AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 March 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:	Autostar com port 
Sent:	Sunday, March 30, 2008 16:44:53
From:	Richard Jackson (richardwjackson@swbell.net)
Hi I own an autostar paddle that connects to the PC via a com port
connection. I no longer use a a PC with a com port and I was wondering
what I need to do to convert it to USB

Also can the autostar system be updated via a mac computer vs a PC

-- 
Richard W. Jackson
Mike here: You need a USB-serial adapter that connects the #505 RS-232 serial cable between the computer and the AutoStar. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more information. I use a Keyspan USB-serial adapter on my Macs and use AutoStarX (link on the AutoStar Info page) to update the AutoStar from my Macs.

And:

Thank you for your reply.
I bought this telescope and autostar system as a Christmas gift a couple
of years ago. She never took it on....I guess it does take a tech mind
to really enjoy it. I don't want to give up and I will take over the
learning process and hopefully someday she will enjoy it.

Can you send me a link(s) on owners manual to my Telescope and any
autosar for dummies out there?
Mike here: See the FAQ page for the link to manuals. There are several articles on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on using the AutoStar and the updater (Windows) application.

And:

Thanks last question for now....
What is the cheapest but reliable tripod I can buy?
We use it on our deck at our lake home
Mike here: It would help to know what telescope you have! I'm assuming an ETX with a #497 AutoStar but you didn't specify either.

And:

Yes that is correct
Thanks and sorry for the trouble
Mike here: In order to recommend a tripod I need to know what TELESCOPE you have. And no trouble to answer your questions. I may refer you to articles on the ETX Site however.

And:

I will get to where I keep the telescope this week. So I will email you
Wednesday
thanks

Subject:	altitude/Azimuth percentage setting concerns
Sent:	Sunday, March 30, 2008 08:07:53
From:	wayne (wayne.byrne1@ntlworld.com)
I wonder if I can enlist your advice.

I have had my ETX 125EC for a couple of years and I was aware of a
backlash problem but put up with it until today.When I selected a slew
arrow on the 497 , there was quite a delay between the moment of the
keypush and the moment the telescope drive would begin to slew to the
track command.

This is commonly known as "Backlash".

I have done a full reset followed by a "Calibrate Drives" and a "Train
Drives" and then turned my attention to this "Backlash" problem, which
is basicly setting up the correct alt/az percentages, I found a very
good and detailed procedural guide 
http://www.astroromp.com/astronomy/eliminating_backlash.htm written by
the very emminent Dr Clay Sherrod, and followed his instructions
precisely, with the exception of the fact I am using a 5 mile distant
landmark in daylight to train my set-up

This procedure is also detailed in your book.

I am concerned this guide states that choosing a setting of 50% in
either axis, one should expect a jerky initial reaction as 50% is deemed
as most likely too much.

I have had to set 99% for both axis and still there is a delay (albeit
much smaller than the recommended start setting of 15%). Even setting
99% there are a couple of seconds delay before the telescope begins to
slew in the desired direction. There is no indication of jerk, which I
would expect if I had overcompensated the percentage.

I am using a keypad tracking speed of 3 to observe this delay. Dr
Sherrod indicates this backlash should be almost imperceptible even when
using the slowest slew speeds.

I have repeated the full setup procedure 3 times following a reset, but
the results are always the same.

Do you think this hints at some kind of developing mechanical failure??

Or am I doing something else wrong???
  
Clear skies
 
Wayne Byrne (UK)
 
ETX 125EC
Autostar 497 firmware 43EG
Fully charged external power supply
Alt/AZ mode
Sighting a landmark feature 5 miles away for training.
Mike here: I'll let our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, respond. <
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>> I have had my ETX 125EC for a couple of years and I was aware of a 
>> backlash problem but put up with it until today.When I selected a slew 
>> arrow on the 497 , there was quite a delay between the moment of the 
>> keypush and the moment the telescope drive would begin to slew to the 
>> track command.

