Cassiopeia Observatory logo
[Home!]

AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK

Last updated: 20 September 2012

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, AudioStar, 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:	Audiostar 497EP / Autostar 497 auto-repeat keys
Sent:	Wednesday, September 19, 2012 06:26:29
From:	Michael Parry (mikeparry@mike-parry.com)
My Autostar has a handy feature where if you are selecting an object by
name e.g. say a star, if you hold down
the scroll key, the selection names will automatically repeat, letting
you find the name quickly.
 
I have found that my Audiostar does not have this handy feature forcing
repeated button pushes.
 
Does anyone know of a patch that might enable auto-repeat in the
Audiostar?
 
Cheers
 
Mike
Mike here: I don't have an AudioStar but hadn't heard that continuous scrolling was removed with it. I'll let the experts answer.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Fast answer:
You're seeing a consequence of the re-purposing of the scroll keys to
control the speaker volume.

I don't (off hand) recall if there are instances when the
continuous-scroll action still exists, and i don't know how "simple" it
would be to patch without losing volume control.

more later
have fun
--dick

And:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
Actually, they were repurposed, but not for volume.
The "Hold" scroll now are mapped to "rewind" and "skip" tracks.
I had asked that the code be modified such that if audio
was not playing, the keys reverted to autoscroll, but never got a reply.
Its not simple to patch as some of the scroll code has been deleted.

Andrew
Mike here: Maybe one of these days Meade will release a touchscreen AutoStar/AudioStar with appropriate buttons depending on the mode.

And:

Wouldnt hold your breath,
but till then Genes bluetooth/ Android remote Hbx
does have touch screen access and nearly all functions.
http://www.astrogene1000.com/products/bt_scope2/screens/index.htm

Unforch, no autoscroll :-(

Andrew
Mike here: And SkySafari on iPhone, iPad, Android, and Mac can control the telescope via serial, USB, or Wi-Fi.

And:

Understood, but Genes unit uses Meades special command set to simulate
keypresses, hence "emulates" a real Hbx. Ie you can use it to do pretty
much anything a real Hbx could do, eg aligning.

Andrew
Mike here: Thanks. That's cool!


Subject:	Autostar 497 on Old Version 26E Not Updatable?
Sent:	Thursday, September 13, 2012 09:24:18
From:	Jim Konowitz (konowitz@salida-co.us)
I am trying to help a novice friend who just acquired a literally never
used ETX-125.  He thinks the scope and its Autostar date back to around
2002.  The version on it when it boots up says "c(02) Meade [26E]".  I
have the Autostar Updater version 5.6 installed on my PC which works
fine with my own up-to-date +10 year old Autostar connected with a
USB/serial adapter.

The current Updater will not connect with the old 497.  Went through a
series of diagnostics with Meade Tech Support and they could only
conclude that the very old version in the handbox is not compatible for
connecting with the current version of the Updater.  They figured that
if the USB/serial adapter (Prolific PL2303HX Chipset that others have
recommended) works OK with my 497 it would not be a problem with the
other 497.  They said that at this point there is nothing than can be
done to bring the 497 up to date.

I realize nobody else can be responsible for anything that happens with
my trying to get the 497 up to date.  In basic testing of the original
unit after a calibrate and train it seems to perform fine running
through the basic functions on both my and his scopes.  

I'd appreciate your opinion about whether I should just leave it as is
and later just concern myself with updating only if a problem is
encountered?

If you think it best to try to update it, I obviously need to regress to
an older Updater hoping it will connect.  Do you think I can just go
back to Updater 3.51, the last one in 2002 with the subsequent release
being 06/10/05, and load the current build (43Eg) or do I have to
somehow step forward incrementally with each updater and build?

Again, I take full responsibility for whatever happens but hope your
experiences with the updates Meade has provided over the years will help
me make a more informed decision.

Jim in Colorado at 8,000'
Mike here: You should be able to update to 4.3Eg using the AutoStar Update 4.6 application. Both are available on the AutoStar Software Archive page on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site. Note that not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. If you have problems, try using StarPatch from www.stargps.ca to load 4.3Eg.


Subject:	497 on ETX-125PE
Sent:	Saturday, September 8, 2012 14:04:29
From:	nbarnettj3@aol.com (nbarnettj3@aol.com)
You'll find this interesting.
I have NO complaints or claims towards you or StarPatch, or any such
thing. I appreciate your offerings. I'm very curious and think you might
be too. If anybody can help, it's you.

I have an ETX-125PE fully functional with the LNT. It came with a
regular 497 autostar, NOT the ETX Autostar. The hand control only has
AUTOSTAR at the top, centered.

