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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK

Last updated: 28 May 2012

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, AudioStar, 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:	RE: Having trouble geting to work my ETX-80 and Ugrading Autostar #494
Sent:	Sunday, May 27, 2012 10:13:06
From:	Jos G. Arango (josegara@tutopia.com)
Thanks for your answer.

I try the procedure "AutoStar RESET from Software" and after having a
hard
time getting to run the Hyperterminal on my pC with vista I do not get
any
characters written on the hiperterminal window. Not even when I write
control F "control key plus letter F". I don't have any mayor experience
with hyperterminal. Can you give a hand on how to get does command
through
it.

I call Meade and they said they should changer the hand box and the
telescope but it is out of warranty and they seems don't have any
answers
for me with an out of warranty telescope. It sounds like the hand box
and
the telescope electronics parts could be damage.

Thanks 

Jose G. Arango G.
Form Cali - Colombia
South America
Mike here: I suspect you will need to replace the AutoStar. Get a #497. As to Hyperterminal, since it is a Windows program, I have no experience with it. I use Mac OS X.


Subject:	Solar Coordinates
Sent:	Saturday, May 26, 2012 15:25:20
From:	Timov S Blatz (valblatz@yahoo.com)
I just bought a PST, and fashioned a bracket to attach it to my LX90. 
Now I have taken a ton of precautions to keep the LX90 sun safe...but I
would like to know how to input the sun's coordinates to Autostar, so I
can watch the transit on June 5.
 
If anyone can help me, I would greatly appreciate it!m
 
Tim
Mike here: There are two options for observing the Transit of Venus: just GOTO Venus. Or input the sun as an asteroid into the AutoStar. Of course, the latter can be used anytime to GOTO to the sun. See the article "Adding the Sun" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks for the info!  I hope we have clear skies on June5!!!
 
Tim


Subject:	KEYBOARD #494 ISSUES. HELP!! PLEASE!!
Sent:	Friday, May 25, 2012 15:41:04
From:	lluis Mora (lluismora.topografia@gmail.com)
Since i bought my first meade i haven't could to leave from your web,
it's the fountain of knowledge!!! :)

I've had a lot of problems with some autostar 497 (with other very
satisfactions) but now i have it with an a#494 autostar from an ETX
70AT.

I explain you my issues:

The telescope is new (without use) bought more than 5 years (no guaranty
now) but i usually use an AR6 or a LXD75 N6.
The pad works fine with motors movements but the directional keys
doesn't works & i can't introduce the date values at the start
procedures so i must to fill it at utilities field.
I'd like to know how can i repair it. I 've tested a reset from menu and
hot keys but doest works.
With the LXD75 i use the 505 cable for reset or update firmware but the
506 cable is a different world.... :)

I cleaned the rubber keys of the pad but doesn't works.

What you recommend me?

Thank you very much and sorry for my poor English from Barcelona(Spain)
Mike here: Not certain what might be wrong. Perhaps Dick Seymour has some thoughts.


Subject:	LX90 Autostar Memory
Sent:	Friday, May 25, 2012 04:45:26
From:	Ryan.Hill@absacapital.com (Ryan.Hill@absacapital.com)
Thanks for a great website.

I'd like to download some of your constellation tours but discovered
that my autostar handbox which came with the LX90 has a miniscule
memory! Is there a mod or upgrade to address this?
 
Clear skies.
Ryan
South Africa
Mike here: No memory upgrade for the AutoStar #497. You will have to limit how many tours you have at one time.
Thanks Mike. Scorpio is up, so good start!


Subject:	AutoStar Update Questions
Sent:	Thursday, May 24, 2012 06:42:52
From:	Russ Pollack (rpollack44@hotmail.com)
I downloaded the latest update from the Meade website today, and
installed it onto my two 497 handboxes.  However, when I turn on the
telescope, the handbox still reads "43E" and when I look at the files in
the Ephemerides Folder I see  a "Build 43Eg" file, but with today's date
on it.  Have I not updated the system properly?
 
The reason I ask is that the Version on the Meade download site is Ver
5BE2, and the Help>About information from the ASU software is Ver 5.9.3,
which is the most recent version of that download.  So I was assuming
that the readout on the handbox would be "5BE" or "5BE2".  
 
I used my 505 cable and the download/upload completed successfully. Can
you please tell me if I have not done this correctly?
 
