AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 July 2007

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:	Completing 506 cable for ETX-60
Sent:	Monday, July 30, 2007 10:00:09
From:	Cobnut Admin (admin@cobnut.net)
I'm trying to help a friend of mine get his ETX-60 working, the key
problem being that his #494 Autostar is in German.  From info on your
site I've determined that there doesn't seem to be any way to reset the
device to English simply from the controller but am hoping that an
update via a PC will be able to do it.  I've been given a cable that my
friend thought would be the required lead to connect the ETX to a PC BUT
it appears to be missing the RJ45/Serial adapter bit.  I have a cable
with an RJ45 at one end, a small black box in the middle and an RJ11 (??
- it's a smaller RJ45 style) at the other, on the longer piece of cable
from the box.

IF I'm right and this is 'half' the required 506 connector, what would
you recommend as the best way to get it connected to a PC?  I'm
reasonably competent with a soldering iron so am not afraid of making up
new cables, etc. but obviously I'd prefer the least 'intrusive' method. 
Is it easier to buy an adapter - if so, do you know of a supplier that
has the right one/type?  Alternatively, can you point me to an accurate
diagram of the required (cross) connections between RJ45 and 9-pin
serial?  I've found several on your site and elsewhere but none (seem)
to specifically be for the 506/ETX60 and I want to make absolutely sure
I've got it right before I let loose with the cutters :)
 
Any help or advice would be gratefully appreciated.
 
Jon
Mike here: You would need the connector BUT that won't help change the language. You would need to reload the AutoStar ROM and Meade hasn't made a user-installable version available for the #494 AutoStar.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply Mike, though obviously it's not the answer I
was hoping for :(

Looks like the best answer is an English-German dictionary :)

The ultimate irony is that once I told my friend he wasn't looking for a
*cable* but a small black box, he said he knew where that was!  Having
got it, I've now found my PC doesn't have a 9-pin serial port.  Sigh. 
My own fault for not checking, at least I didn't waste any more of your
time!

Thanks for the help.

Jon
Mike here: For controlling the AutoStar from a computer without a RS-232 port you would need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar software. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more information. I use a Keyspan adapter with my Macs and it works well.
Subject:	Celestron CG5-Gt
Sent:	Tuesday, July 24, 2007 06:17:29
From:	Roger D Johnson (n1rj@roadrunner.com)
While looking through the Meade files, I saw that you were considering a
patch to allow the Autostar software to control a Celestron mount. What
is the status of this project?

I'm asking because I just ordered a Deepsky Imager (I couldn't resist
the $99 sale price)and it would be nice to control both the imager and
mount with the same program.

Thanks, Roger

-- 
Remember the USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
http://ussliberty.org/
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
It wasn't me, since the Autostar signaling system is not
at all compatible with the Celestron electronics.

But many people have used the Meade -motor units- to drive
Celestron/Vixen/generic GEM mounts, as described in
the messages and Files of the Roboscope Yahoo group.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope

Once Meade motors are installed, then the
Autostar can control them.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Wasn't me either. Suggest you contact the author of the article directly.

And:

Sorry! Thought it was you. I'll have to go back and see if I can find
the original posting.

Thanks, Roger

Subject:	ETX 105 EC uncontrolable: A SOLUTION
Sent:	Sunday, July 22, 2007 14:28:32
From:	gary.hampson (hampson@astound.net)
I emailed you from my work address in the week about my uncontrollable
etx105ec. After that long list of things I attempted including software
updates for autostar, inspecting sensors for grease, checking boards,
pins and cable continuity, I am so pleased to say that I have found the
problem and would like to share it with others so it does not give them
severe depression after spending $1000 on the scope and accessories.

With my scope I had purchased the ac/dc 120 to 12v converter (#547).
After reading about a potential issue on your site I checked the voltage
it was producing. It was producing 16v. As a quick cheap(? $8.99 ?)
check I bought 8xAA batteries and loaded them into the scope. Hey
presto! It works exactly as advertised! I am so pleased that I don't
have to ship this mother back to telescopes.com. Now I can actually do
some object tracking and photography. Why on earth do Meade place their
good name on such shoddy accessories, which needless to say, was made in
some other country, no doubt much cheaper than Meade could make it in
California. I strongly recommend using a meter on any power supply you
plan to use. Take your meter to Radio Shack with you if necessary!

Thank you so much for all the advice and hints you gave via email, and
thank you for hosting such a useful site.

Cheers
Gary Hampson
a UK expat in California.

Subject:	Re: Meade AutoStar download
Sent:	Sunday, July 22, 2007 15:01:39
From:	Barbara & Tom Andrews (tombps@bigpond.com.au)
It's actually a bit embarrassing that I didn't read the Meade page
properly: a few more lines and I would have found the link I wanted
right there in the last paragraph. Once I got the program back on the
computer all was fine.

