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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 27 November 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.

Subject:	AutoStar error
Sent:	Thursday, November 25, 2010 04:46:53
From:	George
I'm a new user of Autostar, having just purchased a used LXD75 6" EMC
refractor. I think I have an Autostar 497. I know the version is 43eg
(this pops up when turned on). Problem is: after doing a 2 star
alignment it finds objects and tracks ok, but when put into the "Park"
mode and power is turned off and later turned on, it looses it's
alignment. This also happens in the "Sleep" mode (power is left on for
this). Any insights on this problem? Please email response only. Request
that you do not publish my email address. Thanks Mike.
George
Mike here: I'll ask Dick Seymour respond. He's the AutoStar expert.
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Could you describe "loses its alignment"?
Does it simply start missing targets?
If so, by how much?
(please estimate distances... for small distances a viewfinder width is 5 degrees)

I'm going to concentrate on the SLEEP issue, since i can't remember
*ever* hearing of SLEEP losing it on any model.

(there have been instances of PARK messing up on LXD's, and i can't remember why...
i vaguely remember that is was a problem with earlier versions, now fixed)
((i don't have an LXD, so i can't directly test issues with that scope/mount))

If the PARK problem is missing stars by 90 degrees, that's an example of the above bug.
(the scope would PARK at one location, but think it was oriented different when next turned on)

good luck
--dick

And:

Thanks for the reply. When I turned it back on from "Park" (it had
parked itself to polar alignment) and told it to find the moon (which
was, if I remember correctly, about 25-30 deg. up from the Eastern
horiz.) it slewed to point west, below the horiz., which was more than
90 deg. off target. At that point, I didn't pursue any more targets.
Maybe it's the bug you mentioned. When the WX breaks here, I'm going to
give it another shot and I'll try more than 1 target then. No hurry for
a response....Happy Tnxgiving, have a great holiday!
George

And:

Always use *stars* to test alignments.
The orbiting bodies algorithms can throw lots of confusion into the mix.

>> [Moon was] about 25-30 deg. up from the Eastern horiz.) it slewed to point west,
>> below the horiz.,

Would you call that almost 180 degrees "wrong"?
Was it the same night?
Two ways that error could have arisen:
(a) OTA mounted backwards  (on second "alignment")
(b) "meridian flip" algorithm blew it  (not something i've heard of, but
it could cause a similar "RA was 180 degrees wrong" effect)

By the way, you can test it indoors:  "align" by tapping enter when it
asks to center stars, GoTo Moon (note where it points in the room),
PARK, power off, power on,  tell it same time and date, GoTo Moon.  Note
where it points in room.
Now PARK again...  did it PARK correctly?
Now power off, power on, and this time really "align" again.
Now GoTo a star (say, Vega).
Then go through the PARK (etc) dance again.  See if results match the Moon.
(in terms of weirdness).
Another thing to look at (before PARKing, and after coming up after a PARK):
Press MODE for 3 seconds, release.  That brings up the "status" display.
Tap the scroll down button lots of times, and note the "TIME" and "LST" values.
Please report the date/time/site (nearest city is OK) of your tests, and those two numbers.
(the LST is the local sidereal time, and is the value of the RA passing
overhead *right now*.  LST serves as the basis for the scope's
calculations of where things are in the sky.  If it gets LST messed up,
then things, indeed, are sick.   But there are "known" source of the LST
errors)

have fun
--dick
Mike here: One thing I remember from when I had a LXD55 and LXD75 8"SC (the one that was stolen) was that the DEC motor housing should be on the west side of the mount. While the system will work with the DEC housing on the east side, best results seemed to be from when it was on the west. Which side is yours? (For more information about using the LXD55/75 telescopes, see my LXD55/75 Site.)

And:

I did the indoor tests you suggested and it did OK. The problem can most
likely be attributed to "operator error" on my part. Since I put it in
"park" late in the evening and turned it back on early the next morning.
it's possible that I entered the incorrect date (may have entered the
date that I used for the origional alignment the previous evening).

By the way, I was wrong about the AutoStar version.......the display
reads "(c) 07 Meade [43 E]" when turned on. If this is not up to date,
can or should it be updated, and if so, how do I go about doing that?
There are comparison photos of the phone plug recepitcals on the old AS
handbox vs. the new AS 497 handbox on Mike's blog and mine matches the
new AS 497, but I don't know how up to date the software is.

Mike.......... the DEC motor housing is on the EAST side of the mount
when the arrow indicators on both axis are aligned. It seems logical
that these arrow indicators should be aligned with each other (even
though it places the DEC mtr. housing on the East side of the mount),
but I can be wrong about that . By the way, this is the starting
position of the mount when I first turn the power on to do a two star
alignment (I'm assuming this is correct).

I really appreciate both of you gentlemen taking the time to work with
me on this.
George
Mike here: You can see the full version number in the Statistics menu on the AutoStar. I recall the arrows being aligned even with the DEC housing on the west side.

And:

> I did the indoor tests you suggested and it did OK. The problem can most likely be
> attributed to "operator error" on my part. Since I put it in "park" late in the evening
> and turned it back on early the next morning. it's possible that I entered the incorrect
> date (may have entered the date that I used for the origional alignment the previous
> evening).

A single day's error should have a minimal effect (4 RA minutes: 1 degree) on most 
objects... except for the Moon, which will show a 15 degree "error" .
I'm relieved to hear it seems to be better in the daylight.  There's much less pressure 
involved in daylight testing.

> By the way, I was wrong about the AutoStar version.......the display reads "(c) 07 Meade
> [43 E]" when turned on. If this is not up to date, can or should it be updated, and if so,
> how do I go about doing that?

Most likely it's up to date.  The "boot" display you're seeing does not reveal the *full* 
number.  Menu to Setup/Statistics/(enter)(scroll up)   to see the full number.
The current version is   43Eg  for your model of Autostar.

> There are comparison photos of the phone plug recepitcals on
> the old AS handbox vs. the new AS 497 handbox on Mike's blog and mine matches the new AS
> 497, but I don't know how up to date the software is.

I was unaware of such a comparison photo.  So i grabbed a handful of Autostars and took a 
look (in my new career as an Autostar Proctologist?) .
There are at least two different board-layouts for the "old" 497, and now there's the new 
497EP (and there's now an "AudioStar" appearing, but i don't have one of those... it's 
based upon the 497EP)
The differences between the two "old" models is "obvious", in that the newer layout has 
slots on the sides of the socket which would allow inserting of a "keyed" plug.
The wires of the contacts look pretty much the same (gold spring wires disappearing into 
plastic slots).
The sockets on the 497EP are different.  The side-slots are not there, and the contact 
wires are flatter, and are visible in their "background" slots as they visibly  bend and 
head "up" out of sight.  A photo essay shall be added to my "schematics" page on Mike's 
site.  http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_schematic.html
These are probably fleeting differences... the overall connector styles are industry 
standards, and which supplier's gets bought this week may depend upon fluctuating prices.

It's the firmware version number which really tells us which model you have.
Since it's 43E(something), it's a 497 (not a 497EP).   Hence: you have fewer bugs.

have fun
--dick

And more:

> There are comparison photos of the phone plug recepitcals on
> the old AS handbox vs. the new AS 497 handbox on Mike's blog and mine matches the new AS
> 497, but I don't know how up to date the software is.

I've now found that posting: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/2009/old_vs_new_497.html

The photo he shows for the "old" 497 matches my *newer* 497.
My *older* (first layout) 497s have the pins of his "old", but the not-slotted sides of 
his "new" (which is really a 497EP).

I'll try to cobble together a posting today.

have fun
--dick

And:

On closer examination of my handset and after reading your Proctologist
report, I discovered mine has the pins of the "new" 497 but the side
slots (missed seeing the slots initially) of the "old" 497.
So.......I assume mine is the "old" 497.
(this can really get confusing! Why isn't Meade more informative about
this stuff? Side comment....they could do a much better job with  their
manuals also).
George

Subject:	re: etx autostar problem
Sent:	Tuesday, November 23, 2010 19:14:39
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You'll be happy to hear that your Autostar is fully compatible with the
ETX-105.
You can -run- the scope by telling the Autostar that you have an ETX-90
or ETX-125.

But updating the firmware to 43Eg (the current version) will allow it to
"know" (and offer as a model) an ETX-105.

