AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 July 2008

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:	Meade ETX70AT - Handset difficulty
Sent:	Thursday, July 31, 2008 00:43:16
From:	Matthew (cdman33@gmail.com)
Hey there, got the telescope from eBay, set it up, but I have a question
about the handset.  The 2-line LED display; the bottom text is garbled,
showing lines on characters that aren't supposed to be there and it
looks as though the text is refreshing on screen at a very low rate (not
the text speed in the settings).  Do you have any idea why it's doing
this?

I've already tried resetting the scope, replugging the handset a few
times but to no avail.  I used fresh batteries as well.  Handset #494

Thanks
Mike here: Have you tried adjusting the display brightness and contrast? If that doesn't solve the problem then it could be a problem with the AutoStar itself. With the #494 AutoStar there isn't much you can do to correct it. Does the AutoStar still work to control the telescope?
Subject:	Autostar #497 problems
Sent:	Wednesday, July 30, 2008 12:34:24
From:	erik balduk (erik_1982pekel@hotmail.com)
I have some problems with the autostar #497. I hope you can help me to
solve this problem.

When I swich the telescope (ETX-105) on, the beep on the autostar
sounds, the "never look to sun warning" is  showing up. I press 5 en
getting started. Now the autostar asked the date and the daylight
savings. Before the menu starts the autostar asked the time, at this
point starts the problem. I gif the right time and press enter and after
that there`s nothing happening. The menu don`t show up and i can`t go
back.

The night before this was happening the autostar works fine.

It seems to be a software problem.

Is there some way to reset the autostar without using the menu?

Is it possible to reset the autostar from my laptop? (the rs232-usb
converter is deliverd in a few days)

Or ar there some other ways to solve this problem?

I would be verry thankfull if you can help me with solving this problem!
 
Greets
Erik (the Netherlands)
Mike here: First, check the batteries; they may be too low. If that doesn't help, see the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You will need a #505 serial cable (easily made if you don't have one; see the AutoStar Info page). Be aware that not all USB adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. If the software reset doesn't work you could reload the ROM using Meade's (Windows only) AutoStar Update application or AutoStarX (Mac OS X). If the problem is corrupted software in the AutoStar that would likely solve the problem.
Subject:	Auto-Align With Partial Sky
Sent:	Saturday, July 19, 2008 06:49:50
From:	George (gfarkas@twmi.rr.com)
I live in a building with a balcony that provides only a southern
exposure. Is it possible to use auto-align with a limited sky? Thank
you.
Mike here: Yes. You can skip through alignment stars by pressing the arrow keys until you get to one that you can see. Alternatively, you can just assume the stars are centered and press ENTER. Then once the alignment is complete, if you need to make it more accurate, go to a star you can see and do a SYNC. This will provide good GOTOs in that area of the sky.
Subject:	Training in Polar Mode
Sent:	Thursday, July 17, 2008 16:28:16
From:	Jim Drzewiecki (jdrzewiecki@tds.net)
I have a question regarding Training in Polar Mode ref. Fig 3-B, ETX
TechTips.

Question: If I have the telescope positioned exactly as shown in Fig.
3-B (ideal position i.e. high altitude) can I just lower two legs on the
tripod to get a terrestrial object in my FOV to train on?
 
Sincerely
 
Jim Drzewiecki
Mike here: Yes. TRAIN DRIVES just counts pulses so orientation doesn't matter.
Subject:	impressed by autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, July 16, 2008 08:04:32
From:	Allen Fowler (laurancef@centurytel.net)
I recently upgraded and recieved my brand new ETX-125PE from
Telescopes.Com. I was very satisfied by how quickly they shipped me my
new scope. Upon it's arrival though when I opened the box I discovered
that in fact it was an AT in a PE box. I contacted Tele.Com and they
told me that I was not the first person this had happened to and that it
was a packaging mix up at the Meade factory.They arranged for return
shipping and within a week I recieved my proper scope.Now to the meat of
the matter.The other night I decided to view some objects around
Saggittarius.I was on my front porch with no overhead view at all and
limited horizons.I put the scope in it's home position and used the EASY
alignment.I then just cycled through the process,just pressing ENTER and
never even looking through the eyepiece.To my amazement upon completion
I went to VIEW JUPITER and after slewing ,there she was,dead center of
the viewing field,tracking perfectly! I know I probably won't be able to
duplicate these results again with such a lazy appraoch,but still I was
very impressed.I went on to view M22,M23.and the Lagoon Nebula that
night.I highly reccomend this scope to anyone who is interested in
entering into the hobby of amature astronomy.

