Last updated: 30 September 2003
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	ETX-90EC
Sent:	Monday, September 29, 2003 22:07:10
From: (Chris)
I just got the ETX90 with an AutoStar 497 software version 30e.  I
followed all the tech tips on the site and read just about every archive
to see if anyone else had this problem. After training the gears for
about 45 minutes (they have a TON of slop in them!!), tried to set the
scope up.  After 3 hours the scope fails to align.  I tried Easy, 2
stars etc.  It did align with 1 star, but failed miserably on the
tracking to any other object.  I set it up for magnetic North, True
North, I even let the scope slew to what it thought was the position of
the star and re-aligned it from there, but no go.  Needless to say, my
personal opinion is that I wasted $600 for a scope that is garbage.  My
$200 114GT aligns in less than 2 minutes and my 11 year old daughter can
set it up.  Meade has lost all my faith and my business, any options
that you might have would be great, and hopefully you have seen this
before and can help!
Mike here: Describe each of the steps that you did. Usually there is something that new users have missed when there are problems. Did you CALIBRATE, TRAIN (BOTH) DRIVES, set the proper telescope model and mounting mode, location, date (including year), Daylight Savings, etc?
Subject:	RE: New 125 and Autostar trouble
Sent:	Sunday, September 28, 2003 11:47:55
From: (Calley Wilkinson)
To: (Richard Seymour)
Hi Richard.

Sorry for the delay in continuity,but as you may remember I had heavy
family & work commitments last week. I have just completed the
Motor/Encoder testing which you suggested in the 6th Paragraph of your
e-mail, with the following results :-

1st. 360 degree Az check - reading after physical 360 degree
clockwise......167 degrees 20 mins 13 secs.'Sigh'

switch off. Power up
2nd. 360 degree Az
check.....................................................42 degrees 12
mins. 19 secs.'Bigger Sigh'

switch off. Power up.
3rd. 360
....................................................................7 d  30
m  20 s 'Oh S..t'

4th  360
....................................................................4 d  20
m  19 s 'Collapse'

1st. Alt. 90 degree check. using spirit level for horiz. & vert. reading
 89 degrees  49 minutes  10 secs. OK!!!!!

I presume from those results that the Az. motor/encoder system has a
problem. As the scope is new, i will contact my supplier
tomorrow.(current time UK is 19.35 hours)However, If at all possible I
would appreciate your comments to the results prior to my contacting

Many,Many thanks as I would have searched and tried,thinking the fault
was mine as a newcomer to computer controlled scopes.

Very best regards Calley Wilkinson


From: (Richard Seymour)
> Sorry for the delay in continuity,but as you may remember I had heavy
> family & work commitments last week.

No problem... and i'm glad that you got (even if) bad results.

Since they're pretty much random, that indicates major slippage
or... hmm... you didn't specify: did the -reading- only increment
to 167 / 42 / 7 /4 degrees, or did it -overshoot- past 360 that amount?

I'm -assuming- massive overshoot, which means mechanical slippage
inside the base... either a gear on a shaft, or the central RA clamp
is slipping (with it it "clamped", how much resistance do you feel
if you try to twist the forks with respect to the base? The same motion
you would use to locate the hard stops.
(a) very little: you might be able to simply tighen the central clamp
(b) moderate, but can be forced to slip  <- proper answer
(c) locked solid. <-- too tight, back off the swing arm.

If it's (a), how far is the clamp arm swinging? If it's all the way
to the clockwise end, then you need to use a hex-wrench (i think one
comes with the scope) on that handle's retaining screw, lift the
handle straight up (when "clamped"), rotate it anti-clockwise in mid-air
60 degrees, and then drop it back onto the exposed bolt-head.
Tighted setscrew.  Retry clamping and twisting.

If the clamp isn't guilty, the only other thing to check would
be looking for grease on the encoder disk itself.
Which requires opening the bottom of the telescope.
Not a great idea if instant dealer replacement is an option.
Otherwise, the securing screws are hiding under the rubber feet,
remove the batteries before proceeding.  Careful of the wires.

> I presume from those results that the Az. motor/encoder system has a
> problem. As the scope is new, i will contact my supplier tomorrow.(current
> time UK is 19.35 hours)However, If at all possible I would appreciate your
> comments to the results prior to my contacting them.

Except for the clamping and grease mentioned above, and assuming you have
done a Setup > Telescope > Calibrate  (failure to do so can also create
whacky results), dealer replacement is the best option.

> Many,Many thanks as I would have searched and tried,thinking the fault was
> mine as a newcomer to computer controlled scopes.
It is frequently difficult to find out which side of the Autostar
is messing up, but it's certainly not ALWAYS the observer.
good luck
And more:
Thanks for quick reply. The reading only incremented to the figures, no
overshoot- the minute & seconds display was going like hell, but the
degree display was only advancing slowly, the slewing motor sound was
not a constant whirr, but had a slightly varying sound level at
different parts of its 360 degree rotation ( power was from a fully
charged astro-power station battery unit. The clamp seems to work well,
clamping at approx. 40% of quadrant travel, with some degree of slippage
when under hand pressure. I will talk to the supplier ( they have been,
& seem very helpful- even to the point of personally delivering by hand
130 miles to get it to me before my 60th birthday as the shipment was
late ).I will keep you informed. 

Regards Calley Wilkinson
THAT is truly strange... did the minutes roll over more than four
times during the 4 degree test?
It -is- possible that the Autostar has a bit of bad memory
(or an extremely warped idea of Rations... check
Setup > Telescope > RA Ratio [enter]
and compare with DEC RAtio.
They should be equal (around 1.36 if memory serves)

good luck
And this:
The minutes must have rolled over more than four times, they were going
so fast(speed 9 slewing)as I would have expected.

Both The RA & DEC ratios are 1.3887. I do have a spare Autostar that the
supplier sent me but I did not want to introduce another factor into the
equation until I had some lead as to a possible problem. I did not want
to chase too many hares at once.

regards Calley Wilkinson
I would certainly plug in the second Autostar...
your number of hares may instantly reduce to one dead rabbit.
A 90 degree swing in AZ would instantly reveal the truth.
good luck
And more:
Re-check this morning. No the minute figure did not roll over more than
four times when it showed 4 degrees again this morning. Connected new
Autostar,ETX 125,1900mm,calibrated,Az/Alt, trained both drives. Motor
/encoder check in Az. 1st reading for 360 was 179 degrees, 2nd reading
was 139 degrees. I am speaking to the supplier this morning, I will let
you know outcome.
	Very Kind Regards Calley Wilkinson

Subject:	Autostar works in guided tour but not in go to mode
Sent:	Friday, September 26, 2003 06:21:37
From: (anirudh mukkavilli)
I purchased a ETX 70 AT some four weeks ago, mainly because I was after
he goto capability

I am able to do a two star align and then the guided tour feature works
fine though some of the objects are probably a bit ambitious

However when I switch to goto mode and try "go to " -even to an object
that I visited in the guided tour, the slew speed drops to the minimium
and the scope beeps at me without even slewing and in effect does not
work at all

otherwise the two motors seem to work well and track fine; if  dont use
go to I can move the scope around freely and as I said the guided
tour-tonigt's best works fine

help !!

