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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 24 May 2010
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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.

Effective 1 March 2010, coverage of the LS models, formerly known as the ETX-LS, ended on the ETX Site. Since Meade removed the LS from the ETX product line in late 2009, it no longer seemed appropriate to provide support for the LS models here. Similarly, coverage of the AutoStar III ended effective 1 March 2010. I will not be able to answer any technical support questions for the LS models. Existing feedback and technical support articles covering the ETX-LS, LS, and AutoStar III will remain available online.
Subject:	Hand controller has major problem
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2010 17:26:58
From:	Robert Amdahl (rramdahl@yahoo.com)
I have an ETX 125PE with LNT, the red-dot smartfinder and the 497 hand
controller.  I purchased this system in April, 2008 and I think that it
is version 43g(?).  It just developed a problem that I will try and
summarize.

Friday, 05/20/10, I set up the telescope at around 6:30 pm, hooked up
the power (AC), the hand controller and turned it on.  I then had to do
some other stuff and didn't return outside until about 9:30 pm.  My plan
was to auto align, do some viewing and then leave it set up until the
early morning so that I could do some imaging of Jupiter.

When I went back outside, I noticed that the lower right side of the
handset seemed too bright - the 8,9 and right lower scroll key.  I
thought this strange but I just pressed another key to "wake up" the
system and then the main display was all lit up and couldn't distinguish
the characters looking straight on.  However, I was barely able to read
the display when I tilted the controller.  I pressed the keys to get to
the align menu and there was no "auto align".  It displayed "easy", "one
star", "two star", etc.  I now knew that I had a problem.  Also, there
was no way to set the red-dot finder, eg. the intensity.  It seemed that
the controller had "forgotten" that it has LNT.  I did a "reset" and for
a few minutes the display was normal, I could actually see a red dot in
the finder and I was able to start an auto align.  Then the display went
all bright and unreadable again and the alignment process stopped. 
Tried reset again and the same thing happened.

I think that the problem is with the hand controller and I hope that
getting a replacement will fix the problem.  But I am not sure.  Have
you ever heard of this before and would you have any advice as to the
best way to proceed.

Thanks,
Bob Amdahl
Mike here: It almost sounds like something overheated in the AutoStar. But before we give up on it, try reloading the ROM; you'll need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 serial port. If your computer has only USB, you'll need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Re: ETX Autostar Problem
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2010 17:13:12
From:	Stephen Colangelo (sjcpilot4444@gmail.com)
It does see the autostar but then after connecting successfully the
screen on the autostar goes back to welcome screen and the not the rom
screen. I am using a real RS-232 and the serial cord cables are checked
and connected, its only been used 2 times.

any other ideas?

thanks
Mike here: Try using StarGPS (http://www.stargps.ca), assuming you are using Windows to do the update.
Subject:	ETX Autostar Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 2010 19:36:03
From:	Stephen Colangelo (sjcpilot4444@gmail.com)
I just recently had a problem after trying to connect my Meade ETX-90 to
my computer and the autostar controller connected properly and worked
fine, but for some reason now when I start it up it gets stuck at the
welcome screen. I saw your post on doing a RESET for it and tried and
did everything you said, it did everything you said it would, said the
version name and I typed "I" to restart the autostar, after doing that
it goes back to the welcome screen and just sits there, does not re
calibrate motors or anything like that. I tried it several times with
the attached file on the article on your website.

I would very much appreciate it if you could email me back on any help
you might be able to give me.

PS: I also want to attach a right diagonal to the secondary flip mirror
so I can attach another eyepiece and or a cameron.

Thanks in advance!

Stephen
Mike here: First, disconnect #505 serial cable from the AutoStar. Then power on the telescope. If the problem persists, you may have to reload the ROM. You can easily do this with the AutoStar Update application from Meade's web site. If necessary, put the AutoStar into SAFE LOAD mode before doing the update. Caution: as you've probably read on the ETX Site, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar, so if you are using a USB adapter with the #505 serial cable, you might want to read the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks for writing back!

