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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 January 2010
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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 & 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:	Updating Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, January 31, 2010 17:42:52
From:	George Finlay (george@principiainc.com)
I found a USB to serial connection, loaded the driver, but AutoStar
updater 5.9.1 cannot see it in order to download the satellite data I
would like to have. Message is "connection failed."

Got an idea what I might need to do to correct this situation?

George Finlay
Mike here: First, you need a USB-serial adapter that works reliably with the AutoStar. What adapter are you using? I recommend Keyspan. For more information, see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I picked up a Belkin F5U409 at Staples. I will look up that article.
Thanks.

Any sign that Meade has plans to enter the 21st century and put a USB on
the AutoStar?
Mike here: You may or may not be able to get it working reliably using info in that article. Meade is using USB for the LS with AutoStar III models.

And:

My inclination is to order the $19 USBGear unit mentioned in the
article, and just chalk the $40 spent on the Belkin up to educational
fees. I will keep you posted.
Mike here: Personally, I still recommend Keyspan.
Subject:	ETX handcontroller
Sent:	Friday, January 29, 2010 14:11:00
From:	william browning (Bill@astrosightsaver.com)
Just want to say I love the site and I've gotten alot of help from it.

My problem id(I've posted it on the site to) is that I tried to update
my hand controller but ended up killing it because of the USB adapter I
used.

I am extremely frustrated with it now and was wondering if you do
repairs and upgrading on the ETX 497 hand controllers. I'd apreciate it
if you would let me know and how much it would cost.

Bill Browning
Mike here: If you mean that the upload failed and now your AutoStar is in a bad state, 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. However, as you have now discovered, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You might try doing the update with the StarGPS app (http://www.stargps.ca). But you'll still need to follow the recommendation on the ETX FAQ page.
Subject:	RE: ETX-LS 1.3 Firmware .. Help?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 27, 2010 18:13:46
From:	John Whitehurst (jjwhitehurst@msn.com)
Thank you again for your help.  I took the scope out earlier this
evening, and most everything appears to be working. I did have one
"freeze" when attempting a "Guided Tour", so I probably will not be
using that feature.

The biggest flaw I still have seems to be Acquiring a GPS fix.  I was
able to enter the closest city and have it align based on that. My
handheld has no problem getting a GPS fix when right next to the scope,
so I was wondering if you knew of a way to manually enter Lat/Lon
coordinates instead of choosing the closest city.

Thanks again,
John
Mike here: I assume you mean that the GPS fix process times out. You are not just seeing a Satellites=0 message. As to editing the Site info, I don't see that in the menu tree for the AutoStar III and since I'm still waiting for my ETX-LS to arrive, I can't search the AutoStar for it. Dick?
Subject:	Autostar ugrade - no longer connects to computer?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 27, 2010 03:34:58
From:	Peter Rogers (peter.rogers33@tiscali.co.uk)
Have bought a new laptop, one of the 'objectives' being to get more use
out of my lovely but rather neglected ETX105 (!), aquired 505 cable and
downloaded Autostar Suite and necessary drivers,etc.

Got all set up and successfully established coms and able to control
'scope on both pc and laptop - Hoorah!!!

In now confident mood, decided to update 5 year old Autostar; carefully
following instructions in your wonderful book 'The Mighty ETX'. Autostar
now updated to 4.3Eg and, having Reset, Initialised, checked Backlash
percentages and Trained Motors - Autostar works fine, all appears to be
ok.

However, now I cannot establish computer coms with the 'scope. Neither
with Autostar Suite or Cartes du Ceil or Hello Northern Sky, trying both
laptop and pc. Have carefully continuity tested 505 cable and that is
ok.

So, question is - can my coms problem really be due to Autostar upgrade
and what best routine to follow to cure?

Best regards from cloudy old England

Peter Rogers
Mike here: You say you got a new laptop. Does it have a real RS-232 serial port? If not, you must be using a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Keyspan adapters are recommended.

And:

Laptop does not have a real RS-232 serial port - am using a USB-serial
adapter driver which was working before the Autostar update. The Meade
adapter did not work initially so I installed one that came with the 505
cable (non-Meade), it seems to be part of the Cartes du Ciel package.