Is there a lag before you can hear the motor -turning-,
or does the motor start immediately and it's a delay before the effect
is noticable through the eyepiece?

>> This is commonly known as "Backlash".
>> I have done a full reset followed by a "Calibrate Drives" and a "Train 
>> Drives" and then turned my attention to this "Backlash" problem, which 
>> is basicly setting up the correct alt/az percentages,
>> I found a very good and detailed procedural guide  
>> http://www.astroromp.com/astronomy/eliminating_backlash.htm ) written 
>> by the very emminent Dr Clay Sherrod, and followed his instructions 
>> precisely, with the exception of the fact I am using a 5 mile distant 
>> landmark in daylight to train my set-up
>> This procedure is also detailed in your book.
>> I am concerned this guide states that choosing a setting of 50% in 
>> either axis, one should expect a jerky initial reaction as 50% is 
>> deemed as most likely too much.
>> I have had to set 99% for both axis and still there is a delay (albeit 
>> much smaller than the recommended start setting of 15%). Even setting 
>> 99% there are a couple of seconds delay before the telescope begins to 
>> slew in the desired direction. There is no indication of jerk, which I 
>> would expect if I had overcompensated the percentage.
>> I am using a keypad tracking speed of 3 to observe this delay. Dr 
>> Sherrod indicates this backlash should be almost imperceptible even 
>> when using the slowest slew speeds.
>> I have repeated the full setup procedure 3 times following a reset, 
>> but the results are always the same.
>> Do you think this hints at some kind of developing mechanical failure??
>> Or am I doing something else wrong???

 From your symptoms, i'd suspect a mechanical issue which is overwhelming
the ability of the anti-backlash percentage to compensate.
Which is a little surprising, since the Train Drive should measure
the amount of backlash, and the percentage should be taking that
into account  (this is yet another reason i developed my "Display/Edit
Train Drive Results" patch 7 years ago...)

Is this happening to -both- axes, or just one?
And, if one, which one?
My ETX90 Trains to 1100 arc sec in the Az axis, and 3300 in the Alt.
Much of that Alt "slop" is due to a worn plastic DEC bearing.. so
when the motor tries to lift the barrel, the DEC axle can actually
-tilt- (rotating the barrel along its long axis) before it actually
starts -raising- the barrel.
The ETX125 has metal DEC axle support, so i doubt you're having that
-exact- problems.  Yours could be worm end-play (fix is to ascertain
that that -is- the problem by trying to make the worm move along
its length... if you can, then you want to adjust the end-loading nut).
Or (another fault of my ETX90) the entire worm carrier could be -loose-,
allowing major components to shift before the motor's force finally
started moving the telescope.  (i was able to brace mine with a scrap
of thin cardboard).

So: unless your Train Drive is producing substantially low results
compared to the actual backlash (and note that the slews of the
Train Drive procedure are going much faster than "speed 3",
so motor speed may overcome something that slow speed reveals),
your inability to overcome the backlash lag points to a mechanical issue.

good luck
--dick

And:

Thanks Mike/Dick.

I'll have a carefull look and see If I can do something about it.

Best regards

Wayne
hr width="25%">
Subject:	re: ETX re-train motor question
Sent:	Friday, March 28, 2008 19:35:35
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
No, you do -not- need to retrain if you're only transferring
User Object (Comets, Asteroids, Satellites, Landmarks, Tours).

(you also don't need to Reset the Autostar just because
you blew a Train, either).

Dr. Clay was writing a "one size fits all" guide...
so what he recommends won't -hurt-, but it does entail
what is usually extra unneeded effort.

have fun
--dick (Seattle)

Subject:	494 updates
Sent:	Thursday, March 27, 2008 13:33:27
From:	Rocky (rocky@stellarwinds.org)
I have a quick question, im looking for an autostar 494 update...my
current revision is 10EI

is this the most recent...nothing to be found on meade's site.

the autostar update grey's out the update option when it discovers the
autostar 494 handbox..
 
thanks,
 
Rocky
Mike here: You and the rest of the world are looking for an AutoStar #494 update. Unfortunately, Meade has not released a user-installable update for the #494.

