Last updated: 31 January 2012
Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, AudioStar, cables, and 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 email@example.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: New 497EP Firmware label Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 16:49:36 From: Ron (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have just received my ETX 125 back from Meade maintenance Shop. One on the problems it went in with was the 'old' 497 Handset had died after an attempted update using AutoStar Update 5.9.3. The handset was replaced with a 497EP and it shows the firmware edition to be 59Ef both in the startup screen and the Statistics section. I don't remember seeing this and checked the Meade website and they still show the 5CE2. I can not tell any difference in the menu screens but I have not gone thought them in any detail yet. Ron Hillstromb
Subject: help: advice on programming target lists into etx60 at Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 11:19:15 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) It's just a ton-o-fun playing with my old etx 60 scope! I'm at the point now of wanting to program in my own targets. I know how to put the coordinates into the 494 handbox (the one with no numbers). I'm trying now to locate a list of objects that can actually be seen with only 60mm. I'm mostly interested in DSO's, as I can do star tours through the constellations menu. Also, do you know how many entries the user object data base can hold? (name and RA/DEC only) And, is it possible to lay down a hierarchical file structure (const/targets) so I don't have to scroll down through all of the user entered targets? Thanks Mike Tom Wall, TucsonMike here: I'm not aware of an ETX-60 only DSO listing. However, you could make an AutoStar Tour and upload it to the AutoStar using the AutoStar Suite. You will need a #506 serial cable (not easily made) and a RS-232 serial port. If your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. For more on tours and how to create them, see the AutoStar Tours section on the AutoStar Info page. For more information on entering User Objects manually, see the AutoStar #494 manual. As to the limit, I know I've seen that number many years ago but I can't recall it right now. Perhaps Dick Seymour knows.
Thank you for the feedback. I checked the internet and had no luck.I figured, if anyone knew, you would. I'll check again at Stellar Vision to see if he has an old 506 cable kicking around. However, I think I'm going to go old school and start programming the handset now using Stellarium at a 3 or 4 atmosphere to help me pick likely targets. As for the number of targets I can fit, I'll just go until it's full. I'll just use name and coordinates to save bytes. Starting, of course, with Cassiopeia! :-) Big fan of your site. Tom Wall, Tucson
Subject: Re: Autostar will not initialise Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 09:31:03 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'm glad to say your suggestion worked a treat and I'm now running Ver 4.3Eg. I can only suppose the previous Autostar (Ver 2) somehow got corrupted. Once again, many thanks for your help. Nick
Subject: Auto Star Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 03:19:42 From: Bob Gunnis (email@example.com) I have a friend who has a Meade ETX 125AT which has been in storage but now he want to get it up and running again. When the scope is turned on, the handset lights up and shows the copyright screen and 43E. It then moves to welcome to Autostar briefly and then moves to press 0 to align Mode etc. The display then fades and nothing can be seen on the screen. If i connect my handset, everything is fine and the scope can be used to align and observe Any advice or suggestions what can be done to remedy this problem? Many Thanks Bob GunnisMike here: Since a different AutoStar works correctly, the batteries are not likely the problem. However, since the display dims slightly for nighttime use, it sounds like the BRIGHTNESS is set to low. Increasing it should help. Holding the display so that a bright light shines on it might help to see the menus.
Thanks for the reply Mike but the display dims so quickly, I cannot see any thing in the display to adjust any settings. Any further advice please Bob GunnisMike here: Did you try my "bright light" trick?
Yes I did Mike and I could barely see the display and that is when I attempted to adjust the brightness and now the display is too dark and cannot see anything other that what I mentioned in my first email BobMike here: If the display is not visible then you'll have to work your way through the menus "by feel". Get out the manual (or use the one at Meade's web site); look at the menu tree diagram and press the appropriate keys to work your way down through the menus and then the SCROLLUP arrow key to increase the brightness and perhaps contrast.
