Last updated: 30 June 2004
Subject: re: Intermittant problems with GoTo Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 20:59:31 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Other places to seek LXD encoder wheels are the Yahoo groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/ and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope good luck --dick
Subject: solar filters Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 14:40:55 From: organgrinder (email@example.com) HI there, I was wondering if you could advise me on what type of solar filter I would be best to use, I have the Meade LXD55 SCT 8" (beautiful telescope) and I have just received my 7 eye pieces from meades 30th anniversary, I have also just purchased a broadband nebula filter p/n 908 B but would like to add to my accessories. Thank you for and advice. Yours faithfully S.PuglieseMike here: You probably don't need a "full-aperture" one but getting one won't hurt (except for the cost). See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page on my ETX Site for info on solar filters, many of which will be available for larger telescopes.
Subject: Intermittant problems with GoTo Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 13:37:54 From: Howard Zelizer (firstname.lastname@example.org) Recently my LXD55 mount began to act strangely, it would, on occasion, decide that Arcturus, although plainly near zenith, was actually at the center of the earth and attempt to goto there, very distressing. I couldn't bear the thought of shipping the scope across the country and waiting for weeks so I took matters into my own hands and, most surely, voided the remainder of my warranty. I took the RA motor assembly apart and here's what I found: It appears that there is no strain relief for the dec and hand controller RJ-45 jacks and the mounting points for the board into which they are soldered are the two screw anchors and the power switch. This arrangement may be suitable for a telephone that only gets plugged and unplugged once or twice, not so good for cables that get plugged and unplugged all the time, especially if one of the cables has a relatively large and heavy ferrite spike suppressor attached near the plug and gets tugged on a regular basis Unfortunately, the power switch wasn't seated all the way into the board before being soldered, so, when the mounting screws are tightened, the board is stressed, and after a while, through plugging and unplugging the cables, the solder joints where the jack pins are soldered to the board develop ring cracks, causing intermittent contact. It doesn't help that the jack pins weren't cleaned before wave soldering (they were pretty heavily oxidized, probably from improper storage before assembly). Chinese craftsmanship at its best. The good news is the problem was resolved by re-soldering the connectors; the bad news is that in the process of troubleshooting I slightly bent the dec encoder wheel (damn!). You wouldn't know where I could get my hands on one of those bad boys, would you? I tried Meade twice, got one surly tech and one who was simply unhelpful, neither offered me the opportunity to purchase the part (the whole dec motor ass'y, if I understand correctly). I would also note that another possible reason for erratic goto operation (within a given observing session and after several successful goto operations) would be the opti-interrupter assemblies. These assemblies are a combination of an LED and a photo-transistor. In my experience, the photo-transistor has an unfortunate tendency to become intermittently noisy, which will result in either no encoder pulses being generated or spurious pulses being generated. Regards, Howard ZelizerMike here: As to replacement assemblies, try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page on my ETX Site).
Subject: My LXD AR5 Mount Stiffness Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2004 10:00:46 From: ZygmoDean@aol.com (ZygmoDean@aol.com) I recently replied to a complaint you had received about how poor someone's AR was working, and enclosed a picture of the moon from my first attempt at photography through a telescope (an AR5), which you posted on your site. I have checked through your site, and the links to others, and have not seen a satisfactory answer for my question. So I am asking you. :) My AR5 works fine, but I am uncomfortable with the stiffness of the mount. The only other telescopes (real ones, I mean!) that I have experience with, are an old Edmund 4 1\4 reflector, and a Celestron 8. Both, when the axis are unlocked, are completely free spinning...could actually be sent spinning in complete circles if one chose to do so. However, the AR5 is so stiff, that it is hard to find a good balance. With the axis unlocked, I can remove a fairly heavy eyepiece, and the tube does not move. If this is not normal for an LXD mount, it would seem to me that this is placing a strain on the motors. I am perfectly willing to have the mount Hyper-tuned, if this will make a substantial difference in the freeness of the mount. However, since that is the only complaint I have with it, I would hate to waste my money on the tuning, and see no difference after the work. Would you please give me your thoughts on this? Thank you. Dean.Mike here: There is "stuffness" in my LXD55 mount as well. But I actually like that it doesn't freely move that easily. I suspect it could be normal.
