AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 September 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 etx@me.com. 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:	Autostar misbehaving
Sent:	Saturday, September 29, 2007 18:43:34
From:	paulv@alphawatch.com (paulv@alphawatch.com)
When I goto using my auto star I have noticed I am alway off in
declinations.  I went back and retrained in declination and I noticed
that when I center my object and start the process the scope moves away
from my object like it should but then when the motor reverses itself to
return to the object the scope moves very little as if the clutch is
slipping.  I had the whole scope apart and degreased it so the problem
does not seem to be there.  Would changing the percentages help?

Paul
Mike here: Before messing with percentages, see the item "Q. My telescope has gone berserk. It slews until it hits the hard stop in either azimuth or altitude. It behaves erratically. What do I do?" on the FAQ page.
Subject:	ETX/Bluestar connection
Sent:	Friday, September 28, 2007 00:56:08
From:	Henrik van Holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Hello Tristan,
 
you are not saying what ETX you have but if it is an ETX60/70 or 80 you
need the #506 cable as this has AUX to serial converter integrated in
the cable. You can not make the the #506 cable forget it. I am afraid
you have use my drawing to make the connection which uses the #506.

If you have ETX90/105/125 or LX90 you have to use the cable which came
with the Bluestar, this cable goos from Autostar 479 (serial port)
directly to Bluestar and do not use the #505 cable in this case.
 
If you have other questions let Mike or me know.
 
Good luck
Henrik

Subject:	RE: no tracking
Sent:	Thursday, September 27, 2007 07:50:19
From:	Jeff Corrick (jcorrick@stoneway.com)
I finally got my friends hand-controllers and his work fine with my
scope, so the answer is that my hand-controller is toast. The issue with
Autostar was set-up.  Life is good once again !

Jeff

Subject:	RE: Autostar #497 patch for Meade 4504 - which one to use?
Sent:	Thursday, September 27, 2007 00:56:18
From:	Callum Elliot (info@sakurabrae.co.uk)
Cables, autostar (patched!) & a webcam all connected has now produced
some awesome viewing - especially as the constant cloud on the W. coast
of Scotland has lifted this week!

Now I just need to learn how to use the tools properly!

A big THANK YOU for all your help!

Regards
Callum Elliot

Subject:	494 Autostar Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, September 26, 2007 23:48:11
From:	Brian Miller (millers18@att.net)
I just wanted to thank you for your advice and assistance when my 494
Autostar started acting up. As I explained in an earlier post, I have
owned my ETX 60 since September 2001, and have not experienced a problem
I could not resolve until now.

When switching Alignment mounts between Polar and Alt Azimuth, my
Autostar began locking up in the Alignment mode. I could not seem to
Reset the Autostar no matter what I tried, so I posted my plea for
assistance on your website. My problem was as follows:

#494 Autostart will not start in "Safe Mode".

Holding down the Enter and Scroll Down key on power-up does not initiate
a "Safe Mode" start. Nor does any other key configuration I attempted
initiate a "Safe Mode" start.

Opened Hyperterminal, made sure settings were as follow: 9600, 8, none,
1, none.

Hit "Control D".

Autostar displayed "Downloading Do not turn off."

Sent binary file I downloaded from your site that was provided by
Richard Seymore via Hyperterminal "Send Text".

Autostar rebooted.

Hit Speed button:

Got a "Testing Motors" on start up. Motors tested fine.

Autostar seemed to reset: Had to enter all set-up data.

When it got to "align", it displayed Proc Trap 4 error message again and
the Autostar locked up.

Using the supplied "Autostar Suite Astronomer's Edition" Update mode,
the 494 is forced to software Reset, but upon alignment, the Proc. Trap
4 message displays again and the 494 Autostar is again non functional.

On September 26 2007 as a test, I received a replacement 494 Autostar
this afternoon. Checked it out that same evening. ETX 60 booted, but on
initial alignment, the Autostar reported a Motor Failure. I reset the
Autostar, and it aligned in Alt Azimuth correctly, and tracked objects
on command without fault or error.

As an experiment, I tried the original Autostar controller. It booted
fine, but when it got to the "align" segment of the boot cycle, the
Autostar failed again. On the second attempt to realign with the
original Autostar, it display the Proc. Trap 4 error message.

Based on my observations, the original Autostar is experiencing a fatal
fault from which it cannot recover. The replacement Autostar aligns
without experiencing any faults, and the telescope tracks perfectly. Do
you think my original Autostar has "bit the dust"?
 
Regards,
 
Brian Miller
Spring Valley, CA 
Mike here: First, there is no SAFE MODE for the #494. Based on your description it does sound like the first AutoStar has gone bad.