I have managed to feel my way there but can only get the brightness to a low level and not as bright as my own handset. Sorry to ask, but any more suggestions or advice please Bob GunnisMike here: You can try a RESET. If that doesn't cure it, you can try "AutoStar Display Tip" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If that doesn't fix it, you may have to replace the LCD (see the LCD replacement articles on the AutoStar Info page). However, the problem may not be with the LCD but with the circuitry itself. A component may be failing.
Thanks for all the help Mike. Seems more likely a problem with the LCD but will persevere and see how I get on Bob Gunnis
Subject: Autostar will not initialise Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 10:53:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) I have recently acquired an ETX 125 telescope. However, having mounted it and connected the Autostar handpiece, when I power up, the autostar display 'sticks' on the copyright message and I can go no further. If I power up with the enter and scroll down buttons pressed, I get a 'Flash load 3.0 Ready' message. Is there an easy way to resolve this? Many thanks in anticipation, NickMike here: With the FLASH LOAD screen, you will need to install the version of the AutoStar software appropriate to your AutoStar model. Use the latest AutoStar Updater application and install either 4.3Eg (AutoStar #497) or 5CE2 (AutoStar #497EP). You will need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 serial port on your computer. If your computer has only USB, you will need 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 for more information.
Thanks for your very quick response. I will follow your suggestions and let you know how I get on. Many thanks, Nick
Subject: Re: autostrar Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 09:04:43 From: Terese Cargen (firstname.lastname@example.org) thank you for you time Robert
Subject: autostrar Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 10:38:17 From: Terese Cargen (email@example.com) The autostar the one without number buttons says it can be updated in the manual and also on the meade website with the cable kit 506 if im reading everythig correctly? let me know your thoughts? thanks robert The AutoStar #494.Mike here: The manual is correct but only in a limited way. You CAN update user objects like Comets, Asteroids, etc, using AutoStar Suite and a #506 serial cable. However, the AutoStar #494 operating software can not be user updated. One other point: if your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. But not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject: re: Custom park for lx90 Sent: Monday, January 16, 2012 18:22:26 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike wrote: > it is not available on the AutoStar #497 menu tree Well, yes... but you can ADD it (or at least the functionality) The patch kits Andrew Johansen and i create for the 497 Autostar *includes* the ability to define a different PARK position. The current kit is posted on Mike's site here: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/patch43eg30.html You can also install it by loading and running StarPAtch, which will then automatically fetch the kit and present its sub-sections as a tick-list. http://www.stargps.ca/pub/setupSP.exe (StarPAtch is a free firmware uploader that is MUCH more robust than Meade's ASU, plus it knows how to patch...) from http://StarGPS.ca You didn't specify where you'd LIKE it to PARK, so i can't tell which of the pre-loaded no-editing-needed options might work for you. They are: [PARKZERO] Scope PARKS at DEC=0 instead of DEC=90, facing "down" [ParkSideways] Scope PARKS facing East (is that HA=+6 or -6?), DEC=0 [ParkAlt] you can edit in your choice of PARK DEC value (the kit has DEC=38 degrees if not edited) [ParkHA] you can edit in your choice of PARK "Hour Angle" (the kit has 175 degrees away from the usual spot, if not edited) You can only choose (zero or) *one* of the above options from the tick-list. If you DO want to edit the files in the last two examples, there are (terse) comments in the patch kit's files for doing so (both the .spf and .txt files are plain text). have fun --dick
Subject: RE: AutoStar Updater v5.9.3 does not successfully launch Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 08:42:36 From: John Metzger (email@example.com) Thanks Mike, Yes, I have the 497 controller (NOT the 497EP). I ended up dropping my efforts with my Vista Ultimate 64 bit machine and shifted to a 32-bit Windows-XP (Vista CA be quirky sometimes and I guess this was one of those times). Once I made that shift, everything went in smoothly and without ANY hitches. Ulitmately, I've successfully upgraded the 497 to the 43Eg release level, and now, having also been able to install Autostar Suite v5.5 AND the Updater v5.9.3, I'm beginning to learn how to expand how I can use my ETX125!! Much Thanks for your support - Clear Skys!!