This controller worked great for all functions: automatic align, 2
second hold on mode for access to LNT and finder controls such as
brightness and blink, full auto setup with tilt and finding north etc.,
every 125PE function I wanted or needed.
I noticed the version was not the current one so I successfully upgraded
using your StarPatch. When I initiated the upgrade, I chose the 497EP
controller option or whatever was listed for the ETX-125EP. I believe
the upgrade was version EG at the time but could be mistaken. All the
125PE functions still worked great. The automatic alignment, the finder
brightness and blink controlls, all continued to work great.

Then I had to change the LNT module because the stalk on mine was
broken. The old LNT module (finder) still worked and is working now
since I had to go back to it eventually. It was simply the stalk that
had broken at the base by the two screws. Meade sent me a new one, which
took some screaming and nagging to get them to be compitent and
cooperative. I replaced the old with new. The first thing that happened
was the hand control was now only operating in the older style without
LNT control or feedback. I noticed this immediately when the "automatic
align" did not initiate, nor was it found in the alignment options. I
could also NOT find the finder controls when I held the MODE button for
2 seconds but all the other options were still there.

I brought the unit in to run another update with with StarPatch. The 497
controller went dead when I initiated the upgrade. Dead as in out like a
light. It turned out that the new finder/LNT burned out which took me a
while to discover. I swapped just the new mounting stalk over to the old
finder/LNT and the 497 controller now works fine. However, it still only
functions in the regular ETX-125 mode without any of the ETX-125PE
LNT/finder options. When I try to upgrade now, the StarPatch just says
that my chosen upgrade (PE version) is only for the ETX 497 controller.
DANG, this controller worked with all the EP options before, no mix up,
it is the ONLY 497 controller I have!

I do have some Early DS series scopes with the simple GoTo controlers
without the full keypad. 
When the ETX-125PE died on upgrade, I checked the following:
All controllers, 494 and 497, work on the DS scopes.
All controllers come on with the 125PE but the 494 shows "use ETX controller".
The 497 upgraded successfully on the DS scope to version EG.
Any upgrade attempt with the 497 on the 125PE now defaults to regular
497, not the 497PE.
I swapped the new and old Finder/LNT modules several times at the
conector junction and no controllers would come on with the old, they
all come on with the new.
I checked and swapped the LNT button batteris and the old module
remained dead, the new worked with both batteries. Both batteries are
good.
 
Here's what I think:
The earlier StarPatch upgrade versions for the PE were compatible with
the regular 497, but newer additions to the PE upgrade now are NOT
compatible with the regular 497. If this is the case, I have no idea
what to uncheck from the PE list or even if it is possible to get to the
earlier upgrade that I sucessfully used before.

I would like to have the PE LNT options back, and I also have no way to
turn on the red dot or any other finder controls. I have the exact same
setup now that I had originally, same scope, same LNT/finder, same
controller, just a different plastic stalk that affects nothing. The
scope works great for all the regular 497 functions, just no LNT or
finder functions, not even an offer of them on the controller.

Thanks for reading,
Neil Barnett
Mike here: I have no involvement with StarPatch. In fact, I have never used it since it is Windows only. So, I'll let the StarPatch people respond.

And:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
Gday Neil

>> I have an ETX-125PE fully functional with the LNT. It came with a regular 
>> 497 autostar,
>> NOT the ETX Autostar. The hand control only has AUTOSTAR at the top, 
>> centered.

I'm confused here. There are four types of 497 handbox
497 classic, 497EP, Audiostar MkI, Audiostar MkII
Both the 497 Classic and 497EP have "AUTOSTAR" at the top
but are totally different beasties.

>> Then I had to change the LNT module because the stalk on mine was broken.
>> The old LNT module (finder) still worked and is working now
>> I replaced the old with new.
>> The first thing that happened was the hand control was now only operating
>> in the older style without LNT control or feedback.

That means it ( the LNT ) wasnt detected at bootup.
The LNT ( if its a pluggable unit ) MUST be fitted before powering,
it cannot be hot plugged.

> When I try to upgrade now, the StarPatch just says that my chosen upgrade
> (PE version) is only for the ETX 497 controller. DANG, this controller 
> worked
> with all the EP options before, no mix up, it is the ONLY 497 controller I 
> have!

I dont understand "EP Options"
We need to 100% confirm what type of handbox you have.
To all intents and purposes, there is no difference between any of the 
firmwares
and how they deal with LNT modules.
They detect them at bootup using exactly the same methods.
Its sounding more like the LNT is affecting the comms somehow.

>> Any upgrade attempt with the 497 on the 125PE now defaults to regular 
>> 497, not the 497PE.

