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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK

Last updated: 29 June 2012

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, AudioStar, 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:	Meade Audiostar 497
Sent:	Thursday, June 28, 2012 21:11:08
From:	josh wilson (squin63@gmail.com)
After my old hand control broke, Meade sent a replacement one. The
replacement was a Meade Audiostar 497. I have an ETX-90 scope and I
prefer to use the Polar Alignment mode because it more accurate and I
occasionally do imaging. When I went to set the Mount to Polar mode, I
realized that there was no Mount setting available. I reset the control,
changed the telescope model, and other things, but the Mount setting I
just gone...where did it go?
Mike here: I don't have an AudioStar, so I downloaded the "AudioStar Addendum" from Meade's web site. According to the manual, it is in Setup: Telescope: Mount.

And:

I looked at the addendum too, just in case Audiostar had a different
location for it than the Autostar I owned before. It's completely gone.
I forgot to mention that it was there the first time I turned on the
control but I noticed it was gone the second time it was on, when I
tried to change it.


Subject:	Autostar upgrade problem
Sent:	Wednesday, June 27, 2012 19:29:23
From:	Jerry Chab (jdchab@msn.com)
I have been unable to get my computer and ETX-90EC hand box to
communicate. Meade wasn't much help and thought it was an anti-virus
issue with Windows 7. I've tried it with a Vista computer with the same
non-result. I have downloaded the current version of ASU and serial-usb
driver but they just won't communicate.  Any ideas?
Mike here: Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar #497. I only recommend Keyspan adapters. Also, assuming you have the older #497, be certain you are trying to install 4.3Eg. You might try using StarPatch (http://www.stargps.ca). It sometimes works better with USB adapters.


Subject:	request for help.
Sent:	Monday, June 18, 2012 13:16:26
From:	Bela.Banhidi@emerson.com (Bela.Banhidi@emerson.com)
I have an LX90  one years old. My story has two major parts.
 
Part 1.
Weeks ago I used wrong cable between LX and AUDIOSTAR handbox that
resulted Azimuth motor failure. I replaced the Audiostar by an old
Autostar using right cable for HBX ports.
After resetting the old Autostar to LX everything went well without any
motor failure or so as was detected be AUDIOSTAR up to yesterday. (see
the pin table of the wrong cable connection  below)

photo

Part 2 - yesterday
I have gathered dark frames for 8 hours and scope was powered. Autostar
was fit to the scope and wired to notebook. I applied a 1.8m long RS232
that is 1:1 wired - means no crosswired just extends the PC's 9 pins
connector. I do not know when and how but the display of the Autostar
became unreadable. The characters were displayed no full intensity and
some segment was so dim. We have extremely hot day and I thought the
heat accumulated in the dome caused it. I have made a quick action and
replaced the display of AUTOSTAR by the display of AUDIOSTAR failed days
earlier.
 
The action brought good result. I could set the scope on proper way
however a couple of minutes later this  display showed similar
phenomenon. Then I realised no connection between PC and Autostar. All
arrows key were active and I could control the scope. It was also
possible to align the scope to 3 stars (Polaris, Arcturus, Vega) using
blank display and pushing the bottoms by hart. After alignment finished
the star tracing started and scope was in operation but I have no PC
connection and no display on Autostar. I could move the scope by arrow
keys. - craziness
 
I think more issues are there. Could you help me?
 
1. Do you think that LX has been failed when I applied wrong cable for
HBX? (see the pin table of the wrong cable connection  below)
 
2. Why displays failed so? I have read somewhere if menu tree is not
displayed but drive arrows are working I have to upgrade the Autostar. I
do not understand. Here you are :
If the Remote Handbox doesn't show the menu tree but the arrow keys
work: You need to update Autostar with the latest firmware. Use the
updater and upgrade the firmware to the version included in the disk. It
will be in the local section when you press "Upgrade Autostar Software
Now" button. The versions are 30Eb for the 497 and 1.7h for the Autostar
II
 
3. Could it be a consequence failure of the wrong HBX cable or extended
RS232 cable that no communication between Autostar and PC? Or it is
another story and IT might be the guilty - days ago Microsoft made an
automatic SW upgrade on the PC that was connected to internet.
 
I would be appreciated if you could reflect to the above and guide me to
fix my problem.
 
Kind regards,
 
Bela Banhidi
Hungary
Mike here: First, my apologies for the delayed response. Your message was DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the Subject Line. Please read the Email Etiquette and Submittal Guidelines on the ETX Site home page. Thanks for understanding.
As to your problems, yes, it is possible to have damaged either the telescope circuitry and/or the AutoStar/AudioStar circuitry by using an improperly wired cable. If only the ROM file has become corrupted, reloading software appropriate to either the AutoStar or AudioStar may solve the problem. That said, if you are using a USB-serial adapter to connect the AutoStar/AudioStar to your computer, be aware that not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more on this. I only recommend Keyspan adapters for Macs and PCs.

And:

Thanks for your reply and sorry for generating SPAM. You were not late
at all but prompt.

Back to the point. 
I feel so that LX electronics should be tested before link a another new
AUTOSTAR. Am I right? If it so is there any testing procedure available
for HBX port of LX? 

