AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
[Home!]
Last updated: 30 September 2004
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Thursday, September 30, 2004 12:36:41
From:	DrsLevitzRubensteinWong (doctor.levitz.ckvl@bellnet.ca)
Thanks to all for providing such needed information.  I have a problem
that I would appreciate an update on.

I downloaded the latest for my etx-125 and have not yet been able to
achieve the pointing ability that it had before the "upgrade."  I have
calibrated the motors and trained the drive, and am trying out the
backlash solution, but as yet without success.

Is there any new info in this regard.  Meade people were less than
enthusiastic about my problem but have offered to look at it if I send
it back to California.

From my Toronto location, I figure that puts it away for 4-6 weeks, the
nicest time of the year to observe.

Thanks.

My home address is wrubenstein@cogeco.ca
Mike here: First off, please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject entry.
As to the Autostar, there are many variables that can influence accuracy but I haven't heard any specific GOTO problems with the latest version. You can always regress to a prior version; I keep the archives on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar 494 completely dead: brown out damage?
Sent:	Tuesday, September 28, 2004 09:58:39
From:	Cesare Pagura (c.pagura@ieni.cnr.it)
I bought an used ETX-70 AT in good condition, everything but the 494,
that is apparently dead. (in the sense of: display off, no actions
pressing any buttons, no beeps).

Batteries are OK, Led ON is OK and the cable seems in good shape (no
strain, scratches ot others).

If an open RJ cable is connected instead of 494, (just to see if the 494
is correctly powered) it is possible to notice that the noise randomly
collected  from open HBX port causes movements of the two axes: this
could mean that the driver and motor electronics are still OK and
answered to "ghost" commands. Probably the telescope was not operative
for a long time. The seller (quite reliable) claimed that the item was
working before shipping (or tested when he acquired the item before to
store it).

Digging in your huge mine I found some little nuggets, but nothing
resolutive: for example, I read about possible "brown out" damage of
EEprom (compatible with use of external power supply with slow power off
dynamic) or I read about "magic" combined key pressure (enter scroll
down).

Just before to start the 494 dissection, have you, or there are in some
hidden recess of the "mine" any suggestion or check regarding this poor
Autostar? Could be possible to use a new 497? Did nobody try to connect
(to interface) a custom built simple PIC processor to ETX HBX port?
(this could be an amazing challenge!)

Please have my best regards
 
Cesare Pagura
 
CNR-IENI-Padova-Italy
Mike here: Yes, you can use a #497 Autostar. As to troubleshooting the #494, I'll leave that to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour.

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
It does not sound good.
The LED behind the display is turned on by the running program
in the Autostar, so if it does not come on, then the program is
probably not running.

This can happen for a variety of reasons:
(a) dead 5v power regulator inside the Autostar
(b) FlashRam failure (so it has bad bits)
(c) the low-voltage condition you referred to confusing the computer.
 ( http://home.comcast.net/~lynol1000/as_494_gc/index.html )
(d) bad cable or connector
(e) damaged feed-through inductor in the Autostar, where the cable
 it attached to the circuit card

If you were here in the US, i would recommend first calling Meade
to see if they would replace it (Meade Europe may do that, too).
If not (or if too expensive) i would then recommend eMailing 
Bill Vorce (he ships internationally)  scopehed@earthlink.net  or
http://www.telescope-warehouse.com/  

Used 494's sell here for $25 and up.
If you wish to do other things, such as communicate to a computer,
i would strongly recommend buying a 495 or 497 (both have the
numeric keypad), and upgrading them to the current firmware,
which would make both of them a complete "497".

>If an open RJ cable is connected instead of 494, (just to see if the
>494 is correctly powered) it is possible to notice that the noise
>randomly collected  from open HBX port causes movements of the two
>axes: this could mean that the driver and motor electronics are still
>OK and answered to "ghost" commands.

Good testing.

Probably the telescope was not operative for a long time. The seller
(quite reliable) claimed that the item was working before shipping (or
tested when he acquired the item before to store it).

Long storage -has- been implicated in FlashMemory or the mc68hc11's
on-chip RAM losing data.  The 494 does not have the Safe Load 
function (like the 495/497), so it is harder to recover.

>Digging in your huge mine I found some little nuggets, but nothing
>resolutive: for example, I read about possible "brown out" damage of
>EEprom (compatible with use of external power supply with slow power
>off dynamic) or I read about "magic" combined key pressure (enter
>scroll down).

That is "safe load", 494's do not do that.

>Just before to start the 494 dissection, have you, or there are in
>some hidden recess of the "mine" any suggestion or check regarding
>this poor Autostar?

See above

>Could be possible to use a new 497? 

As Mike answered: yes

>Did nobody try to connect (to interface) a custom built
>simple PIC processor to ETX HBX port?
> (this could be an amazing challenge!)

As far as i know, only three people have made an attempt to do that.
The i2c communication bus protocol Meade uses is not -standard-,
 but slightly modified.  They do not publish the commands they use.
I have figured out some of them, and send a file of accumulated
information to people who have serious interest
When other people play with it, and return their results,
i include those results in the file.
The Autostar came out in 1998 or 1999.   As far as i know,
the only "successful" direct PC-to-HBX socket communication 
was the one byte command for "Stop!".
That same person never managed to make the motor "Go!".

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Polar Mode ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, September 28, 2004 05:07:13
From:	James Jefferson-Wilson James (james.jefferson@bbc.co.uk)
Quick Question,

Once you have setup the Telescope in Polar Mode and it all points to
Polaris at 90o and its all level etc, etc.  At this point

You turn on the Autostar right ? How then do you stop the scope from
automatically aligning in Alt/Az and messing it up ?

Basically I want to set it up, put in the time date etc, etc and then go
to Polar Mode on the Autostar and then try the 1

Star alignment to Polaris and then go from there ? . Is that correct ?

Also I take it that when its done and you want to go say to M42 the OTA
and the 90o should move as well right ? It Can't stay at 90o right ?

Thanks for your patience  

 Regards, 

James Jefferson (JJ)  
Mike here: You set the mounting mode to Polar in the Autostar; then do the alignment steps.

And:

Ok, so when I do time, date and it goes automatically to the alignment I
can skip that ? How ?

Then set to Polar Mode and then go back to alignment ?
Mike here: Power up, set the mounting mode, power down, power up, enter the values as prompted, then do the star alignment steps. You don't have to do it this way since you can set the date/time values from the menu but it is simpler. Once you have set the mounting mode you can leave that alone (unless you change to Alt/Az) so you just power on, enter the values, and align.
Subject:	StarGPS X 2
Sent:	Monday, September 27, 2004 16:46:31
From:	ElanEsti@cs.com (ElanEsti@cs.com)
I finally 'broke down' and got the StarGPS package from Scoptronix last
month for my LX-90.  It seems to be working fine though I cannot detect
any improvement in the accuracy of the GoTo function as a result.  But
in any case its fun to use and convenient too.

