Cassiopeia Observatory logo
AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 June 2011
[Home!]
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:	Successful Upgrade
Sent:	Monday, June 27, 2011 11:47:05
From:	Miller, Bob (bob.miller@oregonstate.edu)
I upgraded my 497 with 4.3Eg. No issues at all. I found an old laptop
with a serial port, downloaded Autostar Updater from Meade's website,
connected the computer to the etx125pe and about 20 minutes later had an
updated controller!! Very nice. Painless!!

The next clear night here on the oregon coast I'll get it out and enter
the location, go through all the other parameters and go from there.

Thanks Mike,

Bob Miller

Subject:	etx 90 ec download/updates
Sent:	Monday, June 27, 2011 09:24:44
From:	Keith Ross (keithandsandra@hotmail.co.uk)
my etx 90 ec is about 8 years old and has given good service. A recent
overhaul of the mechanics and keypad as on your website has gone well.
At the 2nd attempt the download from Meade apparently worked. The upload
resulted in my Autostar 497 acquiring ASU Version 5.9 (sep 17 2009)- is
that correct? Then using P Clay Sherrod's advice as in your book "Using
the meade etx" which I could not follow exactly as  the prompts were
different I tried out the scope. Alignment was hopeless with RA more
than 5hrs out on the first star. When eventually aligned 2 or 3 objects
were found accurately  then a random slew with no alignment on any
objects including those previously found! As you may have guessed I have
only very recently taken up computing. This was my first download. I
would be most grateful for any help.

Keith Ross Shareshill U.K. 
Mike here: I assume you mean you have ASU 5.9 on your computer. The version on your AutoStar is different. Either something like 4.3Eg or 5BE2; check the Statistics menu for the full version number. As to strange problems following any AutoStar update, I always recommend doing a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't solve the problems, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and then TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Hi Mike, thank you for your advice. My Autostar 497 Statstics menu shows
"29.9K Char. Free". On scrolling down it shows "Version 43Eg". Is this
correct/latest/best? More help please! Keith
Mike here: 4.3Eg is the latest that I recommend for the AutoStar #497.
Subject:	Autostar Upgrade
Sent:	Thursday, June 23, 2011 13:10:48
From:	Miller, Bob (bob.miller@oregonstate.edu)
Hi, I have had an ETX 125PE for several years now. I'm wanting to
finally upgrade the Autostar. It currently has 33ef. What would be the
next appropriate upgrade to download? Also, is there a page that tells
what each upgrade does?
Thank you!!

Bob Miller
Mike here: I recommend 4.3Eg for your AutoStar #497. See the article "AutoStar READMEs" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	re: Auto Star 497 and auto guiding.
Sent:	Saturday, June 18, 2011 19:22:08
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The six-wire Autoguider connector you described is handled in the
Autostar 497 world by the Meade 909 APM (Accessory Port Module).

That 909 plugs into the AUX socket on the telescope, and has a 6-wire
socket to accept the guider connection.

The Autostar will recognize the existence of the 909 APM on LX90 and LXD
models of scope. For other models, the Autostar 497 firmware can be
"patched" (modified) to also make use of the 909 APM.

Meade no longer makes the 909 APM, but Gene Lynol has developed a "build
it yourself" PIC-based replacement, described here:
http://home.comcast.net/~lynol1000/as_909/as_909_clone.htm

Some PC programs, such as Meade AutostarSuite (and its imaging app:
Envisage) can use the RS232 connection from a PC to command Autoguiding
operations.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: There are two articles on the 909 APM on the Helpful information: AutoStar Info page. I'll add Gene's article on the next ETX Site update.

And:

From:	Dave Arnold (d3arnold@yahoo.com)
You should mention that Meade used to make an accessory, the 909, which
provided an auto guider port that plugged into the aux port. Rick might
be able to find one on astro mart or ebay.  Fortunately there is a guy
that makes a clone.  His url is.
http://www.astrogene1000.com/products/as_909/as_909_clone.htm
Regards and keep up the great work!
--Dave Arnold

Subject:	ETX 70AT hand box locks up at daylight savings.
Sent:	Friday, June 17, 2011 08:15:48
From:	G Turner (grkc@shaw.ca)
I  got his etx 70at(494) telescope a long time ago and it's only been
out of the box a handful of times. So my problem is that when I start it
up it only let's me get to the daylight saving line it will let me
select yes or no, but after that it locks up. I phoned Meade and their
response was to buy a new hand box for $120.00 plus shipping. I then
asked if there was some kind of reset I could do they said to press the
mode button after powering up but it won't allow me to do that, the
sunlight warning needs to be addressed first? Is there a fix for this?
 
Thanks.
Glenn.
Mike here: This typically means the software in the AutoStar is corrupted. Unfortunately, there is no user-installable update available for the #494. Some things you can try though are to disconnect the AutoStar from the telescope and let it sit unpowered for 24 hours. Sometimes this works. Replacing the batteries in the ETX with fresh ones may also help. If you have the #506 serial cable, you can try the tip in the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If you decide to replace the AutoStar, get a #497 since it works with the ETX-70 and is user-updateable.

And:

Thank you Mike, I really appreciate what you do for everyone.

