AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 January 2009

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, AutoStar III (for ETX-LS) 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 for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.


Subject:	Autostar query for DS-2000 Reflecting Telescope
Sent:	Thursday, January 29, 2009 10:45:02
From:	Jayne Topping (jayne1.topping@virgin.net)
Like one of previous enquirers, my telescope was put aside after having
a baby but that was in 2004 and I have only recently got it out again.

The first query is - I don't remember it going through 9V batteries like
it does now.  After two attempts at alignments (which it said were
successful) it seems to go wrong - continuing to say it is slewing but
never finishing and not being able to slew upwards.

The second query is - I don't think it is aligning properly.  I just had
a go at aligning as I wanted to see if it could find the moon.  It
aligned successfully (although I must admit I could not see the stars it
had found but pressed enter all the same thinking that they must be in
that rough direction).  When I asked it to go to the moon it pointed at
an area that was much lower and more eastwards.

Have you any ideas?  I would be grateful for any suggestions.
 
Many thanks.
 
Jayne
Mike here: First, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? If not, do those. Second, if you did do those, try a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and then TRAIN DRIVES. It could be that something in the AutoStar's memory was corrupted. As to GOTO errors, that could result from something that the above would correct. Or it could result from bad inputs (date, time, Daylight Saving, location). Check those. Or it could result from a bad HOME position, especially if you did not actually center the stars.

And:

Thanks for such a quick respone Mike - I will try those tonight and
report back.

Kind regards.

Jayne

Subject:	ETX-90 497 Firmware update failed
Sent:	Wednesday, January 28, 2009 13:45:27
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
I was attempted to do a firmware update of my 497 handbox. Things were
preceding along normally and the upgrade was downloading. I was not
sitting at my laptop but apparently there was a com port issue and the
upgrade failed. At this point there appears to be nothing on the hand
box and all attempts to communicate with it returns an error "no com
port" and ASU will not see the handbox. I have an additional box and ASU
will see that box and does not return and "no com port"  error. The ASU
was an older version and I've since upgrade to the latest from the meade
site.

Is there anyway to get factory defaults back into the failed 497? Or
anyway to re-establish com with it?
 
Any other ideas would also be helpful.
 
Thanks
 
Jim Holland
Mike here: See the item "Q. The power went off while I was updating my AutoStar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the ETX FAQ page. The solution there should get you going again.

And:

Thanks for the quick response.

I've tried the suggestion and can't seem to get it to work. Is there
some secret to holding down the buttons? On some of my attempts I seen
gibberish displayed, other times one or more of the individual led's
will blink. All attempts to connect have ended in failure. Any other
last resorts (like attempting to clone?)

Jim
Mike here: Are you holding down the SCROLLDOWN arrow or the SLEWDOWN arrow? You need to hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys together and then power on the ETX.

And:

Reading the inst. on the FAQ page was confusing for me, what you wrote
in the response made sense and it work, but now I'm having a problem
with ASU. Once I attempt to send or restore, it wants to shut down and
send an error report of Microsoft. I will do some further research and
see what I can find before bothering you or Dick.

Thanks again

Jim
Mike here: You can try the StarGPS program (www.stargps.ca).
Subject:	ETX 90EC-Autostar Updating
Sent:	Sunday, January 25, 2009 14:48:54
From:	Paul Haines (hphaines@ca.inter.net)
After years of using 4.0E I finally decided to upgrade to later version-
4.3 Eg. I downloaded ASU version V4.6. Linked PC to Autostar using my
homebuilt 505 type cable connected to PC serial port and Autostar. For
some reason my PC (Windows XP) will not communicate with Autostar. Keep
getting COM port error. I am sure COM Port 1 is free and available. My
serial port works fine with other devices. Interconnect cable used to
work with the Autostar and with Starry Night software.

The cable appears to be ok. Pin continuity checks out, no bent pins,
etc. I tried the Autostar Test, Other Tips, 10/07/03. With pins 2 & 3
shorted, on start up, Autostar reads "press PRESS" rather than "press
ENTER". Pressing any key gives "invalid key" message. Does this mean I
have an rs232 problem within the Autostar handbox?

I reset handbox- same error message.

Autostar works fine when connected to telescope.

Any suggestions? As it now stands I am not able to upgrade my Autostar.
 
Regards,
 
Paul
Mike here: Since the AutoStar is still functional, try StarPatch to update the ROM. It is available from http://www.stargps.ca.

And:

Tried StarPatch. It appears I may have a COM Port problem. I am not able
to establish communication PC - Autostar. I will investigate further as
time permits and report on results.
Thanks for your help.

Paul

Subject:	re: ETX 70-AT Autostart won't boot up
Sent:	Sunday, January 25, 2009 10:56:27
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You wrote:
> It freezes on "Daylight Savings Yes/No" ...  and I can't get any further than that.

