AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 27 September 2005
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	New 497 Autostar firmware at Meade: v40Eb
Sent:	Tuesday, September 27, 2005 16:17:19
From:	autostaretx (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Quoth the ReadMe:

Upgrades to 40Eb

Improved pointing on Alignment Stars after Cal Sensors.
Park position now shortest distance on ETX scopes.
Park position fixed after automatic alignment.
Smart Drive is now normalized.
Please see the attached file for the new operating instructions.

(the zip file has an additional PDF file describing some of
the changes in operation... it's "simplified")

have fun
--dick

Subject:	RA movement when locked
Sent:	Tuesday, September 27, 2005 03:27:00
From:	Terry Godfrey (terry.godfrey@materials.ox.ac.uk)
I have recently been in communication with you regarding the poor
response time to RA direction reversals on my ETX 125.

To recap: By operating the telescope lying on its side on a table with
the base removed,  I have established that RA percentage changes ARE
being applied to the motor,  these being observed as a burst of motor
speed for perhaps 0.5 seconds. However these varying amounts of speed
bursts (depending on RA percent setting) produce unmeasurable
improvements in reversal times.

I have dismantled the clutch plates,  roughened the mating surfaces with
160 grit paper and thoroughly degreased them with acetone before
reassembly.

With the telescope mounted on its #884 tripod I notice that with the RA
lock very firmly tightened, I observe east-west rotational rocking
movement of just less than 1 division ( i.e. 5 mins) on the RA scale -
this equates to approx. 1 degree of rotation producing at best 3 seconds
for slew #5 and 8 seconds for #4.

Jordan Blessing puts this rocking down to end float in the worm drive
which is plausible but I can't visually detect any end float. I suppose
I could try tightening the worm end float nut?

To sum up: I would also like the instant reversals at slews of #2 and #3
that Dr Clay reports but am I expecting too much?

How much east - west slop with RA FIRMLY CLAMPED do other ETX users
routinely experience? I would like to know.

Best regards

Terry Godfrey
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Let's see...  when i bought my (not too used, but used) ETX90 in 1999,
it had about 1 degree of RA slop (forks could be wiggled) and 3 degrees
of DEC slop (OTA could be lifted and lowered).

The DEC slop was, in part, due to flexing of the plastic fork wall
holding the worm assembly.  I eventually opened it up and shimmed
the work assembly with a scrap of cardboard to "pretension" the
plastic (i have an old model ETX90... yours has metal where mine
has plastic).  6 years of heavy use (and two weeks in UPS vans
touring Memphis, which is another story) have caused the DEC bearings
to increase their oval-shaped clearance such that the OTA visibly
shifts at the start of DEC motion.

Yet the scope can achieve +/- 10-arcminute GoTo's.  Sub 4-arcminute
used to be frequently achievable, but the accumulated bearing wear
now makes that a rarity.

I consider a lag of a second or two in keypad response to be not
really much of a factor... if the scope arrives at a target with
accuracy, i'm happy.  If i want to minimize lag, or overcome
rubberbanding, i just do keypad dances to ensure that my final
slew is in a westward direction.
"Instant reversals" at speed 2 aren't my goal.  I'll accept
"cessation of drift" if i try for "west", and "commencement
of drift" if i try "east"... actual motion may take a little
longer.

But that's an old-design scope... you're able to see the
anti-backlash induced "kick" of the motor... you can put your
finger on the worm... is the "kick" arriving there?
Is it transmitted to the final drive gear?
If you have worm end-play, you should be able to see (or
feel: place one fingertip so that it bridges between the
worm and the frame) the play if you twist the forks with
the power off.  The worm should/would move along its shaft
relative to the carrier if there was play.
Then check that the -carrier- isn't moving relative to the
base of the scope (this was my problem in DEC).
Grasp the driven gear (that which the worm pushes) and
hold it (As firmly as possible) whilst you twist the forks.
Any play?  Does twisting force applied to that gear reach
the forks instantly?
Is the worm carrier lifting -away- from its backplate?

Play and lag are the summed -total- of all of the looseness
in the system... there may well be more than one "culprit"
in this story...  Can you push the forks -laterally-?
(indicating too-great-clearance in the main bearing issues)

There are lots of places where play can enter the game.
Unfortunately.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	ETX125 undershoot/overshoot
Sent:	Monday, September 26, 2005 13:18:52
From:	Tom Slater (tslater@ee.net)
My 1 year old ETX125AT aligns quite easily.  When commanding a goto
function the scope almost centers the object but fine tuning requires
that the scope be 'overshot' on the object and then the scope 'backs up'
in a somewhat unpredictable manner and amt.  Planetary observation with
a short focal length eyepiece will require the planet to be taken out of
the fov and then the scope 'backs up' after removing my finger from the
direction button.

Retrain the gearset/scope?

Thanks so much for the entertaining and informative website.

Cordially,
Tom Slater
tslater@ee.net
Adamsville  Ohio   USA 
Mike here: Yep, CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. In fact, any time you change the power source (replace batteries, switch between batteries and other power sources, or even when the internal batteries start getting low), you need to CALIBRATE MOTORS.

And:

Thanks so much Mike.  That instruction is probably buried in the owner's
manual but I didn't see it.

Seems that the drive training could be placed in memory (CMOS)
somewhere, but it's not difficult to do a CAL.

