Last updated: 25 May 2009

This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the Windows (including the Meade AutoStar Suite), Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me 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 125, Autostar / DSI II Pro, problems / Disabled Man needs a hand
Sent:	Thursday, May 21, 2009 23:30:11
From:	Richard Mansfield (
Sorry to lead off with the disabled bit - but needed to make sure you
took it seriously, and PLEASE can we NOT post this?

Ok - I'll do my best here:

Me = confined to a power chair so I did my best to purchase a system
that would allow me to sit

I'm using an ETX 125, DSI II Pro, HP Desktop, Windows XP, all cables
brand new - have followed all directions (what little came with)

My system doesn't seem to recognize my telescope

I can get all the way to "make sure the net scope is on" warning box -
and it is - ( it reads com port 1 for the scope - 2 says dome - I have
no dome; checking the box for "listen" get's an in use error message. )

I'm running off the serial port - I did purchase a USB adapter but
seemed to be having even more of an issue there.

My biggest query would be if you know anyone in the Central Oregon area
- or close - that might be able to entertain a dialouge, phone or on
line that could help get me squared away, I'm not an idiot or anything,
but am quite restricted in movement and it might take a few emails or
conversation as I don't know exactly what questions to ask.

My hand paddle works fine, just no action at the desktop - but it DOES
recognize the "NAME of the Computer"...

I have 524 MB RAM, Over a GB in Processor Power; latest versions of
AutoStar Suite and Envisage - just downloaded from MEADE, unistalled all
of the old versions first.

If it's too big an ask - it's cool man, I'll just keep working the

But - Cassini's Divisioon is looking REALLY SWEET in the 24 MM eyepiece
right now here, and it sure would be cool to try to image a bit!

I'll go out in the daylight tomorrow and see what I can do with the sun
- then wait for a decent moon...

Still need to figure out the PC control issue tho!

THANK YOU for even reading this;

Between MS and my mind going it get's tough to make sense sometimes.

r b.mansfield
Mike here: Have you tried any other applications to control the AutoStar? Such as ScopeDriver or Astroplanner? If not, give one of them a try (see the Accessory Reviews: Software page for page for more info). Second, just to confirm: a real RS-232 serial port or the modem port (which is a common mistake)? Third, have you checked your #505 serial cable for connectivity? Lastly, if I don't post the email, we'll never know if there is someone in Oregon to help. Of course, you could check your local astronomy groups.

And an update:

My HP PC / 505 cable w RS232 connection - USB Adapter connectivity issue

The accompanying "ENCLOSED DIRECTIONS"- (sparse as they were) instructed
me to "remove the existing driver" (inherent in the AutoStar Software
Suite ), HERE:

and then to download and install the new driver HERE:

Thus making "Serial Port 'driving' a no go, and - somehow also failing
to 'drive' the scope from my USB Com Ports as well...

(Never underestimate the dilligence and resourceful thinking of a bored
and FRUSTRATED invailid!)

I phoned MEADE Customer Service - and while they spent a QUALITY 15

(unheard of when dealing with mechanisms "NO LONGER UNDER WARRENTY")

we were all still stumped for a solution and the C/S Agent left me with
a promise to "research the problem and get back to me asap"...

(I WANTED to believe this - yet I did have "cynical" and somewhat
"jaded" expectations; so I decided to work the problem and "go it
LOGICALLY" and head back to HOME PLATE - remove ALL installed versions
of EVERYTHING associated with my equipment:

Old AutoStar Suite - the NEW  DRIVER for same (Prolific, USB to Serial
Driver , Existing ENVISAGE et' al - and start at "ground

I then went BACK to MEADE HOME; then Customer Service, then Downloads,
then obtained the latest A/S Suite 5.5 , as well as Envisage 7.05, again
swiped the USB to Serial Cable driver version 2.0.

THIS TIME - IGNORING the "remove old driver" instructions.


Connectivity has been achieved with USB  Com Port 4, and we are
"slewing" like a champ!

MY UTMOST RESPECT & ADMIRATION to a fella named "MARK" staffing the
MEADE C/S phone line that day, as this Gentleman was ABSOLUTELY
"Professional", KNOWLEDGABLE and just dog gone downright CONCERNED and

Even closing the conversation with, "We stand behind our equipment
REGARDLESS of the WARRENTY constraints and even if purchased second hand
or on EBAY"!

(I'm not suggesting that one would get a "trade in" or "replacement";
but just that these are really REALLY "GOOD FOLKS")

My next issue - to be investigated from today forward is to begin my
adventure with my DSI Pro II and see how far I can get with imaging!

My reasoning originally - behind asking you to "not post" my first query
was so to not attract simply any sympathetic responses due to my

BUT - I am desperate to find someone in my local vicinity that would
entertain the invitation to "dialogue" and possibly even get togethor
for some one to one instruction; limited mobility and scooting around in
this Power Chair in the dark makes for a treacherous situation regarding
the wires and equipment and so forth.