As Mike said, you may want to download a low-numbered intermediate
version (such as 1.3, see below) as a half-way step.
One problem with v1.0c is that it does not have the "Safe Load"
programming.
That means that a hiccup while it's loading (such as your laptop's
screen saver coming on) can turn it into a (near) brick.  (if the hiccup
happens late enough into the download, the Safe Load will have been
loaded).
To properly load an old version (like 1.3) you also need to use an old
version of the loader.
The easiest way to do that is to fetch the "1.3 ROM and Windows
Application" from Mike's firmware archive:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/auto13.zip

That gives you the self-consistent tool and firmware for the first step.
Once you've got 1.3 loaded (which takes a half-hour), and done at least
one power-cycle afterwards to verify it's happy, you're ready for the
leap to "current".
For that, download the current Autostar Updater (ASU) from Meade, and let it have at it.

By the way, yo -do- have a 497.
If it was a 495 it would say "Use ETX Autostar with this model" and
refuse to operate the scope at all.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re:  Autostar Handbox Version
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 21:26:16
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike wrote: "I suspect you really have a #497 (not EP) model. That would
mean you would need to download Version 5BE2"

NO! NO! NO!

If your handbox has version 43Eg:
(a) it is a 497
(b) 43Eg  **is** the most current version for that handbox.

The 497EP versions start with a "5" as the leading digit (such as 5EC1 or %BE2)
Any firmware starting with a "5" (or higher) **WILL NOT WORK** in a 497.

(muddying the waters in the near future is/will-be the "AudioStar",
a 497EP-based talking Autostar... but its firmware seems to start with a "1")

have fun (but don't try to squeeze 5anything into a 497)
--dick
Mike here: I thought Meade got the web page corrected. It now shows:
10/07/09 #497EP AutoStar hand controller software update. Version 5CE1 (1,040 KB).General update, from v5BE2. Introduces LT telescope. Updated true and magnetic north alignment. Fixes site selection and clock bugs. REQUIRES VERSION 5.9 AUTOSTAR UPDATER.
07/27/09 #497 AutoStar hand controller software update. Version 5BE2 (1,039 KB). General update. Fixes many known bugs. Real time clock corrections. LXD75 polar alignment. Various LX90 pointing and tracking fixes. Adds new magnetic/true north alignment. REQUIRES VERSION 5.9 AUTOSTAR UPDATER.
Subject:	re: meade etx vs lx200 serial question
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 21:34:54
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> Is there any differance  ( pin out ) between the  serial  ( DB 9 )  that
>is used for the ETX autostar  and the LX 200?

No... the 9-pin end connects to your PC, and that pinout is standardized"
pin 2 is the signal *to* your PC
pin 3 is the signal *from* your PC
pin 5 is "ground" (the reference wire for the above two signals)

> Is the DB9  to  rj 45 configurged  the same  for  both?

If you mean the adapter (not the cable), yes (if you purchase a "real"
Meade 505 or LX200 serial cable (a 507)).

As it happens, a 505 cable can be *used* for talking to an LX200 ... its
narrower "fits an Autostar" RJ12 plug will fit loosely in the LX200's
RJ14 socket, but the pinout will connect the proper signals together.

Compare:
LX200:   http://rseymour.home.wolfenet.com/LXserial.html
Autostar 505:  http://rseymour.home.wolfenet.com/505serial.html

have fun
--dick

Subject:	RE: etx autostar problem
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 20:13:28
From:	Scott Lewis (nfldscott@hotmail.com)
Hi. My version is 1.0c
 
Scott
Mike here: Wow! That is way too old an AutoStar #497 for the ETX-105. By the way, it IS a #497, not a #494 AutoStar, right? The #497 has number keys on the keypad and the #494 does not. The #494 is not going to work with the ETX-105 and is not user-updateable. If it is a #497, you can update it to 4.3Eg.

And:

Yes I have numbers on the keypad and the screen on top.

Just checked the web and maybe got the 495. My manual don't say.
Mike here: A #495 can usually be updated to a #497 by updating the ROM software. Some users have had problems going straight to 4.3Eg and had to install one of the older versions, like 1.2c or 1.3. You can find many of the older versions on the "AutoStar Software Archive" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. One point though; I'm surprised you were sold an ETX-105 with the #495. It should have come with the #497 and software at least version 3. You might want to contact the seller.

And:

Thanks. Will do that. Bought it used $300. Looks close to new though not
a mark on it and it all works. Except for the autostar not having the
105. You get what you  pay for I guess. Was told it was not used much in
years. Thanks all the great help!
 
Scott

Subject:	Autostar Handbox Version
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 14:21:28
From:	D Hooley (d.hooley@sky.com)
Great site by the way, have learned a lot already, keep up the good
work. I am from the UK, and have recently purchased a used ETX90PE. When
it arrived, the smartfinder had become detached, it had actually pulled
off the two fixing screws, anyway I managed to repair it and all is
well, so far!  The little niggle I have is with the handbox. Today I
purchased a usb to serial adapter cable, attached everything, downloaded
the latest updater and proceeded to update everything. I d/loaded
version 5CE1 and then copied it to C:\Program
Files\Meade\AstroWare\Updater\Ephemerides and then ran the updater
pointing at Local, but it still shows version 43Eg on my handbox. Is
there something I am doing wrong? Obviously there is, just wondering if
you could help me out. Thanks for your time.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Dave.
Mike here: Do you have the #497 or the #497EP AutoStar? If you are using the latest AutoStar Update application, it should properly detect the model number and download the correct version from Meade's site. But since your AutoStar seems to have 4.3Eg, I suspect you really have a #497 (not EP) model. That would mean you would need to download Version 5BE2 if you want to manually download it.

And:

Fantastic response Mike, that makes sense I`ll download 5BE2 in the
morning, is that correct that I just copy the ROM file to this folder
manually C:\Program Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\Updater\Ephemerides.
Thanks again. And yes Autostar #497 is the handset.
 
Kindest Regards,
 
Dave.
Mike here: I believe that is the correct path. But then I don't use Windows so I don't use ASU.
Subject:	etx autostar problem
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 11:16:39
From:	Scott Lewis (nfldscott@hotmail.com)
Hi I bought an etx 105. The autostar does not have the 105 model in it
only the 90 and 125. Plus I'm in canada and it don't have the country.
How can I program it?
 
Scott
Mike here: What version of the AutoStar software is on the AutoStar?

And:

Hi. Thanks for getting back to me so fast. How can I tell what version I
got? Only got it this week. I don't have the 232 cable. But will get
this week if I need to download software. Just want to say thank you for
your website. Hope I don't need to use it much.
Scott 
Mike here: The full version number is shown on the Utilities: Statistics menu. You can easily make the #505 serial cable; see the Cable section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Be aware that you need a RS-232 serial port on your computer. If you have only USB, then you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters for Macs and PCs.
Subject:	meade etx vs lx200 serial question
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 2010 08:09:27
From:	mel yu (muy9861@gmail.com)
Maybe this was covered but I am a little confused.  ( arn't we alll?)
 
Is there any differance  ( pin out ) between the  serial  ( DB 9 )  that
is used for the ETX autostar  and the LX 200?

I know the EXT goes into the hand box  but the  LX 200 uses the aux port
on the scope.

Is the DB9  to  rj 45 configurged  the same  for  both?

Thank you
 
Mel
Mike here: The LX200 serial cable is wired differently than the ETX/AutoStar serial cable. I believe the wiring diagram is available on Meade's web site. If not, check the Southern Stars web site for SkyFi cable info.
Subject:	Slow slewing of LX90
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 2010 12:49:16
From:	dvdbranigan (dvdbranigan@irishaccounts.ie)
I hope you can shed some light on this issue that I am having.

I have an LX90 8' LNT, no GPS. I have an old style autostar 497 with the
latest software for that model (I think 4.3g)

A few weeks ago I had a motor unit fault which turned out to be a blown
Mosfit transistor in the DEC PCB board. After much emails and wrangling
with the local Meade dealer I succeeded in getting a replacement board
sent over to me. When I got it, it was different to the old one with a
load of additional componants etc. Anyway I was able to figure out that
the new board did indeed contain the same components as the old one.( I
understand the additional ones are because Meade added GPS). I was then
able to connect it up and I was back in action again. So problem solved
I hoped.