Subject: Custom park for lx90 Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:14:50 From: john currie (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've scoured the various sites for an answer but I'm still in the dark (oh dear sorry!) Anyway, like a lot of people I have a run off shed obsy that has a roof that will bang the scope if I leave it in the proper park position. So I saw some info about a custom park position that leaves it clear of the roof and means I can go straight to observing without alignment...a real pain when the things permanently mounted. How can I get the custom park setting? The lx90 is an 8" from 2006 the lnt model. I hope you can help. JohnMike here: Yes, you can set a custom PARK position, on the AutoStar II. But it is not available on the AutoStar #497 menu tree (version 4.x).
Thats what I thought Mike. Phenomenally fast response as usual. The handset is on 43eg, so is an update going to work? Or am I stymied?Mike here: 4.3Eg is the latest best version for the #497.
Are you typing the answers before I get a question? All seeing MikeMike here: No, but I do use a Mac and have a lot of scripts to automate many tasks. Or perhaps you are just receiving emails from my Artificial Intelligence aware Macintosh computer.
Subject: AutoStar Updater v5.9.3 does not successfully launch Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 05:08:56 From: John Metzger (email@example.com) Hello, I've attempting to update the SW on my 497 controller to latest release (5BE2) so I went to the Meade site and pulled down the Autostar Suite v5.5 and the v5.9.3 Updater. I have sourced the #505 cable (third party) in preparation of the update (still need a Serial to USB adapter but that's coming) - BUT, on to my immediate challenge... I've installed Autostar Updater v5.9.3 - all installation steps show successful, however, when I launch the Updater, AU2.exe displays message "An invalid argument was encountered" (I click 'OK' - the only option) followed by another message "Runtime error" from MS Visual C++ Runtime Library 2005 (x64). Clicking 'OK' to this message Two more windows (One being the AutoStar update program windows itself) AND the typical MS WIndows notice that Autostart Update application has stopped working and that windows is closing and will advise of a solution (click "Close Program" - end program!) As background, I'm on Vista Ultimate SP2 - this is a 64-bit OS. My scope is a Meade ETX125 with AutoStar 497 controller. I've pinged Meade regarding this but have had no response so far... Any suggestions or things to check?? Thanks, JohnMike here: First, I assume you have the older #497 AutoStar and not the #497EP. If your AutoStar has 4.3Eg, then you have the latest best version for that model. If you don't have 4.3Eg and want to update to that, download the ROM file from Meade's web site and get StarPatch from http://www.stargps.ca. It is more reliable than Meade's program. Also, since you need a USB-serial adapter, be aware that not all work well with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan USB-serial adapters.
Subject: Re:Autostar alignment problems, AS FB 1/8/12 Sent: Monday, January 9, 2012 07:05:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Mike, you replied to this question with: "Mike here: OK, then the Home position is with the tube level and pointed towards the southwest. Of course, that is after the rotations to and away from the hard stop. Can you estimate in degrees how far off the first alignment star is? A fist held at arms is about 15 degrees. " The user didn't say what model of the ETX125 he was using. The southwest home position is for the ETX125PE with LNT. For non-LNT models, Home is level and true north. Also, when using a compass to find true north, you need to be careful about placement since magnets in the drive system can cause deflections. Regards, Mike HoganMike here: Oops. I didn't complete my thought. Thanks for catching error.