And:

Thanks again for your help with my recent #494 Autostar problem. I
really appreciate all the time and effort you put into your website, and
I really appreciate all the suggestions to help resolve my problem.
Unfortunately, it appears that my Autostar has croaked, but my
replacement Autostar seems to be working fine and it's great to have my
ETX 60 back among the living in time to admire my favorite deep sky
objects again.
 
Thanks and keep up the good work.
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Miller
Spring Valley, CA

Subject:	Poor/no power
Sent:	Wednesday, September 26, 2007 11:56:45
From:	ben (ben@wooding.org.uk)
I haven't used my etx90ec telescope for a couple of month.
I was looking at your site and the Meade site and noticed a more recent
Autostar update from the one I'd been using.

I decided to do a bit of maintenance, nothing drastic, software upgrade,
re-train and calibrate.

I put in a new set of batteries and nothing happened.
The light came on, but no life from the Autostar at all.
I tried a different set of batteries and a 12v power supply.
The ordinary handset works, but not the autostar.

I get a click as I turn it on, or sometimes a repeated click, but no
beep and no lights/startup.

The only other consideration is that the power switch appears to have
developed a wobble so that it can sometimes be off (with no power light)
when it is on.

Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated.
Thanks
Ben
Mike here: Could you have inserted the new batteries incorrectly and therefore perhaps damaged something in the AutoStar? I suspect the AutoStar and not the ETX circuitry since you say that the standard handcontroller works. I suspect this is a different problem than the power switch. But to confirm the AutoStar it is not the AutoStar, check the AutoStar cable connectors and the jacks; the pins should not be bent sideways or depressed too much. You might also check that the pins are clean. You could also try reversing the AutoStar cable and see if the AutoStar works. One last thing you could try is reloading the AutoStar, which may require trying to put the AutoStar in SAFE LOAD mode.
Subject:	ETX - bluestar cable
Sent:	Sunday, September 23, 2007 04:49:20
From:	Tristan (tristan@redgecko.co.za)
Dear Mike & Hendrik

Mike, what a great site! Thank you making ETX ownership so much easier!

Does either of you know if there is a 'plan' available that outlines the
connectors & pin positions to construct a home-made cable to connect a
BlueStar to the ETX, without the Meade cable in -between? (like here:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/2007/bluestar.html). Sort of
'straight thru'.

Thanks in advance,

Greets from Johannesburg, South Africa
Mike here: Other than making a #505 serial cable (if you have a #497 AutoStar) I don't know of any other cable (besides the #506 for the #494 AutoStar). You can easily make a #505 serial cable using info on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; it is a "straight through" cable without any electronics (unlike the #506 cable).
Subject:	RE: ETX 105AT Autostar malfunction
Sent:	Saturday, September 22, 2007 04:53:31
From:	aschil02 (aschil02@mintel.net)
Mike, it may have been the power supply.  I purchased a new adapter
yesterday and used it for three hours last night and the scope did not
malfunction once.  If it goes wild again I will do the steps you
outlined and will let you know the results.  Thanks.

Andy
Mike here: As noted in the FAQ page item I mentioned, low power can cause the problems you were experiencing. So replacing a power supply that had gone bad would cure the problem. Be certain you CALIBRATE MOTOR following the swap.
Subject:	Autostar (for my LXD55) boot error - answer not seen on your site...
Sent:	Friday, September 21, 2007 06:28:57
From:	John E nsworth (johnensworth@yahoo.com)
I have the autostar #497.  When it boots I get to "Welcome to Autostar"
and that's it.

I CAN access the device from my computer and upload the latest bios, but
when it auto-reboots, it doesn't go beyond the welcome.  (I have the
bios that was current last weekend in the device).  The reset trick (two
buttons pressed during power-up does not fix it either.

Meade wants $80 + shipping for me to send it in.  A new one is $150-200
(and they sell for $100ish on eBay).

Are you aware of a fix for this, or is Meade my only hope?
 
Thank you for your time!
 
John Ensworth
Springfield, VA
Mike here: Are you using AC, internal batteries, or external DC power? If batteries, try swapping in fresh ones (check they are inserted correctly).

And:

Unfortunately I'm using an AC/DC converter powering the telescope.  I
have another Autostar 497 that is working just fine in this
configuration.
Mike here: Try the tip in the article "AutoStar RESET from Software" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Assuming the hardware hasn't gone bad, you could try this: if you are loading the ROM into the AutoStar via Meade's web site, instead download the ROM file directly and place it in the Ephemerides folder, then install the update to the AutoStar using the downloaded file.