However there is one issue which is now causing me a bit of annoyance.
When you goto an object now, it seems to take a good while longer than
it used to take before the motor unit issue arose. It will slew to the
vicinity of an object but then it will stop for about 10-15 seconds. The
scope still says "slewing" all the time. Just when you think something
is wrong it will slowly slew to the object before it then beeps and we
eventually arrive. Gotos are by and large accurate but just very slow.
It also effects alignment procedures but manual slewing is not affected.

Do you know what this could be or if there is any setting somewhere in
the autostar that could cause this. Training,, factory reset etc? Or
maybe does the new board just need the faster autostar to operate it
better?

Any ideas would be great.

Thanks

dbran
Mike here: Don't know if this will solve the problem or not but since you got the new board, have you done a RESET, followed by a CALIBRATE MOTOR, then TRAIN DRIVES?
Subject:	Re: Meade Autostar Stuck on Testing Motors
Sent:	Tuesday, November 16, 2010 09:34:26
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
So the older (32Eh) Autostar -also- gets stuck in testing motors?
Then it's definitely a motor unit or wiring problem.

Or do you mean that the Autostar you first had (which could be called
"older") and which you back-loaded with 32Eh, -still- gets stuck at
"Testing Motors"?

(seeking clarification... "the first" and "the borrowed" would help)

good luck
--dick

And:

The first 497 would still get stuck on testing motors with the 32eh
firmware.  The borrowed unit functioned perfectly once I reset it.   The
borrowed 497 even functioned with the HBX cable from the first.

Chris Peisher

And:

One more thing:

Chris wrote:
> [the borrowed 497] doesn't register soft button presses for one.

You can usually fix that by opening the 497 and carefully cleaning the
contact surfaces and black conductive rubber dots on the back of the
keysheet.
I dry-wipe with a Q-tip cotton swab or lint-free cloth.

Severely "gummy" problems (did this 497 live near in a hamburger joint?)
can be attacked with isopropyl alcohol on the circuit card.

*Really* poor key sensitivity can be fixed by applying a "conductive
keypad repair kit" as sold by scopestuff: 
http://www.scopestuff.com/ss_keyf.htm

have fun
--dick
Mike here: For more on cleaning, see the article "Keypad Cleaning/Repair" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	How to change language setting on ETX70AT scope
Sent:	Sunday, November 14, 2010 09:24:38
From:	Dai Workman (dai.workman@wanadoo.fr)
I have just been given an ETX-70AT by my French neighbour, the handset
contoller is in French at the moment can I change it to English? and
how?
 
many thank and best wishes
 
Dai Workman
Mike here: See the ETX FAQ page for that question. You may or may not be able change it.
Subject:	New ETX-125AT AutoStar #497 Handset Random Reboot
Sent:	Friday, November 12, 2010 21:22:36
From:	Richard Clements (richardkclements@gmail.com)
Just acquired a new ETX-125AT, and I have found that the AutoStar
handbox occasionally/randomly reboots.  Is this a common problem?  I
wondered if it might be a loose cable connection but wiggling wires
doesn't seem to induce a problem.  Had the scope less than a week -
should I be contacting Meade?

Thanks for any insights.

Richard
Chattanooga
Mike here: No, this is not a common problem. Check the batteries. It is possible that it is a power problem. Also, try reversing the HBX cable; sometimes that can resolve some problems. Try a RESET on the AutoStar. And if you have the right cable and serial connections, you can try reloading the AutoStar ROM. If none of this helps, I suggest contacting your dealer for an exchange.

And:

I am using a Celestron PowerTank (7A), so I am sure that's OK.  Did try
reversing the cable - still did it once.  Will try the reset this
evening and updating the handset in the next day or two.

Thanks for the great website!

Richard
Mike here: I'd still recommend trying internal batteries. That would eliminate the DC power cable as a source of the intermittant power connection. Also, check the HBX cable connector pins and jacks; look for bent or too-depressed pins.
Subject:	505 connector for sale
Sent:	Friday, November 12, 2010 18:48:11
From:	mel yu (muy9861@gmail.com)
I custom make the serial connector for the 497 Autostar. Meade lists
this item as # 505. The  one that is sold is a 6 pin that the 4 pin
coiled wire ( from the handbox)   fits into.   I have improved the
design with spacers and the connector fits tight and will not be
troublesome. I am selling this item  for $20  shipped US prioity mail. (
2 day delivery ). my email is  muy9861@ gmail.com
Thank you
 
Mel
 
attached is a picture of the item i am selling 

photo


Subject:	Re: Meade Autostar Stuck on Testing Motors
Sent:	Thu, 11 Nov 2010 09:19:20
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Preamble: Carlos is mistaken... your current firmware load will happily
talk to DS motor units.  Even without changing the "Telescope Model"
setting in the menus.
I have some. It works.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Christopher S. Peisher
I got some new info for you guys.  I got another Meade 497 controller
from a club member. He gave me fair warning that it was old and worn
out, and after testing with it for a while i agree with him. It doesn't
register soft button presses for one.  It is Firmware Version 32E. On
start up it says the version number then " Initializing..." then prompts
me for the date, the time, and if it is daylight savings time.  One i
answer all of those questions it says "Align: Easy" and it drives the Az
motor constantly for about 10 seconds, then times out and says Motor
Unit Fault.  But, if during the 10 seconds it's running i press the
enter button, it starts the alignment process. The ALT motor never moves
at this point.  Even if i switch the motors, it still only drive the AZ.

So if i hit enter during the 10 second AZ running time, it says at the
Top "German North" and scrolls very slowly across the bottom "Remember
to turn off the Polar Reticle when alignment is complete."  During this
time it allows me to slew using the arrow buttons.  I can slew just fine
in ALT, but the AZ motor will only move for about 3 furtive seconds, and
not at constant full speed, before it stops.  If i press the button
again, the same thing happens.

Ok scratch some of the above.  I was able to press MODE and go into
telescope setup and tell the telescope that i had a DS-60 instead of the
model that was in the memory, which was an LXd75 or something like that.
ONce i did that it would slew on both axis at full speed as i moved it
to the home position for easy align.  I thought i had found hope when
this happened, but alas, it is yet to be...I got it to a fake home
position using the arrow keys and then it said "Searching..." and then
would name a star and try to slew the scope to that star.  Obviously i'm
doing this with both the motors just sitting on my desk. Well, it will
drive the AZ axis first and then about 2 seconds later it will star the
ALT axis, and then they will both run for about 4 seconds total
respectively, and the AZ axis shuts of first, followed by the ALT axis
second.  It will repeat this process indefinitely unless i hit enter. 
When i hit enter, it beeps, stops the motors, and says Searching, at
which point it selects another star and starts the same process all over
again.

I know there is a clone option, but i'm not sure how to accomplish that
without having a power source for BOTH handsets.  Using the PC desktop
software from Meade, can i download the 32E firmware from the older
unit, and then upload it to the newer unit?

Thanks again!! If i unplug the unit and go through the date time etc.
and goes to "Align: Easy" again.  Now i can go to the telescope menu
from here and do other things, but i want to test aligning, tracking and
slewing, so i hit enter to confirm Easy alignments.  Then it drives one
of the axes jittery like and the other just fine, until i hit enter, OR
until i switch the motors.  Once i hit enter or switch the motors in the
plugs it drives both at the same full speed, and for about 4 seconds
each with the 2 second staggered start i described above.  Then when i
hit enter it says put the scope in the home position then i can move
both axis, only at full speed, in either direction, until i get to a
fake home.  Then it says searching, selects a star and tries to slew
there, with the motors running a 4 seconds each, again, with the 2
second staggered start.  It will never stop this staggered start 4
second run cycle until i hit enter or unplug the unit. If i hit enter,
it searches for antoher star, selects it, and then again tries to slew
to it.

It sounds like the controller will at least talk to the motors and slew
them.  I can change the slewing speed on the handpad, but it still seems
to always drive the motors at full speed.  It seems to me like this
handpad is working with the motors for the most part, but the hardware
inside it is maybe a little screwed up where it cannot run the motors at
lower speeds, and doesn't seem to want to arrive at an alignment star,
ever :)

I did try switching the HBX cable from this controller to my newer
controller, but the new 497 does the same thing it does with my newly
DIY made  HBX cable.  Specifically, it turns on, says the version
number, says welcome to auto star, then has a blank screen, doesn't even
give the testing motors screen.  I can use my stock HBX controller from
my newer 497 with the older 497 and it performs just fine.

