Last updated: 4 November 2010
I don't know if you appreciate posts to your site and the DS message board, but figured that any Autostar info has general appeal. This time it's extension of the stock cable length using CAT-5 network cable. My EC is a DS-114 with a #497 Autostar v1.3.
1) CAT 5 is an 8 conductor, 24AWG, unshielded cable that is readily available.
2) HOWEVER, we can't use the reversed pinouts on the RJ45 connector. (The stock Meade coiled cable is a straight through design.)
3) I bought 50' and 100' lengths of CAT-5, cut and replaced the RJ45 connectors after orienting the conductors correctly.
4) The 50' and 100' length works fine with a strong power supply. The Autostar and mount draw about 110 mA in display only; ALT motor draws about 215 mA; AZ motor about 255 mA at highest slew speed. Slew speeds should present the most extreme test for the longer cables with respect to voltage drop.
Cable extension provides remote video operation without using a PC and long serial cable. Folks in Florida may not care, but observing in colder climes (MN, USA) motivates warmer solutions. As usual, your Meade warranty does not apply if problems arise with modified cables. Neither Mike W. or Meade endorse custom modifications (but that won't stop us !!)
Subject: long cables from autostar to scope Sent: Monday, March 4, 2002 15:41:18 From: email@example.com (Robert Smerdon) If your looking for a long cable that goes from the autostar to the scope. NOT the 505 cable (so you can sit in the house where its warm and watch on the computer with a web cam) Radio shack sells 25' 8 pin telephone extension cables that work great as is( no additional wiring) for about $6.00 each. I picked up 2 cables and couplers. no problems at 50'. everything works perfectly and no frozen autostar to deal with.
Subject: Autostar Data on your site. Sent: Monday, May 13, 2002 1:57:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan, W4WMM) I love your site!!! We started a discussion in the LX90 group on Yahoo where I mentioned to someone that the cable from the Autostar to the LX90 is not straight through and you must be careful making extentions. I am sure you've heard this discussion many times. Well, anyway, someone on the group mentioned that your site had info showing that the cable IS straight through. I realize you cannot monitor everything all the time so I thought I'd bring this to your attention. I am sure you've posted warnings about bad info slipping in and that you cannot be held responsible for all of that due to the volume of flow of information. Just thought I'd give you the link to the message I refer to. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me but my read of this message convinces me, it is wrong. Waiting for the hammer to fall!! ;^) Alan, W4WMM Mobile, AL. http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable3.htmlAnd from our Autostar expert:
From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) Here's how i'd write "How to extend your HBX cord": I don't necessarily recommend extending the HBX cable, but sometimes it's necessary. Remember that miswiring can destroy your Autostar. Given that warning, there are two ways to do it: "Extend" it, with a length of cable into which you plug the -original- cord. For that, you can buy a "normal" (*not* crossover) Cat-5 network cable, and a Cat-5 female/female coupler. Plug the coupler onto the network cable, and you have created a cord with one male end, one female end. Plug the original HBX into -that-, and you have a longer HBX cable. The other way is to make a -complete replacement- for the HBX cable: If you look -very carefully- at the ends of the Meade cord, you'll see that the color on the pin 1 side of one end appears on the pin 8 side of the other end. Use two rj45 male connectors (radioshack sells some not requiring a crunch tool, i don't have the number handy) Here are the two ends of the cable, assuming you're holding the wires in your -hand- and are looking at the cable ends. +-----------------+ | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 | +-----+ +------+ +----+ +-----------------+ | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 | +-----+ +------+ +----+ Given that condition, connect pin 1 to pin 8 of the far end. Pin 2 to 7, pin 3 to 6, pin 4 to 5, pin 5 to 4, pin 6 to 3, pin 7 to 2, pin 8 to 1. Compare the color arrangement to the original Meade cable. Use an ohmmeter or a bulb-and-battery continuity-checker to verify -both- your work, and the connections in the original cable. That way you're triple-checking that nothing has been misunderstood, or miswired. Also check -adjacent- pins to verify that nothing is accidently short-circuiting. (i.e. put one test probe on pin 2. Pins 1 and 3 should -not show conduction to pin 2. At the other end, only pin 7 should show conduction, pins 6 and 8 should not. Repeat for all pins) good luck --dickAnd:
Of course, the pinouts are also given in Chapter 6 of Using the Meade ETX (aka "The Book") http://www.weasner.com/etx/book/using_etx.html (as the posting http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_power-box2.html reminds us) have fun --dick
