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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 November 2009
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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, 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:	# 494 stuck autostar
Sent:	Sunday, November 29, 2009 15:50:06
From:	Albert Palmen (alberts_3box@yahoo.com)
autostar 494 turns on and displays info page-then
background light goes off and then simply displays
"In Downloading" it just does nothing and no matter what buttons I
press,nothing happens,please Help!!!

This is on the ds2130 reflector model.
Thanks so Much, Albert
Mike here: Have you tried changing to fresh batteries? Have you tried holding down the MODE button for several seconds? If none of that works, you can try resetting it. See the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Note that you'll need the #506 serial cable (not easily) made and a RS-232 serial port on your computer.
Subject:	Re: Autostar will not find Vega; Two Star Align Process; Way off
Sent:	Thursday, November 19, 2009 12:50:00
From:	Luke MacMillan (macmillan.luke@gmail.com)
Thank you for the suggestions, I will give them a try and send you an
update. Best regards.

Subject:	Autostar will not find Vega; Two Star Align Process; Way off
Sent:	Wednesday, November 18, 2009 22:38:43
From:	Luke MacMillan (macmillan.luke@gmail.com)
I purchased an ETX-125PE a few days ago and can't get it to find Vega
(high in the NW for me on Nov 18, 2009 at 9:00PM) when I select it as
the first star in a "two star" alignment process. The OTA slews in the
opposite direction and points high in the NE. Then for kicks I did star
two and selected Altair which is high up, due W; the Autostar seems to
think it's "Below the Horizon". Alignment Failed.

I am observing from a third floor balcony facing due West (tripod
control panel pointing W) with views from SW through W to NW. My
building is obstructing my view to the E so I did the initial auto align
using the "I accept that the star is close to this position" and just
hit Enter for both stars.

Immediately after the auto align I set up the two star align (after
setting it in the proper home position). Star one selected is Vega.
Slews in the wrong direction as described above.

Any idea's on getting the two star alignment process to work?

Luke

[Background: 10 years of binocular (10X50 in hand and 11X70 on tripod)
observing. Excited about my first scope.]
Mike here: I'm a little confused by your procedure. You say you did an Auto Align and just accepted the alignment stars as centered (by pressing ENTER when prompted). You then re-did the alignment using an Easy 2 star alignment. When you re-did the alignment, did you change from the Auto Align Home Position to the non-Auto Align Home Position? They are different.

And:

Yes, I did change from the Auto Align home (dead stop - counter clock
spin) to the Easy 2 Star Alignment home (fork arm centered over the West
facing control panel with OTA pointing North).

In case it wasn't clear in my e-mail, the reason I am wanting to do the
2 Star Alignment (or one star) is because during the Auto Align the
Autostar selects stars that I can't see (my building is in the way).
 
Thank you for getting back to me so promptly.
 
Luke
Mike here: You can either skip the Auto Align step and go straight to the Easy Align, or you can skip stars that the AutoStar selects by pressing the DOWN SCROLL arrow key. If you still have alignment problems in Auto Align, do a CALIBRATE SENSORS (you'll need to be able to see Polaris). Also, you might do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Autostar software for Mac ?
Sent:	Wednesday, November 18, 2009 14:16:54
From:	David Barnes (d.barnes@ns.sympatico.ca)
I'm trying to determine if there was ever a mac driver cd for our
daughter's Meade ETX #494 controller.

She has never used it and we want to sell it. I have the pc cd but just
can't remember if we had a mac version out.

Thanks

Dave Barnes
Mike here: Meade never supplied ANY Mac software for the AutoStar. However, depending on what you are looking for, there are many Mac solutions for controlling the AutoStar.
Subject:	ETX-125 RA Tracking and Random Slewing Issue
Sent:	Thursday, November 12, 2009 19:09:40
From:	Jeff Wikle (wiklej5150@hotmail.com)
I hope you can help me with an issue that just cropped up on my
telescope. I have an ETX-125 that I bought used about 4 months ago. The
guy I purchased from said it was 8 years old. It's a blue tube with
Autostar #497. I have updated it to the latest firmware. It says 43EG at
bootup. Actually I just saw where there's a brand new update, but I have
not installed this yet. I updated the firmware about 2 months ago. All
has worked rather well since I've had it with the exception of some of
the issues detailed on your site.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked on remedying the altitude slop - which
has helped by the way. I was also having the issue with the slow slewing
taking some time to react. I opened up the bottom of the scope to have a
look around. Being very careful with the bottom cover and the small
short wires coming from the battery compartment. I didn't really do
anything except snugging the screws holding the metal worm gear to the
base. I turned the screws maybe 1/10th of a turn. Just snug. Other than
that I didn't touch anything.