My question is whether I can use my Autostar 497  (the one I received
with the LX-90) which has been upgraded to use the StarGPS with my old
ETX-90.  I suppose that as long as I go into the menu and change the
telescope parameter from LX-90 to ETX-90 all will be well.  But before I
blow the electronics I thought I should ask first ... but then, on
second thought the Autostar that works with the ETX-90 knows about 'hard
stops' while this is not an issue with the LX-90.  So maybe I'm trying
to do the impossible???

A corollary to this question would be: could I use the original ETX-90
hand controller with the LX-90 without risk of damaging the system???

Thanks for all your dedicated hard work.

 Elan
Mike here: Adding a GPS doesn't do anything to improve the GOTO accuracy on its own; it only handles the date/time/location input. While it can make those parameters more accurate than you might have done by typing them in by hand, GOTO accuracy depends upon more than just those. As to the Autostar switching from one telescope to the either, yes you can; you just need to toggle the telescope settings, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES each time you switch. Don't know about using the EC handcontroller with the LX90.

And:

Thanks for a fast reply.

I was hoping that by getting an exact GPS location fix and an accurate
time input the Goto will find and center objects more accurately.  But
as you stated, it doesn't really have a noticeable effect.

So then comes the million dollar question: if these parameters are of no
great importance what does effect the accuracy of an ETX or LX Autostar?
(that is: besides leveling the unit, pointing to Polaris and doing an
accurate two star alignment???

Thanks for your guidance and patience...
Mike here: All input parameters will affect the accuracy. If the date or time is incorrect, the position of planets will be calculated incorrectly. If the latitude is off, initial alignment star positions will be off. The Autostar can compensate for many errors, such as out-of-level positioning but for best results you should try to make things as accurate as possible.
Subject:	Re: Autostar not responding
Sent:	Monday, September 27, 2004 16:40:17
From:	Ken Lyons (klyons@greenepa.net)
I'm using an Orion Dynamo for power. I live in Southwestern Pa. I talked
with Meade and they want $300 for repairs.
Ken
Mike here: I guess they think the problem is in the telescope and not the Autostar.
Subject:	etx 125
Sent:	Monday, September 27, 2004 00:49:32
From:	Ron Nagel (pedendo18@comcast.net)
any idea why if i did not use my telescope for 6 months my autostar
buttons would have difficulties in responding to my finger pushing the
buttons.  i retrained,  and calibrated and found plenty of battery
powder.  the buttons would respond but in an inconsistant wayl  ron
nagel

it as if the buttons get stick
Mike here: Possibly the contacts are dirty or even corroded. You could try the cleaning tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar #497-ver 31e Locks Ups
Sent:	Sunday, September 26, 2004 21:14:21
From:	Angler557@aol.com (Angler557@aol.com)
I have a ETX-105 that lock up when I try to do solar viewing. I do the
usual procedure for alignment and all that good stuff. Then go to the
identify mode change a faster speed move it and locate the Sun in
eyepiece. After that I change back to a slower to center in eyepiece and
then it locks up. This is the second controller that has done this now
and will not work even turning power off and back on. I am wondering if
there is some isssues with this new ver 31-e Software that you might 
know of ! I have had some other issue with this unit and Meade was
really good about it. But they sent it back with this new ver 31-e
software and this issue has pop up!

I will be on the phone to Meade this week to return this one. And will
keep you informed on what they say is wrong with this one.

Robert Lynch 
A.V. Astronomy Club, Palmdale, Ca.
Mike here: Don't recall any reports of such a lockup. You could regress it (prior versions on the Autostar Info page).
Subject:	Autostar not responding
Sent:	Sunday, September 26, 2004 17:14:26
From:	Ken Lyons (klyons@greenepa.net)
I have an 8" Meade LX90 telescope. I have had it for about 15 months. It
has worked very well untill a couple of weeks ago. One night after
setting up I turned the telescope on and the Autostar did not respond.
Is there someone in my area that works on these types of telescopes?
Thanks
Ken
Mike here: Does the LED on the telescope base come on? Have you tried changing the batteries? As to your "area", that would be???
Subject:	stargps
Sent:	Saturday, September 25, 2004 11:06:01
From:	j8l4c5@earthlink.net (j8l4c5@earthlink.net)
I just bought Star Gps and I have one question. If you do a reset on the
autostar do you have to reload the star patch?
Thanks in Advance
Joe
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
No.  RESETs do not affect either StarGPS or my patches.

Resets only affect the "temporary data", such as Site,
Telescope Model, Training, Calibration.

They do not affect the User Objects (Satellites, Asteroids,
Comets, Tours) or the programming itself (and the StarGPS
programming and my patches fall into that "programming" 
category).

have fun
--dick
And:
Thank you for your help.
Joe Childs

Subject:	Rubberbanding after update or "creep after beep"?
Sent:	Saturday, September 25, 2004 03:12:38
From:	James Davidson (jd_astro@juno.com)
I have been following the Meade-DS threads since the first Yahoo Group
came out then was lost, then was resurrected a couple of times. I have
had 3 DS scopes and none have tracked very well, or let's say I did not
have the patience to train them. All had some drifting after beep. So
here I am in Saudi with a DS127 and C5 which does great with the
493(494?) controller, but gives me mountains of grief on the #497.

I was running version 2.0(g) and had a lot of creep. So I updated to the
latest Build.rom, version 32Ei, and guess what, I still have creep after
beep and elevation drift when slewing back and forth between two stars.

Is your creep after beep patch still good for this version of the
software?

Appreciate your assistance.

Jim Davidson
Mike here: You said: "...let's say I did not have the patience to train them."
That's the problem. You NEED to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES, especially after doing a ROM update. That should eliminate the rubberbanding and creep after beep problems.

And:

Thanks Mike! Will do that next and get back to you I hope with good
results. BTW do the ETX models behave much better these days?

Jim Davidson
Mike here: With proper training and usage, ETX models work fine.
Subject:	autostar II
Sent:	Friday, September 24, 2004 19:12:49
From:	Jared Steele (jasvideo@netzero.com)
Your website RULES!

we have a lx200 gps with AUTOSTAR II handheld...
Attempting to devolop something and could really use the pinouts of the
handheld.  I was able to find info for the ealier autostars but not the
Autostar II that shipped with our unit. Any ideas on where I might be
able to find that info?

thanks in advance!


Jared Steele
www.JASVIDEO.com 
www.MAXbargin.com
www.3bcs.com
www.totalBEACH.com
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
My first response is "why?", since the answer to that determines
the best engineering-type answer.

If you're merely trying to extend the cable, it's wired like
a standard telephone HANDSET cord with the smaller (4x4) RJ plugs.
Pin 1->pin 4, Pin 2->Pin 3, Pin 3-> Pin 2, Pin 4->pin 1.

