AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 September 2006

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, 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 LX200gps firmware 4.2g (and RCX400 v2.2g) at Meade's site
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2006 17:53:08
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)

http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

And -this- time i think they finally got RA Train Drive
providing good results in Polar.

But (gleaning from the readme and quick testing):
(a) during RA Training, the sidereal drive is -off-.
(b) if you have the scope to "Targets > Terrestrial",
 it will request a -landmark- as a training target
 for both RA and DEC Training... so you don't have
 to "lie" and tell it it's Alt/Az, just tell it 
 "Targets > Terrestrial"

(c) If you can't Train on a Landmark, then leave Targets
 set to Astronomical.  The sidereal drive will run during
 DEC Training, so you'll use a star which stays steady
 (east/west-wise) in the eyepiece.
 In RA Training, it'll be a little weird... as soon as
you start the procedure, sidereal stops.  Slew to allow
 the start to drift across the center of the field of 
 view (or onto your reticle's reference) with the display
 saying "Center Reference Object".  As it crosses the
 center/crosshairs, tap [enter].  The scope will zip to one
 side, and slew part-way back.  Press on the requested key
 to bring it back.  You can overshoot a bit (if the directions
are proper) and tap [enter] when it's centered. (or just be
 good about tapping [enter] the first time).  It'll zip off
 in the other direction.  Now slew it back.
 At least in the Northern Hemisphere, the directions are such
 that you can bring it -almost- back, and then let it drift 
 the final few arcseconds before you tap [enter].

After -years- of fighting Polar RA Training, this new system
-finally- yields numbers very similar to what i get in Alt/Az.
Since the result is a measure of the telescope's gearing,
they really should be the same Polar or Alt/Az.
Now they are.

Other major change:
The "Two Star" align now puts it in -your- lap to choose
the stars. It won't be forcing its ideas upon your.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 autostar 497 goes loose 
Sent:	Tuesday, September 26, 2006 13:56:23
From:	Alain Verschuere (averschuere@scarlet.be)
Mike, thank you, the problem is solved by calibration, kinda stupid from
me.

However, before, i did change the batteries several times without doing
a re-calibration and was able to successfully align.

Do you know how this comes?
thank, regards,
alain
Mike here: If the output from the batteries is sufficiently close each time you swap in new ones, then the output from the encoders will stay fairly constant. Hence, even with the lack of calibration the AutoStar could work nearly reliably. However, if there was a significant change in the output, all kinds of oddities can occur.
Subject:	497 handbox cable bad
Sent:	Monday, September 25, 2006 21:32:45
From:	Greg Kaiser (kaiser_az@cox.net)
Is there another place to purchase a 497 handbox cable Other Than Meade
mine has gone bad
Is it possible to build one
 
Thanks
 
Greg Gilbert,Az.
Mike here: See the article "Long Autostar Cable" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for info on making a cable.
Subject:	Autostar 497 LCD will not light up
Sent:	Monday, September 25, 2006 19:09:47
From:	HannahClan@aol.com (HannahClan@aol.com)
Recently bought ETX 90 with autostar 497. After having used it one or
two times I removed it from case and on power up the controller quit
functioning, no LCD or scope function, unit has not been dropped.
However the scope does respond to the manual controller supplied by
Meade. I tried two separate packs of fresh batteries but still get no
controller functions.
  
Any ideas
 
David Hannah
Norman, OK
Mike here: If the LED on the ETX base is illuminated then the power is OK. So if there is no display or control function from the keypad then power is not getting to the AutoStar. Check the cable connection. Look for bent or dirty pins on the connectors and inside the jacks. Try reversing the cable. Lastly, and only if you have a #505 serial cable and your computer has a serial connection (note: not all USB to serial adapters work well with the AutoStar Update application; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page), you can try a SAFE LOAD. See the FAQ page for the item "Q. The power went off while I was updating my Autostar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?".
Subject:	problemas con el autostar
Sent:	Friday, September 22, 2006 20:18:14
From:	FrancescMR (tevarim@telefonica.net)
De pronto quedo el AUTOSTAR parado y no responde a ninguna funcion ... 
De que tipo de averia se trata, que debo hacer . Mi telecopio es un ATX
125 AT. Saludos y gracias FrancescMR
Mike here: Do you mean the keys do not work or that you were doing an update and turned off the power?

