This list is in no particular order. It is taken from the LXD55 Yahoo! User's Group database (with permission), and includes the contributor's name if he or she so desires. You will see redundancies occasionally, but we've found that most are worth repeating. If you'd like to contribute to this (or any other) list, please send us an email with a subject heading of "LXD55 Database", and we'll consider it! Thanks!
THE AUTOSTAR & TEMPERATURE EXTREMES: All AutoStar units are different. Some are more prone to temperature extremes than others...those that are cold-sensitive are ALSO typically HEAT sensitive as well. At temperatures below 27F, the LED readout becomes frequently muddled, as the temperature continues to fall, many users report a totally BLANK LED readout, yet the Autostar continues to function (if you can figure out which button to push!). The Autostar will fail altogether if exposed to temperatures lower than 20-28F for more than about twenty minutes. For dependable use, there are two things that should be remembered about the Autostar that are typically NOT a factor with the LX200 classic hand box:
a. Keep the hand control warm by putting inside your coat or pocket when not necessary to observe.
b. Try to run the telescope ONLY off of a very good external DC power-station OR from AC power (better).
Note also that there have been many reports that suggest that the Autostar is much more sensitive to cold when the humidity/dew/frost situation is high, suggesting that the water content of the air is also a contributing factor. It appears that cold nor heat affects the long-term dependability nor use of the internal circuit boards of the system based on the LX200 classic models, the LX90, and the ETX series of scopes.
WHERE TO ATTACH THE AUTOSTAR CONTROLLER: I attached velcro to the Autostar and a mating piece on the top of each leg so that no matter the telescope orientation, there is a nearby place to put it.
TRACKING RATES AND THE MOON: The MOON MOVES independently of the background stars...it moves against that background its entire width every hour (so that's one arc minute "drift" every two clock minutes)! The Autostar knows that... but you've got to -ask- it to track at Lunar speeds...
1) Setup > Telescope > Tracking Rate >[enter] [scroll]
2) You've got 3 choices: "Sidereal", "Lunar" and "Custom". The number displayed is "tenths of percentage of sidereal", and Lunar is -3.5% (if you select Lunar, then scroll to Custom, it'll show the current offset).
However, there will be some times when it will -still- drift, because the Moon's orbit is not parallel to the celestial equator. There will be slow north/south motion, and that also has a tiny effect upon the east/west motion.) --dick seymour
URL'S FOR UPDATES, TOURS, COMETS, & MORE: Keep in mind that versions and specific URL pages may become outdated. If you find a link that isn't good anymore, drop us a line and we'll change it.
Firmware for your Autostar: current version 25Ea. http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Build.zip
Updater to transfer that, and other stuff to your Autostar: currently v3.51 http://www.meade.com/support/auto/ASU351.exe
The Updater itself can fetch many items directly from the Web for you... under the File/Import menu choice, it offers to run and get them.
The Comets, ISS, Satellites, a few tours are all sub-links from Meade's Support page: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html
The Comets from that page are the Harvard Astrophysical Observatory's "bright" list, tailored for the Autostar/Updater: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/Soft16Cmt.txt
The satellites... well, Meade's page leads you to Celestrak. There you have the ability to grab a -number- of "special interest" lists... from just manned satellites (ISS and Progress) to the 100 (or so) Brightest, to all sorts of types. The index page is at: http://celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/ and the subgroups are under that.
Tours... well, there's Meade's sub-page which provides Tonight's Best; Messier Marathon; How Far is Far; Star Groups; A Star's Life.
On Mike Weasner's site there are others (a dozen or so) and by doing web-seaches you can find them all over the planet (I've fetched some from the UK, Portugal, Holland, Australia).
That's the list i use for much of my observing. Tours are the most erratically found.. they pop up in a variety of places. Satellite data can be "too much" or "too little" depending upon your interests... the Updater itself can serve as a "list editor" to prune or meld different items or sub-types. That applies to Comets and Asteroids, too. (see Meade's page for the link to Asteroids, but it's currently http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Bright/2001/Soft16Bright.txt
which is a little obsolete... you can use http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Bright/2002/Soft16Bright.txt (note that it's 2002, instead of 2001) --dick seymour
WHICH AUTOSTAR VERSION DO I HAVE? The easiest way is to read the first screen when you turn it on. It will print something like: (c)02 MEADE [24e] (this may not be exact, but you get the idea). [24e] is the version. The LXD55's started shipping with 23e.... - Jason Carden (check www.meade.com/support/auto/Build.zip to see what the latest version is - ed.)
MORE ABOUT YOUR AUTOSTAR VERSION: The -full- version number is under Setup > Statistics > [enter][scroll UP]
The current version is 25Ea (as of this post). The "E" means English. The "a" is the actual sub-version identifier. In the past there have been -many- subversions of a major number (2.1Eh, 2.1Ei, 2.1Ek, 2.1Er for an example from last year). --dick seymour
CHANGING SCROLLING TEXT SPEED: Press and hold the UP arrow key to increase the scrolling speed when a message is scrolling across the display. Press and hold the DOWN arrow key to decrease the scrolling speed when a message is scrolling across the display.
MOTOR UNIT FAULT MESSAGE: Motor Unit Fault can be caused by many things: low batteries, dragging axes, and: failure to Calibrate the drive. One of the steps which is a "good thing" to do once in a while is: Setup > Telescope > Calibrate Drives [enter].
The two motors will run for about 2 seconds each, and it's done. What it's doing is tuning the encoder pickup circuits for optimal operation. If you have -never- done it, then that could well have been the cause of the MUF. --dick seymour
HOW TO STOP & START A SPIRAL SEARCH: You can do a spiral search anytime by holding down the GoTo key for about three seconds, or, if you just completed a GoTo, by just tapping the GoTo key. Once a spiral search has started, pressing any key will stop it.
MY AUTOSTAR DOESN'T OFFER LXD55 AS A TELESCOPE CHOICE: Make sure you have your dec motor cable plugged in before you power up.