AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 May 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:	Meade EXT-70AT stops at daylight time
Sent:	Friday, May 30, 2008 21:01:35
From:	Pat and Corrie Daniels (kdnatives@yahoo.com)
I recently acquired a Meade EXT-70AT with an AutoStar #494 hand
controller from a coworker who was moving and didn't want to move it
again.  She had it for about five years and never really figured it out,
but the last several times she tried to set it up the same thing would
happen (which I am also experiencing).

When you turn on the unit and start to go through the set up, I can get
as far as setting the daylight savings, but as soon as I press Enter,
all of the keys become unresponsive and the screen keeps displaying the
Daylight Savings > YES.  The slew buttons work and I can manually move
the telescope using the buttons but can't actually get into the menu
tree or anything else.

I am able to change the slew speed but that is only if I do it before I
press Enter on the Daylight Saving screen. Also sometimes when I change
it to a slow setting and press the left arrow, it will continue to slew
in that direction until I turn the unit off (which reverts the unit back
to being able to do the previously stated activities).

I then attempted to do an internet search for this issue and came across
your site which I have to admit I have not thoroughly read yet (there is
a lot of information here), and I got lazy and thought I would just
write to you to see if you had a solution to this problem or if I am
just out of luck and have to get a new controller if I want to get this
to work.

Thanks for your help,
Pat
Mike here: This a typical symptom of a corrupted AutoStar #494. Unfortunately, if the software in ROM is corrupted there isn't much you can do about it. HOWEVER, have you tried changing batteries? You could also try the technique discussed in the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. That would require the #506 serial cable (not easily homemade).
Subject:	hi mike
Sent:	Thursday, May 29, 2008 20:51:01
From:	robert carty (deepskymusic@earthlink.net)
using my new autostar i see it does not have the 105 in its data
base...do you know which version of autostar has the 105 in it?
thanks
Robert Carty
Mike here: Please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site Home Page; your email subject line does not follow those guidelines. Thanks for understanding. As to the models showing in the AutoStar, do you mean you connect to the ETX-105 and the ETX-105 does not appear in the Telescopes menu? What version of the AutoStar ROM is installed?

And:

no i mean in  the hand control it shows the 90 and 125....the handbox
version is 22es..i am currently updating  it is the 3.23 version on the
computer

And an update:

hey mike i've updated my autostar and it now shows the 105 in its data
base...thanks for your responses and great website....
all the best
Robert Carty
Mike here: Glad you were able to update. The version you had pre-dated the ETX-105.
Subject:	RE: Blank 494
Sent:	Monday, May 26, 2008 05:56:57
From:	Carl Eason (cpeason@comcast.net)
Thanks for the reply,

Brand new batteries.  I tried the "Enter + scroll down" start-up but
then read that 494s don't have a safe mode.  Is there another Reset
function?
Mike here: There is no SAFE LOAD for the #494. To get to the AutoStar meny tree RESET item you would have to follow you way through the tree blindly since the display does not work. See the manual for the tree.

And:

Thanks for the feedback\advice.  I transitioned through the tree to do a
reset as best I could without a display, but the unit does not appear to
be taking any keyboard commands at all.  Looks like I am going to be
purchasing a new controller!
Mike here: Get a #497.
Subject:	Blank 494
Sent:	Sunday, May 25, 2008 13:37:26
From:	Carl Eason (cpeason@comcast.net)
Not sure if this is the correct format for asking a question.  I have a
494 Autostar that came with a DS 2000 series telescope.  I got it a few
years back and have had no ability to use it much until now so it's been
stored away.  It worked fine new, but now has no info on the display. 
It seems to receive updates, and I can retrieve info from it, but I
cannot get it to display anything.  I'm wondering if you have any ideas
before I replace it with a 497?
 