And:

thanks for the fast resonse..

Rocky

Subject:	Autostar error
Sent:	Wednesday, March 26, 2008 07:28:25
From:	Damian Mathier (d_mathier@hotmail.com)
I tried your solution (SAFE LOAD). But the display doesn't work (no red
light). when i start my telescope it makes only a clicking sound. I
tried also to contact the autostar with hyperterminal. It has contact,
but the autostar doesn't react to my instructions (can't send the file
"boot.rom"). perhaps you will have an other idea for my problem.
 
thanks a lot
 
damian
Mike here: It sounds like the AutoStar could have been damaged by the power failure. If the display does not illuminate then there has likely been some component damage. The question will be whether the damage is on the ETX side or the AutoStar side. You can make an external battery attachment for the AutoStar using information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If the AutoStar still fails to illuminate or update then you'll know the AutoStar has failed. If the AutoStar works with the external battery then you'll know the problem is on the ETX site, which is likely more serious and would require returning it to Meade. If only the AutoStar has failed then you would have to replace it.
Subject:	43a patch
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2008 16:25:15
From:	William (wnowicki68@hotmail.com)
Hello, I would like to use this patch with a LX90 in a skyshed to make
clearance.  I do not have enough room with my new piggy-backed NH Gen
II.  When powering on,  do I leave it where it parks or remove camera
and reposition? Any help would be appreciated.
 
Bill
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I assume you're talking about the alternate PARK position patch?

If so, you leave it where it PARKs and can start GoTo'ing from there.
(that's the whole idea of PARK, right?)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX re-train motor question
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2008 10:20:49
From:	Eckert, Dennis (Dennis.Eckert@flukenetworks.com)
The http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx_tuneup3.html link is
unclear about the need to do a re-training of the drive.  The statement
in question says ~

"Once your training is complete (if you are NOT satisfied with the way
it went, DO IT OVER AGAIN....just push "RESET" under the "SETUP"
category and start over!) you should NOT have to retrain (ALWAYS "RESET"
FIRST!) except when:

1) You upload new data/firmware/ephemerides onto AutoStar from your PC;"

Does this mean I have to re-train after loading only comet, satellite or
asteroid data into the 497 for my new ETX-125PE?  The advice above seems
pretty categorical.  I have firmware 43Ea and haven't tried to update
the firmware yet.  I can understand re-training after a firmware upgrade
but re-training after loading tours, sats, comets and asteroids doesn't
seem to make sense.  What is the rationale?

It's been pretty cloudy in the Seattle area since I got the 'scope from
Astronomics about three weeks ago.  There was some clearing last night
but it was cloudy when I did the Auto Align.  I had the laptop connected
to the ETX with the Meade software.  When the ETX went to the reference
stars, I just zoomed in on the laptop screen and centered the two stars
that way.  Both were already inside the circle drawn on the laptop
screen by the 26mm Plossl eyepiece in the Meade software.  I guess
aligning by not looking thru the eyepiece worked OK because Alcor/Mizar
was pretty well centered.  Most of my observing and learning time has
been in the house with the laptop connected .  I bought the ETX
because the Polaris mount for my 97mm F7 Brandon (the one with the bird
egg blue finish) broke.  So I guess I will sell the Brandon.  Getting a
new mount for it is more than I want to spend.

Dennis Eckert
Everett, WA
Mike here: I always recommend doing a TRAIN DRIVES after any firmware update. Just adding/changing objects does not require a reTRAIN.
Subject:	Autostar keyword
Sent:	Tuesday, March 25, 2008 03:10:01
From:	E. Triunfo (e.triunfo@autostar.it)
Hi, I'm the online services supervisor of a VW car dealer in Italy; why
I get so many hits from Sweden with the Autostar keyword ?!? guess you
have the answer...
 
