Last updated: 30 September 2001

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:	Lunar tracking rate
Sent:	Saturday, September 29, 2001 18:33:09
From:	kardrak@hotmail.com (Eduardo Lopez)
Since many months ago i realized my ETX 90 doesn't track good the Moon
(only the Moon) it seems like the telescope run faster than the moon and
cant mantain it on the eyepiece field for more than a half of hour.

I had installed many times the Autostar software and make it the alt and
az calibrations every time i reinstall the software.

When i track some other object like planets or stars theres no any
trouble just the moon tracking velocity!

What can i do to resolve this? any suggestion?

Thanks a lot and go ahead with your great site!

Eduardo Lpez
Mexico City
Mike here: The Moon moves at a different rate than the planets and stars. If memory serves (although it has been a long time since I verified this), selecting the Moon as a GOTO object doesn't change the tracking rate; you'd have to do that in the Setup menus.


Thank you, i will try changing the tracking rate to lunar on the setup menu.

Subject:	etx60 - autostar 494 - iss tracking question
Sent:	Saturday, September 29, 2001 15:49:24
From:	rhci@home.com (rhci)
I searched the FAQs and elsewhere and didn't find an answer to this
specific question/problem.

I downloaded the current ISS orbital data from heavens-above and entered
it into my 494 autostar controller - via the Autostar Update Utility
v3.0 and also by just using the hand controller itself.  I've compared
what the handset says with what the orbital data is supposed to be and
they both jive.  When I put the date/time into the autostar and tell it
to go find the ISS the AOS time is off by about 4 minutes, and the
alt/az are off by 10 degrees or more.  Is there a bug in the 494
software when it comes to calculating satellite data?  Is anybody else
having this problem or am I just missing something obvious that needs to
be done.?   My 494 says it's version 1.0k.



Subject:	re: Polar vs. AltAz
Sent:	Saturday, September 29, 2001 14:18:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	DPHall@norit-americas.com
... or fork flexure...

Something which might contribute to what you're seeing (displacement of
star when spinning RA axis with barrel theoretically parallel to forks)
is play/slop in the two Dec axle supports.  They're merely plastic
sleeve "bearings"... and can have quite a bit of looseness. As your
scope spun (during your testing) the axles on either (or both) sides can
be flopping from one side of a loose bearing to the other. The primary
RA bearing can also be loose (in fact, with the clamp unclamped, -that-
might be the primary source of error... redo your tests with the RA
clamp -tight-, and use the motors to spin).

Part of Clay's tune-up is to wrap those bearings and shafts with teflon
tape to minimize the gaps.. thereby tightening them up quite a bit.  I'd
tend to look there along with suspecting floppy forks.

You could repeat your test with the forks parallel to the ground.. then
you could use a bubble level on them (and the barrel) to see what parts
of the assembly are truly flexing or drooping.

good luck

Subject:	Quick and easy Autostar tracking
Sent:	Saturday, September 29, 2001 12:41:49
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
To:	"From: atozcom"@hotmail.com (Ringo Li)

You can easily start sidereal tracking in either the Alt/Azi or Polar
mode if you a already aligned (manually) on a known object.  After
setting the date and time in Autostar, just select the known object from
the Autostar database and "Enter"  Then perform the "sync" function
(hold "enter" down for more than 2 seconds, then center the object if
not already centered and again press "enter".  It will begin tracking,
with no corrections, of course, so you are hoping that the Kochab clock
alignment is close enough.  For really quick and dirty alignment with
some semblance of tracking you can even skip the Kochab clock alignment
if you have a reasonable guess as to your proper starting home position.

Ells Dutton

Subject:	Start tracking without alignment?
Sent:	Friday, September 28, 2001 10:11:54
From:	atozcom@hotmail.com (Ringo Li)
I can see Polaris in my backyard.

I can easily use "Clay's Kochab Clock": Precise Portable Polar
Alignment" method.  My question is if I already align the scope with
this method, how do I tell AutoStar I don't want any of AutoStar
alignment and tell it to start tracking.  Or do I still go throught one
of the polar alignment methods (easy, one star, two stars)?