C Eason
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET? Have you replaced the batteries?
Subject:	497 autostar controller problems
Sent:	Friday, May 23, 2008 20:45:08
From:	robert carty (deepskymusic@earthlink.net)
thanks for your great site....well I've been working on my on tours for
my meade autostar I have the 497 controller...i had it hooked up to my
laptop and strated working on a tour just in the program.....I noticed
my hand controller went blank..it does this when it isn't touched for
awhile..anyway, I decided to turn the scope off intill I had the tour
finished. Ok so i went to turn the scope back on and the hand controller
will not light up or anything. I've tried the reset thing where you hold
the enter and scroll down when you turn it on..all i can get is like the
top part of the led to kind of show white? it won't work...I guess i
just need a new 497...any ideas?
thanks
Robert Carty
deepskymusic@earthlink.net
www.geocities.com/deepskymusic
for MP3's and videos
www.soundclick.com/robertcarty
Mike here: If the display is not coming up properly, then it could be that the AutoStar has died. Have you checked the batteries?

And:

thanks for your reply mike, but yea actually i have the ac adapter
too...so i know its not the batteries...I see the red light on the
tripod/computer control, just no light on the hand controller...and evey
once in awhile, the scope will slew a little. this happens when i try
the safe load or reset and get the led screen to light up "White" though
its not really white, its just not dark anymore but no letters or
anything. also there is a strange small clicking sound coming from the
handset when the "white" light is on but i don't get this everytime i
try to safe load or reset, (the white light and clicking) probably every
3 times i try to safe load will this stuff actually happen...it usually
just stays dark (the hand controller)
i've gone ahead and ordered a new autostar and cord....
thanks for your help
Robert Carty
Mike here: Clicking sound is not good! Sounds like something has failed inside.

And:

well the only thing i can think, is when i turned the telescope off, i
left it hooked up to the laptop as i worked on the laptop for a few
hours...before i turned the scope off everything was working
great..communication between the scope and laptop, the autostar
itself...or else i turned the scope off while it was asleep? and can't
get it to wake back up? confusing
Robert Carty
Mike here: I don't think a normal power off (even if still connected to the computer) should cause a problem. Powering off the telescope or computer during the AutoStar upload process WILL corrupt the AutoStar. But even then doing the SAFE LOAD will usually restore it and the screen would display FLASH LOAD READY instead of being white (unless the brightness or contrast was at full max).

And:

yea i'm not sure either what happened, i was able to pick up a couple
autostar's at a local inkleys for a great price, these units are working
with the scope....so its a mystery...but thanks for your responses mike,
i do appreciate it...also your great website, it has helped me a few
times for sure. keep up the great work,
all the best,
Robert Carty
Mike here: Glad to hear things are working with the replacements. It might be interesting to open up the bad AutoStar to look for burnt components.
Subject:	Question about starpatch program / serial adapter
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2008 11:57:02
From:	JayJay Clayton (solargenes@gmail.com)
Hi..  just want to clarify whether the starpatch free evaluation
download may possibly simplify the serial port / autostar connection
issues that I've read about.  I won't be using my telescope with a GPS
system.  Will be picking up a Dynex adapter today.. many thanks.
Mike here: It does seem to work more reliably and faster when used with USB-serial adapters.
Subject:	Autostar problem repaired, serial port issue discovered
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2008 09:55:28
From:	JayJay Clayton (solargenes@gmail.com)
Last November I had a problem with autostar crashing because I was
adding some of my own info to it, and it ran out of memory (or
something).  I tried reloading autostar unsuccessfully at the time, and
ended up putting my ETX125 PE away for the winter.  Just got it out, and
went thru some of the detailed information available on this sight on
how to do a complete / clean re-install, and all is well.  Can do the
two star alignment with no problem.  I did disconnect the LNT... it kept
pointing straight up and I was trying to level it and just wasn't worth
the time and effort to get it repaired.