Anyway, I had it out last weekend in the morning in Alt/Az mode just for
an hour or so. No problems. Then last night I had it out in Polar Mode.
I was outside for a couple of hours just checking out random objects for
my son. It was about 35 degrees out with a slight breeze. After he went
in I prepared to do a reset and total setup because I hadn't done it
since I had it apart checking things out. The reset, calibrate motors
and train drives went OK.

After this though, the scope began to slew to the right on its own. Not
really at high speed, but quickly, and it sounded more like a warble. If
I held the left button down, it would move smoothly to the left. When I
let off, it would take off to the right again, warbling. If I held the
right button, it would go full speed to the right smoothly. I could not
change the speed either. The right arrow always moved at high speed.

I shut the scope off thinking my battery pack had gotten cold and / or
discharged, though I started the night with a full charge.

I got the scope back out tonight indoors thinking I'd go thru another
complete reset and setup. When I turned it on, it did not slew out of
control. All appeared to go well with the setup until after the drive
training. Now, when I set the mount to Alt/Az mode, it randomly slews to
the right at full speed then stops for a few seconds before slewing
again. I press the left arrow and it slews back to the left. When I let
off it slews right again at random.

When I set it to Polar mode, the scope begins to track to the right, as
I know it should. But, when it begins it starts at the speed of about a
"4", then gradually slows down to a "1." If I press to the right, it
moves right at whatever speed I've chosen. When I let off, it tracks
right at a "1." If I press left, it moves at the chosen speed. When I
let off the right button, it moves back to the right at about a "4",
then slows down to a "1."

Through all of this, the altitude motor does not seem to be affected
(afflicted?) with any issues.

Sorry to be so long-winded. Just trying to be thorough. Do you have any
idea where I could begin to solve this? My hope is that it's grease and
gunk in the undercarriage, maybe in the gears? Maybe covering the
sensor? Without disassembling the undercarriage, how do I clean the
existing grease and re-grease?

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing back.

Jeff Wikle
wiklej5150@hotmail.com
Mike here: Since you have done the RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES a couple of times we can move on to other possible solutions. You can (sometimes) clean the encoders and redistribute the lubrication by unlocking the axis and slowly move the telescope hard stop to hard stop, back and forth, several times. Also, check the condition of the HBX cable, connectors, and jacks. The pins should be clean, not bent sideways, nor too depressed. Lastly, it could be that the software got corrupted. Reload it. Be certain you are using the AutoStar Update version 5.9 to ensure you get the right ROM file for your AutoStar.

And:

Thank you very much for the information. I'll give it a shot tonight.
Thank you again, Jeff

And:

Good news! I cleaned the gunk off of the optical encoder, did a reset,
calibrate and train, then a simple align and my little blue scope
appears to be working as it should. No more random slews. No more right
slewing after a left slew. WHEW!

Because I wasn't sure which piece was the encoder, I ended up removing
the entire circuit board. Then I could see what was happening. I cleaned
the encoder and re-installed it. I'm a computer tech so I understand the
importance and the fragility of the circuitry. So no worries there.

My gears, though are just loaded with gunky grease from the factory.
I'll be cleaning that out soon and reapplying some lithium grease. Any
pointers to offer there or just use a small paintbrush to scrape it off?
 
Thank you again for your help.
 
Jeff
Mike here: I've never had to remove any grease but a toothpick or brush should do it if you are careful.
Subject:	re: Meade ETS Serial Command Protocol
Sent:	Wednesday, November 11, 2009 19:43:20
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I think i saw your note in the Meade_Owners Yahoo group, too.