Subject: re: Connecting to Autostar without RS-232 Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2012 18:44:25 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) You wrote: > I have an older ETX-105PE that I have not updated software in at > least 3 years. Neither has Meade... What *is* your current firmware version? (Setup/Statistics/(enter)(scroll up)) The current 497 Autostar version is 43Eg If you have a 497EP (firmware version would start with a "5"), the current released version is 5CE2 If you're already running 5CE1, there is no reason to upgrade. Firmware for the 497EP *will not work* in the 497 (and vice versa). If you wish to easily install our patch kits (that fix bugs and add features), I recommend using the free version of StarPatch as your updater, instead of Meade's ASU. http://www.stargps.ca/pub/setupSP.exe (it's more robust than ASU) As Mike wrote, you need both a USB-to-serial adapter *and* a Meade 505 (or equivalent). For the Keyspan USA-19HS, you'll need to visit the Keyspan website and download an updated driver to work with Windows 7. USB-to-serial adapters made by FTDI (or using their chipsets) also work very well. good luck --dick
Subject: AudioStar A2S6 date/time & user data oddity Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2012 05:46:21 From: Colin Robbins (email@example.com) Thank you for your excellent site, it has helped me significantly. I do have a remaining issue with time & date setting however. I have an Audiostar with the A2S6 Firmware (updated from the A2S5 shipped) (I am connected via a homemade cable, into a USB but the fact the firmware update worked suggest to me the cable is OK) Using Autostar update (5.9.3), when I try to get user info, the data presented is corrupt. If I try and send changes, no change seem to be made. The information reported about user object is out of sync with what is actually on the handbox. When I use ASCOM tools, or MyScope the time & date they report is also incorrect. (about a day out). Looking at the time in the handbox directly, the time and date is correct. It's almost as if the software interaction with the device is seeing a different set of handbox data. Have you seen this before? Regards, Colin RobbinsMIke here: I'll let Andrew Johansen and/or Dick Seymour respond. They have more knowledge about the AudioStar model.
From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Andrew and i normally run/test/patch A1F7 (French as 2nd language), but we can load A2S6 for testing (likewise, Colin could load A1F7 ... we've got a beta patch kit for that...). Colin, could you provide an exact numeric *example* of the bad data? A1F7's "set calendar" (:SC) serial function is broken. Since you are seeing the correct time/date on the screen, may i assume that you are *not* attempting to *set* the time/date remotely? Could the "bad data" you are seeing be the UTC instead of local time? We would also be helped if you told us your own *site*: Where are you? How did you tell the Audiostar where you are? (nearest city? manual entry of lat/long?) We need more data in order to duplicate your issue and then determine its cause. have fun --dick (& andrew, i'm sure)
Thanks for the fast reply. I am based in Nottingham UK, so am in the GMT time zone. I set the time manually on the Audiostar and entered the Longitude/Latitude manually. Reading the Longitude/Latitude values back seems to work OK. The Handbox is currently reporting the time as: Jan 8 2012, 19.13.37 GMT (correct). Whereas, MyScope reports Jan 7 2012, 8:01.54, UTC-1. ASCOM connections report "Sidereal and scope differ by 3638.8, update scope". I'd be happy to try A1F7, if you let me know how.... Colin
From: Andrew Johansen (email@example.com) >> I do have a remaining issue with time & date setting however. As Dick noted, there are several bugs in how the Audiostars ( and 497EPs ) deal with date / time setting. There are also problems ( IMHO ) with how ASCOM deals with DST ( daylight time ) settings, and this may be part of it. >> Using Autostar update (5.9.3), when I try to get user info, the data >> presented is corrupt. >> If I try and send changes, no change seem to be made. Correct. The ASU updater is completely stuffed when it comes to its user data edit screen. ( For 497EP and Audiostars ). If you want to process this data you will need to use my PEC Editor and also be running patched firmware. If you want to use patched firmware, ( i strongly suggest you do ) you will need to run A1F7 as i haven't patched the A2S6. As long as you stay in English mode, this will have no effect. You can still change language if desired, but you will get French text and Spanish audio :-) >> When I use ASCOM tools, or MyScope the time & date they report is also >> incorrect. (about a day out). Incorrect??? or UTC vs Local >> Looking at the time in the handbox directly, the time and date is >> correct. We need to be careful here as two times are used by the Hbx, local and UTC. I will need to see the logs to determine where you are getting your data from, before i comment further. >> Its almost as if the software interaction with the device is seeing a >> different set of handbox data. Meades serial commands dont always directly emulate how the Hbx works. Discrepancies are quite normal in an unpatched Hbx. >> Have you seen this before? Too many times to remember Andrew
Where can I find A1F7 and the patches, and how do I load them? Colin Robbins
I strongly suggest using StarPatch http://www.stargps.ca/downloads.htm to do firmware loading of the Auto/Audio stars. It has now been updated to ensure wrong firmwares dont get crossloaded between the Autostars and is also much more robust than Meades ASU. Copies of the firmware and rom are also on the site and can be autodownloaded ( or manually grabbed ) Patching is then a simple process of start the app, select the patch, select the options you want to use ( via checkboxes ) and hit GO. After patching, ( you must select the PEC Editor bit ) my app will allow you to block edit your user data etc and also display lots more without requiring download mode. Also, if you want to load tours/comets etc then you will also need to use my app as ASU also screws them up. Andrew PS When patched, my app also has a detailed diagnostic page that will allow us to analyse whats happening with all your internal date/time data, so we can see whats happening.