The actual signals are power, ground, and two signal lines.
Unlike the "regular" Autostar, i think (unverified) that
the Autostar II's handbox may have rs232-like serial 
communication between the base (which -has- the autostar)
and the handbox.  They may be unipolar TTL voltage levels.

Since the Autostar II handbox is a "dumb" peripheral, 
no one has really bothered to dissect it (although i opened mine).
Fuzzy photo attached.

Autostar II
If you open yours, it'd be pretty easy (by ohmmetering to the voltage regulator) to figure out which wires are power and ground. So, if you can better describe your goal, i can better provide an answer. If you're trying to -replace- your handbox with a PC connection (oh, lemme guess... a PDA!), you can do far better by using the Autostar Suite protocol used to implement their Remote Handbox. But that's a -much- longer answer.... have fun --dick

Subject:	monoceros
Sent:	Friday, September 24, 2004 03:13:42
From:	Antonio Prieto Martin (aprieto@amper.es)
Don't you have any tour around monoceros?
Mike here: What tours are available are posted on the "Autostar Guided Tours and Info" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar and Home Position
Sent:	Thursday, September 23, 2004 17:56:40
From:	Rori Baldari (astra59@verizon.net)
A basic question for this novice: must the Autostar be turned on before
placing the ETX in the home position?
Thanks,
AJ
Mike here: No.
Subject:	Moving to different parts of the moon
Sent:	Tuesday, September 21, 2004 08:33:55
From:	Conformation (conformation@flash.net)
I just recently purchased an ETX-125AT and am trying to figure out how
to override/adjust the tracking when focused on the moon.  I manage the
setup and Easy Align (Alt/AZ) without any difficulties  when I select
the Moon from the AutoStar (hand controller) database and press "GoTo",
it does just that.  But, when I try to "move around" to different
features of the moon, the scope slowly returns to the same lunar feature
it pointed to when I initially pressed "GoTo" and it centered on the
moon.  Is there any way I can move around to the different moon features
without the scope returning to this "GoTo" position -plus- be ableto
track the features I want to focus on for photographic purposes?  I
think I have read something about how to adjust for this on your web
site, but I just cannot find it.

Thanks for your time  a truly wonderful web site.

Scott
Mike here: There is a "Lunar Rate" for tracking but what you are describing sounds more like "rubberbanding". Does it happen if you GOTO to a star and then slew away from the star a short distance? The usual fix for rubberbanding is a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Thanks for your very quick reply.  I will take note if it happens with
other objects as you describe.  If it does, I will perform CALIBRATE and
TRAIN DRIVES ... actually, I think I'll do that anyway.
Thanks again ....
Scott

Subject:	re:  Etx 90 on ds mount start up woes
Sent:	Monday, September 20, 2004 08:53:11
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Another program which can download to the Autostar is StarPatch
from http://www.stargps.ca  (follow the StarPatch links)

It has additional capabilities for locating the Autostar.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: smart drive
Sent:	Monday, September 20, 2004 08:50:21
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Smart Drive -is- Meade's "trademark" for PEC.

To use it with your webcam, start the telescope tracking a star.
Now use the Autostar (v32 or newer firmware) to get to:
Setup > Telescope > Smart Drive > PEC Train

Press [enter] and follow the instructions
(which are: center a star and press [enter])

It will then run for many minutes (counting up to 150),
remembering the corrections your autoguider/camera is making.

That Teaches it.

To -use- it, you choose
Setup > Telescope > Smart Drive > PEC On/Off > ON [enter]

... and that activates it.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: My error! That's what I get for reading ad copy...
Subject:	re:  Lost Guided Tour
Sent:	Monday, September 20, 2004 08:42:26
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
If the PC doing the Updating is on the internet,
start Autostar Updater, 
click the "File" on the top menu bar,
choose "Get Object from www..."
and then expand the "Tours" offering in the menu provided.

There are the Meade-offered Tours.

You can also separately download them (as .mtf files) with
your web browser from Meade's Tours page at:
http://www.meade.com/support/autotours.html

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	JAMES BESTON (james.beston@btopenworld.com)
First of all I was definitely updating the Autostar ROM, I remember now
that there was a message displayed on the handbox "Downloading. do not
turn off". In addition the version displayed on the Handbox on start-up
is now 3.2E, previously it was 3.1E.

I am surprised that transferring the "Tour" from the "Library" wiped out
the "Tonight's Best previously on the Handbox. Especially since the new
tour which identifies itself as an "Autostar generated tour" appears to
be empty. I think that this is in fact a "blank" tour that the user
generates based on a choice of what is in the sky at the users location
at the time.

I've looked at the web site Dick supplied and it has the tour I want to
retrieve.

Once again Gentlemen, grateful thanks for your unstinting help,

Best Regards

Jim
And:
With the 497 Autostar, sending -any- User Object data (and Tours fall
into that) erases -all- existing User Object data in the Autostar.
You'll find that your Comets, Asteroids, Satellites, Landmarks and
User Objects are now gone missing, too.

A pop-up message warns you of this when you click [Send].
You had to click [Ok] for the data transfer to happen.

If you wish to preserve the "stuff you've got" when adding/editing
new stuff, you have to FIRST click [Retrieve Data].
That brings it all to the Updater.
Then you make your additions/changes to the in-PC copy
(in the right window pane),  
THEN click [Send Data], (re)sending the "old" along with the "new".

have fun
--dick

Subject:	smart drive
Sent:	Sunday, September 19, 2004 06:34:37
From:	Saverio Riboli (saverioriboli@hotmail.com)
How i can do for use the smart drive function in my autostar? When i
start tracking by by computer, (i use my webcam) what i must select in
the autostar? Thankyou for you disponibility and sorry for my english.
by
Mike here: If memory serves, Smart Drive only works on Smart Drive enabled mounts. PEC, however, works on Polar Mounted telescopes. Which model telescope do you have?
Subject:	Lost Guided Tour
Sent:	Sunday, September 19, 2004 14:08:01
From:	Jim Beston (james.beston@btinternet.com)
I updated my AutoStar today via the AutoStar suite program. The update
was successful but whilst I was doing it I noticed that there was a
"Tour" available in the Library which could be loaded into the handbox.
Thinking this was a new Tour I loaded.

Unfortunately I now appear to have lost "Tonight's Best" Tour from the
Handbox (I guess it was overwritten). Tonight's Best was a really good
Tour which I had only just started to use.

Any idea if it can be retrieved?
 
Thaks a lot
  
Jim
 
P.S I'm thinking of getting a LX200 GPS have you any opinion on these?
Mike here: You updated the Autostar Suite or the Autostar ROM? Those are separate things. As to the tours, have you reloaded the BUILD ROM from Meade's site. As to the LX200GPS, nice but I don't have one so no direct experience. And:
It was in the Autosuite software, I noticed that it said "Udate Autostar
(or Autostar suite?) I think it was an Autostar update but the tour was
in the library befor I did the update and it seemed to me that it coud
be transferred to the handbox and I did after the update but somehow
I've lost tonight's best. I'll check tomorrow - time for bed here!!

