AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 May 2009

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, AutoStar III (for ETX-LS) 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 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:	ETX PE 125 alignment query
Sent:	Sunday, May 31, 2009 01:43:04
From:	Philip Mann (philip@philipmann.com)
I am experiencing a strange problem with alignment which hopefully you
can shed some light on?!

I'm using 43g on my Autostar, have a fresh battery and am aware of the
two different Home Positions for initial setting up.  When I go for
Automatic alignment the ETX levels and finds North ok, then presents
with the star list.  When I centre on two stars of my choice (Vega and
Arcturus) it fails to align and Autostar reads alignment failed. 
However whenever I go for Easy alignment it automatically presents two
stars to centre and alignment is successful - in fact the Goto accuracy
is spot on every time.  Why am I failing with the Automatic alignment
when the Easy alignment is correct every time?  Look forward to hearing
from you.
 
Many thanks in advance
 
Philip

-- 
Philip Mann
Primary Education and Information
Communication Technology Consultant
Mike here: During the Auto Align, have you tried using different stars (or perhaps the same stars you use during Easy Align)? If so, try doing a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	re: Drivers for XP pro
Sent:	Monday, May 25, 2009 20:55:45
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
As Mike wrote, you will need the driver for your particular manufacture
of your USB to serial adapter.  What make is it?  We may be able to
tell you where to get its driver.

Once you have the USB adapter driver, then you want programs to
control the telescope.
There are many.

Meade's new AutostarSuite v5.5 can be downloaded from
http://www.meade.com/downloads/
That is a 200 megabyte download.

There are free programs, some of which are available in French.
One of the best is Cartes du Ciel from
http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/

have fun
--dick
Mike here: And of course, he needs a #505 serial cable. If he doesn't have one, he can easily make one using the tips on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

You are correct... i missed that he didn't necessarily have one...

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Drivers for XP pro
Sent:	Sunday, May 24, 2009 08:58:06
From:	marc (belier1762@yahoo.fr)
I search drivers for pc XP pro, for LXD 75 and my autostart 497.

can you take me the link ?

for dowload, 

thanks Mike

 marc 
Mike here: Do you mean USB driver? If so, go to the USB-serial adapter manufacturer's web site; you should be able to get the driver from there. If you mean some other driver, please be more specific what you need.

And:

i haven't  driver usb .

i surf to the site my driver if i don't find the driver i wille  write
you again.
i tell you after 

thank you for your mail 

marc
Mike here: So, which USB-serial adapter do you have? Be aware that not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more information.

And:

Yes, i have an adaptater usb serial.  
but i don't have driver for usb serial, for windows xp pro. 

thanks

Marc
Mike here: You should have received the driver with the adapter. It usually comes on a CD-ROM. If you didn't get one, then check the web site of the manufacturer of the USB-serial adapter. You should be able to find it there.
Subject:	Sunspot viewing with ETX-80
Sent:	Monday, May 18, 2009 11:04:00
From:	Lyle Johnsen (lylej66@gmail.com)
I am thinking about buying a solar filter for my ETX-80. Is there a way
to get Autostar to track the sun?
Lyle Johnsen
Mike here: Over the period of a few hours the sun's motion is close enough to sidereal that you won't have any tracking problems.
Subject:	Re:extending Meade 505 cable (AS FB 5/13)
Sent:	Monday, May 18, 2009 08:49:22
From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
I made an extension using a 25' coiled  -handset- cord. Just cut off one
of the small connectors and crimp on a RJ-11 connector. Just be sure
when you crimp it, you maintain the right pin-to-pin orientation.
 
Regrds,
Mike Hogan

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Saturday, May 16, 2009 21:55:16
From:	Gerald Jenny (gjenn@dslextreme.com)
Well right now the autostar is stuck on motor cal and cannot go any
where wit it it lights up goed to cal motors and stops on RA motor error
I purchased a new cable fro ATOASTRO it will not even light up the
Autostar as the old cable will.Tried to E-Mail Mr LI no answer so right
now I'am stuck any suggestions. Oh by the way got 43eg reloaded showes
on Autostar 43G
Mike here: Have you tried reversing the cable (assuming you are talking about the HBX cable)?
Subject:	Autostar failure
Sent:	Saturday, May 16, 2009 11:34:29
From:	Mick6709 (mick6709@hotmail.com)
I was doing updates to the Autostar when the handbox screen went blank
and reported a disconnect.  Wonderful.  I started a flash update.  The
handbox woke up and showed the 'flash update 3.0' display, waited a few
seconds and the display went blank.  I was able to get it to connect to
ASU once.  It showed that the Autostar was connected, so I selected the
43Eg update and sent it on its way.  It went all the way through the
update and finished.  The handbox still showed the Flash Update display
and nothing else.  Now I can't get the Autostar to connect, flash load,
or to do anything else.  I'm glad I had a spare.  Is this handbox toast?
The spare handbox updated just fine (whew!).  Is there something that I
didn't try?