I bought tyhe scope from a camera dealer so I cant expect much help
there and I dont know anyone who has an ETX and I can ask

Thanks very much

Mike here: Are you saying that when you power up, do the 2 star alignment, and then select an object to GOTO, the telescope does not move to that object?
Subject:	ETX sync and LX200 sync
Sent:	Friday, September 26, 2003 01:59:21
From: (christopher shaw)
In the ETX, if an object is not centered in the eyepiece, the user
simply presses ENTER for 2 seconds, waits for the beep and then centers
the object using arrow keys and after that he presses ENTER again. This
is called sync.

Does the LX200 have a similar way to sync an object that is not
centralised in the eyepiece? According to the manual, it just says use
the arrow button to center the object and the scope automatically tracks
it. Does it mean that Meade did away with the sync function for the

Mike here: Do you mean the LX200 GPS with the Autostar II or the original LX200 (which didn't use the Autostar)? In either case, I don't know the answer since I don't have the LX200 or LX200 GPS. But our resident Autostar expert Dick Seymour he has a LX200 GPS w/Autostar II. Here's his response:

From: (Richard Seymour)
The LX200gps has SYNC, just like the ETX.   
Same method: hold [enter] 3 seconds, release, center, tap [enter].

The serial command set of the Classic LX200 also allows for SYNC,
but i do not know the keypad-method of invoking it {if there is one}.

Christopher: what flavor of telescope are you asking about, GPS or Classic?

have fun
> The full flavour is the Meade 7" f/15 LX200 GPS-SMT Maksutov (with UHTC)
> with Autostar II. you have it yet, or are you merely studying the manual?
> I was searching for the 'SYNC' command in the LX200 GPS manual but for the
> life of me, could not find it. Is it in the manual at all???

SYNC is one of the hardest things to find in all of the manuals
(pop quiz: where is it in the ETX manual?)

There have been at least two editions of the LX200gps manual,
in one of them (copyright 2002) SYNC is mentioned in/at:
(a) a sidebar box on page 29  (in a backwards way)
(b) Appendix E, the Moon Menu,  step 7

If i remember correctly, i first learned about SYNC from a small
mention in one corner of a figure in my original 497 Autostar's 
pamphlet (too dinky to be called a "manual")
In later editions of that figure in later ETX and LX90 manuals,
the corner sub-figure is no longer there.

have fun
Thanks mike and dick


Subject:	Satellite autostart fix
Sent:	Thursday, September 25, 2003 17:43:01
From: (ed brentnall)
Satellite autostart fix where the scope starts instead of waiting for
fix. I heard about it but don't know where to download. Can you help

Ed Brentnall 
Mike here: See the Patches section on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	RE: Autostar 497
Sent:	Thursday, September 25, 2003 06:58:07
From: (Kevin Colfer)
Erm, ignore what I said about pressing "?" a second time in order to use
the arrow keys.  The problem was, I failed to press "9" before
using the arrow keys, so the telescope moved so slow I hardly noticed
it.  Only when you have pressed "9" does it move fast enough for
users to centre stars.

Sorry for the misinformation

Mike here: I usually use 4 or 5 for slewing around.
Subject:	Autostar menu option?
Sent:	Wednesday, September 24, 2003 16:59:45
I know I just sent you an e-mail about the  the eyepieces,but  I had  a
question about the Autostar( trying to follow the E-mail Etiquette) On
my 125 if I go to Utilities on the Autostar menu and hit enter for the
options. There is one called "CORD WRAP" and you can turn if OFF and ON.
Any clue on whats it for,manual doesn't say. I just left it at what was
selected (ON), but was curious on its purpose.

Mike here: Thanks! (email etiquette - it does help!)
CORD WRAP is used for models that don't have hard stops but that need to be concerned about wrapping the cord up as the telescope is rotated horizontally. The ETX-90, -105, and -125 have hard stops so the setting doesn't matter. The ETX-70 does not have hard stops and doesn't have a cord wrap problem but the setting can be turned on to act like it does.
Subject:	Learning
Sent:	Wednesday, September 24, 2003 12:31:42
From: (Dion Cini)
Let me just say I jumped right into the hobby and bought a Meade ETX 125
EC with all the trimmings.

I just do not understand the definition of Polar aligned and howto easy
align it. When I use the easy align it tells me to rotate till stop then
line up within 180 which basically brings everything altogether. No
prob. Then it tells me to point the tube to 90 degrees. Well when I am
done this no problem.  But the viewfinder is upside down pointing at
Polaris. Is this correct? I am so frustrated with this alignment thing.


Mike here: You are misreading something. See the alignment tips articles on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	AutoStar 30E
Sent:	Wednesday, September 24, 2003 12:18:00
From: (Don Sutherland)
Meade has released AutoStar software version 30E. Does anyone know what
changes have been made from version 26 Ed, other than the flashing
display on power up?
Don Sutherland
Mike here: See Dick Seymour's comment further down this page.
Subject:	Fwd: Fw: Motor Unit Fault when tracking Caldwell Obje
Sent:	Tuesday, September 23, 2003 16:49:05
From: (tezsl)
Following your suggestion I have contacted Meade and had this response
back. The update is now on their site and having loaded it, it seems to
have done the trick,

Spread the word to anyone else who is having the same issues.



----- Original Message ----- 
To: 'Terry' 
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 6:07 PM
Subject: RE: Motor Unit Fault when tracking Caldwell Objects

I am sorry about your difficulties.  I think we have located the problem
and can fix it in a new release of Autostar firmware.  Please monitor
our website and in the next few days we will release version 3.0Eb which
should correct your problem.  The problem arises from selection of
objects which have a very slow altitude or azimuth speed (due to the
location of the object in the sky).  If your scope is very firm the
higher current needed by the motor coupled with the slow rate of
rotation makes the software think you are stalled.

Thank you for the feedback.

Regards, Meade Engineering

Subject:	ETX update autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, September 23, 2003 07:26:07
From: (Job Geheniau)
In case you didn't know:

	Autostar model #497 version 30Eb (447 KB) is available. To get
this new version, use either the 30Eb link to download and unzip the
file to the Ephemerides directory of the Autostar Update (ASU)
installation directory; or use ASU and press "Upgrade Autostar Software
Now" and ASU will download and upgrade the handbox. If you don't already
have ASU use the link on this page to download and install it on your PC

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands

Subject:	Mistake
Sent:	Tuesday, September 23, 2003 05:46:18
From: (Ed Brentnall)
Long time reader. Sometime user of the ETX. Question I find around the
web sketchy details of an October release by Meade of some software and
I think hardware that would control the scope from a computer directly
(not through the Autostar), control a CCD (web cam type but more) and be
a picture processing program and also the program would be like TheSky.
see at
Edward Brentnall 
Mike here: Yes, but it works with the Autostar, not instead of.
Subject:	Autostar 494 with ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, September 22, 2003 22:10:58
From: (John Sakamoto)
Will a Autostar 494 work with a ETX 125? I have a 494 from my ETX 70 and
will be upgrading to the ETX 125.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Mike here: No:
Subject:	new firmware at Meade's site: v3.0Eb
Sent:	Monday, September 22, 2003 17:35:09
From: (Richard Seymour)
Meade has posted new Autostar 497 firmware at their site.