Subject: Long Autostar Cable Date: 3/10/04, 02:37 From: Stephen Bird (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: EWil1779@aol.com Emmit, I saw your meassage on the ETX site about the long Autostar HBX cable. They really are easy to make, the connectors are just RJ45 connectors like you get on a computer LAN cable. The trick is that the actual connections are not the same as a LAN cable (or the "crossover" cables) that you buy from your local PC shop. Some of the posts on the ETX site seem to think you can just plug one in and go for it, this is not the case. However, that does not stop you adapting / making one like I did. If you look at the connectors on your existing Autostar HBX cable, you will see that they are clear plastic and that there are 8 gold connector pins each end. With a magnifying glass, you can see the coloured wires inside the connectors. If you hold the plug with gold connector pins facing you, and the coiled cable point downwards, you can see that on ONE END, connected to the 1st connector pin is the red wire, and with the magnifying glass, you can see the colour for each connector pin from 1 to 8. ON THE OTHER END, it is opposite, red is on pin 8 and so on. So on one end, red is on pin 1, and connected to the other end on pin 8 and so on. In fact the sequence in MY CABLE is: ONE END 1 = red 2 = black 3 = brown 4 = orange 5 = grey 6 = yellow 7 = green 8 = blue OTHER END 8 = red 7 = black 6 = brown 5 = orange 4 = grey 3 = yellow 2 = green 1 = blue So you end up with: 1-8 2-7 3-6 4-5 5-4 6-3 7-2 8-1 (Make sure you check this carefully as Meade do modify designs from time to time!) You can confirm the connection from pin 1 to 8, 2 to 7,...etc., from plug to plug with a circuit tester or multimeter. Now you know the sequence, armed with a length of Cat 5 LAN cable from the PC shop a couple of RJ45 connectors plugs and an RJ45 crimping tool, you can make up a custom cable of the length you desire. You will find probably that the colour of the 8 wires in the Cat 5 cable are different, (blue, blue/white, orange, orange/white, green, green/white, brown, brown/white), but as long as you get the sequence correct, i.e., pin 1 to pin 8, pin 2 to pin 7, and so on, it does not matter. Just be sure to double check that you have all the connections correct with your circuit tester before you use the cable on the ETX. It is easy to get the connections wrong, i.e., 1 to 1, 2 to 2, etc., TAKE CARE! I have made up a 10 metre (30 foot) cable that works just great with the ETX. Cat 5 LAN cable is around $1 a metre (yard), and a pack of 10 RJ45 connector plugs is $3. The real problem is the cost of the tool that crimps the plugs on to the wires, they cost $40. So you could ring round a few friends to borrow the tool if they have one, or try the local PC shop to either loan the tool or just crimp the connector plugs for you while you wait. I was lucky, my brother is in the PC trade, so I borrowed his crimping tool. The cable works fine with my external power pack working the ETX, but I have not tried it with batteries in the ETX. Apparently if the batteries are low, the long cable can cause problems as the volt drop means the Autostar does not get enough power to operate it. To be honest, I can't see this being an issue as long as you use fresh 1.5v batteries and not rechargeables as they are either 1.25v or 1.2v when fully charged and this might not be sufficient for a long cable to operate the Autostar effectively, as long as they do with a short cable. There has I think been posted, an article in the past about local powering of the Autostar, but if you use a good power supply, I can't see that this is necessary. Just remember of course to double check the connections on the long cable to make sure nothing is "crossed" or "shorted" out. If you get it wrong, you can fry the ETX or Autostar, and Meade will not honour your warranty if you do. And of course for the record, my instructions are based on my cable, so I can't give any guarantee that yours will be the same, so it is all entirely at your own risk. And, of course a long cable is a tripping hazard, especially in the dark! I use my long cable in conjunction with my Laptop PC and the Autostar Suite / LPI, so that I can operate remotely from the ETX when imaging. I do this because I like the feel and feedback that fine adjustment of 9 speeds using the Autostar handset gives over the 4 speeds and the delays that using the network option on Autostar Suite offers. Gee! I hope I got this all written down correctly!! Enjoy. Regards Stephen Bird