I got a new laptop and was going to set it up with my telescope, and low
and behold, discovered that there is no serial port on my laptop, or on
most laptops for that matter.  So another little project is at hand...
and thanks to the information on this web site, I'm quite confident I'll
find my way through the serial port issue as well.  Was glad to make a
donation to the ETX cause.  You've saved me lots of money since I got my
ETX scope.  Many thanks.
Mike here: Keep in mind that not all USB-serial adapters work with the AutoStar updater. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I use a Keyspan adapter with my Macs.
Subject:	re: My autostar 497 is unresponsive after update
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2008 20:01:02
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
What Mike missed answering was how to get out of the non-responsive hole:
If you haven't already, read the Updater's HELP page on "damaged handbox".

It explains (press and hold Enter and Scroll Down during power-up)
how to invoke the "Safe Load" function, which will let you re-flash
the Autostar.
If the Updater has problems maintaining the connection during the
update, you can try StarPatch from
http://www.stargps.ca/starpatch.htm
which is a user-written (more robust) alternative downloader.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	My autostar 497 is unresponsive after update
Sent:	Friday, May 16, 2008 11:14:00
From:	Terry G (terryg@mimirflexo.com)
I have a 2003 or 04 model etx-125 and have used it very little. I have
the autostar 497 and the cable to connect it to my computer. I tried to
update the handbox from version 32e, I believe it was, to version 43. I
believe that worked. I then tried to import some satallite data into it
and it became unresponsive. When I turn it on it says, "autostar"  and
then says press 0 to align or mode to access functions. However, none of
the buttons work. Is there anything I can do to restore it to the
previous version?

Thank you for all your time and any assistance you may provide.

My personal email is humbleman1963@yahoo.com
Respectfully
Terry
Mike here: It could be that the download was corrupted or that the upload of satellite data corrupted something in memory. Try again, this time using a local copy of the Build file (placed in the Emphemerides folder). This time, check for a good upload by testing the AutoStar before uploading anything else. As to email addresses, please see the Email Etiquette page. Thanks for understanding.
Subject:	Two star alignment procedure / ETX 125 PE
Sent:	Friday, May 16, 2008 10:54:41
From:	julie clayton (manyworldscross@yahoo.com)
Can you point me to the procedure for two star alignment?  Just looking
for one place that will tell me everything I need to do.  Many thanks.
Mike here: Lots of alignment tips on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, you might want to see the Helpful Information: Tutorials.
Subject:	Re: autostar freeze up
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2008 20:09:12
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
My only suggestion is to use a Keyspan USA-19HS model of
USB to serial adapter.

But before that, try downloading the newest BIOS and drivers
for your -laptop-, and see if they help.

Out of curiosity, what make and model is your laptop,
and which versions of Windows?
Does your -laptop- maker offer an "expansion port module"
(or docking station) for that laptop?  Then you would have
only one "help" line to answer all questions (we hope).

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	paul warman (paul.warman@club-internet.fr)
Thanks for your reply.

The make of my laptop is a Toshiba satellite 1410 s203 as for docking
station if you mean where the insert goes the answer is yes. Otherwise I
guess it's no it has'nt. Also what is the BIOS and where can I find
them.

Thanks for all your help so far you really are the angel Gabriel of
telescopes.

And:

Where? Here:
http://www.csd.toshiba.com/cgi-bin/tais/su/su_sc_modSel.jsp
(if you're in the US) and here:
http://fr.computers.toshiba-europe.com/cgi-bin/ToshibaCSG/generic_content.jsp?service=FR&ID=SUPPORT_PORTAL
for France.  (your model of Toshiba is not in the US-listed group)

You want the Downloads (Tlchargements) of both Drivers and BIOS (two choices on the lower center)

The "BIOS" is the Basic Input Output System (or Software) that is the
"firmware" of your motherboard.  It tells the component parts of your
Toshiba how to talk to each other.  It can have bugs, or it can need
updating to allow new devices (for example DVDs instead of CDs, or
disks able to be booted from above cylinder 1024).
You can think of the BIOS as "drivers which are -already- in the computer,
before it even thinks about booting from the disk".  It's also the program
which tells it -how- to boot from the disk, and which performs the tests
during a boot that you can see on the boot-up screen.