Ringo Li
Mike here: See the "Quick "Align" with the Autostar" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Polar vs. AltAz
Sent:	Thursday, September 27, 2001 9:33:36
From:	DPHall@norit-americas.com (Don HALL)
Can you comment on the suitability of the running the ETX-125 in polar
vs. AltAz. I recently bought a JMI megapod so I could get my 125 off of
the back porch and into some better viewing areas AND be able to polar
align for some tries at photography. I always had some "issues" with
alignment having the unit sitting on a picnic table, but chalked this up
to bumping the scope or the table not being level etc. Finally with the
tripod I could get into a position where I could polar align but it was
not to be! Being very careful to follow the polar alignment instructions
to the T, I tried for an easy target and was WAY off. Five or six tries
later I popped it into AltAz, leveled the mount, BOOM in the viewfinder
almost every time. Time to experiment some . With the optical tube
parallel to the forks and the viewfinder east of the unit I loosened the
declination setscrews on the tripod and raised the assembly until
Polaris was centered in the finder scope and the eyepiece. The idea was
that I I am truly polar aligned rotating the tube should keep the star
centered. Survey says XXXX! As the tube rotated through 180  Polaris
departed some distance from vertical crosshair and then as I approached
180  it came back near the bottom (if I remember right) of the field of
view (in the finder scope, not the eyepiece) Multiple attempts to "home"
in on Polaris achieved slightly better results but never keeping it
closer than  " of the finder scope field of view. Back to AltAz  , great
performance. Seems to me that forks are not rigid enough to keep the
tube at a consistent angle as it rotates.  Is this a known problem? Do
users successfully operate in polar and I'm just screwing up? Help!!!


Donald Hall
Systems & Service
NORIT Americas Inc.
Mike here: Well, lets see, there are a few things to comment on. First off, Polaris is NOT at 90 degrees Declination so its position will move as you rotate even a properly Polar aligned telescope. Second, you don't indicate if you have the DEC scale accurately set. But even if you don't, when using the Autostar it wil compensate for HOME position errors (within reason). Next comes the obvious: is the wedge set properly for your latitude or at least close? Is your Autostar set for Polar mode and do you have the proper location entered? What about date/time/DST? One final comment: you said you had the finderscope on the EAST site of tube. The stock finderscope is mounted on the left of the tube and when pointing towards Polaris it should be on the WEST side. Does any of this help? But, to answer your specific question: many users DO use Polar mode quite successfully, especially with the Autostar 2.x versions.


Thanks for the response. I agree re Polaris, and the positions I
described are with the clutch disengaged and the tube free to rotate.  I
was looking to test the structural rigidity of the forks rather than the
AutoSTAR alignment. the theory being that if I aligned the axis to any
star and rotated the tube 180  the star should still be in the field of
view if the forks were rigid. The dec scale is close (as can be given
the markings on it). I did get the terrific Technical Tips sections and
will go through them very carefully. The wedge is set pretty close by
the sight tube on the megapod (after first leveling the base) and then
fine tuned with the finder scope. AutoSTAR is in Polar , although I'm
almost certain that I have not re-trained drives in Polar as indicated
in Part Three of your Performance Enhancement tips, and I have noticed
that it tends to go back to AltAz every night.  How distant does the
elevated object for training need to be? Obviously the farther the
better, but is there a min guideline?? Location and time are entered
from my GPS so it is OK,  Nothing that I've read until your document
last night ever indicated that the motors needed to be trained
separately in AltAz & Polar modes.  I'm betting that the training issue
is the cause for most of my Polar Problems. Weather looks like it should
hold for the weekend.  I'll let you know how I fare.  Thanks again for
your help!
Mike here: No, you don't need to train separately for Polar vs Alt/Az. In fact, you can't. As to the setting changing, it probably isn't; just Alt/Az shows up first in the menu. If you scroll down you should see the ">" by Polar if that was the last selection.

Subject:	Re: Autostar494
Sent:	Tuesday, September 25, 2001 21:17:59
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	exp2@fyi.net
dan walter wrote:

> dick, yes ,i down loaded A2.3....and it has caused me problems.
> where do i get the new up dater???........dan

ah HA!  (sound of Dick breaking arm patting self on back for guessing
 true cause...)

The new Updater is where they all have been: Meade support.
to wit:

and you want the bottomost (dated 09/06/01) link of the group.
It won't be able to update your entire firmware package,
 but it'll certainly work on your database.


Subject:	semantics...
Sent:	Monday, September 24, 2001 8:07:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
re-reading (thru my tears) the "Autostar II won't work on.."
note, i notice you didn't mention the LX90...

so, will the Autostar II work on an LX90?

(defining the boundaries of the "problem"...)

of course, the whole question goes away if one simply states
that the LX200 GPS's brains are in the scope base, vs the paddle.
Mike here: I suspect that it won't work on the LX90. And the word from Meade is that the LXD55 will use the #497 Autostar ROM, updated for this model.

Subject:	Autostar Manual
Sent:	Monday, September 24, 2001 6:42:14
From:	amlobo@indra.es ("Martnez Lobo, Antonio")
First of all, thanks for maintaining this useful site. It was of great
help when I decided to buy an ETX-125 & Autostar, a few months ago.

I am a little bit disappointed with the poor quality of the Autostar
User Manual. I found an improved version in Meade web site, although it
is intended as on line manual. I would like to have a more convenient
document just to print it out (i.e. in PDF format). Do you know if there
is any other source for the Autostar User Manual (i.e. in PDF format) ?