And:

I'll report back to you when I try these avenues. Thank you very much
for your time!!!

If I can get it to work, I'll donate some of my repair/mailing savings
to your site.

John E

And:

Here is an informative update.  I tried the HyperTerminal trick and it
DID pop it past the start up screen, but when I restart/turn off the
Autostar, it locks in the same place. Darn.  So I tried to download the
rom to my hard drive and install it from there (by your suggestion) but
I had an internet glitch and couldn't get the newest version. So I
loaded a 34Ec version that I happened to have, and it worked perfectly!!
So I went right back to the newest (43Eg) and it locked again. Not
fixed.

Poking around in the upper 40's (from your site) I installed a few at
random. All of them locked.  So I started in the upper 30's and
installed one after another.  Something changes between 40Ef and 41Ec. 
Versions 41Ec forward either lock on the first screen (showing the rom
version) or the second screen (the Welcome screen).

How strange is THAT?!

So I can run my LXD55-10" on the 40Ef from Jan '06 for now and do some
more research.  At least it is better than just "Welcome to Autostar"!

Does this information tell you anything about my Autostar?

Thanks much!

John E

P.S. What is your mailing address or paypal name so I can send you a few
'thanks' bucks as promised?
Mike here: Definitely odd but glad you got it working. It almost sounds like a bad memory location in the AutoStar. Replacing the AutoStar (which costs almost as much as a Meade repair) might be your only good option to get to later versions.
You can make a contribution (using a credit card) using the link "Supporting the Mighty ETX Site: Making a Contribution" on my ETX Site. Many thanks!
Subject:	Autostar #497 patch for Meade 4504 - which one to use?
Sent:	Thursday, September 20, 2007 01:12:29
From:	Callum Elliot (info@sakurabrae.co.uk)
thanks for all your useful information on your site! I am quite new to
all this and would appreciate a little guidance.

I have a Meade 4504 with the Starfinder #494 - I have no AUX ports at
all.

I want to connect the telescope to a PC to run the scope from Starry
Night Pro, so I need to get an AutoStar #497, a Meade Connector Cable
#506 and patch the AutoStar #497....

The only problem is I have no idea which patch I am meant to be using! I
do not actually own the AutoStar #497 yet (watching one on ebay)

I am sure it is mentioned somewhere, but I have not figured that bit
out.

Thank you vey much for your help
Callum
Mike here: The serial cable to be used with the AutoStar #497 is the #505, not #506 (which is used with the #494 and an AUX port). As to a patch, I defer all patch questions to their author, Dick Seymour.

And:

Thank you for the reply.

Is there a way of connecting a PC directly to the HBX port and so saving
me having to buy a new autostar? Preferably without having to make my
own cables as I am really not good at getting these things right the
first time, and would hate to fry my motors!

Thank you for your help

Callum
Mike here: Nope. The #505 cable is easy to make using instructions on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, if your computer has only USB ports then you will also need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar so read the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The patch kits all have a section with makes the 4504 a "known" model to
the 497 Autostar.  You could download the newest (43gg) patch kit from
Mike's site, unpack it, and read the ReadMe for more background. The
patch kits are in the right column of this page on his site:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html

Even if you don't use a patch kit, with versions of the 497 firmware
newer than (roughly) 30Ea you can select any LXD 55/75 model, and change
the Ratio settings to match the values displayed in your current
Starfinder.  (the LXD's are GEM mounts, like the 4504, and the Ratio
describes the gear system to the Autostar).

have fun
--dick
Thank you both for all your help!

Thank you
Callum Elliot

Subject:	ETX 105AT Autostar malfunction
Sent:	Monday, September 17, 2007 18:30:15
From:	aschil02 (aschil02@mintel.net)
I have a new ETX I bought in August and have used almost every weekend
since to great enjoyment.  My only problem is that I may be observing an
object and all of a sudden autostar gets a mind of its own.  The tube
starts descending towards earth and then stops.  I can then try to have
it return to an object but it is way off and needs to be realigned.  Any
help in resolving this would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.  Andrew
Mike here: See the item "Q. My telescope has gone berserk. It slews until it hits the hard stop in either azimuth or altitude. It behaves erratically. What do I do?" on the FAQ page.
Subject:	Re: Proc. Trap 4 Error Message
Sent:	Monday, September 17, 2007 16:00:48
From:	Brian Miller (millers18@att.net)
Just wanted to give a quick update on my Autostar situation. I took your
advice and ordered the #506 cable from OPT this afternoon. I will try
the solution you suggested when the cable arrives... you were right (as
usual!); the LPI came with a #505 cable which is not supposed to be
plugged into the AUX port of the ETX 60.
 