Thank's for your great websight. 

L. Allen Fowler
Mike here: Just goes to show that the AutoStar can work like it should!
Subject:	slewing issue, backlash issue
Sent:	Monday, July 14, 2008 09:34:12
From:	JayJay Clayton (solargenes@gmail.com)
Was aligning my scope on saturday night and noticed that when centering
an object in the finderscope that the scope wouldn't move unless i was
choosing speed 7 or 8 from the hand controller., i generally use
anything from 3-6 and that works just fine.  after getting the object
centered, the speed problem seemed to be resolved, but the noticed a
backlash issue that i hadn't had earlier on r/a and also noticed that
tracking was a bit jerky.  i read through some of your online
information and changed the ra percentage to 15% with a bit better
results, but still jerky.

The only thing I'm doing different these days is controlling the scope
from my computer.. don't know if that should matter or not.
 
Many thanks as always for any assistance.
 
Julie
Mike here: The computer controls the AutoStar, which controls the telescope. So using the computer shouldn't matter, UNLESS it is a timing/communication issue from the computer. Do you see the same problem without the computer connected? Some other possibilities: need to run the CALIBRATE MOTOR, overtightening the axis locks, or dirty encoders. Sometimes it is easy to clean the encoders by unlocking the axes and slowly moving the OTA by hand in all directions, back and forth, several times through full rotations and movement.
Subject:	Phone connector doesn't fit on 495 controller...
Sent:	Wednesday, July 9, 2008 17:53:32
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
Made the cable only to find out the phone connector is too big.... What
is going on Mike?
Larry 
Mike here: Which cable were you trying to make? The #505 serial cable uses a phone "handset" cable, not the larger RJ11 that goes into the wall jack.

And:

Phone handset connectors only have TWO wires, red and green. That is all
they need. Same as when you want to add a phone somewhere else. Those
extensions are 2 wire.

I have just finished disk sanding a standard 4 wire phone wall jack
connector extension cable to fit snuggly.... now I am about to double
check the pinout through a multiple outlet adapter to my DB9 connector.
If it checks out I will sand the original DB9 to tele. plug cable I just
made.

Larry
Mike here: As noted in the article "Homemade #505 Cable" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page, it is the RJ10 handset cable.

And:

OK Mike, I pulled up your schematic originally and simply looked at the
schematic. Missed that part on the drawing.

Just finished sanding original RJ11 connector to fit. BTW my idea to
check pinout with and extension cable and multiple phone outlet adapter
did not work. That method reverses the pinouts. Will try it all out with
Winstars free edition(somehow without instructions) then move to
AutostarSuite. Probably will not allow me to do a setup by computer
alone.....

So lets see how many computers and 495's I can ruin..... Larry

And an update:

Managed to get PC control of Winstars running with the 495 controller &
DS-2000 series mount after installing .NET Framework, ASCOM platform,
and ASCOM Meade Classic driver files but it looks like you are right
about Autostar Suite not being compatable with the same (above)
hardware. It seems to require a 495 updated to 497 and an LX scope.
Nothing on the internet suggests it has been tried with AutoStar 495's &
DS scope models.....which is risky since there is only silence on the
subject....maybe the smoke is still too thick. -Larry
Mike here: You can easily update the AutoStar to a #497 using the #505 serial cable and the AutoStar Update application. Then it should work with a DS, ETX, LXD55/75, or LX90 telescope
Subject:	LImitations on using Autostar computer control? 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 9, 2008 13:33:40
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
Unable to locate any information anywhere(including your excellent
site), on whether computer control of a 495 autostar controller requires
the hand controller to set up the Date, Time, then alignment FIRST,
which would then limit the computer to just finding objects. Is this
beyond the intent of the computer control software?