So - if you please - feel free to post the 1st as well as this follow up

I have now watched (for 5 consecutive runnings) ALL of the MEADE
"Instructional Video's" regarding my scope & my imager - and I have a
few questions still remaining;
At the end of one of the DSI Video Tutorial,
"B&W DSI Filter Slide", as the Gentleman is assembling the Color Filter
Slider - his VERY LAST operation (at the 60 - 70 second mark) is
"ATTACHING" an "IR Filter" into the END of the eyepiece "CCD IMAGER"
"slider nosepiece"...

Yet - I see no such critter amongst my assortment of accessories OR even
listed as an "accompanying" or aftermarket part...
Is this an available item?
Is this something truly needed?
I do NOT believe I IMAGINED seeing something that simply was not there
(please note the photo below).
I HAVE (pictured) the full color slider setup, (4 colors)    
but no "screw in" type fiter of any variety for a 'screw in' insertion
into the end of the nosepiece (below).

Once more - please accept and be proud of my sincere THANK YOU - for the
amount of teaching you do with your site - THAT has to be an extreme
labor of love.

Thanx again for such a hasty reply Mike - even though WE couldn't figure
it out right away - the notion of not being "BLOWN OFF" gave ME the WILL
to seek the solution out rather than allow $800.00 plus in equipment to
lie dormant to gather dust!
Richard B. Mansfield
Redmond Oregon
Mike here: Glad you solved the problem. As to the IR filter, you will get the best results when using an IR filter. From what I can tell (but I don't have any of the DSI models) the filter should have been included. But I could be wrong and maybe they no longer include it. Sounds like another call to Meade is in order.
Subject:	ETX 80 and Cartes du Ciel problem
Sent:	Thursday, May 14, 2009 10:57:49
From: (
I have a Meade  ETX-80 telescope and  I'm trying  to connect it to
"Cartes du Ciel".

I guess I got the right cable:

ETX (RJ11)                       Com1  (DB9)
Pin: 1           to                   pin: 3
Pin:  2          to                   Pin: 2
Pin: 4           to                   Pin: 5

Cartes du Ciel configurations :

Select Scope interface: Meade
Configuration :
Model : LX200
Refresh rate: 250
Com settings :
Com1 , 9600, 8, N, 1, 5000, 100

When I press "connect"  a fell seconds later  I got the "green light" as
it has been connected properly.
But if I try anything the program (cartes du ciel) stops .
What is wrong?
Can you help me?


Paulo Motta
Mike here: Do you have a #494 AutoStar (no number keys on the keypad; standard with the ETX-80) or the #497 AutoStar (has number keys)? If it is a #494 then do you have the special #506 serial cable from Meade? If the #497, do you have the #505 serial cable? Also, are you using a real RS-232 serial port on your computer or a USB-serial adapter? If an adapter, which one?


I have made the cable ( as you show in your site)
The keypad has no numbers on it
I'm using a "real" serial port (DB9) com1

Thanks for help!

Mike here: So you made the special #506 cable with the special "active" electronics for the #494 AutoStar? If so, and you have verified that the electronics in the cable are good and if you know the RS-232 serial port is good, then I suspect something is amiss in the software. Have you tried some other software (like AstroPlanner or ScopeDriver)?


I'm sorry but I do not know what cable I have made but I did as follows:

ETX (RJ11):                      Com1  (DB9):

Pin: 1   ....... to  .......     pin: 3
Pin: 2   ....... to  .......     Pin: 2
Pin: 4   ....... to ........     Pin: 5

yes, I have cheked the cable's continuity  with my Ohmmeter and it's ok.

Now I have the AstroPlanner ,

when I go to "Test Telescope Communication" , select COM1, 9600bps and
send "Get RA" or " Get Dec" or "Get Time" the Telescope response is
always the same:

"8p-x88xp-8-<|8p-x88x ..... " a lots of it (noise?) .

If I select "show invisible characters" the response changes to: {00}{00}{00}{00}{00}{00}{00}{00}{00} .....

My cable length is about 11m (33 ft)  is it a problem?


Mike here: The problem is that the #494 AutoStar requires a #506 serial cable, which has special electronics INSIDE the cable. Without this special cable (which is not easily made since you need the special electronics) the #494 AutoStar will not work with a computer. Your alternatives are to purchase a #506 serial cable or get a #497 AutoStar (which works with the simple #505 serial cable).


Thank you Mike!
I will try to get the # 506 cable.


Subject:	Re: ETX90EC controlled by laptop with Starry Night's Pro with Microsoft Vista
Sent:	Saturday, May 2, 2009 10:01:14
From:	Robert Wrobel (
I had problems with my Starry Nights version 4.05 detecting my "old"
plug-in. I uninstalled Quicktime version 7.6  and re-installed version
7.3.1. Starry Nights NOW recognized the plug in !!! might want to
pass this along to anyone that might be using this version of Quicktime
and S/N !!


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