Cordially,
Tom Slater
Mike here: Drive training IS retained; it just needs periodic updating.
Subject:	AUTOSTAR #497 UPDATE
Sent:	Sunday, September 25, 2005 10:56:59
From:	JOHN PALADINI (jpaladin1@suscom.net)
I have a LXD55 autostar #497 ROM version 26Ec

It's a little out of date

I was reviewing your website on how to update the hand controller

1) Can I update to lastest version in one load or must I do incremental
version loads?

2) I would like to update from PC (new version is now sitting there in
proper updater directory) Can you point me to link that explains exact
steps

3) Is it true that it takes an hour to to load into autostar the new
ROM?

4) Is there any major resets or hidden problems that I should be aware
of ?

I know I'm asking alot but Thanks
John
Mike here: Yes you can go directly to the current version. See the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. No, it is not true (takes < 30 minutes). No "major resets or hidden problems"; just remember to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES following the update.
Subject:	ETX-90EC
Sent:	Saturday, September 24, 2005 21:34:01
From:	Aerosm2095@aol.com (Aerosm2095@aol.com)
I was looking on the net hoping to find someone who seems to know a
great deal about the autostar system.  I myself am an owner and got the
telescope a number of years ago, 90ec along with the autostar.  I could
never figure out how to align it initially in order for it to work.  Is
been a couple of years now and I am getting back into it and was hoping
you could point me in the right direction.  Any info would greatly be
appreciated.  Thanks,
 
Jason
Mike here: There are several alignment tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. Start there.
Subject:	New ETX 125 PE User/Autostar Confusion
Sent:	Saturday, September 24, 2005 18:19:50
From:	John M. Urbanchuk (jurbanchuk@comcast.net)
I just purchased an ETX 125 PE new from the Doiscovery Channel Store and
am very impressed with the system.  LNT seems to work well and was easy
to align. Neat red dot.  Never knew there were so many stars.

My biggest problem however is with Autostar.  The arrow keys move the
telescope as advertised until I try an auto alignment.  Following the
directions I lock the alt/az controls, put the telescope in the home
position, the computer whirs, whizzes, and moves finding  the level,
north, and tilt positions.  It then selects the first alignment star and
asks me to press enter after centering.  It gets close to a bright star
but not on target.  The user manual says to use the arrow keys to center
the star, but they don't move the telescope.  What am I doing wrong?
 
Great website!
 
Regards,
 
John M. Urbanchuk
Mike here: Have you tried changing the slewing speed (using the number keys; 9 being the fastest speed)?
Subject:	Re: my alignment is still failing
Sent:	Friday, September 23, 2005 18:07:09
From:	Eric Theblack (divinitysaga@yahoo.com)
I reset the clock on my ETX 125 PE but I haven't had a good chance to
test the scope since all these clouds keep rolling in (I think it's
because of those hurricanes in the pacific headed for Hawaii).  But even
though I can't use the stars in the summer triangle to get an accurate
alignment, the scope is putting them in the field of view of the
viewfinder, something it has never done before.  That gives me a
positive feeling.  And when I tested it indoors and accepted the stars,
it gives me an alignment successful message.  I will have to wait and
see but I think based solely on my intuition that the scope is fixed.

I will say this about Meade... the scope may have been defective but
they made every effort to fix it.  I have dealt with several people in
their tech support department as well as sales and customer relations
and they have not only apologized, they have fixed the scope in a timely
manner.  I was sorry read that that some people have had negative
experiences with them. I was upset that the scope didn't work but,
assuming it does work now, Meade did an excellent job of handling the
issues.  One thing is for certain, they took care of the dreaded motor
unit fault.  I was getting that non-stop and since I got the scope back,
I have not had a single one.

Between the clouds and haze, I did have an opportunity to observe the
moon and Mars.  Both were absolutely beautiful through the scope.

I am also sending you a couple of reviews (in seperate emails so you
don't have to cut them apart).  If you like, you can post them on your
site.  I can't send you a review of the ETX PE just yet (gotta get it
working and check out some DSOs), but as soon as I do I will fire one
off.

Take care,

Eric
And an update:
Great news.  I finally had a good chance to test my scope tonight and it
finally works.  I used the two star alignment with Vega and Capella. 
Once I centered Capella, I got the long awaited 'align successful'
message.  I then did a goto to Deneb.  It put it right in the eyepiece. 
Then I tested it back on Vega and it worked.

I had to go so I didn't have a chance to do much else but the scope is
indeed working.  I'll send a full review soon as I am able.
 
Eric

Subject:	RE: making a 505 cable
Sent:	Friday, September 23, 2005 06:19:58
From:	Anna316@wmconnect.com (Anna316@wmconnect.com)
I am looking for info on how to make a 505 cable. I though I saw
something posted on it before.  Can't find it now.
Thanks, Tom Hannigan 
(happily rolling along with my LX90)
Mike here: Any time you are looking for Autostar information, checking the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page on my ETX site is probably a good place to start. In this case, see the cable section on that page for lots of info on making a #505 cable.
Subject:	Autostar II key problem
Sent:	Thursday, September 22, 2005 04:26:03
From:	Pearce, Steve ((Steve)) (sjpearce@avaya.com)
I was about to purchase an s/h LX200GPS yesterday, however during the
demo it was found that the handset keyboard appeared to be dead.
Powering up the scope went through the normal start-up procedure but at
the point where  you have to press "5" to continue it just sat there
cycling the sun warning. It was running 1.4g. We managed to upgrade to
3.0i (so the Autostar itself seemed to be working fine), however the
handset keypad still would not respond. I know the Autostar II handset
isn't complicated, is this likely to be a simple problem to fix?