Drivers are the pieces of programming which are added to Windows to
correct and/or improve operations of the devices built into the laptop.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: autostar freeze up
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2008 13:53:04
From:	paul warman (paul.warman@club-internet.fr)
in fact I rebooted the 497 and now everything is fine.

However I do have another problem which I can't find an answer to even
on your marvelous site. I've had all the usual problems with the usb
serial adapter on my laptop.

So I bought an RS232 serial pcm insert card and guess what that don't
work either. Everything works fine with the home computer but the
laptops not having any of it.

Any ideas would probably be useful as always.
Mike here: I don't recall any reports of RS-232 PCM card with the AutoStar. Have you tried other software than just Meade's AutoStar Update application? Software like StarGPS (www.stargps.ca) or telescope control software?
Subject:	Accuracy trouble with LX 90 GPS
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2008 14:16:31
From:	Jan H Kolst (koja@tele2.no)
Sorry to trouble you , but my LX90 8" GPS started to act strangely. The
alignment stars are about 30 degrees off . Moon is about 40 degrees off.
All this happened when I reloaded the 4EG, reset ,calibrated motors and
trained the drives. The reason for doing this was that yesterday evening
suddenly Saturn  was way off using GO TO.Earlier it was fine..I've
checked Daylight time ,astronomical target,time and I've Sideral(not
with the moon).I haven't Calibrate Sensors since it is too light to see
Polaris.But would this have such a dramatic effect? Have I missed
something? Appreciate your advice!
 
Jan
 
Norway
Mike here: Based on what you've done and what you reported, I suspect that the CALIBRATE SENSOR needs to be done. If all else is correct, then that would be the final source of the error, assuming the error only shows up with Auto Align and not also with non-Auto Align modes. Have you tried Easy Align?

And:

Thanks for responding,Mike.

----I just tried the EASY ALIGN and it worked fine. I'm just waiting to
see Polaris now to Calibrate sensors. It's 11.30PM here and it should be
visible in 20 mins.

Thanks again.It's good to know you're there.

Subject:	Use Polaris for Polar mount training?
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2008 18:46:09
From:	Steven Meltz (driller_sm@yahoo.com)
Truly an amazing web site with an incredible wealth of information. I
have a question on drive training. I have always used Alt/Az, but have
decided to give Polar mounting a try. I used Polaris for the Alt/Az
training, and I would like to know the reason that this is NOT
recommended for Polar training. It seems to me that for my location it
would be ideal; high up (40 degrees), doesn't move, and a small light
source....much better than a street light or distant radio tower (IMHO,
anyway). Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Steve
Mike here: Polaris can be used for Alt/Az training but not with the mount in Polar mode. The reason is that with the RA axis movement (in a circular motion) it will be difficult to get accurate training.

And:

Thank you for the prompt reply. At first I thought, "well, of course:
the scope will hardly have any RA motion if I use Polaris for training",
but then I started thinking about it. I still may be wrong, but this is
what I came up with.

If you have the scope polar aligned, and then train it, there will
obviously not be enough motion in the RA drive to make the necessary
training correction (rotation around the long axis of the OTA). But if
it is trained with the scope in the position shown in Fig 3-B of Dr.
Clays' Performance Enhancement tips, the scope is Polar MOUNTED but NOT
yet Polar ALIGNED; so when training on a terrestrial object OR Polaris
you should have sufficient RA motion for proper training. Then the scope
is put in Home position and ALIGNED as in Figs 3-D1 and 3-D2.

I hope I am not beating a dead horse with this discussion, but for my
location Polaris is much easier to see then any distant terrestrial
objects with sufficient elevation.

Thanks again, Steve
Mike here: If you use a terrestrial object and not Polaris then yes, you could train in Polar Mode. Anything, including Polaris if you haven't yet polar aligned, that puts the OTA approximately perpendicular to the fork arms will work fine.
Subject:	Training drives
Sent:	Friday, May 9, 2008 06:32:08
From:	Jan H Kolst (koja@tele2.no)
I have some questions about training drives.This is what I do to train
drives:
 
1) Calibrate motors
2) Center Polaris in a 11mm Nagler
3) Using polaris for Altiude and azimuth training
4 I use speed 2
Result: 80% of the objects are inside the 11mm Nagler,but not all which
is my goal.
I try to center the alignment stars accurately.
 
