AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 24 November 2007

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade AutoStar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, and Deep Sky Imager, DSI, are covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject:	Autostar Suite versions
Sent:	Wednesday, November 21, 2007 14:30:48
From:	Joanne Pearson (jdmtaylo@tampabay.rr.com)
I'm now receiving some of the pieces for my LXD75-SC-8AT system from
Optics Planet. The first one is a DSI Pro camera via their special deal
with certain scopes. The CD installed version 3.18 of the software. I
installed the update 4 from the Meade site and now it's 3.23. Do I have
the latest and if not how do I get it?

There's one thing I can't get the Starmap to do in planetarium
mode(nothing else connected). I want it to autoupdate the positions via
the system clock so I can see the position of an object at the present
time. I also have Hallo Northern Lights and it does it with user
selected update intervals such as 5 minutes. I've searched your site but
cannot find the answers. Can you help?

Regards

John Pearson
Mike here: Update 4 is the latest version. As to auto-update of position, in my review (of an older version; see the article "AutoStar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page) I noted that there was no such capability unless the AutoStar was connected and aligned, then you could use the "Auto Track" feature.
Subject:	auto star suite
Sent:	Sunday, November 18, 2007 12:01:31
From:	paul.warman@club-internet.fr
I discovered your site and I hope you can help.

I recently purchased the 506 software for my ETX 70.

All works well on microsoft xp and I have the 232 usb serial converter.

Now the problem. when I try to choose the protocol to open the com port
in order to connect computer and telescope I get the meassage ERROR 1.
can't open com port.And that is where it leaves me cold, no explanation,
nothing. Everything is connected correctly all instructions followed
word for word very slowly lot's of times. I'm going mad,what do you
think.

thankyou.
Mike here: Could be a port conflict; check for some other application or process like fax software tying up the port. Or change to using a different port. Also, not all USB adapters work reliably with the AutoStar (but I don't think that's the problem you are describing). But if you want more info on USB see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Gosh that was quick.ok i'll try as you say. thanks again
Mike here: Oh wait. Are you using the software that came with the #506 cable or do you have a #497 AutoStar (model with number keys on the keypad)? The AutoStar Suite works with the #497, not the #494.

And:

yes i have a 494 I guess that answers my question ie.buy a 497
controller. will that work with my etx 70 Knowing my luck no.

and I am using the software that came with the 506 cable
Mike here: The #497 works will all ETX models. You will need a #505 serial cable though for the #497. Depending on how you got the AutoStar Suite you may already have one. If not, you can easily make one using information on the AutoStar Info page or you can purchase one. BUT since you are using the software that came with the #506 cable you likely have a port conflict.

And:

ok thanks for that.I'll check it out. good night

Subject:	AutoStar Suite connectivity
Sent:	Thursday, November 15, 2007 08:07:04
From:	ben (ben@wooding.org.uk)
Well, I'm stumped here.

I still can't get the Autostar suite to connect to my Autostar. I've
tried two different computers AND a new cable.

New batteries AND widget (ie, connected to telescope and separately).

I've tried the hyperterminal and shorted the pins to verify the cable is
intact.

And I've got the P to show up in the terminal window.

I've checked all the port settings and made sure they're the same as in
the manual.

Yet, I open up the suite and press connect and still get the "Could not
connect to Autostar" and "Could not find com port" messages.

I'm figuring it's got to be computer or software related.

I've checked the bios settings, there's nothing disabled or out of the
ordinary there.

It can't be a WindowsXP issue as others would have experienced it too.

Could it be a firewall/virus/spamware issue?

Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated.
Thanks
Ben
Mike here: Lets try a different app. Does the Meade AutoStar Update application "see" the AutoStar? Does the Windows version of Astroplanner or some other planetarium/telescope control software see the AutoStar?

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Given the circumstances ("real" COM port, WindXP)
my primary suspicion is that some other program is competing for
control of the port.

You could test a more robust program, such as Andrew Johansen's
PEC editor (which simply snoops your scope for data without
harming it) available from:
http://members.optusnet.com.au/johansea

Most likely, it is some other program on your PC grabbing the
COM port during those (all too frequent) moments that Meade's
program releases it.   Examples include:
any PalmPilot (or other PDA) HotSync program (including microsoft's),
some infrared keyboard communications (turn off the infrared if your
system offers it), some networking software (trying to dial out on
any modem they can sense... and that "sensing" kick Autostar Suite
in the teeth).

> It can't be a WindowsXP issue as others would have experienced it too.

Many people -do- experience it, but not as a fault of XP itself.
It's really due to a bad programming decision on Meade's part in
their design of the ASU.

If you're trying to update the firmware, you can do that with StarPatch
http://www.stargps.ca/starpatch.htm
If you're trying to update the User Objects/Tours/Comets/Asteroids/Satellites
you're kinda stuck with Meade's ASU.

I use Windows XP on my laptop (thru a Keyspan USA-19HS adapter), but i
have turned -off- all competing programs.  That gives ASU clear sailing
to establish and maintain communications.

good luck
--dick

And:

I haven't tried any other software yet.
I will now!
Thanks
Ben

Subject:	AutoStarSuite Dome Control
Sent:	Wednesday, November 14, 2007 05:23:08
From:	lphelps@Kraft.com
Have you done anything with the dome control feature yet.  I would like
to get it to interact with Digital DomeWorks 3.  I am also handy with VB
but use in mostly in aspx web environment.
 