Thanks,
Mick
Mike here: Try using StarPatch (www.stargps.ca).

And:

That did the trick.  Brought it back from the dead.  Thanks for the
suggestion.

Mick

Subject:	extending Meade 505 cable
Sent:	Wednesday, May 13, 2009 14:43:05
From:	Flundberg77@wmconnect.com (Flundberg77@wmconnect.com)
I would like to extend my Meade 505 cable.  It appears that a 14 foot,
four wire, telephone extension cord could be plugged into the Meade
serial adapter; then the larger connector of the 505 cable, which
otherwise plugs into the serial adapter, could be connected to the
telephone cord using a telephone cord coupler and the other, small, end
of the 505 cable plugged into it's receptacle in the Autostar.  I have
done a continuity test of the pin locations of the 505 cord with and
without the telephone cord in place and the locations remain the same. 
I would like your or Dick Seymour's opinion if this would work
successfully before trying it.

Forrest Lundberg
Mike here: As long as the wires are "straight through" and you stay within the RS-232 length restriction, you should be OK.
Subject:	Connecting 497 autostar to new laptop.
Sent:	Wednesday, May 13, 2009 13:25:52
From:	John Collins (johncoll@sympatico.ca)
I'm getting back into observing after a hiatus and cannot connect my
autostar to my laaptop. I bought a USB-RS-232 adapter, connected it,
installed the Meade driver, reinstalled my old copy of ASU and autostar
suite. The ASU searches only com ports and doesn't see the autostar
connected into the usb port. What can I domto get my autostar
recognised?
 
Thanks,
 
John Collins
johncoll@sympatico.ca
 
P.S. I used to be able to log onto your site. I'll see if I can find the
passwords, etc.
Mike here: What USB-serial adapter do you have? Not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters. No login (ID/password) is required to read any of the articles on my ETX Site. Never has been. Never will be.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply. I bought a generic adapter and it may be not
a reliable model. I downloaded a driver which enables my laptop to
recognize the adaper. My versions of Autostar Suite and Autostar Update
are several years old so I will be downloading the latest versions. (I
notice that the new Suite is 214 MB!)

Regards,

John (ETX-125)
Mike here: I suspect the adapter. When you download the latest Meade applications, be aware of the warning on the Announcements: Warnings! page about about the AutoStar. You may prefer to get the applications from the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I disassembled my home made chord (autostar to old computer) and found
not only a broken wire but the other connections needing resoldering.
Something to do tomorrow I guess.
Thanks for your help.

John

Subject:	how to change language for Autostar 494 ETX70
Sent:	Monday, May 11, 2009 14:32:19
From:	Giacomo Gargiulo (giacomo.gargiulo@alice.it)
I buyed a "German" ETX 70 with autostar 494. I was very stupid about the
"language problem" of autostar in german language (I'm italian).
How I can solve the problem.
I read on web, that is possibile to transfer a new firmware with the
appropriate language (english or italin version). It's real? or is
possible only on Autostar 497?
If is possible to change language (with the cable 506) where I can find
the firmware (I tried on meade.com  without result! sigh).
Thank you
 
Best regards
Giacomo Gargiulo
Mike here: See my answer to the same question on the 9 May 2009 update on the AutoStar Feedback page.
Subject:	re: Deleting owner info characters
Sent:	Sunday, May 10, 2009 09:27:35
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike wrote:
> Mike here: As with other places on the AutoStar (like entering a Messier number),
> use the arrow keys.
> You can backspace (not delete) and then enter a space character.