And an update:
Many thanks guys, updating to A1F7 + patches solved all the issues. Colin Robbins
> Many thanks guys, updating to A1F7 + patches solved all the issues. ( Or so you think :-) ) If you are using ASCOM to set the date/time after unparking or aligning you may still end up in the poo. Ie if you align and set the date correctly, then connect an App that readjusts the date/time afterwards, all bets are off. Also, just watch the lower left grid on the front screen of my app which displays current site data, to ensure your sites timezone stays correct. Some of the ASCOM utilities adjust the timezone to simulate DST ( and if you then set the DST in the Hbx, it gets confused ) Have fun. Andrew
Subject: Connecting to Autostar without RS-232 Sent: Saturday, January 7, 2012 16:35:46 From: Eric Rosenzweig (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have an older ETX-105PE that I have not updated software in at least 3 years. I was going to do so just to get current and found that my new Windows 7 64-bit computer does not have an RS-232 port. I've looked on-line and could only find a USB to RS232 cable, but no "interface" that would go from USB to the 4pin connector at the base of the Autostar. I've scoured your site and while I saw a lot of discussion on USB to RS232 cable kits and people are obviously doing updates this way, but I didn't see anything that told me how to get from RS232 to the 4pin port on the Autostar. Do I need to get a USB to RS232 cable and the Meade interface to go from the RS232 to the 4pin? On a more basic note, is there a need to update the software after 3+ years? What will that do for me? Thanks in advance, EricMike here: You need a #505 serial cable. It is easily made; see the Cable section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Next, you need a USB-serial adapter, but not all work reliably with the AutoStar. I recommend Keyspan adapters. As to updating, that depends on what version you have. Version 4.3Eg is the latest and best for your AutoStar.
That's what I thought, but thanks for the confirmation. Thanks again
Subject: Autostar alignment problems Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 16:11:48 From: Jason Utting (email@example.com) I am having problems with alt/az alignment on Autostar. I have put my long/lat in my location in the UK and when I put the scope in the home position for 2 star alignment as it slews to the first star ie vega the scope is nowhere near the star I have reset and trained the drives on Autostar and the problem seems to persist is there anyway to get the scope to actually point at the star so it aligns properly? Once again many thanks Jason Uk Sent from my iPhoneMike here: You didn't say what model telescope you have (which can affect the HOME position; there are two different positions). Also, are you using True North or Magnetic North? Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR? For more alignments, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Lots of tips there.
Lol sorry I have etx125 and using true north, I have used calibrate drives I just seem not to have much luck getting the scope to alignMike here: OK, then the Home position is with the tube level and pointed towards the southwest. Of course, that is after the rotations to and away from the hard stop. Can you estimate in degrees how far off the first alignment star is? A fist held at arms is about 15 degrees.
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