My old pc (Win XP) does have a serial port, of course, but the same
thing has happened here i.e. good coms before Autostar update but
nothing now - says something like 'Communications Error.  Read Time-out.
Communications Terminated.'
Mike here: I haven't heard of any problems with the update creating com problems. Try the StarGPS app (at http://www.stargps.ca) and see if it connects to the AutoStar.

And:

Reply Mk11 - having read the Starpatch instructions, I have downloaded,
installed and started the Update procedure (on my pc with RS-232 serial
port) to the point where coms with Autostar are established and waiting
for me to say 'Continue with Update'.
Mike here: Try to update to 4.3Eg.

And the update:

Update to 43Ge successfully completed. Presumably it is now necessary to
go through the 'reset, initialise,train' procedures before trying to
drive the 'scope via computer.
Mike here: I always recommend doing a TRAIN DRIVES following any update. BUT the CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES steps will have no effect on the computer communications. RESET might though.

And:

Good result - now getting coms to 'scope through two old computers with
proper serial ports. Still problems with new laptop though - must be the
cheap USB adapter!

Guess I'll have to try to get a Keyspan adapter over here and give up on
the cheapie. Thank you very much for your help, it's really appreciated.

The Stargps system looks interesting. I have a Garmin 12 gps and might
have a go at setting that up, after I've sorted out the USB-Serial
adapter.

Best wishes

Peter Rogers
Mike here: There are some GPS articles on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page, including my "StarGPS-LX Review".
Subject:	Zip file for ETX-LS 1.3 and autostar updater warning
Sent:	Tuesday, January 26, 2010 09:04:27
From:	Adam Koebel (koebel@gmail.com)
Are you aware of a link where I can download the 1.3 firmware manually?
Whenever I run Autostar Updater  it won't download anything. I get quick
"404 not found" error that flashes at the bottom of the screen, then
says 0 of 1 files downloaded.

I also want to provide a word of warning about autostar updater. If you
run the updater, don't have Internet selected as an upgrade option, and
also don't have any firmware in the autostar folder it seems to grab any
random .BIN file off your C: drive and copy it to the handbox, which
bricked my LS. It copied a bios file I had on my laptop's C: drive
thinking it was  ETX-LS firmware somehow. Don't ask me why.

Thankfully I am able to restore the telescope with firmware on a SD
card. If I try to restore on the computer it won't connect via USB.

Anyway I was hoping you knew a link for the 1.3 zip file since the
updater won't download files for me (it didn't work when I updated 1.2g
either, but Meade provided a zip file for that).

thanks

Adam
Mike here: http://www.meade.com/support/auto/ETX_LS13.zip
Subject:	firmware etx-ls
Sent:	Monday, January 25, 2010 20:46:01
From:	doug johnson (dougvolfan@yahoo.com)
I had a problem when I first used the ETX-LS with lightbridge. It
started up then the hand held stated an error that said needed firmware
flash and auto hand held was useless. I contacted Meade and got it to
start loading with ver 1.3. It said updating do not turn off. Well we
had a storm and power was interrupted. Now when I turn on the telescope
the hand held is blank. It was ver 1.07 originally. What can I do?
Mike here: Did you do the update via USB? Have you tried updating with a miniSD card?
Subject:	May I pick you brain about my Autostar?  Thanks !
Sent:	Monday, January 25, 2010 19:02:29
From:	Kris Tutterow (ktutterow@embarqmail.com)
I have a few quick questions for you (love the website by the way).  I
have an LXD75 mount which has been in storage for over a year.  I pulled
it out today and powered it up with new batteries.  At powerup my
Autostar 497 does not work.  I have been reading your site for hours
now... and have tried the following tests that I found from various
posts.  1) Made a new cable for the autostar and it still doesn't work.
2) Tried using a 9V battery to power the autostar and it doesn't work. 
3) When I use an ohm meter and test the hbx outlet on the LXD75 mount, I
get a reading of 12 Volts (this seems to tell me I have power at the hbx
"plug").  4) I plug in either cable and get 12V at the autostar "plug"
end of the cable.  This makes me believe that the autostar contoller is
bad.  What is your opinion?

Meade is really no help when you call customer support.  They want me to
send it in and they will fix it for $200 + shipping.   Unfortunately, I
do not have that kind of money at the moment.  Thank you for any ideas
that you may have.  And thank you for taking the time to read my email.
 
