Last updated: 18 June 2005
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2005 07:17:01 From: Jean Perfettini (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you again very much for this remarkable website. A long while ago I bought Meade's Autostar Suite & LPI to operate with my ETX 125. However, it is only this week that I have overcome the compatibility problems which appeared, at some stage, quite discouraging. So I wrote a "routine" which is now working just fine for my equipment. If you deem it worthy of appearing on the site... NB: while I cite brand names I am a pure amateur and in no way running for anyone professional. They are cited for convenience; just buy at your favorite equipment dealer. Equipment PC laptop - Windows XP SP2 - Powered USB 2.0 Hub allowing several USB port to be plugged in one USB port on the PC (powered, otherwise you will experience repeated ignoble software crashes when running both Autostar suite & LPI) Connexion PC to Autostar: - USB to serial adaptor (mine is a Newlink www.newlinkproducts.co.uk but I suppose any make will do, bought at computer/electronics shops) to bridge an USB port and a standard RS 232 serial port; this will come with an installation CD - "Telephone" 4 wire cable (same as the ridiculous tidgy one you receive with Autostar Suite) with connexion plugs between the Serial plug and the Autostar; for the RS232 side = FCCC68 Plug 6P4C contacts; for the Autostar side FCC68 plug, contacts 4 in a 6 pins shell (bought in the UK at Maplin; but ready made versions are available at main telescope shops; for instance, at Telescope House it is called LX90 & ETX cable & adapter AC140; comes in 5, 10, 30 metres, but not too cheap at 15 !) Connexion PC to LPI: - Use only Active 3 metres USB cables (total max. length = 15 meters) otherwise the LPI signal is quickly lost Procedure 1 Autostar on, ETX aligment procedure completed 2 Connect the electric focuser (must have one if you want to focus from the PC) to an Aux Port at the base of the ETX 3 PC on ; Autostar Suite launched 4 Plug in the USB/serial converter into its USB port (the first time you will need to use its CD to install it) and without intermediate device (ATTENTION: it seems to be working as a Com Port so it ceases to be recognised if it is not plugged directly to the port where it was initially connected for its first installation; don't ask me why...); after, it should be always recognised 5 Plug to the mains and connect the powered USB to another USB port of the laptop; it should be automatically recognised by the PC 6 Plug the "phone" cable in the Autostar 7 Mount the LPI on the scope; lay down as few Active USB cables as possible. I have also noticed that if I use more cables than I used during the Autostar Suite installation, the LPI ceases to be recognised and the PC will display a request for Autostar reinstallation; have your Meade Autostar Suite CD at hand anyway; if requested, do proceed to reinstallation:a simple file will be extracted and the LPI will be deemed ready to use; if it does not work not reconsider the length of your cabling; earlier I said 15m is a maximum but realistically 9 metres = 3 x 3 metres active USB cables... that should allow you to be in a shelter next to a cup of tea by the PC while the ETX is out. 8 Connect the "phone" cable to the serial/USB adapter. On the Autostar suite Menu, click Telescope then Communications then Comm Port setup and set the correct Comm Port (try all yours, mine is Port 5: tick the dot next to 4 and add 5 in the box). Click OK, go back to Telescope, click Protocol and choose Autostar via Comm Port; if it works you should immediately see a Warning regarding the risks of not visually controlling the slewing of the scope. You can also test the Comm Port: type anything, it should return the same message. 9 Click Telescope, Control Panel; the control panel should be displayed: check that your controls are working (slewing and focusing) 10 Connect the LPI in a port of the powered USB Hub (any will do here, it does not bother about which port it was plugged the first time); It should be recognised straight away or it will ask for an Autostar reinstallation; do what it says. Either way should end with a LPI recognised and ready to use display. If not pull the LPI cable out, wait 10 secs and retry. 11 PC: click Image and LPI Imaging; The LPI should be active, with the Live box automatically ticked. There you are, operational! Remarks - I cannot recommend enough that you familiarise yourself well into mounting the whole thing by practising at home, telescope next to you and the PC with all the cabling in the room, peering through the window at a terrestrial object (there are sufficient bad wheather days in the UK for that) - I also find the LPI terrific to align the View Finder on a terrestrial target prior to the astro session! - I still get an Autostar full software crash when I have been idle long enough for my screensaver to take over!! Nothing dramatic: close the whole software and restart it; it should work without having to be more drastic - If you get an LPI crash only: press the three keys Ctrl-Alt-Del and terminate the LPI Tasks; disconnect the LPI Hub; wait 10 secs, reconnect: it should be recognised. Conclusion Et voil ! It seems to be working fine like that with minor inconveniences. I am not familiar enough with computers to tell if this lack of flexibility is caused by Mr. Microsoft or Mr. Meade (or both) but I also dream of some improvement on that side (constant recognition of devices without the irritating hassle of having to reinstall depending on the ports etc). And if this is good for my configuration I have no idea what it should be with an earlier version of Windows. As part of my training I have already made lunar pictures through my window, stacked in Registax; a quality that amazes me; I am so pleased with myself, but they are not worthy of your seeing, so keep me a space! Good luck to you all and thank you for your messages. Jean Perfettini
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