Actually, i just discovered something else.  When i start it up and go
to align, if i change the speed of the motor driving for slewing to the
alignment points, the ALT motor will actually respond to the slewing
speed appropriately.  1 doesn't even seem to move, and i have to move it
up to 3 before i can actually count to 10 while pressing the button and
tell if anything is actually turning.  Although at any speed i can hear
the motor trying to step, or turn slowly.  Now the AZ axis runs at full
speed no matter what i do. Go figure.

Haha well i navigated to the reset on the device and did a full factory
reset on it and EVERYTHING SEEMS TO WORK!!!  It did the sun warning, the
had me select a telescope, i chose the DS-60 again, and then did an easy
alignment again.  It moved both motors at the speed i would tell it, and
then it chose stars to to align to, and i just hit enter as soon as it
arrived at the stars.  When slewing to the alignment stars and then the
guided tour objects, it would slew at the highest speed, then stop, then
start again at what appeared to be near the slowest speed, then slow
down to the absolute slowest speed, where i can't even tell if they are
moving.  I just tested, and i have to let the motor set there and move
for about a minute before i can tell if the locknut on the worm screw
has moved a few degrees, using a small plastic mold flashing line on the
worm gear housing as a reference.

So it seems that the motors work when proper communication is delivered
to them.  At this point it seems like the culprit it one of two things. 
One: my newer hand controller could be bad.  Two, the software on my
newer hand controller really CAN't talk with this motor kit for some
reason.  Three, the connection points for the HBX cable could be bad,
especially since the older HBX cable, which i now know to be good, will
not work with the newer unit.

Of all these the only thing i can realistically see fixing easily, read
tonight, is the software.  Is there a way to take the 32e version of the
firmware on the older controller, and upload it to the newer controller?

Respectfully,
Chris
Mike here: You can find all the older versions of the AutoStar #497 ROM files, including version 3.2, on the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. No need to clone; just load the appropriate version using the #505 serial cable.

And:

By performing a Reset, you caused the 32E Autostar to do a Calibrate
Motors operation.
That's what cured the erratic motor operation.

If you have a 505 cable (for connecting the Autostar to a PC), you can
download "v32E" (you're not telling us the *full* version number, which
is under Setup/Statistics/[enter][scroll up]) from Mike's "archive" page
 (referenced under Autostar Information).

Since i'm very sure that the motors should work under 43Eg, the finger
of fate is pointing at that newer Autostar (and how could their cable
have worked?)

good luck
--dick
The older handset was runing 32Eh, and as you both suspected, the older
handset still had the same "Testing Motors" problem.  I'll be sending
the unit back to the seller and trying to get a different one.  Thanks
for your help with this.  Feel free add this information to your website
to help any future owners who may encounter this problem.  I would just
ask that you please remove my email address and any personally
information like phone numbers from the email chain.  Thanks again for
your time helping me guys.  

Clear Skies,
Chris
Mike here: The emails were already posted with your address, as noted on the ETX Site Submittal Guidelines. I will remove them on the next ETX Site update. Phone number was never posted.
Subject:	Re: Updating Auto Star Handset
Sent:	Thursday, November 11, 2010 06:58:30
From:	Bob Gunnis (bobgunnis@ntlworld.com)
Once again sorry to bother you but it seems the more I try and sort out
updates, the bigger the mess i get into.

I have managed to connect to AutoStar updater and tried to install the
tours from the library to the handset.  The seemed to copy across OK but
when I went to Select item, object, guided tour it found one tour and
when I asked it to look for more, searching with a rotating cursor
showed on the handset but after a long time, nothing was found and it
just read "searching"  I decided to edit and empty the hand box of all
information and see what happened from there.  I copied the tours across
again but the same ~~ searching but nothing found happened once again. 
I decided to press enter and right scroll and reset the handset
completely.  This it did and it installed everything.  I once again went
to tours and copied the files to the handset and it sent the data to the
handset.  I once again turned on the scope went to guided tours and the
only one it found was IC M806 and when searched for more, all that
happens is searching is showing in the handset and after an hour, its
still searching.  This is all becoming a bit tedious now and wonder if
you could advise me what to do next of can I get tours installed on the
handset by another programme. I do sincerely apologise for the emails
and trouble I am causing but have no where else to turn.

Kindest Regards
Bob Gunnis
Mike here: I haven't installed any tours (which requires Windows, which I avoid using since I have that choice). What tour are you trying to install? There is a limited amount of AutoStar memory for tours and other user-installable objects (Dick Seymour can explain the details).

And:

I am trying to load Tonight's Best and I have had them loaded on then
when I went to add Comets or Asteroids, it seemed to delete the tours. 
I am finding it totally confusing and frustrating so once again, any
help or advice from you or Dick will be gratefully appreciated
Mike here: Could be a limited memory issue. Dick Seymour will know for certain.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
ACtually... for *both* programs you have to load *everything* at once.
You cannot "add" a Tour (or Comet)... you have to pull all data from the
handbox,
add the Tours (or Comets) to that in your PC,
and then push the *entire* package back out to the Autostar
("Load Scope"  in MyScope, "Send" in ASU)

This is due to the way Meade stores things in the 497/497EP Autostars.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX125PE
Sent:	Wednesday, November 10, 2010 03:29:59
From:	Alessandro Colonna (alessandro.colonna@oracle.com)
I'm writing to you to ask one question about my ETX125PE in Polar mount.
After make a manual Polar alignement, and setup the Autostar 497 to work
in Polar mode, I must use the Autostar alignment (easy, 2 stars or 3
stars) or can I directly GOTO to an select object? (planet or other
object)
Thank you very much for your answer.

Best regards
Alessandro Colonna -Italy
Mike here: When first powered on, the AutoStar has no way to know where to "find" objects until it is aligned to the night sky. So, you need to go through the alignment steps, then you can GOTO objects. However, once you have done the alignment, you can "Park" the telescope at the end of the observing session and power-off the telescope. The next time you power-on the telescope, it will unpark and you can resume GOTOs using the previous alignment. If you need to move the telescope betwen the sessions, just mark where the tripod legs go before you move the telescope. Then set it back up on the marks. "Park" is in the Utility menu.
Subject:	Meade 497 Problems
Sent:	Monday, November 8, 2010 19:24:56
From:	Christopher S. Peisher
I understand you are THE guru of these units so i hope it's ok that i
came straight to you about this problem.

I picked up a used Meade Autostar handset second hand from astromart
from a seller with perfect feedback.  As soon as i plug it into the
Computer Control board with the batteries and the two motors I get the
following:

"c07 Meade 43E
A U T O S T A R"

"Press 0 to Align
or MODE for Menu"

So i press MODE

Immediately i get Motor Unit Fault and then a long series of messages
about why i may be getting the fault.

"Autostar has detected a motor failure. Moving the handbox between
scopes, low battery levels, obstructed or overloaded scopes can cause
the failure. If the telescope was stalled, remove the obstruction or
overload. After leaving this message, the telescope will recalibrate the
motors. The telescope will need to be re-calibrated before you resume
viewing If you continue to get this message with fresh batteries,
contact Meade Customer Support.  Press MODE to leave this message."

First thing i did was replace the batteries with 10 brand new AA
Energizer batteries i bought at Kroger today.

I still got the same message.

I read around and found some posts on your website that some people may
have been having trouble with the cable, so i tried plugging it in with
a little force behind it and now i get past the motor fault message, but
it always gets stuck at the

"Testing Motors"

prompt, and the motors never move.  I know the motors work because i got
the #492 kit separately and the regular hand controller with no autostar
moves the motors at all speeds and in all directions with the arrow
keys.

I cannot seem to bypass the Testing Motors function and attempt to reset
the Autostar handset.  If there is a way i do not know it.  Please help
if you can.

Respectfully,
Chris
Mike here: Well, THE GURU is Dick Seymour. But I'll take a shot at answering your question. There can be several culprits for this error. Some easy to fix, and some less easy, and some not at all. Typical culprits are: dirty encoders, bad HBX cable/connectors/jacks, overtightened axis locks, corrupted AutoStar ROM software, hardware failure on the telescope side, hardware failure on the AutoStar side. Sometimes you can clean the encoders by just redistributing the lubrication; unlock both axes and slowly move the telescope by hand from hardstop to hardstop, back and forth, several times. Sometimes you can cure a HBX cable problem by just reversing the HBX ends. Also, check for dirty/bent/too depressed pins in the connectors and jacks. If the software is corrupted, you might be able to do a RESET from software; see the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Or you may have to reload the AutoStar software. To do either the software RESET or reload the software, you will need a #505 serial cable (easily made; info on the AutoStar Info page) and RS-232 serial port on your computer. If you have 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 AutoStar Info page. Lastly, one other "cure" that has been known to help sometimes is to disconnect the AutoStar from the telescope and let it sit for several hours. Then connect it back up and power on the telescope. Of course, if the hardware in the telescope or AutoStar has gone bad, then you will have to contact Meade for repairs or replacement.