Thanks
Emilio Triunfo 
On-line support & NLT specialist
Autostar S.r.l. 
www.autostar.it
Mike here: Meade Instruments uses the name "AutoStar" for their astronomical telescope handcontroller. For more information go to Meade's web site (http://www.meade.com).
Subject:	EXT-125PE Autostar Updating
Sent:	Saturday, March 22, 2008 13:40:42
From:	B Marshall (srspoke04@yahoo.com)
I'm going to attempt to update my autostar from the orginial version to
version 43g. Not knowing anything about how to do this, is there a step
by step procedure for me to follow, and where can I find it?

Thanks in advance for the help and a wonderful website.
Mike here: See the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Version 4.x is essentially the same for updating. Also, if your computer has only USB you will need a USB-serial adapter. Note that not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page for more information.
Subject:	Autostar thinks stars are underground
Sent:	Saturday, March 22, 2008 11:46:35
From:	Stan (ssiebenthal@cox.net)
Many thaks for your help with my autostar that couldn't level -- I
ultimately talked to Meade and they sent me a new LNT module - problem
solved.

Now my 497 thinks on automatic alignment that the star it seeks is
beneath the scope (mount warning and all).  It also misses north by 15
degrees or so.

I've reversed the cord and downloaded the latest version.  All else
works well.

Any ideas??  I'm using a DS-2130ATS.
Thanks, Stan
Mike here: Have you checked your location? I recommend using City and not Zipcode (if you used Zipcode). Also, check the Daylight Saving setting. Does the problem occur in all alignment modes (Auto, Easy, etc)?

And:

Changed location to city (nearest), Daylight Savings is "Yes".  Problem
only occurs in the Auto mode; Easy, Two Star, & One Star work fine.  
Solved the "North" problem with a tube "adjusment" (rotation).
Thanks Again' Stqn
Mike here: You might want to do a CALIBRATE SENSOR for the LNT.
Subject:	Autostar error
Sent:	Friday, March 21, 2008 14:58:38
From:	Damian Mathier
first of all i'm sorry for my bad english.
 
I've a problem with my autostar #497. I would update the autostar with
the program "Autostar updater v. 4.6" to 43Eg. In the middle of the
process we had an electrical power outage in our house. The display of
the autostar showed the error "Proc. trap 2". After this error
information the error and the red light disappear. And when I would
start now the telescope etx-90ec, the autostar make a weak sound like
"tigg" and nothing else. I don't know if the autostar now defect?
 
thank you for your efforts and i hope i haven't bug you
 
kind regards,
 
damian
Mike here: See the last item on the FAQ page on the ETX Site.
Subject:	re: Autostar 497 will not update from PC
Sent:	Monday, March 17, 2008 19:35:28
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I find it interesting that StarPatch could convince the
Belkin USB adapter to succeed with the download.

I wish some Belkin user(s) could convince Belkin to -solve-
the "fail at update" issues between ASU and the Autostars.
They can reasonably argue that they can't handle -every- weird
(and potentially expensive) piece of hardware and software,
but it's still a puzzle that we all would like solved.

Part of the problem is quite likely how Meade (mis)handles
the COM port... they keep grabbing and releasing it, instead of
grabbing and -holding- it throughout the download process.

As you'll see in numerous postings at Mike's site, my only
recommendation for a USB to serial addapter is the Keyspan USA-19HS.
Other brands (RadioShack, Prolific, generic white-box) also work,
but for the "one size fits all" recommendation, the Keyspan
has proved 99.5% successful over the past 9 years.
The Belkins have frequently/usually proved -unsuccessful- over the same period.
They frequently will work for telescope -control-, but fail in the
Update procedure.
In your case StarPatch came through to save the bacon, but StarPatch
cannot update the User Objects (Asteroids, Comets, Satellites, Tours).
For those you pretty much require Meade's Updater, and the Belkin
may fight you during those attempts.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar 497 will not update from PC
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2008 20:01:14
From:	Paul Zadach (pzadach@comcast.net)
I was trying to update my Autostar 497 for my ETX 125 and ended up
losing all the programming.  I reset the handbox to get the "Flash
Update 3.0 Ready" message.  I sent the update info to the handbox from
my computer and it says the update was successfully sent to the
Autostar, but the Autostar just sits there with the Flash Update message
and won't do anything.  Any ideas?
 