Ahh... that's a definite symptom of the telescope's motor card(s)
not replying with signals when the Autostar requests data.

Since you can -slew- with the arrow keys, that indicates that the
cabling is good.  (but you might try swapping the handbox cable end-for-end).
What is probably sick is either the "transmitter" at the motor card end,
or the "receiver" in the Autostar.  (The Autostar's transmitter and
the motor's receiver -are- working, or it wouldn't move at all).

The "Freeze point" you're seeing is where the Autostar asks the motor
card "what are you?" as it decides which family model of scope you have.

Since the problem could be at -either- end, it's a coin-toss as to
whether replacing the Autostar will fix it.

You could -try- menuing to Setup/Reset[enter][enter], there's
a tiny chance that would help (and it's free to do...)

good luck
--dick
MIke here: The HBX cable on the #494 AutoStar is not removable at the AutoStar end.

And:

True ... i didn't see a model number (i should've just assumed 494)

So modify that to: use a computer network connector tool to seat
the pins (an RJ45 tool).

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Brian Eckert (brianeckert@bellsouth.net)
thanks to both of you....I'll give this a try and let you know

Subject:	ETX 70-AT Autostart won't boot up
Sent:	Friday, January 23, 2009 06:40:34
From:	Brian Eckert (brianeckert@bellsouth.net)
I've been a follower of your web site for about 5 years now since I
purchased my ETX 70-AT.  Hopefully you'll have some advice on a problem
I am having with my AutoStar.  About 6 months ago when I tried to start
up the telescope the autostar never gets going, no date entry, no
alignment options nothing...all the buttons simply don't work.

I can still move the scope using the arrow keys but I can't align it or
use any of the menus.

Any ideas?

Thanks so much and I love the web site!! Keep up the great work!

Brian Eckert
Charlotte, NC
Mike here: When you say the AutoStar "never gets going", do you mean that the bootup message never appears and that nothing appears on the display? If so, it could be that the AutoStar is not getting sufficient power. Have you changed the batteries? Are they inserted correctly? Also, check the condition of the jack and AutoStar cable; look for dirt, bent pins, or pins that are too depressed. Removing and reinserting the cable a few times may help.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply.
 
I've tried with brand new batteries so I don't think power is the
problem...here's the exact sequence
 
It starts with "Initiatlizing"
I get the Sun warning
I get to Set Date
I get to Set Time
It freezes on "Daylight Savings Yes/No" ...  and I can't get any further than that.
 
Again, I can still use the arrow keys to move the scope but I never get
to the alignment options or any other menus.  I was hoping to even
simply try and reset the whole thing and start from scratch but without
the ability to get to any menus I can't even do that
 
thanks again!
Mike here: If you hold down the MODE for a few seconds, you MAY be able to get past that point. If not, it is likely the AutoStar has failed or its software is corrupted. You would have to return it to Meade or buy a replacement. If you elect to buy a new one, get an AutoStar #497 (or a #495, which you can easily upgrade to a #497 via software).

And:

I tried holding the MODE button, no luck.  I'll look into picking up a
new one.
 
Happy stargazing!!! and thanks for the help!

Subject:	ETX 125EC
Sent:	Wednesday, January 21, 2009 14:36:15
From:	John Coff (jcoff1@cinci.rr.com)
Greetings from Cincinnati,

I recently bought a used ETX 125EC scope from a friend of a friend. 
When I use the Autostar controller and try to align I get a message of
Motor Unit Failure.  I have perused your site for info about my problem.
This scope was manufactured in 1999.  I have done all I know to get it
to align correctly, but to no avail.  Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
JC
Mike here: Have you tried an AutoStar RESET? Or can you not get to the AutoStar RESET menu item? If you have done a RESET, don't forget about doing a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	re: : Autostar 497 Faulty?
Sent:	Sunday, January 18, 2009 11:59:05
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The pinouts for all of the sockets and connectors are shown here:
http://jan.eaglecreekobservatory.org/pinouts.html

Depending upon your interpretation of "3" and "6",
it's either the AUX circuit (not needed for normal operation
if you do NOT have a GPS or LNT unit) or the Azimuth circuit.

From the above pinout page there is also a link to the LX90
"power panel" drawing:
http://jan.eaglecreekobservatory.org/powerpanel.html
which is functionally equivalent to the power panel on the ETX90/105/125

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Martin Roddam (martin_roddam@hotmail.com)
Excellent!  Thanks guys.  I've determined that the pin I refer to is Aux
data thanks to the diagram.
 
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my many mails.
 