Subject: LXD General Feedback Sent: Friday, May 28, 2004 03:34:20 From: Dieter.Wolf@DNSint.com (Dieter.Wolf@DNSint.com) one comment / question I discovered with the GEM (compared to the ETX mount): The movement of the LXD55 with the GEM - of course - differs from that of the ETX with fork mount. While the ETX always goes 'straight ahead' to an object you selected with the AutoStar, the GEM has to find its way taking into concern the tripod legs, etc. So it moves one axis then the other, sometimes both, sometimes shortly stopping to 'think' about which way to go... But WHY - e.g. - having centered M81 and then set for GOTO M82 (which you already see at the edge of a wideangle ocular) will it go towards the OPPOSITE direction, then stop and return to slew to - correctly - M82??? Looks like its going back to take up speed or go to a defined start position? Any comments? Thanks Mike and have a nice day... Dieter (Munich, Germany)Mike here: It has a "mind of its own"...
Subject: LXD75 Upgrade Request Letter-Writing Campaign Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 05:12:37 From: Macaulay, James I suggested on the LXD55 Portal board that LXD55 owners all write to Meade, requesting to be allowed to upgrade their mounts to LXD75's, without having to purchase OTA's. Considering the problems we've had with the 55's, we feel this would be a good customer relations thing to do. Meade has already said "no", but one of their reps suggested sending a letter. So we figure a lot of letters would be a good idea. Would you be willing to put an announcement on your site, suggesting that all LXD55 owners do the same? Couldn't hurt; could help a lot! Only costs 37 cents each. Here's the address (no email) to save you looking it up: Meade Instruments Corporation 6001 Oak Canyon Irvine, CA 92618 Thanks! Jim MacaulayMike here: While I know that there have been some problems, I don't know how widespread the problems have been and whether that would warrant any replacement or upgrade program. So far I'm satisfied with mine even though I did have a problem with the RA gear, as described here on my LXD55 Site.
And along a similar line of thought:
Subject: LXD75 mount sans scope a possible option? Sent: Friday, May 28, 2004 17:53:05 From: Douglas G.Canard (email@example.com) Just saw that thing about a newer version of the LXD series being in the works. If enough of us requested that Meade include an option of purchasing the LXD75 mount at a somewhat lower price without an OTA attached, would they take heed? I was told by my dealer when I requested he order my AR-5 almost a year ago that I had to buy the whole package. I now have four scopes instead of the previous three because of that policy -- all of which ride quite nicely on my LXD55 mount. My cup runneth over. Five scopes is going to get kind of redundant and unnecessary for my needs. I just want the mount. If they do this, I will buy it. Otherwise, I won't bother, and will stick with my old 55. Who else is with me on this one? The customer ___ A} has the money B} may be only interested in the mount C] knows of certain competitors who sell verified, well-reviewed-by-the-pros, high-quality mounts minus the OTA at somewhat higher prices D} is always right, even when being a persnickety, fickle, pain in the tookus sometimes E} all of the aboveMike here: Maybe it is like trying to buy Internet Explorer without Windows... They want to sell the foundation along with what's on top.
The only thing I can figure is they prefer only their scopes on their mounts? I just recently discovered that my replacement AR-5 refractor also has defects in the coatings, but not as bad as the first one. It looks like an imprint of a thumb -- possibly happening during the assembly process -- that might of eaten into the coatings on the edge of the lens. I can see a dark smudge on the edge of a defocused image of a bright object. When I look at the reflection of a light bulb in the lens, I can see where the reflection goes from a greenish color to white where the "smudginess" exists. I never touched that lens, cleaned it, or even dared breath on it after what happened to my first refractor. No one else has been near it either. I'm guessing "finger acids" slowly ate the coating? I'm not interested in the cheapest 6-inch Schmidt-Newtonian because of the large central obstruction, nor the next-cheapest AR-5 because I already have one with a recently-discovered, somewhat-defective lens. It really would be nice to be able to purchase the mount separately. But if they insist on selling the whole package; I guess I can rig up an "AR-5 squared" binoscope with my two refractors if it comes down to that. Or I may splurge for a somewhat more expensive yet definitely higher-quality GOTO mount made by another company--I'm sure the competition wouldn't mind. Or maybe neither, and get one of those little Personal Solar Telescopes from Coronado for 500 bucks. Have you heard anything good or bad about those scopes?Mike here: OPT had a short review of the PST on their web site a couple of months back. Do a search on their web site and you should be able to read it.