Thanks a lot and regards,

Antonio Martnez Lobo
Madrid, SPAIN
Mike here: Check out the Autostar section of the LX90 manual. Covers the current version. It is at:

Subject:	autostar494
Sent:	Sunday, September 23, 2001 17:30:39
From:	exp2@fyi.net (dan walter)
my star list has disappeared.it was clear today here so i thought i'd
look at the sun [with filter].i usually do a mock 1 star alignment,but
my named stars are gone.i tryed a reset ...no good ,i must have somehow
deleted them,or my 494 is faulty .....can i fix ? or is my autostar
going on an all expense paid vacation to california????dan
Mike here: Do you mean that there were no alignment stars offered up for selection? What were your exact steps?


right, mike when i go to easy ,one or two star... it offers no stars.if
i skip alignment and go to Object:star and hit enter. it says 
Star:Named hit enter.it says Named Star:but it lists
Mike here: Do you see "searching" at the start of the one or two star alignment process?


yes,it says searching.if i hit goto it goes somewhere...then it says
Ctr. but no star name.......dan
Mike here: Contact Meade or your local dealer. If a reset didn't bring it back to life I'd say something is amiss.


thanks,mike ...i called MEADE and they said they will exchange the 494
ain't they great....dan
And this from our resident Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
not stated in any of the messages was whether or not Dan did
anything involving the Updater (A2.3 especially)... since one
of the things A2.3 did was mangle the 494's database (which is
why A2.4 and the New Updater both come with the extra files to
repair it).

So, if Dan updated any satellite/comets/etcs. 'twixt "worked" 
and "broke", i'd point a finger thataway.

For that matter, the New Updater may be able to simply repair
his 494 -during- a User Body update.  If he has a 506 cable, of course.

Otherwise, yes indeedy, call Meade.  (or take the opportunity to
buy a 495/497 from eBay, etc.)


Subject:	Autostar version on LXD55 ??
Sent:	Saturday, September 22, 2001 15:58:28
From:	dwyman@new.rr.com (dwyman)
Does anyone know what Autostar firmware version is on the LXD55's? Will
it be downloadable to the 497? Doing a Great Polaris conversion and it
looks like Autostar will finally support a GEM mount :)

Don Wyman
There is no such thing as gravity, the Earth just sucks.
Mike here: Since the new Autostar II handcontroller won't work on the ETX models I doubt that the software would work on the #497.


I know that's true with the Autostar II on the LX200's but I was hoping
the LXD55 would use the older Autostars.
Mike here: I was thinking it used the Autostar II but you're right, it doesn't. In looking over the materials on Meade's site it does seem to describe the #497 Autostar. I'll check with Meade.


Thanks. It would be very cool to get the Autostar to run a GEM :)

Subject:	Satellite Loads for the #494
Sent:	Thursday, September 20, 2001 17:23:00
From:	neil@wci.ab.ca (N.Armstrong)
Most days when I want to track satellites, I enter in new TLE's. The
Autostar Update 2.4 keeps getting bigger and bigger. How can I delete
the old ones?

Mike here: Use the new 3.0 updater.


It's too cool!!!

Subject:	ETX-90EC 
Sent:	Thursday, September 20, 2001 10:47:53
From:	abobb@neaccess.net (abobb)
yes, first time using this type of scope. i have the table tripod set (3
legs). Wondering how to polar align w/autostar 497, also my view of the
North is obstructed, is there another option for (South , then with

Have many more ?'s, first I'll wait for you answer on previous.

thanks, Andy

please help if you can
Mike here: Many of your likely questions will have answers on the ETX Site. See the Autostar Information page for info on aligning. If you know in what direction where North is approximately is, you can just point the ETX tube in that direction. Once you align the Autostar using a 1 or 2-star alignment, it will compensate for any initial pointing errors. Of course, the closer you get to True North for the Home position, the closer the Autostar will get to the alignment stars.

Subject:	re: Cord Wrap versus ETX125's
Sent:	Wednesday, September 19, 2001 21:27:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	polulach@mixcom.com
Please allow me to agree with Mike:

ETX125 wants Cord Wrap ON  ... not Off.

(Cord Wrap ON means: honor the internal existence of the hard stops).

Please check that you are starting properly:
(a) sit scope on table, power panel pointing west.  Unclamp base clamp.
(b) spoin the scope assembly fully counter-clockwise until it hits
     the stops (the front should now be pointing vaguely  SouthWest), 
(c) and then turn (about 120 degrees) Clockwise until it points North.
That's Home.