No I haven't I'll check that tomorrow as well!

Thanks for your usual rapid reply!!
Mike here: Are you sure it wasn't saying that your Autostar ROM needed updating for use with the Autostar Suite? I think 3.1Ee was the first for use with the Suite.
Subject:	Etx 90 on ds mount start up woes
Sent:	Sunday, September 19, 2004 11:10:26
From:	Owen LLewellyn (taffytubby@another.com)
All praise to your mighty site!

I just started up my autostar 495 (v 2.0) on a ds mount as usual and it
comes up with " Use ETX Autostar with this model", I then went into safe
load mode and tried to use asu 3.6 which could not find the autostar
whatever I did including checking EVERYTHING (groan). All was working
fine two days ago. Any ideas? All pointers gratefully received,

Keep up the good work,

We in light polluted London U.K. appreciate the effort you put in,

Cheers,
Owen LLewellyn
Mike here: Since the Autostar was working, I suspect its memory might have become corrupted. The ASU 3.61 app should have been able to recognize it however. You say you checked for everything (like fax software using the comm port, connections, etc) but I would suggest checking again.
Subject:	The dufuses guide to polar alignment
Sent:	Wednesday, September 15, 2004 12:02:19
From:	Kaustav Bhattacharya (kaustav@kaustav.uk.com)
I found about 4-5 links off your site, Mike, and some links off google
which describe how to do a polar alignment on an ETX105 with autostar.
I've even read your book, Mike, but I must admit I'm being a complete
and utter dufus and just don't get it! Do you know of any web site where
 the procedure for polar alignment using autostar is set out point by
point, preferably with some photos?  Mike, after following the
instructions in your book, my ETX ended up pointing south and nowhere
near Polaris. T'is a clear night tonight (hurrah!) so I eagerly await a
reply from one of you!  Damn amateurs... I know, I know... *sigh* jail the lot of us ;-)
Regards,
Kaustav
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
http://members.aol.com/kewtasheck/polar.html

The LX90 (shown) and the ETX105 are exactly the same
(except you have to position for your hard stops).

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Have you tried the "Aligning the ETX/Autostar" on the Helpful Information: Tutorials page?

And:

Thanks guys. Miracle of miracles, I followed the Polar alignment process
on the web site you sent me, Richard, and it worked first time and I
managed to get near on perfectly centred alignment! Second attempt
failed miserably! LOL Beginners luck, I guess. I'll keep practicing.

regards,
Kaustav

And:

So you have now demonstrated to yourself that it -is- possible.

For the third attempt: WRITE DOWN every step you take while setting up.
If it works, then you have a check-list to follow for the future.
If it fails (and describe clearly the failure... not just "it
points at the ground", but include -details- such as "it turned
anti-clockwise, and pointed towards the ground, with the DEC at XXX,
and the barrel pointing at roughly the 4 o'clock position,
if i stand to the north of the scope and look at it as if the
barrel was the hour hand on a 12-hour clock")
Then we can analyze -that- and perhaps spot the problem.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	12v independent power supply
Sent:	Tuesday, September 14, 2004 09:46:19
From:	colin martin (colin@cfwmartin.co.uk)
I have been looking for a long while for a independent power supply for
the Autostar that doesn't require me to connect it to the LX90. It is a
pain to have the LX90 sitting along side the PC when I want to download
stuff from the Meade site. I have found one on ebay.co.uk and is offered
by Johndigits listed under Meade autostar.
I have bought one and it works fine.
Clear skies
Colin
Mike here: Thanks for the report. Homemade ones can be done using the "External Power Box" tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar Update Problems Part 2
Sent:	Monday, September 13, 2004 13:42:59
From:	Peter Allen (pallen_001@msn.com)
Dick and Mike,
Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to this, I had to go to work.

After reading your post,(I got the one from Dick but nothing from Mike)
I checked the size for the Build32Ei file and it was 1,052,672 as you
said it should be.  Also, this problem is with the ETX90.

I have used 2 separate computers to try this download.  The first is an
older laptop with an AMD K2 chip and Win XP Pro and with a serial port,
the second is a new laptop with a centrino chip and Win XP Home and it
has no serial port so I use a Belkins USB to serial adapter.  Also let
me say that both of these computers have been used successfully in the
past to upgrade both the LX200GPS and the ETX90. In trying on both
computers I was getting several different error messages. Sometimes it
would say it could not find the Autostar even after a com port search.
Oddly enough, some of the time when it said it could not access the
autostar it still showed "autostar model 497, Version Safe" in the lower
right hand corner of the ASU so it was able to access it even though it
said it could not.

I ohmed out the cable and adapter and both are fine.  I tried reloading
ASU in both computers with no success.  I went to Stargps.com and
downloaded a Build32Ei file from there and unzipped it into the Ephem..
file of the ASU but that produced the same error messages I had had
before.  At that point I had to quit so I sent you the first E-mail and
went to work.

Today after reading your reply I decided to try again.  I tried hooking
up the Autostar in safe load and it found it so I tried to update from
the WWW option.  It downloaded the info and gave me the normal do you
want to upgrade warning messages and after I said yes it went from 0 to
100% in about a second and said download complete even though the
flashload ready message on the autostar had not gone away.  I tried to
restart the autostar and got nothing.

Then I went back to Stargps.com and downloaded Build32Ea and unzipped it
into the Ephem.. file of ASU.  This time it loaded correctly and my
autostar appears to be functional again.  Although I knew it was
tempting fate I tried to reload 32EI again from both the hard drive and
the www option and got a corrupt file messege.  Since the autostar was
still in download mode I tried 32EA again and it loaded fine.  I then
downloded the tours and they loaded fine also.

I understand that the 32Ei file might be corrupted but at this point I
am still at a loss as to why both of my computers had such a hard time
finding the autostar and why I got so many error messages from the ASU
saying it could not connect to my autostar even though I am doing things
the same now as I was a couple of days ago.
 
Any thoughts?
 
Peter Allen
pallen_001@msn.com
Mike here: I'm beginning to wonder if it is corrupt RAM in the Autostar since 3.2Ea loads OK but 3.2Ei has problems. No one else has reported problems loading 3.2Ei. And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
On first blush (after seeing Mike's "bad RAM" comment, which is feasible,
but...) i think you're fighting more than one problem at once.

I vote for a flakey internal rs232 socket in the Autostar (cold
solder joint where it's held on the circuit card, or simply weak
contact springs).

Hence, when it works, it works. (StarPAtch loading v32Ei)

The updater uses two protocols to speak to the Autostar:
"normal" LX200 serial commands (a :GVF# gets the full version poop)
and "download" protocol (^D kicks it into download, V gets version).
When it's in SafeLoad, the ^D gets a different response (once).

