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Last updated: 31 July 2011
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade DS, DSX, and some older telescope models. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to the ETX models are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me 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:	Connect #492 with NGC 60?
Sent:	Sunday, July 31, 2011 04:14:07
From:	LightSighted (
Im sure someone else has asked this same question but I gave up sifting
thru all the feedback .... just leaves me very confused.
Ok..So my garage sailing husband brings home a Starfinder DS-114 mounted
on  a #492 including the electronic controller but no Aux cable.  
Anyway,  10 batteries later and she started right up.
I have an old, still working, Telestar NGC 60 and I was wondering if
they could be connected via the NGC 60 port to the #492 hbx or aux 

Mike here: I'm not familiar with those models. Perhaps Dick Seymour has a thought.


From:	richard seymour (
What a fascinating mix... Congratulate your husband on his find (how
much was it?)

To answer your *specific* question, the NGC-60 and DS-114 cannot
usefully talk to each other.  The programming for the AUX socket does
not support that.

From your note, i infer that the DS-114 only has the 492 hand
controller: 4 slew keys, two Focus keys, a Slew and Mode key, and four
LEDs. (figure "X" on page 16 in the manual)
No display screen like the NGC's.
As it happens, the Focus buttons cause signals to go *out* the AUX socket.

If that's so, you can convert the DS-114 into a fully-functional GoTo
scope by replacing the hand controller alone with an Autostar 494, 495
or 497.
494's can be frequently found for about $40.

If the hand controller on the DS-114 *does* have a display like the
NGC's, then it's already wearing an Autostar, and it's good to GoTo.

Now background:
(gleaned from the manuals on Meade's site.
The DS-114:
The NGC:

The NGC family of scopes have (most of) an Autostar built into the fork.
The only parts lacking are the motors to move the scope and the
programming to use them.
Thus the scope is a computerized "PushTo" instead of a GoTo.

The original DS family was a bunch of scopes without motors.
The 492 kit was a pair of motors for them and the simple handcontrol.
The 493 kit was the same pair of motors and a 495 Autostar.
The "motors" have tiny processors inside the motor boxes to provide
"close servo control".
The handcontroller or Autostar could interrogate the motors for encoder
feedback ("where are we?"), and could command the motors to move at
finely-controlled speeds.
The Autostar has the ability to command *both* motors to run at varying
speeds, allowing the scope to follow stars as they move across the sky
(sidereal tracking).

The NGC has the encoders on the scope's movement axes (so it knows where
we are), but lacks the motors for following the sky.

The AUX port on the NGC is programmed for only one or two tasks:
(a) via a 506 cable/converter set (which creates RS232 communications
protocol), talking to a PC.
(b) perhaps running a 1240 focus motor (it's unclear from the NGC manual
if the in-fork autostar knows how to drive it... the "accessories"
mentions the 1240's 9v battery, so i suspect that it canNOT drive the
focuser via the AUX socket).

The AUX port on the DS *can* drive a focuser (again, the motor unit of
the focuser has a tiny processing chip in the box... it's not "just a
motor" like the JMI focuser (for example)).  Its other duties depend
upon the type of Autostar involved.
With a 494 Autostar, the AUX port can also talk to a PC via a 506
cable/converter set.
With a 495 or 497 Autostar, the Autostar itself has an RS232 socket, so
Meade removed the programming for 506-based communications.  However
they *added* AUX socket functions to handle the focuser and (what they
call) a 909 Auxiliary Port Module... which provides dedicated sockets
for driving generic motor focusers, illuminated reticles and a socket
for accepting industry-standard autoguiding signals from snazzy astro
camera setups.
(the Autostars can also be guided via their RS232 sockets if a PC is

I'd estimate that the 492 motor sets are worth about $80 to 100 (for the pair).
Within the last month i think there have been two postings to Mike's
site looking for some, and the Roboscope Yahoo group is centered on
using them to drive any number of non-Meade scopes.

If you intend to keep the DS scope for your own use, i'd recommend
getting an Autostar to give it the full GoTo capability.
The 494 is the cheapest, yet most limited.   Try or just keep an eye on ebay.   As mentioned
above, $40 is the most you should expect to pay.
The 495 and 497 are re-programmable and can be taught many new tricks.
(the first one is that a 495 can *become* a 497 by installing the
current firmware from Meade's support site).  If you're patient (or
lucky) they can be found from $40 to $100.
Even the newest crop of Autostars (and the AudioStar) know how to drive
a DS-114.
I've always considered Meade's  114 optics to be an under-appreciated
gem of a scope
(it's also the heart of their 4505 (114EQ-DH4) GEM-mounted family
(pardon the pun)).

Mike's site has many pages on DS-family usage and modifications.

have fun
p.s. i like your email address...

Subject:	Re: Autostar 495 box with second generation tripod
Sent:	Saturday, July 30, 2011 09:02:57
From:	bob lawrence (
I went shopping on eBay and found a 497(or 495, seller wasn't sure) and
the 2nd generation mount. Turns out my 494 is ok, as it works with the
new mount. I may go ahead and take apart the old mount and have a look
at the board to see if it might be repairable.