I assume you've re-selected your telescope model
 (so it shows ">ETX125" ... note the ">")
If you have the wrong model, you might have the wrong ratio,
and that could cause this, too (although if GoTo is working, other
than hitting the stops, that's unlikely)

Actually: starting from the Home described above,
how far -clockwise- can you twist the scope?
It -should- be able to go all the way around (360 degrees, past
 North again) and continue to a bit past East (so it finally hits
 the stops at vaguely SouthEast).
We -have- had one report of an ETX125 which could *not* twist that
 far... at which point it becomes a true hardware matter, not 
Autostar error.

good luck
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Since this was posted and since receiving Mr. Polulach's scope here to
examine (and also being rightly-corrected by Dick Seymour concerning
that cord wrap issue!), we have found that the telescope in question has
a THIRD STOP!  Yes, there is an intruding piece within the turntable
that should not be there, and thus his scope was not able to rotate
fully to the clockwise azimuth stop.  There was something protruding
(and loose) form the right fork arm internally and we have since shipped
the scope to Meade to replace the defective turntable and "faux stop!"

Clay Sherrod
From:	polulach@mixcom.com (Linda & John Polulach)
In my original email to your site I stated my scope was rotating CW (and
hitting a stop) when it should have been rotating CCW.  Actually, the CW
rotation was proper.  An obstuction in the base, causing a false hard
stop, is the real problem.


Sent:	Wednesday, September 19, 2001 19:34:38
From:	polulach@mixcom.com (Linda & John Polulach)
I downloaded 22Er for my Autostar in July.  Since then I've been having
GOTO problems with my ETX-125...my scope rotates CW (when it SHOULD be
rotating CCW) and the scope hits the stop.  I've noticed that with
version 22Er the Cord Wrap function is "always on", the scroll keys
won't change "on to off". Dr. Sherrod (a true gentleman and great guy!)
told me today that the Cord Wrap function must be turned "off" for the
ETX-125 (Cord Wrap is only for LX-90) and that having Cord Wrap "on" is
probably causing my GOTO problems.

I'm just wondering if anybody else is having similar problems turning
Cord Wrap "off", and clockwise GOTO's (that should be CCW!)that hit the


John, Milwaukee
Mike here: Cord wrap should be ON for all ETX models except the ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT models. I haven't checked but the Autostar could "know" that it should be ON when set for an ETX-125EC. As to rotating the wrong way, check your site location; it may be set for the wrong hemisphere. If you haven't done it after updating to 2.2Er, RETRAIN the drives as well. Let me know what happens.

Subject:	Star lists
Sent:	Tuesday, September 18, 2001 12:14:32
From:	EdHiker@mediaone.net (Ed Johnson)
I just ran across a good Double Star List in Excel, a link buried in the
MAPUG site, at the bottom of
It has 372 entries with SAO numbers and comments. The only problem is
that a sort can't be undone(don't know how).

My abbreviated Excel listing of "9000 brightest stars" remains linked on

The most useful star lists/charts now have these URL's


ps -- my Autostar/DS motor drive is now running an 8" Newtonian on a
very short fork, pictures one of these days.

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Monday, September 17, 2001 16:32:04
From:	mew180@psu.edu (marcus)
Hello Mike, I love the Mighty ETX Site. Its an awesome resource for all
us ETX owners.

I actually had a general question, and I was hoping you could post this
email up on your site for me.

I'm a senior at Penn State in Electrical Engineering and me and a friend
are beginning a voice recognition project which we hope will be able to
interface with the #497 Autostar through the serial port(by way of a
computer). Unfortunately I don't know much about the inner workings of
the Autostar. So I make a general plea to all visitors of your website :
If anyone has any knowledge about exactly how the autostar works(
descriptions, circuit diagrams, spec sheets, software code, etc.) I
would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks a lot!


Marcus Windrich
Mike here: The public info on the Autostar is available on the Autostar Information page on the ETX Site.

Subject:	AutoStar 495 Update
Sent:	Monday, September 17, 2001 2:43:16
From:	mavon@pacbell.net (Mike Vaughan)
I have an Autostar 495 with version 1.3 firmware.  I have the cables set
505 and need the software program to update the unit.  I looked on the
meade Autostar site and found the update to version 2 but did not find
the program to upload the new version to the autostar. It may have come
on a cd with the DS-114 scope but I don't have the CD.  Any ideas on
where I can find the program uploader?
Mike here: The Meade Autostar Update page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) has the complete set of files you need: "09/06/01 Autostar Update Client Application for Windows (3,970,085 bytes)."

Subject:	really?
Sent:	Sunday, September 16, 2001 23:38:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	etx@me.com (Mike Weasner)
you said:

>Mike here: The Autostar II will not work with the ETX and DS models. 

izzat true?  Is it completely different than the "I"?


I'm (well, not quite) devastated... my etx90 NEEDS 125K objects....
Mike here: Tis true!