Thanks,
 
Paul Zadach
Mike here: How long did the "update" require before it said it was successful? Also, are you using a real serial port or a USB-serial adapter? If an adapter, which one?

And:

I am using a serial port adapter made by Belkin through a USB port. 
I've used it before to control the scope through Autostar suite with no
problems. It only took a few seconds of transfer before I got the
successful message which makes me think it didn't really transfer
anything.

Thanks again,

Paul
Mike here: There have been some problem reports on the Belkin adapters when updating the AutoStar. You might try the StarGPS application to do the update; it is available from www.stargps.ca. You might also want to read through the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And an update:

The StarGPS software worked, I'm back in business! I am truly grateful
for your rapid response and helpful information.

Clear Skies,

Paul

Subject:	PocketPC PEC Reader
Sent:	Saturday, March 15, 2008 13:37:55
From:	John Farrant (johnfarrant@gmail.com)
A couple more pieces of PocketPC "C" code I thought you might be
interested in passing on.

ReadPEC downloads PEC data from Autostar to a PDA via Bluetooth (or
cable).

PlotPEC plots the downloaded data as a line graph.

Users should note that PocketC is required to compile and run.

I've only tested the software on a PDA running Windows Mobile 2003 SE
and with Autostar Firmware 43GC so I can't guarantee it will work with
other Autostar versions.

I'll zip the two source files over to anyone who is interested.

johnfarrant@gmailcom
 
Kindest regards
 
John

Subject:	Daylight time - a clarification
Sent:	Friday, March 14, 2008 06:55:31
From:	Dave Wallace (d_wallace@ecrm.com)
In http://www.weasner.com/etx/feedback/current/autostar.html, James
Rosendahl wrote:

When entering the setup information for location, I get confused about
Daylight Savings Time. When is the correct answer Yes?
-Jim

and you replied:

Mike here: If your location observes Daylight Saving Time then the
answer is YES. Most of the USA does. But there are some exceptions like
Arizona and other places.

This is misleading.  The precise answer is "If your location observes
Daylight Savings Time AND the current time IS daylight time, the answer
YES."

For those parts of the USA which observe daylight time, the answer has
been YES since the morning of March 9th.  If you live in AZ, AK or HI,
the answer is NO -- these states do not observe daylight time.  If you
live in Canada, the answer is also NO -- Canada doesn't switch to
daylight time for another few weeks.

Subject:	ETX-90PE Setup
Sent:	Tuesday, March 11, 2008 20:58:25
From:	James Rosendahl (jpr984521@hotmail.com)
When entering the setup information for location, I get confused about
Daylight Savings Time. When is the correct answer Yes?
-Jim
Mike here: If your location observes Daylight Saving Time then the answer is YES. Most of the USA does. But there are some exceptions like Arizona and other places.
Subject:	DSI 505 cable
Sent:	Monday, March 10, 2008 03:20:54
From:	Henrik van Holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Hello Andy,
 
I do not understand your remark about the DSI camera. The DSI comes with
an USB cable needed to transport high speed the images to the PC, this
cable goes directly into one of the USB ports of the PC (laptop).. The
#505 serial cable is used to control the scope, Autostar serial port via
a serial to USB adapter to the PC. In my case I use for this, a wireless
connection Bluestar to Bluetooth. In my case the #505 cable came with
the scope and the USB cable came with the DSI camera.

Further on I use also Vista both camera and scope (ETX105PE and LX90GPS)
work without any problems.

I suspect also as Mike said the problem is other software interfering
with your adapter com port or the USB to serial is the problem itself.