Subject: LXD 75 Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 17:23:12 From: BullFox (firstname.lastname@example.org) The main difference seems to be that it is white and it has ball bearings, and it is white. Did I mention that it is white?Mike here: There also seem to be some internal differences as well.
I am sure there must be. From the add it appears that the shape is a little different. My little point was that Meade wants to differentiate from the LXD 55. I wonder if they might be a little embarresed by all the negative commments.
Subject: LXD75, or LXD55? Which Scope, which Eyepieces? Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 05:19:09 From: Niall Saunders (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org I just read your comments on the intention to add a larger aperture OTA to your collection, and your intention to consider the new LXD75 8" SCT from Meade. I have slowly (thanks to the constant stream of information here on Mike's site) upgraded from my ETX-105, through an ETX-125, and on (now) to an 8" SCT LX90 . My neighbour has the same OTA on the LXD55 mount. As far as I can see, the new LXD75 mount will have some advantages over the LXD55, but the LXD55 is a good enough system (bearing in mind that the optics, the 'crucial' part of the equation, are identical anyway) that you might want to seriously consider looking at getting your hands on a 'cheaper' LXD55, once the market becomes saturated with these. But, if an all-new 'shiny' LXD75 is already on your shopping list, go for it. The only other comment I might make is that, having already been used to the ETX-90, you may feel more 'comfortable' with the LX90. I certainly prefer the 'predictability' of the way that the OTA moves as the LX90 mount slews around the sky. I have also never yet found a need to use the LX90 in 'Polar' mount (and, indeed, only ever used my ETX-105 in that mode, and never really saw any particular advantage, considering that, to date, I have never taken astro-photographs with exposures longer than 16s). The LX90 really is an ETX mount 'on steroids' - the whole way it has been put together is just 'better' than the ETX. I certainly have no regrets - but I have not yet sold my old ETX-105!! As far as eyepieces are concerned, I spent five hours observing last night - using 2" optics for the very first time. I only have two 2" eyepieces, a 40mm Erfle and a 26mm Reverse Kellner. I purchased a Meade 90-degree mirror diagonal, and machined up a 2" adaptor to fit the rear viewport on the SCT (2" o.d. thread, 24TPI, thread depth 0.5" - when the HELL is America going to 'get with the program' and switch to Metric measurements??!!). I also made up an adaptor to fit the front thread of my Olympus 3040Z digital camera, and another adaptor to couple that tube to the front ring of the Antares 40mm eyepiece. (The 26mm ep only arrived yesterday, and - naturally - has a different eyecup mounting ring diameter, so back to the lathe for another swarf-making session !!). The end result was VERY impressive - a huge 'WOW' factor. Mike has already published a large 'mosaic' of the Moon that I took using the Olympus 3040 mounted afocally on a 20mm ep, hanging off the back of my ETX-105. The Olympus camera benefits from a very 'fast' lens (f/1.8 at best), but achieves this thanks to a much wider objective. This does not sit 'comfortably' with any of the lenses in the 1.25" format - simply because the Olympus objective is wider than all of them (including the Meade 40mm SP, and even a 15mm WA). However, it is a really nice match to the 2" eyepieces. And the photographs that I have asked Mike to post here on the LXD55 site will hopefully show just that. For my ETX-105, I am keeping a 15mm SP and the original 26mm SP eyepiece, and will be selling everything else (full, boxed, Meade kit). All I will be adding to those two lenses will be a 2x 'shorty' Barlow that I acquired with the LX90. For the LX90 I will be using the original 26mm, along with the 15mm from the ETX-105 kit. I have the 40mm Erfle for wide-field (deep-sky) work - as well as for Lunar work - it is great to have the whole Moon filling the AFOV of this eyepiece, and to have little or no vignetting when capturing the images on the Olympus. I have not yet used