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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 July 2011
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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, #497EP, 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 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:	re: Autostar 497 problems - is my safe load from ASU working
Sent:	Tuesday, July 26, 2011 13:39:53
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
There are usually two or three common areas that can cause your symptoms:
(a) loose LCD display cable connector inside the Autostar
(b) intermittent solder joint (pin to card) or cracked copper trace

Open up the Autostar (remove back cover screws, "unsnap" the two case halves.
(The red LED cover will attempt to fly off and hide... be ready for that.)

Start off by inspecting for loose conductive bits of metal or "scarf".
Then:
(a)  The LCD cable ends on the circuit card in a "zero insertion force" connector.
That has a "bail" (or lock) that slides along the cable about 1mm from the connector body.
If it's firm against the connector body. slide it out along the cable that 1mm (no further!).
Now you should be able to slide the flat cable from the connector.
Maybe give the contact area a gentle "dry wipe" with a lint-free cotton cloth,
and then re-insert it into the connector, being sure that it's "square"
(perpendicular) to the connector when seated.
Now slide the bail back into the "locked" position, firmly against the connector body.

(b) inspect the circuit card.  Put a light behind it and look for light
passing through the card where it should be blocked by the copper
traces. Look at the solder joints/points for a nice shiny surface on
each.  If one looks crystalized (matte) or a chip's pin is obviously
floating loose in a hole, you may have found the cause.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Chris (chris.dsouza@talktalk.net)
thanks both. Much appreciated

I will have a go with these suggestions .

cheers

Chris

Subject:	autostar again
Sent:	Tuesday, July 26, 2011 07:49:15
From:	Zentai Istvn (afarap@vnet.hu)
I am one of those MEADE's consumers who has TWO broken AUTOSTAR LCD
displays. Of course MEADE do want to sell me complete AUTOSTAR units
which is ridiculous. Now I want to find MEADE's far-east manufacturer.
Do you know anything about them?
 
Thanks for your help
 
Istvan 
Mike here: Don't know the manufacturer(s) but see the articles "Another LCD Replacement Tip" and "LCD Replacement" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar 497 problems - is my safe load from ASU working
Sent:	Saturday, July 23, 2011 02:54:50
From:	Chris (chris.dsouza@talktalk.net)
ETX105 with autostar 497

Problem
My Autostar stopped working , just a blank screen. I eventually went to
my local telescope shop and bought a good quality controller cable.
Initially, all seemed fine but then noticed  strange characters on the
screen that came up intermittently. I tried several restarts but ended
up with the same problem . I looked up  the problem on your extreamly
helpful site and decided that , perhaps the software had been corrupted.

What I have done so far.
I loaded Auto star update onto my PC running xp. I also bought a Star
Tech USB to RS- Serial DB9 adapter to connect my 505 serial cable to the
PC. I downloaded the USB adaptor driver  and seems to be working .
Looking at the device manager , it was using COM13. ASU shows that the
Handbox is now version 43eg ( I am afraid I did not notice what the
original version was.

I followed your instructions , put the autostar into safe load mode by
using the enter  and down scroll button on power up , the screen showed
'Flash Ready 3.0 ready'. I then started up Atutostar update and and
updated the COM setting to COM13 as above  and checked the Baued rate
etc as suggested. ASU seems to recognise the autostar , it can connect .
I pressed the 'Update software' button and went through the wizard ,
using    local 4Eg version.

During this process in initially got the 'Downloading do not stop'
message on the controller , and the ASU showed the progress of sending
update . After about 20 or minutes it restarted the Auto star - but the
same problems occurs , strange characters , occasionally is seems ok but
then the characters r appear. AT times the controller goes blank on
power up . On other attempts the controller screen remains on the 'Flash
Load ready ' message during the software update process. Either way it
restarts with the same problems.

Question
Is ASU recognising the Safe load mode ?  I do no see a message on ASU
saying this. If not could, this be due to the USB adapter . If
everything is going as it should as above is there any advice you can
give me to get my controller back on track .

regards

Chris
Mike here: Since the initial problem started before you did the update and nothing has changed since doing the updates, I suspect that might be another problem, such as a failing display circuitry in the AutoStar itself. When you see the strange characters on the screen, can you still control the telescope? As to the USB-serial adapter, as you may have read on the ETX Site, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters.

And:

thanks

yes, I can still control the scope when the intermittent strange
characters appear , togeter with the Restart beeps etc . Do you think
the safe load has been downloaded from AUs? or do you think it may be
worth trying another cable (Keyspan) adapter as mentioned.

Chris
Mike here: Anything is possible, including a corrupted download of the ROM file from the Internet, corrupted upload to the AutoStar (which may or may not be due to the USB-serial adapter), bad AutoStar memory, bad HBX connection and/or cable), failing AutoStar, etc. Whether a different USB-serial adapter would solve the problem can only be determined by trying it. BUT there is only other thing to try before replacing your adapter. Try using StarPatch (http://www.stargps.ca) to upload the ROM to the AutoStar. It has been known to work more reliably with some adapters than Meade's ASU program.