I was using my new set-up last night, just scanning the sky and putting
the mount and handbox through it's paces and a couple of times the tele
kept slewing even though I took my thumb off the arrow button. The only
way to stop it was to turn it off. Needless to say that was a pain! Is
this a common prob., is there a fix? I'll add, I haven't done an update
on the handbox, and I was hard wired to a converter box puting out close
to 14 volts (slot car transformer, what a pain to have to keep from
getting tangled in the cord!).

Just thought I'd let you know how it came out and get your input on the
slewing issue and the 14 volts.

Mike here: Do a CALIBRATE MOTOR. That normally cures the continued slewing. Also, you should do TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes).
Subject:	re: Autostar 495 box with second generation tripod
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2011 15:12:05
From:	richard seymour (
First: yes, the 497 Autostars can control a new DS2114.
A 495 can also control it, but you will need to update to current 497
firmware to gain that model in its "known models" list.

The actual *control* programming has not changed, all that knowing the
model does is set the travel limits (how far up/down it can safely go),
gear ratio (which i think is the same as the ETX90) and focal length.

There really is only *one* firmware load for the 497... it knows 30
different telescope models but only displays about a dozen (at a time)
based upon which motor card it finds inside the telescope (it asks the
card directly).

If smoke came from the tripod, you've probably blown traces off the
power panel circuit card.  If it's also causing an internal short
circuit, that could be the trigger for the 494 Autostar's "in download"
message.   Plugging a 497 into that damaged power panel could confuse
the 497, too.
Your motor card could also be damaged.

Mike's final paragraph confused me a bit:
> Although I haven't tried it, you MIGHT be able to control a telescope that can use
> the AutoStar #494. However, since you can't do EVERYTHING from a computer (like Align),
> you would still need the #494. With the #497, the computer sends commands to the
> AutoStar, which then sends the commands to the telescope. So, you do need the #497
> for telescopes that can't use the #494.

The internals of a DS2114 (or any 494-equipped telescope) are almost
exactly the same as those using a 497.  The only thing Meade does is
restrict (by internal 494 programming) which motor card responses (see
above about the 30 models) the 494 is willing to command.
If the motor card response is not in that limited subset, the 494 says
"Wrong Autostar... use ETX Autostar with this model".  So whether you
can control the telescope without an Autostar in the mix is the same,
494 or 497 model not withstanding.

I can't remember if anyone has ever successfully replaced an Autostar
with a PC attachment. I don't think so (and that's over 12 years of
people trying).
(example threads can be found in the archives of the Roboscope Yahoo
group:  )
It's really far far easier to get another Autostar.

good luck

Subject:	re: Need some help
Sent:	Tuesday, July 19, 2011 19:34:43
From:	richard seymour (
Replacement motor units (they're called "DH" motor units) can sometimes
be found at:
Bill Vorce's Telescope Warehouse   877-391-7755

on eBay, or from memebers of the 4504 Yahoo group:

The 4504 is exactly the same as the DH-114/EQ .. same motors, same
"Starfinder" Autostar.

good luck

Subject:	Autostar 495 box with second generation tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, July 19, 2011 10:28:46
From:	bob lawrence (
I recently crossed polarity on my DS2114. Smoke came from the tripod
circuitboard area. After correcting the wiring the handbox only shows
"In Download" . Nothing else happens. I've been looking to replace the
tripod and handbox. I've seen 497s, 495s and of course 494s which is
what I have, but want to upgrade. I have also found a "second
generation" tripod. Will the 495/497 work on the newer tripod? And do
you think just the tripod board got fried or the handbox too? Thank You

Bob Lawrence 
Mike here: The #494, #495 (upgraded via software to a #497), and the #497 will all work with the DS models. As to whether the circuitry inside the tripod is the only part damaged, that is likely. However, there is a chance that the AutoStar could have been damaged as well.


Yes I was aware of the compatability of those boxes w/ the DS2114. But I
believe that there is a difference in the circuitry in the 2nd
generation tripods-yes Do they still use the same autostar just with
different software
Mike here: I am not aware of changes in the DS models but there certainly could be. But an AutoStar #497 with the current ROM should be compatible.


Yes I was aware of the compatability of those boxes w/ the DS2114. But I
believe that there is a difference in the circuitry in the 2nd
generation tripods-yes  Do they still use the same autostar just with
different software  Also, is it possible to use a laptop to control the
scope instead of the autostar box
Mike here: Yes, you can control the telescope from a computer, Mac or Windows. With an AutoStar #494 you need a special (difficult to make) #506 serial cable. With the AutoStar #497 you need the (easy to make) #505 serial cable. See the Cable section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If your laptop does not have a RS-232 port, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters.