Version 3.0Eb


(i assume it will take a week to generate a patch kit)

From the file's readme.txt:
New features for 30Eb:
Added serial commands to work with AutoStar Suite.
Improved Motor Fault checking.
Allowed higher elevation stars in Easy Polar alignment.
Fixed some data base errors.

have fun

Subject:	Motors moving past hard stop on ETX90EC
Sent:	Monday, September 22, 2003 03:11:00
From: (Michael John Holme)
I read on your site in a post by someone that you need to reset the
autostar if you let the motors run up against a hard stop of around
10-12 seconds. Is this true and do you know why ? I let that happen but
I don't want to do a reset because I also read that I would lose some
data out of the Autostar.

Thanks very much,
Mike here: I typically don't RESET if I hit a hard stop (due to not setting up in the proper HOME position). But if the Autostar acts funny after that then a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES could be required. Doing a RESET doesn't wipe all data; it just restores the Autostar to the "factory default".


Thanks Mike, BTW this isn't the first advice you've given me, I'm just
mailing from a different account, so thanks AGAIN !

Do you need to train the drives when the first get the unit out of the
box or is it set up before shipping ? I've trained my drives but have
read details on your web pages that lead me to think I could do it

Best regards,
Mike here: Only the ETX-60 and 70 are TRAINed before shipping. Telescopes with the #497 Autostar need to be trained on first use.
Subject:	I have a few questions in regards to the autostar
Sent:	Sunday, September 21, 2003 22:20:58
From: (Jason Stromback)
I was wondering, if the Autostar #494 is upgradeable?  I've seen that
some of the controllers are upgradeable, and I was wondering if this is
one of them.  Also, when you do an upgrade on the controllers, does it
upgrade the firmware or does it add more items to your object base? 
Also, I was wondering if I had an ETX-125EC, is that compatible with the
different autostars?  IE #494, #495, #497 and any other one I may have

Jason S.
Mike here: No, it is not (currently, anyway). Upgrades to the #497 (and #495) have added new features and objects. Doesn't happen with every update though; sometimes just minor bug fixes. See the Autostar Models article on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Meade ETX70AT w/Autostar #494 - Language Problem?
Sent:	Sunday, September 21, 2003 18:03:17
From: (Marian & Mark Lukens)
I recently purchased a Meade ETX70AT Telescope with the Autostar #494 at
my local camera shop.  I followed the setup directions to the letter. 
When I turned on the autostar for the first time, the Meade name came up
first followed next by what Im assuming to be the sun warning.  But the
problem is, I cannot read the sun warning as it is in some gibberish
(Arabic or Japanese?), which Im assuming is another language.  How do I
get this to English?  I followed the reset instructions in the manual
and it does not seem to work.  Has anyone ever had this problem?  I did
look on your website which has a bevy of information but I could not
seem to locate anything.  Do I have a defective unit?

My email address is

Any suggestions?

Thank you,

Mike here: See the FAQ page; if that doesn't help you should return it to the dealer for an exchange.
Subject:	Motor Unit Faults when viewing Caldwell objects
Sent:	Sunday, September 21, 2003 08:58:09
From: (tezsl)
I'm after some help from anyone that can offer any suggestions as to how
to resolve this problem.

The Problem,
I have an ETX 125 with autostar (now 1 wk old) that every time I try and
view Caldwell 14, 12 and others the scope tracks for about 1 to 10 mins
then returns the "Motor Unit fault".

I have discused this with the retailer who asked me to re-calibrate the
motors, check batteries (running from a 12v Lead Acid power pack) and
see if this helped.....It did'nt!

So, they agreed to exchange with no problem.  However, the replacement
scope and autostar show exactly the same fault when viewing Caldwell
objects. After much web surfing trying to find any reference to this
problem I came up with nowt.

My Autostar was running Ver 26Ec of the software, which I have now
upgraded to the lastest ver 26Ed. But the problem is still there.

A friend of mine that bought an ETX 105 last week. So I've got him to
try tracking Caldwell 14 (I chose this one as this was the first object
that I saw the error) and 30 sec's later "Motor Unit Fault".

Maybe if you have an Autostar controlled scope you might like to try
tracking Caldwell 14.

I would be most grateful if someone could offer some suggestions as to
how to resolve this issue. As my next option would seem to get a refund
and buy another manufacturers product with my confidence in Meade

Thanks in advance

Mike here: Sounds like a potential software bug; report it to However, did you do the counterclockwise rotation to the first hardstop when setting up in the Home Position? If not, you could be running into a hardstop.
Subject:	Autostar language change?
Sent:	Sunday, September 21, 2003 08:40:10
From: (Martin Green)
Just wondering if its possible and how to change the language of my #494
Autostar for my etx70 as it is in German at the moment and i would like
to change it to English

Mike here: See the FAQ page - however you may not be able to change it.
Subject:	Front end rubberbanding
Sent:	Saturday, September 20, 2003 06:25:58
Maybe you have run across this in your posts.

I have an ETX125EC with GOTO capability. I also own an LX90.

Regarding the ETX: Recently I have found, when centering an object
during alignment, I can hear the RA motor turning for about a good
second before the scope actually moves. This often results in the scope
overshooting the object I'm trying to center. I find myself trying to
anticipate the RA motors "winding up" so as not to overshoot the
intended target. On occasion this has resulted in a failed alignment
because I have had to move the scope left and right to finally get the
object in position. Can you suggest a fix? I am not adverse to opening
the scope's drives as I am  familiar with the workings and mechanically

Thanks for any help you can provide.


PS: I recently sent the scope back to Meade for an unrelated problem
with the internal batteries. They would not power the scope leaving me
no option but to use an external power supply. That has since been
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes)? That usually cures this type of problem? If you are switching the Autostar between the ETX-125 and LX90 then you must do that.


Thanks for the reply.

Each telescope [LX90 and ETX]has it's own Autostar and each is set up
for it's respective scope.

Yes, I've done both training and calibrating several times to no avail.

I think this is somehow a mechanical thing. It's almost as if a clutch
were slipping or the motor is turning but not the worm gear... until it
finally grabs.[I know that sounds just like a case for training] As I
mentioned, the rubberbanding occurs when you are trying to center  an
object, as in an initial star alignment. You can hear the motor engaging
but the scope's not moving. Then after about a second the scope moves
but it overshoots the object. If you compensate for the anticipated
movement, you can center the object fine and it eventually tracks fine.
You can get good two-star alignments and spot-on goto's 9 out of 10

I'm not sure whether I am describing the problem adequately but I know
what the standard rubber banding is like. This is different.

This is something that's come up after a long [6 months] period of

Thanks for your input,
Mike here: Ah ha, the magic comment: "long [6 months] period of non-use". You probably need to redistribute the grease. Unlock the axes and move the telescope from hard stop to hard stop several times, back and forth, in both axes. That should redistribute the grease and loosen things up.


Thanks, I'll give that a try.

It seems to make sense. I was even toying with the idea of removing all
the old grease and applying new because I thought the scope sounded
louder than it did in the past. I'll give that a try and let you know.