the 26mm in anger, but found a suitable lens from an old 'Wide Angle & Zoom' adapter kit that someone gave me for the Olympus. It was never much use for its original purposes, but the lenses are achromatically corrected, and edge blackened. So, a couple of hours on the lathe will see an adapter ring made to carry this 1.5" double-concave lens inside the 48mm barrel of the 2" eyepieces - and, hey presto, a 'free' Barlow to experiment with. (It is just so annoying that, again thanks to America's continuing unhealthy relationship with the Imperial Measurement system, that I will also have to machine up a completely new mounting barrel for the Antares eyepiece, to give it a 'standard' 48mm 0.75TP internal thread - as opposed to the 1 7/8" 44TPI thread that it seems to have). Hope this helps. Cheers, NiallAnd:
Thanks for the comments, Niall. The LX90 was my other choice as an upgrade. But I was concerned about the weight -- I have virtually no view of the sky from my home and must pack the scope in the car and drive 3 miles (about 5 km) to a local playground. With my ETX-90 set-up, this is a grab-and-go operation: I can be observing about 20 minutes after the notion occurs to me. With the larger scope and its consequently heavier mount I'm worried that getting the scope out will look like hard labor and I won't use it much. If I can believe the preliminary literature, the LXD75 mount's heaviest component weighs 25 lbs (masses about 11.5 kg). If I remember right, the LX90's heaviest piece is about 30 lbs (13.5 kg). I'm getting on in years and was never in good physical shape; I worry about hoisting 30+ lbs of expensive machinery to about eye-level and trying to lock it onto a mount. The LXD75 upgrades the LXD55 mount with periodic error correction, which is what attracted me to this choice -- up to now, you had to have an LX200 to get PEC. Astrophotography is what attracted me to the hobby, and I'm fascinated with double stars but I've not had much success taking pictures of doubles (or planets, for that matter) with the ETX-90 optical tube and my home-built mount. (Though the mount alone makes a very nice tracking platform for the camera; I've had pretty good success with wide-field photography in the ten second to thirty minute range, as you might have noticed from my occasional submissions to Mike's ETX-90 guest astrophotography site.) I run the telescope in polar mode normally. Which means I'd need to have a wedge with the LX90. (The GEM mount, for all that it does weirdness near zenith, at least eliminates that requirement.) And I worry that the LX90's fork doesn't provide sufficient back clearance at high pointing angles for a camera at prime focus -- the standard ETX-90 fork certainly doesn't which is why I went with a custom-built mount. My astrophotography camera is a Canon Digital Rebel (300D), a 6 MP DSLR. This replaces the Rebel G film body I started out with. Neither camera has mirror lock-up capability, which makes intermediate-time exposures (1/125 to 1 second) a problem due to the induced vibrations. I've got both the #62 T adapter and the eyepiece projection "variable camera adapter" and have used both but with limited success so far. I also have the Meade LPI, but have not yet mastered its use sufficiently. If you want the long, continuing story, I have a running log at http://wa1gsf.home.comcast.net/astronony_blog.html (my site was mentioned in the latest issue of Sky and Telescope, I discovered to my surprise last night).Mike here: The LXD55 does work fine for many people. So does the LX90. Since the LXD75 is not shipping yet, it remains to be seen just how major an upgrade it really is. Looks nice on paper.
Subject: pier for 10" LXD55? Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 17:05:29 From: email@example.com I have moved to Colorado since you rebuilt the mount for my 10" LXD55. I would like to mount my telescope on a permanently on a pier but Meade does not sell one. Do you know of a source for piers suitable for this scope? Is this something you might do a special product for? James M Hodgers Buena Vista, COMike here: Are you asking ME or OPT?
youMike here: I didn't rebuild your mount. I don't do products. That's why I thought maybe you meant the email for someone at the OPT store.