?? Using  StarPatch or using ASU for the transfer-to-Autostar ??

OK... you don't specify, so i've got to ask: StarPatch or ASU?
If ASU, try StarPatch.  
The symptoms -sound- like ASU when it's able (for a millisecond) to
find the Autostar (or "line noise" happens at the right/wrong moment),
 but not truly communicating.

Loaded with StarPatch or ASU? (is there an echo in here, or what?)

The "file corrupt" message only arises when the ROM file does not
yield the checksum which is stored in its header.

Tell ya what... why not ZIP the Build32Ei.rom (or build.rom) file
and email it to me?  I can check the file's integrity in a number of ways.

If you'd like, i can also email -you- a "guaranteed to work 'cuz i've
used it" copy of Build32Ei.rom 

Intermittent socket in Autostar.  When the cable is leaning
-just so-, it connects.  (that's still my primary guess)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Alternative star catalogues?
Sent:	Sunday, September 12, 2004 09:41:34
From:	Damian Davis (dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk)
Thanks for the detailed reply Dick. The 'Tours' suggestion is a
wonderful piece of lateral thinking which will keep me busy on those
cloudy nights. Your observation regarding the Bayer system being
particularly useful for naked eye/binocular observation is, of course,
why I asked the question in the first place. Living on the outskirts of
London, the night adapted naked eye is only good for magnitude 3, maybe
4 on a really clear night! Using 7x50 bins, I can't see the nucleus of
the Andromeda galaxy without using averted vision.

Sob story over. Thanks again Mike and Dick.
Damian.

Subject:	Autostar Update problems
Sent:	Thursday, September 9, 2004 21:30:00
From:	Shelley Allen (shelleylallen@hotmail.com)
Since I got my LX200GPS I have not used my ETX90 very much and have only
pulled it out occasionally to update the hand box and make sure it still
works.  Tonight I decided to use it but found that in all my updating I
had no tours in the handbox.  No problem I thought, I'll just load them
and be observing in no time.  Well in no time I had the dreaded caution,
downloading, do not turn off power, but ASU had frozen up  Since there
was no other option I turned off the scope power.  Since I figured this
had probably corrupted something in the handbox I started it again in
"Safe Mode" and the handbox read Flash Load ready just as it should
have.  Now when I start ASU it reads the handbox in safe mode but when I
try to update with the build file, sometimes it says it can't connect
with the Autostar and when it does connect it says the update file is
corrupt.  I have tried loading ASU over, downloading the build file from
ASU, manually loading the build file...Etc.  Nothing helps
 
Any ideas?
 
Thanks for your help,
Peter Allen
pallen_001@msn.com 
Mike here: It almost sounds like a computer problem and not an Autostar problems since you get different errors at different times. As redownloading the software and the build file hasn't helped about the only thing I would suggest checking is the cabling or a port conflict.

And:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
(a) i agree with Mike that it's a computer (or cable) problem.
However you may have turned it into an Autostar problem by now.

I read your message as being about the ETX90's Autostar, not the LX200gps.
(since the LX200gps does not necessarily go into Download mode for
Tours updating)

Tonight I decided to use it but found that in all my
updating I had no tours in the handbox.

Sounds like either an extraneous Erase User Banks happened,
or a memory problem.

Well in no time I had the
dreaded caution, downloading, do not turn off power, but ASU had
frozen up  Since there was no other option I turned off the scope
power. 

**At this point, i suspect your Autostar was perfectly functional**
(albeit still without Tours, etc.)

Whenever something goes blooey during downloads, the first thing
i do is see if the Autostar still boots normally before declaring
"Safe Load!!".  If it's already Toast, it won't hurt.  If it ain't
Toast, you're reassured that you haven't hurt things (yet).

Since I figured this had probably corrupted something in the
handbox I started it again in "Safe Mode" and the handbox read Flash
Load ready just as it should have.  Now when I start ASU it reads the
handbox in safe mode but when I try to update with the build file,
sometimes it says it can't connect with the Autostar and when it does
connect it says the update file is corrupt.  I have tried loading ASU
over, downloading the build file from ASU, manually loading the build
file...Etc.  Nothing helps

I wasn't around on 9th Sep, so i don't know if Meade's site was being
wonky at that point.  If you're manually downloading the .ZIP file,
WinZip should be able to tell you if it's OK, since WinZip maintains
an internal checksum.
The Updater pulls its local files from 
Program Files/Meade/ASU/Ephemerides, unless you're using the 
AutostarSuite's Updater, which then uses
Program Files/Meade/AutostarSuite/Updater/Ephemerides
If you're not unpacking the manually-downloaded build32ei.rom file
into the appropriate folder, it's not being seen.
(check the -size- of the build.rom or build32ei.rom file.
it should show as 1028KB in an Explorer Detail view,
and as 1,052,672 bytes if you look at its properties.)

Can you boot your Autostar normally -now-?
The Updater should not have attempted an actual transfer if it
thought your firmware file was corrupted (it checks -before- it
starts the transfer, but after it kicks into Download mode).

More data, please
good luck
--dick

Subject:	RA leftbutton creep and RA dither.. progress?
Sent:	Thursday, September 9, 2004 08:08:18
From:	Jack Bertram (juanito87105@yahoo.com)
Over the last weeks, reports have come into several Meade yahoo groups
on a tendency for the RA axis to creep left or malfunction on the left
button during and after gotos.  I cannot find where anyone really worked
out the problem on these groups, but it doesn't seem to be either
classic rubber-banding or a hardware fault. It is associated with
dithering or motor pulsing in both RA directions and can lead to motor
fault declarations or motor overheating.  I get it on versions 3.1 and
3.2Ea. Any news?  Jack Bertram (posting on RoboScope and LXD55).
Mike here: 3.2Ei reportedly fixes the problem.
Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Thursday, September 9, 2004 00:01:38
From:	Warp (warpcorp@swbell.net)
Thought it was time to ask the experts.... I just spent the most
frustrating 4 hours of viewing I've ever experienced... please bear with
me in my request for assistance:

I have a Meade DS80 mounted on the Meade dual motor alt/az mount with
AutoStar 497 which I bought for a finder scope and to do some solar
viewing.  The last time I had it out - 3 weeks ago - it worked fine. 
Tonight I mounted it up to do some casual viewing and had nothing but
problems.

I downloaded the latest update / patch / AutoStar Update 32Ei / 32Ia.spf
from the StarGPS site.  Set up, calibrated and trained the drives. 
StarGPS gets the correct time and date and I select a Easy Align.  Scope
is aligned north and level to the ground.

No matter what star it chooses (or if I manually choose a 2-star align)
the scope slews to the point where it is pointing almost straight up and
the focuser / diagonal runs into the mount.  If I intentionally choose a
star lower to the horizon, it still misses it terribly - error too big
to guess at.  I can manually slew the scope down and center the star and
the AutoStar will indicate "alignment successful".  If I select one of
the original setup stars - it again is way off  - way too high.