And:

I don't have a telescope, i just have a 492 kit and an Autostar 497
controller, purchase separately from each other.  So i effectively have
a 493 kit.  I do have the manual controller, in and out focus, speed,
mode, 4 arrow buttons and 4 lights to indicate speed.  And using this i
can drive the motors in both directions and at all speeds.  Does this
rule out the encoder issue?

Since i don't have a telescope i can't unlock both axes as you explain,
can i take apart the motor units and do this?

I don't have a d-sub female connector, pin extractor, female crimp pins,
or an RJ10 (phone jack) plug a my home, so i will have to stop by radio
shack and try to get them tomorrow to try and make the 505 cable, and i
will also get some RJ45 plugs to make another HBX cable following the
instructions on your site.

None of the pins i can see appear to be dirty or bent in either the jack
on the 497 or the jack on the junction box.  If they were, what could i
use to clean them?

Any other suggestions to try tonight, until i can make the HBX and 505 cables?
Mike here: Ah ha, since the AutoStar can't identify the telescope, I suspect that is the problem. It was probably last used with a Premier Edition model ETX (or at least, a telescope with the LNT module). Doing the software RESET or reloading the software may or may not solve the problem. For more on using the AutoStar with non-AutoStar telescopes, see the article "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mount" on the AutoStar Info page.

And more:

One correction - with the new HBX cable that i made, i never get the
"Press 0 to align, MODE for MENU" message.  Immediately after the
Welcome to Autostar screen it just goes blank.  However, just for
grins...after i did a reset with the old HBX cable, I turned the unit
off.  i then tried plugging in the new cable, and turning the unit on. 
The motors moved when the unit started up, both of them!  BUT...i still
got the same blank screen after that  Here's the really weird part. 
After i removed the HBX cable from the AS handset, the motors moved
again!  No idea what that means, but it's something.  I still haven't
seen any magic smoke come out so i assume that's still good.  I have
opened the AS handset and i didn't see any sign of fried components, for
what it's worth...

More digging...
I got out my multimeter and rang out the wires between the junction box
and the handset, all the way to the solder connections on both boards. 
With BOTH the original and the NEW HBX cable i made today, the
connection all ohm out.  AND all the connections are correct per the
diagrams on your website AND the original cable.  SO at this point i
have no idea why the new cable is causing the AS handset never to reach
the "Press 0 to Align and MODE for Menu" screen.  [scratches head]

Respectfully,
Chris
Mike here: Motors can run when no handbox is connected. At least, the ETX ones do. One thing you might try is to make a 9V external power source (see the articles about that on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). Then you can easily test the AutoStar and even RESET it without it being connected to the telescope.

And:

I'm assuming you mean these instructions...
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_power-box2.html

I didn't have any of that stuff on hand and i wanted to try something so
i just rigged up 6 AA batteries and wired them directly tothe proper
plus and minus 9V (my voltmeter actually read 8.1 volts) to the  #1 and
#8 pins on a new HBX cord i made up.  The auto star turns on, says
"Welcome...etc", then says Motor Unit Fault.  I thought i better have at
least 9 V so i rigged up one more AA, for 9.26V, and got the same
results.  Let me know what you think when you have some time.  Thanks
again for all your help!
Mike here: That's one of the three articles on external power supplies for the AutoStar #497 on the AutoStar Info page. I don't recall hearing of that error occurring without the telescope being connected. Odd. Can you press the MODE key at any point in the startup and get to the menus?

And:

no, i cannot get into the menus no matter what button i press.  Even if
i start pressing the MODE button from the first red light on the screen,
all that happens is i get the "testing motors" message and it hangs.

I did discover that you must hold down the SCROLL DOWN button, not the
DOWN ARROW button in conjunction with the ENTER key to get the AS
handset to boot into safe mode, which on my screen just says
FLASH LOAD READY

But even after i try the boot.rom file and send the  "I" command through
the terminal, the AS reboots like it should, but goes right back to the
same message of "Press 0 to Align or MODE for MENU" ( man i'm tired of
typing that :-) )

Is there a way to send a whole new set of instructions and firmware to
this thing so that it thinks it's just connected to an old DS telescope?
I mean the motor kit i have, $492,  is basically a DS motor kit right?
Mike here: Yes, the SCROLLDOWN arrow and not the SLEW DOWN arrow is used for the Safe Load procedure. As to tricking the AutoStar, not certain how to do that. Again, you might check the Bedair article I mentioned previously. Another excellent resource is the Roboscope Yahoo Group.

And:

If this is the article that you referred me to...
http://bedair.org/Autostar.html

Then there isn't much in there that is helpful to me at this point as i
cannot get into the menu.  All i can do is what i have already mentioned
here.  I'm not giving up, i just don't know what else to try, and i'm
not sure if i'm missing something on that page...  Is there a certain
patch i could try uploading to the AS handset that would stop it form
trying to test the motors?  Is there anything i can do to stop it from
testing the motors at all?
Mike here: The link on the AutoStar Info page takes you to:
http://bedair.org/ScopeStuff.html
Try the Yahoo Group.

And:

Yeah that was the first page i landed on at Bedair's site, but i was
assuming that you were pointing to that specific link that i copied
above.  If i'm missing something there please let me know...I've got an
email into to Dick Seymour and the yahoo group.  If i find out anything
i'll let you know.
Mike here: I haven't studied everything on Steve Bedair's web site so can't tell you where to look there. I just know there is a wealth of excellent info there.

And more:

According to the seller, here is what it was connected to and tested on
before it was sent to me...

"It was an ETX90-EC (or possibly ETX90-PE)  I have both in front of me
(don't remember)."

What if i was able to plug my 497 handset into an etx scope and let it
get past the testing motors screen.  Would i then be able to change the
scope to a DS type of mount? If i could do that, would it still try to
test the motors?
Mike here: I suspect it was the PE model. The "testing motors" is really checking the communications between the telescope and AutoStar. There is no way (that I know of) to manually tell the AutoStar what telescope it is connected to. The models shown in the Telescope menu are determined by what telescope is connected (or has been connected) and then used only for the information displays (magnification, etc). But you could do a good test of the AutoStar by connecting it to an ETX.

And:

I just got off the phone with Meade Customer Support.  Carlos, the CS
supervisor, said that the ETX version of the software is not compatible
with the motors i have.  He said he was going to do some more research
and i could call him back in a couple of days after he had some time to
talk to some of the engineers.  He basically indidcated that my only
hope was to get a hold of an older copy of the software and try to load
that in the 497.  Are some of the patches on your website old enough to
interface directly with the DS motors? Or does this CS guy have no idea
what he's talking about?
Mike here: It is possible that support for the older motors was dropped to make room for new code. As to which of the versions on the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page would be the correct one, don't know. Trial and error testing time, I guess.

And from our resident AutoStar expert:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
On 11/10/2010 5:28 AM, Christopher S. Peisher wrote:
> * i then tried plugging in the new cable, and turning the unit on.  The motors moved when
> the unit started up, both of them!

Can you describe the -above- move(s)?
If the motors were (finally) responding to the Autostar's attempt to
Calibrate them,
one would have moved for about 1 second, then stopped.
Then the other one would have done the same.

If anything else happened (both moved together, random bursts of motion)
those are all examples of the motor units having open connections to
their signal pins.
RAndom drifting levels of their TTL inputs (drifting "high", mostly) are
seen by the motor cards' processors as "data" and they then act (blips
of high speed) erratically.
Which explains the "weird part" below.

> BUT...i still *
> *got the same blank screen after that  Here's the really weird part.  After i removed the
> HBX cable from the AS handset, the motors moved *
> *again! *

SO: it still sounds like "simply" bad connections between the Autostar
and the motors.
But the cause for the bad connection could be: bad solder joints where
the Autostar's RJ45 connector is soldered to its circuit card, damage to
the feed-through inductors, damage to the copper traces on the
Autostar's circuit card, or electronic damage to the final
driving/receiving circuits in the Autostar.