Subject:	Autostar keypad sensitivity
Sent:	Friday, September 14, 2001 5:30:14
From:	SchafeWe@ch.sibt.com (Schfer Werner)
First of all, my great regret of the event of 11. September.

The keys of my Autostar-handbox were quite unresponsive. I has to press
them long and strongly until they react. I read that a cleaning with
Isopropyl-Alcohol brings an improvement.

My question is: Is there any problem if I open the handbox? What I had
to care of?

Thanks for your answer and greetings from Switzerland.

Werner Schaefer
Mike here: Opening the handbox will void any warranty. Beyond that, if you use caution with any wires, connectors, the circuit board, and the keys, you can open it and clean it according to the instructions. However, you can easily break something which will render the Autostar unusable. Your choice/your risk.

Subject:	Autostar Gets A Big Brother
Sent:	Thursday, September 13, 2001 20:27:13
From:	rlonn@home.com (R.  LONN)
This is the link to the new Autostar II. It goes with the new LX200
(GPS) scope Meade just came out with!! I still have my ETX90, but now I
use it as a finders scope and CCD imager guiding scope on top my new
LX200 10".. Looks like the Autostar will be the new BRAIN for Meade for
some time to come!!

Robert Lonn
Sunny Southern California
Mike here: The Autostar II will not work with the ETX and DS models.


I realize that, but it is at least somewhat informative on how the
Autostar grew up!

Subject:	495 and 3.0 updater
Sent:	Thursday, September 13, 2001 18:02:31
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
I though I would let you know that I used the new updater ver3.0 and
upgraded a 495  autostar ( that belongs to a colleague) from 2.0g (495
version) to the new 2.2Er. It worked fine. You can pass this info on to
let people know that the 2.4 updater is no longer the only way to
convert a 495 to 497.

bob rose

Subject:	GoTo just a little bit off
Sent:	Tuesday, September 11, 2001 6:10:26
From:	jeffac@worldnet.att.net (Jeff Carter)
I finally got my ETX90 to a dark enough area to try to get some deep sky
stuff.  After using easy align I went to view some.  For all of them,
the Autostar guided the scope to a point where I had to move the scope
down roughly a full field of view or more.  Does anyone know why the
objects weren't centered?


Mike here: Well, there could be several reasons for a consistent error like you report: accuracy of the location setting, accuracy of the time setting, currency of the Autostar version, accuracy of the drive training. Recheck all that.

Subject:	Polaris missing from Autostar alignment after update?
Sent:	Monday, September 10, 2001 2:51:03
From:	mike.cutts@bt.com
I noticed that after updating the Autostar software to 22ER Roms that
Polaris has been removed from the star alignment procedure? Was there a
specific reason for this? I was having a fairly successful 2 star
alignment before hand but now I'm finding it difficult to choose 2 stars
manually. I tried Capella and Algol but alas I kept getting a failure
message! Has anyone managed to perhaps patch the roms version so it
contains Polaris again?

Thanks again for your time and effort,

Mike here: Yes, Polaris was removed as an alignment star a few revisions back. Due to its position, it is not recommended as alignment star. For precise alignments, use stars near the celestial equator and about 90 degrees apart.

Thanks again Mike, I still feel its a shame as I found polaris an easy
target for a beginner. It certainly helped align more successfully than
a single star alignment : (

Anyway, I'll let you get back to replying to the no doubt countless

Many thanks for the replies (I know your a busy guy), now I just need to
learn my star charts so I can pick 2 alignment stars.

; )

Subject:	WHY??
Sent:	Saturday, September 8, 2001 2:00:36
From:	arstiden@infonie.fr (Selene)
congratulations for u're website!!

Just one thing, i wonder why Meade doesn't seems to work in order to put
on some Autostar Downloads for the Autostar 494???



Subject:	For Sale -- Autostar-to-PC Cables
Sent:	Friday, September 7, 2001 18:52:11
From:	david@carter.net (David Carter)
Using the excellent information available here on Mike's site, I have
put together a few Autostar-to-PC cables, similar in capability to what
you get with the Meade #505 Cable Set, for a good bit less money.

I've also come up with a novel means of providing external power to the
Autostar for downloading away from your telescope. I'm throwing one in
for free for anyone who purchases my cable.

Please see my website for details.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me.


David Carter

Subject:	re: autostar to ETX protocol
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2001 23:14:25
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	gmyers2@carolina.rr.com
Yes, a number of people have looked into it.

Some have hung real I2C analyzers/devices on it.

No one (to my knowledge) has successfully fully implemented more
than a few (very few) single-byte function/mimics.

Easy ones, like "stop".  

Meade uses a -modified- I2C protocol.. they don't adhere to it at
all rigorously... since -they're- building all peripherals, why 
should they?