And:

thanks

I used Starpatch ( needed to change the COM PORT to COM1 (it would not
recognise the original COM13) downloaded a another starpatch Trial 4eg
rom. Put the handset into safe load mode and successfully loaded the new
ROM (I oculd tell this as the handset showed the trial search for the
non-existing GPS ) Reset and testing drives etc , but very soon after
the strange characters started to appear again. It does sound more like
a display problem as the slewing work , and easy align also seems to be
working .

Not looking good for my autostar ?

Chris
Mike here: Yep, sounding more like a display problem. But where in the display electrical chain the problem is occurring will be difficult to determine. If you decide to try replacing the display, there are a couple of articles "LCD replacement" on the AutoStar Info page. You might also try the "AutoStar Display Tip" on the AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	re: #494 substitution.
Sent:	Tuesday, July 19, 2011 19:28:15
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike wrote:
> Telescopes that have the AutoStar #494 as standard equipment have the computer in
> the telescope base. The #494 handset is just essentially a "dumb terminal".

No.  That is incorrect.  (and kind'a contradicts Mike's later statement
re: swapping)

The 494 is a "full" Autostar, just like the 495 and 497 (same CPU, just
less memory, no numeric keypad and programming tied to the less
inexpensive scope models).

Yes, Pete, you *can* replace a 494 with a 495 or 497.

have fun
--dick
p.s. the only scopes with a "dumb terminal" handset are the Autostar II
(LX200gps and RCX400) and Autostar III (LS family) models.
Mike here: Oops, I must have been asleep and dreaming about the AutoStar II. Thanks for catching the error.

And:

From:	oldbillharris@aol.com (oldbillharris@aol.com)
No worries, I appreciate the reply back to me.

Pete.

Subject:	#494 substitution.
Sent:	Sunday, July 17, 2011 10:39:12
From:	oldbillharris@aol.com (oldbillharris@aol.com)
is it possible to substitute my dodgy 494 controller for one of the
other controllers, #495, #497? will it give me any advantages, I ask
this because it looks like the computerised scope controls are all in
the handset the mount contains the motors only.

If I am wrong feel free to shoot me down.

Pete
Mike here: Telescopes that have the AutoStar #494 as standard equipment have the computer in the telescope base. The #494 handset is just essentially a "dumb terminal". The AutoStar #497 (or the older #495, which can be upgraded via software to a #497) contains the computer and therefore can be used in any AutoStar #494, #495, or #497 compatible telescope with or without the computer in the telescope base. For more information, see the article "AutoStar Models" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Many thanks.

Pete

Subject:	autostar question
Sent:	Thursday, July 14, 2011 04:13:57
From:	Andrew Kessel (akessel56@gmail.com)
Hi, you seem to be the autostar guru.
 
Is there a diference between an autostar 497 that is labeled at the top
etx autostar as opposed to autostar?
 
I presume they are functionally the same, but unclear.
 
Thanks,

-- 
Andrew Kessel
Mike here: Dick Seymour is the AutoStar guru. But the answer to your question is that the #497 handsets labeled "ETX AUTOSTAR" and just "AUTOSTAR" are the same. Originally, the AutoStar was used on the ETX models. But over time, it was added to other Meade telescope models, so the "ETX" was dropped on the handset label.

And:

I'm just launching into this.  and I have a 494, and would like to get a
497 if I can get a good deal, Seems like a bigger database would be
better than smaller!
 
Andy
Mike here: Even more important than the size of the database is that the #497 is user-updateable with software updates from Meade. This allows you to recover (most times) from a corrupted software in the AutoStar.

And:

Great thanks again, and a very nice collection of info on your autostar
info site. - Andy

Subject:	Autostar update 5.9 problem
Sent:	Wednesday, July 13, 2011 14:31:59
From:	solargenes (solargenes@gmail.com)
Am trying to update my installer from an  old 3.9 version to 5.9 and
cannot get the old software to update.  I recentlly got a new laptop and
am want to use the autostar software, but can't get it to install.  I
did find the Meade instructions for downloading with windows 7 but still
can't get it to work.  Then end result is I always get an error message
that says something like autostar did not update.
 
Many thanks for any assistance.
 
Julie Clayton
Mike here: Are you using a USB-serial adapter? If so, not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Yes, am using a USB serial adapter.  When I switched computers, I forgot
about loading the driver for that adapter... found the right one, thanks
to your website, and have upgraded to 4.6 - will probably just leave it
at that; I don't think i need 5.9 to do what i want to do which is
basically just to update some tours now and then.
 
Thanks again, Mike.
 