Good luck
Henrik

And:

From:	Andrew Schilling (schilling.andrew@yahoo.com)
Greetings Henrik,
 
Sorry for the confusion on this matter.  We finally looked in the port
folder under device manager and found that it was using comm port 5.  I
only have 4 USB ports so we just kept trying ports 1-4 and that is why
we had the communication error.  Once we put in comm 5 in autostar the
error message went away.  At that time we were able to connect to the
telescope but only by using the F9 key to connect.  We have not been
able to connect when using the drop down menu and selecting remote
handbox.  But as long as the F9 works we are in business.  This week we
are looking at some warmer temps here in Indiana so maybe we'll get a
chance to set up and run it for real and not on the kitchen table.
 
Thanks for your e-mail
Andy
Bonjour Andrew,
 
Yes your PC or laptop has many more com ports then 4, I have at least 20
com ports but not all are free. I use also com port 5 thats also free on
my laptop. Great you got it working.

We have very bad weather on the moment stargazing possible for the
moment.

Greetings from 44 6" N 1 7" W SW France.
Henrik

Subject:	#506 Cable
Sent:	Sunday, March 9, 2008 13:46:15
From:	Kelli L. Hively (MUgirlygirl@hotmail.com)
Is there anyway to get the #506 cable without purchasing the software. 
I already have the software (I think), but I need the cable.  The
software I have says it can update the telescope and can control it.
 
Thanks,
 
Kelli
Mike here: I don't recall anyone selling the #506 cable separately. It has some special electronics embedded in the cable. As to updating the "telescope", you can add objects to the #494 AutoStar but there is no user-installable update for the ROM for the #494.
Subject:	Problems with a Meade LX90 8''
Sent:	Friday, March 7, 2008 09:03:02
From:	Martins Keruss (martins.keruss@ldz.lv)
Hallo!
My name is Martins, I am from Latvia. I have found Your site a very good
scope related information site.

Yet I am in trouble with my scope and try to get some tehnical help.

After possible reverse polarity event went down our Autostars Hand
controller. Red light is on  but seems a little weeker than usualy.

Have You some advice witch unit may be lost and how to replace them?

It will be helphull to get some links how to dissasemble the scope and
to locate bad unit.

May be You have similar experience and can share with them.

Thanks in advance, Martins!
Mike here: If you damaged the AutoStar due to the reverse polarity you may or may not be able to repair it. It depends on how comfortable you are soldering on circuit boards. There are schematics and photos on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page if you want to identify the burned out component (assuming the damage is visible).
Subject:	HAVING PROBLEM ALIGNING STARS!!!!!
Sent:	Thursday, March 6, 2008 22:44:01
From:	THOMAS MCNAMARA (THOMASMCNAMARA671@HOTMAIL.COM)
AFTER SCOPE HAS BEEN MOVED TO GENERAL AREA WERE STAR IS, I HAVE TO USE
THE HAND CONTROL TO MOVE SCOPE TO CENTER THE STAR. WHEN I USE THE
BUTTONS TO MOVE SCOPE, IT SEEMS TO MOVE VERY LITTLE. I ALSO DO NOT HAVE
A FINDERSCOPE AS OF YET, WHICH I BELIEVE WOULD BE EXTREMELY HELPFUL.
DOES ALIGNING THE STARS TAKE SOME PRACTICE, AND I SHOULD JUST SHOULD
HANG IN THERE?
Mike here: First, please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site home page about using ALL CAPS. Thanks for understanding. You can change the slewing speed to something faster. You didn't say which AutoStar or Telescope you have but if there are number keys on the keypad use them to change the speed (higher numbers are faster). If there are no number keys use the SPEED button. Having a finderscope can help but isn't absolutely required to align the telescope. But either way, it shouldn't take you long to get the hang of it.
Subject:	starfinder to autostar update
Sent:	Thursday, March 6, 2008 03:32:39
From:	Harry Fleming (harry.fleming@tesco.net)
I wonder if its possible to upgrade the software in a starfinder hand
controller  for the #4504 to a #494 hand controller.

