
displayed.  What Meade has done, for Auto Align only on the PE models,
is suppress the name of the star while slewing.  This is a mixed
blessing.  It does eliminate the confusion a beginner may experience,
but it does leave you in the dark about what star has been selected
until the slew is finished - and then, you have to press the '?' key to
see the star name.  If the star is behind a tree or building, you can
press the down arrow key to have a different star selected, but again,
the star name won't be displayed until the slew is stopped.

This version does seem to have eliminated the occasional activation of
an electric focuser at start up on PE models.  It also seems to have
improved the LNT routine (although it seems to take a little bit
longer), and the scope gets a lot closer to the alignment stars selected
through Auto Align.
 
John Zimmerman

Subject:	Re: New ETX 125 PE User/Autostar Confusion
Sent:	Friday, September 30, 2005 13:34:17
From:	John M. Urbanchuk (jurbanchuk@comcast.net)
Many thanks, this worked!  Meade puts out a great product but the user
manuals could use some work!

JMU

Subject:	DSX125
Sent:	Wednesday, September 28, 2005 11:32:58
From:	SpiritHDMC@aol.com (SpiritHDMC@aol.com)
Also, when using the telescope as a stand alone unit  is there a way to
"tune" up the alignment?   For example, I use the "Easy Alignment" and
center the two stars.  I select from the menu an object and it slews. 
Upon completion, the object is slightly out of the eyepiece but inside
the finder scope.  I center the object in the eyepiece and hold down the
"enter" button to sync.   Does this "fine tune" my alignment or does it
simply relocate this particular object temporarily?  I've used the "High
Precision" option as well.   Does this change the telescopes (AutoStar)
calculations for the remaining slews or just this particular slew?   In
simpler terms  after alignment, then a slew to an object, and then
centering of the object  does the AutoStar say, "Hey, the alignment
wasn't so great so let's change our calculations a little since the
Andromeda Galaxy was a bit off center".  OR  do I need to level the
scope, find North, and do another alignment?  Also, since a computer has
much more resources, is there a program that can "take over" the
AutoStar and perform the calculations better?  Especially for tracking!

Thanks,
Rick Anderson
Jackson, Tennessee
Mike here: The SYNC function tweaks the alignment BUT only for that area of the sky. If you slew a long ways away from that area, the alignment will be worse. And no, a computer can't replace the Autostar.
Subject:	Re: RA movement when locked
Sent:	Wednesday, September 28, 2005 01:34:14
From:	Terry Godfrey (terry.godfrey@materials.ox.ac.uk)
Hello Mike and Dick

Many thanks for the comprehensive reply,  much appreciated.

As a university research worker used to dealing with professional
equipment and considering the Meade ETX 125 is a consumer item, I have
to say I was impressed by the internal workings in my ETX 125 (2003
vintage). From the many reports on the ETX site I had expected to see
much worse inside.

Best regards

Terry Godfrey

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