Meade Instruments Corporation
Telescopes · Binoculars · Microscopes

Autostar Computer Controller Instruction Manual
WARNING: Never use Autostar to move a telescope to look at the Sun! Looking at or near the Sun will cause instant and irreversible damage to your eye. Eye damage is often painless, so there is no warning to the observer that damage has occurred until it is too late. Do not point a telescope or its viewfinder at or near the Sun. Do not look through a telescope or its viewfinder as it is moving. Children should always have adult supervision while observing.
[ toc ] General Maintenance

Autostar is a precision electronic instrument designed to yield a lifetime of rewarding observations. Given the care and respect due any precision instrument, Autostar rarely, if ever, requires factory servicing or maintenance. Maintenance guidelines include:
  • Do not leave Autostar inside a sealed car on a warm day; excessive ambient temperatures can damage the electronic circuitry.
  • When not connected to a telescope, be sure to store Autostar and the coil cord in a cool dry place and in such a way to prevent damage (i.e., in its original packing box).
  • The connectors on the end of the coil cord are fairly rugged and should yield years of use under normal circumstances. Take care when storing the cord so that the connectors do not become crushed or abraded.

[ toc ] Troubleshooting

NOTE: See the telescope instruction manual for additional troubleshooting ideas.

The following suggestions may be helpful if there are difficulties with the operation of the Autostar Computer Controller:

The Autostar screen does not display any information:

  • Verify that the telescope's computer control panel power switch is in the ON position.
  • Flip the power switch to OFF and verify that the coil cord is firmly connected between the computer control panel's HBX port and the Autostar coil cord connector port (11, Fig. 1).
  • Verify that the telescope batteries are installed correctly and that they have sufficient charge (see the telescope instruction manual).
  • If using an AC or DC power source, verify that the power source is properly connected between the 12 volt connector on the telescope's computer control panel and either a wall plug (AC source) or a car lighter (DC source).
  • After the battery or alternate power source connections are verified, flip the power switch to ON and verify that the power indicator light is illuminated.
  • If Autostar does not respond to commands, flip the power switch to OFF and then back to ON.

Autostar is beeping:

  • Batteries may be low on charge and need replacement.
  • The Timer or Alarm function may have been activated (see Timer and Alarm).

Autostar does not slew to the correct object:

  • The telescope mount may not be stable or level, or the mount has been moved after alignment. Verify the stability and orientation of the telescope and mount, then re-align the telescope (see ALIGNMENT).
  • The mount chosen in the Autostar menu may be incorrect for the type mount being used (i.e., the telescope may be mounted in Alt/Az configuration but the mount chosen in Autostar may be Polar). (see Mount.)
  • The motors may not be properly calibrated. Re-calibrate the motors by choosing the Select Item: Setup menu, then scroll to the Telescope option. Press ENTER to choose Telescope, then scroll to Calibrate Motors. Press ENTER again and the screen shows "Testing Motors." Re-align the telescope and attempt to observe. If the problem persists a Reset may be necessary. Choose the Setup menu and scroll to Reset. Press ENTER, then proceed to AUTOSTAR INITIALIZATION.

[ toc ] Meade Customer Service

If you have a question concerning the Autostar Computer Controller, call Meade Instruments Customer Service Department at (949) 451-1450, or fax at (949) 451-1460. Customer Service hours are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Pacific Time, Monday through Friday. In the unlikely event that Autostar requires factory servicing or repairs, write or call the Meade Customer Service Department first, before returning Autostar to the factory, giving full particulars as to the nature of the problem, as well as your name, address, and daytime telephone number. The great majority of servicing issues can be resolved by telephone, avoiding return of Autostar to the factory.

[ toc ]Specifications: Autostar

Processor 68HC11, 8MHz
Flash Memory (Model #495) 512KB, reloadable
Flash Memory Model #497) 1MB, reloadable
Keypad 20 key alphanumeric
   Display 2 line, 16 character LCD
   Backlight Red LED
   Utility Light Yes
   RS-232 Yes
Coil Cord 24"
Autostar dimensions:
   Length 16.6cm (6.56")
   Width (LCD end) 8.0cm (3.19")
   Width (Connector end) 5.7cm (2.25")
   Depth 2.1cm (0.81")
Autostar net weight 0.12kg (0.26 lbs)
Autostar shipping weight 0.51kg (1.12 lbs)


See your telescope manual for a complete listing of all accessories.

#505 Connector Cable Set. Two cables are included. The first cable connects between the Autostar and a personal computer (PC), permitting Meade Epoch 2000sk astronomical software to run the telescope, or to download new object locations and software from the Internet through a PC. The second cable directly connects two Autostars together, permitting full download capabilities from one Autostar to the other.

Fig. 6: Epoch 2000sk software

Epoch 2000sk Sky Software: Meade Epoch 2000sk astronomical software has created a revolution in the way amateur astronomers prepare for observing sessions at the telescope. Epoch 2000sk presents on the display of a personal computer an incredibly detailed simulation of the entire sky, including up to 19 million celestial objects. Epoch 2000sk allows the presentation of the most complex star fields just as they actually appear through the telescope. And yet, notwithstanding its precision and detail, Epoch 2000sk is easy and intuitive to use, even by the novice. Epoch 2000sk operates the ETX-90EC through a laptop computer in the field using the #497 Autostar Computer Controller and #505 Connector Cable Set. Epoch 2000sk astronomical software is available in the following formats:

  • Epoch 2000sk-JR: 10,000 objects supplied on 3.5" discs for Windows 3.1 or higher, or Windows 95.
  • Epoch 2000sk Sky Software: 281,000 objects supplied on 3.5" discs for Windows 3.1 or higher, or Windows 95.
  • Epoch 2000sk-CD Sky Software: Over 19 million objects supplied on CD-ROM for Windows 3.1 or higher, or Windows 95.

Appendix A: Autostar Home Position

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