Regards

Steve Pearce
Mike here: It may or may not be possible to fix it. If it is a mechanical problem (dirt, for example) you might be able to clean it enough to get it to work. However, if it is an electrical problem (fried ciruit, broken connection, etc.) then Meade will have to repair it or you will need to replace it.

And:

Thanks for the info. No key appeared to work, so I assume it's
electrical. I didn't buy the scope in the end, I told the seller if it
could get it fixed I would still be interested.

Subject:	Date and Time?
Sent:	Wednesday, September 21, 2005 19:53:36
From:	Phazelag@aol.com (Phazelag@aol.com)
First off let me say thank you for having such a great site and helping
so many of us.

I am having some goto issues and I think the Date and Time is involved. 
I have the date correct but the time I am not sure if I should but the
time in a 12 hour format or 24 hour format and with the daylight savings
time should I have yes right now?  I notice with my computer if I have
DST selected yes the correct time shows but if I dont its one hour
earlier and then I would manually change it to correct time.  And the
Sky program work accurately eitherway!

What do you think?
 
Scott
Mike here: The Autostar should be set to YES if your observing location is currently in Daylight Saving Time. If not, then set to NO. 12 or 24 hour format doesn't matter; your preference.
Subject:	Autostar Feedback: Park Question
Sent:	Tuesday, September 20, 2005 08:34:46
From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
I believe there is a problem with the Autostar and the Park Scope
function using the LNT.  I have only tested this using a '125PE in
Alt/Az so can't say for sure it applies to the LX90 in Polar mounting,
but here's what I found.

The LNT only determines Magnetic North. A Cal Sensor procedure
determines the correction for True North and saves both values in the
Autostar. In the US, the local magnetic variation can run from zero to
more than 15 degrees, depending on where you live; largest values are in
the NE and NW.

The Autostar uses the corrected North value for GOTO's, but when you
select Park Scope, it appears to "forget" to apply the corrections and
slews to Magnetic North. Apparently, when you power up again the
Autostar thinks it's position is already corrected so all subsequent
GOTO's have an error.

In addition to local magnetic variation, there can be other small errors
related to the physical position of components on the LNT PC board that
detect North.

For a little more info, see the "Park Scope Anomaly" message in the June
archives of the "ETX Premier Edition" feedback.

I've advised Meade of the apparent problem but so far they neither
confirm nor deny.

Hope this helps
Mike Hogan
And:
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Thanks for the note...

Since i haven't got an LNT, i can't test it myself.

On one side, i can't see why they'd even care about the LNT.
When you park, it -should- slew to True North (in Alt/Az),
or to Polar Home (Dec=90, RA=LST-12hours) in Polar and beep.

When you power up, that's where it's expecting to (still) be,
and resumes operations as if it were never turned off.
So it shouldn't care about mag north at all (on the 2nd power-up).

My ETX90 still operates in that fashion.

The LX200gps Autostar has a magnetic deviation table associated
with the City list... i haven't managed to figure out if the LNT
has one or not (there -is- a secondary table it references, but
i can't be sure that's what it is... in the LX00gps, the mag data
is in the city list itself... in the LNT, the city list data wasn't
changed from previous (non-LNT) versions, so it's not in the "obvious"
spot.

> US, the local magnetic variation can run from zero to more than 15 degrees,
> depending on where you live; largest values are in the NE and NW.

19.5 degrees and changing, in my neck of the woods...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: my alignment is still failing
Sent:	Tuesday, September 20, 2005 05:54:44
From:	Eric Theblack (divinitysaga@yahoo.com)
I got my ETX back yesterday.  They told me the QA guys tested it in the
field and it aligned correctly.  They said they were able to slew to the
moon and two other objects perfectly.  I tried 3 or 4 alignments last
night and they all failed, but the clouds were heavy and for all but one
of them I was forced to use only the stars in the summer triangle,
primarily Vega and Altair.

The funny thing is... when I RESET and then answer 'yes' to daylight
savings time, then go to the 'time' display, the clock on the autostar
is one hour AHEAD of what the actual time is.  If it's 7:30 PM, it says
8:30 PM.  So during the above alignments, I actually answered 'no' so
that it would give the correct time on the display.

Is this normal?  Should I answer 'no' or should I answer 'yes' and then
correct the time manually from the autostar?  I actually didn't try
aligning it using the incorrect time because the clouds rolled in so
heavy that I couldn't even see the summer triangle so I packed up.  Any
thoughts on this before I give it another go?
 
Thanks,
 
Eric
Mike here: Go ahead and reset the clock. Don't use the Summer Triangle for alignment stars; they are too close together. You really need stars at least 90 degrees apart. For testing purposes you can do the alignments indoors; just accept the stars offering and assume they are centered. If that works, then you know all is OK.
Subject:	re: Optimising Azimuth Percent
Sent:	Monday, September 19, 2005 23:13:23
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
If you've already tried 95%,
then the next step is to open the base and look for a slipping gear,
worm end=play or (it's happened!) loose-in-the-breeze worm carrier.