And:

Indeed, the problem is that the screen of the AUTOSTAR is illuminated
but he/she doesn't respond to any order. Do you believe that the
AUTOSTAR this damaged..?  do you know of somebody that has had the same
mishap?. Thank you and he/she forgives those nuisances FrancescMR
Mike here: Do you have the #505 serial cable and can you perform the update using the software on Meade's web site? If so, you can put the AutoStar into Safe Load mode (see the FAQ page) and reload the ROM.
Subject:	ETX 125 autostar 497 goes loose 
Sent:	Friday, September 22, 2006 12:23:06
From:	Alain Verschuere (averschuere@tiscali.be)
A question.

I use now the 125 with autostar for a few years now, never with problems
in alignment.

Now after charging and putting back batteries (like always) and i try to
align (easy mode, but also other modes), the scope keeps on circling
till it can not go further (internal stops).

Even the height he goes is not where the star is.

With different stars it goes either right or left but always goes to the
end at the mechanical stops (and keeps trying, thus more than 1 tour).

I've reset some times but the problem repaits itself.

I've quit some experience with settings and never had this problem
before.

Could you think of a possible cause?
Thank you, best regards
Alain, Beveren, Belgium
Mike here: Since you didn't state it I will assume you have not done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES recently. Whenever batteries are changed (or when switching to a different power source) you should always CALIBRATE MOTOR.
Subject:	re: New Autostar problem..Please help!
Sent:	Thursday, September 21, 2006 23:17:00
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Did you do a Setup/Reset before the Cal Motors and Train Drives?
That frequently helps with odd runaways.
And lower the RA Percent and DEC Percent to 01%  to see if that helps.

You wrote "yes of course I did that :-)
 That's the sentence you see the most on
your site :-) (calibrate motor and train drives)"

We don't -know- if you did a step unless you tell us
the first time... thus i have to ask about Reset
(since the full sentence is RESET, Cal Motor and Train Drives).

I monitor many telescope groups, and i have -not- seen
this complaint about 43Ea. (and my ETX90 doesn't do it).

good luck
--dick

Subject:	New Autostar problem..Please help!
Sent:	Thursday, September 21, 2006 02:57:00
From:	Job Geheniau (geheniau@xs4all.nl)
Recently I did an update for my autostar and this is the new problem:

When I do a 2 star align with my ETX90 and Autostar 497, but also when
slewing to an an object with the goto function, the ETX slews to it,
first fast and then in slow mode. So far so good as the old days, but
when the autostar is almost finished, both axes (dec and alt) go in high
speed mode for a short time for the final slew.

I must admit that the object then is sometimes in the middle, but I
think it's strange, the final high speed mode doesn't sounds like an
accurate thing.

Is this normal with every scope/autostar after the latest update?

Also after aligning, the scope tells me how far I am away from the
polestar. Also new, but thats ok.

Can you or others help me with confirming this is ok, or how to disable
the high speed slew at the end of slewing?

Regards,

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands
geheniau@xs4all.nl
www.samage.net/~geheniau/astronomy2.html

And:

I just wrote you about the new slewing.
I think it has to do with Cal sensors.
Do I have to Calibrate Sensors with My ETX90. I have not the newest
ETX90 you know.
What does Cal Sensors and Calibrate Sensors exactly mean and do?

Regards,

Job
Mike here: I don't recall seeing that problem. But did you do a CALIBRATE MOTOR (not CALIBRATE SENSORS) after doing the update? I always do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES following any AutoStar update. I've not had any problems following any of the recent (last several years) updates with this technique. CALIBRATE SENSORS is only for the Premier Edition models that use the LNT.

And:

yes of course I did that :-) That's the sentence you see the most on
your site :-) (calibrate motor and train drives)

Do you have the latets update and no LNT ETX? No problems at all?

Job
Mike here: I don't recall if I loaded 4.3Ea yet and my Autostars are now packed in the car for the trip to Oracle Observatory.  But I know I had the version just prior.
Subject:	Etx125/hbx failure
Sent:	Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:10:15
From:	Badgr91@aol.com (Badgr91@aol.com)
As usual,many thanks for your immediate & helpful reply!

I  followed the advice, but was unable to establish contact with the
hbx-no screen,no light on the hbx.

The computer says ;hand box not connected,& I don't know what else to
do.

