Cassiopeia Observatory logo
AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 19 March 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:	494 update
Sent:	Wednesday, March 16, 2011 09:04:31
From:	Derek Dorking (dmdorking@o2.co.uk)
Well the update is now I have gone for a 495!
What is the best way to upgrade it to the etx80 as a 497?
Thanks
Mike here: When you connect the #495 to the ETX-80, you will likely get a message that the AutoStar can't be used with that telescope. It may or may not be recognized by the AutoStar Update application, which you will use to update to 4.3Eg (assuming you are using Windows). If ASU doesn't see the AutoStar, you can make a 9V external power source for the AutoStar (see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page) and then you will be able to do the update.

And:

It sees the autostar sees the handset and I have been driving it as an
etx70! The handset is verion 2.0G. The battery indicator is a great
bonus!

Subject:	RE: Problems with my Autostar.
Sent:	Monday, March 14, 2011 09:31:49
From:	Larry Kotnik (larry.kotnik@cox.net)
I have successively restored my AutoStar controller to version 30Eb.
 
Should I attempt to update the ROM to a later version?
 
If so, what version would you recommend?
 
Best regards,
 
Philippians 3:13~14
 
Larry Kotnik
Mike here: Go for 4.3Eg.

And:

I will and thank you for your help.
 
Does any tours load with the ROM versions or do these get loaded separately?
Mike here: Tours are separate.
Subject:	RE: etx-80 train drives problem
Sent:	Thursday, March 10, 2011 07:09:05
From:	Adam Cook (acook@isa.org.jm)
after some more searching I found that holding the mode button for 3
seconds (and releasing it) takes you into some diagnostic (?)
information.  I followed the recommendation I read on another forum
(http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ETXASTRO/message/10226) and pressed
down once to get to the alt/az readout.

I slewed round 180 degrees clockwise (I was inside so it was a best
estimate based on lining up the barrel by eye) and then slewed back 180
degrees (again by eye).  There was some slight variation in the results
as it may not have been exactly 180 degrees each time but I repeated the
test a 10 times (sometimes without switching off, sometimes switching
off between tests).  The end result was that the display showed that I
had only slewed around 85 (80-95) degrees clockwise but anywhere from 10
to 60 degrees back anticlockwise.

This is without training the drives as I cannot train it anticlockwise.

It seems I have found the problem although I'm not sure how to rectify
it (or even if it is rectifiable by me).

Any thoughts?

I have a feeling it's getting time to send it back to the shop.  The
question then will be whether to go for another etx80 or something else!

Thanks for all your help,
Adam
Mike here: Check the "percentages" (see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). It sounds like some bad data couple be stored. Perhaps you can correct it using the percentages.
Subject:	Problems with my Autostar.
Sent:	Tuesday, March 8, 2011 14:08:41
From:	Larry Kotnik (larry.kotnik@cox.net)
When I power on the telescope computer control the autostar displays:
 
©07 Meade [43E]
A U T O S T A R
 
Then:
 
Galaxies
Nebulas
 
When I press the "MODE" button, the Autostar displays:
 
Start Up
03-Sun_2011
 
When I press the "MODE" button again, I get:
 
Time Update
08:00:00PM
 
Again pressing the "MODE" button, I get:
 
Latitude
  Error: You can
 
(press down arrow gets)
                Astronomical
 
Any Ideas on how to reset my controller?
 
I never had this problem before.
 
Thank you for your help.
 
Philippians 3:13~14
 
Larry Kotnik
Mike here: That's a strange one! Have you replaced the batteries in the telescope with fresh ones? Otherwise, it does appear that the software in the AutoStar has become corrupted. To reload it you will need a #505 serial cable (easily made) and a RS-232 serial port on your computer.

And:

Wow, excellent reply time.
 
I installed new batteries and same thing.
 
I have a USB to serial adaptor (Belkin F5U409) that I have used for
other serial devices.

Do you have the wire diagram and instructions to reinstall the
software?

I have the old version in reference to your web site:

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/2009/old_vs_new_497.html
 
Thanks,
Mike here: You will need the #505 serial cable; there are instructions for making one on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. However, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. (I recommend Keyspan adapters.) Once you have the cable and a reliable adapter, you can try the tips in the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the AutoStar Info page. If that doesn't work, you use the Meade AutoStar Update Application to reload the ROM in the AutoStar (there are articles on using it on the AutoStar Info page). Note, the Meade software is for Windows only. If you have Mac OS X, use the application AutoStarX (link on the AutoStar Info page).

And:

Thank you again for the quick reply.
 
I am going to make a cable and I will let you know.
 
Thanks again for your help.

And more:

Further to our discussion on the 494, do you have contact details for
Dick Seymour who provided Gene Chimahusky with a rom dump and he had
some success in firing up a dead handset? In reading his experience the
display acted very much the same as mine! Indeed has Gene got any
further with this subject. You out there, Gene?