Reset the AutoStar, re trained, re calibrated several times - same
result.

Once on the star, it tracks it fine - it is just always way off on
goto's by the same amount (approximately).  I tried to "fool" the
AutoStar by loosening the ALT lock and moving the scope manually to the
alignment star and then performing a "synch" on the star.  The next
return goto to the star is the same result.

Any ideas? Suggestions?

The scope is still under warranty - but I've never been "stumped" like
this before...

Thanks in advance for any help you might offer...
 
Warp
Mike here: First off, you should read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX and LXD55 Sites; your message was olmost deleted UNREAD due to the missing Subject entry. Having a Subject really helps identify valid email.
As to the problem, have you tried just using the basic Autostar software without patches? I would suggest doing that first. Removes a variable from the equation. One other thought: replace the batteries.

And:

Already using a fully charged 12 volt pack which never has a problem
running the LXD5 or 75 mounts.  I switched battery packs and that made
no difference.

Warp 
And:
From:	Chris Carson (ccarson@pixsoft.ca)
The GPS Setup patch shouldn't have any effect on alignment (other than
setting the date, time, lat, long).  As Mike suggests, you could try a
plain 32Ei and also try reverting to the previous version that you know
was working... I wouldn't be surprised if Meade managed to introduce a
new bug in 32Ei.

Dick is on holidays until next week but I'm sure he'll have other ideas.
You might check that the correct telescope type is selected (grasping at
straws).

Regards,
Chris Carson
PixSoft Inc.
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
With the DS telescopes, my usual response to this kind of
behaviour is that you have the motors (or their connectors)
interchanged... so that the Alt is doing the Az motions,
and the Az is doing the Alt motions.

Then, of course, you blow that theory away by saying:

 I can manually slew the scope down and center the star and the
AutoStar will indicate "alignment successful". 
If I select one of the original setup stars - it again is way off  -
way too high.

Reset the AutoStar, re trained, re calibrated several times - same result.

Once on the star, it tracks it fine - it is just always way off on goto's by the
same amount (approximately).  I tried to "fool" the AutoStar by loosening the ALT
lock and moving the scope manually to the alignment star and then performing a
"synch" on the star.  The next return goto to the star is the same result.

You've Reset, (Calibrations should be done -before- training),
I have to echo Mike's suggestions of: check that you have the correct
telescope model selected (and BATTERIES).
  I'll add: verify that your Site is correct
(don't be fancy, just choose a "nearest city")

You say that it's "off by the same amount".. how far is that?
(quantitative, with a direction... such as went 10 degrees too far,
or "fell short by 15 degrees")

Do the Alt/Az tests:
Point at landmark, bring up Alt/Az readout.
Slew scope 360 degrees in Az to point at landmark again.
Verify that Az advanced exactly 360 degrees.

Point level.  (bubble level on barrel)
Point straight Up. (bubble level on lens cover)
Verify Alt readout advanced 90 degrees.

good luck
--dick
And an update:
Chris....

Nothin' wrong with your patch.... It was a bad motor.  Switched it out
and all is good.

Thanks for your response and for all the support on the StarGPS and
patches.

Keep up the good work!

Respectfully
Warp 
And:
Glad to hear that you found and fixed the problem.

Regards,
Chris

Subject:	problem
Sent:	Wednesday, September 8, 2004 08:36:20
From:	Otto Dideberg (otto@ibs.fr)
Recently I bought ETX-90 EC equipped with an Autostar Computer
Controller. However in the manual mode I am not able to change the speed
of the two motors. I can select the speed of one motor but the other one
keep always the highest speed. Can you tell me where is the problem?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Sincerely yours,

Otto
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE? If so, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and then TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know if that helps.
Subject:	Auotstar, ETX90 & DS scope
Sent:	Tuesday, September 7, 2004 04:56:08
From:	Rick S. (kb6mms@yahoo.com)
I am about to purchase a used ETX90EC base/forks from someone on
Astromart.

My question is, I want to use the Meade Autostar #497 that I got about 2
years ago from Meade for my DS scope.  Will that Autostart controller
work with ETX90EC base?

Thanks,
Rick
Mike here: As stated on Meade's Autostar page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html), the #497 works with all ETX models.
Subject:	ETX Star name index charts difficulties
Sent:	Monday, September 6, 2004 14:24:42
From:	Nigel Freestone (nigel@paracletesystems.co.uk)
Thanks for you prompt reply to my last email requesting the whereabouts
of the Autostar star name charts. I now have them and hoped that they
would be a great asset to rookies like me who need to identify a star
name that Autostar displays.

However I have found a few apparent problems. It may just be that being
a rookie I have missed something somewhere, so please bear that in mind.
I am always prepared to be shown the right way...!

Problem (1): It is not always clear from the charts which star the name
labels refer to. For example on the Summer Late Evening chart, stars
ALRAKIS and ALTAIS (both in DRA), KURHAH (in CEP) are not obviously near
a particular star on the chart. There are several other examples.

Some research with books and internet searches solved most of these but
it might be helpful if the stars were clearly identified (by arrows or
crosshairs etc, or by the relevant star always being the one at the
beginning of the name).

Problem (2): Researching (1) appears to highlight some errors. On the
Fall Circumpolar chart RUCHBAH (in CAS) appears to be the upper middle
star of the W. Other sources suggest Ruchbar is the lower left star in
the W. On the Spring Early Evening chart the stars GIENAH and MINKAR (in
COR) are variously reported the other way around. Which is correct
please?

Problem (3) a considerable number of stars named on the charts do not
appear on other Autostar lists also published in the (excellent) ETX
website; and some on those other lists do not appear on the charts. (I
know some do not appear because they are too far south). Which list is
correct? Cannot Meade or one of these clever guys who create patches for
the Autostar not decode a definitive list of named stars?

Given resolution of these points I would aim to edit the graphics to
clarify the charts for my own use. I shall be more that happy to submit
amended copies for others to use if that would be helpful.
 
Yours,
Nigel Freestone

Subject:	Problems with Autostar updates 3.X
Sent:	Sunday, September 5, 2004 09:30:08
From:	Bruce Pipes (bevnbruce@comcast.net)
I am having problems with all the Autostar updates 3.X on my ETX-125
similar to those Stephen Bird reported for 3.0. I have not researched
them as fully as he did, but the most annoying one is slewing that does
not match the button pushed on the Autostar. That is pushing the left
button results in the scope moving kinda left but mostly down, etc. This
is most noticeable at high magnifications (over 250X) and slow slewing
rates (4 or lower). Other things I have noticed are post-beep slewing
and occasional random slews. I have reset, calibrated and retrained
numerous time to no avail. I have reverted to 2.6Ed which seems to work
quite well.