Thank you,
 
Kris Tutterow
Asheboro, NC, USA
LXD75 SN6AT
Mike here: When you say that the AutoStar does not work, do you mean no display, no light, and/or no slewing? From your tests I would suspect that the AutoStar is getting power. Do you have a #505 serial cable (and a RS-232 port on your computer)? If so, see if the AutoStar Update Application (of AutoStarX if you use Mac OS X) finds it.

And:

I started on your etx site, did alot of clicking... not sure where I
ended up (found a page with tons of info on autostar wiring, etc.(good
stuff).  My Autostar has no lights, sound, etc., just seems to be dead. 
I do have the #505 serial cable, but my new computer and laptop doesn't
have serial ports (waiting on my serial to usb adapter to arrive, any
day now).  I'll try the Autostar Update App and see if it detects the
Autostar.  Thanks a million for you input and quick reply.

By the way... do you know of any websites (other than Meade) that sells
Meade parts (ie. RA motors, Dec. motors for LXD mount, etc.) ?

Thank you, 

Kris Tutterow
Asheboro, NC, USA
Mike here: Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters. As to spare parts, try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page).
Subject:	Autostar #497 and Update 5BE2
Sent:	Sunday, January 24, 2010 11:47:22
From:	Chuck Burton (c.burton@acm.org)
The Meade Autostar Update page seems to indicate that the "Classic"
Autostar 497 should be able to upgrade to 5BE2.  However, using AU 5.90,
the "most recent" upgrade that is recommended is 43Eg (which is what is
currently installed on my Autostar).  Can the Classic be upgraded to
5BE2 or is the size of the firmware upgrade too big for the  Classic? 
If the Classic can be upgraded to 5BE2, is there some special set of
instructions that must be done to AU 5.90 to get the upgrade done?

Thanks,
Chuck Burton
Mike here: The ASU 5.9 will do the right thing (most times). 4.3Eg is the latest for the classic #497.
Subject:	meade autostar display problem
Sent:	Sunday, January 24, 2010 04:00:23
From:	Colin Jack (colinjack2@hotmail.com)
i have just bought an lxd55 mount with autostar 2nd hand.
 
it worked fine for a few weeks, then i started to have problems getting
it to go past the 'welcome to autostar' display.  it usually needed a
few tries to come on, also holding down a key like 'enter' when
switching on seemed to help.

today, however, when i got it on, what looked lke japanese writing began
to appear, then the display ceased altogether.

now it comes on first time [!] with a beep, and obviously is repsonding
to commands, eg i can alter the slewing speed, and the mount moves ok,
or switch the hanset torch on ,  but there is no display!

any ideas?

i have seen a handset for sale on astro buy and sell. should i cut my
losses and buy it?  or is there  a solution to the problem?
 
many thanks
 
colin
Mike here: Some thoughts: Have your replaced the LXD batteries with fresh ones. Check the cable connectors and jacks: the pins should be clean and not too depressed nor bent sideways. Sometimes just reversing the cable ends helps. Do a RESET (if the display is off, follow the menu tree in the manual). Reload version 4.3Eg; you will need a #505 serial cable for that (easiy made; see the cable section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page) and a RS-232 serial port. If your computer has only USB, then you'll need a USB-serial adapter. But not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.

And:

thank you for your prompt reply!
 
i actually got the display on again1 i wonder if damp is a problem i
notice the manual comments on keeping the handet in a dry place. my
lxd55 is set up permanantly in my observatory i the garden , and the
weather here [typical england!] has been very wet and foggy. the screen
of the handset was filed with condensation. i took the back and fron
toff, and gave it the hairdryer treatment, and the lights came back on!

i still have the problem of it not always booting up , infact rarely. i
can usually get it to come on after 2/3 tries. seems to work when i hold
down enter and mode, buyt that may be coincidence. once on, it seems to
work ok, but i havent been able to test it for a long session on the sky
[no clear nights yet!]

cable seems ok; tried reverse; battery no problem [do you mean the
battery that powers the mount - there isn't one in the handset is there?
i use a large 105 Ah battery, and it is in good nick];

i'll try a reset, and if all else fails may try downloading the software
agin, though i am a little nervous of that. if it will come on after a
few times of trying, imay leave it that way fro now.
 
many thanks again
 
clear skies
 
colin
Mike here: Moisture can be a problem. But I've not experienced any oddities due to dampness but it could happen. You can test the AutoStar indoors by making an external power supply for it (easy); see the AutoStar Info page. There is no battery in the handset.