Martin

Subject:	RE: Autostar 497 Faulty?
Sent:	Friday, January 16, 2009 18:11:40
From:	Martin Roddam (martin_roddam@hotmail.com)
I've now determined that my Autostar 497 and HBX cable work perfectly
well by testing on another identical ETX-90 scope.  I've opened up the
base unit and determined that the 12V across the black and red wires are
definitely carrying voltage through to the female HBX socket, and
furthermore, through the coiled HBX cable (so I know there isn't a power
connection issue, but still my Autostar does not start up with my
scope).  I've checked all the other coloured wires through from the
internal connector and through to the outside of the female HBX socket
and there is now break.

I guess I'm now asking for fault finding tips, or possibly some wiring
diagrams to assit me with the multimeter.  I had hoped that by ensuring
the 12V from the battery pack were making it through to the Autostar the
thing would power up, but it doesn't.  Since it works with another
scope, there must be some kind of fault in the circuitry of my scope,
but I can't see any obvious burnt components or dry joints.  Will there
be any benefit to me checking out the PCB near the Dec drive, or will
that be a waste of time?

I'm getting desperate now :-(

Thanks again

Martin
Mike here: Have you tried the 9V battery power source I mentioned earlier? As to AutoStar schematics, check on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I created the power box following information from your site. I could
only find references to 12V feeds into the Autostar, not 9V.  Anyway,
with 12V going into the Autostar, it DOES power up.  BUT, I tried the
same thing with the scope and the Autostar - I placed a piece of tape
covering all of the middle pins of the HBX RJ45 connector leaving the
outer two (the 12V line) exposed.  Once connected up to the scope, this
too powered up the Autostar.  SO, there is something about those middle
six wires that prevents the Autostar from powering up.  I now know the
problem lies entirely with the scope and not the Autostar... Any ideas?

Thanks again

Martin
Mike here: Try reversing the HBX cable. Also, check for dirty or bent pins on the connectors and in the jacks.

And:

Pins seem fine.  Reversing the HBX didn't have any effect.  I've now
covered more of the PINS on the HBX cable with tape, so I have:

Only Pins 1 and 8 on the RJ45 exposed -- Autostar powers up but there is
a "MOTOR FAULT" Only Pins 1, 2, 3 and 8 on the RJ45 are exposed --
Autostar powers up and now there is no "MOTOR FAULT".  I can setup the
Autostar and control the telescope i.e. left and right on the Autostar
move the Autostar left and right.

I kept on with this method until the only pin covered by tape was pin
number 3 (BLACK), or pin 6 on the other end of the HBX.  If this pin is
allowed to connect to the Autostar, it does not work at all.

Do you know what that BLACK wire is for?  Is it by any chance unused?  I
hope so, because the Autostar and scope does not with this connected.

Many thanks in advance

Martin
Mike here: Details on the HBX cable are available in the article "AutoStar #497 HBX cable" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	RE: Autostar 497 Faulty?
Sent:	Thursday, January 15, 2009 08:39:27
From:	Martin Roddam (martin_roddam@hotmail.com)
I've done a little more investigating to narrow down where my problem
might lie.  I found a friend who also owns an ETX-90 and connected my
autostar handbox to his scope with my cable.... BINGO!  it jumped into
action.  So, my problem must lie with the scope base unit.  I've
unscrewed it to look for any obviously loose connection, but I can't see
anything right away.  My thought is that it is probably a poor contact
somewhere between the red and black cables from the battery pack through
to the HBX connector socket.  I assume that every red and black wires I
see are for power.  Since the red LED on the base unit lights up when I
flick the switch, I guess I can assume that the wires from the battery
pack to the PCB are in good contact so it must be a contact from the PCB
to the socket?  Just wanted you to give me the nod so I know I'm on the
right track...

If the power is being supplied to the handheld unit, it should start up
right?  Do you know if the hand unit should be receiving 12V or is it
stepped down somewhere on the PCB?

Thanks very much in advance and for the time you've given me so far.

Martin
Mike here: You can easily make an external power source (9V battery) for the AutoStar to test the AutoStar. Instructions on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info.

And:

I'm always amazed at just how helpful you are!  Thanks again.  I hope
Meade are paying you a salary! :-)
Mike here: Nope.
Subject:	Autostar 497 Faulty?
Sent:	Sunday, January 11, 2009 05:45:48
From:	Martin Roddam (martin_roddam@hotmail.com)
I have a new ETX-90 and on starting up the telescope (with the autostar
handset connected) I do not see anything coming up on the screen.  I was
going to buy a new one from eBay when someone suggested that I first try
to upload the latest firmware, but having read more, I'm not sure this
will work.

I have tried to enter safe mode, but all that happens is the 8 and 9
keys light up whilst I'm holding down Enter and Scroll Down.  I know the
handset isn't completely dead now, but don't know how to proceed.