I was downloading 43Ea as I had been experiencing the worst
rubberbanding and alt/dec rocketing (only word to describe it, really)
with 43Ed. The gentlemen at Bintel in Sydney suggested using the earlier
one. I'm following the sequence in the Fine Tuning Tech Tips for
post-downloading, so I'll train it today and try it tonight. I have two
90s right now, so I'm comparing them to keep the better one and sell the
other.

Cheers,
Tom
Mike here: Anytime the AutoStar goes berserk, a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES will usually solve it. If not, then a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES is in order. Reloading the ROM is a last resort but doesn't hurt; just remember to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES following the load.

And:

From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
Great that all is working okay so far.  Rubber banding can be a problem
associated with some versions of firmware, but also can be attributable
to poor training; make sure that you train on a non-moving terrestrial
object far distant and that you use very high power or a reticle
eyepiece.  Usually good training will clear this up.

Keep up posted!

Dr. Clay
-------------
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC/ H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC/ H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC/ H45 (Petit Jean Mtn. South)
http://www.arksky.org/

And:

It kept happening after a reset/calibrate and a meticulous training
according to all of Dr Clay's advice (which was what I had done in the
old firmware as well). So I'm currently doing an indoor test with the
two scopes. The naughty one still played up, so I've swapped the
handsets. It seems to be working.

If a handset is used on a different scope, I believe a calibrate is
necessary. Would re-training also be advised before observing? I'm
spending a lot of time away from the family with this experimentation!

Cheers,
Tom A.
Mike here: Swapping the AutoStar from one telescope to another will require a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES each time you swap. Generally, it should not be necessary to TRAIN DRIVES before each observing session.
Subject:	Autostar updater program
Sent:	Friday, July 20, 2007 23:11:23
From:	Barbara & Tom Andrews (tombps@bigpond.com.au)
On my computer (well, my stepdaughter's, as she has a PC), I've had the
Meade ASU program for a little over a year. As I want to download a
slightly older version (43Ea), I went to that computer yesterday and
found the updater program no longer there. Failing that, I tried to
download it again from the Meade website, using the 43Eg link on the
Autostar page. I finished up with the "Build" folder and a readme
document. On opening the Build folder, the computer merely asks me what
program I want to use to read it. Nothing I could think of would let me
access the update.

I've also tried to access  www.Meade.com/support/auto/ASU361.exe   as
given on the Arkansas Sky Observatory site, but it doesn't recognise
that address. Knowing little about software, I'm supposing that it's the
computer missing something that would allow me to unzip the files. Are
you able to say what the problem may be, based on those details?

With Thanks,
Tom A.
Mike here: Meade's page is http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html. The Windows application version 4.6 is there. Once you have that installed, it can install the build ROM file from the Internet or from your local hard disk (if you put it inside the Ephemerides folder that gets created when you install the app).
Subject:	etx105/autostar out of control!
Sent:	Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:48:06
From:	Hampson, Gary (hampsg@chevron.com)
I recently purchased an etx105 with autostar. I have had quite a few
problems with the motors apparently out of control. I calibrated and
trained them, however it wants to leap into top speed when I am aligning
on a suitable terrestrial object. With much hit and miss I managed to do
it. I then carefully placed it in home position and started to do easy
align. It slews to approximately the right location and then I can
slowly centre using the azimuth, but it the altitude motor then fires up
and basically pushes the tube down at top speed until it hits a hard
stop after which I get a "motor malfunction error". If I try to interupt
the alt motor by hitting enter to pretend Ive centred, it then sometimes
slews to a second star, but often the alt motor gets over excited again
and hits another hard stop. I can track manually.

Its all pretty frustrating and my email to telescopes.com has yet to be
answered. Unless I can find a fix Im going to have to admit defeat and
return it.

Is there any advice you can give?

Thanks 
Gary Hamspon 
California
Mike here: What are you using for a power source? Also, is it an AT or PE model? What version of the AutoStar software is in the handset? As to a quick fix, sometimes a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes) can help.

And:

Its an AT. 

-I have already taken the step of downloading the latest autostar code
(43eg), just in case there was a bug.

-I checked that the cable connectors are not obviously bent or damaged
and also reversed it to see if the plugs liked the opposite sockets a
bit more.

-I did quite a few resets, calibrated the motors plenty and trained the
drives plenty.

-I use the mains adapter for power, so I assume its been getting steady
power.

I assume its either:

a) a softare bug, however lots of others would be having a problem
b) a board in the scope (I think I saw it mentioned that the computer is
in the scope, not the handset).
c) a problem with the handset
d) a problem with the cable
e) a problem with the motor feedback/sensing mechanism.