I am using the downloadable Autostar Suite and see no provision for
using the computer as a sole source completely replacing the fundimental
and pre-fundimental alignment steps as illustrated in the Autostar
manual with the 495 controller, for both for ETX & DS-2000 series
telescopes.

Can you enlighten me on whether computer has TOTAL control from
"turn-on".

Tnx, Larry 
Mike here: As far as I know the AutoStar still is in the loop, even if using an attached GPS. Software CAN pass the current date/time to the AutoStar but you still have to operate the AutoStar during the alignment steps. Also, how is the #495 AutoStar working with the AutoStar Suite? Supposedly, only the AutoStar 497 (and AutoStar II) are supported. Of course, the 495 is probably close enough for most functions to work.
Subject:	re: Deep sky  objects
Sent:	Monday, July 7, 2008 21:28:20
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The trick will be tapping the ENTER key before tapping GoTo.

In the general case, items are not *really* selected until
their name/number appears on the *top* line of the display.

Tours are special cases, since the tour author can command
(in the script) that the target be automatically Selected.

But if you're at the handset, tap ENTER first.

(the "whirr" without moving" is the scope slewing to the -previously-
selected object, which is usually where you're already -at-.)

have fun
--dick

And:

From:	Dave Harris (entropydave@ntlworld.com)
Hi Folks!
Well, you sussed it for me!  I've just tried it and guess what... that's
the trick - need to press "enter" then "goto"!
So - really grateful here! Let's just hope the weather clears so I can
test my kit properly  - nothing but solid rain and cloud since I got the
'scope!

Best regards!

dave

Subject:	change home position ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, July 7, 2008 20:10:17
From:	Antonio Silva (Antonio.Silva@fonterra.com)
I have bought an ETX 125 and is current set up with his address .  Once
I turn the auto star on , it does not give me an option of input a new
address. How can I reset or enter my current address (city).
 
Cheers

Mike here: You can change the Site location from Setup --> Site in the AutoStar. If you mean the address in the Owner Info, go to Setup --> Owner Info.

And:

Sorry, don't know I understood correct.

The previous owner was living in Australia and I live in New Zealand.
When I turn the autostar on, it does not give the option to change it to
Auckland , New Zealand.


Appreciate your help.

Cheers
Mike here: You change the Site location using the Setup --> Site menu on the AutoStar. You can add, edit, and delete site locations from there. Just select to add your location and then delete the older one.

And:

Great Thanks you, will try tonight

Subject:	Deep sky  objects
Sent:	Sunday, July 6, 2008 04:17:48
From:	Dave Harris (entropydave@ntlworld.com)
Sorry to pester you again but I have searched around and cannot find the
answer to an issue I am having using the handbox controller.  If I
select "deep sky" then "named objects" and then pick, for example, "Ring
Nebula" - there is the whirring sound but the telescope doesn't move at
all from it's previous object, the handset says "slewing" - which it
patently isn't because when I look thru the eyepiece nothing is moving.

However - if I go to "guided tour" and "tonight's best", it seems to
find the DSOs ok....

Any idea?  I have s/ware version 26Ec via the stats onthe handbox....

Am I missing something here?!

Most gratefully yours!

dave
Mike here: After you select the object from the menu did you press the GOTO key?

And:

Yes I certainly did!
It's odd -I was wondering if there was some data corruption somewhere?!

...in fact it seems that all named deep sky objects are not being found
- just the word "slewing" - no movement at all then the beep.