Remove the batteries, and be careful of the too-short, too-fragile
wires that connect the battery compartment and the power socket.

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	Terry Godfrey (terry.godfrey@materials.oxford.ac.uk)
Mike and Dick,
Thanks for the replies.  After confirming that varying the RA percentage
has no effect on response time to a reversal in direction I have just
discovered that with the RA locked and holding the scope forks, it is
possible to rock the RA axis a few degrees in either direction!!!  I
guess there must be something loose in the drive train so I will use the
Jordan Blessing / RB Ingersoll notes from the Tech Tips page and let you
know the outcome.

Thanks for your time. Your site is a mine of information.

Regards

Terry Godfrey
And more:
From:	Terry Godfrey (terry.godfrey@materials.ox.ac.uk)
LATEST:

By removing the base plate and operating the scope on its side I have
established that changing AZ percentage does indeed work, causing the
motor to spin at higher speeds for a short period to reduce up the
backlash period.

The problem (which is still present) would therefore seem to be solely
mechanical.

What troubles me is the lack of repeatability when clamping the RA axis
which I have only  just realised is present in my ETX. Sometimes, having
clamped the RA axis I can move the forks backward and forward say 3
degrees of rotation and sometimes it clamps better, moving perhaps 1
degree. I also feel it clamps better in some positions than others
although for practical purposes it would normally be clamped at the
'Home Position' stage i.e. due north. This lack of repeatability is
surely going to affect GO TO?

Perhaps the next step is to investigate the clutch but I am nervous
about dismantling this. Dr Clay's instructions says to remove the RA
clamp lever and then loosen the bolt. I am very concerned about the 4
wires running up through this bolt (presumably to the DEC drive). After
a couple of turn of the bolt,  the wires seem to want to stop further
rotation of the bolt and I don't want to force anything. (If the wires
go up the centre of the bolt, how do they exit it?)   Even if I can get
the clutch plate off  how do I get it past the 4 wires which have a plug
on the end which is bigger than the central hole?

Thanks for your time

Best regards

Terry Godfrey

P.S. I forgot to mention that I could not see any signs of a slipping
gear or any end float or other problems with the worm drive. Everything
seemed to be very smooth.
Mike here: If you don't feel comfortable with disassembling it, maybe it is time to contact Dr. Clay for a "Supercharge".

And:

> The problem (which is still present) would therefore seem to be solely mechanical.

Yup.

> This lack of [clamping] repeatability is surely going to affect GO TO?

Yup.

> Perhaps the next step is to investigate the clutch but I am nervous
about dismantling this. Dr Clay's instructions says to remove the RA
clamp lever and then loosen the bolt. I am very concerned about the 4
wires running up through this bolt (presumably to the DEC drive). After
a couple of turn of the bolt,  the wires seem to want to stop further
rotation of the bolt and I don't want to force anything. (If the wires
go up the centre of the bolt, how do they exit it?)   Even if I can get
the clutch plate off  how do I get it past the 4 wires which have a plug
on the end which is bigger than the central hole?

(a) try holding the bolt (forks) and turning the nut.  That avoids
 twisting the wires.

(b) you have a variety of approaches with the wires/connector:
 (1) cut the wires between the bolt and the connector, do the work, and
  solder them back together (with heat-shrink tubing added) afterwards.
  That's what Meade did when they worked on my scope.
 (2) the individual pins can be removed from their connector body by
  inserting a shirt-pin thru the hole on the side of the connector body
 occupied by the securing spring clip (one per wire).. as you're pushing
 on the spring, pull on the wire to remove the pin from the plastic.
  Make -careful- -redundant- notes of which goes where for reassembly.
 Once the pins are free, they can be fed one at a time through the nut.

Then there's the "Easy" way: send the scope to Meade or Dr. Clay, and
let them do it...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: changing alignment stars on the etx125 pe
Sent:	Monday, September 19, 2005 23:10:02
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
When Mike said "Press the DOWN arrow key to select a different star"
he should've said "Press the Scroll Down key..."
(the key on the lower right of the Autostar).

have fun
--dick
And:
Subject:	Mike, you come through again!
Sent:	Wednesday, September 21, 2005 10:50:14
From:	Dave Wallace (d_wallace@ecrm.com)
I was just about to ask the same question for the same reason.

Is there any way we could lobby Meade to hire you to re-write their
Autostar instructions so they're complete and people can understand
them?  :)  You have just about done so over the years!

Subject:	Autostar manuals
Sent:	Monday, September 19, 2005 20:25:49
From:	Russell (oneshot_me@yahoo.com)
I bought a meade telescope and dont have a manual for it and I cant find
away to get one. Do you know of anyway to find one? Any info would be
very helpfull. If you dont have the time or just dont know I understand.
Thank You

Make a friend for life, Take a kid Hunting.  
Thank You and May Life Be Kind To You.
Mike here: Many telescope models today can be connected to a computer to control the telescope. This includes the Meade DS, DSX, ETX, LXD, LX90, and LX200 models. But there are different markets that various models are targetted at. The DS asnd DSX are more low-end consumer models; the ETX and LXD are mid-range, the LX90 is upper mid-range, and the LX200 at the high end, more professional market. That's not to say that any model can't work in any market segment because they do.