From one of the items I've read, the hardware is the same. There is a
'download' item in the setup menu and I've constructed an AUX port which
seems to work fine with the#506 cable with help from Richard Seymore. I
want to do this because most of the scopedriver software I've tried
seems to find the starfinder difficult to deal with. If anyone has
experience of doing this I'd like to hear if its possible and how its
done.

Harry Fleming
Mike here: There is no user-installable AutoStar #494 ROM file available so from that standpoint you can not.
Subject:	Fetching Local Sidereal Time from Autostar #497
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2008 18:45:27
From:	Edward Auga (axa@lpbroadband.net)
I have an ETX-125 with the ETX Autostar #497 with firmware at 43Eg.
Mount is Polar. I have an HP iPAQ 210 running TheSky Pocket Edition
which is communicating to the Autostar via Bluetooth.

My questions are: A) Does the Autostar compute the Local Sidereal Time
from the date, time, Time zone, longitude and latitude entered into the
Autostar? B) Is the Autostar LST affected by data signals from the ETX
computer?

TheSkyPE sets the Autostar DST from the PDA. After the ETX is finished
with a 2 star alignment, TheSkyPE reports that the Autostar DST differs
from the PDA by varying amounts from 10 minutes to over 1200 minutes.

What is curious about this is that even with the large differences in
the LST, the ETX will skew pretty well from commands from the PDA.
 
Thanks,
Ed Auga
Mike here: Don't confuse LST (Local Sidereal Time) with Local Time. And yes, Local Sidereal Time uses all those parameters. Not certain why you are seeing varying times assuming you are seeing those variances in time.
Subject:	Communication Error from ETX105
Sent:	Tuesday, March 4, 2008 16:10:56
From:	Andrew Schilling (schilling.andrew@yahoo.com)
I have just connected my new laptop with VISTA to my ETX105.  Vista
appeared to find and install the needed drivers but I got the following
message when I tried to connect "Invalid ACK response from LX200!".  I
do not know what ACK means so I don't know where to begin.  Any ideas? 
Thanks for your time.
Andy
Mike here: "ACK" means "acknowledgement". How are you connecting the computer to the ETX/AutoStar? Do you have a real RS-232 serial port or are you using a USB-serial adapter? If using an adapter, note that not all work with the AutoStar; see the article "USB and AutoStar" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Are you using a #505 serial cable to the AutoStar? If so, did you make it yourself or was it a purchased one? Have you checked it for continuity? What software are you using to communicate with the AutoStar? Lastly, sometimes other software can interfere with serial communications. This is typically fax software.

And:

I am using a usb-serial adapter and I should have said this same setup
worked with a laptop last year with XP on it. I believe the serial cable
came with the telescope or the DSI camera I purchased at the same time
as the scope.  I use Autostar Suite which came with my DSI PRO.
 
Andy
Mike here: The #505 cable does come with the DSI models. I suspect a Vista issue (not surprising); you might need to get a Vista compatible driver for the USB-serial adapter (direct from the vendor, not through the Vista OS).

And:

Mike, will try to find one tomorrow and I will let you know how it goes.  Thanks.

And an update:

Mike, we have success.  Although I am not completely sure how we got
there.  I did switch adapters and had Vista update the driver, then went
to device manager to the port folder and found that when the usb cable
was installed it was in port 5.  I did not try that number last night as
I thought I only had 4 usb ports.  So when that was selected in the
remote box the error message went away, but a new one showed up saying
the port was already taken.  My brother in law kept playing with it and
all of a sudden it started working.  At that point we started turning
everything off so we could see what it was that finally made it work. 
What we found was that we could not open the remote control box window
from the telescope tab at the top of autostar suite, but when we hit the
F9 button which is the short cut to the remote control box window and
activated comm port 5 everything started to work and we could control
the scope.  If anyone needs more clarification on anything let me know
and I will try to go in more detail. Thanks for the work you do with
this site as it really offers a great forum for individuals seeking
help.  
 
Andy 

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