Thanks so much for your replies. Two last questions, if I may I cannot
control the scope then, without the autostar box A computer cannot take
its place
Mike here: Although I haven't tried it, you MIGHT be able to control a telescope that can use the AutoStar #494. However, since you can't do EVERYTHING from a computer (like Align), you would still need the #494. With the #497, the computer sends commands to the AutoStar, which then sends the commands to the telescope. So, you do need the #497 for telescopes that can't use the #494.


Thank you.

Subject:	Need some help
Sent:	Saturday, July 16, 2011 00:44:01
From:	Steven Corley (
I don't know if you or anyone else can help me, but I have got to ask. 
My grandkids have reached an age where they are wanting to participate
in my astronomy hobby, but I can not turn them loose with my 12"
LX200GPS.  I have an old DS-114 AT, but I need some parts for it.  Is it
possible at all to find motors for this telescope?  One of mine will not
work properly and I want to get this telescope working so the grandkids
will have a telescope they can use.  Any help or advice you can give me
will be deeply appreciated!!!
Mike Corley
Waller, Texas
Mike here: First, your message was DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the subject line. Please read the Electronic Mail Etiquette and Submittal Guidelines on the ETX Site Home Page; it discusses what SPAM-like subject lines to NOT use. Rememeber, if an email looks like SPAM, it may be treated as SPAM. Thanks for understanding. As to replacement motors, some DS owners have replaced the motors with ones from a local RC hobby shop. Alternatively, try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page).


Actually the problem is not the motor, but the plastic gear.  It is
slipping.  The motor used for Alt. will slip at slower speeds.  At MAX
it is ok, but when tracking it will make a pop noise now and then and
slip.  I tried switching motor units but the problem followed the unit. 
So now I have the impossible task of trying to find a replacement.  It
sure would be nice if Meade parts were more available!  I sent this
message just to close out this topic, just wanted you to understand why
I was bugging you with such a mundane problem.  Didn't mean to give you
trouble with the first message. If I can't find a motor unit or a gear
(fat chance) I guess I'll have to convert the scope to a manual
movement.  I have a set of slow motion knobs to replace the drive gears.
 Maybe for the grandkids that would be a better choice anyway?
Mike here: No problem with asking for help. That's one of the reasons I have maintained the ETX Site for almost 15 years. Check that the gear mount box is not loose or broken. Also, check that any setscrews holding the gear on the shaft are tight. If you do need a replacement, see the article "Replacement Gears source" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Help with Mead DS-90
Sent:	Tuesday, July 5, 2011 09:48:17
From:	Stockli Rep-Ohio (
A friends child over the weekend unscrewed the end of my DS-90. One of
the lenses came out. Not sure what to do, so I went on line and found
some one that said you are the foremost expert on these devices and
could most likely help.

I searched the web for a schematic to see assembly but could not find

Can you help, thanks in advance!


Mike here: I assume you mean the lens at the aperture end of the telescope tube. Did the whole lens assembly come off? If so, you can just screw it back on. If the lens assembly came apart then you have more serious problems since there may be spacers and precise spacing between the lens elements. There are no specific lens diagrams available.


There are 3 very little pieces of something attached to the lens still
inside the end. But when I put the other lens in, the black ring that
holds everything in place does not screw all the way tight like I would
think it would?
Mike here: What tool did that child use to unscrew the retaining ring? Wow! Anyway, the three small items are probably the spacers. But they need to be flat for the lens piece to be in alignment. So check that. Also, if the lens doesn't fully go in one way, try reversing it. Also, be certain the retaining ring is not bent or cross-threaded. By the way, if you don't have a spanner wrench, see the article "Homemade Spanner Wrench" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.

And more:

Apparently they thought that the lens cap/cover unscrewed and by turning
it constantly they used it to unscrew the retaining ring.

I can fix anything if I can see pictures so maybe this can help you
understand what I'm asking, I attached some pictures:

Notice the Threads showing on the retaining ring, that is tight! Does
that seem right.

Is there possibly a piece of plastic that was left on the ground like a
spacer ring?

Also, one of the lenses is thicker then the other, the thicker one was
inside the thinner one. The thinner one had more finger prints on it, so
I think that goes on the outside of the thicker one. Does that sound

I can't find any good pictures to look at to see how it looks correctly

I have no idea what you are asking.

I purchased this new for my 35 birthday, thought it was neat but then
started a family, its been sitting in a corner since this weekend
because I could never seem to get it to work right when I tried. Many of
the tips I've found in the last few hours online seem to be fixes for my
problems, Now I just hope I can get it back together correctly!

What is a Spanner Wrench?





Mike here: I don't have a DS-90 model so can't say for certain, but some sort of spacer is common in refractor objective lenses. That could be a ring but it could also just be some metal tabs around the rim. Typically, the convex side of the lens is on the outside. A "spanner wrench" is used to loosen and tighten a retaining ring that has small grooves or holes along the ring. From your photos, it appears your retaining ring is a different design.


So I guess to see if it works, just go out tonight and try to look at
the moon!

Thanks for all your help.


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