Again, i dont understand the terminology.
There is an ETX PE scope or a 497EP handbox.
Any handboxes will work with an ETX PE scope.
We really need to confirm the Hbx model first,
before determining the correct firmware to use.

>> The earlier StarPatch upgrade versions for the PE were compatible with 
>> the regular 497,
>> but newer additions to the PE upgrade now are NOT compatible with the 
>> regular 497.

StarPatch is smart enough to know what type of scope is attached
and shouldnt allow cross loading. ie you cannot load 497EP firmware to a 497 
Hbx.

Andrew ( a little confused at present ) 

And:

Thanks Mike,
 
Andrew has addressed this and we are in communication.
Your appropriate forwarding is greatly appreciated.
 
Neil

And:

From:	Chris Carson (ccarson@pixsoft.ca)
It sounds to me like your LNT isn't working.  StarPatch doesn't have
any affect on the LNT functions unless you have a GPS attached, in
which case it will use the GPS for date and time versus the LNT clock.
 When you turn on your Autostar the version number is displayed
briefly at the top right, and I'm guessing that you have a 497, so the
latest version will be 43Eg or if you used StarPatch it's named 43GF,
see http://www.stargps.ca/downloads.htm

As Andrew said, StarPatch won't allow you to install 497EP firmware
onto a 497 or visa versa.

Regards,
Chris Carson
www.stargps.ca

And:

I'm getting the emails from Chris and Andrew.
I have exchanged a couple of emails with Andrew already and I believe I
will have it nailed down in no more than a couple more.
Don't get me wrong. I'm appreciative of the cross referencing the three
of you have done. I'll stick with my current string with Andrew and have
it figured out shortly.
 
Thanks again,
Neil


Subject:	Autostar 497 Display Issues
Sent:	Friday, September 7, 2012 07:03:27
From:	bischofja@fuse.net (bischofja@fuse.net)
I am relatively new in the world of Autostar equipment.  I bought a
Meade ETX-90 last week and have been anxious to try it out.  Last night
was my first clear early autumn/late summer night and I was ready to
give her a go.  At first, the Autostar seemed to be working great, then
things started to fall apart.  After trying to navigate through menus I
noticed that the language was starting to get weird (symbols instead of
text, then later symbols and text mixed) and after a few power up/down
trials the display is blank.  It is still illuminated and the buttons
still seem to work, but without being able to read a display, the
controller is rendered useless.  I don't believe temperature is an
issue.  I've read many of the posts about display issues and have tried
many of the fixes but to no avail.  Again I am a beginner and don't want
to permanently break the unit so I thought I'd stop spinning my wheels
and get a strait forward answer, if there is one.  It seems there are a
lot of issues with this system for a product that is so praised, I just
hope there is something that can be done for free, as I do not want to
keep dumping money into a hobby that I am just beginning to explore. 
More or less, I hope this is not the beginning of another love/hate
relationship.  Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks,

Justin Bischof
Mike here: Some possible culprits: low battery power, low contrast or brightness, poor cable connection, or just corrupted software in the AutoStar. Fixes for these are easy: replace the batteries in the ETX, adjust the contrast/brightness of the display using the AutoStar menu, disconnect/reconnect the cable (and look for dirty or bent pins in the connectors/jacks), or reload the software. Alternatively, a simple fix might be to do a RESET on the AutoStar.

And:

Wow, that was quick!!!

I should have known to be more specific...

I am using a 12V power adapter, so batteries should not be an issue. 
When I first turned to Autostar on, the contrast was almost too bright
when the display was legible, maybe something happened but I am not
convinced this is the problem (but I will try).  All of the connections
appear to be in good shape and I have disconnected and reconnected
several times.  I also tried switching ends of cables, but I got the
same result.  I tried to reset the factory setting by pressing "mode"
after power on, but still, no results.
Mike here: What 12VDC adapter are you using? What amperage? Is it the correct polarity for the ETX? Note that not all adapters will work well with the ETX. Whether yours is the culprit, I'd suggest disconnecting it and using internal batteries. Remember to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR when changing power sources. (And don't forget to do a TRAIN DRIVES on both axes once you have the display issue resolved.)

And:

I am using an AC adapter #542 from Meade, although it is not a Meade
product, here's the info:  Skynet electronic Co., LTD. 50/60Hz, 115V~1A
or 230V~0.5A, DC Output:  +12V - 2.5A.  I have also just installed 8 new
batteries and am getting the same result, Power on, Beep, illuminated
but blank display.
Mike here: That adapter should be fine. ETX will work best with a minimum 1.5A. Since the problem occurs with batteries, we can suspect a problem in the ETX itself, the HBX cable, or the AutoStar. Simplest solution would be to contact the Meade dealer where you purchased it and arrange an exchange under warranty.