From all i can tell (your testing through the 505 cable) the Autostar
itself is still working (except for talking to the motors).

Your "power supply" of 6 or 7 AA cells may still be inadequate (when the
motors try to start, it may dip lower than 8v).  I'd recommend 12v .  At
full tilt, my ETX90 (same motors as the DS units) can draw 1.0 amp.

good luck
--dick

And:

Dick, here was some more information from this morning that i exchanged
with Mike...

According to the seller, here is what it was connected to and tested on
before it was sent to me...

Chris,

It was an ETX90-EC (or possibly ETX90-PE)  I have both in front of me
(don't remember).

Respectfully,

Craig What if i was able to plug my 497 handset into an etx scope and
let it get past the testing motors screen.  Would i then be able to
change the scope to a DS type of mount? If i could do that, would it
still try to test the motors?

I suspect it was the PE model.  The "testing motors" is really checking
the communications between the telescope and AutoStar.  There is no way
(that I know of) to manually tell the AutoStar what telescope it is
connected to.  The models shown in the Telescope menu are determined by
what telescope is connected (or has been connected) and then used only
for the information displays (magnification, etc).  But you could do a
good test of the AutoStar by connecting it to an ETX.

The seller said that he tested the unit on his telescope before he sent
it to me.  Does this rule out the inductors being bad, since it worked
on his telescope?

I just got off the phone with Meade Customer Support.  Carlos, the CS
supervisor, said that the ETX version of the software is not compatible
with the motors i have.  He said he was going to do some more research
and i could call him back in a couple of days after he had some time to
talk to some of the engineers.  He basically indidcated that my only
hope was to get a hold of an older copy of the software and try to load
that in the 497.  Are some of the patches on your website old enough to
interface directly with the DS motors? Or does this CS guy have no idea
what he's talking about?

It is possible that support for the older motors was dropped to make
room for new code.  As to which of the versions on the AutoStar Software
Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page would be the
correct one, don't know.  Trial and error testing time, I guess.

And:

I wrote:  "I have some.  It works"

..but let me go test that assertion -again-
(but it will take a few minutes more, since at the moment my Autostar
has 41Ec in it, a left-over from testing someone else's totally
unrelated issue)

I also have an LNT unit, so i can turn my ETX-90 into a 99.8% equivalent
ETX-90PE
(The Autostar really doesn't care... if it sees an LNT, it tries to use
it. If it doesn't, it doesn't.  There is no separate ETX-90PE versus
ETX-90 on the model list)
All that having ETX-90 versus some-DS-model selected means that it may
think the gears between the motor box and the telescope have different
ratios, which doesn't affect your level of testing at all.

more later
--dick

And:

Well, i tried it:  I loaded an unpatched copy of 43Eg into my Autostar,
powered it up with my ETX90 with LNT attached.
Now, as a note, what yours -should- say after "Mode for Menu" is to
prompt you for the time and date.
With the LNT attached, it instead says "Getting Time".
So right after the "Mode for Menu", it is snooping the AUX bus for
hardware (such as the LNT).

This points the finger of suspicion at the AUX lines.

Anyway, i then powered down the ETX90, and plugged the Autostar into my
"loose on the floor" pair of DS motor units and a loose DS-flavor power
panel (with nothing in the AUX socket).

Powered up, after "Mode for Menu" it ask for the time and date.
After giving it those, it said  "Align/Easy"
At that point i could use the slew keys to move the motors in all
directions.

(additional comment: if 43Eg had "broken" connections to DS motors, the
entire Roboscope group would have SCREAMED.)

Mike keeps mentioning "the PE model" in the past as being a possible
source of conflict.
Do you have evidence of that in the past?
Because the Autostar does not use "history" in determining if it can
extract the time from a GPS or LNT unit, it uses the results of its *at
this moment* scanning of the AUX bus.
So if the AUX bus was broken/shorted/whatever, i could see it getting
confused.
Just "empty" shouldn't bother it at all.
Chris?  Unplug the Autostar from -its- end of the cable, and
ohmmeter-check your power panel to verify that the AUX pins are not
shorted together or to either power or ground.

good luck
--dick
Mike here: I have seen reports that the AutoStar remembered what model telescopes it had seen before and populated the telescope menu accordingly. But didn't know whether or not that applied to having seen a LNT before.

And:

Yes, the "model" (as seen under Setup/Telescope/Telescope Model) is
remembered across power off/on cycles.
If you move the Autostar to a different motor set that is not a member
of the still-remembered "model", the only effect is that, when you
scroll through the *new* list of models, you do not see *any* model as
being "Selected" (with the ">").
The "old" one is still selected (but hidden).
This can have strange effects, such as the old one may have been an LXD,
which is a GEM mount and only offers "Polar" as a Mount style.  Having
Polar pre-selected causes the RA motor to *run* fairly early into the
boot/setup/time-date-daylight cycle.
If the attached motors differ (Calibration-wise) from the "old" model,
you may experience (as my DS motors on my 497EP just did) an apparent
"runaway" on that motor.
But doing a Setup/Telescope/Calibrate Motors should at least lower that
motor's speed to "proper" sidereal rate.  Then setting either the Model
properly, or changing the Mount style to Alt/Az will fully stop it (or, 
start both motors running slowly at sidereal rates).

By the way, the 497EP with firmware 5CE1 is happy to operate DS motors,
too.

have fun
--dick
I did check the adjacent pins for shorts on both ends of the cable, and
i did it for the original HBX and the new HBX i made.  Everything check
out fine.  I also did this by checking the solder connections on the
junctino box and the inside of the 497 handset on the solder connectiong
there.  Everything checked out fine.

I can't check the power panel right now, as i'm not at home.  Last night
i did wire up the battery directly to the 497 with 8-9V with no
connection to the power panel at all.  I just rigged up a aethernet
cable and put GND on pin 1, and +8, 9, and 12V on pin 8 (the pins may
have been the other way around, i can't remember the pin out right now).
I was careful to make sure the + and - were going to the correct pins,
and the unit still started up and after the Welcome to Autostar message
and i still got the same message. "Testing Motors".
 
Does this rule out the AUX bus short?

Respectfully,
Chris
No, since you're seeing the Autostar flipping between two start-up
states.
One is coming up from -previously- having declared "Motor Unit Fault"
(or from having been Reset, by either the patch or
Setup/Reset[enter][enter].

In that state, it's not going to progress until it manages to perform a
self-mandated "Calibrate Motors" test... and that's what puts "Testing
Motors" on the screen.
And at that point, it has -not- attempted to snoop the AUX bus.

The -other- state is when it thinks it's done the motor test on a
previous cycle, and it's now willing to power up and get to the "Mode
for Menu" prompt.   That's when the AUX bus gets looked at (to see if
there's attached hardware that could provide time/date/site)

good luck
--dick
Sorry, i guess this wasn't clear before, i only get the testing motors
screen in two different ways.  One is directly after a hard reset when
it reboots and that's the first thing it does, or when it first turns on
DO get the "Press 0 to align, or MODE for MENU"

are you referring to when it goes directly to testing the motors after a
hard reset?

Respectfully,
Chris
I don't understand 'when it first turns on DO get the "Press 0 '
specifically, the "DO" ????

The "first thing after reset" was the first case i was describing.

good luck
--dick

And:

Nevermind that last comment, i'm not sure what i was trying to say.  To
clarify, i get the Testing motors screen 2 ways.  One when i simply boot
the machine, i get to the "Press 0 to align..." message if i hit either
0 or MODE, it goes to testing motors.  The other way is after a hard
reset, like doing it through hyper terminal or when i load a different
firmware on the device.  In that case i never get to the "Press 0 to
align..." screen, it goes from Welcome... to Testing Motors.  By the
way, i have never been asked for the date and time, for what it's worth.

Regarding cables, i checked the cables again today.  The ohm out fine,
there are no shorts in either of the cables, original or the one i made.
Electrically they are identical and pin properly 1 to 8, 2 to 7 etc...

However, i still cannot get the new HBX cable i made to do anything for
the handset.  There may be some physical difference in the connection
that is not fully contacting one fo the pins in the connector on one
end.  I don't know what could be causing the 497 to totally freeze at a
blank screen when using my DIY cable...