Regards,
 
Brian Miller
Spring Valley, CA

Subject:	Autostar Tours
Sent:	Sunday, September 16, 2007 12:07:47
From:	Colin Martin (colin@cfwmartin.co.uk)
Under tour guides on my handset it says "no tours".
How do I get these tours?
I seem to remember seeing "what's up tonight" for a specific location
and date but can't find where I saw it.
Can you point me in the right direction please?
Thanks
Colin
Mike here: Apparently you deleted the tours at some point. You can install tours from Meade's AutoStar page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html). For more information and other tours see the article "AutoStar Guided Tours and Info" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	497
Sent:	Friday, September 14, 2007 09:58:08
From:	Craig Combes (craigc@hawaiiantel.net)
Is there a functional difference between an AutoStar 497 controller that
has "ETX Autostar" printed on it's face as compared to one that just has
"AutoStar" printed on it's face?

Thanks!

Craig
Mike here: There are no hardware differences. If both are running the same version of the AutoStar ROM (currently 4.3Eg) then functionally they will be the same. Since the AutoStar originated on the ETX models it was originally labeled as "ETX AutoStar". Once Meade made it available for other telescopes (DS, LX90, LXD55/75) they removed the "ETX" designation.
Subject:	Tracking a Manually Aquired object
Sent:	Monday, September 10, 2007 01:51:58
From:	Peter Lawrence (lawrences@adam.com.au)
If I perform a Two Star Easy Align, and then mnaually aquire an object
by using the arrow keys, with the Autostar continue to successfully
track that object?   It's unclear from the user manual.
Peter Lawrence (ETX125AT)
Mike here: Once you have successfully aligned the AutoStar the telescope will track any celestial object, regardless of whether you let the AutoStar GOTO that object or you slew to an object yourself. As long as you do not unlock the axes and manually move the telescope the alignment will still apply.
Subject:	Autostar 497 restricted version
Sent:	Sunday, September 9, 2007 23:03:05
From:	Andrew Telford (aht31@hotmail.com)
Great site. Congratulations, I have recommended it several times to
friends.

I have just bought, in a job lot of a load of stuff from a closing down
sale, two Autostar 497s.

One appears to have a "demo" programme installed. When switched on, it
starts scrolling with " I am an autostar, watch me move your telescope
on a tour of the stars etc..." Limited functions are available, you can
move the scope with it, but whatever you press, it can't be set up with
location, date/time etc. Inside it looks like a normal 497.

I have tried updating from the Meade website following the usual
instructions, but it won't do it.

The other Autostar appears to be a display model. It is Brand new in a
box and also looks complete inside. It is completely dead.

Any advice on how (if possible) to get these up and running?

The Black and white cat on the left looks just like our old cat Domino!
 
Best wishes, Andy. 
Mike here: Don't know if this will work with either model but you might try a SAFE LOAD. Depending on how old the AutoStar handsets are the software that makes SAFE LOAD work may or may not be available. By the way, what model telescope have you connected them to? Are you using a known good coiled AutoStar cable?

And:

Thanks for the quick reply Mike. It is a good working coil lead, the
scope is an ETX90EC. Can you explain what Safe Load is and how I go
about loading/getting it? Thanks again, Andy
Mike here: See the item "The power went off while I was updating my AutoStar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the FAQ page for an explanation of SAFE LOAD. You will need a #505 serial cable (which you can easily make using instructions on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). You will also need a RS-232 serial port on your computer; if your computer has only USB you will need a USB-serial adapter. Note that not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I use a Keyspan model with my Apple PowerBooks and it works fine. You will also need Meade's AutoStar Update application (available from Meade's Site) if you use Windows or AutoStarX if you use Mac OS X. Links for these are on the AutoStar Info page. If you have all the necessary pieces, follow the instructions on the FAQ page.

And:

Brilliant Stuff Mike, Thanks..
Mike here: By the way, could you be seeing the "Getting Started" display?
Subject:	Meade #497
Sent:	Saturday, September 8, 2007 21:20:17
From:	Robert Black (rjblack_2@sympatico.ca)
I have a meade LX90 8" SCT.It has a #497 hand box control.

My problem is---when I push the left,right buttons the scope moves in
the proper direction.    But when I push the up-down arrows, the scope
does not respond at all.

Is there any way to check  the hand box or curly cable to see if it is
the problem. Just maybe I could get away with just a new handbox or
cord.

I have tried to find someone with the same system and try my box on his
unit but just can't seem to find anyone willing to do it.