I2C uses 9-bit data cells... Meade uses 8.
I2C allows any device to be "master"... Meade has the Autostar
provide all clocking signals... it wins.
The I2C standard specifies which edge of the clock transfers data.
Meade uses both edges ... one some times, the other at other times.

and so on...
have fun analyzing...

Subject:	I2C vs rs232
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2001 23:08:10
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	constons@kaisere.com
> the desired device on the bus communicates.  This could have been
> implemented in a low level driver on the CD or may be in the RS-232 to
> I2C converter circuitry as firmware (assuming a microcontroller
> implementation).

the latter.  The 68hc11 addresses the rs232 lump.
In the same manner it addresses the (say) focuser.
Byte of address, followed by byte of data.
Direction of rs232 tranmission determines if the 494 reads or
writes that data byte.

The 495/497 Autostars do not have the code for doing that,
only the 494/Starfinders do.  (they actually have both the 
"use 68hc11's rs232 UART" routines (which they never call) 
-plus- the special-for-494's "address-rs232 lump" routines
(which they -do- call).

have fun

Subject:	Quick tip for beginners
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2001 22:30:28
From:	jak9@howintheworld.com (Jak Fearon)
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes in the excitement of
having the first clear night in a week, we beginners tend to make little
mistakes! Last night I must have tried for about 45 minutes to get my
ETX-60 to align properly.  I'd run through all the steps, it would say
"alignment successful!", and I'd then test it by entering the moon as
the object to go-to.  Each time, it would say "below horizon", which was
a little disconcerting since the dang thing was right there above me. :)

After turning the scope off and on again, running through each step,
setting the date, setting the time, aligning to the stars... wait, did I
say "setting the time"?  Hmmmmm...

Lesson # 428:  Make sure when you enter the time, you remember that 1:05
AM is a completely different thing than 1:05 PM.  Doh!

Thanks again for the great site,
Jak Fearon
how in the world?
Mike here: I use 24 hour time but even then I've mis-entered something (like 2200 instead of 2300). Having the correct time does make a difference!

Subject:	new Meade Autostar Updater Platform
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2001 15:52:37
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I have been playing around all afternoon with the newest Meade Updater
program for Autostar....it does appear pretty nice and seems to have
some "background" material that may be looming for yet another telescope
application that we are not aware of yet.

There are some very nice advantages to this new updater, but it is NOT
user friendly at first.....do NOT delete the old A2.4 until you are
totally convinced you are adept at using this new version.  Remember
also, that this does NOT carry a new firmware upload for the
Autostar....it has the v2.2eR, just like has been out for some time, no
changes nor modifications.

The software upload required 44 minutes for an LX90 and 35 minutes for
an ETX 125, no counting loading my custom ephemeris package with the
asteroids,comets, and 26 tours.  That is where the tricky part comes
in....but USE the "Help" selection and select that topic for good
step-by-step assistance.

A word to the wise....keep the old one (you can still use it as it is
under a different folder, but BOTH are stored in your program files
under MEADE.

I have had a devil of a time transferring all my tours, comets,
asteroids....very tricky,to say the least, but once there it looks like
it holds the selection in memory and you do NOT have to select them

Also, I notice that if you upload versions you CAN retain ALL your
personal data:

1) training values;
2) locations/sites;
3) personal user info;
4) scope type;
5) motor calibration;
6) time zone (NOT time, nor date however).

This is definitely a step in the right direction.

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	NEW Updater at Meade's site!! (old firmware)
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2001 10:49:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
there is now a new UPDATER...
Completely new (and highly tweakable) screens for adding / moving /
filing / editing User Bodies (asteroids, satellites, comets, etc)
It's a HUGE download (3.9 megabytes).
It includes a totally new format of .ROM file for the Autostar firmware
itself (build.rom, which goes into the Ephemerides folder).
The firmware supplied with this release is v22eR, bit-for-bit the same
as the v22eR you've already loaded.

You do -not- have to update your firmware in order to use the Body
edit/move features of this new Updater.
It's pretty nice...
The updater itself is packaged as
..which is a self-extracting/installing package.
It also does NOT replace/destroy the current Updater (and files) on your
system... it goes into a new folder-tree (ASU instead of Autostar), so
you can move your old data over at your own pace. You can separately
uninstall your old updater at your leisure.
have fun

(it's going to take me a while to figure out how to wedge my patches
into the new form...)

Subject:	question and post
Sent:	Tuesday, September 4, 2001 17:48:20
From:	gmyers2@carolina.rr.com (Gary Myers)
Could you put this where you think appropriate on your site (question
and answer list that is technical in nature)?