Subject: Eyepieces advice - LXD?5-SC8 Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2004 07:28:26 From: Dave Wallace (firstname.lastname@example.org) Now that Meade's announced a mount that looks to be both portable enough for my back and sufficiently precise for my camera, I'm contemplating upgrading to the LXD75-SC8. I currently have an ETX90 OTA on a home-built, Autostar-controlled mount, so I've had experience with the "charm" of the Autostar. And I've had time to accumulate a small collection of eyepieces, plus a 2X Barlow. The eyepieces I have are the Meade 4000-series 40, 26 and 15 mm focal lengths. Since you own the SC-8, I thought I'd impose upon you for the benefit of your expertise and experience. My question has to do with purchasing additional eyepieces to retain wide FOV and to achieve higher magnification now that I'm upgrading to a scope with both a longer focal length and a higher maximum theoretical magnification. I can do (and have done) the math to calculate magnification and FOV, but I've not had that much observational experience except for my ETX90. On the SC-8, would I be better off with the 56 mm eyepiece or a focal reducer and my 40? (Can you even use the Meade f/6.3 focal reducer with an eyepiece or is it strictly for cameras?) Is it better to use the 15 mm eyepiece and the Barlow or go for a 7.5 mm eyepiece (I wear glasses, so eye relief is an issue)?Mike here: You can read about my eyepieces on my observations pages on my LXD55 Site. I have the Meade set plus a 2" eyepiece. For planetary work I really like the 12.4mm. For wide field, I really like the 2" 35mm TeleVue. You may want to consider some 2" eyepieces (you will also need a 2" diagonal). The Meade focal reducer is really only for photography use.
Subject: LXD75 & Autostar 497 Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 02:24:01 From: Niall Saunders (email@example.com) Just read Dick's comment (on the ETX Autostar feedback page) on the 'vapourware' that is the new LXD75. I had also been wondering how the 'hinted at' 3-star alignment might be implemented, but was even more curious when I came across several sites that suggested the new LXD75 mount would have a PEC function. If this is going to be the case, then presumably the PEC code, and results, are going to have to reside in the Autostar - unless Meade have significantly increased the processing and data storage capabilities of the axis drive electronics for the LXD75. I am still basically convinced that the LXD75 is just a 'new release' of the 55 mount, with a few extra buzzers and bells thrown in for good measure. All the photographs (that I have been able to hunt down) show an all-new mount, with 'white' castings everywhere - with the exception of the motor drive assemblies - which are still in black. Would it be fair to assume that the MDA's are just the same as are used on the LXD55 - and that the primary difference is simply the diameter of the driven worm gear? The pre-release blurb suggests that the drive mechanism has had the backlash 'virtually eliminated'. Does this mean that the driven gear is now a 'split gear', spring-loaded to ensure a permanent tight mesh with the driving worm? Or is it just like the LX90, where the original design concept (as is even used in the ETX family) seems merely to have been better built? Certainly the LXD75 tripod seems far better than the original LXD55 - using the design of the LX90 tripod as a starting point. At last the leg adjustment knobs have been 'turned inwards' - a simple design change that ought to have been implemented twenty years ago!! My personal feelings - unless there really HAS been a major change in the drive mechanics (which I currently doubt), and unless there IS a PEC function in the new software, and unless there IS going to be a new 3-star method of alignment (and assuming that major software enhancements will be hobbled, such that they are ONLY available when 'talking to' an LXD75 mount), then existing LXD55 owners (or others) should not feel too concerned that their equipment is 'old hat'. As an LX90 owner, and LXD55 user (both 8" SCT) all I would be looking for is to see what enhancements might come of the current 3.1e AutoStar software. It is good, but not perfect - and could do with some improvement (as usual Meade should be 'starting' with the incorporation of the many suggestions regularly posted here - not least Dick's 'patches'). Only then should they be thinking about PEC functionality, or 3-star alignments. We shall wait and see! Cheers, NiallMike here: Other than "feature listings" there is not a lot of public info available yet on the LXD75 and its Autostar. Until they get into the hands of users, as you say, we will wait and see.
