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.

The Autostar Computer Controller provides telescope control features typically found only on much larger and more expensive instruments. For the first time, the ease-of-use, versatility, and pointing accuracy provided by a powerful computer control system is available in a compact and ultraportable handbox.

Autostar provides primary control of the telescope and replaces the Electronic Controller for telescopes so equipped. After alignment, the object menu library within Autostar is used to automatically slew (move) the telescope to an object.

The lightweight ergonomic design of Autostar enhances any observing session for both novice and advanced telescope users. A variety of options are available within Autostar:

  • Automatic GO TO capability controls the movement of the telescope to locate astronomical and terrestrial objects.
  • Automatically track the Moon, planets, and deep-sky objects.
  • Input user-defined information into the Autostar database for ongoing study, exploration, or casual observation.
  • Access a glossary of over 90 astronomical terms.
  • Download data from the Internet, including reports of satellite locations and newly discovered comets or asteroids.
  • Operate a telescope through cable connection to a personal computer using the Meade Epoch 2000sk Sky Software or other astronomical program.

[ toc ] Parts Listing

Autostar is completely assembled at the Meade factory. When first opening the packing box, note the following parts:

  • Autostar Computer Controller
  • Coil Cord

[ toc ] Assembly Instructions

Power for Autostar is supplied through the telescope. No internal batteries are required. See the telescope instruction manual for details.

To attach Autostar to a telescope follow these steps:

  1. Verify that the power switch on the telescope computer control panel is in the OFF position.

    Remove the power cord from the computer control panel.

  2. Connect the coil cord between the HBX port on the computer control panel and the coil cord connector port (11, Fig. 1) on Autostar.

  3. Assembly of Autostar is complete. To set the telescope in the proper "Home Position" proceed to APPENDIX A prior to initialization.


The Autostar Computer Controller provides virtually every telescope function within a compact handbox. Autostar has soft-touch keys designed to have a positive feel, even through gloves. The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is backlit with a red LED (Light Emitting Diode) for easy viewing in the dark. The backlit display, key arrangement, and sequential database make Autostar extremely user friendly.

2-Line LCD Display (1, Fig. 1): Provides an interface between Autostar and the telescope. The top line lists the primary category or menu item while the second line contains a menu option or information about an object or subject, based on the current function.

ENTER Key (2, Fig. 1): Accesses the next level of sequential data in the Autostar database (see MOVING WITHIN AUTOSTAR.

NOTE: If ENTER is pressed for two seconds or more and when released, Autostar emits a beep and ENTER to Sync is displayed. "Synchronize" is relevant only after the telescope has been aligned and is pointing at an object. If the "Synchronize" feature is accessed by mistake, press MODE to return to the previous screen.

MODE Key (3, Fig. 1): Returns to the previous level of data in Autostar until the top level (Select Item) is reached. Pressing MODE while in the Select Item level moves Autostar to the topmost screen: Select Item: Object. The MODE key is similar to the EXIT key on a computer.

NOTE: If MODE is pressed and held for two seconds or more, the following is available using the scroll keys (8 and 9, Fig. 1):

  • Right Ascension and Declination coordinates
  • Altitude and Azimuth coordinates
  • Local Time and Local Sidereal Time (LST)
  • Timer and Alarm Status
  • Battery Level (in percent)

Press MODE again to return to the previous menu.

GO TO Key (4, Fig. 1): Slews the telescope to the coordinates of the most recently selected object. Once the telescope is slewing, the operation may be aborted at any time by pressing any key except GO TO. Pressing GO TO again resumes the slew to the object.

Arrow Keys (5, Fig. 1): Slews (moves) the telescope in a specific direction (up, down, left, and right), at any one of nine different speeds (speed selection is explained in Adjusting Slew Speed).

  • Data Entry: The up and down arrow keys are used to scroll through the letters of the alphabet. The down arrow key starts with the letter "A" and the up arrow key starts with the letter "Z." The left and right arrow keys are used to move the blinking curser left and right across the LCD display.
  • Alt/Az alignment: The up and down arrow keys move the telescope vertically up and down. The left arrow key rotates the telescope horizontally counterclockwise, while the right arrow key rotates clockwise.
  • Polar alignment: The up and down arrow keys move the telescope up and down in Declination. The left arrow key rotates the telescope counterclockwise in Right Ascension, while the right arrow key rotates clockwise.
Number Keys (6, Fig. 1): During data entry, press the appropriate number key to enter the desired numerical value.
  • Entering Numbers: Press the appropriate number key when entering numbers on Autostar. The cursor automatically moves to the next space to the right when each number is entered. To clear a mistake, use the left and right arrow keys to move to the desired space.
  • Adjusting Slew Speed: Press the appropriate number key to change the telescope slew speed. Slowest speed is 1, fastest is 9. The default setting is the highest speed (9). To change speed, release the arrow key being pushed to stop telescope movement. Press and release the desired number key to change the speed. Press the desired arrow key to resume movement at the new speed.

"0" Key (7, Fig. 1): Press the "0" key during data entry to enter the "0" value. When data entry is not required, the "0" key turns the utility light (14, Fig. 1) on or off.

Scroll Keys (8 and 9, Fig. 1): Accesses database options within a selected menu. The menu is displayed on the first line of the screen. Options within the menu are displayed, one at a time, on the second line. Press the scroll keys to move through those options. Press and hold a scroll key to move quickly through the options

NOTE: The scroll down key moves forward through the database (A to Z) and the scroll up key moves backward (Z to A).