Serial port to PC. I have an 9 pin connector of RS232 on my 4 years old
notebook. I have tested the port that is working fine. (anyway I will
find a Keyspan adapters on the market)

I do not understand why display of AUTOSTAR become blank or dim if new
SW revision is necessary. It is strange. I think it should be related to
a kind of power supply error rather that SW version.

Another question: Could be LX failed on a certain way killing AUDIOSTAR
and operating with a new AUTOSTAR for a while than kill the AUTOSTAR
too?

Sorry if I am seem to be a question makers but I really suffering and
want to fix the issue on the shortest way.

Best regards,

Bela
Mike here: See the articles "Testing AutoStar Communications" and "AutoStar Test " on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Yes, the display going blank can be due to a power drain, but the problem will be to determine where that is occurring. And it is possible that a problem will keep damaging handcontrollers.


Subject:	autostar 497 help
Sent:	Friday, June 15, 2012 14:45:24
From:	Mark (astronomy@qteaser.com)
I have a question im hoping you may know the answer to
Today while using the LXD 75 mount at the beginning it worked right.
I turned it off for an hour then turned it back on and when it powers up
i get the welcome to autostar  then version number  then it goes to
speed= 0.5 sec  and press mode for menu.
It no longer says press enter to align then mode for menu.
Its stuck on speed= and mode for menu.
I can slew the scope with the hand paddle NSE and W but thats all it
will do.
I tried updating the firmware but it didnt help.
Any suggestions???
Regards

Mark Sibole

-- 
M.T.S.O.
http://Astronomy.Qteaser.com
Mike here: Odd. Since you reloaded the ROM, I doubt that doing a RESET would help. It sounds like corrupted memory. One thing to try is disconnect the AutoStar and let it set unpowered for 24 hours. Some people have reported that cures some problems. Also, be certain you have fresh batteries installed, or try using batteries if you have been using an external power source.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply.
I have it in the house now and will disconnect the  power source and
unplug the hand paddle(if thats what you mean my disconnect the
autostar).
I use a 12 volt 5 amp regulated supply so power shouldnt be an issue.
Ill give it about 24 hours and hope it fixes it.
Ill keep you informed.
Mike here: Yep, unplug the hand controller. And don't assume your external power source is still ok. Swap to batteries.

And:

Wit tips from a few others I have it resolved.
The number 6 key shifted and was stuck in the depressed position.
I took apart the paddle freed it up and all fixed not.
Thanks again for the suggestions.We can add another doo doo happens to
the list.

Regards

Mark


Subject:	Re: How to fix delay in Azimuth on DS2000
Sent:	Friday, June 15, 2012 04:54:02
From:	Arif Shaikh (arifmshaikh@yahoo.com)
Thanks for the info. The information was really helpful.

One more I want to ask is, when I opened the mount I removed grease from
encoder,cleaned and happy good quality grease. I also apply grease on
all the plastics gear. Am I doing the right by lubricating gears? Will
it make better or worse?

Thanks again 
Arif
Mike here: If you used white lithium grease in small amounts AND didn't get any on the optical encoders, you should be ok.


Subject:	Re: Update for 497
Sent:	Wednesday, June 13, 2012 20:36:33
From:	Gallaway, Terrel A (TerrelGallaway@MissouriState.edu)
Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate you confirming what
I suspected regarding the need to keep AutoStar in the loop.

Also, you raise a great pointI may already have the latest update, given
that it's not very recent.  I had hoped to check before getting back to
you,  but I have yet to find the time.  I did get my keyspan in the mail
today, and I'm looking forward to dragging my scope and computer out
this weekend.

In any case, thanks again for your help.

-Terrel


Subject:	Autostar question
Sent:	Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:53:51
From:	Peter Cranwell (pete@pcranwell.com)
I am new to autostar 497 with an ETX125.  Last night, while running
through a Tour, I skipped an object because it was not within view. 
When I accepted the next object, the centering adjustments were no
longer enabled.  This was true for the rest of the session, even when I
selected a specific object for viewing.  I had to restart the Autostar,
re-align the scope to continue.
 
Is this normal?  I can find no documentation on how to properly skip a
our step, only how to skip alignment stars.
 
Thanks
 
Pete Cranwell
Mike here: I've never experienced that nor recall anyone else mentioning it. To skip a tour object, I use the SCROLLDOWN ARROW key.

And:

Thanks.

I'll run through it again and see if I can duplicate it.

Hopefully it was just a temporary glitch but I ended up having to
re-align in the dark.

Pete


Subject:	Re: Panel Orientation
Sent:	Sunday, June 10, 2012 07:52:04
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
One final question, Mike. When switching handboxes from one mount to
another (in this case from a DS series to an ETX 80), once you complete
the reset, which of these do you do first: CALIBRATE MOTORS or TRAIN
DRIVES? I assume you need to do both.

Thanks once again.

Doug
Mike here: You don't need to RESET. But since the power source has changed (just like if you changed batteries in a single telescope), you need to CALIBRATE MOTOR. And since the drive training is different for each telescope, you need to then TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Got it.Thanks, Mike!