Hmmmm.....

dave
Mike here: Have you actually "selected" the object by pressing ENTER? If you didn't do that all that GOTO does is go to the current location, hence no movement. If you have selected it, try a RESET, followed by a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? If the memory is corrupted the RESET may clear it.

And:

I'll try that tonight - can't think of anything else - I have done a
reset, calibrate drive but no train drive. And still the same!
Maybe I need to reupload the s/ware to the handbox?

dave
Mike here: You can test indoors; no need to wait until dark. I do recommend doing a TRAIN DRIVES however. That is best done during the day using a distant terrestrial object. If you want to update the AutoStar to the current version 4.3Eg you will need a #505 serial cable (easily made) and a RS-232 serial port on your computer.
Subject:	ETX90EC  LX200R GPS Hand controller Battery Status Info
Sent:	Friday, July 4, 2008 09:29:01
From:	Lance (hobbyist@pei.sympatico.ca)
For Autostar 497/Autostar II
 
If you want to get the Battery Level display, all you have to do is ...

Just press mode for 2 seconds or more. Info ABOUT the Telescope status
will be displayed.

R/A coordinates
Altitude/Azimuth coordinates
Local Time and Local Sidereal Time (LST)
Timer and Alarm Status
Date
Site coordinates
Battery Status
 
After you have viewed them all or the ones you want just press MODE
again to return to main menu.

All this was in the manual, but hard to find. It's like this when you
want to find info about a certain subject thru the use of manuals you
wont find it. If you just happen to glance at the manual you will find
the info about it.

Lance
Mike here: There is a lot of useful info displayed on the MODE screens.
Subject:	Can I use the Autostar through a USB port?
Sent:	Friday, July 4, 2008 02:04:48
From:	Martin Cacheiro (martincm@usc.es)
This is Martin Cacheiro from Spain.

I'm planning to run my ETX-70AT using the Autostar Suite (Autostar #494)
and a laptop. This laptop is one of the new ASUS EEE Pc (very portable,
ideal for outdoors use). The problem is that it doesn't have a COM port.
I'm planning to buy a COM - USB adaptor (the laptop has 3 USB ports).
Will I be able to use this configuration to run the telescope from the
computer? Any special configuration settings that I have to introduce?

Any tips/help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot in advance for your help.

Best regards,

Martin Cacheiro
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Mike here: With the proper USB-serial adapter the AutoStar can be connected to a computer. However, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more information and recommendations. Personally, I use a Keyspan adapter with my Macs and it works fine.

And:

Thanks a lot for your answer and apologies for not having checked the
appropriate section first. Somehow I looked in the wrong section.
Best regards,
Martin

Subject:	meade autostar 494 says in download
Sent:	Wednesday, July 2, 2008 16:59:50
From:	razrburn@arcticmail.com (razrburn@arcticmail.com)
I bought an etx-60bb on ebay, after several wire repairs.. and new
connectors, i started getting a message "in download" and very rarely i
get another "motor fault" is my autostar toast    thank you, sir
Mike here: Could you elaborate on the "wire repairs" and "new connectors"? I wonder if you cross-circuited something. If not, perhaps our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, has a thought or two.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Additional question: is this a 494 Autostar (no numeric keypad)
or a 497 (20-key keypad)?

If it's still talking to you, it's not toast.
If it's a 494, your wires may have an intermittent short on the
8-wire cable causing that activity.

good luck
-dick

And:

Duh... i should read the -title- of the message (494),
shouldn't i?

good luck
--dick

And:

when I bought it the cable end was cut of so i rewired it like the
directions on the site said, it worked ok except some cheap rj45
connectors I bought at home depot didn't fit snug, so the connector had
to be lightly pressed into the hbx port, this wasn't ideal so I kept
trying to make other rj45 connectors till It wouldnt need to be held in
place, then the trouble started and i have remade 5 other attempts
thinking it was a loose crimp, all with same same results...  "in
download"

Id like to say thank you for all the response, you guys know alot about
this stuff, so the problem sounds like a broken wire?
Mike here: I would suspect a bad wiring connection someplace.

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