I unplugged the 497 from it's end of the HBX cable like you suggested
and checked the AUX pins for shorts to GND or +12.  As i would expect,
one of the pins is GND, on of them is +12.  That arrangement is
identical to the same two pins on the ALT and AZ jack solder points on
the back of the power board and should be correct right?  The other two
solder points on each jack, are at 0 volts when no power is connected. 
When power is connected both signal pins for all three jacks, ALT, AZ
and AUZ show around 5 volts.  So the 497 is trying to communicate or
send some kind of signal to the motors.

Respectfully,
Chris

And:

fyi, the GND and 12v match up to this wiring diagram...

http://www.bedair.org/Autowire.html

Respectfully,
Chris

And:

The I2C-like bus used by the Autostar is an "open collector" bus, with
pull-up resistors in the Autostar.
So the lines will go to +5v at a "rest" state.
The Autostar asserts signals on the lines by bringing them *down* (to
about 0.5 v) in very short bursts of very short pulses.

For Calibrate (or "Testing") Motors, the Autostar sends about 2 or 3
bytes (which takes less than 100th of a second), and then waits for a
response from the motor unit
(which is only a byte or two).

good luck
--dick

And:

Dick,
If i haven't said it already, thanks again for all your help with this. 
I've been typing responses as fast as possible between kids eating,
work, sleeping etc.  Gets kinda hectic around our house sometimes :)

Ok, one correction.  When i wire the 497 directly up to the battery pack
(10AAx1.5V), bypassing the power panel altogether, the 497 goes through
the Version, Welcome, Press 0 etc...and if i select either 0 or MODE,  
it briefly says "Testing Motors".then says Motor Unit Fault.  If i have
it through the power panel, it will stay at testing motors.  If i
disconnect the motors from the power panel and connect the 497 with the
HBX cable, then i get Version, Welcome, Press 0...If i select either 0
or MODE, then i get motor unit fault.

Does it make a difference that your using a 497EP and i'm using what i
presume is a regular 497?

What if i plugged one of the motor units into the AUX panel?  Would the
497 try to test the AUX for a Focuser unit or something?  I'm wondering
if having something in the AUX panel when it boots or tries to test the
motors will tell us more information?

If not, what should i test next?  The inductors on the 497 board? He
tested it on his ETX scope right before he mailed it to me, and all i
did when i got it was plug it directly into my power panel with the HBX
cable that came with it that he used on his scope.

Is there anything else i can test on the power panel to narrow down the
issue?  Have we gotten closer to the cause at all?

The seller will take this 497 back, but i don't want to if it's
something in my motors or power panel that is causing the issue that
will just result in the same issue if i get another handset.

Thanks again.

Respectfully,
Chris

And:

> Does it make a difference that your using a 497EP and i'm using what i presume is a
> regular 497?

Actually, i used both... first a 497 (to duplicate your experience) and
-then- a 497EP to assure other readers that a 497EP would also work with
DS motor sets.

> What if i plugged one of the motor units into the AUX panel?  Would the 497 try to test
> the AUX for a Focuser unit or something?  I'm wondering if having something in the AUX
> panel when it boots or tries to test the motors will tell us more information?

I don't know what would happen.  Probably nothing useful (i.e. that
motor may move (but i don't think so), and the other symptoms won't
change...)

But going back to your Power Panel tests, what happens if only *one*
motor is plugged in?
Try each axis to see if there's a difference.

> If not, what should i test next?  The inductors on the 497 board? He tested it on his ETX
> scope right before he mailed it to me, and all i did when i got it was plug it directly
> into my power panel with the HBX cable that came with it that he used on his scope.
>
> Is there anything else i can test on the power panel to narrow down the issue?  Have we
> gotten closer to the cause at all?
>
> The seller will take this 497 back, but i don't want to if it's something in my motors or
> power panel that is causing the issue that will just result in the same issue if i get
> another handset.

Unfortunately, you're lacking the equipment needed to really test
further.
An oscilloscope, another telescope or another Autostar.
(it's kind'a like a modern car.  It stops dead on the road, and the one
light "Check Engine" comes on.  Now what?  Without a diagnostic scanner
(or blatantly obvious secondary symptom) you're stuck.)

You can still -poke- a bit:  you've mentioned that the homemade cable
has different results than the came-with-Autostar cable.  How does it
affect your power panel tests?
And, again, try it with one motor in each of the two positions as well
(and try -each- motor in those two positions)
Perhaps it's one sick motor unit affecting both axes (since the data
line is common between the two sockets, that can happen)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Setting mount to Polar
Sent:	Friday, November 5, 2010 07:26:39
From:	delarcombe@netidea.com (delarcombe@netidea.com)
I tried this polar alignment again last night and it worked fine. After
I told it that it was in polar mount (still a >Polar)I did a two star
alignment and the instructions on the display started to talk about
where the Polar home position was so I continued on and it worked fine. 
I didn't even check to see if the display was Alt/Az but I think it
defaults to that every time.  I don't know if you can change the default
settings or not.

It was a beautiful night out here on the prairies and the telescope
found everything I asked it to just fine.  The next step will be to
attach my camera, either piggyback or to the back of the telescope. I
have taken some photos of the moon through the telescope and some using
the barn door tracker so this is a next step.

Thanks for the help.

Dennis Larcombe
Kaslo BC
presently east of Edmonton, Alberta

Subject:	Updating Auto Star Handset
Sent:	Friday, November 5, 2010 03:21:46
From:	Bob Gunnis (bobgunnis@ntlworld.com)
No doubt you have been asked this question a million times but here we
go

I have recently purchased the Meade ETX 125 AT and it came with the #505
Connector Cable Set and I purchased the RS_232 USB to Serial adaptor

I connect the handset to the PC as per the instructions and turn on the
power.  The PC finds the Coms Port (Com3) and if I go to device manager
and check the properties, the Com Port is configured as per the
Operating Instructions. ie Baud Rate 9600 etc

If I then open up the Auto Suite Software I am using ASU 5.6

When i click on Upgrade Auto Star Software, nothing seems to be
happening.  I get a message on the handset saying Downloading Do Not
Disconnect and Auto star closes down and the message is still displayed
on the handset.

I have to then turn the power off and that's as far as I get

As far as I know, I have not lost any information from the handset but
any advice on what to do would be much appreciated

I am using Windows 7 32 bit Home Premium Edition

Kind Regards
 
Bob Gunnis
Mike here: Some questions. You say you are using the USB-Serial adapter; do you mean the one from Meade? If so, have you downloaded the latest driver from Meade's web site? If you are not using the Meade adapter, which one? Not all work reliably with the AutoStar. Next, when the AutoStar shows "Downloading" on the display, it can take up to 30 minutes before the download completes. You say turned it off before the download completed. That usually corrupts the AutoStar requiring you to put the AutoStar into "Safe Load" mode before trying the download again. Have you done that? One last point: if you think the ASU app is not working, try using StarPatch from www.stargps.ca.

And:

thanks for your response

All the cable and with the #505 came with the telescope, all that I had
to do was buy a USB to serial adaptor because I don't have a serial card
on the PC

When I say it turned off, I mean Auto Star Update closed down and the
message on the handset was Downloading Do Not Disconnect.  I restarted
ASU AutoStar Suite and it shut itself down again as soon has I pressed
Upgrade AutoStar software now

I have set the telescope up and used it to observe and all the data
seems to be there so I have not had to put Auto Star into safe mode

As far as the patch from www.stargps.ca is concerned, is this a free
patch or do I have to register and pay and if is free, which one do I
download and install??

Many Thanks

Bob Gunnis
Mike here: As I said, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan for computers running Mac OS X or Windows. For updating the AutoStar, StarPatch is free.

And:

Once again, thanks for your reply and advice

I don't want to appear dumb about this but can I use the #505 cables
from Meade with a suitable USB-Serial Adaptor to install the StarPatch? 
Do I use the default Baud rate on Star Patch or does it need be set at
9600?  I want to try and update but am fearful of losing all the data on
the handset, hence my new questions

kind Regards

Bob Gunnis
Mike here: If you use a known reliable USB-serial adapter (like the Keyspan) with the Meade #505 serial cable, you can use StarPatch to do the update. Other USB-serial adapters may or may not start or complete the download to the AutoStar. If the download is started but not completed, the AutoStar will be corrupted and you'll need to use Safe Load mode to reload the software. Of course, you'll need a real RS-232 port on your computer or a reliable USB-serial adapter. As to Baud Rate, I'd stick with 9600 for the most reliable download.

