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Last updated: 22 October 2010
This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the Windows (including the Meade AutoStar Suite), Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me 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 Suite (Night vision)
Sent:	Tuesday, October 19, 2010 20:02:05
From:	Brett O'bannon (
I have searched your autostar feedback area and I don't think this issue
has been addressed. I am in the process of going computer controlled.
Very excited. I have been playing with AS in waiting for the #505 cable
kit from B&H (best price I found). My concern? The Night Vision option
in AS seems great, except for the scroll bars which are very white and
bright. Has this issue been addressed? Has anyone tried to solve this
problem? I've tried working in the Display Properties environment but
can't find anyway to affect the change to the scroll bar I would like.
Perhaps it's not going to pose a problem, but they seem to defeat the
whole purpose of the red screen NV. 

Cheers Mike,
and as the whole world knows, "our site" is a marvel. 

Brett R. O'Bannon
Mike here: Some people have placed a red transparency over the screen.


great! Thanks Mike. 

Subject:	Planned observing session, Autostar software on computer, ETX-125PE
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 2010 16:04:42
From:	Luke MacMillan (
I would like to know if any of the guides on your site can explain how
to program an observing session using the supplied software?  I have a
limited view from my balcony and would like to plan observing sessions
for the specific constelations I can see each night through out the
year. Thank you.

Luke MacMillan
Calgary, AB
Mike here: Sorry, no user guide to using AutoStar Suite. You might eant to check out Astroplanner and ScopeDriver (see the Accessory Reviews: Software page); they have an observing planning capability.
Subject:	Autostar Suite Remote Access
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 2010 12:37:24
From:	Ted Trostle (
Since you have been testing the SKYFI product, I thought you may be
interested in what I have been doing.

I have been interested in using a WIFI wireless network to remotely
control my ETX-125PE and also remotely do some astrophotography.

Since I have a wireless network that has about a 200 ft raduis, I
thought a laptop running AutoStar Suite at the telescope location could
be remotely accessed and controlled across the network.

I think I found a way using a virtual network. I downloaded VNC from  This is a free program for personal use.

VNC contains a server which you install in the remote laptop. It also
includes the VNC viewer which is installed in the controlling PC located
inside where it is warmer.  This allows me to see the scope laptop
desktop screen and run AutoStar Suite.

Following VNC set up and configuring and  the Meade scope alignment and
AutoStar setup, it looks like I have control. I attached a LPI photo of
Jupiter which is badly out of focus and over exposed a bit. It is poor,
but I was too excited to not take the shot.

I am far from being an expert...I consider myself a entry level novice.
Maybe someone has a better solution or doing this a different way. But
for what it may be worth.....


Mike here: There are VNC server and client apps for Windows, Mac OS X, and the iPhone. And probably many other platforms as well.
Subject:	Autostar Suite Protocol Description
Sent:	Friday, October 1, 2010 14:35:21
From:	Rich Collins (

I read your write-up concerning the Autostar Dome Control issue (Mar
2005).  I spoke to Meade today and discovered that they will still not
reveal the protocol for the Dome Control.  This has only now become an
issue for me as I have completed building my dome, but I want to attempt
control from Autostar.

Did you ever go forward with your build of a netscope replacement with
Microsoft Visual Basic?  If so, are you willing to share your data and
application?  I could sure use the help.



I did not build an autostar replacement using VB since my astronomy
group ended up purchasing a solution (for about $1600!).

I have been enjoying building circuits using the ARDUINO family of
microcontrollers and I was thinking about attempting to create a dome
drive solution.  It is difficult to create a true cookie cutter
approach, which would be needed since every installation seems to be
unique.  I would be willing to help you with yours, especially if you
have a specific example, it could help focus me on one specific solution
and place it in the public domain.

My latest ideas are to use two microcontrollers, linked via radios. 
(The microcontrollers are like $10 and the radio chips are about the
same, so the costs really are very reasonable.)  One set would ride with
the dome to control the shutter while the other is mounted near the
telescope, listening in on the telescope position commands (assuming
Meade protocols) and moving the dome appropriately.  There are several
possible solutions to getting power to the moving dome, power rails or
solar power/battery.  The power rails could also come in a variety of
flavors including continuous contacts or contacts only in the HOME
position.  There are also various options when sensing the dome position
including a wheel which counts rotations, or one could count the drive
motor rotations, or one could read the position using barcodes or some
such appliance.

As you can see there are so many possibilities I get stuck at step one

While I could blow the dust off of my VB programming book and make the
user interface screens, you need some real hardware to interface with. 
Drop me a note describing what your dome setup is and we'll take it from



Thanks for the reply.  I see now that we are in a "Chicken or Egg"
situation.  I haven't built any dome devices or controls yet as I wanted
first to see what was already available.  I like your idea of using the
Arduino family, and I also like the ideas used in the LesveDome
solution.  Perhaps some combination of the two.  The only thing I have
somewhat decided upon is to use a Garage Door Opener for the Azimuth
Drive (chain driven).  They're cheap, powerful, easy to find and
control.  And for the Shutters, I will likely use two Linear Actuators. 
These are DC animals and I plan to move DC to the upper dome through
power rails & contacts riding along the perimeter.

When I start installing the drive devices, I will get back in touch and
bring you up to date on the progress.  I have attached a photo of the
Observatory completed to date.

Thanks again.


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