Thank you
Russ Pollack
Morehead City NC
Mike here: The version numbers of the ASU and the AutoStar ROM are different. If you have the older AutoStar #497, then the best and latest version for it is 4.3Eg.


Subject:	Proc. Trap 2 error update
Sent:	Tuesday, May 22, 2012 13:25:41
From:	bobp@carolina.rr.com (bobp@carolina.rr.com)
Mike, back in April of this year, I requested your help in regard to my
brand new Autostar displaying Proc. Trap 2 error. Thank You again for
you help.
 
It took six weeks, but Meade replaced the Autostar with a new Audiostar.
They no longer make the Autostar. Although it works fine, it is
interesting that when setting the Telescope model, the EXT-90 is no
longer listed. I called Meade support and was told to use the EXT-80
setting!
 
I wanted to update you since the problem has been resolved.
 
To recap;
In April I bought from Meade their new EXT-90 Portable Observatory. The
Autostar worked for about 3 hours. Just after doing a polar alignment
and turning the telescope off and back on again a few moments later the
Proc. Trap 2 error occurred.
 
Meade's new EXT-90 Portable Observatory is specified as an AT model, but
it now has a different base mount. The control panel is now on the top
of the mount and the mount no longer has a hard stop. Also its battery
pack is for six batteries not eight. This reduces the voltage from 12 to
9 volts.
 
I had started with fresh AA batteries, but given that there is only six
batters now, a 25% reduction in available power, and after reviewing
your site and finding that it appears that problems can arise when
attempting to run an Autostar with depleted batteries. I wonder if
depleted batteries caused the problem?
 
I decided to buy the 12 AC adapter. The new Meade EXT-90 Portable
Observatory can not use the EXT-90 AC adapter, you have to now buy the
one for the EXT-80 that has the standard 9 volt battery connector.
 
Again thanks for your help!
Best Regards,
Bob
 


Subject:	ETX-LT, Accuracy and TheSky
Sent:	Friday, May 18, 2012 13:44:22
From:	Rob Neuhart (wrneuhart@gmail.com)
I was hoping you might have an idea of why my Audiostar controller and
TheSky (6 and X) have (apparently) different pointing accuracies.
 
Background: I bought a Meade LT-6 ACF about a year ago. I've used it
occasionally but have noticed varying pointing accuracies between the
handbox and TheSky. I align my  LT-6 ACF telescope as I normally would
any other Meade Autostar telescope (level, orient N to Polaris and
re-level tube, set accurate time and date). The alignment is always
successful, but TheSky (X and 6) both show an offset to where the
handbox says the object should be. The accuracy can vary from 5 arcmin
to 15 arcmin. If I slew to a star with the handbox, the error is
probably about 5 arcmin or so. If I use TheSky,  it can vary up to 15 or
so arcmin. I've never noticed this discrepancy with my LX200GPS  the
handbox and TheSky seem to be very much in sync. I can do a manual sync
in TheSky and it holds better accuracy for that part of the sky.I've
also trained the drives a couple of times to make sure there aren't any
issues on that front.
 
I updated the Audiostar handbox using StarGPS software not long after I
bought the scope (no issues). I use it with a Dell Inspiron laptop with
I5 processor, 8GB RAM, Windows 7 64-bit OS, Keyspan 19HS USB-serial
adapter. I use TheSky X (latest rev) and have tested it with TheSky 6
(same error). As I said, TheSky runs both the LT and LX telescopes very
smoothly. I suppose it could be just the way TheSky and the 497
controller work together on this telescope  something inherent. But I'm
really not sure. It's livable, just somewhat annoying. Anyway, I thought
I'd get an expert opinion. My apologies for being so long-winded, but
I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have.
 
Thanks,
 
Rob Neuhart
Huber Heights, Ohio
Mike here: I'll let the AutoStar experts respond, but I suspect the differences are basically due to different GOTO algorithms used by Meade in the limited processing capability AutoStar software vs more powerful processing in desktop computers and some handheld devices. For example, when I control my 8" LX200-ACF with an iPhone or iPad, SkySafari does a much better job at centering objects than the AutoStar II by itself.

And:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
Gday Mike/Rob

The 497 databases are all J2000 and the handbox has no precession or refraction calculations.
As such, comparing RA/DEC for any objects "retrieved" from the handbox
and comparing them to a PC based  result
( ie including full precession/refraction, nutation, proper motion etc )
as well as better quality floating point precision caculations,
will give variances.
The LX200s do precession and nutation ( and proper motion for the stars )
so should give closer results.

Andrew

And:

Much appreciated! Thanks for the quick response and the thoughtful answer.
I've never delved deeply into the inner-workings of the Autostar hand boxes
though I certainly read the many posts on issues people seem to have with
them from time to time. I'm glad you guys are around!

Thanks Again,

Rob Neuhart


Subject:	Scope Switching
Sent:	Wednesday, May 16, 2012 08:24:33
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
I looked around your site and couldn't come up with the info I needed;
it's no doubt there, but I couldn't run it down.

My question: I have 2 Meade DS scopes, a DS-2090 and a DS-2102 and a 497
controller. A couple of nights ago, I used the 90, did the Easy align,
and it worked okay. Not exactly centered, but close enough so that the
Spiral Search homed in on the object pretty quickly. Last night, I just
switched the 102 onto the same base and used the same Easy align, but
the scope was WAY off (I could tell just by a visual check that when it
slewed and stopped on, say, Mars, that it was a good bit left of where
it should be. So I turned it off, did the Easy alignment again (same
results), then did my own 2-star (same). In an hour, I didn't hit a
single object, this after a good session with the 90.

If I switch the scopes using the same base unit, do I need to do a Reset
every time I do the switch? This is what it says on the Meade Web site
FAQ, but some members on various forums say No, you don't have to. The
tubes are both the same diameter (90mm), only the lens size is different
(90mm vs 102mm), so I figured that the same settings I had programmed in
when I had the 90 in the OTA clamp would work fine with the 102. Nope.

So, what do I need to do (other than just leave the same OTA on the base
and keep it there once it works)?

Thanks, Mike.

Doug
Mike here: When swapping a single AutoStar between mounts, you do need to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES for the mount the AutoStar is currently being used on. But, if the mount (circuit, motors, gears) and the same and you are only swapping the OTAs on a single mount, then you do not need to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES with every swap. Doing the Easy Align after swapping OTAs should be enough in case the mount was moved during the OTA swap. One thing to try would be to PARK and then power off. Do the OTA swap without moving the mount. Then power on and GOTO an object. It should be OK.

And:

That's what I thought: Same size OTA, so no problem. Not the case
though.

So what would account for how the same set of settings/same mount that
worked so well with the 2090 OTA on the mount would be so far off with
the 2102 OTA on there? The only change I made was under Telescope where
I changed it from 2090 to 2102. That's it.

But what I did notice is that when I used Easy a couple of nights ago
for the 2090 that the AutoStar picked Arcturus and Procyon (the latter
being pretty low in the western sky right now here in Oregon). And this
worked well as most of what I was viewing was in and around Leo and
Cancer which were south and west. But last night, Easy selected Arcturus
again, but his time Vega, too, and Vega is WAY off to the east/northeast
and low in the sky, nowhere near the areas I was viewing (again, Leo and
Cancer environs), and the Meade manual says that it is best to have both
stars in the same general area in which you are observing. Could this
have been a factor?

Also, is it a good idea to do a Reset periodically? Much like
periodically turning off and re-starting my iMac?

Thanks.
Mike here: Ideally the two alignment stars should be about 90 degrees apart. Since you noted that Vega was further off than Procyon was, I suspect a CALIBRATION issue or a drive training issue. Have you done those recently? CALIBRATE MOTOR measures the output from the encoders, so knows what the current power level is. TRAIN DRIVES measures the amount of movement for pulses from the encoders. Either can affect accuracy over long slews.


Subject:	Having trouble geting to work my ETX-80 and Ugrading Autostar #494
Sent:	Sunday, May 13, 2012 07:10:03
From:	Jos G. Arango (josegara@tutopia.com)
I have a ETX-80 with Autostar #494 version something like 13ie this is
the original version since I bought it in December 2010. Then this year
I bought the #506 Astrofinder cable because I want it to upgrade de
software. I also bought the "USB TO RS-232 BRIDGE CABLE" part Number
07507LF form Made to connect the #506 cable to my pc.
 