Anyone else seeing this behavior?

Thanks,
Bruce Pipes
Lancaster, PA
Mike here: Thanks for the report. I wonder if there is a hardware problem in your case since all the updates exhibit the same problem.

And:

If it is a hardware problem, it is a weird one, since it does not reveal
itself with Autostar 2.6Ed software. However, if I am the only one
having this problem, one has to suspect hardware.

Subject:	Equatorial coordinates
Sent:	Sunday, September 5, 2004 05:43:09
From:	Saverio Riboli (saverioriboli@hotmail.com)
My autostar show the equatorial coordinates in this format: es. 10h
51.4. What can i do for change it in the format: es.14h 15m 51.30s.? is
possible?
Thankyou very match
Mike here: I don't recall that you can change the display format.
Subject:	Observing The Sun
Sent:	Sunday, September 5, 2004 04:34:26
From:	Pete Williams (p.m.williams@btinternet.com)
Fabulous site, as a 48 year old newby to the awe inspiring world of
astronomy, it's just what i have been looking for ! I have invested in a
Meade ETX125 scope along with various lenses and filters and motorised
focussing and various SLR camera attachments and countless books (i
think the salesman made his target with me on that day !), but most of
which seem to assume that the observer already knows the basics ! which
i do not ! So forgive me if i ask a stupid question, but here
goes..........

I wonder if you could advise me how to setup a "user defined" object. I
would like to track and repeatedly view the sun (i have the filters &
are aware of the dangers). If i manually find it, how do i then input
this into the autostar so that i can just "goto" it the next time i use
it and call it up on the autostar. I have played around with it, and it
ask's me to set the alt/az & declination ??? & as a new boy, i'm afraid
i do not know how or what to input. If it makes any difference, i am
some 25 mile due west of London. I also thought that once i have
manually found the sun or object, that the scope would automatically
track it, unfortunately it seems to veer off after about 20 or so
seconds, and i keep on having to manually re-find it - any suggestions.
I have set it up a couple of times now, and use alt.az method (i think
thats what it's called, when the tube is horizontal at setup and facing
north ?)

Thanks once again for an excellent site, and keep up the good work.

Best Regards

Pete Williams
Mike here: Since the Sun moves you can't just add its coordinates. You could trick the Autostar though; see the article "Adding the Sun" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. But since you will be doing only a rough star alignment anyway during the daytime it is simplest to just set up in the HOME position, go through the alignment steps assuming the stars are centered in the eyepiece, and then manually slew to the Sun using the arrow keys. The more accurate your HOME position the more accurate your alignment will be and hence the more accurate sidereal tracking will be.
Subject:	re:  ETX 90 EC motors fitted to a homemade GEM mount
Sent:	Saturday, September 4, 2004 16:01:30
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To:   Richard Taylor (richard.taylor@livelearning.co.uk)
>Can I change the telescope model to LXD55 and alter the drive ratios
>in Autostar to suit the ETX90 ratios 

Yes.  (i don't recall if Mike forwarded -that- part of your message to me)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re:  Autostar ALt/Az
Sent:	Saturday, September 4, 2004 15:57:26
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Do not worry.  That is normal behaviour.

The Autostar (especially in Alt/Az) has to calculate the 
Right Ascension (RA) and Declination (and also the Alt/Az reading)
by converting from encoder angles (a fraction of an arcsecond)
then through trigonometric functions to determine RA and Dec.
The Autostar does not have a high precision mathematics section,
so an increasing encoder reading -can- cause "ambiguity" in the
converted RA and DEC reading.

That is what you are seeing.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Alternative Star Catalogues?
Sent:	Saturday, September 4, 2004 15:37:00
From:	Damian Davis (dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk)
With reference to the star database in the Autostar, are there any
alternative catalogues available? The magazine I read (Astronomy Now, a
UK publication) tends to give the star names as alpha, beta, gamma etc.,
followed by the constellation.

Is it possible to replace the SAO catalogue in the Autostar with an
alternative? Are they available? Any info gratefully received.

DD  London.
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
There are many approaches to answering this (and accessing stars
in the Autostar).

First, "No." There is no "replacement" catalog available for loading
into the Autostar 497.   There is an extended User Object catalogging
mechanism for the LX200gps's Autostar II, but it's not a replacement.

Second, for the brighter stars in constellations, they already -are-
cataloged in the alpha/beta/gamma sequence, it's just not obvious.

If you select the Object/Constellation menu, and scroll to a
Constellation, tap [enter] (to select it), then [goto] to reach
the star list, the stars (as you tap [scroll down]) are -then- 
presented in alpha/beta/gamma order.  They're -shown- by name
(if available), but the order is the Bayer/Flamsteed sequence.

(the keystroking to reach that for an LX200gps is slightly different,
but the underlying sequencing is the same.  And the LX200gps carries
the list to far dimmer stars)

Problems with the above method include the fact that the Constellation
list keeps restarting at Andromeda, rather than remembering where you
were if you come out of that menu area.

In the Double/Multiple Star catalog, again they are listed in 
alpha/beta/gamma order, but here it's done alphabetically...
So -all- of the alphas are listed before moving on to the betas.
(if they're multiple in the first place).

Third, you can add to the Autostar's listings by means of downloadble
Tours.   Mike's site has a set of Observational Guides by Clay Sherrod,
which have been converted to Tours by Joe Walker.
Tours are on Mike's site under:
 http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_tours.html
The "Clay's Tours" package is here (do a "save as"):
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/tours/walker-AutostarTours4.zip

Fourth, I encourage you to submit your request to Meade.
That's done by sending email to engineer@meade.com, and be sure to 
have "firmware suggestion for 497 autostar" in the subject.

For example, it might be relatively easy for them to extend the
 Constellation  menu's list to simply include more stars.

Be aware that the alpha/beta/gamma listing only covers a few stars in
a constellation.. then the full Bayer/Flamsteed system takes over
(numbers, single letters) and the variable (RR) and double nomeclature
systems kick in.  A "which comes first?" problem arises.

There are many "popular" catalogging systems... and they all have strengths
and weaknesses.  Each was developed for a specfic purpose, and therefore
fail when applied to some others.  And, in a commercial application like the 
Autostar, practical cost- and ease-of-access to decent databases factor in.
The 497 Autostar uses the SAO catalog as their underlying structure, with 
echoes of the Bright Star Catalog (BSC).
The LX200gps Autostar II uses the Hiparcos catalog as the structure.
In some cases those two databases may not include fairly bright members of
the other database, again due to many factors (the SAO because they missed it,
the Hiparcos because of the satellite's mission... hence they left out 
some companions of multiple star systems)

For naked-eye and binocular-level descriptions, such as Astronomy Now
usually addresses, then the Bayer/Flamsteed system is pretty good..
it's (mostly) arranged in order of descending brightness (except
when it's not), and just ignores when a constellation doesn't -have-
an "Alpha" star.  (left as an exercise for the reader)

During my researches for this answer, i dug through a number of 
planetarium programs and accumulated databases... and it's very difficult
to extract (say) -only- the "alpha" stars of the constellations.
Alpha Andromeda is a good example... in the Bayer/Flamsteed scheme,
it seems to -really- be "21 alp and" , so simply searching for that
one category can become a long haul...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX-60 motor fault problem
Sent:	Saturday, September 4, 2004 08:22:54
From:	William L. Schart (wschart@hot.rr.com)
I have an ETX-60 which recently I have not been able to use as I keep
getting "motor fault" errors when attempting to align. I am using a
power adaptor, not batteries, so low batteries are not the problem.