GT

Subject:	Auto Star 497 and auto guiding.
Sent:	Friday, June 17, 2011 08:15:03
From:	Rick Guerin (yag1064@roadrunner.com)
I have a LXD55 mount that came with an Auto Star 497 Hand controller. I
was interested in buying an autoguider for the mount with the intention
of taking some pictures. I do not see a place to plug one in. So does
that mean that the 497 is not capable of using a guider? One other
question. The buttons on the hand pad seems to be directly wired to the
micro. Has anyone modified the hand pad to allow the 497 to receive
remote direction commands?
 
TIA
 
  Rick
Mike here: An Autoguider will connect to the RS-232 serial port on the bottom of the AutoStar #497. As to "remote direction commands", I'm not certain what you mean. If you mean Serial, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi, there are adapters available for that. I have reviews of the SkyFi (Wi-Fi) and SkyWire (serial) adapters on the Accessory Reviews: Showcase Products page.

And:

I'm not an expert by no means but all the mounts I have seen, i.e.
Astro-Physics 1200, IpTec IQ45 have a port named  AutoGuider. This port
is 6 wire. It has RA+ Dec+ RA- Dec- and power. These ports adjust the
motion of the mount to stay on target. That is what I don't see on the
mount or 497 handset. The AUX has 4 wires 2 of which are power. The
handset has a 4 pin also. What am I missing? Thanks for your help.
Mike here: What you are missing is a mount that was designed for autoguiders. Many mounts don't have dedicated ports for that. The AUX port may be used (if the Autoguider says to use it) but if the guider is not designed for the AUX port, you can damage the guider and/or circuitry in the mount by connecting a cable not designed for the AUX port usage. If the Autoguider uses RS-232 to send commands to the telescope, then connecting (via a #505 serial cable) to the RS-232 port on the AutoStar #497 is the correct way to go. The Autoguider then sends commands to the AutoStar, which sends them to the telescope mount.
Subject:	497/RS232/USB adapter experience
Sent:	Tuesday, June 7, 2011 13:06:19
From:	Paulw3tzi@aol.com (Paulw3tzi@aol.com)
I just purchased a 497 controller. The software  version was 2.0a. I
needed to upgrade it. The first thing I had to do was modify a telephone
set mounting cord. The one that goes between the phone and the wall. I
followed a suggestion I saw on the site and used sandpaper on a stick to
reduce the width so it would fit in the hand box.. This cord has only 
the center four conductors. Time consuming and sore fingers but I got it
to fit properly. Cost was zero. I have a DB9F to RJ type adapter so my
modified cord works out for me. Now it was time to upgrade. I plugged
this into my Belkin USB adapter. The upgrade failed several times. After
some wasted time (I'll not say how much) it dawned on me to plug the
thing into the RS232 port on the back of my computer. SUCCESS.  Seems
that  the Belkin USB adapter worked with the 494 controller but not the
497. I don't have it in front of me but Mike's suggestion is to  use the
one he recommends (spelling) is the answer.  I purchased the 497 from
3Gorrillas.com.  Or 877-903-3257. I think they have some left. The price
was right. I hope this helps someone.

Regards, Paul Eriksen
Mike here: Yes, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. I recommend Keyspan models. However, some adapters WILL work for updates using StarPatch from www.stargps.ca.
Subject:	LX90 going crazy
Sent:	Wednesday, June 1, 2011 20:03:34
From:	Jose Mir (jmir51@gmail.com)
I have had an LX90 with the 497 Autostar with no problems up until now.
Last night during alignment I found that instead of the standard two
star alignment, the scope was not following the normal protocol. It then
started finding more stars for alignment. I shut the system off and the
next day found that when I turned on the power, the telescope's drive
was moving on its own (as if possessed...). Figuring that the Autostar
software may be corrupt, I downloaded the new 497 software available at
Meade.com, to no avail. I then pushed the scroll down and enter buttons
to erase memory, as I reloaded the new software back into the Autostar
(43eg), the drive was being randomly actuated- bottom line, the problem
persisted after the new Autostart software was loaded using ASU.

Did the Autostar die? Do I need to be a new one?

Ideas?
Mike here: Strange about the telescope slewing while the software was being updated. Almost sounds like a stuck key on the keypad. You can try cleaning the keypad; there is an article on that on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Another possibility is a bad connection from the AutoStar; check the HBC cable, connectors, and jacks. And of course, there is always the RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES routine.

And:

Thanks Mike- I already checked the cabling and jacks- they looked fine
but will replace some of the cables. The telescope has not been
mishandled so I am really confused why all of a sudden it started acting
up. I will check the Autostar and see if there is a jammed key. Doesn't
appear that way but will look again. If the new cable doesn't work, I'll
try cleaning the keypad.

Thanks for the quick response- this is driving me nuts. I was hoping to
take some Saturn pics tonite since it is pretty good seeing here for a
change.

Jose Mir 

And an update:

Ta da!!!
Bad cable... connection and contacts looked good but when I switched to
another cable, problem gone!
Thanks Mike, much appreciated... 
Jose Mir

Feedback Archive

Check the Feedback Archive for previous editions of the AutoStar Feedback page.


Go to the ETX Home Page.


Copyright ©2011 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2011 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/jun11/autostar.html