In one of your threads I saw you had mentioned grease on a sensor could
be a problem. The scope was internet bought so I guess fed-ex could have
dislodged some grease ball in their perhaps less than tender handling of
the boxes.

Do you think its worth a look inside the scope and the handset to see if
I can see anything obvious? I guess with some powerful glasses and a
steady hand I could check for continuity on the cable.

I also saw mentioned that someone had found they had tightened the axis
locks too much. I guess I could loosen them, but as I understand it that
would allow the scope the possibility of losing alignment during
slewing.

I am tempted to wonder if I have overlooked something during the setup,
like use the wrong hemisphere, but I have double check quite a few
times. It does find Arcturus as its first star in easy align and if I
tell it to use Vega for its first star it will also go to that, so I
must have approximately the right geographic location and home position.

I guess one thing that is puzzling is that when it slews to a star to
align it says "Cntr object (or whatever)" and underneath it says
"..slewing" even when it has stopped slewing and has used slower speeds
to refine its alt/az. I initially waited assuming it would tell me to do
something like "use arrows to centre". But it sits there unchanged. If I
hit enter it starts slewing to a second star, often with the az motor
losing its mind. If I use the az arrows to start to centre the star it
seems ok. As soon as I use the alt motor to make an adjustment it simply
goes off on its own suicidal mission. Should the display remain on
"..slewing" when it has made its best stab at pointing to an alignment
star, or should it give me some other form of instruction more
meaningful?

Any help gratefully received
Gary Hampson
Mike here: The final slew BEFORE the beep is very slow. You should always wait for the beep before centering the object. As to the random slew you are experiencing, that can be due to dirt or lubrication. And easy fix for that which sometimes will work is to unlock the axes and slowly move the OTA by hand from hard stop to hard stop, back and forth several times. This can redistribute the grease (and move dirt), resulting in "cleaning" the encoders. Doesn't always work but depending on the exact nature of the problem, it can work wonders.

And:

OK - I'll give it a go and let you know if I have any luck.
Are the encoders cleanable by removing any covers?
Thanks 
Gary
Mike here: See the article "Cleaning the Encoders" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Keep in mind that if the telescope is new, opening up the base may invalidate the warranty. If you are concerned about that you should contact the dealer for an exchange.

And:

I checked out a few things last night:

-slackened clamps and moved many times freely from stop to stop: had no
effect.
-checked for grease on the alt gears: the sensor (sender and receiver)
and the gear teeth were clean as a whistle.
-did some motor training and calibration: no good
-inspected the autostar cable connectors and the sockets, cleaned with
isoprpyl alcohol: no good
-very patiently checked each pin on the autostar cable with a meter to
ensure conductors all had continuity - they did
-opened autostar and visually checked for any obvious board problems,
also checked button side to check contacts were all nice and clean -
they were.
-one final thing I checked was to measure the 110 ac/dc converter
voltage output. It was 16v. This is the so-called 12v supply that was
supplied as a Meade product. I saw a couple of people had found higher
than expected supply voltages and had some trouble with them. I will get
a radio-shack cheapie (and check it for 12v in the shop) and try that.

Thanks
Gary 

Subject:	Autostar Wi-Fi
Sent:	Wednesday, July 18, 2007 17:10:16
From:	Hrald HIVET (heraldtahiti@gmail.com)
just found on the net: 

http://www.belkin.com/networkusbhub/

and

http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=377058

seems that it's looks like every astronomer dream about!

clear skies!

And:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Note the footnote on the "Get Connected" page of the usbhub:
"* Data transfer rates do not support some
 high-speed/high-bandwidth USB devices such
 as HD streaming web cams or
 other video transfer applications."

... so it may not work for a DSI camera
(LPI cameras will -possibly- work).

Other vendors also make ethernet-to-USB hubs, 
and they all admit that synchronous transfers 
(such as used by the streaming web cams) may
not work.

have fun
--dick

And:

I've note the warning about HD streaming webcam..
i already have a wi-fi network at home and i will receive my DSI
(ordered today at astronomics $99 special outlet!!!)
next week so i could try if wi-fi transfer rate is enought between my
laptop and desktop for imaging with DSI + autoguide withy LPI.
if this works, be sure i'll advise..

regards.

PS: i just enjoyed my first 'Motor Unit Fault' message after 30mn use..
;-(( i didn't reset my handbox since last update with your patch, i also
re-grease and switch to a 12V/4A AC power supply before it occur.
so i'll try first a reset, calibrate, train etc.. check for possible
grease on the optical encoder wheel and step down to 12V/1.2A and see if
problem still occur...