And:

Ahh, now there lies the problem.. This was purchased from someone off
craigslist!  I know, don't start yelling at me like my wife did.  I just
don't understand why it quit working all of a sudden.  I saw it work
before I bought it and it seemed to work last night when I first tried
it out, then something went wrong...   I appreciate your help with the
matter, I've been avoiding Meade's support team because I've heard such
"great" reviews about them and I just don't want to have to spend a
fortune with this gadget when, who knows, a week later it decides to go
kaput again.  Perhaps I was just meant to be a "Dob" user!
Mike here: Well, unless you were sold damaged goods, there are some possibilities. Does the AutoStar actually control the telescope? That is, can you slew the telescope using the arrow keys?

And:

Yes, the controls still seem to work fine.  Although I'm not sure what
I'm navigating through, I can get the telescope to slew on both axes and
get the auto-focus to work.
Mike here: That's good. It means power and communications are getting to the AutoStar. You can try to blindly navigate the menu tree by following the menu tree as shown in the ETX manual. If you can do that, check the contrast and brightness. You might also be able to read the display by shining a bright light at the display.
"Auto-focus"? No such thing on the standard ETX. If the telescope included an electronic focuser, I would suggest disconnecting that for the moment until you get the AutoStar working again.

And an update:

Good news, after setting for a little while and powering on with
batteries, I can see again!!!  Does this suggest I only use batteries? 
Could the problem have occurred while unplugging and re-plugging the
power adapter?  You have been a fountain of knowledge for me in this new
realm of electronic astronomy.  I hope this is not a frequently
occurring problem.  I really appreciate your insight and look forward to
future communication, hopefully on better terms, though.  Your website
is awesome and I think I'll be visiting it often.  Thank you so much!
Mike here: Glad it is working again. Meade did have a batch of BAD AC adapters but that was the #541 model, not the #542. But a guy I have a lot of respect for (Dr Clay Sherrod) really dislikes Meade adapters, period. I'd say to stay on batteries for awhile just to verify that all is OK.

And more:

I'm not out of the woods yet!  First display Shows "Autostar" v. 43E",
then screen goes to symbols, not english.
Mike here: Rats. Try the RESET (blindly, if necessary). If that doesn't work, you can reload the AutoStar ROM with 4.3Eg (the best version for the AutoStar #497 (but not the #497EP). You'll need a #505 serial cable (easily made using info on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). If your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter; however, not all work reliably with the AutoStar. I recommend Keyspan models. If using Windows, you will want the AutoStar Update application (from Meade's web site). If using OS X, you will want AutoStarX (see the AutoStar Info page).


Subject:	AudioStar Question
Sent:	Thursday, September 6, 2012 09:20:38
From:	Doug Rennie (rainguy@comcast.net)
I just received a 497 replacement handbox from Meade, but this one is
the new AudioStar. When you start the alignment procedure, you get a
choice of "1" True North or "2" Magnetic North. I assume that there are
different circuits for each in the handbox, so that if all your settings
(zip code, date, time, etc) are correct, that either will work. I first
tried the True North using my compass to make the 16.33 degree
adjustment for my Portland, OR location. I also used the One Star option
as Altair is currently the only really bright star in my observing
window. I hit Enter and the scope slewed in the general direction of
Altair but was still way off, both too low and too far east. Next I
tried the Magnetic North option and got a lot closer, lined up correctly
AZ but still about 8 degrees too low on the ALT.

Will the Magnetic North option work okay with this new handbox? As I
said, I assume that the circuitry is set up to work with this option,
else why would it be offered. Also, why do you think the alignment star
is still that far off (more so with True than with Magnetic, which was a
lot closer, but still off) when I know that all my data (time, date,
zip, daylight savings, etc) are accurate.

Thanks, Mike.

Doug
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES using the new handcontroller? If not, do that, as the settings are stored in the handbox. Since I don't have an AudioStar, I'm not certain what is being used for the Magnetic vs True North selection. But I doubt there is a compass in the AudioStar, so it is likely using a stored value for Magnetic Variation based on your location. And that value could be incorrect. If there is a CALIBRATE SENSOR option, you might try that.

And:

I did the Train Drives, but not the Calibrate Motors, so I will do that
tonight. I think you are correct that the magnetic variation is coded to
whatever zip you punch in; if so, the compensation should result in the
same position that the tube would be pointed were I to do it manually
with my iPad compass. Thanks for the help, Mike.