And:

thanks mike, i'll try an indoor test

Subject:	ETX-LS 1.3 Firmware .. Help?
Sent:	Saturday, January 23, 2010 19:33:31
From:	John Whitehurst (jjwhitehurst@msn.com)
Great site.  I'm a complete newbie with Telescopes and about a week ago
got an ETX-LS in hopes that I could hit the ground running.

First scope was DOA, dealer swapped me for a new unit.  Second unit
couldnt acquire GPS and I managed to manually find a few simple targets,
but the scope wouldn't track.

I downloaded V1.3 firmware from Meade's website, and proceeded with a
USB update that promptly froze the scope. I moved on to an SD firmware
upgrade, and after about 4 hours and a set of batteries the scope said
"Remove SD card and restart".  It powers up properly, shows that it is
running V1.3, moves on to the "Media Exits A/V" screen then shows some
garbage characters and essentially freezes again.

The ENTER-SCROLLDOWN combo dosent work, but the 999 technique does bring
me to a screen that says "Enter Code". Since I have no code, it proceeds
to the garbage screen.

The dealer can't make any suggestions, and they are unable to get in
contact with the local Meade rep.  I actually prefer the non-GPS,
non-tracking version of my scope to its current "frozen" condition.  Do
you have any suggestions on how I might breathe some life back into this
thing, or am I better off just returning it and buying something else?

Any help is greatly appreciated,
John
Mike here: Don't know what that Enter Code means. Perhaps our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, has some thoughts.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The "Enter Code" message you're seeing is a pathway into the factory
test and calibration routines.  It's triggered by having pressed the 9
key (once is enough) early in the boot.
Unfortunately, it's not going to help your problem.

However, i had the same garbage-character thing happen to me during one
of my update cycles, and i was able to fix it.

Question: when you boot the scope *from the SD card*, what version
number appears on the handbox?

If it's 1.01, then your problem matches mine: version mismatch between
firmware 1.3 and the 1.01 bootloader (1.02 seems to work).

The "fix" that worked for me was (on your PC) to get into the
ProgramFiles\Meade\AutostarSuite\Updater   folder.
See the file named "firmware.bin"?
Rename it to XXfirmware.bin

Now drop into the ETX_LS13 folder and -copy- firmware.bin from that
folder up into the Updater directory.

Now have ASU make a new miniSD card, and see if -that- creates a running
scope...

good luck
--dick

And:

Thank you for the quick reply.  When I boot from the SD card it reads "Version 0.39".

Quick question for clarification:
I understand that I am making a *copy* of firmware.bin from the child
folder (ETX_LS13) back into the parent folder, while preserving the old
parent firmware.bin "just in case".

Am I literally renaming the parent firmware.bin to XXfirmware.bin (the
programming equivalent of commenting out a line of code), or does the XX
reflect the version number as in 13firmware.bin and is still needed as
part of the update?  To me it looks like we're removing the old
firmware.bin from the equation.

I am going to do this with a fresh set of batteries today, and will let
you know the results.

Thanks again,
John

And:

> Thank you for the quick reply.  When I boot from the SD card it reads 
> "Version 0.39".

Ouch.

> Quick question for clarification:
> I understand that I am making a *copy* of firmware.bin from the child 
> folder (ETX_LS13) back into the parent folder, while preserving the old 
> parent firmware.bin "just in case".

Correct.

> Am I literally renaming the parent firmware.bin to XXfirmware.bin (the 
> programming equivalent of commenting out a line of code), or does the XX 
> reflect the version number as in 13firmware.bin and is still needed as 
> part of the update?  To me it looks like we're removing the old 
> firmware.bin from the equation.

The "XX" was meant as literal characters.  I could have said
"ObsoleteFirmware.bin"
The goal is, indeed, to remove the old version from the equation.

I -think- Meade thinks the original loader (the firmware.bin in the
Updater folder) should still work... i have my doubts.   You'll serve as
a second data point on the curve...

There's always the possibility that one of the -other- files in the 200
megabytes of database is at fault, leading the poor Autostar into a
pothole.
If the above technique doesn't save it, let me know and we'll try other
procedures.

> I am going to do this with a fresh set of batteries today, and will let 
> you know the results.

Please do,
good luck
--dick

And an update:

Good news, I've successfully upgraded to V1.3 .. Although I'm not sure
what combination of what finally did it.