I did what you said before, tried the whole reset the ROM AND restarted
the scope with out the 505 cable attched. I also tried reloading the ROM
but it isn't able to connect

Sent from my iPod
Mike here: So, when you try to reload the ROM, the computer can't see the AutoStar. Are you using a real RS-232 port on your computer or a USB-adapter? If an adapter, which one? Also, have you checked the #505 serial cable for continuity?
Subject:	ETX-125 AT factory defaults values for ratios
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2010 13:08:11
From:	Enrique Scherer (escherer@usa.net)
A couple month ago I bought a used ETX-125 AT.

When I started using I discovered that the pointing is not good, 80% of
the times the object is outside FOV, I tried near everything that you
suggest in your web site without success.

I check all the values in the autostar except the ratios (the values
that everybody says "don't touch), My specific question is the
following, How to be sure that the values in my autostar are the
"factory default"?, Because a don't know the previous owner I'm not able
to be sure that the values are correct; or do you know the correct
values for this type of scope?

Thanks in advance
 
Enrique
Mike here: First, I recommend restoring back to the factory defaults by doing a RESET. Re-enter your site location and date/time/DST settings. Then do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. That should properly set up the AutoStar.
Subject:	497 crossover pinout?
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 2010 22:24:08
From:	Larry (ycsentinel@att.net)
I have cornered myself over time. I have a 497 controller which came
from a LXD-75 Schmidt-Neutonian that I was using long ago to control the
LXD goto scope, and also a DS 2000 series Autostar. I believe I was able
to control the LXD with a straight through HBX cable but had to use a
"CROSSOVER" HBX cable for the Autostar. I have lost the crossover cable
I made and am afraid to try the straight through cable on the Autostar.
Can you help me by confirming a crossover cable is needed with a 497 and
a standard 2000 series Autostar mount? Thankyou very much. -Larry
Mike here: See the article "Long AutoStar Cable" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. The HBX pinouts are the same for all mounts that use the AutoStar #494 and AutoStar #497.

And:

I guess I will have to (try) and get ahold of Meade. Neither the 494 or
495 upgraded to a 497 have removeable HBX cords at the controller. The
latest 497 model controller does. So the question still is......use a
straight through or crossover cable to power up the older DS2000 mounts
with the newer 497 controller?  -Larry
Mike here: See the article "AutoStar #497 HBX cable", also in the Cable Information section of the AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar 497 Unit Problem- Any Hope to Fix
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2010 14:35:16
From:	Sergio M Perez (sperez@mba1983.hbs.edu)
I have the EXT-89 scope with the 487 controller which I bought in 2001.
I started having problems with the Autostar after doing several hours of
sun observation around mid day.  The unit powers ok but now the display
shows all kinds of characters (Japanese and other symbols) mixed with
part of the actual data.  I was able to use the unit by ignoring some of
the characters and most using the controller to track objects.  Yes,
Object and Jupiter can be identified even if they have extra symbols.

Now the display shows mostly a mix of symbols but it appears to work ok
functionally.  I am running with a DC source and the batteries are ok.
1.      I did a reset but did not fix the problem.
2.      I upgraded the firm ware to 43gg and no difference.
3.      I connected via the Autostar Software and the controller responds fine via my laptop.

It appears that the display is getting the wrong character information
from the ROM or it fails to process the data properly. I looked at
replacing the LCD module or getting a used 497 and swapping the LCD
module but now I am thinking that the problems could be in other parts
of the unit like the 5v voltage regulator or the character rom.  It
looks like the voltage regulator is not that difficult to replace.

Can it be fixed or is it time to buy another unit?
Regards

Sergio M Perez
San Jose CA
Mike here: Have you tried adjusting display brightness and/or contrast? Sometimes the "garbage" characters seen can be due to having too high settings. If the display is really failing, see the article "LCD Replacement" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Or you could try the "AutoStar Display Tip" on the AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks for the fast response.  The brightest and contrast adjustment did
not help.  I was able to get more real characters by cooling in the
frig.