And:

I just seen the info for the manuals on the page I got your email from.
Duh!! I hope I didn't inconvenience you. If you did send me any info
"THANK YOU"
Mike here: Glad you found what you need. Enjoy!

And:

I have a ds=114.  What I'd like to know is who would you set up your
telescope being that I cant see the northstar because of all the trees?
Mike here: There are several ways. Use a compass to find Magnetic North and then correct for your local "Magnetic Variation". If your streets run North/South they may be aligned to True North. That should point you in the right direction. If neither of these work for you, then set up with the HOME position as close to True North as you think you can get. Then when prompted to center the first alignment star (using a 2 star alignment) pick up the telescope AND tripod and rotate it horizontally to get the telescope pointed as close as possible to the star. This will correct for any initial North pointing error. Then center the star normally and proceed to the second star. DO NOT move the tripod again; center the 2nd star using the controller.
Subject:	changing alignment stars on the etx125 pe
Sent:	Monday, September 19, 2005 05:54:56
From:	alanbassgreene@aol.com (alanbassgreene@aol.com)
when my etx 125 pe picks an alignment star it is often obstructed from
my view due to trees. The manual does not say how to pick an alternate
alignment star. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Al Greene
Mike here: Press the DOWN arrow key to select a different star.
Subject:	Optimising Azimuth Percent
Sent:	Monday, September 19, 2005 02:13:58
From:	Terry Godfrey (terry.godfrey@materials.ox.ac.uk)
If there is one thing that really irritates me with my ETX 125 it is the
delay in response to reversing direction in azimuth. With a slew rate of
'5' it usually takes around 5 seconds before anything happens and at a
setting of '4',  at least 12 seconds. Altitude reversals do not seem to
be affected. I have looked carefully at Dr Clay's Performance
Enhancement (Part 2) and whether I enter 5% or a ridiculous 95% azimuth
percent there is absolutely no change in the response times. The values
appear to have been entered successfully as the new  values are shown
when the ETX is powered up after switching off. Any ideas would be
gratefully received.

Regards
Terry Godfrey
Mike here: You might want to read the two articles on "percentages" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.

And:

Thanks for the quick response;  I have read the article on "Making sure
your ETX "remembers" and responds to the setting" i.e. calibrating the
motors AFTER each change but I still get no improvement. I have v2.6E
Autostar. I will try yet again.

Thanks

T Godfrey
Mike here: If you have (or can make or buy) a #505 cable you should upgrade to the current version of the Autostar software.
Subject:	Possible Autostar Short
Sent:	Sunday, September 18, 2005 16:33:38
From:	jmainframe (jmainframe@optonline.net)
I was trying to build an extension cable for my Dec motor to fix a
wraparound problem I've been having. My first attempt had the wires
reversed. I plugged in and there was no response with the Dec motor with
Autostar.

I realized my error and re-crimped a new plug with the wires in their
correct position. I used the "dumb" controller this time (should have
used this first), and both motors worked, however when I use the
Autostar, the Dec motor still does not respond. I can switch the motors,
and as an RA, that motor works, forward and reverse.

I tried resetting Autostar, I even re-loaded the firmware, still no
response from the Dec motor. I ordered a new motor set (motors, control
panel, etc.)

Did I blow out the Autostar? I'm hoping its only the control panel but
being that both motors work with the "dumb" controller, I doubt its
that. All other connections work, except for the Dec connection. The
program seems to be working properly, except for an MUF message that
understandably shows up at times.
  
Joe
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS? When trying to align, does the Autostar slew the telescope on both axes? When manually slewing, does changing the slew speed make any difference?

And:

It will only attempt to calibrate the RA motor. When it tries to
calibrate the Dec motor, it will either give an MUF, or it will say
"testing motors" and then nothing happens. It doesn't hang, because it
comes out of the function in a couple of seconds.

Because I can't calibrate the Dec motor, I hadn't attempted to align or slew.

Joe
Mike here: So at least it communicates (or thinks it does). Sounds more like a problem on the controller end, not the Autostar end. If you reverse the leads to the motors, is it the RA drive that doesn't work?

And:

Thanks for the quick responses! When I reverse the leads, its still the
Dec motor not responding. The "dead" motor works when plugged into the
RA socket.
Mike here: OK, now you know the motor is OK. So it becomes a question of the Autostar or the controller board. Since the standard handcontroller works, it sounds like the Autostar has failed.

And:

That's what I was afraid of. I came to that conclusion myself, but I
thought there was something I may have been missing.

Just one more thing and I'll let you go.

I'm still under warranty with Meade. Only have the unit for 1 month.
Should I take it up with them? Do you know what their turnaround time
usually is? Do you know if they usually swap the unit or do they try to
repair it?

Thanks for all your help.
Joe
Mike here: They will probably swap it unless they are convinced you damaged it. A new one should ship almost immediately if they will exchange it.

And:

Thanks Mike. I'm going to contact Meade right away.

Joe

Subject:	new etx125at ,great scope but
Sent:	Sunday, September 18, 2005 09:06:51
From:	howard pray (inorbit357@earthlink.net)
Hi, haveing a great time with my new 125 but i ran in to a problem ,the
1st guide star that i goto is now behind a tree ,Iam useing easy aligne,
I have read your book over &over great book ! i would like to use the
stars on the chart for high-precision on page143-147 in your book but
they are realy small , is larger ones avalable ? that would be great ,my
eye site is not what it was ! thanks for your help. howard pray
Mike here: See the article "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	Park Question
Sent:	Saturday, September 17, 2005 02:48:23
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
I'm new to the LX90 and specifically parking the scope.