What happens is this: I will go through the normal alignment procedure
and when I go to the first star, it will slew to what appears to be the
approximate location of the star, pause a moment, resume slewing and
then I get the "motor fault" message. When doing this at night it the
dark, the display on the hand paddle will flicker briefly during this.

The first time this happened, I experimented a bit the next day and got
it to go through a dummy alignment OK by fiddling with the altitude
tension adjustment. However, the next time I tried to observe with it, I
got a motor fault again. I tried doing a reset and drive train to no
avail. Slewing with the arrow buttons on the hand paddle has no
problems.

Any ideas you might have on how to fix this would be appreciated. I find
this little scope is a nice adjunct to my C8.

William Schart
Killeen, TX
Mike here: If the display flickers, it sounds like there is a power drop. Check the connections. Also, check that you are not overtightening the axis locks. Try using fresh batteries; perhaps the AC adapter (is it Meade's?) is not up to the task.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply. I will get some batteries next time I am out
and try that.

William Schart

Subject:	Autostar ALt/Az
Sent:	Friday, September 3, 2004 23:33:25
From:	Gianni (amadeigiovanni@aliceposta.it)
During insguimento it adorns with stars checked on Autostar
gradi,minuti,secondi,e noticed that second don't advance in progressive
way (1-2-3-4-5-6-7 etc.) but in casual way (1-4-2-7-3-12-9 etc.).
Minutes seem correct even if noticed instant of farfallio on you number
of unity minutes.

My question: this that happens is everything correct or my Autostar it
has problems (Autostar pilots motor DS,inseguimento a little good
buono,puntamento)

Thanks for suggestions, compliments for good site  
Hi Gianni  (excuse my English, used translator)
Mike here: Not certain I understand the question but a suggestion: if you think the Autostar is misbehaving, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Autostar E32i Update Query
Sent:	Thursday, September 2, 2004 00:42:18
From:	Barry Morton (barry.morton@virgin.net)
I have just upgraded to the latest version of Autostar (32Ei). Since
then, whenever I Goto an object (even when initially aligning) I get a
warning which says 'CHECK MOUNT' followed by a message which explains
that if I choose to Goto the chosen object, the Telescope may hit the
mount and also how to stop the process if that appears is what is going
to happen.

Not really a problem as such but inconvenient!

Is this a standard message introduced by upgrade 32Ei ( I could not see
anything in the Readme about it). Has anyone else encounted this?

Incidentally, I did check the mount settings and they haven't changed.
Regards,
Barry Morton.
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> CHECK MOUNT 
Well, this is a (well-informed) guess since you didn't
mention scope type or what firmware you upgraded -from-, but:

Your Max Elevation is mis-set.  (this is at least a year old
in the firmware cycle).

Under:
Setup > Telescope > Max Elevation
put 90 [enter]  (if it's an ETX or LX90 )
If it's another model, then re-choose your model:
Setup > Telescope > Model > (whatever) [enter]

Or, simply RESET and answer the subsequent questions.

>Is this a standard message introduced by upgrade 32Ei ( I could not
>see anything in the Readme about it). Has anyone else encounted this?
>Incidentally, I did check the mount settings and they haven't changed.

Firmware updates can cause the Autostar to look in new locations
for "old" variables.  The Max Elevation display sometimes doesn't
seem to show the truth (if memory serves, i think they display "90"
if they sense total garbage, but they don't -set- that "90" until
you press [enter], but that could be my bad memory)

Try the above sequence (do one, test, if not cured, do the next, etc.)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: PDA USB cradles and Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, September 1, 2004 15:20:37
From:	Violette, Daniel R (daniel.r.violette@boeing.com)
I found this site for you.  I am sure there are others which are usually
related to the software that you plan to use.  Check the site for the
software you plan to use:

http://www.alfcen.com/pocket/pnsc.htm

I do not do it myself, but here is what I seem to know.  You usually use
the external port to serial (like the CF slot or SD slot, not the sync
port).  Apparently this site talks about the possibility of using the
sync port and a null modem and gender correctors.  I was always under
the impression that the serial portion of the end connector was not
connected to the cradle (at least not in my model).  If you look at
places like Pocket PC magazine http://www.ppcmag.com/ you will see ads
for the interfaces.

I know what you are saying about serial cradles.  I got the last one in
the store a couple years ago for my IPAQ 3765 because I needed one at
work (no USB there at the time).  New IPAQs may not even have serial
cradles available.  You can check IPAQ website to see if even HP is
selling them for your model.

Dan

Subject:	ETX 90 EC motors fitted to a homemade GEM mount
Sent:	Wednesday, September 1, 2004 06:52:28
From:	Richard Taylor (richard.taylor@livelearning.co.uk)
I've extracted the motor assemblies from my ETX 90 and built them into
my own GEM mount. I would be grateful for any advice as to how I go
about getting proper goto actions with this setup.

I have the Autostar telescope model set to ETX90 and mount set to Polar
but when I try to do a two star alignment the mount slews in the wrong
directions and strikes the base. I polar aligned the mount (using the
drift method) and it seems to track well enough for 3 minute exposures
through a 300mm camera lens to show pin point stars. This was without
going through the Autostar alignment procedure for the reasons mentioned
above.

Can I change the telescope model to LXD55 and alter the drive ratios in
Autostar to suit the ETX90 ratios or do I need to install the patch
which supports the 114 model? From what I have read the above patch is
designed for the DS conversion but what about my situation using ETX90
EC motors?

Many thanks.

Richard Taylor
Mike here: Check out "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" web page (link on the Astronomy Links page); might be something there that helps. Did you do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? You can reverse the direction of the keys using the Autostar menus.

And this:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
...and allow me to make a pre-emptive strike by inviting
you to join the 1100-member strong meade4504telescopes 
Yahoo group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade4504Telescopes/

I "know" some stuff  about the 4504/114eq, but i don't have one.

(you're still free to ask questions, but posting them to
that group will get a wider variety of responses.  Since i
monitor their traffic, asking there is similar to asking
me directly, but other folks may have your same questions
(or already answered them themselves) so other readers will
benefit)

have fun
--dick

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 ©2004 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2004 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackSep04/autostar.html