Julie

Subject:	RE: etx 90 ec download/updates
Sent:	Tuesday, July 12, 2011 12:36:12
From:	Keith Ross (keithandsandra@hotmail.co.uk)
Again many thanks fur your advice. Tried twice with  reset + retrain
with really good alignment eventually. 2 further questions if I may :-

Go-to Polaris results in the telescope being inverted! It may be fairly
accurate but not convenient (I use polar alignment).

Before Autostar shows "align successful" it seems to show (briefly) just
how inaccurate is the alignment. Can I use this to improve? Its new to
me. Keith
Mike here: As you may not realize, Polaris is NOT at the North Celestial Pole, but is actually almost a degree away. Hence, when mounted in Polar Mode, the telescope has to orient above or below the NCP, depending on the time of year. Hence, "upside-down" view. That's true of all polar mounted telescopes, especially fork mounted telescopes that don't have a tube that can be rotated along the optical axis (as some GEMs do). As to the pointing error, if it is large (and you catch it before it disappears) you can re-do the alignment. But otherwise, not much else you can do with that data.
Subject:	Re: update question.
Sent:	Sunday, July 10, 2011 17:24:51
From:	Jesus Cotto (Jesus_Cotto@live.com)
hello mike, thanks for getting back to me. the shift I was referring to
was of the axis of the earth triggered by the earthquake in Chile. for
example while Saturn is just starting to set the autostar will read that
it is below the horizon along with any other object close to but not
below the horizon. I read in an article that it was about a 20 degree
tilt don't quote me on that but it's close. next time you get out check
it out and let me know!

peace!
Mike here: The change was miniscule. Not noticeable in normal use of the AutoStar over many years. If you are having GOTO problems, especially with moving objects like planets, check the date, time, and DST setting.
Subject:	Dead #494 Handbox
Sent:	Sunday, July 10, 2011 13:01:42
From:	Lappies Labuschagne (Lappies.Labuschagne@nwu.ac.za)
Is there any body who can fix my #494 Handbox? The handbox suffer from
software corruption.

What will be the best option to fix or to buy a new AudioStar or trying
to get a #497 Handbox.
 
Regards
Mike here: Generally speaking, there is no "fix" for software corruption the AutoStar #494 since there is no user-installable software update for the #494. However, you can try the tips in the articles "AutoStar #494 Resurrection" and "Repairing #494 AutoStar" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If you have a #506 serial cable, then you can try the tip in the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the AutoStar Info page. If you decide to replace it, I suggest getting a #497 AutoStar. It is user-updateable. The AudioStar only works with a limited number of telescopes at this time.
Subject:	Re: etx don't work after update
Sent:	Saturday, July 9, 2011 16:50:10
From:	gabriele (gabumb@yahoo.it)
I download with Autostar update the orbital parameter of the satellites.
The telescope is powered with fixed power supply at 12V.
The display don't write caracter and the connection now is forever fault
on serial comunication.
I try also this: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/2005/reset.html
Thanks you
Mike here: Try using internal batteries. Disconnect the AutoStar and see if the telescope power on LED illuminates. If so, turn off the power and reconnect the AutoStar. If the AutoStar still fails, turn the power off and disconnect the AutoStar. Leave it disconnected for 24 hours. Sometimes that cures the problem.
Subject:	etx don't work after update
Sent:	Saturday, July 9, 2011 09:54:19
From:	gabriele (gabumb@yahoo.it)
I have a etx-70at with hand control #494
I have try to updating the data from internet but after the connection
the control switch off and now don't work.
I chech the SAFE MODE reset ut this don't work.
Have you a solution?
thanks very mutch
Gabriele
Mike here: First, just to clarify, what "data from the internet" did you try to update? If the telescope power on/off switch has failed, that has nothing to do with the software. And there is no SAFE MODE for the AutoStar #494. As to the telescope not turning on, have you replaced the batteries?
Subject:	update question.
Sent:	Wednesday, July 6, 2011 17:45:03
From:	Jesus Cotto (Jesus_Cotto@live.com)
hello, I use an etx8o is there an update to compensate for the earths
recent axis tilt?
Mike here: There is no user-installable update for the #494 AutoStar (which is likely what you have). However, if you are referring to the changing Magnetic Variation, the change is not significant enough to matter for most purposes.
Subject:	Successful Upgrade Continued
Sent:	Thursday, June 30, 2011 23:55:49
From:	Miller, Bob (bob.miller@oregonstate.edu)
Well, I just got in from a short evening out under the stars. Finally!!
It's really clear here tonight. After the upgrade to 4.3Eg, tonight I
calibrated the sensors on Polaris, then did an auto alignment. After the
alignment I went to the "best of tonight" tour in the 497. The first
target that came up was Saturn. I hit goto and after the beep I looked 
in the eyepiece and there was Saturn. Not dead center, but in the FOV of
my TeleVue plossl 20mm eyepiece. I then went to the next target, then
the next and a next one. All the target were in the FOV. I must say, I'm
very pleased! Thank you so much for all the info that is available on
your site!!!

Bob

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