Last updated: 31 October 2007
Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.
Subject: Please Help with autostar Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 14:11:13 From: Trkr75@aol.com (Trkr75@aol.com) I am having problems with connecting my autostar to my computer. I got the mead usb to serial downloaded the right drivers and everything. I think I have read all the postings in the autostar area of your web site 3 or 4 times. (I actually think I can attribute this migraine to this whole situation) I have looked on the hardware manager and found that it is supposedly using COM9 so I set it to that and...... nothing. Any ideas? Shoot it, drown it in water (the computer of course, not my scope), run it over with my semi.... I am at a loss. any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Ken Oh yea I also tried just hooking it up to a regular computer with a serial port, no luck there either.Mike here: Did you make or purchase the #505 serial cable? Have you checked that? The AutoStar Update application wants to use COM1 through COM4 so if you are trying to use COM9 it likely won't work.
I purchased the cable, do you know of any way to assign the com ports? I use a usb splitter on my laptop but on the desktop it came up as com 1. Your site as always is the best, and thanks for all that you do.Mike here: I'm not a Windows user so can't answer the COM port question. But if you got COM1 then you should be OK. Check the cable continuity and the condition of the pins inside the connectors and jacks; the pins should not be bent sideways, dirty, or too depressed.
May have found something, when I hold the two ends of the cable next to each other (one is a little bigger then the other) I hold them with the "Clip" part (the part you push down to remove) down the color wires go like this. Big end from left to right- yellow, green, red, black Little end from left to right- black, red,green, yellow Should they be reversed? I hope not, then it would be a easy fix and my head would stop hurting Thanks, KenMike here: Unfortunately, my cable is packed up for a pending move. But the pinout diagrams are available on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject: autostar 497 Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 19:31:44 From: Marty (email@example.com) Hi, I have a 497 handbox I purchased as a spare I put the latest ver in it But I will not keep the time. I have to set it every time I turn on the unit, But the other 497 handbox I have that came with the telecope does save the time and date. What could be the issue. MartyMike here: The AutoStar will always default to 8pm (or 2000 hours) with the last entered date when powered on. The only way it does not do this is if it gets its date/time from an external source, such as a LNT or GPS unit connected to the telescope. Since you say your other AutoStar does "save" the date and time I wonder what you have connected.
I have it connected to a ds-2114 telescope. my original 497 when powered up will say (getting time)the new one does not do this maybe there is a problem with the unit I know that my telescope has an 2023 battery that keeps the time and date.Mike here: I presume your DS telescope has the LNT. Is this true? If so, the AutoStar should get the date and time from the LNT module. If that is happening with one AutoStar but not the other then check that the new one is set for the proper telescope and that it "sees" the LNT by checking the MODE menu for the SmartFinder options.
Yes my scope has LNT there must be a problem with the 497 handbox, Because I can turn it on sometimes and it get the date and time and other times it doesn't.Mike here: Check the condition of the pins inside the AutoStar cable jack on the base of the handset. They should not be too depressed, bent sideways, or dirty. Also, check the connector on the cable for the same concerns.
I checked them it is a new unit. Also I just wanted to tell you that I really like the web page with all the info on it about autostar it a great help when you are having trouble or just have a question you can usually find the answer there. MartyMike here: Try doing a RESET on the AutoStar; perhaps that will clear the problem. Remember to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES following the RESET.
Subject: Re: Autostar 497 display Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 15:44:58 From: Bob Waterfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for the reply, Meade only want to sell me a new unit, Not even interested in repair let alone just selling me the needed part. I have spent over 4 hours WEB surfing to try and find who made the display for Meade. If I find one, I will let you know. I doubt I am the only one who has broken their display. BobMike here: Meade, like many companies, limits "repair parts" sales. And it is probably not cost-effective for them to repair such a (relatively) low priced item.