I tried the firmware.bin trick, and the scope ignored my SD card.  I
tried the firmware.bin from 1.2g also before reverting back to the
firmware.bin that was provided with
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Au2ver591b.exe

That firmware booted with V1.01, and the update only took around 20
minutes as opposed to the 4 hour first attempt.  Its been raining all
day, so I will have to wait to try GPS/Align/Tracking on the scope
again, but at least it seems like it is alive.

Once again, thank you for your help
-John

And:

Yes, i agree that it's impossible to tell what really "worked"
(my first suggestion was going to be to simply re-create your miniSD,
but i got carried away...

> That firmware booted with V1.01, and the update only took around 20 
> minutes as opposed to the 4 hour first attempt.  

I suspect that a major chunk of the 4 hours was the transfer from Meade
to your PC of the 200+ megabytes which -are- the Update.

I try to do those "beforehand", by starting ASU -without- having the
scope attached.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar 497 Controller
Sent:	Wednesday, January 20, 2010 20:06:54
From:	ron mohap (ronjon1021@hotmail.com)
I emailed a week or so ago about issues with my 497 autostar controller
not working at all.  You were very helpful with your information and
after running a few tests at your suggestion, I figured out that the
controller was indeed dead (figured that out by creating an alternate
power source for the controller)  Anyway, I have since bought a new 497
controller.  When I am using the controller, there is no option for
automatic alignment as there was on the previous controller and there
are a few other features that I noticed are not there as well. (I have a
125PE with LNT) The controller says I have version 26e. I was wondering
if I need to do an autostar upgrade or something else to acquire that
feature.  Thank you in advance for all of your help. I would literally
be pulling out my hair if it was not for your site.  Thank you again.
Jason 
Mike here: Version 2.6e pre-dates the PE models, so it is not surprising that it doesn't offer the PE/LNT options. You need to update to 4.3Eg. Use Meade's AutoStar 5.9 (for Windows) or AutoStarX (Mac OS X) to update it.
Subject:	RE: DS 2114 AutoStar 494
Sent:	Tuesday, January 19, 2010 23:30:21
From:	Leandro Castillo Rivera (lecasri@hotmail.com)
Hello, I did the Reset. In the calibrate motor step I saw how motor move
up, and rotate, but when I did the TRAIN DRIVES, the motor doesn't
respond to the arrow key.

Ing. Leandro Arturo Castillo Rivera
San Jose, Costa Rica
Mike here: It could be that the keypad needs cleaning. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Hello, i don't think that is a clen issue, because if I'm in the first
steps like date or hour select and i can move the motor with the arrow
Mike here: Good to know. So, you can slew except when doing the TRAIN DRIVES. Odd. Just to confirm, try slewing at all slew speeds. See if there is a problem at one of the speeds.

And:

No, i can't slew when i'm aling and when i'm testing drives
Mike here: OK, lets try another test since you say you can slew when you are in the date/time screens. Do an alignment (indoors is fine; just accept the stars as centered). Try to slew in all four directions. I assume it will fail in one direction. Go back to the Date screen. Can you still slew in the failed direction?
Subject:	Latest revision for the ETX 6" LS
Sent:	Tuesday, January 19, 2010 16:40:11
From:	Louis Welke (lcwelke@yahoo.com)
Can you tell me what the latest revision is for the 6" LS?, I was
looking to download it but wasn't sure what rev it was.
Thank you very much for the info. on the 3.5" video monitor.
 
Lou Welke
Mike here: As mentioned on the Meade web site home page, 1.3.
Subject:	RE: DS 2114 AutoStar 494
Sent:	Sunday, January 17, 2010 23:40:02
From:	Leandro Castillo Rivera (lecasri@hotmail.com)
I'm Sad, I was using the Meade after the update, and the arrow key for
move the telescope not respond when I align it. But If I press it in
other site, in the first steps(daylight saving for example) the autostar
move the telescope.

Do you know if I can download the original o latest firmware for the 494? 

Thks
 
Ing. Leandro Arturo Castillo Rivera
San Jose, Costa Rica
Mike here: There is no user-installable ROM update for the #494 AutoStar. Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES?

