Last updated: 27 May 2004
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Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2003 19:51:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris Carson) With the help of Dick Seymour (the Autostar expert!) I've developed a GPS Setup patch for the Autostar 495/497 which allows it to interpret GPS NMEA 2.0+ data and use this to set the date, time, latitude and longitude. In addition, Dick helped me dream up the idea of a newer Windows program I've called StarPatch which allows my GPS Setup patch and Dicks' Autostar and Autostar II patches to be added in a simpler manner - you just check off the patches you want to install and click "Update Autostar". All the details, including a free download of StarPatch can be found at http://www.stargps.ca The StarGPS package contains the following items: 1) High performance 12-channel GPS receiver 2) cable to connect the GPS power/data to the telescope/Autostar 3) StarPatch CD-ROM & registration key to add GPS Setup capability 4) cable to connect your PC to the Autostar (similar to Meade #505) The key features of StarPatch are: 1) Adds 495/497 GPS Setup capability (see below) 2) Fast 495/497 updates in LESS THAN 2 MINUTES 3) 495/497 updates are automatically verified 4) SmartLoad reuses unchanged data from previous updates 5) Easy selection and use of available patches 6) "Update Autostar" button simplifies updates 7) "Get Updates" retrieves the latest software 8) Works with Autostar II (excluding features 1, 2 and 3) 9) Free trial version The StarPatch CD-ROM includes a registration key that enables all the program features and allows the GPS Setup patch to be installed onto one Autostar 495/497 Handset. This patch allows you to connect a GPS receiver to the Autostar so the date, time, latitude and longitude can be automatically set. Unlike the LX200gps it cannot North align and level the tripod :) The Trial Version has the following limitations: 1) 495/497 updates are slowed to 9600 baud (vs 115K) 2) GPS Setup patch results are displayed, but not saved 3) SmartLoad feature is disabled NOTE: StarPatch does not entirely replace the Meade AutoStar Update program (ASU). The ASU must still be used to move Library Objects to and from the Handset (eg. satellites, comets and tours). Your ETX Site is fantastic!!! Best Wishes, Chris Carson PixSoft Inc.
Review: GPS for Autostar (Japanese) (7/06/03)
Subject: Ref StarPatch Software Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 14:09:58 From: email@example.com (Paul Atkins) Having received the registration key from Chris at StarGPS earlier today, I have now uploaded the GPS Setup patch into my #497 Autostar and connected my Garmin StreetPilot Atlantic. With the street pilot already powered up (I would say that 2 mins is adequate to allow for acquisition of satellites), I power up my ETX90 and the Autostar shows 'Checking for GPS' then shows the correct 'Time, Date and Longitude/Latitude then shows Align: and I am ready to go. This will save a few minutes on setting up my ETX90EC, very impressed. regards Paul G Atkins
Subject: StarGPS for 497 Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 07:19:59 From: PAULGRAHAM@SBCGLOBAL.NET (PAUL GRAHAM) I've visited the site and looked around to see if this subject has already gotten some coverage. Didn't see it, so I thought I'd drop you this line. The StarGPS add-on for the 497 Autostar by Scopetronix works great. Having a Garmin E-Trex GPS receiver, I bought the version less receiver and had no problems. Having time and location download is just a convenience, but it was worth the price for me, especially since the ETX-125 is my grab-and-go scope and is intended to be carried to any site. In case there are other Autostar users who have been wondering if anyone has tried this product out, I can tell you that it works as advertised and am happy to have it. Regards - Paul GrahamMike here: I'll add your report to the reviews page "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Information page (this page).
