Last updated: 27 September 2005
Subject: New 497 Autostar firmware at Meade: v40Eb Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 16:17:19 From: autostaretx (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 GodfreyAnd:
From: Richard Seymour (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 email@example.com Adamsville Ohio USAMike 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.
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 SlaterMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 JohnMike 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, JasonMike 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 (email@example.com) 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. UrbanchukMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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, EricAnd 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)) (email@example.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 PearceMike 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.
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? ScottMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) 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 HoganAnd:
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.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, EricMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 --dickAnd:
From: Terry Godfrey (email@example.com) 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 GodfreyAnd more:
From: Terry Godfrey (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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".
> 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 (email@example.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 --dickAnd:
Subject: Mike, you come through again! Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 10:50:14 From: Dave Wallace (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.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.
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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.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 GreeneMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 GodfreyMike here: You might want to read the two articles on "percentages" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
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 GodfreyMike 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 (email@example.com) 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. JoeMike 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?
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. JoeMike 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?
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.
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. JoeMike 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 prayMike 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 (email@example.com) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 --dickAnd:
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 JimAnd:
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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 HollandMike 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 (email@example.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. BobMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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 (email@example.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... LennyMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 UKMike 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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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, JFMike 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.
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, jfMike 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 (email@example.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 RameshMike 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?
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, EricMike 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.com) 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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