Last updated: 11 January 2004
"Autostar Suite" - This 58 page manual covers the basics of using the Autostar Suite applications. There are three core applications: a planetarium style app, the image capturing app, and the processing application. These Windows applications will let you view what's visible, make object motion tracks, control your Autostar #497 capable (or LX200) telescope, capture images from the LPI (or Meade Pictor CCD), process images, do magnitude determinations, and more. At first blush the Suite seems to be a very powerful tool for the amateur astronomer. On page 25 a new Meade telescope is mentioned: the "LX2000"! (Actually, this is just one of many typos I discovered in the Autostar Suite documentation.) When doing observations, there is a viewing log that you can use to enter your comments about the object; the software automatically enters information about the selected object. The Suite can also create Autostar Tours by just selecting an object and clicking to add it. However, there is no discussion of how to actually install the tours in the Autostar itself. I presume you still have to use the Autostar Update application. I would have expected the Suite to be able to communicate directly with the Autostar #497 to load tours or at least have integrated the applications together (similar to the Apple iLife applications integration). There is also no indication of what version of the Autostar Update application is required or whether a new ROM build must be installed into the Autostar. Hopefully this will become clear once I install the software. [There is a menu item "Update Autostar" that presumably updates the Autostar ROM but it is not mentioned in the manual.]
"Autostar Image Processing" - This 28 page manual says to fill out the enclosed registration card. As others have noted with some Meade products, there was no card enclosed. But the manual notes all the important things you get from registering so I attempted to register via the Meade web site (shop.meade.com/registration.html). But after I filled out the form and clicked the "Submit Registration" button, I got this error page:
The requested object does not exist on this server. The link you followed is either outdated, inaccurate, or the server has been instructed not to let you have it. Please inform the site administrator of the referring page.o
Several days later I tried again to register and got this page:
We're sorry. Online Registration is temporarily unavailable. Please use mail-in registration. Thank you.
It doesn't say what to do if there is no registration card included with the product. Oh well... But if I could have registered, the important benefits of registering would be (according to the manual): tech support, automatic notification of Autostar Suite upgrades, and automatic notification of new images or data.
This manual says that 60MB of available disk space is needed for installation but the "Autostar Suite" manual said that 16MB of space was required. Another typo? This manual mostly just describes the functions of the application. It is not a manual on image processing.
"LPI Camera Program" - Now I'm confused; this manual says that 100MB of disk space is needed for installation. Are these three separate installations (needing a total of 176MB) or is this just sloppy documentation? Anyway, this 30 page manual covers using the LPI. It also discusses autoguiding, which requires a separate Autoguider accessory.
There is an update to the Autostar Suite available on Meade's Autostar Suite Troubleshooting page (http://www.meade.com/autostar/tsguide.html). There is also a new Quick Start Guide on this page, which adds serial cable instructions for the Autostar #497. (This Guide says that 100MB is required for installation.) There is a FAQ page at http://www.meade.com/autostar/faq.html, which currently mentions a Microsoft file error that may occur during installation.
Now that I've read the manuals (once) and tried to register, I proceeded to launch VirtualPC 6.1 and install the Autostar Suite in Windows 2000.
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