497 comms link info.... Anyone out there broken down the link protocol
from the 497 to an ETX? I started to look at it today - so far have
noted that there are indeed a separate clock and data for each axis
(originally assumed this was shared with an address select in the serial
data). clock rate is 190us per bit. Appears that the clock line is held
high normally - then after the data from the 497 is send (request for
data I assume) the clock line goes low for a period and then repeats. i
do not currently have an I2C compatible system - wonder if anyone out
there has a ZWorld RabbitCore or something similar to decode the serial
data. If you have done so or if you have an I2C that you can set the
clock rate as indicated drop me a line. I am thinking about getting a
core to check this out.

tnxs,   g.


Subject:	Some alignment tips for the ETX125
Sent:	Monday, September 3, 2001 12:03:09
From:	Neil.Buckley@exodus.net (Neil Buckley (London))
Firstly, thx for putting up this site! I bought an ETX 125 a couple of
months ago and had a lot of problems setting it up, especially the
alignment. Your site was the only place I could find useful information
from people who have actually encountered the same problems as me.

I thought I would add a couple of tips I have picked up that do help
with alignment problems.

1. Make sure that your DEC scale is accurate. The vertical hardstop is a
little wobbly and because of this I correctly used the DEC scale set to
0 degrees. Imagine my surprise when I found that this scale was out by
22 degrees! I leveled it with a spirit level and this has helped

2. When you get the desired object in the field of view, re-sync the
autostar. I have found that this improves the accuracy as well.

3. If you havn't got one, buy a fine lattitude adjuster! The scale on my
wedge is so vague!

I now get the scope to slew in to object well inside the finderscope,
which is not too bad considering I am not using any accurate polar
alignment techniques.

Best Regards


Subject:	Is my Autostar a gonner?
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2001 08:14:09
From:	dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca
I think my Autostar for my ETX 90 is ruined, but I hope you'll tell me
I'm wrong. I'm using the most recent Autostar update software in my
computer and was trying to update the info in the handset ... but
somehow the process got interupted. Now when I turn on the scope, the
handset read-out is blank (but I know there's power getting through
because the red lights for the buttons and arrows are on). When I run
the update program in the computer I now get a message saying the
computer doesnt  have a port plugged into the handset ... but it in fact

(Ive updated in the past so I know all the settings etc are as they
usually were.)

It sounds to me like there has to be some version of  the autostar
program in the handset before the computer will recognize it and then
update it ... and it wont recognize the handset if theres nothing --- or
a fried program -- in it.

Does this sound to you like the handset is ruined? I would have thought
even if the info in it was erased, you'd be able to reload it, the same
way if youd erased Windows 98 from your computer it doesnt make the
computer useless ... you can simply reload it.

Many thanks
Mike here: See the "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" article on the Autostar Information page. If the Autostar is not totally fried, you may be able to restore it to normal operation using the SAFE LOAD procedure.


Ok thanks Mike. I'll give it a try.
And good news:
Mike ... your solution worked ... so many thanks ... yet again.

You should publish a little pamphlet on how to use the Autostar program.
The instructions are hopeless and the program itself is hardly intutive.
For instance if you update via the website there are several tours
available ... but I'll be darned if I can figure out how to get them
into the handset. Another example, the update program tells me there are
five tours already in my handset ... but in fact there are only three.
It was in trying to download new data bases into the handset when I
fried it ... or almost fried it. So now Im spooked and will just leave
it un-updated  from now on.

Coping with Autostar Update seems to be the one thing that utterly
baffles everyone. I'm not kidding about your doing a little booklet on
this. You could sell it for say five dollars or so and they'd go like
hotcakes ... and I'd be at the head of the line.

Its a long weekend up here in Canada ... and I think in the States also
... so hope you're enjoying the end of summer and not spending all your
time dealing with the problems of the likes of me.

Dan  Bjarnason
Mike here: I've been on vacation since mid-August and yes, still answering all the email! I'll finally get back to work, yet still answering all the email, the middle of next week. As to the Autostar handbook, interesting idea. It would certainly decrease my email volume!

Subject:	re: she's dead, Jim...
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2001 02:09:07
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	nitschke6696@yahoo.com
the clicking leads me to suspect a number of things:

(1) verify that the main HBX cable between telescope and Autostar
  is *really* good.... they -do- fatigue, and individual pins have
  been known to "uncrimp"... wiggle both ends, push the cable into
  the connector, check with ohmmeter, etc.

(2) peer into the connector holes... check that each little gold
 wire is going straight across the space into its own slot.
 I have heard of, and seen, some of those little wires "hopping" 
  to the next slot, and shorting/jamming when the connector is plugged

(3) as mike suggested: try the "deault hand controller" instead of the
  scope base is doing bad things (like mine did).

(4) Clicking?  Which end?  The telescope or the Autostar?

