AUTOSTAR INFORMATION
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Last updated: 4 November 2010

Long Autostar Cable

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From: Ottocycle@aol.com

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.

Summing Up:

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 !!)

-Ottocycle


Subject:	long cables from autostar to scope
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 15:41:18
From:	oznogsc1@earthlink.net (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:	alanwaldo@msn.com (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.html
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.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
--dick
And:
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 (stephen.bird@btconnect.com)
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 (trbeach@ukonline.co.uk)
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 (john_d_hall@hotmail.com)
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 (psmithuk@btinternet.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 [NEW!]
Sent:	Monday, November 1, 2010 10:21:59
From:	aws@mpe.mpg.de (aws@mpe.mpg.de)
(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, aws@mpe.mpg.de
Mike 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.

And:

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!

And:

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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