Subject: Help me! #497 43g rom and 43gg patch Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 09:38:09 From: douglas saucedo (email@example.com) I just installed the new rom 43g and the patch for it 43gg but the menu for smartmount disappeared from the autostar menu (#497). you know some issue about this conbination. thanks
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Smart Mount (Meade's "T-point"-like GoTo improvement) is not part of the 497's capabilities. Smart Drive (Meade's name for PEC) does exist, but you have to be set to Mount > Polar before it's offered. Then it's a subset of the Setup/Telescope menu chain... most quickly reached by doing Setup/Telescope [enter] and then a few [scroll UP]s to cycle past High Precision.. you'll hit Smart Mount (or PEC ) within a couple of up-scrolls. have fun --dick
Subject: Re : Autostar gone dead Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 13:07:58 From: Dimitri Stamatiadis (email@example.com) Following up on this: I got an ohmmeter and went throught the entire device. As much as a lay person like me can tell there wan nothing wrong. The resistances are all intact, the capacitors as well. The larger elements are difficult to tell. Then I turned to Voltmeter and plugged the device in the scope. Power is arriving correctly at the pins, the 5 volt converter operates correctly (regardless of the input voltage, e.g. 9 or 12, the output is always 5.04 Volts). I took measures at various points of the circuit and found different voltages, usually below 5 including at the display pins but there was no display of course. The oly thing I noticed was that there was no power at the leds pins (which was to be expected since they were not lit). Then, as I was moving around, one of the Vmeter's pointers touched between pin 1 and 2 and suddenly the leds came on. But that was all. I turned the device off and back on and the leds were off again. I borrowed another autostar and it is working fine so there is nothing wrong with the scope. I am wondering if this could be a software issue. I will send it for repair and find out. Thanks for the great advice, at least I learded a lot about the autostar Mike I wish you good luck with your move (I moved a couple times around the globe myself and know the pain - and excitement) DimitriMike here: It sounds like hardware, not software. Thanks. I've moved many times as well over the years, especially when in the military. But it is a still a pain.
Subject: Autostar 497 display Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 11:44:32 From: Bob Waterfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ok, I dropped my autostart and cracked the display. Any idea where I can get a new display only? I have already removed the cracked one. Cracked right on one of the thin wires in the glass. Thanks BobMike here: Other than someone else's broken AutoStar or used AutoStar, no idea.
Subject: Power Question for the Autostar 497 and Meade 4504 Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 06:41:50 From: Callum Elliot (email@example.com) I wrote a while back and you offered some really helpful advice on getting the Meade 4504 telescope connected to a PC. I bought an Autostar 497 and the required cable and everything runs fine. That is, until I changed the old batteries to new ones and now I am getting random slew problems. I appreciate that I have to recalibrate my motors, but what I am worried about is that the 4504 motors have 15v written on the side, but the newer telescopes that have the autostar 497 seem as if they require 12v. What voltage should I be using? If I use the 15v as suggested by the 4505, will I damage the Autostar 497? Or is it ok to use the 15v and just recalibrate the motors? Or should I be using 12v? Thank you for your help. Regards Callum ElliotMike here: You won't damage the AutoStar as long as the batteries you use are in the telescope.
Subject: Autostar - polar alignment query Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 02:48:53 From: justin allison (firstname.lastname@example.org) Could you tell me in very simple terms how to navigate through my Autostar handset in order to operate in polar alignment only? I don't know the Autostar ROM number but the serial on the back of the Autostar unit is: 031002573 ver:26ec (I suspect it is the more advanced of the units.) It is linked to an ETX 90. Many thanks for your kind assistance. JustinMike here: There are several polar alignment tips on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Read through them; if you still have questions let me know. You can check the installed version from the Utility-->Statistics menu item.
Thank you Mike, will do. Kind regards, Justin
Subject: re: Autostar gone dead Sent: Monday, October 8, 2007 20:40:09 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You wrote: > I also tried using a standard ethernet cable. DO NOT USE STANDARD ETHERNET CABLES as the only handbox cables. (don't use ethernet "crossover" cables, either) The pinouts are completely wrong... in fact, you -reversed the power- to the Autostar by doing so. If it wasn't dead beforehand, it is now. The regular handbox cable swaps pins 1 and 8 along its length... a standard ethernet cable runs 1 to 1 and 8 to 8. You can compare the pinouts at: http://jan.eaglecreekobservatory.org/pinouts.html For your Autostar, my recommendation would be to open it up and start following traces with an ohmmeter. You may have simply blown one (or more) of the feedthrough inductors near the RJ45 socket. The 5 volt regulator may be dead. There's a rough layout of one of the models at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_schematic.html good luck --dick
From: Dimitri Stamatiadis (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike's response was clear enough on that anyway. I will do as you say - go throught the device with an ohmmeter - and see what I find. I only plugged the ethernet cable to the (already unresponsive) Autostar once. Of course once is enough to fry the device but I'll cross my fingers and investigate. I will send whatever I find to Mike for posting. Regards Dimitri PS: Why on earth did Meade choose to cross over the pins? Any particular reason?