Although you did not tell us -which- commands are not generating responses
(in my experience, they do if the serial command manual says they will)
you might try the steps listed here:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html

If you have a good connection to the ETX Autostar (remember you're connecting
to the 2nd, smaller socket on the -autostar- itself), then you WILL get a
response to the   :GC#  command.
(9600 baud, no parity, no flow control)

If you don't, then there's something wrong with your hookup, the Autostar's
rs232 hardware, or your PC's COM port.   Meade's telephone support cannot help
with those (other than telling you to send money for a replacement Autostar).

good luck
--dick

And:

One thing i forgot to mention (since you're trying to see the responses
in a program you're writing):
The "responses" (and the commands) are -not- terminated by "return" or
any other characters.  They're just the response (such as "1") with no
other characters.  So if your program is using a "get line" routine,
it will never report the response, since there's no "end line" character
sent by the telescope.   You need to program to accept individual bytes.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Meade ETS Serial Command Protocol
Sent:	Wednesday, November 11, 2009 04:54:14
From:	Casey Skelton (caseyskelton@ymail.com)
I am trying to figure out where I can get a list of the Meade ETX serial
command protocols. This has proven to be a dead end with Meade. Either
they are not understanding what I am looking for or it is "top secret".
There is an LX200 serial command protocol put out by Meade for
developers but most of the commands when typed in to the software that a
friend of mine and I are developing returns nothing. The software is
called CNebulaX and can be found at
http://www.uv.es/jrtorres/index.html. Any help from you or anyone that
you know would be greatly appreciated.

Clear Skies,

Casey Skelton
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; there are four articles on "commands" for the AutoStar.
Subject:	Alignment
Sent:	Sunday, November 8, 2009 01:33:10
From:	Robert Read (rdread514@hotmail.com)
Hope all is well with you today, I have a question. Can I set up the
stars to align for my ETX 80 telescope. And if I can can you give it to
me . I am having a hard time alignmenting my scope in the area that I'm
in. I can't see alot of the star in my area, it might be the lights from
Boston and Brockton that are lighting up the sky.
 
Thanks for all the help.
 
Bob Read
Mike here: No, not well. Swine flu maybe. But getting better. If the selected alignment star is not visible, just press the down scroll arrow key to have the AutoStar select another star.

And:

The reason I'm writing is about the alignment for the ETX 80-AT
procedure. If I cannot find the alignment star then I go to the GOTO
button. This does a spiral search of the area. If that does not see the
star but is off to the left or right a bit, you then can Push the MODE
button which stops the spiral search and then you can use the arrow
keys. Well when I try to use the arrow keys, nothing happens. I can't
move the scope to the star that I want to align with. Have you heard of
that problem before and if you have do you have a way to fix it.

I like the telescope and I would not like it if I had to return it back
to the company. (This would be my second time for this).

Thanks again , and I hope you are feeling better.
 
Bob Read
East Bridgewater,MA
Mike here: I don't recommend using the SPIRAL SEARCH mode when trying to locate alignment stars. Just look up into the sky, visually sight along the tube if you need to, and use the arrow keys to slew to the nearest brightest star. Of course, several things are required for the nearest brightest star to be the correct one: your date/time/location must be correct, the initial HOME position must be correct, and the selected mounting mode must be correct. Confirm all those. If you need alignment star charts, they are available on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I'm glade your feeling a bet better, just stay in there, your going to
make it. The only thing that is a problem with all this is that I can't
seem to use the arrow keys when I'm in that function. I don't know if
it's something that I'm doing wrong or if it's the machine. Once I align
the star and it's not where it belongs, and then I try to use the arrow
keys to try to center the star it won't move. The arrow keys don't work.
Is it me or the machines, Mike.
I like this scope but if I'm going to have all this trouble with it, I
just don't know???

O well, at lest your feeling a bit better and that's all that matters,
Stay well.
 
Bob Read
Mike here: I'm better but still have a long ways to go. Have you using a faster slewing speed?

And:

No the slew speed is the same, it's just I can,t seem to use the arrow
keys to align the scope when I'm some what close to the star.
 
Bob Read
Mike here: Since changing slew speed doesn't work, do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't resolve it, try a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and then TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Differences in AutoStar 494 handboxes
Sent:	Thursday, November 5, 2009 23:19:54
From:	Ken Regester (kenregester@comcast.net)
Thanks to my lovely wife of 35 years, I now have a used ETX-70 and a new
DS-2114. Both use a 494 handbox/controller but I cannot interchange
them. I see they have different versions when they power up on their
proper scope. Is that what keeps them form interchanging ?
Any information appreciated.

-=Ken=-
KJ4ZF
Mike here: As new telescope models were released, Meade updated the software in the AutoStar to support the new models. So, if one AutoStar is too old and doesn't have the right model in it, it may or may not work. But since you say the ones you are not interchangeable, although I would have thought that the DS-2114 would have worked on the ETX-70. And of course, there is no user-insttable update for the #494 AutoStar.

And:

Thank you.. I love your site BTW

Dyzlexic Geeks Of The World - UNTIE

-=Ken=-

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