(5) open and inspect:  remove batteries, and remove three ruibber
   feet.  Unscrew screws hidden under them.  Carefully- remove
   base cover (short, thin wires to battery compartment!! TAKE CARE!!)
   Inspect interior cables and connectors for unpluggedness and
   getting cut... my metal RA clamp cut through the wires passing
   over it... definite fried and gone to (Meade) heaven...
  Those cuts were not -visible- but could be felt by runnng fingers
  gently along their length.

(6) return to meade.

good luck

Subject:	re: Upgrading Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2001 01:59:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	peterrossi@lucent.com
or: Dick's always-wrong guide to updating.

> Will upgrading wipe out my site data and User Bodies?
Site data? Maybe, probably... it'll try  (see below)
Satellites/comets/asteroids?  Not unless you let it.

I agree with Mike: don't upgrade unless you hear of a feature
 you -have- to have...
learn how to save/add/replace those favorite bodies yourself.

Sites (and Training):
When you replace the -firmware- (programming) in the Autostar,
 the new version stands an even-to-good chance of -moving- where
 it keeps that site data.  Hence the old stuff is in the wrong place,
 and whatever bits are in the new place will be incorrect.
(Garbage In yields whacko Autostar)
That's why a full upgrade automatically kicks the telescope into
 a site-forgetting Full Reset.

BUT: when you Update with the Updater, it'll ASK you if you want to
 save the existing User Bodies (that's the satellites/asteroids/comets)
  ... if you say "yes", it'll tuck them away during the update,
  and restore them afterwards.

BUT: Meade's (vaguely) human: they make changes and errors in their
 mission (and execution) of the Updater... the current version does
 not save TOURS. You must independently load the Updater with the
 Tours you want retained, so that they'll survive the update, too.

The above statements may all become invalid whenever Meade releases
a new updater version, and the "tour" paragraph is new with Updater A2.4.
We might nudge Clay to provide a floppy with each SuperCharge, bearing
the full set of libraries he loads into your scope.  Then it'd be
far easier to recreate that portion of it.  (copy files to Ephem 
 folder, update).

good luck

Subject:	re:  ETX90EC encoder problem
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2001 01:48:04
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	colin.mckenzie@interlogixinc.com
Ahh... THANK you for reminding me how to reach the raw encoders!
(that feature has been removed from the current v22 firmware)

The roll-over of the encoder value -is- properly handled in
all firmwares greater than 1.2 (at least, it's never bitten me,
i can see it in the code, and i saw it roll-over, too).

The encoder is reset to 00000 evry power-off.  So where you start
(nechanically) is where it starts, too.

> 1) Do you or your readers know how to display the encoder information
>  in the latest software
I believe i could create a patch.. i've done it to display the 
Training results, but have not bothered with the raw encoders.
The encoders are a fairly direct conversion to the Alt/Az display
 under the hold-mode status screens, so i haven't bothered.

You "Scope moves 90 degrees for 60 displayed" is a typical symptom
 of grease getting into the encoder vanes... so that the LED/sensors
 do not fully register some of the 36 vanes going by.  
Open your ETX90 base and inspect the vanes (it looks like a funny
 gear on the motor shaft itself).  A misplaced LEd/sensor (not 
centered over the vanes) could also miss things.

> 2) Is their an alignment procedure for making sure the encoders do
> not pass through 0 in normal use ( I think this confuses the scope)
it really does NOT matter... the full range of the telescope movement
far exceeds the 24-bit limit of the encoder counters.  The autostar
handles roll-over very well.
If you think of the "Ratio" value as encoder-ticks-per-arcsecond,
(or is it arcminutes?) you're pretty close.

> 3) What is the normal range of gear ratio's  for Az and Alt
For the ETX90, it's always 1.368889  for both axes.
Other models range from below 1 (0.9 for one) to as much as 2.5
(both plus and minus for the LX90).
Steve Bedair has gotten up to 88 for some of his custom creations.

good luck

Subject:	re: Autostar Accuracy-Light Pollution
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2001 01:29:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Soularo@aol.com
"Doc, it hurts when i do this"
... then, don't do it.

May i humbly suggest a two-star alignment?  Or Easy?

Both of those do a good job (in Alt/Az mode) of correcting for
North misalignment.

A one-star alignment **GREATLY** depends upon **your** physical
setup to be **accurate**.  IF you;'re off by a degree, then targets
will be off by at least that much, and it may propagate worse.

And a degree is a full eyepiece width.

Even a Polar Onestar (a misnomer...since first it points at Polaris)
is only as good as the Latitude setting of your tripod, and the
 correct dead-parallel-to-the-forks, and forks-equidistant-from-ground
initial mechanical setup.

If you're in Polar, try a Polar two-star... that can correct for a
 couple of degrees of RA-axis misalignment.

good luck

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Copyright ©2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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