Subject: ETX-90 StarPatch GPS experience Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 18:44:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (R&JS) As regulars to this site know, a company named StarPatch has released a GPS-cable(s)-software package that will interface a GPS receiver to several of the Meade scopes -- in this case, to the ETX scopes. Search the Mighty ETX Site for a link to StarPatch. You can purchase a complete package with a small GPS receiver, cable to connect it to the scope, CD to update the Autostar. Or, if you already own a Garmin GPS receiver, you can purchase the CD and two cables -- one to connect your computer to your Autostar to update the Autostar and one cable to connect your GPS receiver to the Autostar. I purchased the second option, planning to use my Garmin GPS receiver. I have two Garmins -- the Garmin Camo and the eTrex Legend. The cable provided works with either. Here is my experience with installing the update and using the scope with the GPS function. This experience applies ONLY TO THE ETX; I installed the GPS capability on my ETX-90. Set up was simple. Insert the CD and let it run -- if it does not start, go to your CD drive and RUN the setup.exe file. Install StarPatch on your computer. On the StarPatch menu bar, click on Help>User Manual. Read the steps for installation, print them if you need to, then install the GPS patch to the ETX. It works just like updating the Autostar with a patch from Meade. The CD box will have a label attached with a registration code -- register you StarPatch at the point indicated in the setup instructions Be certain to go through the steps to register the Autostar, otherwise, it will not remember the GPS data. After everything was installed, I turned off the scope, let my Garmin Camo get a fix, connected the cable between the GPS receiver and the scope, and turned on the scope. Scope came to life, beeped, then the Autostar flashed "Obtaining GPS data." In a few seconds, the time and lat-longs appeared on the Autostar. I waited another few seconds and the familiar Align routine came up. I aligned the scope and went on my way. So, why is this convenient? First, GPS time is accurate -- very accurate -- and it is automatically entered into the scope, complete with DST adjustment. Second, if you move the scope, even a foot or two, there is no need to enter the coordinates of your observing site -- the GPS tells the scope where it is. I set up the scope on my balcony and ran it through its paces several times -- turn on, acquire GPS, align, view a few objects, turn off (not park). Turn on, acquire GPS, align, etc. Scope performed flawlessly -- it really was reading the time and location from the GPS. So, do I recommend this? Well, not necessarily for everyone. The complete StarPatch with the GPS recevier is $179.00 or so; if you use your own GPS receiver, it's $99.00 for the CD and cables. If you observe from one or two spots, and you have them entered in the SITE, and you don't mind changing sites, do it by hand and forget the GPS. However, if you travel with your scope, or if you just don't want to fool with entering the time every time the scope is turned on and changing SITE when you travel, the StarPatch GPS is for you. My experience is that it installed without a glitch, instructions were well-written and clear, the cables are sturdy and well-made, and it worked right out of the box. ---- Joe SchlatterAnd:
In my earlier message in which I described my experience with installing and using for the first time the StarPatch GPS for the ETX-90, I forgot one thing. I am using a Garmin GPS receiver. After I turn on the Autostar and it acquires the time, date, and location from the GPS recevier, then I unplug the GPS receiver, turn it off, and stick it in the lens case -- no need to keep it connected all the time. Just be certain it's connected when you turn on the scope. If you get the StarPatch kit that includes its own GPS receiver, you can attach the receiver module to the scope or tripod and leave it there and plugged in. Leaving the Garmin plugged in will not hurt anything -- I unplug mine just to get it out of the way. ---- Joe S.