Thanks for your help

And more:
I should have perused your website before bothering you:

"if your clutches are slipping, then the telescope electronic functions
CANNOT WORK. It is as simple as that. If you can fix them (usually all
it takes is being brave enough to "get in there" and then simply
DEGREASING all the surfaces that should be dry and clean to "grab" the
gears for slewing. You will find that EVERY ETX has way too much
lubricants in both axes, and if the lubricant has seeped between the
drive gear and the clutch plates (which it will), then your GO TO is
useless. "

I opened the scope after your last post to me but before I went over
your website with a fine-toothed comb and sure enuf, I found
considerable grease on the RA Drive motor and gears. I also noticed that
if I engaged the RA clutch and held the OTA then moved the base to and
fro, there was the exact same play in the base as I was experiencing in
what I call "front-end rubberbanding. What you call "slop".

The ETX/EC tune-up website seems to be on top of it.
I'm going to try the suggestions there.

Thanks again,
Mike here: Personally I don't recommend degreasing unless proven to be absolutely necessary.
Subject:	re:  New 125 and Autostar trouble
Sent:	Thursday, September 18, 2003 21:48:44
From: (Richard Seymour)
Oh, where to start?

First, i must assume that you are in the proper physical positon
for an Alt/Az setup: telescope base flat upon a table, barrel
pointed due true North (not magnetic) and level, so that the 
viewfinder is pointed at the northern horizon.

Power up, enter date, time, etc.

When it slews to an alignment star, you can choose a -different-
star by tapping the scroll down key (lower rightmost on keypad).
You know that.  But it only offers -ten- choices, and indeed just
cycles through the last choice over and over again.
But: you can scroll from Align/Easy  to Align/Two-STar  and manually
select stars with the scroll keys.  Then you have 78 choices.

If you have the telescope base flat as if on a table, 
have you told the Autostar that you wish to be mounted
"Alt/Az"?  It defaults to that whenever you select the model ETX125,
so i am assuming that is correct.

You can check that it has the proper idea of your Latitude and
Longitude by pressing the [mode] key for 4 seconds, then releasing.
This brings up the Status displays.
Tap on the scroll down key many times to see everything that is there.
You can escape from the Status displays by tapping the [mode] key once.

You can test that the motor/encoder system is working by powering
up, just tap [enter] 3 times to get past time/date/etc., and
press the [mode] key to get back into the STatus readout.
Tap scroll down once to reach the Alt/Az readout.
Since you -just- powered up, it should be reading zero/zero.
Look through the viewfinder at a landmark.
Now slew the telescope, with the motors, one full turn clockwise.
Returning to that landmark.
Did the Azimuth Readout advance pretty much -exactly- 360 degrees?
If it did not, and was more than a degree or two off, you have 
encoder problems, which are inside the telescope base itself.

You can perform a similar test with the Altitude motor, but are
limited to trying for "level" slewing to "straight up".
That should show a ninty degree increment by the readout.

If the ninty and 360 tests perform correctly, at least we've
fairly well ruled out internal telescope electronic problems.

good luck
I really do appreciate the information, I really did not consider the
possibility of the actual scope being at fault! I also did not realise
that 'easy' alignment was only 10 stars.(certainly explains the sticking
on alioth.). I have today received the additional Autostar from my
supplier, however, I will follow your advice prior to trying the
replacement Autostar unit, at the next possible opportunity.
Unfortunately I have a heavy schedule up to and over this weekend, so
scope will have to stay put until I return Monday.I will let you and
Mike know the results as soon as I have bottomed this.

Very best regards & Thanks once again. (I do not know what Meade would
do without you both).Calley Wilkinson
That 10 is selected from the 78.

When you consider that, at any moment, probably half of
the 78 are below the horizon, that leaves 39.

Of -those-, some are undoubtedly outside the Alt/Az alignment star
criteria: more than 30 degrees above the horizon, less than 65 degrees
above the horizon, and at least 45 azimuth degrees apart.
(i've never done the math to work out what percentage of
the sky that excludes... someday)

So "10" may sound too few, but it's within reason for "Easy".

And, there's always "One Star".  If you start with your scope
-accurately- pointed north, and with the base and barrel -level-,
then a One Star provides a fairly decent result (you can assess
this by how accurately it does the initial slew before asking you
to center... in a properly operating system, it will frequently 
arrive within a 1/4 degree from the star.)

good luck

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, September 18, 2003 04:05:34
Also, do i have to enter the date and time every time I turn on the autostar?
Mike here: Yes. The Autostar does not keep track of the date and time when powered down.
Subject:	What do I need in addition to the #505 cable
Sent:	Wednesday, September 17, 2003 17:38:10
From: (Rick J.)
Like many ETX newbies, I have terrible GOTO's.

I have used this Much
better but still not just right.

I will buy the #505 cable but am somewhat overwhelmed by the info on
your great site.

How do I get the right firmware for my particular 497 Autostar?

Mike here: There is only ONE current firmware version for the Autostar #497 and that is the one available on Meade's Autostar Update page:
Subject:	New 125 and Autostar trouble
Sent:	Tuesday, September 16, 2003 23:23:48
From: (Calley Wilkinson)
Like many others I have to congratulate you on a great site, I have
learned a lot. I bought a new 125 with autostar tripod etc as a present
to myself for reaching 60, to reawaken a lond time sleeping interest.

I have successfully viewed & photographed the moon, viewed Mars, but
similar to James Sayen had hours of frustration trying to align the
scope using 'easy align'. Like Jim I have tried controls to east and
West. I have trained both axes repeatedly,set the home position,(full
anticlockwise to stops,Approx. 120 degrees CW fork arm over
controls,Level,pointing true north. After selecting the first star, off
it goes to somwhere nowhere near the selected star. The second choice,
same thing.Last night the 1st. star selected was Alioth, The scope
slewed CW and ended up pointing somewhere near Deneb. After going thro'
a few none located stars(skipping thro' using the scroll keys it choose
Alioth again and again and again, it would not select any other
star.This time it slewed approx. 420 degrees to the stops ( which it has
done on a few occasions gone in excess of 360 degrees to locate an
alignment star. It just seems to have a mind of its own.Please help
before I have less hair than I do now.

Do you think I need to upgrade the autostar software????

	Regards & Thanks in advance.
Calley Wilkinson in Cloudy United Kingdom.
Mike here: What version of the software do you have? But regardless, did you select the right telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar? Did you CALIBRATE before TRAIN DRIVES? Did you TRAIN both axes (easy to miss)? If you've done all those, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know.


Thanks for quick response. How do I determine software version?
Yes.selected 125. Yes, Alt/Az. Yes Calibrate prior train drives. Yes,
both axis,(due to reading your site/tips, double single axis training
due to over keen enter button pressing, ) I was ready for it. I had my
first contact on this subject with my supplier in the UK Skyview Optics,
who are really helpful, and they are sending another Autostar and cable
to try. Should be here tomorrow. If sky allows tonight I may get the
chance to Reset, Calibrate & Train Drives, if not I will have the second
one to try at next clear sky(must read tips on new Autostar/software ie
reset,calibrate & retrain for new one) Regards Calley Wilkinson
Mike here: Select Statistics and scroll until you see the full version number.