Derek
Mike here: Dick's email address (rseymour@wolfenet.com) is on many pages on the ETX Site.
Subject:	etx-80 train drives problem
Sent:	Tuesday, March 8, 2011 08:12:27
From:	Adam Cook (acook@isa.org.jm)
Thanks for your help on my previous question.  It appeared I wasn't
tightening the vertical lock enough, vertical is now working without
problems.

My problem now concerns the horizontal motor (I think).   I think
there's an error/fault somewhere as I cannot train azimuth drive as the
automatic motor speed is faster going anticlockwise (left) than
clockwise (right) during the training. When I'm using the motors to move
around the sky (without using training/alignment) I set the speed on the
handset and the speed is the same in both directions. When training it
slews left for a couple of seconds (reasonably fast) and then a second
or so going back to the right (much slower), I can press the relevant
button to move it back to centre. It then slews left for a couple of
seconds (very slowly) and then right for a second (much faster) meaning
it overshoots the target so I can't use the relevant button to get it
back centre (unless I go around almost 360 degrees).  In case this is
what was meant to happen I did this but when I went out and tried to
align the telescope it appears to get roughly correct vertically but the
telescope rotates round and around anticlockwise without stopping (for
at least 4 revolutions). I suspect this has something to do with the
drives assuming that the almost 360 degrees I needed to rotate during
training corresponded to the few degrees that the autostar thought it
needed to rotate so if autostar wants to rotate the telescope 180
degrees it will run the motor for much longer that needed. I tried the
reset-calibrate-train process a few times without success.

Have you got any ideas (other than taking it back to the shop for them
to look at?).  I suspect it's more likely a fault with me than with the
telescope but I can't work out what I must be doing wrong.
 
Thanks,
 
Adam
Mike here: Since you've done the CALIBRATE MOTOR step, I won't suggest that. But do check the HBX cable, connectors, and jacks. The pins should be clean, not too depressed nor bent sideways. Also, it might help to redistribute the lubrication (to clean the encoders); do this by unlocking the azimuth lock and slowly rotate the telescope several times in both directions by hand. Go around at least twice in both directions. This may (or may not) help. Also, try using a fresh set of batteries.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply.  I'll give it a go tonight.  I'm using the
meade mains adaptor so batteries aren't a problem.  Just to check it's
working as planned, in calibrate motor, should it just slew slightly up
then slightly right?
Adam
Mike here: I'd definitely recommend removing the AC Adapter and using batteries. That will confirm whether or not the adapter is the problem. And yes, the telescope briefly moves in both axes. What is happening is that the "computer" in the telescope is measuring the power output from the optical encoders.

And:

I switched to the adaptor as the batteries seemed to be a problem!  I'll
try the batteries again though.  When calibrating should it only move in
one direction in each axis?
Mike here: Yes, one direction, just to take the measurements.
Subject:	Autostar 494 handset repair
Sent:	Tuesday, March 8, 2011 06:04:23
From:	Derek Dorking (dmdorking@o2.co.uk)
I am new to the site and a recent second user for an ETX80 at here in
the UK. Firstly, what a terrific site you have!

Now, my problem started with the 506 lead and autosuite. I plugged in
the scope and while looking for the protocol on the p.c. I noticed the
red led handset display had "gone off" I switched it off and then back
on and continued with the com port setting up. All was well and then I
saw the led display off again! I was just about to reset it and when
the display was turned to the light it said in black on unlit display
"updating do not switch off!"

Nowhere on the handbook or autosuite does it tell you it will update
when conected to a p.c. unless you instruct it to do so! Now, my next
question is: I have read the post The patient is cured! what
possibility do I have of reviving the handset using 1488/9 chips, and
what are the files and exact proceedure to do so? I have looked here in
the uk for another 494 but you can only get the 497's here- I guess
they will not work on an ETX80?

Are there any clever souls on the board that can help, or do you know
of a chip firmware restore service!!

Many thanks.
Derek UK
Mike here: There is no user-installable software update for the AutoStar #494. But a #497 will work (even better) with the ETX-80. When the power went off on the AutoStar, it sounds like either low batteries in the ETX or a bad connection between the AutoStar and ETX. But it should not have entered the DOWNLOAD mode. Since it did, something is wrong. Check out the articles "AutoStar #494 Resurrection" and "Repairing #494 AutoStar" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You might also try these steps recently provided by our resident AutoStar Expert, Dick Seymour, to another #494 user in the UK:
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I can only suggest two approaches (one safe, one risky).

The *safe* thing would be a keypad-commanded Setup/Reset(enter)(enter),
NOT attached to the 506.  That might clear any "intermediate" flags
you've accidentally set.