Subject: British ETX Autostar Extension Cable Project. Date: 3/24/04, 07:50 From: Anthony Beach (email@example.com) Following up my email from last month, I have successfully extended my Autostar/ETX cable for remote operation. I have documented it below if you feel it worthy of a mention on you site for users in Great Britain, who will in turn be familiar with the stores mentioned if they want an easy way of getting some distance between them and the telescope. Naturally our inclement weather also inhibits the desire to spend too much time outside, especially now Meade have launched the LPI package. RS232 30m and up extensions for operation of the 'new' Autostar suite that accompanies this equipment are readily available, so I have not attempted a wiring project there! I have found that though Meade's own supplied cable is of a 'crossover' design as soon as it is left out of an extension arrangement, nothing works ! For exapmle purchasing a short length of CAT5 X-over design will not perform the same function as Meade's, curious !? So I thought let's just include it in the extension in the first place then. Incidentally, just today received your book "100 Things You Can See With the ETX" in the post. A quick flick has revealed some interesting bedtime reading! Also started a GCSE (a little old English certificate !) in Astronomy myself so the hints and tips for my practical projects (using the ETX of course!) will be invaluable. Hope my contribution helps someone, your site has helped thousands! Sincerely, Anthony Beach / Great Britain. GET EXTENDED ! - The simple way to remote control operation of the ETX in the UK garden A few comments to start with ! Basically this method gives anyone a 'no soldering' hassle free method of operating the ETX from up to 30m using the existing supplied ETX/Autostar cable and readily available CAT5 patch cable and the existing Meade 'curly' black cable supplied with the scope. It is important to use this cable as though it is of a 'crossover' design which can make use of this feature to avoid any cutting and soldering of anything ! This helps utilize all the length available and ensure compatibility with Autostar. This distant connection can help bring the Autostar indoors and right next to the terminal for operation of telescope guiding etc. in combined use with long extensions of USB cable attached to a suitable webcam/adaptor arrangement on the eyepiece, it will facilitate remote 'comfortable' imaging. The new Meade LPI suite features 'off axis' guiding as one of it's merits and in turn this extension arrangement only necessitates the purchase of an extended USB cable to get the second connection (the LPI imager instrument) to a suitable remote length. The extension to the Autostar can be reveresed to locate the Autostar next to the scope and run the longer length to the PC, but it is generally more useful to have the Autostar next to the terminal with just a short length then running to the *4pin input next to the central handbox 'curly cable' input, from the RS232 PC output. *The wiring arrangment is explained in Meade's instructions supplied with their 'StarChart Software & #505 Cable Connector Kit (approx. £35 in the UK). Of course many people will be looking at using the LPI imager and I am aware that there are USB to RS232 connectors on the UK market and certainly in-line USB couplers to extend the USB cable from the LPI unit itself. BCF Astro-engineering supply such cables in the UK, at http://www.astro-engineering.com and lots of other ETX goodies too ! Having not yet tried USB connections longer than 20m I have not had chance to evaluate if they will work at the same length as my Autostar/Handbox extension distance, which has worked at up to 30m without trouble so far. So to the parts and method for simple 25m extension ! Parts sourced from Maplin Electronics (http://www.maplin.co.uk); 1 RJ45 Coupler / Maplin Part TZ09K ('In line' coupler) / £3.99 1 25m length of Grey UTP Cat 5 patch cable terminated in RJ45 connectors / Maplin Part A29AW ('straight through' design) / £24.99 Remember NOT X-over type ! ENSURE ETX TELESCOPE IS TURNED OFF BEFORE MAKING ANY DISCONNECTION OR CONNECTIONS DESCRIBED BELOW ! 1. Obtain desired length up to 100' (only tested to this distance so far) of CAT5 8pin (4pairs) patch cable. It is imperative that this is 'straight through' not crossed over pins (or 'X-cross', as sometimes described). This cable if it is not as supplied with RJ45 terminating connectors as above from Maplin, you will need to ensure you get the required number RJ45 connectors* (2 per length of cable). *It should be noted that 'crimping' your own RJ45's onto the cable ends will require a specialist crimping tool, approx. another £20, however this will allow a perfect 'custom length' to made up if you want the cable to be a permanent fixture through the house or suchlike. 2. Unplug Curly black Autostar cable from ETX and from Autostar handset. 3. Plug into ETX one end of your new RJ45 terminated Cat5 cable. 4. Uncoil your cable to desired length indoors/outdoors. 5. Connect 'inline coupler' to other RJ45 terminated end of Cat5 cable. 6. Now connect original MEADE black curly Autostar cable to other side of 'in line' RJ45 coupler. 7. Plug remaining MEADE RJ45 cable into Autostar handset. 8. If using #505 cable connector kit, you can now make those appropriate connections between Autostar handset and PC. 9. Otherwise, turn on scope and that's it ! You now have remote operation without making up cables of your own, and CAT5 comes in lengths from 1m up to 25m, sohrter lengths are available from most computer or DIY stores; such as PCWorld (UK), Homebase or B&Q superstores etc. I use a 5m length while sitting down near scope, and a 25m extension when indoors. Or 30m combining 5 + 25 lengths with a second 'in line' RJ45 coupler. When I get the LPI imager Autostar suite, I shall enjoy the skies from indoors with a hot mug of tea and biscuits !