I guess I'll have to get with meade direct, hopefully the phone will be
available (sometime)
 
Thanks again for your help and your wonderful page
A.W.Mullen
Mike here: You might try the SAFE LOAD with the StarGPS application available from www.stargps.ca (yes, .ca).
Subject:	hand box failure/etx125-pe
Sent:	Saturday, September 16, 2006 13:08:01
From:	Badgr91@aol.com (Badgr91@aol.com)
I used the 'upgrade now' to update my 3.0 asu to 43ea & asu client app.
4.3for windows. screen said the loads  were successful & I turned the
scope off for appox. 1/2 hr. .when I turned it back on the hbx was
dead-no screen,scope power was on. after appox. 1/2 min the scope began
to slew about 30deg. at a time for three periods of 1-2 sec., then one
quick slew down then- nothing. I've tried several times since & the
result is the same--no screen- hbx is dead-scope power light on. I
contacted meade @ the help ticket web. they answerd twice to inquire
about purchase date, warranty, and extended warranty , but no
suggestions or directions.

I wonder if any of your contributors have experienced this while
updating?? any &all help will be appreciated!thanks
a. w. mullen
Mike here: If the update is corrupted, due to a bad download to your computer or a bad upload to the AutoStar, this can happen. If you have a slow link to the Internet it is best to download the file to your hard disk and then upload it to the AutoStar from there. You can reload the ROM by putting the AutoStar into SAFE LOAD mode. See the item "The power went off while I was updating my Autostar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the FAQ page.
Subject:	re: Help with ETX 90 in Africa
Sent:	Tuesday, September 12, 2006 21:04:35
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The Calibrate Motor operation only moves up, not down,
so it would not have "tested" a damaged down-drive.

The motors are driven by a set of four FET (field-effect
transistor) switches, arranged as an H (one FET on each
half of the vertical lines, the motor serving as the
horizontal bar of the H.  Power enters from the top,
and leaves at the bottom.  If you think of the legs
as numbered:
1__2
3  4

Sections 1 and 4 are activated (pass current) for "up"
and sections 2 and 3 are activated for "down".

So if either 2 or 3 were damaged, or the circuitry which
drives them, you'd experience the "no down" syndrome.

Each motor's driving circuit is located on its own
little card... the up/down is in the fork behind the
clamp knob, the right/left is in the base.
The wiring in the telescope comes from the power panel to
the RA drive, and then a second cable runs from the
RA drive card up the center shaft to reach the DEC card.

**warning**: if you get the connectors misconnected in the
following procedure, you can damage the cards in the telescope
-and- destroy the driving circuitry in the Autostar.

You can test whether it's the Autostar or the in-scope cards
by swapping the RA and DEC connector pair so that the RA
channel on the main handbox cable now speaks to the DEC card,
and so that the DEC channel speaks to the RA card.
If you do that, and the base spins in both directions,
yet the up/down (now controlled by the left/right keys)
still only goes UP, then it's pretty much certain that it's
the DEC motor card at fault.


Many of the non-US distributors are willing to send/sell
just the circuit cards, since they understand the
problems of long-distance shipping of the entire scope.
Meade in the US does not always understand that.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Andreas & Viktoria (avkeding@iway.na)
Yes, Thank you. We will try it out this weekend and let you know what
happens.

Subject:	RE: Help with ETX 90 in Africa
Sent:	Sunday, September 10, 2006 04:50:39
From:	Andreas & Viktoria (avkeding@iway.na)
To answer your questions:
1) The MUF error comes on during an align- both the Auto and Easy.

2) We now did a calibrate motor and train drives. Both of these worked.

3) We reversed the AutoStar-ETX cable with no effect.

Also if we just turn on the telescope and use the arrows to move the
telescope, it will go left and right without any problems. It will go up
but you can hear the motor struggling more than when it turns
horizontally. Loosening the vertical [DEC] lock causes the motor to run
smoothly but the telescope does not move. We tightened it just enough to
get the telescope to move (firm but not too tight). When we press the
down arrow nothing happens. It does not move and the motor does not make
a sound. We found the "Reverse UP/ Down" function. After reversing, the
telescope still only went up (now with the down button). So we know this
button works, but the motor still does not go down and the telescope has
not reached the stops.

During "calibrate sensors" we also get a MUF when the telescope tries to
calibrate down.

Any other advice?