Thankyou in advance,sincerely, bob black
Mike here: Some questions: Is this a new problem? When you press the UP/DOWN arrows do you hear the motors running? Have you tried a CALIBRATE MOTOR? Have you done a TRAIN DRIVES? Does it work on the Altitude axis? Have you tried a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, TRAIN DRIVES? If none of these restore functioning you could try reversing the coiled cable. Also, check the pins on the connectors and inside the jacks; they should not be bent sideways nor too depressed nor dirty. If nothing restores functioning you could try reloading the ROM (you will need a serial port and a #505 serial cable). One final thing you could try would be cleaning the keypad; see the article "Keupad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Drives Training Procedure, Single or Multiple keystrokes to re-center object
Sent:	Wednesday, September 5, 2007 06:17:42
From:	Jaime Ramirez Barajas (jaime.ramirez@cemex.com)
I have been using your drive training procedures on my DS2130LNT
telescope, got a question:

c) the telescope will slew in Azimuth in the opposite direction and
again stop and ask you to "center" and press "Enter;" do so;

To center the object should I key the ">" or "<" multiple times or just
keep it pressed and release it when object is back in center position?

Best Regards

Jaime Ramrez Barajas MSc.
Mike here: Either works, just don't overshoot the target (which can easily happen if you hold down the arrow key). If you do overshoot you have to start over.

And:

If I modify the ALT/AZM percentages, drives must be retrained?, Should I
reset the Autostar before changing the ALT/AZM percentages and retrain?
Mike here: TRAIN before changing the percentages. No need to RESET. For more info on percentages see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Autostar Update - USB-Serial AETN UC-232A Woes
Sent:	Tuesday, September 4, 2007 12:15:36
From:	John Edelmann (edelmann@hcst.net)
I tried to update my autostar 497 for the first time since I had a new
motherboard/pc w/o a serial port ... using the subject bridge device. 
Unfortunately, COM4 was as low a COM designation as I was able to get it
to be discovered at. (?)  If I moved it around to other USB ports, it
went up from 4 to 11 at one point.

So... i'm at a loss ... I ended up using an older compaq system that was
sort of handy, but i'm wondering why my AETN adapter doesn't seem to
work with Autostar updater at all.  It kept saying no telescope
found..regardless if I set the port to 4, 5, etc.

I'm using the July 2003 released drivers ..(2.0.0) . which it doesn't
look like there are any subsequent ones for -- but I could be wrong.   I
found a 2.1 driver, but after doing the install, windows said that no
valid driver more recent than what was already in use, could be found in
the directory wherein the update was unzipped.

I checked /searched your site for UC-232A and found the articles where
it appears the adapter works just fine.
 
Not the end of the world, by any means ... but troublesome, all the
same.
 
thanks
 
john edelmann
Mike here: Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more info and suggested solutions. I use a Keyspan adapter on my Apple PowerBooks under Mac OS X and it works fine with the AutoStar.
Subject:	Autostar Goto off
Sent:	Sunday, September 2, 2007 19:32:59
From:	paulv@alphawatch.com (paulv@alphawatch.com)
Out of the blue my Autostar decided to go on strike.  My goto's were
tens of degrees off so last night I retrained several time to no avail. 
This evening I reset, calibrated, and retrained again but no difference.
The training seemed to work because the scope will goto my landmarks
without a problem but as soon as I try to align my first star the scope
is not even close.  The scope does track well so I am at a loss.  It is
also telling me stars are below the horizon that are not and yes my
location and time are correct.  I am lost.

Paul
Mike here: Just to confirm, after the first alignment star is OFF and you center it, is the second star better? And once you center that, are the GOTOs now working OK? When you did the RESET, did you recheck the telescope model and mounting mode and Daylight Savings settings as well as your Site location?

And:

The second star is off as well and by quite a bit.  The gotos don't work
very well after that either. I checked ALL setting again this morning
but everything is fine.  I am lost.  Since it finds my landmarks but not
the gotos and the only difference is the input of time and date I would
think that there is where the problem is but I know time and date are
correct. Maybe time for Dr, Clay?

Paul
Mike here: You might want to reload the AutoStar ROM, assuming you have a #497 AutoStar (has number keys). Dumb question but it has been known to happen: have you checked the YEAR in the date?

And:

Thanks Mike, I will try that.

Paul

And:

Thanks for all you do Mike.  Just one last question. I know I need to
calibrate and train but do I also need to reset once the ROM is updated?
Mike here: Actually, only CALIBRATE MOTORS seems necessary following a ROM update.

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Copyright ©2007 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/sep07/autostar.html