Last night I parked the scope. I powered down when autostar prompted me
to. I'm certain the alignment was good. This morning when I powered up
the scope and slewed to an object (Mars) The RA was off by about 30-45
degs.

I've checked mike's site but didn't see anything specfic. The time in
the autostar was correct.

Any ideas about what I may have done wrong.

Thanks

JIm Holland
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Not enough data:
Did you try a GoTo to any -star-?
(planets can get messed up by date issues as well as time).

If the RA error was -exactly- 30 or 45 degrees (i.e. any multiple
of 15 degrees) it screams "error in setting the TIME",
since the sky moves 15 degrees per hour.

have fun
--dick
And:
Not sure if this is important, but I was in polar mode, with a wedge etc.

I did not try going to a star. I guess in reality I should have used RA
nomenclature for my description instead of degrees (I'm still fairly new
to astronomy) All I did was move the scope in RA to center mars. The
time was correct, thats the first thing I checked.

when I get the chance, I'll do the same experiment again.

Thanks

Jim
And:
Jim Holland wrote:
> Not sure if this is important, but I was in polar mode, with a wedge etc.

In this case it's probably not an issue (although with an LX200gps,
it would've been vital data, since there are issues with Polar Park
in that model)

> I did not try going to a star. I guess in reality I should have used RA
> nomenclature for my description instead of degrees(I'm still fairly new to
> astronomy)

Degrees are fine (i prefer them, most folks estimate better in degrees).

> All I did was move the scope in RA to center mars. The time was
> correct, thats the first thing I checked.

How was the month?  Year?  Time Zone?

> when I get the chance, I'll do the same experiment again.

Mars transited the zenith at about 4:43 am local daylight time
  last night.
Simply tell your Autostar that's when it is, and see if the RA
slews to roughly due south.  Easy test, no sky needed.

The Plieades are about 20 RA minutes (5 degrees) east of Mars,
so you can then do a GoTo M45, and verify that it moves only
that far East.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: EXT/LX Question
Sent:	Friday, September 16, 2005 19:14:46
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I'm going to differ from Mike and say:
Training in Alt/Az should be perfectly adequate for Polar.

(in fact, if you have an LX200gps,  Alt/Az training is -far- better
than Polar, since they use a moving star in Polar).\

Train Drives only measures the backlash of the gear system
(with some "pollution" from loose OTA bearings).
That backlash doesn't change with mount style.

However: if you load my patch kits, you'll be able to -see-
the numeric results derived from Training.
Then you can try two or three Trains in each mount style,
and see if the results change markedly between the two.
With my ETX90, they don't... my train-to-train variation is
about 8 to 10%, and any mount-to-mount variation is swamped by that.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	EXT/LX Question
Sent:	Thursday, September 15, 2005 11:58:37
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
What is the conventional wisdom out there concerning the training of
motors. ie:

Does the training in ALTAZ mode carry over and work for POLAR mode?
Or should you train for each mode you're going to be working in?

Thanks

JIm Holland
Mike here: You should reTRAIN DRIVES when switching modes.
Subject:	Mac interface to Meade GoTo
Sent:	Wednesday, September 14, 2005 16:27:37
From:	Robert Stenstrom (nstro7@msn.com)
I am trying to get my starry night pro to drive my LXD75 to screen
objects. No luck. Does the serial cable plug into the 497 or the control
panel?. Help. Bob
Mike here: The serial cable connects to the Autostar. It also connects to a real RS-232 port. If you have only USB you will need a converter. For lots more info, see the Macintosh articles on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	RE: Training Drives on 105 not doing anything! The saga continues
Sent:	Saturday, September 10, 2005 02:57:39
From:	Trevor Smith (tgsmith@bigfoot.com)
Thanks for the info. I have fixed my ALT drive problem - the pcb in the
alt drive mechanism had become skewed in its holder and so the LED and
the toothed wheel were not lined up properly.

However I still cannot train the RA drive properly - its as if the
training data isnt being used (that is, if I train very badly on purpose
the problem doesn't get any worse!). Do I need to do anything after
training to "fix" the training data into the system? I recall a patch
somewhere that allows you to see the training data: I'll see what i can
find out in the meantime.

Thanks again for the site.
Mike here: Did you do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then TRAIN DRIVES? If so, you might want to see the article "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. And:
Yes I did reset, calibrate and train. Now waiting for some clear skies!

Subject:	RS232 from PC to ETX-125PE
Sent:	Tuesday, September 6, 2005 18:44:05
From:	lenny g (lennynt98@hotmail.com)
ETX-125PE
Dell Latitude laptop
Windows XP
Autostar v3.17

I got an ETX-125PE for my birthday recently and I'm not able to get it
to communicate with my laptop when I use the supplied cable and RS232
connector. When I set the protocol to Autostar via com port, there's a
30 second (give or take) delay, then it says there was a read failure.

I read some articles and discovered it might be a com port conflict, so
I went through the laptop's BIOS and disabled the touchpad (which
conflicted with the serial port). Still no joy. I disabled the mouse...
nothing.