For those of us staring at the keypad for a "space" character,
it's reached by "scrolling up" past the numbers ...
between "9" and "A" is the space.

have fun
--dick

And:

From:	Robert Sladek (sladekrobert@att.net)
Thanks for your help!
Bob

Subject:	RE: Can I change the language of Autostar 494 from German to English
Sent:	Saturday, May 9, 2009 12:08:51
From:	Antonios (antoniosk@awmn.net)
How I can change the language of the Autostar 494 from German to
English? Is this possible??
Mike here: See the item "Q. My AutoStar is displaying a foreign language. How do I change it?" on the ETX FAQ page. However, it is likely that your #494 AutoStar doesn't have this capability. If you want a different language you'll have to contact your dealer or Meade for a swap. Alternatively, you can get a #497 AutoStar.
Subject:	Autostar 494 flash error
Sent:	Friday, May 8, 2009 13:47:41
From:	Antonios (antoniosk@awmn.net)
I have a Autostar 494 with a Meade ETX 70.
 
I don't know what exactly went wrong and now my autostar when starting
is saying "Flash Memory Err", nothing else.

I tried to "enter" "Down" button to enter in the Safe mode, but nothing.

Can I do something to recover it or this is the end for it?
 
Thank you in advance
Antonis
Mike here: There is no SAFE MODE on the AutoStar #494. So that won't work. And there is no user-installable ROM for the #494. Try leaving the AutoStar disconnected for a few hours, which may (or may not) clear the problem. You could also try a RESET from software but that would require that you have #506 serial cable (and Windows and a USB-serial adapter if your computer has only USB). Your only solution may be to get a replacement AutoStar. If you do get a replacement, get the #497 AutoStar, which is user updateable. One other thing to try would be to replace the batteries with a fresh set.

And:

I have a #506 cable. How to make a Reset from software????
Mike here: See the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

This ask for the autostar to be put in the safe mode, but 494 does not
have the option to enter in safe mode. What else can I do to recover it
with the use of the #506 cable???
Mike here: Check the cable connector and jack pins. They should be clean, not bent sideways, nor too depressed. Inserting and removing the cable from the HBX jack can sometimes clean the pins.
Subject:	ETX70AT software update
Sent:	Friday, May 8, 2009 06:51:04
From:	paulo mesquita (cybermices@hotmail.com)
I'll try to be brief and obey your email rules. I've just bought a 2nd
hand ETX70AT telescope with the Autostar hand controller fr my
enthusiast 10 year old daughter and I'd like to know how I can do a
software update with this computerized telescope.

The seller told me he didn't know if I could and I can't seem to find
any clear explanation for this model. Is there any firmware update for
it? I also didn't receive a cable to link it to a PC. Is there one?

Thank you for your patience.

Best regards,


Paulo Mesquita
Lisbon
Portugal
Mike here: If the ETX-70AT had the standard #494 AutoStar (no number keys on the keypad) then you can not update the ROM in the AutoStar. Meade has not released a user-installable update for the #494. If the AutoStar model is a #497 (has number keys on the keypad), then you can update it. If you have the #494, you have some choices: use whatever version is installed (which should be OK), contact Meade for a newer version of the #494, buy a #497 (which works fine with the ETX-70 and is user-updateable).

And:

Thanks for the quick information. The Autostar is the #494 with no
numbers. But if you say that the software is Ok then I'll just let it
stay like this. Just the #497 Autostar costs, here in Portugal, 225.
It's more than twice what I payed for the ETX. I'll just follow your
guidance.

Thank you very much,
Best regards,

Paulo Mesquita
Mike here: My ETX-70AT still has its original #494 software from 2001 and it works fine.
Subject:	re: Autostar Star Catalog Has Been Erased
Sent:	Wednesday, May 6, 2009 20:48:38
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I remember seeing this error report in the past... digging through
Mike's archives might find it (look at least two years back...)

A number of things can cause it:
(a) did you attempt to update the user objects (comets, tours, asteroids)
just before it happened?  When updating a 494, the updater has to erase
a portion of the "fixed" database, and then it attempts to restore it
afterwards.  If that restoration step failed, you can end up as you
are seeing.  "Failure" can also mean that the files Meade provides with
the updater are not the correct "restoration" files for your 494.

(b) hardware failure: if a portion of the "Flashram" that holds the
fixed library fails, you can get into this state.

I would work on the assumption that (a) was the cause, and call Meade
again and request another replacement.

good luck
--dick
Mike here: A quick search discovered one mention on this feedback page: http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/oct07/autostar.html.
Subject:	re: ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, May 6, 2009 20:39:41
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
the "GA" and other versions he was mentioning are the patch versions
as numbered/named by Chris Carson.  The full identifier should have been
"43GA", meaning the first ("A") StarPatch patch kit for 43Eg.