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Some of the LXD55 crowd think that the 3-star is actually used to avoid the necessity of the "LXD55 Align" operation which is currently part of the Autostar's setup for that model. Or at least it involves having two of the stars on opposite sides of the "meridian flip" a GEM mount requires. I don't know if they received that information from Meade, or what. Therefore i'm reserving all guesses on 3-star until it arrives. Such an alignment would be directly applicable to the LXD55. You might say that's true of any GEM... "just a 'new release'" Your note did make me realize that the normal LXD55 motor units -could- serve, since the PEC index sensor (if there is one) could be mounted in the GEM itself, since it wants to be coupled to the worm itself. But you'd still need a way of communicating the index pulse back to the Autostar. I'm always curious... what "bugs" do you find in the current (31Ee) firmware? Aside from the too-long-home-in (as described by the "3.0 Dance" article on Mike's Site), is anything else actually broken? have fun --dick
Subject: polar alignment Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 05:52:34 From: Jorda126@aol.com do you have any pamphlets or fliers on polar alignment procedures for the lxd55 schmidt newtonian from meade? john j.Mike here: See the "LXD55 Information" on my LXD55 web site. For info on using the Autostar, check out the Alignment Tips section on the "Helpful Information - Autostar" page; much of this is info is ETX related but Autostar specific items are still applicable.
Subject: re: Laptop to Autostar Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 08:38:24 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Congratulations on finally getting it going! One item: you wrote: >email@example.com had some very good tips on testing communications >to an autostar. He was using win95 and some things don't apply to me >like Hyperterminal. All of the Hyperterminal stuff is still directly applicable to WinXp. You should find Hypterminal under Programs > Accessories > Communications. (or you can add it by using the Add Programs / Add Windows Component under Control Panel. Choose the Communications group) Hypterminal is still included with a Windows XP (Pro and Home) distribution. good luck --dick
Subject: question about LXD55 Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 16:18:52 From: Javier Villarreal Nuez (JVILLARREALP@gruma.com) I have a little question for you. Have you ever had random Slew problems with your LXD55 SC8?. I have them very often and i've read many different thoughts of what the problem might be. Some say it is when the power goes low (using batteries for example), other guy says he called Meade and they told him it was a short in the cable and that they sent him another one. What do you think? The only way i can get around this problem is to align (very very carefully, like 4 times) and never grab the autostar again, that is, i attach it to one tripod leg using Velcro and leave it there, if i grab it, it is very very likely to make random slews and ruin the aligment. Thank you very much in advance for any ideas, Have a great day Javier Villarreal.Mike here: As to random slewing, there can many causes, some of which can be cured by doing a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Other times it may be necessary to RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Also, power problems can cause it. So can bad cable connections. If you are not using 3.1Ee you might want to get that version.
Thank you, i just sent my telescope to where i bought it, they are going to check it for me.
Subject: stolen from LXD55telescopes yahoo group: Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2004 18:46:57 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/message/29622 From: "astronomics1" Date: Sat May 15, 2004 1:02 pm Subject: New LXD 75 Just Announced. Long with prices and model sizes. Just in, Meade has announced a new line of telescopes. We are not sure at this time if it is replacing the LXD 55, but from the looks of it, I would say it was a distinct possibility. Some of the new options for this series include. New heavy duty tubular steel tripod legs. New High Precision worm gears. New High Precision pointing. Periodic Error Correction. And the Autostar Suite LPI with the computerized models is standard equipment. No idea on delivery times, but I would expect in the next few months. Pricing and models are listed below: Newtonian #MN6EC 6" $469 S&H $75 Non Goto Schmidt Newtonian #MSN6EC 6" $639 S&H $75 Non Goto #MSN6ECU 6" $639 S&H $85 UHTC $75 Non Goto #MSN6AT 6" $799 S&H $75 Goto UHTC $85 #MSN8EC 8" $799 S&H $85 Non Goto UHTC $125 #MSN8AT 8" $949 S&H $85 GOTO UHTC $125 #MSN10AT 10" $1099 S&H $95 GOTO UHTC $150 Schmidt Cassegrain #MSC8AT 8" $1299 S&H $85 GOTO UHTC $175 Achromatic Refractor #MAR5EC 5" $679 S&H $85 Non Goto #MAR5AT 5" $799 S&H $85 GOTO #MAR6AT 6" $999 S&H $95 GOTO We will have more information when it comes available on our website in the next few days. Clear Skies, Mike/astronomics http://www.astronomics.com