Subject: StarPatch GPS for ETX-90 Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2003 05:12:50 From: email@example.com (R&JS) This is my third message since I installed the StarPatch GPS upgrade to my ETX-90's AutoStar -- I am a happy StarPatch customer. Over the past couple of days, I traveled with my scope to two locations: -- 100 miles south of home -- 35 miles ESE of home I am convinced this StarPatch GPS was a good buy for me and I recommend it to anyone who moves around with their scope or who just wants the convenience of automatically setting date, time, and location to very high accuracy. I use mine with a Garmin Camo GPS receiver. Turn on the GPS and let it acquire satellites (1-2 minutes). While the GPS is acquiring, set up the scope, level and point north (I use alt-az alignment). By the time the scope is set up, the GPS has acquired a good fix. Plug the StarPatch-supplied cord from the GPS into the AutoStar hand controller, turn on the scope -- it gets date, time, and location from the GPS then goes into the Align mode. Unplug the GPS -- it's job is done -- and go through alignment. It takes more time for me to type this message than to actually do it. The advantage, of course, is that I do not need to fiddle around trying to remember where SITE is located in the AutoStar, finding out I did not enter the site, etc., etc. ---- Joe Schlatter
Subject: Garmin e-Trex/497 Autostar/StarGPS Date: 3/31/04, 17:16 From: Paul Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) Having had some queries from ETX users regarding the use of the receiver-less version of the StarGPS, I thought it might be useful to put this info here for general reference. I have first-hand experience only with the 497, only with the StarGPS for the 497, and only with the basic e-Trex model (there are several models). Those wanting to know absolutely for sure if their e-Trex selection will work with StarGPS should check with Garmin (www.garmin.com.). Here is the info you need: You must set the output [SETUP page > INTERFACE] to NMEA OUT. This should be standard NMEA-0183. Output data must be NMEA $GPRMC at 4800 or 9600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit. I suspect that all the e-Trex models answer to this, but an E-mail query to Garmin will remove all doubt. It is best to allow the receiver to obtain a stable fix before turning on the ETX so that data is flowing when Autostar initializes. I recommend Garmin's combo data-out/power-in cable (part # 010-10268-00) since the e-Trex has just the one specialty (proprietary) connector for both functions. With this you can power the receiver from your field pack, car, or DC supply (as long as you have the cigar-lighter type of jack) while also having the receiver connected for data output (which, of course, is the point of the exercise). This way you do not have to rely on internal dry cells. All you need to connect the Garmin data cable to the D9/RS232 cable provided with the StarGPS,which connects to the Autostar, is a D9 null modem and one gender changer (Radio Shack off-the-shelf). If you don't think you want this outboard DC capability, there is nothing else to buy except batteries for the e-Trex, as the StarGPS comes with everything you need (the patch on CD and two cables). There seems to be an assumption on the part of the StarGPS that the Garmin will be the receiver of choice since one of the cables is terminated with a connector that fits this proprietary e-Trex termination. It might be best to mention that it is an e-Trex being used when purchasing the StarGPS to make sure you get the right interface cable anyway - just in case. This is not an issue if you get the Garmin combo cable. Regards to all. Paul Graham
Subject: StarGPS Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 20:11:36 From: "Terry Cooper" (email@example.com) I have enjoyed your site. As a relatively new user of a Meade ETX-105, I can say that it is a great little telescope. It is not perfect in every regard, but few telescopes are. I settled on the scope primarily for portability considerations (I already own a Celestron 8" SCT) and ease of use and have not been disappointed. I am delighted with the optical quality of the primary optics, although I still prefer to use my existing set of Ultima eyepieces. I had the great fortune of buying and using the PixSoft StarGPS purchased through Scopetronix. Shortly afterwards, when I was working an unrelated minor problem with Meade regarding some lost hardware on my mounting. I let it outto the Meade customer service representative that I had bought a StarGPS. He asked me how I liked it. I don't. I LOVE IT. The softwarewas very easy to install and instructions provided are very straightforward. When the Autostar initializes, the system locates your exact latitude and longitude and sets your local time in the Autostar. It is a perfect companion for a telescope that is largely meant to be portable travelling telescope. For more information check out their web site: http://www.stargps.ca/ Terry Cooper
Subject: StarGPS comments Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 13:26:03 From: John Williamson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for the great site. I was wondering if you would like to add my comments to the rest regarding the StarGPS by Pixsoft. I purchased this product a while ago and was using it with my own Magellan GPS unit. The software installs with no issues what-so-ever. It works exactly as published with no problem. Recently, I had some problems that were with my Magellan. Chris at Pixsoft had helped me confirm this. I had posed some questions about this on a weekend and Chris responded WITHIN MINUTES! I was amazed to say the least. Well I ended up buying the GPS 6010 from Pixsoft to replace my broken Magellan. Then, Chris offered to exchange my Magellan A-Star cable with the correct one for the GPS-6010 (with the provision that my cable was in like new condition)! I was even more amazed! In short, buy this product! It works very well and the customer service is second to none. John WilliamsonAnd:
Hi John, Thanks! Of course I can't guarantee that e-mails will be answered on weekends :) Regards, Chris
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