So my question is... what else should I check to make the laptop talk to
the scope? Incidentally, I connected a serial mouse to the port and it
works fine. So I connected the scope to a desktop computer and it
establishes communications right away. So there's something I'm
missing... any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks and you've got an awesome site...
Lenny
Mike here: Just to be certain, you have a real RS-232 serial port on your laptop, correct? Other software, like fax software, can interfere. Also, be certain you are using the right cable; there are two with the PE models. But I doubt that is the problem since you were able to get it to work with the desktop computer.
Subject:	Training Drives on 105 not doing anything! The saga continues
Sent:	Tuesday, September 6, 2005 16:01:52
From:	Trevor Smith (tgsmith@bigfoot.com)
Hi again. Thanks for some recent info regarding my poor GOTOs, and for
your site as a whole. As things stand at present I am noticing two
interesting "features" on my 105:

If I train the RA drive *really* badly on purpose my GOTO performance
does not get worse. I am wondering if the training is not being
"remembered" by Autostar.

I now have a runaway Dec drive: only two speeds (fast and v fast) and
its not telling autostar that its moved (I get the controller to display
its coordinates first). Is it likely a wire has come loose? I have had a
peek but cannot see one.

Have you ever come across a company in UK/Europe who sells parts or who
will service a 105?

Kind regards

Trevor Smith
Nottingham
UK
Mike here: If you have not done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and then a TRAIN DRIVES you can experience both systems. If you have done them and the symptoms continue, do a RESET, and then a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Generally there are no Meade parts for sale although Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page) does sell some parts.
Subject:	Re: my alignment is still failing
Sent:	Monday, September 5, 2005 21:30:19
From:	Eric Theblack (divinitysaga@yahoo.com)
Sorry I can't give you a positive report.  I tried what you said and I
tried to align it down in Orange County with the zip code there where my
Aunt lives.  But it just gave me more of the same.  It puts the
alignment stars several degrees off of even the LNT viewfinder.  If I
move them in, it gives me the alignment failed message.  My aunt is
dropping it off for me at the Meade factory tomorrow.  I hope they fix
it.  I'll let you know as soon as I get it back and can test it out.
 
Take care till then and thanks again,
 
-Eric

Subject:	Autostar star selection program for alt/az setups
Sent:	Monday, September 5, 2005 20:18:54
From:	Doug Fennell (dfennell@midsouth.rr.com)
Here's a nifty little single purpose program for helping determine the
"best pair" of alignment stars to choose while in Alt/Az mode on
Autostar 497 equipped telescopes.

It is quite simple to use and works like a champ. Basically, you input
your site data and click "compute" and it displays the stars with the
least overall pointing error.

Here's the link to the website featuring the program..

www.ilanga.com/bestpair/index.shtml/
Mike here: It's already on the Astronomy Links page. But a reminder to new site visitors is good.
Subject:	re: StarMod.exe problem
Sent:	Sunday, September 4, 2005 20:22:07
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Um... please read the ReadMe... step (d) of "Method" describes
what you -should- be clicking (the file called "ClickMe", as it
happens).

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX 90 AT alignment in the South Hemisphere
Sent:	Friday, September 2, 2005 10:36:13
From:	jf (cestjihef@free.fr)
Sorry if this question has an obvious answer, I just can't find it :( .
Here is the problem :

I've just bought an ETX90 AT and would like to find objects and so
on.... The problem is that I live in Mauritius. I try to make an
Altazimutal alignment, and I get weird results :

- If I follow the procedure from the instruction manual, the horizontal
motor runs the wrong way, pointing in the opposite direction ( NW when
it should be NE) .

- The only way I've found to get something that seems to work is to
enter the opposite for the longitude coordonate :

Flic en Flac coordonates ( as far as I know ) are :
20 17' South
57 21' East

I have to enter :
20 17' South
57 21' West !!!

This seems to work and the alignment gives apparently correct results (
the sky is too cloudy for now and I use a sky map - kstars - to check it),
moving from a star to another or to a planet give logocal moves.

The questions are : 
 - is there a parameter anywhere where I can tell autostar that I'm in
 the south hemisphere (I've read there was a switch on the RA model) ?
 - If not, is there something I do wrong ( I can't see what with the
 altazimutal alignment ) ?
 - The ETX seems to point the right direction, but when I want to point
 an object, low but visible on the Map, autostars gives me 'wrong' rise
 time values and won't point to them.

Could you help me please with that ? 
Thank you in advance, and please forgive me for the length (and maybe
the content ) of this mail.

best regards,
JF
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for Southern Hemisphere info. When you enter your location into the Autostar, it "knows" you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

And:

Thanks a lot for your quick answer.  I had read a lot of your Helpful
information but missed this one. I thought I did exactly what is said
there, so I decided to start from the begining :

reset the autostar, enter the date and time, training the motors,
re-enter the real latitude and longitude, and time zone ( before that I
entered the local time in the autostar and 0 for time zone , maybe it
was my mistake ? ) ,  and it seems to work now ( even if I can't check
the accuracy, because it's raining now ;) ) . Next step will be with a
real sky :)

Thanks again, your site is really great, and I must say that I didn't
think you would answer so quickly.

regards,
jf
Mike here: "0" for time zone would likely be incorrect.
Subject:	my alignment is still failing
Sent:	Friday, September 2, 2005 00:16:37
From:	Eric Theblack (divinitysaga@yahoo.com)
Hello Mike, Eric here.  I met you at the OPT astronomy convention on
August 20 (I think that was the date).  I was the one with the ETX 125
PE that did not work.  I got it back from Meade, one week late, and it
still does not work!  The motors are running much more smoothly, no
motor unit faults, but it is still giving me the 'Alignment Failed -
Check Stars' message.