Autostar is on Version 26Ec, don't know how up to date that is?? Could
not check last night work pressure got in the way. Regards Calley
Mike here: Version 2.6Ed is the current one on Meade's site.
Subject:	re:  ETX125
Sent:	Monday, September 15, 2003 21:03:34
From: (Richard Seymour)
> says "Slewing..." but does not move

Try pressing [enter] before pressing [goto]

This is a very common "error" 
("error", in that the User has to change their behaviour)
("error", in that Meade does not make this keystroke clear in the manual)

but it'll work much better if you do that

have fun
(now, if only Mike had that among his instant-answers :-)
Mike here: Will put it in the FAQ!
Subject:	re: Tracking Rate for Mars
Sent:	Monday, September 15, 2003 20:52:49
From: (Richard Seymour)
In his mega-update (after a two week absence) Mike had a number of 
messages asking the same thing: "What Custom Tracking rate should
I use for Mars?"
He answered, correctly, that normal sidereal would do.

I thought i'd add a number to that:
If you use a program like The Sky, or Starry Night, or some
of the on-web planetarium program, and ask it where MArs is
at the beginning of an evening, and just before it sets,
you will see that Mars changes its RA (or: moves against the stars)

Take tonight: when Mars rises for me, it's at RA=22:20.159  Dec=-16 29.2'
that's at 7:21 PM PDT in Seattle
When it sets, it will be at RA=22:19.883  Dec=-16 28.90' (4:24 AM)

So, in 9 hours, it has moved 0.18 RA minutes, or  2.7 arcminutes
(1/10th of a full moon diameter) compared to the background stars.
Westward (it's a little -faster- than the stars).

For comparison, the moon moves 30 arcminutes per -hour- against the sky.

The Custom Tracking feature of the Autostar is calibrated in 
tenths of a percent of sidereal.  Thus Lunar is -35, or -3.5%
Armwaving a bit from the above calculations, i think the correct
Custom rate would have to be 0.3 (0.03%), but your choices are zero or one.
Since 0.3 is closer to zero, then zero (or: Sidereal) is the correct

have fun
Hi Mike and Dick,

I want to thank you both for your help.

I have searched the web for some time trying to find out what the number
input for the Custom setting of the 497 Autostar would do. Thanks Dick,
for that info.

Mike, I think my tracking problem is alignment more than anything. Have
done the full Clay Sherrod Reset routine exactly as he prescribes. I now
need to fine-tune the RA and Dec Percents.

Dick, I would like to know how one can determine which offsets in
Build.rom that control the various functions of Autostar497?

BTW, I have the Meade SN 8 UHTC scope. The optics are great, its the
mount that I must master.  Also have an ETX 90 with Auostar.

Again, thanks to both of you,

> Dick, I would like to know how one can determine which offsets in Build.rom
> that control the various functions of Autostar497?

I do it the hard way: I disassemble the  code.
  And have spent almost 4 years analyzing it.

Of the 110,000 lines of listings, about 50% is still pretty confusing/convoluted.
(and, of course, it's the -interesting- 50%)

and then there's the LX200gps...

have fun

Subject:	Autostar 494 text scroll is too fast
Sent:	Monday, September 15, 2003 14:02:29
From: (
I have an unusual problem that I could not find a solution for on your
site. I had not used my ETX-70 in a couple of months and when I went to
use it the messages that scroll across the autostar 494 handset scrolled
at a rate that made them impossible to read. I was able to get the unit
aligned by memory of the steps but I won't be able to do much else with
it. Do you have any possible soutions for me.
Thanks, Ron Brown
Mike here: Would you believe, it's on the FAQ page...


I'm sorry that you had to answer such a stupid question. I really did
try to find the answer on the web site first. There is just so much
information there that I just did look everywhere I guess. Thanks Again.
Mike here: Yep, lots of info after 7 years being online!
Subject:	Re: ETX-90 tracking and training question
Sent:	Monday, September 15, 2003 10:36:50
From: (Joe Schlatter)
How dare you take a few days off and leave us out here all alone with no
one to turn to for help! :-)  :-)

Clay updated the software.  I'll check with him and see what he suggests
-- mau just need another CALIBRATE and TRAIN.

Joe Schlatter

Sent:	Sunday, September 14, 2003 13:12:18
From: (Paul Kinsella)
Well done on a fantastic site from an almost total novice observer.

I bought an ETX-105 as a 40th birthday present to myself a couple of
months back (excellent timing as it came with the Autostar, tripod and
eyepiece offer) and struggled hopelessly with Autostar and the

After a few days in despair I discovered your site, followed a few tips
and now I can setup in about 5 minutes, run the Easy Align and then
everything I've ever searched on Autostar for is visible in the 35mm
eyepiece, absolutely brilliant !

My garden is an observing nightmare, it faces due North with a very
pronounced downhill slope to the NW - to the West are sodium street
lights and my house blocks the entire sky in the low South - but I still
get some amazing views.

How I line up: As the manual says, turn the scope anti-clockwise to the
hard-stop, then clckwise until the left fork-arm is above the control
panel and lock the lever. Then point the system roughly at Polaris then
level it out using a spirit-level on the top of the tripod. (I've even
had to use bricks under the front leg to do this)

Tip from your pages - I ignore the compass and align on Polaris (also
used this for training my drives), if necessary move the scope
physically so that it's centered. Then lower the scope so it's flat
(again with a spirit-level, now on top of the OTA) Get your time
absolutely spot-on and follow the easy align and that's it - it just
NEVER fails !

Andromeda, The Double-Cluster (definite favourite), The Ring Nebula you
name it, they all pop-up in the 35mm eyepiece every time in suberb

Once again many, many thanks for providing such a marvellous site



Subject:	ETX-90 tracking and training question
Sent:	Saturday, September 13, 2003 05:51:59
From: (Schlatter)
I have been trying to use my ETX-90 to photograph Mars using a Logitech
Quickcam Pro 400 webcam, modified with a Steve Mogg adapter and Registax
v.2 software.  The problem is not in the camera and software but in the
rubberbanding and tracking by the ETX.

I go through a two-star alignment; alignment stars show up almost
centered and after alignment is complete, the GOTO function is as
spot-on as it will get -- I can GOTO a dozen or more objects and each
object shows up just about centered in a 12mm (100X) eyepiece.

The problem is rubberbanding and tracking.

When the scope executes a GOTO then beeps, it moves away from the
object. I use the arrow keys to move it back, it moves away.  I play
this game of hide-and-seek with the scope for a few minutes and it
finally stops rubberbanding and settles down.

Once I have the rubberbanding somewhat under control, tracking is a
problem. The scope will track stars, keeping the star pretty much
centered for long periods of time 30 - 45 minutes or more.  The scope
does not track Mars that well -- every 5 minutes or so I must use the
arrow keys to pull Mars back into the eyepiece -- I am observing at
between 100X and 150X.

When my scope returned from Dr. Clay's tuneup, the instructions say
quite clearly do not train this scope, it has been trained.  Yet, as I
read Mike's responses to questions about how to cure rubberbanding, he
almost always says to train the scope.


1.  Do I need to train this scope?  If so, what's the sequence -- RESET,
CALIBRATE, TRAIN, or whatever?
2.  Is there a difference in the tracking speed for Mars and for stars? 
If so, is there a way to set the tracking speed for a specific object --
that is, can I set it to track to match Mars' speed?

Thanks for your assistance.

