Last updated: 30 September 2008

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 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:	etx solar tracking
Sent:	Monday, September 29, 2008 17:56:50
From:	richard allen (
I see folks selling what they claim are Autostar 497 controllers with
solar tracking.   A google search for "meade solar tracking" got quite a
few hits.

My controller shows version 43E when it powers up.  I found all of the
references on your site as to adding a pseudo asteroid in a
complementary Earth orbit.  Is this still the only way to get the Sun
tracked or am I missing some hidden menu?

Also, is there a way to align with no stars in the daytime?  Is just
hitting enter on the selected stars enough to get close?


Mike here: For most purposes you can use the normal sidereal rate for tracking the sun. If you need more precise tracking you can set a custom tracking rate; enter -3 in Setup/Telescope/Tracking Rate/Custom. As to faking the alignment during the daytime or when the selected stars are behind obstructions, set up in a precise HOME position (the more accurate you make it the better). Then start the alignment process and just accept the stars as centered. Alternatively, you can alignment the telescope during the night, leave it set up and "park" it. Then just power on during the daytime. If you have to move the telescope overnight put it back in the exact same position during the day.


I was hoping for a GOTO but I guess I'm gonna need to build a little 
solar finder ...

Mike here: I normally just use the shadow of the finderscope. Make it as small as possible. There are some "sun finder" tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.


I've got some reading to do.  I had not even found that large branch on
your immense site.

Great stuff!

Thanks again,


Subject:	Re: Are the 1244 Electric Focuser & the Autostar 494 Controller Compatible ?
Sent:	Sunday, September 21, 2008 13:58:47
From:	Jan M. Hollis (

Thanks for the reply.  I should mention that the Meade support group
advised me over the phone that it wouldn't work.  Glad there are nice
folks like you and Mike who test out these things for us...

Jan M. Hollis

Subject:	re: Autostar 497 problem
Sent:	Saturday, September 20, 2008 18:11:37
From:	richard seymour (
May i strongly recommend using StarPatch to update your scope,
instead of Meade's Updater?

StarPatch is *much* more robust about maintaining a clean connection
to the Autostar through the Windows pathways.
(it's also twice as fast)

Free from:

good luck


From:	Attree, Kevin (
very many thanks to you both for your help.
I followed Mike's instructions on how to put the Autostar into safe
mode, and acted on Dick's suggestion of downloading the StarPatch
software. This worked a treat, and within 20 minutes StarPatch had
upgraded and rebooted the Autostar. I was pleasantly surprised to find
that the site locations I had stored in Autostar had been retained.

Thanks again to you both for your rapid responses to my problem, we are
experiencing a phenomenon here even rarer than a blue moon- blue sky, so
it is good to be up and running again!
All the best, regards, Kevin

Subject:	Autostar 497 problem
Sent:	Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:54:17
From:	Attree, Kevin (
I have a problem with my Autostar 497, ver 2.6Ec, which I use in
conjunction with a ETX125:-

Against my better judgment I decided to upgrade the Autostar from the
Meade website. I connected the Autostar to my laptop and activated the
Updater program and watched as the download commenced. After perhaps a
minute the Updater window displayed a message along the lines that it
had lost contact with the Autostar, although the Autostar screen was
saying that the download was ongoing. I checked the cable connections
between the laptop and Autostar and these seemed secure, so I left
things alone for a while, returning to the Autostar from time to time to
see if the download had completed. After a couple of hours had elapsed
with no change with the Autostar message I felt sure that the download
would not complete, and therefore with some trepidation I turned off the
power to the Autostar and disconnected it from the laptop. When I turned
the Autostar back on (still connected to the telescope, but not the
laptop) the Autostar screen illuminated, but remained blank, the usual
beep that accompanies switch-on did not happen either.