And:

Yes i did. 
Mike here: Try doing a RESET, followed by a CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	RE: ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, January 12, 2010 20:13:31
From:	Stephen Holland (s_n_holland@hotmail.com)
Since sending my last comments, I have discovered a few things. To get
my "dead" scope working again, I decided to make another 1.3 version on
my SD card. However I did not notice that the lock tab on the sd to mini
sd adaptor was in the write protect position (maybe my kids touched
it?). So even though the computer appeared to be writing to the card it
was not. You would think the Autostar update software would alert you
that the card is write protected. So after correcting this I reloaded
the scope successfully (sort of). The auto alignment was still hanging
up part way through at "find mount tip". So, I connected the telescope
to the computer via USB. Then, I noticed under tools, a command that
says "garbage collect". So I tried it to see what would happen. It was
busy for a few minutes followed with the message "Autostar OK". I
restarted the scope and believe it or not, the auto alignment is no
longer getting hung up. I had the scope inside so there was no stars to
see but it was pointing in the general direction of the particular star
named. So I am feeling optimistic at this point. Here's another tip -
look in the updater folder on your computer, change the name of the
folder from 13 to ETX_LSV1.3, my handbox is displaying the correct
version number. Not sure if that matters but it worked.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Thanks for the follow up...

Write lock, schmite lock...

I just tested it... yes, ASU will write to a "write locked" miniSD in a
full-sized SD adapter (through a Targus chip dock).

But that's it: it WILL and CAN write to it.
So can Windows Explorer.

The "write lock" slider is totally ignored by Windows and ASU.
Data gets written to the SD chip, irrespective of how that slider is set.

..so -that- was (probably) NOT whatever was pestering Stephen.
(Sometimes i think ASU has to write an SD card -twice- to get it to work once)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Monday, January 11, 2010 20:57:32
From:	Stephen Holland (s_n_holland@hotmail.com)
I wonder how many people regret buying one of these lemons? I am
seriously thinking about seeing if my telescope dealer will accept my
ETX-LS ACF as a trade in on another scope, perhaps a Celestron (anything
but Meade). The first scope was bad and was exchanged by Meade, costing
me lots of money when they incorrectly filled out the forms when
shipping it back here to Canada (taxes and other fees that I shouldn't
have had to pay). Then to make matters worse, the replacement isn't much
better than the first. It has never auto aligned but I was putting up
with the problem with manual alignment using the two star method. Now
problems are even worse. I decided to update the firmware to version 1.3
using the SD card method. After doing this, it would not get past the
audio intro and wouldn't even work on manual slewing. So, I decided to
try using the USB method. Although this took a lot longer, I was
successful and it seemed OK although I didn't actually try it outside
(bad weather, no stars). I should have left it alone but instead tried
to add data for satellites, comets,etc using the Autostar software. Now
it's gone dead and will not let me retry. It says my telescope is up to
date - try again later. Is there any way to "clear" the scope to allow
me to reinstall version 1.3?
Mike here: I'll let our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, respond as I'm not certain if entering "999" works with the AutoStar III.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Two things:
(a) i've experienced a similar go-round when i was updating to 1.3
I threw so many rocks and shotgun approaches at it that it's hard to pin
down exactly -what- got me going again.  Please give me a couple of days
to try and recreate the memories.
(b) i've sent Stephen's note to Meade to ask for -their- suggested approach.
(and for them to put it on their website).
-------

That said, one thing i did that -seemed- to help (and a Yahoo ETX-LS
group member said it worked for them) was to get into the /Program
Files/Meade/AutostarSuite/Updater directory.
In there will be folders whose names start with ETX_LSxxxx , with "xxx"
being the firmware version numbers.  I -removed- the ones that were
-not- ETX_LS13
(i moved them into a different "tree" into a folder called "hidden",
rather than simply delete them).
Then ASU seemed willing to try a reload from the remaining copy.
(i -still- haven't figured out how to force ASU to re-do the download from Meade.
If the properties of the ETX_LS13 folder show it to contain 243
megabytes, it's probably a good download.)

good luck... there will be more news later
--dick

Subject:	Autostar Failure?
Sent:	Saturday, January 9, 2010 17:16:45
From:	ron mohap (ronjon1021@hotmail.com)
I recently purchased a Meade ETX 125 PE.  I was learning the in's and
out's of the scope over the past few months and having fun doing so. 
However, last night I connected my power source to the scope, turned the
scope on and nothing! There was power to the scope because the red power
light indicated so, however, the autostar #497 had no response.  The
controller did not turn on, did not beep and does not allow the
telescope to slew using the directional arrows.  When power is turned
on, there is a faint "click" in the controller and that is all, no
light, no display and I can't get to the menu.