By the way, I am VERY pleased with my ETX-90 -- I have spent hours
searching for DSO's with my Dob only to find them in seconds with the
ETX-90 (although the view is much brighter through an 8-inch mirror than
through the 90mm ETX).  My ETX-90 is controlled by my laptop running
Starry Night and it's a breeze to move the cursor to an object on the
screen, right click, hit "slew to .....," and the scope goes to the
object -- it's just this rubberbanding that drives me nuts.

Joe Schlatter
Mike here: Have you updated the Autostar software? If so, reTRAINing is required. Dr. Clay probably did a very precise TRAIN DRIVES but over time the required setting could change. So reTRAINing might be needed. Generally, TRAIN DRIVES (both axes) will cure the rubberbanding that you describe. If not, then do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Only as a last resort should you need to do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. And no, there is no need to adjust the tracking rate for planets.
Subject:	RE: ETX 105 and Autostar instructions
Sent:	Wednesday, September 10, 2003 09:44:21
From: (Kevin Colfer)
A few of your readers have commented that Meade writes lousy
manuals.  I must say, I think the Autostar instructions could be a
bit clearer.  I use an ETX 105 with the Autostar.

I entered the time, date, etc on my Autostar as per the instructions and
on pressing ENTER or "?" was able to move the telescope using the arrow
keys.  The Autostar looked for its first orientation star, and
chose Arcturus.  The star was off centre, but I couldn`t bring it
into the centre of the eyepiece as the arrow keys did not work.

Only later when I was playing about with the Autostar at home did it
become clear that you have to press "?" again for the keys to
work.  That wasn`t very clear from the instructions.

Great telescope, though.  Portable enough for those of us living in
the city centre without a car and fantastic optics.

Clear skies
Kevin Colfer

Subject:	Hi, confused on when to reset percentages to adjust for
Sent:	Tuesday, September 9, 2003 12:38:50
From: (Bill Allbritten)
backlash lag in reponse.  Mr. Sherrod seems to recommend two different
points in the the Reset-Calibrate-Train-Percentage combination,
reversing the last two items in two different posts.


Subject:	Training, Setting Percentages and Rubberbanding
Sent:	Wednesday, December 12, 2001 15:13:01
From: (Clay Sherrod)

he says:

Thus, IF you chose to reset from the defaulted "01%" in either altitude
or azimuth percentages as described above, it must be done AFTER all the
other three parameters are established.  Thus, we now should consider
FOUR steps of post-initializing from an upload or reset:

4) RE-SET PERCENTAGES (only if necessary).


      Last updated: 31 October 2002 

From: (Clay Sherrod) 

He suggests:

you should have the backlash setting at a REASONABLE percent for
correction for your scope PRIOR to "Train Motors" so that training will
take the backlash percentage into account when "marrying" the AutoStar
to the telescope drives.

Any thoughts on which order I should do these?  I may be misreading
something and both posts are actually saying the same thing.  Thanks in



I'm afraid I was confusing, the reset I was referring to wasn't the
global reset to clear the Autostar computer but the two menu items under
Setup/Telescope that allow you to reset the percentage of the Train
percentage used to take up slack in the gear train.  It is factory set
at 1% and can be increased to reduce/eliminate the lag in terms of
switching directions on the handset and when the OTA actually begins to
Mike here: When you RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES, you set the percentages to the "factory default" for the telescope that the Autostar is connected to and selected in the Autostar. If you feel you need to adjust them later, you can do so.


That's helpful, I think we're now in pretty good shape, most GOTO's end
up in the 26mm eyepiece, sometimes in the  smaller ones.  It was a bit
of a trial, though.

Subject:	Mars tracking rate
Sent:	Sunday, September 7, 2003 07:09:57
From: (Robert Fellwock)
Using my ETX 90 with Autostar 497 a lot recently to observe Mars (along
with the rest of the astronomical world!), I would like to know if I can
use a custom setting tracking rate in the Autostar to keep Mars (or any
other planet) centered in the eyepiece (using any power).

I use polar alignment and get "Align Successful" message when getting
started. GOTOs on Mars are good, but Mars will drift out of eyepiece
after a while.

Is there a source of values that can be placed in the Tracking
Rate\Custom menu of the Autostar?

Would appreciate your guidance (pun intended) on this.

Thank you,

Mike here: Over the time period that you are observing Mars should not really drift much compared to the background stars. I suspect you need to improve your alignments or you could SYNC on a nearby object, which may or may not improve the tracking, depending on how accurate your home position was.
Subject:	question: etx slewing problems (speeds)
Sent:	Saturday, September 6, 2003 12:01:45
From: (Audry Buysschaert)
Little problem asking for your knowledge:

I have a brand new ETx 105 (UHTC), just bought in Belgium. Worked fine
last week. This week I tried the different slewing speeds but the
telescope is only moving at the max.speed (setting 9)despite the fact
that when I choose a speed from the 9 available, the corresponding speed
indication appears correctly on the autostar screen. What may be the
problem ?

(the autostar version (english language) indicated at startup is 2.6E,
but is it 2.6Ec or Ed, I don't know.How can I know that?)

Thanks a lot
Mike here: See the Statistics screen and then scroll to see the version#. As to the speed problem, try a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Hopefully that will clear it.
Sent:	Saturday, September 6, 2003 08:49:31
From: (W.Sumner Davis)
Now that I have made the quantum leap to MAC..I am at a loss for which
port to plug the cable (when I get around to getting one) into. These
are very un-pc like (mostly the reason I like them.  Any hints would be
great. I went to the help page..but for a die hard ex-pc'er, it might as
well have been written in Mandarin. If you could possibly tell me what
ports I can use, I will check to see if I got any of 'em.

Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; your subject-less email was almost deleted unread as SPAM.
See the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page.


Thanks, but I should have couched my question better. I don't want to
update (have a CME 11 coming) just want to use my Apple to connect to
the etx 125 I have now. What cables, drivers do I need? MEADE seems to
gloss over this area.
Mike here: That article contains the information you need to connect a Macintosh.
Subject:	Delayed response with Autostar
Sent:	Friday, September 5, 2003 21:02:49
From: (Jack Fox)
I have a new ETX 125 and have experienced some problems:

I performed the motor callibration and the Drive Train procedure, but I
have a 3-4 second delay when I press the slew buttons. What should my RA
and DEC percentages be set? Right now they are set for 1% and 15%.

Also, once my object is centered after "go to" it will drift up and down
and I have to recenter it.

And last, after I do a "go to" and both motors start slowing down, and
it begins a slow fine-tune slewing to center the object, it takes 45
seconds to fine tune and stop slewing. I have a ETX 70 and it only takes
about 3 seconds to fine tune and stop slewing.

I plan on doing a reset and train the drives again to see if that helps
the problems.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Mike here: The settings for a particular telescope may be different from other telescopes. So you would want to use settings that work for you on your telescope. There are a couple of "percentages" articles on the Autostar Information page. But from your other problems, I suspect a poor training; do that RESET, CALIBRATION (again), and then do an accurate TRAIN DRIVES on both axes.
Subject:	ETX90 + Autostar Drive Training
Sent:	Friday, September 5, 2003 14:05:58
From: (Ian Neill)
I have just followed the ETX "dream setup" instructions from your site.
Very useful!