Thanks

Sergio M Perez 

Subject:	Re: Autostar 497 problems
Sent:	Tuesday, May 11, 2010 08:20:52
From:	Richard Renn (r7enn28@comcast.net)
Thanks for your prompt response.

I tried changing cords to Autostar.  Also updated software.  Did reset. 
No luck.  The Autostar still shuts down at intermittant intervals.  Once
it does, it doesn't come back and I have to turn off the scope and
realign it.

Called Meade again.  They said it sounds like something is shorting in
the scope base.  $300 plus shipping and 4 - 6 weeks to send the scope
back.

I don't think I've had a full season of viewing since I got this thing. 
As you can probably tell, I'm very disillusioned with these Meade
products.

Thanks again for trying to help.  I'll decide what I want to do.  Will
probably fork over the $$$ and see if they can fix it.  Again.

rr

Subject:	R: Re: Autostar #497 and equatorial mounting
Sent:	Monday, May 10, 2010 13:58:15
From:	alberto.castellani@tiscali.it (alberto.castellani@tiscali.it)
Thanks for your mail.

Very compliments for your site. Very complete and interesting. In Italy
don't exist site so complete.

ciao. Alberto

Subject:	Satellite tracking
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2010 09:31:08
From:	George Finlay (george@principiainc.com)
Will the AutoStar make the necessary changes in tracking rate to follow
satellites, or does this change need to be made manually by editing
custom tracking rates?

ETX 125AT with AutoStar 497 software version 5CE1.

George Finlay
Mike here: The AutoStar can easily track satellites once you input the proper orbital parameters. For more on satellite tracking, including tracking the ISS, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks Mike

Subject:	Re:Autostar lat/long entry
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2010 08:23:20
From:	Mike Hogan (mhogansr@comcast.net)
Longitude numbers can be confusing. The convention is that values to the
West of the prime meridian are negative and the East is positive. This
means you don't use the 'W' and 'E' when using positive and negative
numbers. When using only positive numbers, the 'W' or 'E' is added to
denote the hemisphere. For the case in question, just disregard the
minus sign and add the 'W'. Don't try to use both.
 
Regards,
Mike Hogan

And:

Subject:	Re: Autostar lat/long entry
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2010 11:57:32
From:	Michael Slevin (micksl@ntlworld.com)
Hi thank you very much both i will use that setting and see how it goes
:)

Subject:	meade questions...
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2010 05:44:39
From:	justin and sheri huffman (huffman1@comcast.net)
Hi I wonder if you can impart any assistance; I have a mead 497 and 2
different PC's don't even recognize its there.  im going out today to
get a new usb converter, but other than that Ive read it might be the
newer 497 which cannot be updated Im told.  BTW im trying to use
timeismotion software, im not much on astronomy. thank you.


Justin Huffman
Pittsburgh, PA
Mike here: Any model AutoStar can be can connected to a computer via a RS-232 port. If the compyuter does not see the AutoStar, then check the cable. By the way, what cable are you using? If your computer has only USB ports, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. (I recommend Keyspan adapters:)

And:

Thank you very much for the info. I'll get a new USB-serial adapter
today and try that. Currently I was trying a eBay USB-serial with a
radio shack female to female dsub in between
Justin Huffman
Mike here: Remember, you need a Meade #505 serial cable for the AutoStar #497.

And:

maybe that is the problem, i need a genuine mead #505?   here is the one
i bought.  it was recommended from the guy that kind of started the mead
autostar timelapse revolution... milapse is his internet handle.  he
linked me to this ebay product and he uses this in his videos as well...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=400118002281&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT
Mike here: That cable said it was for a Palm device. Don't know if it is different. But you can easily made a #505 serial cable using the cable information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

great diagram! ill check it out tonight  thanks for your help i
appreciate it.

justin

Subject:	Autostar handcontroller #495 or #497
Sent:	Monday, May 3, 2010 22:17:41
From:	oharedavidj@gmail.com (oharedavidj@gmail.com)
Hi, I hope I am following proper email etiquette for your site and I
apologize if I am not. My request is simple. I am looking to get a used,
broken but repairable, spare whatever Hand controller for a Meade goto
scope mount. I am looking for cheap of course. I need a #495 or #497
(which ever costs less) controller.