And more:

I just got off the phone with a Meade rep who told me that, yes, the new
feature (not covered in the 497 manual) on AudioStar does give you a
choice, and that 2 Magnetic North does just what you thought, that is
uses the zip code entered to internally make the necessary compensation.
He said that using 1 True North or 2 Magnetic North would (or should)
produce the same alignment. Didn't happen that way last night (Magnetic
was much closer, but still off) but I will try again tonight and let you
know what happens. If the new Magnetic option does indeed work, that
makes the whole process that much easier.


Subject:	497 ds motor question
Sent:	Monday, September 3, 2012 20:41:43
From:	Ncb (chianti19881@yahoo.com)
I am trying to figure out a problem with my sidereal rate.  It is too
fast for everything.
I set my ratios for my mount from Orion and it finds objects without a
problem.  It is when I try to track an object it slides right by and I
have to use 64x to make corrections via key pad.  Toyed custom numbers
but not sure I did that right.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Howell
Sent from my iPad
Mike here: You are using a Meade #497 AutoStar with an Orion mount? Didn't realize that would work. But since GOTOs are accurate it must be communicating. You can set a custom sidereal rate tracking rate on the AutoStar. You will likely have to experiment to find a good value.

And:

Yes I have a 497 controller running 2 ds motor kits on a Astroview
mount.  Aka roboscope  setup from a few years back. I have patched the
autostar with the correct version to handle an EQ mount.  My problem is
not matter what I change my sidereal speed is to fast. Even using custom
I don't see a change even when set to -999 (stop).   Any ideas on what
would prevent custom values from working?   I believe my patch was 43a
or something like that. Like I said before the goto function is fine. 
It is just the sidereal rate........
Mike here: If you are seeing NO change with any custom sidereal rate, then either the patch is messed up or the AutoStar ROM is. Perhaps a RESET is needed. Or you could reload the ROM and/or patch. I'd suggest using the latest version of both (4.3Eg and its associated patch).

And:

Thanks,  I give it a try

Sent from my iPad
Mike here; Some other thoughts. Be certain you have done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes). Also, there is a "roboscopes" Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope) that you might consider joining.


Subject:	Re: AudioStar Handset
Sent:	Saturday, September 1, 2012 09:03:58
From:	Ron (nh6wl@sbcglobal.net)
I have had problems with my AudioStars when the audio clip is turned on.

Jim may be able to get the expected continued control of the telescope
when the handset goes dark if he goes to the Utilities menu, selects
Audio Clip and selects On Demand.

If this works to give his computer control again then all is kind of
good. When I have my AudioStars set to On Demand I don't get a response
when I push the "?" expecting the object to be described.

Another problem I have is when I Park the telescope and try to bring it
out of park with an AudioStar Handset it will lock up unless I have set
Audio Clip set to On Demand.

If On Demand does not solve Jims problem then he will have to wait for
Meade to fix the problem.

Ron


Subject:	Autostar 497 Error
Sent:	Friday, August 31, 2012 19:35:18
From:	Joe Oliveri (joeandjan@hotmail.com)
I was needing some advice on my Meade ETX 125. Last night here in
Melbourne Australia we had a full moon and I did the usual alignment set
on easy. I noticed where it stopped there was no really bright starts,
only a very faint one. I pressed ok and it proceeded to the next star
and once again only found another very faint star. When I did a Goto
Moon it stated on the hand piece that the moon was not due to come out
until the early hours of the morning. I have just purchased this second
hand telescope recently and have followed all the instructions and
entered all my details as required also included my GPS co-ordinates
from google earth and have aligned and trained the drives and calibrated
the motor.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Thanks
Joe
Mike here: Just to confirm, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? Have you set the proper Time Zone and DST setting? When you centered the first star, was actually the named star? How far off was the star initially?

And:

I have tried all those steps your advised me to thank you. I was
wondering if maybe I need to reset my telescope and maybe even update
the software also?
Thank you for your time and any advice would be appreciated.
Mike here: A RESET never hurts and can clear out bad data. As to updating, what version do you have? 4.3Eg is the current best version for the original #497.

And:

thanks for the fast reply.
I have no idea what version it is. All I know is that the telescope is 8
years old and has never been connected to a computer. I will try
resetting it and do an update on it?
Thank you once again.
Mike here: You can check the version by going to Setup> Statistics> Version.

And:

The version number is 31 ee Time to update this?
Thanks
Joe
Mike here: Updating to 4.3Eg would be a good idea.


Feedback Archive

Check the Feedback Archive for previous editions of the User Feedback pages.


Go to the ETX Home Page.


Copyright ©2012 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2012 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/sep12/autostar.html