I've tried disconnecting the cord and checking for proper connections
and reversing the cord as you mentioned to other individuals on your
site.  None of these work.  Any input you could provide would be greatly
appreciated.  Thank you in advance.
      
Jason 
Pennsylvania
Mike here: Have you tried replacing the batteries?

And:

Thank you so very much for your quick response.  As I am very much a
novice, I am unsure what you mean by replacing the batteries.  I have a
power cord that I use to power the scope, so I don't use any batteries
when using the scope. Should I be using batteries as my power source.  I
am sorry in advance for my lack of technical knowledge, but I do
appreciate any help you could give.
Thank you again in advance,
Jason 
Mike here: What AC adapter are you using? But I suggest disconnecting that and using batteries on the ETX itself.

And:

I am using a 12v AC adaptor that plugs into a cigarette lighter and then
I have a connector that receives the cigarette lighter and then plugs
into the ETX 12v plug on the scope.  It had been working fine without
any problems, starting right up, aligning properly, slewing properly, no
problems.  Then last night, nothing through the autostar.
Mike here: What is the amperage rating of the adapter? But I still suggest disconnecting the external power source and trying internal batteries. It may not help but for troubleshooting, we need to know what happens.

And:

Thank you very much again.  The amperage is 1200mA or if my math is
correct, 1.2 amps.  I don't have any C batteries, so I will get
batteries tomorrow and put batteries in the scope and reply the result. 
Again, thank you for your quick response and willingness to help.
Jason 
Mike here: Argh. The ETX-125PE really requires 1500mA. Anything less may have problems.

And:

I came across some batteries and put them into the scope.  The scope
showed it was receiving power because the red power light was on. 
However, once again, the autostar controller did nothing.  I even
plugged the external power source into the scope and this time the
autostar controller clicked three times and seemed like it was trying to
work but simply didn't.  Thank you again and I know it is getting late,
so I'll look forward to your reply tomorrow.
Jason 
Mike here: A couple of possibilities come to mind: the battery cutout switch could be malfunctioning. See the article "Repairing Battery Cutoff Switch" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. OR some damage could have been to the circuitry by the inadequate power source. You can check the AutoStar by itself by building an external battery adapter for it. See the "AutoStar Power Information" section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Re strange behvaing ET125 w Autostar 497 updated to 43EG
Sent:	Thursday, January 7, 2010 12:30:33
From:	Olof Neiglick (olof.neiglick@telia.com)
Hi, happy 2010 - many tks for bringing some clarity on what firmware to
upload on my ETX125, I got the 43Eg on the handbox, and it managed to
remember all my site settings, scope type etc. Not bad! However, when I
did a Calibrate Sensors after the upgrade, it behaves strange, how about
this:

i) parking in power-off mode in the home position, tube leval and
pointing to the North

ii) switch on, verify date/time correct, then go directly to the Cal
Sensors and let the scope do its stuff

iii) motors start whirring, but after some 15 seconds, having done some
lateral / RA movement, it dips the tube to the max position when the
front of the tube hits the base/casing and then continues to try to tip
the tube downwards, even though this is not possible after the hard stop

iv) numeros movements in the RA and Dec axis, after finally stopping
with the Polaris pointing position. BUT: my scope now points to Polaris
in the 180 degree wrong direction! At this time, is is ca 70+ degrees to
the North-East, but my tube is pointing S-W ?

Tried this twice with the same result.

Any suggestions ?

Best regards
 
Olof
Stockholm Sweden
Mike here: Many times doing a RESET will cure odd behavior. Follow that with a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. As to pointing the wrong the direction, be certain you have the telescope in the proper Home position when doing the first alignment.

And:

Hi, many tx for quick response ! Just tried this, now its -15 C and
starting to snow, so I'll try it tomorrow or when the weather clears up.
No change in behaviour this time, and I am sure I put the Home position
as max counterclockwise, tube pointing N-NW on the tripod and level.
Fresh battery in the LNT (and it does pick up the right date/time). 
Will try again and keep u posted.

Have a nice one in the meantime!