I checked the for sale section and obviously there are no deals
available. These little hand controllers are hard to come by, very rare
and if they are available they are usually new and cost a lot of money.
All I want to do is connect my scope to my Carte du Ciel program and
goto the objects. I have a Meade ETX 90 without the plug in computer
controller, I found the modification for this on your site, moding it to
a Meade Polaris mount for a DS 60 EC (or something like that) I have
always wanted a goto scope and this mod is the only way I can see that
happening.

Your site has the market cornered on all things Meade ETX and I figured
you might know of someone looking to part with a spare unit, as
mentioned can be used or broken but repairable.

Please contact me at oharedavidj@gmail.com if you can help me out with
this.\
 
Kindest regards,
David O'Hare
Mike here: You can use the #494 or #497 AutoStar with the DS mount. I recommend the #497, which is user-updateable and interfaces with a computer using the easy-to-make #505 serial cable (see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on the ETX Site). If you can find a #495, it can be upgraded via software to a #497 (with the serial cable and Meade's app). A #497 AutoStar will cost you $100-150. Also, keep in mind that if your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. Not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar lat/long entry
Sent:	Saturday, May 1, 2010 07:35:05
From:	Michael Slevin (micksl@ntlworld.com)
Hi i have a problem with my lat/long im in the uk almost in line with
the grenwich meridian my lat/long is 54' 40 n -1'13 w how can i enter
the -1 as my 494 autostar only accepts + numbers.I have the 506 cable
too.Hope you can help
Mick
Mike here: See the article "Entering Longitude" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; I believe the tip there also applies to the #494 AutoStar.

And:

Hi Mike thank you for your prompt reply i will try that thank you.
Fantastic site by the way :)

And:

Just tried that but it doesnt work :( it only allows you to change East
or West no sign of any minus.
Mike here: The AutoStar uses either "E W" or "- +", not both, for Longitude.

And:

Hi what i mean is there is no "- or +" only east or west this is a new
etx 60 bb by the way mabe its a different version 494 ?
Mike here: Different AutoStar models (and even different versions of the software in the AutoStar) have changed what was used over the years. Sometimes Meade used the +/- sign and sometimes the letter. And they even changed the meaning of the +/- in some updates.

And:

Ahh i see well thank you for all your help ill try some different
configurations later tonight if its clear hehe.
Mike here: No need to wait for dark (and clear) skies. You can set your Site location indoors anytime.
Subject:	Autostar 497 problems
Sent:	Friday, April 30, 2010 21:37:02
From:	Richard Renn (r7enn28@comcast.net)
Help!!??

I have a Meade LX 90 (vintage 2003) and Autostar 497 controller.  This
is the second scope, as the first had to be replaced because the drive
motors were not working correctly.

The first controller's keypad's performance deteriorated so badly that I
had to return the unit to Meade for replacement.  ($85 cost).  After
having replacement unit for 2 months, the unit will simply shut down
sporadically. The positioning arrow keys still work, the scope doesn't
lose power, but the keys and display go dark, the scope migrates to some
random position, and the unit has to be re-booted.  It will work for 5
to 15 minutes, then shuts down again.

I have changed the power supply to the scope, and the cord to 497, to no
avail.  Meade customer service not much help.  Needless to say, this
whole thing is rather frustrating.  We don't get that much quality
viewing time here on the east coast.

Suggestions??
Mike here: It sounds like the connection is intermittent for some reason. Could be a bent or dirty pin(s) in the HBX jacks or connectors. So, check those. Also, it might help to upgrade the AutoStar software.

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