Please let me know where you are at with this.
 
Thanks.
 
Les Phelps
Mike here: Don't have a dome so haven't had a need to try it out. And since it is Windows, I'm likely to not use that for any future solution. But I would think that others have used it so hopefully someone will respond.
Thanks. 

Les Phelps

Subject:	perhaps a foolish question.
Sent:	Saturday, November 10, 2007 08:58:44
From:	G Tomsic (gwtomsic@mchsi.com)
I am a bit confused.
Can you explain the difference between 'Autostar DSI' and 'Autostar
Envisage' apps (in picture below), other than Drizzle capability in the
latter?  Both are loaded onto my computer.  I noticed  nearly identical
interface when DSI attached.

photo

Is Envisage simply a later version of the earlier DSI SW, replacing it and it is now the one to use? Why the two? Thanks. Greg in Iowa
Mike here: I don't have the AutoStar Suite installed anymore (since it is a Windows application) so can't confirm it. Envisage is the latest name for the application so I suspect you have both installed in the directory.
Subject:	Autostar Suite/LPI installation
Sent:	Saturday, November 3, 2007 19:56:02
From:	craigalancarter@aol.com (craigalancarter@aol.com)
I have tried loading Autostar suite onto two different computers with
Microsoft Vista OS Intel Celeron 530 @1.73 GHz, memory (1014MB), 32 bit
operating sysstem 80 GB hard drive. When trying to load the  driver I
get the following message: "Windows encountered a problem installing the
driver software for your device- Not enough storage is available to
complete this program- If you know the manufacturer you can visit its
website and check the support section for driver software." I have
downloaded DirectX, and the .NET file seemed load OK from Meade's CD.

Both computers are new and have plenty of storage space. Do you have any
idea what the problem may be?
 
Thanks,
Craig Carter
Mike here: It seems that Vista is a hit-n-miss situation. Some get parts of the AutoStar Suite to work and some don't get anything to work. The recommendation seems to be to avoid Vista. But since you likely can't do that, you might want to check that you have the latest version (which is "Update 4") from Meade's site. The link to their Site is on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Connecting a PC to an ETX-125
Sent:	Saturday, November 3, 2007 02:40:37
From:	Gadi Karmi (gkarmi@gmail.com)
I'm having trouble hooking my PC to my ETX125. I can connect and update
Autostar: works both using a serial port and a USB to serial adapter
(Keyspan) no problems.

When I go to the Autostar Suite I get a communication timeout. I have
set the communication port correctly on the Autostar Suite.

I can't find anywhere the proper cable setup to control the telescope 
do you connect it to the Autostar control device or directly to one of
the two Aux ports on the telescope itself? I've tried both, neither
works (but I hope I didn't do any damage in the process).

Thanks for your help!
Gadi
Mike here: The cable connection for the AutoStar Suite is the same as for the AutoStar Update application. Since the latter works for you I suspect you need to enable the Network protocol in AutoStar Suite. See the articles "AutoStar Suite on a Macintosh" and "Network Server Capability" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks Mike. Got it working. Had to kill some apps to free up a lower
number com port. Autostar still times out with a communication error
when I use "autostar via comm. Port" but it works just fine when I use
the network server.

The handbox application works both with the serial port as well as with
the network server. However, in both cases, the window is black (I guess
it's supposed to show whatever is on the Autostar screen). The telescope
does respond to commands entered through the handbox and the speech
synthesizer also works (although it would have been nice to see rather
than try and decipher that voice). If you have any advice on how to get
that part to work, that would be great. Otherwise, I'm very happy
already.

Many, many thanks - this is awesome! (and thanks much for your
responsiveness and your website).
g.

And:

Found a solution to the black display on the remote handbox application
(again, thanks to your invaluable website!). It's all good now :-)
g.
Mike here: The port conflict is internal to the "suite" of applications in the AutoStar Suite. Since a serial port can handle only one program at a time, the multiple applications can not all talk to the port at the same time. That's why there is the "Network" capability. One app (the server) talks to the port and all the AutoStar Suite apps talk to the server.

And:

Yup, I'm aware of that. However, the only app working was the main
Autostar app. Anyway - the network method works and works well.

Last problem of the day - doesn't seem to be working from another
computer. Again, there's a work around (I simply use Remote Desktop to
take over the entire computer connected to the scope) but I'm curious. I
disabled the firewalls on both computers, nada - can't connect.

Anyway, I bugged you enough and as I said - Remote Desktop provides a
workaround. Thanks again for all your help.

Clear skies,
g.

p.s. An indication of Meade's somewhat narrow view of the world: I'm in
India where the time zone is GMT+5.5 (the Indians decided to have a half
hour time zone so that the entire country will be in a single time zone
and the sun rising / setting times will still be reasonable for
everyone). Autostar of course, doesn't let you set half hour time
zones...
Mike here: There are 0.5hr timezones in Australia too. As to the network connectivity, it should work (having never tried it since I stopped doing Windows networking in 1995).

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