The *risky* (you could "brick" the 494) one(s) would be:
(a) use Hyperterminal on the PC to "talk" to the 506 and (after the 494 says In Download)
((wait a sec: does it actually say that, or does it say "downloading, do not turn off"?))
send it the single letter  "I"   (uppercase I).  That should command the
494 to perform a reboot from the download mode.  <----  this one's pretty safe
(b) instead of Hyperterminal, you could try using ASU ... plug it all
in, and click the Connect button on ASU's screen.  If the 494 is truly
in Download mode, it may not be able to connect.  ((the handshake ASU
expects is not performed in Download mode))   <-- also safe

Risky:
(c) you could command ASU to send some updated user data.  Fetch a few
comets, asteroids, Tours and satellites, then tell ASU to send them to
the 494.
It may: (1) declare itself unable to connect  (stop here and power down)
or (2) it may ask if it's in "safe load" mode.  (DANGER STARTS HERE!)
Tell it "Yes", and it should proceed with the data transfer.  At the end
it will reboot.

During a "normal" ASU session with a 494, part of the data transfer
involves erasing and re-writing some of the *program* section as well...
so (c) above could conceivably damage the operating firmware in the 494
if anything went wrong.

Does the 494 kick to "downloading" if you plug in the 506 *after*
powering up the scope?

good luck
--dick

And:

That was a quick turnround of emails!
So I could use a 497 quite happily on an ETX80? If thats the case, I
think they are around here in the UK. Would I then use the 505 method
for any updates?
Cheers, Derek
Mike here: As seen on this Meade web page: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html, yes, the #497 works fine with the ETX-80. And yes, you use the simple #505 serial cable for AutoStar updates.

And:

That's great. Maybe I'll buy one and then experiment on the 494 repair
and still have a handset at the end of it! What about audiostar497 -
just a gimmick?
Thanks for all your help.
Derek
Mike here: I have no experience with the AudioStar but for some users, the addition of audio will be of tremendous value.
Subject:	Autostar 494 / Starfinder comms problem
Sent:	Sunday, March 6, 2011 10:48:22
From:	Tony (tony@ztec-pc.co.uk)
Hello Ed,
I have a self inflicted problem with my handset (starfinder on a meade
114EQ firmware version 1.0f). I had it hooked up to my laptop without
ASU installed (I wanted to use Stellarium). I was flicking through the
menus on the handset and for some dumb reason entered download mode.
Ignoring the warning about unplugging, I removed the power to reboot the
handset. Now all I get when I plug the handset into the laptop(using a
506 cable)is a dark screen on the handset and the screen saying  'IN
DOWNLOAD' or a row of dark squares. The handset still works separated
from the computer, but won't come out of download mode when attached.
Have I destroyed any chance of using this handset with a PC?
 
Regards
Tony Herring
Mike here: Don't know the "Ed" you meant to send this to. There is no user-installable update for that model handcontroller. So, yes, getting it into DOWNLOAD MODE and then powering it off likely corrupted the software. Perhaps our resident AutoStar Expert, Dick Seymour, has a thought on it.

And:

Oops sorry Mike, that's what I get for writing 2 emails simultaneously.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
That's certainly odd behavior...
Normally, if you haven't actually *sent* anything to the 494, it should
survive the steps you did (keypad to "Download", but then not pester it
with ASU on the PC, power off).

I can only suggest two approaches (one safe, one risky).

The *safe* thing would be a keypad-commanded Setup/Reset(enter)(enter),
NOT attached to the 506.  That might clear any "intermediate" flags
you've accidentally set.

The *risky* (you could "brick" the 494) one(s) would be:
(a) use Hyperterminal on the PC to "talk" to the 506 and (after the 494 says In Download)
((wait a sec: does it actually say that, or does it say "downloading, do not turn off"?))
send it the single letter  "I"   (uppercase I).  That should command the
494 to perform a reboot from the download mode.  <----  this one's pretty safe
(b) instead of Hyperterminal, you could try using ASU ... plug it all
in, and click the Connect button on ASU's screen.  If the 494 is truly
in Download mode, it may not be able to connect.  ((the handshake ASU
expects is not performed in Download mode))   <-- also safe

Risky:
(c) you could command ASU to send some updated user data.  Fetch a few
comets, asteroids, Tours and satellites, then tell ASU to send them to
the 494.
It may: (1) declare itself unable to connect  (stop here and power down)
or (2) it may ask if it's in "safe load" mode.  (DANGER STARTS HERE!)
Tell it "Yes", and it should proceed with the data transfer.  At the end
it will reboot.

During a "normal" ASU session with a 494, part of the data transfer
involves erasing and re-writing some of the *program* section as well...
so (c) above could conceivably damage the operating firmware in the 494
if anything went wrong.

Does the 494 kick to "downloading" if you plug in the 506 *after*
powering up the scope?

good luck
--dick

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/mar11/autostar.html