"?" Key (10, Fig. 1): Accesses the "Help" file. "Help" provides on-screen information on how to accomplish whatever task is currently active (see Using Autostar Help).

Coil Cord Connector Port (11, Fig. 1): Accepts the plug from the Autostar coil cord (13, Fig. 1) that attaches between Autostar and the HBX port on the computer control panel of the telescope.

RS-232 Connector Port (12, Fig. 1): Accepts an RS-232 computer interface cable such as is included with the #505 Connector Cable Ste (see OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES). If a new version of Autostar software has been downloaded from the Meade web site, ( or orbital parameters about new celestial objects has been received) connect between a personal computer (PC) and Autostar using this port to accomplish the download.

Utility Light (14, Fig. 1): The utility light illuminates when the current date is entered. Press the "0" key once to turn the utility light off; press again to turn the light back on.

[ toc ] Using Autostar Help

The Autostar Computer Controller Help feature details Autostar functions and operations by pressing the "?" key, then following the prompts on the display. The Help system is essentially an on-screen instruction manual.

Anytime there is a question concerning an Autostar operation (i.e., INITIALIZATION, ALIGNMENT, etc.), press the "?" key and follow the directions that scroll on the second line of the LCD screen. When a word appears in [brackets], press ENTER to access the Autostar Glossary; a definition or more detailed information is displayed. Press MODE to return to the scrolling Autostar Help display.

When satisfied with the Help provided, press MODE to return to the original screen and continue with the chosen procedure.

Important Note: In this manual, to acclimate the user to the basics of Autostar, the first procedure AUTOSTAR INITIALIZATION is accomplished step-by-step with each key stroke shown. After initialization is completed, sufficient knowledge of how to operate Autostar should be gained so that future procedures, such as ALIGNMENT and OBSERVING are given in outline form only.


OBJECTIVE:Initialize Autostar.
WHEN:First time power is applied or after a RESET.
(NOTE: The following parameters are an example only.)
 DateMarch, 4, 1999
 Time9:47 PM
 LocationIrvine, California

1. Verify the telescope's HOME POSITION as described in APPENDIX A.

2. Verify that Autostar is properly connected (see Assembly Instructions).
3. Place the telescope power switch to the ON position or, plug in the power cord. The Autostar screen is activated and a system title screen appears briefly, followed by a short "beep."

4. Autostar takes a few moments to initialize the system.

5. Six languages are available with Autostar. Press the requested number key to chose the desired language.

6. A message appears that warns not to look at the Sun (see WARNING). At the end of this message press the number key indicated to signify that the message has been read and understood by the user. Press the required key as prompted and the scrolling message stops.

7. The telescope commences to test the motors by slewing a short distance vertically and horizontally.

NOTE: If the telescope does not move, or moves in only one axis, verify that the vertical and horizontal locks are tight (see the telescope instruction manual).

8. Getting Started appears with another scrolling message. This prompts to either press the "?" key (10, Fig. 1) for information on Autostar functions and controls, or press ENTER (2, Fig. 1) to bypass the Help tutorial and continue with initialization. If Help is chosen, when finished, press MODE (3, Fig. 1) to return to this procedure.

9. Autostar requests the current date. Use the number keys (6, Fig. 1) to enter the information. Then, use the scroll keys (8 and 9, Fig. 1) to cycle through the list of months. When the current month is displayed use the right arrow (5, Fig. 1) to move to the year. Use the number keys to enter all four digits of the current year. Press ENTER when the date has been entered.

10. Autostar requests the current time. Use the number keys to enter the time (use a "0" for the first digit if less than 12). Press the scroll down key (9, Fig. 1) to enter PM and the scroll up key (8, Fig. 1) for AM. Enter a time just slightly ahead of the current time. Then, press ENTER at the exact moment the current time matches the time entered on Autostar.

NOTE: When there is a multiple choice within a menu option, the current option is usually the first to appear on the screen. In addition, the choice is highlighted by a right pointing arrow (>) to the left of the selection, as shown on the display for Daylight Savings Time.
11. The next screen shows the status of Daylight Savings Time. If Daylight Savings Time is currently in effect in your area, press one of the scroll keys. The second line on the display changes from NO to YES. (Pressing a scroll key toggles between the YES/NO settings.) Select the desired setting by pressing ENTER.

NOTE: Daylight Savings Time may be referred to by a different name in various areas of the world.
12. The next screen alphabetically asks for the Country or State of the observing site.

13. Use the scroll keys to cycle through the database of countries, states, and provinces. Press ENTER when the correct location appears.

14. The next screen alphabetically asks for the nearest city to the observing site.

15 Use the scroll keys to cycle through the database of cities. Press ENTER when the correct city appears on screen.

16. Use the scroll keys to locate the telescope model to which Autostar is connected. Press ENTER to select the appropriate model.

17. System initialization is complete and the screen reads Setup: Align. Proceed to AUTOSTAR NAVIGATION for general information on using Autostar before training the drive and aligning the telescope.

Chapter 2: Autostar Navigation

Related Topics:

| home | about meade | product information | dealer locator | Meade 4M |
| customer support | investor relations | dealer support |
| employment opportunities | site map |

® The name Meade, the Meade logo, and ETX are trademarks registered with the United States Patent Office,
and in principal countries throughout the world.
Copyright © 2006 Meade Instruments Corporation, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.