I have a small (hopefully) query. In order to remove the backlash from
my ETX90, I had to set the Autostar Alt/Az percentages to 50% and 75%
respectively. This seems a tad high, considering the guide said 10% and
15% or so. I also noticed that there is a significant jerk when changing
Alt direction (it is not nearly so bad in the Az direction). I tried
lowering the percentages, but I still get a jerk, and the motor has to
run for a bit before there is any movement.

Have I misunderstood the guide, or is it time for me to tune-up the
mechanics of the ETX too? So far I have only attempted tuning up the
electronics because I was trying to avoid having to disect my scope...
but if I have no choice I will.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Many thanks,

Ian Neill
Mike here: Did you RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES? That should adjust everything for your telescope. Only then should you adjust the percentages if you need to. Could you be overtightening the axis locks? It is easy to do and could result in the "jerks" you mention.

And an update:

Many thanks for your reply.

I did do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES (I have been following
your site's Tune Up guide, pts 2&3). I have done it several times. I
have also replaced the batteries and did it again.

What I have since noticed is that occassionally some buttons on the
Autostar did not respond on the first press. I had not actually taken
much notice of this - usually I thought I did not press it hard enough.
Anyway it occurred to me that if the buttons were intermittant, then
Training and Manual Slewing would be less that reliable. So, I have open
the Autostar and cleaned the buttons and PCB contacts with anti-static
foam cleanser. Afterward the Autostar response seemed much better - no
pausing and there seemed to be fewer jerks etc.

I am now waiting for a clear night to see if this has been the cause of
all my woes. I will mail you again with any progress.

Many thanks for you help (and your site),

Ian Neill

Subject:	Re Meade 105, EC and Autostar Don't Light Up
Sent:	Friday, September 5, 2003 10:35:56
From: (Jane E. Hawkins)
You might recall my plea for help about a month ago when my Meade 105's
controllers failed to light up.  This email is a combination of bringing
you current, in case you're interested, and thanks.

I took my ailing baby to Richard Seymour, and he dismantled it to a
degree that I would have found frightening if I hadn't trusted his

First found:  Blown trace on the circuit board near the external control
panel. Second found:  A chunk of broken-off stuff inside the fork arm
that was periodically jamming movement. Current theory:  Said chunk
caused the blown trace.

Richard was not entirely happy with that theory because he felt a
stalled motor shouldn't have caused things to heat up badly enough to
blow a trace.  On the other hand, he also said the motors on the 105 are
bigger than those on his 90 so maybe so.  And maybe the board always was

I took the scope to a friend who builds synthesizers and he patched
across the blown trace, but no joy.  So, my next step is probably to
mail my scope to Meade. I started trying to call them this morning, but
I'm getting busy signals.

Thanks very much to both of you for your help, and especially to Richard
who spent hours helping me out!

Jane Hawkins
From: (Richard Seymour)
Meade's website has had an announcement "our telephone support is swamped"
(they blame Mars) and to expect an average of a two-day delay on call-backs.
It's on their main home page ( )
(personally, i think it's because they announced a new product,
and said "check the website or call customer support".
The website (as of this moment) STILL doesn't talk about the product,
so the telephone lines are suffering...

What happened after you jumped the burnt trace?
Was power beiing delivered to the motors?
Did they blow a fuse? (which i'd suggested as an in-line addition)

good luck

here is the photo of the broken 105 hard stop:

Broken HardStop
And an update:
From: (Jane E. Hawkins)
Took about an hour of re-dialing to get an answer at all, and easily 
another hour on hold after that.  I love cordless headset phones!  Got a 
lot of stuff moved in the basement while waiting....

Frankly, I think the friend who thought he could patch it the trace didn't 
really have the right equipment to do it and may have made things 
worse.  Sigh.  I've got a number now for sending it to Meade and I think 
I'll probably do that in the next day or two.

Thanks so much for your help!


Subject:	ETC-125 Set-up Steps
Sent:	Thursday, September 4, 2003 17:37:26
I'm looking for simple 1, 2, 3, .... steps to set up my new ETX-125 EC
with AstroStar controller and Field tripod just purchased.  I have read
the manual for the scope and AstroStar controller but still not sure the
exact steps needed.  I am mainly interested in polar set-up as I see no
real advantage and some disadvantages to Alt/Az mainly tracking
accuracy.  Tracking should be much better I would think in a good polar
alignment where only one motor is required.  A real point of my
confusion is setting the HOME position whatever that really means and
then do you  move the tripod after getting the home position to align
the scope tube North.....or what?

I'm sure you may have this already published somewhere perhaps.

Larry Dodd
Stone Mountain, GA n     or,
Mike here: There are several article on aligning on the Autostar Information page. But I would suggest you start with Alt/Az until you learn the steps and are comfortable with them. Usually, new users find polar aligning more challenging.
Subject:	Homemade 505 cable question
Sent:	Thursday, September 4, 2003 14:03:06
From: (Eloy Bencomo)
I'm new to your site and hope that I didn't miss a post that may have
already answered this and if so I appologize.

I attempted to make a 505 cable to use with my ETX125 and not sure if I
did something wrong but when I try to connect to the ETX, ASU says it
cannot connect to the AutoStar. Trying to detect

I've tried connecting to a Desktop with XP Pro and also a laptop with
Win2000. Both machines report the same thing.

I made the cable from the instructions on your site and prior to
putting the hood on the DB9 I used a multimeter to check continuity from
the respective pins on the DB9 to the handset plug.

Looking head-on to both the DB9 and RJ11 as described at the link. I put
a metal paperclip into the respective holes of the female DB9 to test
with the metal strips on the RJ11 and used the Ohm setting to test for
continuity. Everything seems to check and there is no cross connection.
Pin-3 of the DB9 goes to the left-most connector on the RJ11 (labeled 1
on the diagram) and not to any of the other 3 pins, 2 goes to 2 and 5
goes to 4.

I used a phone cable, lopped off the 2 larger plugs and crimped on an
RJ11 and connected with wires from the other end onto a RadioShack
276-1428 DB9 female connect and put it into a plastic D-sub hood

Do the wires have to be a certain guage on the cable? The wires looked
thin otherwise seemed to work fine. The cable is about  40-45 inches

I'm pretty sure the comm port is working because if I connect an
external modem to the comm port I'm trying to use and let ASU try to
detect the AutoStar the TD and SD lights flash a few times with the
attempt to communicate. I verified that comm ports are set to 9600/8/1/N
with no flow control.

My AutoStar is an old 497 but controls the ETX fine and seems to be
functioning. It has verion 1.2c software in it if that tells you  how
old it is? I do the setup until I get to the setup/align screen and
that's where I've been trying to do the connect.

I've also tried the Flash Load Ready method and also going to the
Download screen and also starting a Download on the 497 before trying to
connect or "Upgrade Software Now". All the various combinations resulted
in the same message.

It could be the cable but it seems to check out with the meter for

Any other ideas or thoughts on what I could try?


In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular. --Kathy Norris
Mike here: Sounds like you have done everything correctly. But could there be some other software, typically fax software, tying up the serial port?

And an update:

Thanks for the response and sorry, I missed the site announcements link
in the middle-top part of the page.

I re-made the cable with some Cat-3 cable instead of the telephone flat
cable and that seemed to pretty much cure the problem. I'm using a crimp
style DB9 connector from RadioShack, not the solder style. Don't know if
that would cause a problem.