Subject: Extending the Autostar cable Date: 3/26/04, 12:41 From: John Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've been reading the postings about extending the Autostar handbox cable using cat-5 computer network cables. Although advice is given to avoid "crossover" type network cables, there could be some confusion because the Meade curly cable is essentially a crossover design. Perhaps it is worth pointing out that a crossover-type cat-5 network cable is not what it seems. In fact, these cables have two pairs crossed over, with the other two pairs going straight-through. So they are not a simple end-to-end crossover like the Meade cable, and must be avoided for this reason. Regards, John.
Subject: Extending HBX cables Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 11:33:15 From: PETER SMITH (email@example.com) Probably not new info as I found the original warning on the site... I wanted to extend the HBX Connection to the ETRX scope so that I can have the controller on the table alongside the PC when i'm using either the LPI or Webcam. Searched the site and found the warnings about not connecting a RJ45 network cable directly between the Autostar and the ETX HBX port so decided to produce a wiring list for the various cables. This will emphasis WHY the curly cable MUST be connected somewhere in the chain... [ETX HBX Port] <-> [HBX Curly lead] <-> [RJ45-RJ45 Coupler] <-> [Straight Thru RJ45 Patch Lead] <-> [Autostar HBX port] I use the setup above with the RJ45-RJ45 Coupler attached to the base of the ETX with velcro no problems at all at 5M Meade HBX Curly 1 -> 8 2 -> 7 3 -> 6 4 -> 5 5 -> 4 6 -> 3 7 -> 2 8 -> 1 RJ45 Net Standard (Straight Thru) 1 -> 1 2 -> 2 3 -> 3 4 -> 4 5 -> 5 6 -> 6 7 -> 7 8 -> 8 RJ45 Net Crossover 1 -> 3 2 -> 6 3 -> 1 4 -> 4 5 -> 5 6 -> 2 7 -> 7 8 -> 8 Regards, Peter
Subject: Goto #494,497 + DS2090 HBX cable extension Sent: Monday, November 1, 2010 10:21:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) (This is perhaps superfluous given the extensive coverage of this theme on this site which I found very useful. Still I offer it anyway.) The problem: the HBX cable provided with the scope is too short. I messed around with Velcro to stop it dangling, but extension is better I decided. The simplest solution is an RJ45 coupler and one meter of RJ45 parallel cable attached after the Meade cable (thanks to your site for telling me why). Then the #494 or #497 fits nicely in the slot provided on the Meade tripod. NB All that stuff about crimping tools frightened me, and this way it's trivial. (Why the cable provided do not extend there will remain a mystery to me - the manual would have you believe it reaches. I asked the German (where I live) Meade people and they said they had complained about it to U.S. Meade without effect.) Andy Strong, firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Regarding the supplied cable (at least in the US), all the AutoStar cables I have from Meade are coiled and will extend at least four feet.
Mine is coiled (my new 497 just as the old 494) and does indeed †extend but I think at the price of stressing the connectors unduly, and certainly not enough to allow convenient insertion in the slot. With my extension now it looks more like the picture on the front of the DS2090 Instruction Manual.... From what you say maybe the ones supplied to Germany are shorter.Mike here: I haven't had a problem inserting my AutoStar #494 in the slot on my ETX-70AT #882 tripod. I just started using the AutoStar II Wireless model on my LX200-ACF. And I've used my iPhone and Macs to control my ETX and LX200 telescopes via the SkyFi Wi-Fi adapter. No cables or connectors to pull or get tangled!
This sounds like the future. Will Autostar II work with DS models - I guess not ? Maybe time to upgrade to ETX - DS was just to get me started.Mike here: AutoStar II is only for the LX200GPS, LX200-ACF, and LX400 models.
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