Subject: Laptop to Autostar Sent: Wednesday, May 5, 2004 14:05:13 From: David Bruns (email@example.com) I have a laptop running Windows XP. It has no serial com ports. I ordered the meade usb converter cable and am using 505 cable set. I cannot get the laptop to talk to the autostar. On my desktop computer with com ports I have no trouble operating the scope. Lxd55 mount, by the way. In systems it shows that usb cable is working. firstname.lastname@example.org had some very good tips on testing communications to an autostar. He was using win95 and some things don't apply to me like Hyperterminal. Anyway Meade was useless, they only have one computer guy (chris) and he wont return calls or stay until 6pm. To top it off the mount self destructed and is on its way to meade for a list of warranty repairs. My scope dealer had recommended celestron because the electronics were more friendly. I wish I had listened. No, I wanted the white tube. Unitron dreams. Any insight to the usb adapter problem? Thanks for listening and for your website.....David BrunsMike here: I can't speak about XP but check that you have the USB properly set up. Also, check for port conflicts. I'm using a USB converter (Keyspan, not Meade's) on my Mac and it works fine to talk to the Autostar.
Thanks for getting back to me. It turns out that the usb cable from meade was bad. I found this out when i attempted to connect my new EXT125. The cable I purchased is made by belkin #F5U109. It is a nice adapter because it has lights that show link,tx and rx. Well, while attempting to import some comet info I inadvertantly shut power of to the scope and now my autostar controller wakes up with a blank face or some odd gibberish type characters. Do you have a clue as to what happened? Anyway there is no scope control from either the handbox or computer. Any thoughts would be appreciated.......David ETX125 & AR6Mike here:Thanks for the report. As to the dead Autostar, improperly shutting it down can corrupt its memory. You will have to redownload the software into the Autostar. You may or may not have to put it into SAFE LOAD before beginning the download but I would try it without doing that.
Thanks for getting back with me so quickly. I'm not sure how to talk to the autostar as it is acting like it is in a coma. When I turn it on there is no beep and the screen goes dark almost instantly. Sometimes it will show a few lit "blocks" with no lettering. Sometimes it will show a few wierd symbols. Never is it repeatable. Is there a combiniation of buttons to hold down during "boot up" on the autostar?......DavidMike here: There is no "reboot" keystroke, only the SAFE LOAD but that requires that you reload the Autostar ROM using Meade's Autostar Update application (available from Meade's site). You will also need a #505 cable, Windows, and a RS-232 port. If you need more info on the cable or the software, see the Autostar Info page on my ETX Site.
I am so sorry for being a pain in the rear but I need help! This morning I went out and purchased another 497 controller. I had my scope back. It was version 26ec. So foolishly I opened up Autostar Suite and went to upgrade handbox. The second I pushed that button the controller said "downloading do not turn off" Its been sitting like that for an hour now. None of the buttons are responsive. Meanwhile the software said "data sent successfully" I dont dare turn it off, thats how I got here in the first place. Any thoughts?........DavidMike here: Not certain why you purchased another one since you probably only needed to redownload the ROM to the other Autostar. Anyway, get the Autostar Update 3.61 application from Meade's site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html), put the Autostar SAFE LOAD mode, and then run the updater application.
I have downloaded the ACU file but cant open it as it appears to be a dos file and I am running xp. I've opened the command prompt but it does'nt recgonize the application.....DavidMike here: It is a Windows application. It will run in XP. Perhaps the download you got was corrupted. Try again.