Subject:	How to fix delay in Azimuth on DS2000
Sent:	Saturday, June 9, 2012 22:30:58
From:	Arif Shaikh (arifmshaikh@yahoo.com)
I have DS2000 series mount and found that when I try to slew in azimuth,
the scope only moves after few seconds delay. Is this thing called
backlash or something else. There is not issue in  Dec gear, it responds
immediately as I press key. 

I also dismantled the mount and did re grease to see if that fixes the
issue, but nothing change. 

Can you please tell me how can I fix this?

Thanks for  your help.

Arif
Mike here: See the article "Calibration, Training, Percentages" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.


Subject:	Panel Orientation
Sent:	Friday, June 8, 2012 09:33:02
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
I just got a new ETX-80AT-TC and had some initial alignment problems.
Reading around on your site, I found a post that said you have to have
the control panel facing WESTWARD in order to get proper alignment. But
you can't do this with the 80 because the arms and mount are permanently
attached to the base portion that contains the control panel; you cannot
rotate just the scope. If you do rotate it, the entire panel moves with
it. So if you want to have the panel facing west, the scope is pointed
south.

So what is the deal here? If I can't get the control panel to face west
and the scope north, which I cannot do for the above reason, will I
never be able to align it properly?

Thanks.

Doug
Mike here: Different models have different HOME positions for starting the alignment process. Some have the telescope pointed to True North and some to the Southwest. Some have the control panel on the West side of the mount and with some, it doesn't matter. If you read your manual you will learn the proper HOME position. In fact, I always recommend reading the manual three times and playing with the telescope indoors to learn how to operate the telescope and to see what it does.

And:

Thanks, Mike. I did read the manual. Several times. And there is no
mention anywhere about having to have the control panel pointed west.
This information was contained in a post on your site, and the poster
said that westward orientation for ETX scopes was essential for proper
alignment although Meade neglected to include this information in the
manual. But as I said in my initial post, this cannot be done with the
80 as the scope is locked in place between the 2 mount arms which in
turn are part of the base, so if the scope is pointed north, as the
manual says to do as part of the home position, the control panel faces
east. 
Mike here: As I said, different HOME positions for different telescope models. The "control panel west" applies to ETX models with hard stops. The ETX refractor models do not have hard stops.

And:

One thing I forgot to ask: I have a Meade 497 that came with my DS-2090
which I rarely use. Would I be better off using the 497 with the ETX
rather than the 494 that came with it?
Mike here: The #497 is easier to use since you can enter numbers via the number keypad. Also, should the software in the AutoStar become corrupted, YOU can upload a fresh copy with the #497. There is no user-installable update for the #494.


Subject:	Autostar screen goes dark
Sent:	Thursday, June 7, 2012 19:43:15
From:	Steve Ritter (avbizzguy@gmail.com)
I think my handbox is a 497.  I can turn it on and the initializing,
turn on screens are normal.  I then press mode.  Eventually, easy align
shows dimly on the screen for a second and then it goes dark.  It
doesn't turn off and it still works to move the scope etc, just can't
see anything on the screen.  Seems like I just need to adjust the
brightness and contrast but can't do that without the display.  Any
ideas?

Thanks!

Steve
Mike here: Hello from my observatory.
Check your telescope manual for the AutoStar "menu tree". Then just "feel" your way through the screens. Alternatively, shine a bright flashlight at the display.


Subject:	Update for 497
Sent:	Thursday, June 7, 2012 19:31:53
From:	Gallaway, Terrel A (TerrelGallaway@MissouriState.edu)
I've had my LX-90 for about 10 years.  Sadly, circumstances (work, kids,
etc) have kept me from using it much for the past 3 years.

Circumstances have changed, and I'm eager to start up again.  My
question concerns what I should do to update my  Autostar 497.

For me, the controller has always been a bit squirrely and a bother to
update.  My preference would be to replace it entirely with something
wireless, perhaps an iphone.  However,  while there do seem to be a
couple cool apps out there, as far as I can tell, they still need to be
routed through the handset.  Is that correct? Also, it wasn't clear to
me if they made setup easier by using the phone's time/date/GPS infothat
would be great.

Another option is to simply keep the old 497 and buy a USB/RS232
converter while running windows/bootcamp on my mac.  Naturally, the
Meade one is a  bit pricey so I appreciate learning about Keyspan on
this site.  Amazon also has one by plugable that is tempting me.

Finally, I might be tempted to update to Audiostar if it were a major
improvement or somehow solved my USB problem.

In short, before I buy a cable and update the old 497, I'm wondering if
my money might be better spent moving in an entirely different
direction.

I like your site and appreciate your help,

-Terrel 
Mike here: Hello from my observatory.
What version software is currently in your AutoStar 497? Version 4.3Eg is the latest for that model. So if you have that, no update needed. As to controlling the AutoStar from a computer, iPhone, or iPad, the device actually sends commands to the AutoStar, which then controls the telescope. You still a #505 serial cable for that. And yes, a USB-serial adapter. As you have probably seen mentioned on the ETX Site, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. Hence the Keyspan recommendation. The AudioStar does not add USB.


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