Thank you
Viktoria
Mike here: You didn't indicate whether a RESET has been attempted as indicated in my earlier response. Has a RESET be done and then the CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? There is one more software thing you can attempt; reload the AutoStar ROM using the AutoStar Update application (Windows only) from Meade's site or AutostarX (Mac OS X; from the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my Site). You will need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 serial port. If your computer has only USB you will need a USB-serial adapter (not all work well with the AutoStar so see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page). By the way, info on making a #505 serial cable is on the AutoStar Info page.

And:

Sorry. We did do a reset and we repeated all the procedures several
times-each time with a new reset.

Getting these cables will take us several weeks as we are 500 km from
town.

In the meantime, please just clarify- do you think it might be a
software problem that is preventing the motor from moving down at all
and from making any sound when it should be moving down?
Mike here: It could be a software problem (corrupted); it could also be a hardware problem. If you don't have the components to make the cable then the next step would be disassemble the telescope mount and look for a loose wire or something that is interferring with free movement or dirt on the encoder. Doing so may invalidate whatever warranty there is on the telescope.
Subject:	Connecting PC - Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, September 9, 2006 08:12:56
From:	Fabrizio Ciliberto (fabrcili@tin.it)
have a LXD55 SN8" with AutoStar #497 (version 26.E).
I bought the cable #505 for connection Autostar  PC
 
After the hardware connection and turn-on the Autostar and PC, I run the
software package bought with the cable, Starry Night Bundle Edition and
Astronomer's Control Panel.

I resolved my problem connection using a USB port (COM3) instead a
serial port (COM1).

You send me two e-mail to resolve this problem. Thank You!
 
Two important questions:
 
I wrong the use of Autostar Update Suite 4.3
When I connected Austostar to ASU 4.3  I choice the box "Upgrade
Autostar Software Now" and  the handbox displayed "Downloading.... No
turn-off". But for a lot of minutes, i controlled the flow in/out of
data internet-pc and were not-working!
I try to exit to program ASU without luck.  
I turn-off Autostar and when after a 1 minute I turn-on Autostar
displayed "Autostar 43e..." and after it displayed very strange
characters!
I can't use the Handbox!! I do not understand those characters!
Do I damaged Autostar?
what way i must make for to repair Autostar? 
 
Before, When I open Starry Night Bundle Edition and i choice connecting 
telescope Astronomy Control Panel was running. On the dialog box of ACP
i saw that the scope time was different from Pc time and Autostar Time.
I try set the clock but it's displayed to verify Pc Time! But PC time
was OK! Does it's a problem for use of pc-autostar with Starry Night ?
 
Thank You                                Fabrizio Ciliberto
Mike here: When you powered off the AutoStar you corrupted the AutoStar's ROM. However, you can easily restore it. You need to put the AutoStar into SAFE LOAD mode. You do this by holding down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys at the same time and power on the telescope. You will see something like "Flash Load Ready" on the AutoStar display. Now launch the AutoStar Update application. It will detect the SAFE LOAD mode and let you download the ROM file. This restores the AutoStar to its factory default condition so you will need to select your Site, do a CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES. By the way, it can take to about 30 minutes for the download to complete so don't interrupt it.
Subject:	re: Connecting proplem Autostar-PC
Sent:	Monday, September 4, 2006 19:29:27
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
"Scope I/O failed in MSComm: Port already open (code=8005)"

Tbat message means the that program (or another one)
is already using -that- COM port.

Other tests for the serial port and Autostar are at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Connecting proplem Autostar-PC
Sent:	Sunday, September 3, 2006 06:11:51
From:	Fabrizio Ciliberto (fabrcili@tin.it)
I have a LXD55 SN8" with AutoStar #497 (version 26.E).

I bought the cable #505 for connection Autostar and my Notebook Acer
Travelmate 525 (with Windows 98se).

After the hardware connection and turn-on the Autostar and PC, I run the
software package bought with the cable, Starry Night Bundle Edition and
Astronomer's Control Panel.

But, after a lot of try, when i choice connect to the telescope, Windows
send me the message:

"Scope I/O failed in MSComm: Port already open (code=8005)"

I verified the communication COM1 parameter (baud rate, etc...). It's
all OK!
 
I must configure also the Autostar Handbox?
 
Thank You                    Fabrizio Ciliberto
Mike here: Does Meade's AutoStar Update application also have a connection problem? Are you using a real RS-232 serial port on the computer or a USB-serial adapter? (If you are using a USB adapter, see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; not all USB adapters work well with the AutoStar.) Also, a typical problem is created by other software tying up the serial port. That is normally fax software that is listening for an incoming fax phone call.

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