Subject: re: Is there any way to restore ROM on a 494 handset? Sent: Monday, October 8, 2007 20:31:15 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You -may- be able to rescue yourself by trying -another- update session (NOT via the Belkin). Here's what happened: The chips in the Autostar require being erased in 64 KByte chunks. The User Data (satellites, etc.) only occupy 32 KB. The erase step wipes out a chunk of the permanent database (such as star names). The Updater has -copies- of that chunk of permanent data in its Ephemerides folder, and uses them to restore the 494. First: look in the Ephemerides folder which is "under" the Updater folder (so c:\Program Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\Updater\Ephemerides ) In there you will see some .rom files (names like Asp7A...) COPY THEM to some other safe place (in case it made a copy of -your- Autostar's data... look at the date-stamps in Windows Explorer). Now fire up the Updater and retry loading User Data to the 494. With a -lot- of luck, it may properly restore the star data too. Please let us know if you were successful good luck --dick
Subject: Is there any way to restore ROM on a 494 handset? Sent: Monday, October 8, 2007 09:31:15 From: Kyle Hunter (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a Meade DS2114 with the 494 handset. I downloaded Meade's newest autoupdater, and was going to install updated satellite and comet info. Reading info from the handset went without a problem, but when I went to upload to it, it hung at about 30%, then restarted. Now all my star names are gone, not to mention the existing databases for comets, satellites, asteroids, etc. I am using the Belkin, (yeah, I know) USB to serial adapter, but I do have another desktop system with a regular serial port, which seems to work just fine. I just want my star names back! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Kyle HunterMike here: Meade has not made a user-installable ROM file available for the #494 AutoStar. You could try a RESET from software (see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page) but that likely won't help. You have a few choices: contact Meade for a "repair" (which will cost almost as much as a new AutoStar), try to find a used #494 or #497 AutoStar, purchase a new #497 AutoStar. If you do decide to go for a replacement I recommend getting the #497 AutoStar, which is user updateable.
Subject: Autostar gone dead Sent: Friday, October 5, 2007 12:54:33 From: Dimitri Stamatiadis (email@example.com) I turn to you because a very strange thing happened to my Autostar 497 controller. I used it with no problems for several months with my ETX 125 after having updated the software successfully. Then I stored the scope and all equipment away for a couple months. When I tried to set it back up, everything works fine including the simple controller ETX pad but the autostar is completely unresponsive. Dead. I made sure the cable does supply 12 volt power (so I don't think there is any problem there). Physically everything looks in perfect condition including the inside of the controller. I tried the ENTER - SCROLL DOWN trick but nothing happened. The nearest repair shop is in Paris (it may sound glamour but it is the usual hussle sending it there as anywhere else) so before I admit defeat I thought you or someone else might have an idea. Thanks and congratulations for the site DimitriMike here: Have you checked the pins inside the jacks and on the connectors? They should not be bent sideways nor too depressed. If the telescope was stored a long time in a damp area they could have rusted; check for cleanliness of the pins. Also, you could try reversing the AutoStar cable. Since the standard handcontroller works, the problem could be on the AutoStar end, either the cable or the AutoStar itself.
Thanks for the quick answer Mike. The pins look fine (but I did clean them just to be sure). I also tried using a standard ethernet cable. Power arrives all right but the autostar remained silent. Needless to say that I did reverse the cable with no result either. By the way the scope was stored in a room in the house, covered and all the accessories in their boxes. There were no extreme conditions of either heat or humidity. There is certainly some contact between the scope and the controller because if I power the scope up with NO cotroller at all connected, the motors start turning (I had to unclutch them to prevent it from moving all the time). When I plug the standard contoller and power up the leds on the pad blink until I push any button then the motors do their regular check and all is ready to work. Tracking etc work fine in these conditions. Now when I plug the autostar and power up nothing moves and If I unplug it with the power on, the motors go crazy again. I am really puzzled. Thanks again DimitriMike here: You may have damaged the AutoStar now by using the Ethernet cable unless you reversed some pins or made a coupler (see the article "Long AutoStar Cable" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). But since it was likely already dead it may not have mattered. One last thing you can try if you haven't already: insert a fresh set of batteries or use an external power source.
Subject: gps Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2007 20:17:48 From: MICHAEL RINNE (ASKME-IKNOW@HOTMAIL.COM) is there a way to hook autostar to a hand held gps thanks mikeMike here: Depends on the GPS. There are some articles on GPS on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject: usb to rs232 Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2007 17:34:00 From: David (firstname.lastname@example.org) Check this out! http://www.ramelectronics.net/html/usb_serial.htm they sell a cable plus driver for only $22 DaveMike here: To reiterate my earlier warnings, not all USB adapters work with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more details.
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