I am beyond angry right now.  I don't know what to do.  I used Arcturus
and Altair, and then later in the night when Arcturus was gone (either
down or behind a large tree), I used the automatic align which took me
to Vega first and then Altair.  I had each of those big, beautiful and
extremely bright stars dead center in the view finder.  I tried several
times with the auto align to Vega and Altair.  Sometimes it got closer
to Vega than it did to Altair, sometimes just the opposite.  I also
tried picking the telescope up and rotating it like you said on the
first alignment star.  Anyway, the thing is not aligning.  I did the
calibrate motors, train drives, and calibrate sensors more than once as
well.  We went through the alignment steps with that ETX 105 that night,
if you remember, and it worked fine.  Mine simply does not.

You asked me to send you a review but until I get the thing working I
can't see enough to review it.  I'm going to call Meade again tomorrow. 
Please email me if you have any idea what could be wrong.  If I ever get
it working, I'll send you a review then.

Thanks for all your help.  Have a happy Labor Day weekend,
 
Sincerely,
 
Eric Ramesh
Mike here: Are you letting the Autostar pick the stars or are you selecting them? Keep in mind that if the alignment stars are too close together, i.e., less than 90 degrees apart, you can get the alignment failure message. Lets try an experiment. In the daytime (in your house even), select Automatic Alignment and let the Autostar do its thing. When it asks you to center each alignment star, just assume they are centered and press ENTER. Do you get a successful alignment? Do the same with the Easy Alignment. Do you get a successful alignment?

And:

Yes, if I just press enter and assume the stars are centered, it accepts
the alignment.  I even tried that at night with the stars.  It is when I
try to move it at all to actually center the stars that it rejects it. 
Sometimes it will slew very close to the star.  Other times it will be
several degrees down or to the right or left or both.  Whether or not it
is close does not seem to help.  If I have to move the thing with the
arrows any more than one degree, it fails alignment.

I am trying both the automatic alignment and the two star alignment.

Usually the automatic alignment uses two of the stars in the summer
triangle, which would be closer than 90 degrees.  But it also uses one
of them and Arcturus, which I think would be far enough apart.  I have
also used one star from the triangle and Arcturus and yet it still
fails.

I'm waiting for Vincent from tech support to call me back (he's the guy
who handled my scope).  Hopefully we can straighten this mess out. 
Thanks again,
 
Eric
Mike here: Hum... Slewing works when the Autostar is controlling it for the alignment process but it doesn't work when you are trying to slew. Lets try a couple of things. RESET the Autostar and re-enter all the correct info. Also, try redistributing the lubrication by unlocking both axes and slowly moving the telescope back and forth by hand, hard stop to hard stop.

And:

I can't try it tonight (my roomate is in a band and he's playing), but
I'll try moving the telescope back and forth like you said.  I have been
resetting every single time though.  When an alignment fails, I turn off
the scope then turn it on and reset from autostar menu then re-enter
city, etc.  Sorry I forgot to mention it.

I talked to David (Wingate I think was his last name? It started with a
W.) who was the customer rep and I guess he's in charge of tech support.
He doesn't know what the problem is or why it was not fixed.  He wants
me to bring it in again, which I will, and he said they can run a
simulation on it that will tell if the alignment is working or not. 
I'll either drop it off on Tuesday, since they're closed Monday, or
arrange for a UPS pickup.

I'll email you late Saturday night after I try what you advised.  With
any luck I can get it working then and not have to be without it another
2-3 weeks for them to fix it.

Thanks again.  Have a great weekend...
 
-Eric

Subject:	re: Autostar adaptation to general GEM
Sent:	Thursday, September 1, 2005 22:52:16
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike remembered Roboscope!

Anyway: the answers to your two specific questions:
(1) is it possible to use other motors
(2) is it possible to use other encoders

are both "Yes, with work".
(those encoders already give sub-arcsecond accuracy,
so i'm not sure what you'd gain, unless you're using
a very different gear train).
The Autostar setting: Setup > Telescope > RA Ratio (and Dec ratio)
is in units of "encoder ticks per OTA arcsecond of motion".

There are issues with Training if the Ratio values are above 4.5,
but you can Train with lower ratios, and then scale the results
after the fact.  The scope itself will happily GoTo with ratios
of at least 8 (i simply haven't heard of much higher).
There is an upper limit to encoder transitions per second.
With -too- high a ratio you have to limit your slew speed
to avoid that hurdle. (i think it's above 9).

have fun
--dick

Subject:	StarMod.exe problem
Sent:	Thursday, September 1, 2005 15:39:05
From:	Reg Beene (reg@beene.us)
I'm sorry to trouble you again, but I can't get StarMod.exe to open. 
When the icon is double-clicked it appears that a DOS type window opens
for a flash and then nothing.  The same thing happens on my laptop and
my office PC.  StarMod will not open with Explorer OR Run, as well.  I
have tried with the file in C:\programs\Meade\AutoStar
Suite\updater\Ephemerides and also in a WinZip unzip-directory.
 
Thanks for any help, Reg

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