Will do, I remember having this problem with the autostar suite upgrade Thanks. davidAnd more:
Got ACU up and running. Got Autostar to "flash load ready", press upgrade now and there is a small tx-rx flash on my usb to serial, then a box opens sent successfull. however in the bottom left it say "initializing handbox...please wait. When I close out the sent successfull box it clears out the "initilizing handbox" and goes to "complete". However the handbox still says ready. Also the handbox bootup I was looking for is holding The enter and scroll down key at the same time while powering up. Any way ACU detects the presence of the 31ee software on my local drive. I push the button and I get what I said in the opening of this. Anyway to get around flash load ready? Now I have 2 unresponsive hand boxes. I've been through all of your online Q and A (which is very thorough I might add) and just cant seem to put the pieces together. Again any thoughts?...DavidMike here: Yes, that is the SAFE LOAD keystroke. With that on the screen of the Autostar, just click the Update Now button on the Autostar Update application.
I've done that. The screen on the autostar still says flash load ready. how do I clear that out? Powered down and up the screen Is blank-no beep.Mike here: If the application is not communicating to the Autostar (due to a port conflict or bad connection to your serial port) then the application will not detect that it is in that mode. Otherwise it should display that in the app's window. When you click the Update Now button it sends the software (3.1Ee) to the Autostar (about 25 minutes).
And an update:
To end the story, I've got everything up and running. Turned out to be the "new" USB to serial cable. It would control the scope from the laptop and "connect and receive" very well. Repeatable. But it would give the "Data successfully transfered" after about 5 seconds. But when you go to close ACU it said handbox not updated or something like that. Well I moved operations over to my desktop, loaded all meade software, etc., hooked up to the serial port on desktop without the usb-9 pin to 9pin. Data flowed! I'm looking forward to first light tonight as long as sacramento weather holds up. Thanks for the hand-holding and being there as a lifeline and thought provoker. Meade should have you on the payroll. As a slight repayment of knowledge I talked with someone who had spent some time with Russell (forgot the last name) a VP at meade who acknowledged the fact a new form of the lxd55 was "in the works" and that they were looking at making the mount more robust based on the warranty claims. I don't want to be quoted on this as I gleaned it thru casual conversation. I get the impression that this is at least several months or more before pre release. Thanks again for being co-pilot on this winding road..............sincerely, DavidMike here: Glad you got it working. And that new model is the LXD75. Details will be posted on my LXD55 site tonight.
Subject: Macs and the LXD55 (no hurry) Sent: Sunday, May 2, 2004 18:05:50 From: Scott Tyack (email@example.com) Great sites, I'm trying to read everything! I'm looking at buying an LXD55 8" SN to do some photography and general viewing. My problem is that I am MacHead and my laptop is a Powerbook. How do you go with using a Mac and your Meade scopes? Are there any sections on the sites/web that deal with Mac image capture and scope control? I have seen VirtualPC suggested in places. When I look at the clock on VirtualPC it is running much slower than real time which I am assuming will interfere with any tracking adjustments by PC software? If I ever get myself setup with a scope and my Mac I will be sure to document everything to help other Mac users! Thanks for your time, Scott. Geelong, Australia.Mike here: VPC on a G4 or better works fine for telescope control. Afterall, the telescope control is RS-232, which is really slow. Check out my Astroplanner and Scopedriver comments on the Autostar Info page; also check out "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page.
Subject: LXD55 autostar Sent: Sunday, May 2, 2004 16:07:40 From: "efraim granda" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I got my LXD55, CN,Autostar, with no software, everything working perfecf, exsept I coldnot astablish conection to Autostar suite by Meade, is this beceuse I dont heve thet kit with thet software and cable sold sepertly by Meade? Thenk EfiMike here: The LXD55 does not come with software to control the Autostar from a computer. There are many applications for Macintosh and Windows computers that can do this, including the Meade Autostar Suite software. But you need to buy or make a #505 serial cable and have a RS-232 serial port. The Autostar Suite product includes the cable.
Subject: mount Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 21:28:14 From: "J Smar" (email@example.com) Newcomers should be aware that the closer you are to the "polar home" position, the less you will actually see movement in R.A. - this should not be confused with a slipping gear in the drive portion of the mount. It may sound silly, but I have seen someone claim a slipping gear when they were spiral searching close to Polaris. This was cleared up when I took off the access covers to show him and explained the way an equatorial mount works in relation to the pole.
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