I try many things and did not get to work the a upgrade of the Autostar.
I uninstall all the software in my pc and uninstall it again several
times. The last time I install it with, the "Prolific USB-to-serial
Bridge (COM5)" driver for the usb to serial cable converter, then try to
upgrade the #494 Autostar with the ASU version 5.9.3 . And what I got
was that the #494 Autostar does not work, it does not even turn on the
display. Does not respond to any key and does not show any thing in the
display.
 
What can I do to reset to the original firmaware and how can I up date
it. Or if I broke it, thus it have any repair to be done, how,  and
where ?
 
Please give a hand on how to make my telescope to work back again.
 
Waiting for your answer.
 
Jose G. Arango G.
Mike here: Sorry you wasted your time. There is no user-installable update for the #494 AutoStar. You can try to RESET your AutoStar from software; see the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. But that probably won't work. You will probably need to contact Meade for a replacement AutoStar; tell them that you tried to update your AutoStar using their software and did not realize there was no user-installable update, and now your AutoStar does not work. Alternatively, get a #497 AutoStar, which is user-updateable and will work fine with the ETX-80.


Subject:	Re: Compatability
Sent:	Friday, May 4, 2012 13:42:34
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
Just picked up a #497. Thanks for the advice. Do you know where I might
pick up a lens cover/cap for a DS-2090?

Thanks.

Doug
Mike here: You can try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page).

And this:

I spent much of the afternoon getting (I think) the DS-0102 aligned;
won't know for sure until we get a clear night here in Oregon if the
alignment is correct. One question: When you take the scope outside and
begin an observing session, do you always need to put it in the home
position, that is pointed north and level? Or can you set it up pointing
in the direction of the area of sky you are going to observe and it will
still slew to the objects you select?

Thanks.
Mike here: You will need to start from the Home position and do the alignment. However, there is a mode that can be used to bypass this. Before you end an observing session, select to Park the telescope in the AutoStar. Once the parking movement is completed, power off. Mark where the tripod legs are located on the ground. The next session, put the tripod in that same location and power on. Follow the onscreen prompts to update the date and time. The telescope will then start tracking using the previous alignment.

And:

Ahhhhhh. Got it. Many thanks, Michael.

Doug
Mike here: By the way, when you move the telescope after PARKing, don't move the tube on the mount. Leave it where it was pointed when it was powered off.

And:

Okay. Thanks. Otherwise, you need to do the point north/home position
and alignment process every time out, right? Which, actually, doesn't
really take all that much time. 
Mike here: Yep. Without doing the PARK, the AutoStar has no way of knowing the current set up of the telescope. So you have to give it a known starting position, the Home position. With the PARK, it knows how it is pointed (assuming you don't change the pointing).


Subject:	Compatability
Sent:	Wednesday, May 2, 2012 19:41:22
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
Hoping you can answer a question for me. The Meade DS-2102 was sold with
the AutoStar #494. Would AS #497 also work with this scope's GoTo setup?

Thanks.

Doug
Mike here: As described on Meade's AutoStar page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html), yes.

And:

Wow. Thanks for the fast reply, MIke!

And this:

Does one of the links on your site explain the differences between the
#494 and #497? Please excuse the naivete, but I am new to this, just
picked up a very nice DS-2102 but it was missing the hand controller, so
I need to get one, either the 94 or 97.

Thanks for your forbearance.
Mike here: See the article "AutoStar Models" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I'd recommend the #497.

And:

Got it. Thanks, Mike!


Subject:	Re: Meade DS 2114S refusal to go to properly
Sent:	Wednesday, May 2, 2012 13:23:16
From:	Kevin O'Brien (Shamrock_KOB@comcast.net)
Still struck out - after using the two star alignment, the scope would
track right and low of the target.  I would sync the target star, then
align the next one with the same reult.  After alignment was successful,
the scope consistently goes to a spot about 5 degrees right and 10
degrees below the target.
All scope settings were correct.
 
Any suggestions?
 
Kevin O'Brien, P.P., A.I.C.P.
Mike here: One possible thing to check: did you use a zip code for your location? If so, you might try using your lat/long. There were some errors reported in the past in the zip code database.
By the way, I'd still recommend doing the SYNC test as described on my email 26 April. It sounds like you SYNCed on the initial alignment star, which is not what I suggested.

And:

I used the zip code and I have also used the database town closest to me.
I will try lat/long next.

I will try that again on the next clear night.
 
Will advise.
 
Thank you much for all of your advice.


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