Gerald:  one possibility is that your handbox -cable- has bad or
intermittent contacts.  Try reversing the cable end-for-end and see
if the symptoms -change-.  Verify that it is -firmly- snapped into place,
and that there is no dirt or dust inside the sockets.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Gerald Jenny (gjenn@dslextreme.com)
That is strange swaped ends and it did not light up mabe bad cable what
do you think

And:

If swapping the cable end-for-end had *any* effect,
then the cable is bad.

You can try squeezing the connectors with an rj45 connector tool
(Radioshack has them, any good computer store should be willing
to "crunch" them for you for free)

Or build/buy/acquire a new cable.

A standard pre-built CAT5 computer network cable will NOT work,
since the end-to-end pinout is quite different.

The pinouts (both for the handbox and a CAT5 cable) are shown here:
http://jan.eaglecreekobservatory.org/pinouts.html

good luck
--dick

And:

And that particular mode of failure may indicate a short-circuit
of the cable (or that the socket's pins are crossed) as well as
a "break".

I suspect it might be a faulty "ground" wire in one orientation,
which would make it a broken power feed the other ways around.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Deleting owner info characters
Sent:	Wednesday, May 6, 2009 17:52:25
From:	Robert Sladek (sladekrobert@att.net)
I incorrectly entered information on line 2 in the setup menu/address.
How do I delete the characters ? I don't wish to change the info, just
delete it.
Thanks  Bob
Mike here: As with other places on the AutoStar (like entering a Messier number), use the arrow keys. You can backspace (not delete) and then enter a space character.
Subject:	ETX125
Sent:	Tuesday, May 5, 2009 19:12:36
From:	Gerald Jenny (gjenn@dslextreme.com)
Well I think I really messed up I wrote you a couple of weeks ago that I
could not get any action from my Autostar,well I got it going do not
know how but it worked fine It is with the GPS of Cris Carson .Any how
as I had not used it for 4-5 months I went and upgraded to the ED
version. Well now the RA does not work at the reset it gave me the motor
error and I cannot get it out of that reset tried to do the enter and
right button next to the ? but no luck the motor check works with the up
and down  movement but then it trys to go the the RA motor and it gives
a error any help will be great thanks Jerry
PS as always great site
Mike here: Are you saying you updated the AutoStar to a version newer than 4.3Eg? If so, sorry you didn't read the Announcements: Warnings! article about NOT updating the AutoStar. If you have "updated" your AutoStar with an incompatible version, see the article "Recovering from a Bad AutoStar Download" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. However, be advised that a recent report of a dead AutoStar following the bogus update said the recovery steps did not work.

And:

OK I got GA loaded and it went fine went to restart and it say  Testing
motors the up down move but the RA does not move say motor unit fault
any ideas
Mike here: What's "GA"? Anyway, were you able to reload 4.3Eg?

And:

Yes I was able to reload 4.3Eg and it said the it will show up on the
autostar as Ga or just G but it is still in reset mode as I cannot get
it out of that motor fault any ideasThanks Jerry
Mike here: Try a SAFE LOAD of 4.3Eg. If that doesn't work, try a RESET from software per the article "utoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. The full version should show in the Statistics menu.
Subject:	Autostar Star Catalog Has Been Erased
Sent:	Tuesday, May 5, 2009 16:01:32
From:	Lindsay Franks (lindsayfranks@sbcglobal.net)
I have a ETX-80 with Autostar 494. Meade just sent me a replacement
scope and handbox because the first one failed. The new one was great
until recently. The star names have been erased from the handbox
catalog. It will still give me the information on the star but will not
show the name of the star. I have tried updating the box from Meade's
website and it gets stuck in downloading mode but never seems to finish
downloading. I tried calling Meade but of course no help. I am very
anxious to get eveything working since I am very new to it. Please help!
Thanks,
Lindsay
Mike here: First, there is no user installable update for the AutoStar #494 ROM. The ROM on Meade's site is for the #497 AutoStar (has number keys on the keypad). As to the star name issue, have you checked the "Brightest Star" option in the Utilities menu? Toggle that to display the star name.