My post on 4M forums is here and may contain some additional useful (or
not) information: http://meade4m.com/forum/index.php/topic,2185.0.html

Unfortunately (for me) my last year has involved getting married and
having a baby, so by the time I really had some decent time to set the
telescope up, just slightly more than 12 months had passed andmy
warranty has expired, so no chance of getting a new scope or handset
from Meade.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Martin Roddam
Mike here: Entering SAFE LOAD mode would have required that you have a #505 serial cable and the AutoStar Update software (for Windows, or AutoStarX for Mac OS X). So, I hope you have you those. However, if you don't have the cable, you can easily make one using the cable information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You can try to reload the AutoStar ROM. That may clear the problem. If the SAFE LOAD mode wasn't entered, then you make just have a faulty connection to the ETX; check the HBX cable connectors and jacks. If the batteries are a year old, replace them. Check the battery compartment for any signs of corrosion of the batteries have been in place this long and the telescope has not been used. As additional info, when SAFE LOAD is entered, the AutoStar display should show FLASH LOAD READY. Also, if your computer has only USB ports and no real RS-232 serial port, you will need a USB-serial adapter to connect the #505 serial cable. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters.

And:

Wow!  Thanks for the quick reply.  Does the fact that my handset does
not show anything on the display when I attempt to enter SAFE mode mean
that my handset is probably faulty?  The cable is brand new and I've
given it a "wiggle".  The batteries are all new.  Even though my ETX is
just over a year old, I've only just gotten it out of the box i.e.
effectively brand new.  I've ordered the USB to serial adaptor so I'll
see how that goes I guess.

Thanks again
Mike here: It could be faulty or the power supply to it from the ETX could be at fault. Hard to say from the symptom you are reporting.
Subject:	497 controller blinking, cannot read
Sent:	Wednesday, January 7, 2009 09:44:03
From:	David Lamont (david.lam57@googlemail.com)
Hope you had a nice Christmas. Happy new year to you.
 
I have been in contact with Meade in Germany and they were very helpful.
They asked me to post the controller to them which I did and a new one
came back in 8 days, and that was just before Christmas!

The problem is that the controller is a French version! Even though I
sent emails in English they must have thought I am French because it
looks it.

Could you now give me advice on how to download from the Meade site? I
have no idea about what version I have. "Build.rom" to download? They
told me to go to the Meade site but all that information was in German.
Oh! Lordy, Lordy!

Sorry If I sound dim but I am no computer geek especially when two
languages are involved.
 
Kind regards,
 
David Lamont
Mike here: Go to the USA Meade download page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) and grab the AutoStar Update 4.6 application (if you have Windows; if not get AutoStarX or Lin_AutoStar from the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site). The Meade app will download the needed file for you (or you can download 4.3Eg yourself, which you will need to do with the non-Meade apps). You will also need a #505 serial cable (easily make using info on the AutoStar Info page). Also, if your computer does not have a RS-232 serial port you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan. If you need help using the Meade app, see the articles "Updating the Autostar" on the Helpful Information: Tutorials page and "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the AutoStar Info page. Even though the actual version is newer, these will get you started.
Subject:	Auto star custom park
Sent:	Saturday, January 3, 2009 19:00:43
From:	Jerry Hailey (jerry3672@lexcominc.net)
My autostar 497 is on 43eg V17. Is there a way to have a custom park
position? I would like to park at DEC= -30 RA=HA+6 I think this will
park my LXD75 with the counterweight level and also the OTA level. This
is where I have to point to close the roof. My current method is to park
and then manually place the scope in this position to open and close the
roof. Once the roof is open I manually move the scope back to park zero
and power up.

I have been keeping up with your new construction at Oracle. It is going
much better than your LX90 did. How about a star party house warming? I
could see the range of gifts now- Eyepieces, filters, and new pillows
for the cats.

Hope you are moving in soon
 
Jerry Hailey
Mike here: I'll let our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, answer your park question. As to the house, thanks! Any party will wait until the SkyShed POD is set up. Hopefully we'll move in around March and the POD a couple of months after that.
Subject:	AutoStar 497:  Specifying COM port
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 2009 14:22:07
From:	Keith Woodard (kwits@comcast.net)
Is there a method, to manual specify the COM port number using the
AutoStar 497, hand controller?
Best Regards,
Keith
Mike here: If you mean from within the AutoStar Update Application, yes. If you mean from some menu on the AutoStar itself, no.
Subject:	Latest firmware update for AutoStar 497?
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 2009 09:04:57
From:	Keith Woodard (kwits@comcast.net)
I recently updated my AutoStar 497 to 43Eg but is this the same as the
firmware release?
Best Regards,
Keith
Mike here: 4.3Eg is the latest firmware version that Meade has released to the public. There is a newer version shipping with newer LX90 telescopes (4.4Ea and perhaps even newer) but it is not yet on Meade's site.

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