Once I switched to the Cat-3 wire, I still had some problems, maybe
because the old version of software I had, 1.2c. I found and tried the
Flash Load and with the new cable, I was able to update to the latest

I still get the error message where the AS is not detected once in a

I found and am thinking of ordering a premade DB9 to RJ-11 connector and
then all I would need is an RJ-11 to RJ-10 cable.

Again, I'm thinking that I could just use a regular phone cable and cut
off and replace one connector with an RJ-10 but based on my experience
with the cable that I made using the flat phone cable, I'm wondering if
that would work. I keep reading posts saying that this is how others
made their cables but I had little success with it.

I may also try adding a small amount of solder to the crimp connections
and see if that could be the problem. But the ohm meter says that there
is continuity. Go figure.

Let me know if you have any thoughts.

GTW, great book. It just arrived today. I've not read it totally through
but so far it looks great.
Mike here: Glad you got things working. I suspect something in Windows is causing the random failures. But it could be the cable as well.
Subject:	Autostar displays nothing
Sent:	Wednesday, September 3, 2003 11:06:22
From: (Frank Kessler)
Great site! I was hoping you could answer a question for me.

I have an ETX-125 with the Autostar. When turning on the power, the
screen on the autostar went blank after displaying "initializing...".
After investigating what has gone wrong, it turns out the red wire (of
the four wires going through the middle of the scope) was cut in half.
This was caused by the bolt that the four wires go through to get into
the bottom area of the scope. The wire was frayed and definitely had
contact with the bolt. I managed to replace the wire and that problem is

I then found some information on an autostar site. I pushed scroll "up"
and enter, then turned on the power. The bottom half of the screen is
now dead and it still fails after initializing. I did try to upload and
that worked only when I powered up with enter and scroll "down" pressed,
but the upload did not solve any problems.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Frank Kessler
Mike here: The ENTER and SCROLL DOWN is the Safe Load (or flash load) mode. I don't know what ENTER and SCROLL UP do. Sorry. But if you did put your Autostar into Safe Load mode then doing the download using the software on Meade's site should work. HOWEVER, if you have a really old Autostar (early 1.0 versions as I recall) it might not work and you would have to return it to Meade to be revived. By the way, Safe Load should never be used unless you plan to and have to reload the Autostar software.
Subject:	Autostar Question
Sent:	Monday, September 1, 2003 18:46:35
I just purchased Meades Astrofinder software for my ETX-125, but was
disapointed to find the connection cable to the autostar only a few feet
long. Its attached to a desktop computer and my scope is about 15 feet
away outside. Could I use a telephone cable in the shorter cords place?
Im asking because it looks like an ordinary telephone cord to me, but Im
wondering if its wired differently. Also is there a photo anywhere of
meades new lunar planetary imager? Thanks in advance..Jim
Mike here: See the cable section on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Autostar and Dell Axim
Sent:	Monday, September 1, 2003 18:18:53
Love your site.. Has anyone had any success in connecting a Dell Axim
with TheSky to the Autostar?   I understand there are problems doing it.
I would love to control my 125 this way. Thanks for the help,  Curron

Subject:	GPS for ETX Scope
Sent:	Monday, September 1, 2003 17:32:43
From: (Mr Bill ciabattoni)
I was just wondering if you knew if Meade has any future plans to make a
self aligning GPS scope for the ETX line, similar to the LX200 series. 
I know they currently sell a StarGPS attachment that will automatically
input location and time data, but a full alignment is still needed. 
Also, would it ever be possible for Meade to build a GPS accessory that
would automatically align the current ETX scopes or do they lack some
major component that would prevent this from happening?

Thanks for the great site
Mike here: Meade doesn't sell that Autostar GPS add-on; it is a 3rd party product. As to whether they will sell such a device, I can't say (and I don't know). But even the Autostar II on the LX200 GPS still requires the alignment steps, just not as extensive as without the GPS. But it isn't like you set the telescope down, turn it on, and GOTO to your first object. The GPS and Autostar II still has to do a lot of configuring before you can GOTO that first object.
Subject:	Meade LX200GPS Telescope and Autostar II
Sent:	Monday, September 1, 2003 11:16:56
From: (fcred)
Why can I not initialize my Autostar II?  When  purchased my telescope
in Toronto, the salesperson successfully initialized the Autostar II for
me in his sales office. However, I've been trying to do so in my own
home and have been completely unsuccessful.  Does the fact that I live
in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and can only see south have
anything to do with it?  I would really appreciate any input you have. 

Pierre Pequegnat.
Mike here: What do you mean about the Autostar not initializing? Do you mean it does not go through the INITIALIZING on startup? Or that you can do to the alignment steps? If the sales "initialized" the location you won't see that again unless you RESET the Autostar. Is that what you mean?
Subject:	re:  DS-2114
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 21:39:08
From: (Richard Seymour)
The "Battery Level" display is not under the Utilities menu,
it is one of the "Status" displays.

Hold [mode] for 4 seconds.
Tap [scroll down] many times to see the available displays.
Tap [mode] to escape.

If you have an Autostar 494 (no numbered keys), i do not
know if that model has the battery level display (mine is
on loan to a friend, so i cannot test it).

good luck
From: (Delille, Fabrice)
Thanks Richard,
I just tried this on my Autostar 494 (release 11Fd) and unfortunatly I
did not found any battery information. But this hidden Status menu it
still very interresting.

thanks again


Subject:	re:  Cable to Link Laptop to Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 20:53:25
From: (Richard Seymour)
You wrote:
> I know the laptop has a USB port and a 9 pin serial port.

So you DON'T need a USB to serial adapter.

You have many options for the 505 cable:
(a) buy Meade's, and replace the 6 foot wire with a 25 foot telephone
 headset cord.  (that's what i use) .. the headset cord (smaller plugs
 than a telephone line cord) will fit loosely in the 9-pin to RJ14 
 (tech-speak for "telephone connector") adapter, but will precisely
 fit the Autostar end.  If you really want, you can let the computer
 guys replace one end of the telephone headset cord with an RJ14 connector.

(b) build one.  The pinout diagram you want is at the bottom of:

(c) buy non-Meade.  Many eBay vendors sell them, as well as  and (i think) scopetronix.. most of those 
 are longer than 6 feet.

have fun

Subject:	ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 20:51:33
I purchased an ETX125 over the summer and am really enjoying it.  I
upgraded from an EXT60, so I am fairly familiar with the Autostar
system.  I am having a problem with the scope where after viewing about
8 or 9 different objects while using the autostar, I will try to go to
another, and the scope will say that it is slewing to locate the next
object, but it does not move.  It is actually staying on the last object
that I was observing, but the scope seems to think that it has found the
new object.

I have never updated the firmware on the Autostar controller, and am
really not sure how to do it.  Does it sound like a problem with
firmware, or do you think it is something else?  Have you heard of this
before?  Any tips would be appreciated.

Bill Bretschneider
Mike here: I don't recall hearing any similar reports. Have you tried a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES? Usually that will clear out most problems. If not, and if you don't have the current 2.6Ed version, you can download the Autostar Update Application from Meade's site. You will need a #505 cable (Windows and a serial port); you can make the cable (see the Autostar Information page) or buy one.

Feedback Archives

Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Autostar Feedback page.

Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©2003 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2003 by the Submitter