And:

Thanks for the reply. I went to the Utilities menu and only found the
Brightness Adj. function. I also checked the manual to make sure I was
not overlooking the Brightest Star function but did not find it. I
toggled the brightness all the way up but still not star names. It is
really only a problem because when I am aligning the scope the handbox
reads Ctr.  but does not saying wich star I am to center. Since I still
have some issues aligning the scope it is hard to tell wich star I am
looking for. Also in the named star list there is no names. I can press
enter and it will tell me the info on the star but not the name.
Mike here: I hoped that Meade would have put that option the later AutoStar #494 ROM software. Perhaps it is under one of the other menu items. If not, then I guess they didn't add it to the #494. The star that the AutoStar selects is (usually) the brightest star in the area that the telescope is pointed. Of course, the more accurate the HOME position, site location, and date/time settings are, the more accurate the initial alignment star pointing.

And:

Thanks so much for your help and the quick response.

Subject:	497 AtoStar  Tours
Sent:	Sunday, May 3, 2009 12:44:21
From:	Bill & Becky Marvin (wmarvin@hickorytech.net)
I am using a AutoStar 497 with my LXD75 mount.  Software Copyright 2005
version  33e on the Hndbx.  I've downloaded the ASU 3.61 to modify the
firmware........can I update to the 4.3g?

I an not interested in the Asteroids, Comets , Satellites(default) data
etc but would rather use your diverse unique item patches available on
your site and overwrite the defaults but not the main
database...................can this be done Mike?
 
Best Skies
 
Bill Marvin
Mike here: Yes, you can update to 4.3Eg. BUT see the AutoStar update warning on the Announcements: Warnings! page first. You may prefer to get the 4.3Eg ROM file from the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. As to the patches from Dick Seymour, they modify the software, not the library of objects.

And:

Prefer 4.3g?

Bill
Mike here: My LXD75-8"SC had 4.3Eg before it was stolen. My ETX-105 and ETX-125 have 4.3Eg.
Subject:	runaway dec motor during auto align with ETX90 autostar 497
Sent:	Sunday, May 3, 2009 09:08:53
From:	Jon Bevan (jonbevan@shaw.ca)
I recently purchased a used autostar 497 for my etx90. It was originally
configured for an lx model scope. I reset the autostar for my etx90.
When the autostar is in easy align mode the telescope will start to slew
to arctaurus, the RA seems to stop in the right direction but the
declination keeps running even after it reaches the hard stop. I have
checked to make sure that the sensor in the DEC drive motor is clean and
not obstructed. When I tested the auto align after reassembly it did the
same thing again after starting from the home position and also broke
the hard stop tab before I could turn it off.

All the other functions appear to work okay, could the problem be in the
autostars firmware? Or possibly in the dec motors circuit?  I also have
a 494 controller for my etx 60, could this be used to test my etx 90?

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated
 
Jon B
Mike here: Doing a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES should solve it.

And:

Thanks, worked like a charm. I followed Jordan's tune up guide and now
everything is nice and snug. Hoping for clear sky's tonight.

Thanks again
Jon B.
Vancouver, B.C.

Subject:	Autostar Frozen!
Sent:	Friday, May 1, 2009 17:23:27
From:	Krishnadas Kootale (ckkrish@gmail.com)
I have spent a few hours on this now, and tried some of the things
mentioned on this site as well. No luck so far.  Here is the problem -

Autostar 497 with keystroke mishap ended up having invalid date - shows
33-May-2009.   It is not responding to any key strokes from that point.
I tried updating the software from Autostar Suite. It doesn't overwrite
the date. When handbox restarts it still has the old invalid date and
freezes. I tried to do the ROM update using HyperTerminal, but wasn't
getting proper response from the Handbox.  Even if it goes through
successfully, not sure if it will change the date to some factory
defaults.
 
I would greatly appreciate your tips.
 
Best regards,
Krishnadas
Mike here: Odd one. Have you tried the SAFE LOAD procedure? If so, I'll let our AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour give it a shot.

And:

Yes, I did. Autostar software is able to load objects, and update
software. Still when the handbox restarts it is back to square one.

Thanks a lot for your quick response.

And an update:

Upon carefull examination of the old kind - physical - I found the
button for 3 was depressed on the pad and stuck. Pried it up and the
unit is back alive.

I apologize for taking your time on this without doing my due diligence.
I remain truly amazed by your interest and willingness to get to the
bottom of any problem thrown your way.

Best regards,
Krishnadas

Feedback Archive

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Copyright ©2009 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2009 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/may09/autostar.html