And an update:

I have updated using the StarPatch and it all went very smoothly with no
errors or shutting down

Thank you so much for your help and advice which is very much
appreciated

Bob Gunnis

And more:

Sorry to bother your  again but wonder if you could help with this. I 
have installed Star Patch and it installed and updated with no problems
at all. Last night for once, the sky was pretty clear and I managed to
get outside and check the settings and do some Star gazing.  When I
turned the Auto Star handset on, it came up with the following message
"Checking for GPS Trial Edition and then the next message was GPS Not
found.  Is this normal and when I went to align on 2 stars, it was way
out and took about 5 attempts before it aligned successfully and that is
because when it asks for daylight savings, I selected NO where on the
previous attempts I had selected YES.

Once aligned all was well and had a good hour or so looking at the stars
and Jupiter

Hope you can advise
Mike here: I haven't used StarPatch (since it only runs on Windows). Dick can probably answer your question.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You're seeing the effect of *not* having UNticked one of the default
(but optional) patches in the StarPatch list.
Specifically: "GPS Setup"

StarPatch was written by Chris Carson, the creator of the StarGPS add-on
for Autostar (and now, other) telescopes.
If you "let StarPatch fetch a patch kit automatically", that kit
includes  the programming needed to allow the Autostar to talk to any of
Chris' add-on GPS units.

You're seeing the "progress messages" describing the patched Autostar's
attempts to locate such a unit attached to the Autostar's rs232 port.  
Since it didn't find one, it told you about that, and then continued on
with the regular "set time/date/daylight" Autostar programming.  If you
had a StarGPS unit attached, you'd see progress messages as it acquired
the satellites and automatically set the Autostar's time and date.

You can avoid that behavior by re-running StarPatch, but this time
UNcheck the little box in front of "GPS Setup".

have fun
--dick

And:

Have followed Richards instructions regarding the handset checking for
GPS and have reinstalled Star Patch and un checked the GPS box and all
is normal now

Many Thanks

Bob Gunnis

Subject:	Setting mount to Polar
Sent:	Wednesday, November 3, 2010 21:54:23
From:	delarcombe@netidea.com (delarcombe@netidea.com)
I am not sure what model of Autostar I am using but was bought in 2000
and is Version 2.0g.

I have been practicing with polar alignment lately as I want to use my
ETX 90 (or at least the mount) to do some astrophotography (the next
step from using my barn door tracker).   After aligning the mount, I
tried telling the Autostar that I was in polar mode but it refused to
listen.  I went through the menus to Setup, Telescope, Mount, and
selected >Polar and then went to Align, Easy and it told me to put the
telescope level and pointing north (the Alt/Atz home mode).   When I
went back to Setup, Telescope, Mount, it said I was still in Alt/Atz
mode.   What am I doing wrong?  I have read the manuals and looked
through your site but can not find any leads.   Thanks for your help.

Dennis Larcombe
Mike here: It is probably a #497, although it might be a #495 (which is essentially the same as a #497). Some selections on the AutoStar don't show the ">" for the currect selection. So that could explain the erroneous mount selection mode even though you have selected Polar. As to why the prompt displays it wrong, that would depend on whether the message is wrong or whether the mount really is still in Alt/Az mode. Have you tried the alignment and then a GOTO to see if pointing is accurate?
Subject:	Drive Training Inquiry
Sent:	Monday, November 1, 2010 07:42:46
From:	Martin Minnicino (mminnicino@phenv.com)
Thanks for providing your website to the public.  Your input is
appreciated considering Meade's poorly written and outdated instruction
manuals, endless software and firmware updates, and their
quasi-technical staff

Regarding the "Thoughts on Training" article:

I have a new Meade DSM-2000 Mount which uses the 497 (43E version) of
AutoStar.  Ironically, it just failed after only two hours of use.  But
when I was training the drives, I noticed that it slewed in "four"
directions (2 for Alt and 2 for Az).  I got the impression from your
article that the AutoStar would only slew in one direction per Alt and
one direction per Az.  If this is the case, then would the additional
slew introduce another backlash error that would have to be
re-compensated for by your method ?

This particular 497 AutoStar was set up for use with solar telescopes
(at least that is what I was told).  So, you can skip the star align
procedures.  You just level the scope, point it north, turn it on,
select "Astronomical Targets", and manually slew to the sun, and you are
done.  There is usually one additional step, which requires the user to
synchronize AutoStar to the sun by pressing and holding the Enter Key,
but I have found that this additional step tends to introduce more
tracking errors (for some strange reason), so I do not do it.
 
Any thoughts?
 
Thank you.
 
Martin Minnicino
South Amboy, New Jersey
Mike here: First, setting to Astronomical Targets only turns on the tracking, it does not align the AutoStar to the sky. If the telescope is mounted in Equatorial mode and the Mount is set for Polar in the AutoStar, then the telescope will track (assuming the mount latitude is set correctly and the mount is polar aligned). On the other hand, if the mount is Alt/Az, then tracking will not be accurate. As to why you are setting two movements, that could be just be some refining of where the non-aligned AutoStar thinks the alignment star is located. Just to clarify, if you want to use the telescope in Alt/Az, you can not skip the AutoStar alignment steps if you want precise tracking and the ability to GOTO objects. If you want to GOTO the Sun (with proper safety measures), see the article "Adding the Sun" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I have used that technique with my LX200-ACF and it works perfectly.

And:

For tracking the sun, I have found no difference between the "mock
alignment" procedure and the shortcut alignment procedure that I
described below (and that was specified in the instruction manual).
There was never any suggestion/instruction about using the Polar mode in
the manual. Being that I only use the mount during daytime, I do not
think that I have any other option than to use the Alt/Az mode with
shortcut alignment (?).

I figure that some of the tracking error was due to the fact that the
mount and AutoStar cannot track on "solar" speed.

What about the "four" direction drive training question? Is using your
initial down/left centering procedure still valid for increasing drive
training accuracy?

Thanks again.

Martin Minnicino
Mike here: For most purposes, sidereal rate and solar rate can be considered the same. However, unless you have the AutoStar aligned, tracking will not be accurate in Alt/Az since the telescope has to be moved in two axes and the Earth rotates on one axis. You can use Polar during the daytime; just point the mount axis to True North (using a Magnetic compass if necessary, correcting for your local Magnetic Variation). You can also do a fairly accurate setup in the daytime by aligning the telescope and AutoStar at night, mark the location of the tripod legs, Park the AutoStar. Then during the day put the tripod legs on the marks and just power on from the Parked position. Sorry that I midread your initial 4 direction question. Yes, you do train in 4 directions: left, right, up, and down. Personally, I don't worry about direction when centering during the star alignment steps.

And:

I just have the three-leg tripod mount that the DSM-2000 and AutoStar
fits into.  No option for Polar mode.

Martin Minnicino
Mike here: The nighttime alignment and Park can be a useful technique, even in Alt/Az.
Subject:	Goto #497 Synch  - how to cancel it ?
Sent:	Monday, November 1, 2010 04:39:35
From:	aws@mpe.mpg.de (aws@mpe.mpg.de)
I use Goto #497 with DS2090MAK and find the Synch function great, it is
always spot on for objects near the Synch'd one.

But the when moving elsewhere on the sky, it is no more accurate, as
indeed expected (and written in the manual).

It seems the only way to get back to normal mode is to re-align the
scope from scratch (eg 2-star) which is tedious to do every time after a
synch and moving away.

(or alternatively finding new synch objects in the new part of the sky,
but they have to be found first, so normal mode is desirable for that.)

I could not find anything in the manual like 'cancel synch'. Presumable
the Goto still knows the setup parameters so it would be a simple
operation.

Andy Strong
Mike here: You are correct; there is no way to "undo" the SYNC. The SYNC operations updates the AutoStar, so the only way to undo it is to re-align. An alternative to using the SYNC function is to use the "High Precision" mode, which first goes to a bright object near the final object. You center that object and then the AutoStar will more accurately GOTO to the final object. It is like a SYNC but does not update the AutoStar.

And:

Thanks! I was afraid that would be the answer. I'll give High Precision
a shot.

I have another question: the battery which powers the DS2090 clock is
not mentioned in the manual: does that mean it lasts forever ?
Mike here: Please see the Submittal Guidelines (re: mixing subjects); thanks for understanding. As with most batteries, lifetime is limited. Max will be about 7 years.

And:

thanks again and sorry for violating the rules.
Mike here: Not a "rule", just a request. The article is really a set of email etiquette and submittal guidelines that make sense for visitors to the Site and for me in maintaining the Site.

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