Subject:	question
Sent:	Monday, July 16, 2007 12:54:46
From:	Paulo Wollny (paulo.wollny@girs.org.br)
i found the 505 cable pinout in your site, and i did build it. After
that, trying to operate the DS60 with 495 autostar was unsuccessful. My
notebok uses a Keyspan USB to RS-232 adapter, and COM3.

I don't undestand what could be wrong. I never updated the 495 device,
and do not have the original AS software which came with the telecope.

Any hint of what could be wrong?
Best regards,
Paulo
Mike here: What software ARE you using to communicate to the AutoStar? Have you updated to the current Keyspan software? Also, you might try using the Meade AutoStar Update application (available from Meade's web site) to update the AutoStar #495 to a #497. BUT I wouldn't do that until you know you have a working connection.

And:

Thanks for the answer....  it was a cable problem and i fixed it. i got
comunication, and did the 495 upgrade.

I'm usin kstars on linux.  For the upgrade (ASU), i used Windows. Just
another question: when i bought my DS-70, i got a floppy disk with
autostar software. in the meantime, i have no access to any floppy
device, i'm not being able to use the software. is there any location
from where i could download the original software, and then get the
updates?

Best regards!
Paulo
Mike here: You could contact Meade and perhaps get a CD-ROM with their software. By the way, there is a Linux AutoStar update application called "Lin_AutoStar" available at http://www.rti-zone.org/lin_autostar.php.
Subject:	What is a Coranado Autostar 497?
Sent:	Wednesday, July 11, 2007 07:48:11
From:	Don Loose (metlman17@hotmail.com)
I am planning on buying a new Autostar 497 controller for my ETX125 and
I saw that a camera company called Adorama is selling a 497 Coronada
Meade Autostar.  Is this compatable with my etx125?  Thanks for the very
informative website!
Mike here: That seems to be a special version of the AutoStar 497 that has the Sun as an object in its database. It will be compatible with the ETX (and LXD) telescopes.

And:

Love the site it is very helpful and informative, just ordered your book
from amazon.  Thanks for the quick response
Sincerely,
Don L

Subject:	New ETX125 - Alignment Problem
Sent:	Thursday, July 5, 2007 04:28:02
From:	Peter Lawrence (lawrences@adam.com.au)
Congratulations on a most informative site.   I've just pruchased a
ETX125AT, and can't get the "two star" easy align working.  To get the
ETX in home posiiton, I unlock the horizontal lock and rotate full
anticlockwise, and then rotate back about half a turn to set the fork
arm over the computer panel, and set the ETX tube horizontal, and then
set the whole unit pointing north.  So far so good.....       Easy Align
then selects Rigel  and slews clockwise almost half a turn, and finds it
OK.   It then selects Arcturus as the second star, but the unit wats to
slew clockwise again to find Arcturus, but can't becuase it hits the
clockwise slew limit.  It it slewed anticlockwise it would be OK.    Any
idea what I am doing wrong?
Regards
Peter Lawrence
Adelaide, South Australia
Mike here: Sounds like you are doing everything correctly but just to confirm, check the article "Southern Hemisphere Alignment Tips" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, did you do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES?

And:

Thanks for yor prompt reply.  The problem was identified when I
discussed the problem with the vendor, and described the fact that with
the horozontal lock in the unlock position, the unit would only freely
rotate a total of about 340 degrees, and would then hit a stop.  I
understand that it should freely rotate about 1 1/2 turns.  It has been
returned for repair under warranty.
Best Wishes
Peter Lawrence

Subject:	re: etx 70 at
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2007 20:31:43
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The files for updating the Autostar 497 are at
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html
and other languages (German, Spanish, French) are at:
http://www.meade.de/index.php?id=204

If you have a 494 Autostar (no numeric keypad)
you can NOT download files to it.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	etx 70 at
Sent:	Tuesday, July 3, 2007 12:55:02
From:	Thomas Skaggd SR (wb9juv@mchsi.com)
need hand file for 497 for Meade up grade my file is corrupt and has
messed up my hand box if I can get this file I think I can fix it Tom
Thanks
Mike here: Not certain what a "hand file" is but the ROM file (version 4.3Eg) for the #497 AutoStar (has number keys on the keypad) is available on Meade's web site: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html.
Subject:	Sluggish up key on Autostar 497 handset
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2007 21:52:39
From:	Gary Brinsden (g.brinsden@bdsc.school.nz)
I am having real problems with the response time on the up key of my
Meade Autostar 497 handset.  Can take up to 30 seconds to respond.  I
can sometimes get it to move if down in conjunction with either the
right or left buttons at the same time.  Bit of a pain if you only want
to go up!
Cheers
Gary
New Zealand
Meade LXD75 sn8
Mike here: See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Note: this will likely invalidate any warranty on the AutoStar controller.

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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/jul07/autostar.html