I think this works ok.
 
But perhaps it would be better to use a terrestrial target which is
about 2 miles away?The manual tells me to choose a terrestrial target.

How do you train drives if I may ask?
 
Have you got a new scope (3) yet?
 
Regards
 
Jan
Norway
Mike here: I have used both terrestrial objects and Polaris. I normally use a 26mm eyepiece. Using Polaris is good for a quick nighttime align IF you are quick. If you take a long time, Polaris may have moved enough to mess result in inaccurate training. For the most precise results use a distant terrestrial object and a high power eyepiece. Using a reticle eyepiece will be even better. Nope. #3 has not yet arrived.
Subject:	re: Add Meade 4504 to Meade 497 handset/DS2114 problems
Sent:	Wednesday, May 7, 2008 20:37:18
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> 4.Set the gear percentages in line with my 494 handset
> (which now has the same backlash problem)

It's quite possible that the controlling algorithms are
-different- between the 494 ("old code") and 497 ("new").
Thus percentages appropriate for one may not work well
for the other.
By "terrible backlash" do you mean that it's overcontrolling
(jerky), undercontrolling (lags when reversed) or what?
(if "rubberbanding", is it only after an eastward slew?)

I always try to work on backlash issues by setting the percentages
-low-, and then work up as needed.  If you're autoguiding with a
GEM mount (like the 4504), the RA drive should never reverse
(since guide speed is less than sidereal), so the anti-backlash
percentage should not be affecting motions in -that- (E/W) direction.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Add Meade 4504 to Meade 497 handset/DS2114 problems
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2008 13:16:13
From:	Keith Peters (keith@corfecastle.fsnet.co.uk)
More problems if you can help.  I move the 497 back and forward between
my DS2114ATS and Meade 4504.  I now get terrible backlash on the DS
mount.  I have not had this problem before with the mount which has
always been very reliable.  What I have tried so far with the DS Mount
is :

1.Reset
2.Select DS2114 then calibrate motors
3.Trained the drives
4.Set the gear percentages in line with my 494 handset (which now has
the same backlash problem)

The main problem is movement in RA which has terrible backlash.  I have
attempted to adjust the drive % in AZ/RA and ALT/DEC with no luck at
all. Any help most gratefully received!!

Before I swapped the handsets of the DS mount (494 to the 497) I was
capturing 8000 plus webcam frames of Saturn with the mount.  Now I can't
get Saturn in the field of view let alone on the tiny webcam chip!

Are there any recommended settings for the mount gear
settings/percentages etc

Help!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks,

Keith
Mike here: Whenever you swap an AutoStar from one mount to a different mount you need to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. Those steps will normally set up the AutoStar with the proper parameters for the mount it is connected to.
Subject:	protokoll of Meade autostar
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2008 10:20:06
From:	Patrick Ganser (ganserp@fh-trier.de)
my name is Patrick Ganser.
 
Im studing Computer Science in Germany.
 
In one year, I want to finish my study. As my exam I want to develop a
software which can navigate on the sky and helps users to find
Astronomic Objects very quickly. As a special feature Im going to
develop a module, which serves a function for steering a meade telescope
by this software by clicking on the objects, which are shown on the
screen.

Is it possible to get further information about the protocol, which the
autostar  computer is working with? (for example: What do I have to sent
on the com  port of my computer, for steering the telescope to a special
point of coordinates.)

I`ve already seen, that there is an open source version of the software
"cartes du ciel". A part of the protocol, I could already see in this
programcode.

It would be great, if you could help me on this topics.

I hope my English is not too bad!

Regards
 
Patrick Ganser
Mike here: See the item "AutoStar commands" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site.

And:

Thank you very much. I've found, what I've searched for.

Regards

Patrick

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