Olof
Mike here: Ah ha, wrong Home position for Auto Align! Rotate the OTA CCW to the hard stop AND leave it there. The OTA should be pointed to the SW (and the control panel on the west side of the tripod).

And:

Well, so much for my english language skills - gotta read that manual
more thorough next time. Will try tomorrow and keep u posted of
developments.

Best regards

Olof
Sweden

Subject:	AutoStar screen goes blank
Sent:	Tuesday, January 5, 2010 19:49:13
From:	f.matejaiii@comcast.net (f.matejaiii@comcast.net)
How are you? I read your review on the Meade & Anteres focal reducers. I
like the single shot of M31!

Because of that review I'm now going to purchase the Anteres instead of
the Meade focal reducer. Here's my dilemma, my AutoStar 497 hand box
goes blank (lights are on but display is blank) but the scope still
slews, I just have to remember which button selects what slew speed. The
arrow buttons work, I could still manually slew left, right & up, down.
Should I just purchase a new AutoStar hand box, and if so what are the
going prices for a new controller.

Thank You for your time.

My email is: f.matejaiii@comcast.net  
 
Frank M. Mateja III
SeaShore Aviation
Mike here: From your description, it sounds like the AutoStar display initially comes on but then at some point goes blank. Have you checked the batteries? If not batteries, check the brightness level while the display is illuminated. As to the focal reducer, I assume you have a LX90 or LXD75 SCT (or ACF) telescope. The focal reducer won't work (without an SCT adapter) on an ETX-90/105/125.
Subject:	Flash load ready, What now?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 5, 2010 15:36:52
From:	william browning (Bill@astrosightsaver.com)
I was trying to updatre my etx 497 and screwed up somehow and the screen
went black. I figured out on my own to get it to a flash load ready
mode. What can I do to get the thing working again? Also I am using a
serial to usb port adapter that works with everything thing else I've
used it with so I dont think it would be a problem.

If you can point me in the right direction I would GREATLY apreciatte
it.

Thanks
Bill 
www.astrosightsaver.com
Mike here: Actually, the USB-serial adapter could very well have created the problem. Not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more on USB adapters. I recommend using a Keyspan adapter. As to "what now", the Meade ASU should detect that it is in the FLASH LOAD mode and re-install the software.
Subject:	RE: DS 2114 AutoStar 494
Sent:	Monday, January 4, 2010 22:58:15
From:	Leandro Castillo Rivera (lecasri@hotmail.com)
Hi, i'm reset the autostar from software, using the steps that you
mencioned in your answers, and it Works, Now, I can use the autostar
again.
 
Thanks for your help.
 
Ing. Leandro Arturo Castillo Rivera
San Jos, Costa Rica

Subject:	RE: DS 2114 AutoStar 494
Sent:	Sunday, January 3, 2010 15:38:15
From:	Leandro Castillo Rivera (lecasri@hotmail.com)
Hi thk for your answer Well, after i press ENTER key in daylight saving
the autostar still in the same screen (daylight saving) and only the
arroy key (up, down, left, right) for move the telescope work. I replace
the battery and still have the same problem. I'm going to bought the
astrofinder for to reset the autostar a try to solve the problem
Mike here: Since the AutoStar is locking up at the Daylight Saving setting, it is likely the software is corrupted. If using the MODE key doesn't get you back to the menu tree, then you have two choices. Try to reset from software (which likely won't work) as I mentioned in my previous reply. Astrofinder does not include a RESET function. Your other choice is to replace the AutoStar. Again, I would recommend getting a #497 AutoStar.

And:

Ok Thks, I will try. I will bought the Astrofinder, because It come with
the cable :)... Well if you know how I can make the cable i will be
gratefull with you.

Thanks
Mike here: The #506 cable is not easily made as it includes some special electronics. But if you want to try, see the article "494 Aux bus (506 replacement) demystified" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Meade ETX 80 AT connection to autostar fault
Sent:	Sunday, January 3, 2010 04:36:00
From:	jeff stonehouse (jeff.stonehouse@ukonline.co.uk)
hi all  ---happy new year
 
i`ve just received my first ever telescope as a xmas present,the scope
itself works fine but I have a connection problem with the #506
connection kit not recognising the etx 80 thro the comm1 port(in fact
any port) any suggestions to help would be appreciated
Mike here: Does your computer have a real RS-232 port or are you using a USB-serial adapter?

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