I have tried reconnecting the Autostar to the laptop, but the Autostar
Update program does not recognise the Autostar, I have looked through
the topics on your website but have not found one that relates to my

I would be very grateful for any advice you can offer. Many thanks,
regards Kevin
Mike here: You need to put the AutoStar into SAFE LOAD mode (see the item "Q. The power went off while I was updating my AutoStar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the FAQ page on my ETX web site). Then run the update application again. If your network connection is flakey try downloading the 4.3Eg ROM from Meade's web site with your web browser and put the UNZIPPED file into the Ephemerides folder. Then run the updater application and use the local copy of the file.
Subject:	Are the 1244 Electric Focuser & the Autostar 494 Controller Compatible ?
Sent:	Friday, September 19, 2008 17:23:49
From:	Jan M. Hollis (
I have an ETX-90 on a DS-2000 mount which uses the 494 Autostar
controller.  Do you know if the 1244 electric focuser would work with
the 494 Autostar controller?  The 1244 operating instructions mentions
compatibility with the 497 Autostar but does not mention the 494

Jan M. Hollis
Mike here: I have my doubts. Perhaps our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, knows for certain.


From:	richard seymour (
My apologies for the delay in replying, but...
This is one of those things i like to -test- before answering,
since i don't trust my memory...

My ETX70 with a 494 Autostar running v11Ea -does-
recognize and operate the 1244 focuser.
You have to press [mode] for 3 seconds, then release,
and you'll be offered the focus menu instead of the RA/DEC display.
(tap scroll up/down to reach the other/regular status screens)

have fun

Subject:	Need Help on DS Drive , New Web Listing
Sent:	Sunday, September 14, 2008 18:06:04
From: (
I am trying to use the DS motor control and Computer of Meade to power
my homemade Dob . Its a 14.5 inch monster . The gears are homemade 21
inch with motors from Jameco.....a little heaver than the Meade DS
motors but with the same current . That part works with a manual hand
controller ( ALT / AZ ) . Have you any suggestions as how to create a
feedback....pulse count to replace the current setup found in Meades
motor boxes ? The motor can be substuted externally and the disabled
original motor hooked to the worm shaft .......but it makes a horrible
snap sound now and then . So it would seem to need redoing of the
feedback pulse circuit . Any Web Sites that you can think of that have
taken this approach ?

The telescope can be seen on my web site ( ) . Being
a first time web site builder......I did not get the "crawlers" to list
it properly. Google will recognize it .....but not much else works .
Inclusion on your Astronomy Listings would help greatly .

Alton Cowan
Mike here: See the article 'Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts' on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. As to other thoughts, perhaps Dick Seymour, our resident AutoStar expert, has something to add.
From:	richard seymour (
I'd recommend joining the Yahoo group "Roboscope" ... putting Meade drives on non-Meade
telescope mounts is their primary focus.

I don't understand the origin of the "horrible snap"... is it the Meade motor doing
that, or the JAmeco motor (folks in the roboscope group would love to learn the
part number of the motor you're using).   If you are running your tests with
the DS motor (and encoder) exposed, they're somewhat sensitive to ambient light.
The snaps may be coming from that exteral noise.  Try shielding the old motor
from all stray light and see if the snaps don't disappear.

The feedback system is that toothed disk you see if you open up the DS motor unit.
It passes between an infrared LED and a dual-opto-sensor quadrature detector.
The DS encoder only causes 36 full strobes in one motor shaft rotation.
You could rig a similar system to your "new" motor mount, or purchase rotary
encoders such as the U.S. Digital  E4P-256-091  (256 steps in one rotation).

The DS motor controller card has an upper limit of about 20 KHz encoder transitions.
So whatever encoder you install, it has to stay below that "flicker limit" at its
maximum speed of rotation.

have fun

Subject:	PEC
Sent:	Friday, September 12, 2008 13:44:29
From:	Steve Arnold (
Hey Mike, am I correct in thinking that pec training will only work in
polar mode?


Mike here: Yep

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