Last updated: 13 January 2001

Autostar Database Editing

Subject:	 Re: Editing the new 21ek software
Sent:	Sunday, January 7, 2001 21:03:01
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Oh, dear...

> From a lot of user feedback on Mike's site (as well as some input
> through Meade), I get the impression that there is an awful lot loaded
> onto my new 21ek Autostar software that I might not want, and actually
> may confuse and increase computational times; for example, I am not
> interested in satellites other than perhaps Hubble, the Shuttle and
> the Space Station; likewise, only the top 25 asteroids are of any use,
> as if occasion arises (i.e., occulations, etc.) I can located them by
> coordinates on any given night.
All moving objects (save planets and moon) can be deleted.
Individually from the keypad, or (almost) en masse by the Updater.
I use both methods... certain versions of the Updater, if used to Edit
object lists, would then transmit data to the Autostar which would
reduce it to requiring a Flash Load within a couple of observing

Meade provides 64kbytes for user objects.  I've never run out,
despite loading about 6 tours, 40-odd Comets and 150 satellites.
The amount remaining can be seen under Setup>Statistics.

The objects existence in the Autostar in no way "slows down" any
other operation.  Each area of the database is a separately maintained
linked list, so deleting 200 satellites would not speed up accessing
 SAO 123456 in the slightest.

You can minimize the number of objects which survive multiple Updater
 operations by deleting the LibXXXXX.rom files in the Ephemerides
 folder before and during the Updater procedure... although there may
 be hiccoughs by doing that (they didn't expect that kind of mayhem).
Sometimes it's required to get around database confusion.

Er, the name of the game of the Autstar is "convenience"... so of
course it's trying to relieve you of the need to maintain up-to-date
 hardcopy ephemerii and almanacs of asteroids.

The first time I speed-read your note, the mental picture arose
of someone saying "i finally successfully built this house of cards...
but now i'd like to remove the Jacks and 5-of-clubs..."
From a computer-geek point of view, why bother? (except for making
the Asteroid scroll lists shorter)(which is why i no longer have 150
Satellites)  The longer lists, and additional functions (satellites),
do not detract from any other function of the Autostar.
The effort to -remove- them (and/or thereby create a version for, say,
"professional" astronomers) is actually fairly large.  
First, there's the doing.  Second, like a house of cards, many pieces
of the Autostar software use operations developed and associated with
other portions... such as accessing alphabetical lists.  If you remove
the satellite section, for example, you may accidently remove the
"accept floating point input" paragraph.
As a product, Meade actually -does- go through a LOT of unseen testing
and verification of what they do in the various versions.  They do
far more testing now than they used to, and it shows in three ways:
longer time spans between version releases, 
 fewer bugs in newer versions,
   more intermediate versions tested (ever wonder why it's "K"?)
(there -have- been versiona a thru h and j that never saw public
If they pulled the satellites for the tiny fraction of the market 
that doesn't want to see that scroll by as an option, it'd double
the testing requirements.

aaaannnd... you said "except for Hubble, Shuttle, ISS"...
well, you can't be half-way pregnant.  IF you want it to calculate
one satellite, you're stuck with the code in the Autostar.
I assume you're quite aware that orbits (especially in active solar
years) change constantly... to have good luck in ISS tracking, you need
fresh parameters (within 5 days at least).  MIR requires almost nightly
Tracking the ISS with my ETX90 (and your 125 in spades) is kinda fun!
It has a very discernable T-shape.  It didn't used to.

> Consequently, I understand that -now that it is loaded correctly in my
> Autostar - there is some way I can get into the program (as I was
> unable before loading as you well know!) and edit out (delete?) files
> that I likely will never use and therefore clean up considerably the
> content to my personal needs.
Yes, you can "easily" affect 64KB of 720KB of the stored data.

> Can you please advise on how this is undertaken?  I suppose it
> involves reattaching the scope and Autostar to my PC (?) with the 505
> cables, somehow calling up the program that is in my Autostar on my PC
> (how?) and then editing.  Then the question arises, is it necessary to
> completely REINSTALL 21ek, or are the changes automatic within the
> system (Autostar)?
Quick Cookbook:
Plug in Autostar to 505 cable.  
Turn on, answer date/time/daylight (just [enter] is ok)
On PC: start Updater
After the dust settles (it finds the Autostar, kicks it to "Download",
 sucks copies of what's in the Autostar User area into the PC):
It may even ask you "shall i save object data from Autostar?"
  ...feel free to say "no", if that's your wish.
On Updater screen are a few buttons: "satellites" "asteroids" comets"
Clicking any of them will bring up that object's editing screen.

At this point i'm going to stop... first, because you can start 
by clicking the [help] button on the upper right of the Updater's
main screen... words and pictures designed to delight and appall
anyone who's experienced in writing good documentation.
Secondly because i have a hell of a time fighting the Updater in
the Object Editing area... You express a desire to simply delete
many objects... well, that's a royal pain.  Meade doesn't follow
the Windows (and Mac) motif of click and shift-click to highlight
a -list- of items... noooo... you've got to individually delete
each object... 
Aaaaannndd... if it happens that a deleted object is the "selected"
one when you're trying to [finish] that page of the Updater, it fights
you, without explicitly informing you -how- to escape...
(pant, froth, pant... i need a little lie-down... just a sec...)

ahhh... ommmmmmm....
(to add to the fun, various versions (including the one you have now!)
of the Updater subtly mangle the objects' parameters during transfer
to Autostar.  Orbits may become ever-so-slightly-askew...)
They -fixed- that in subsequent versions (2.2) of the Updater, but in so
doing broke something else in the editing process, such that what the
 Autostar got became truly damaging to its operation.  The A2.1 Updater
you have is at least safe for the Autostar's continued happiness.
 (see "house of cards", above)

> Also, when "updates" are posted by Meade, do I download like I did the
> 21ek onto my PC and then have to reprogram the ENTIRE Autostar
> software,
Or, if we're lucky, the download from Meade will be an entire kit,
like the 2.0h kit which you fetched to get the Updater itself.

> or is the patch a direct replacement/addition to the system?
>  How is THIS done?
Each update completely replaces the program and 30,000 object database.
User Objects (Sats, Ast, Comets) are different:
Since you went thru 5 of the seven layers of hell trying to download,
 you may not have experienced the Updater asking (really! words!)
if you'd like to retain the orbital parameters from
your Autostar before the Updater got really rolling...

And Satellites, Comets Asteroids etc. can be individually or bulk-
transferred -without- reloading the entire 21ek itself.
Just don't click the "Send new firmware to Handbox" button.
Only use the "New Ephemerides" button.

Personally, i simply use the Autostar Keypad itself to delete objects.
Object>Satellite>[scroll down twice]Delete>[enter]
 it'll show you the satellite list, scroll up and down, and press 
  [enter] to kill any particular one.  Repeat.

> Meade should address these issues for the thousands of customers in
> limbo (hanging onto sanity.....not the dance) who have invested tons
> of money in the belief that they will be completely supported in these
> updates.  Any advice will greatly be appreciated.
Use Windows Explorer to get into the 
 ProgramFiles>Meade>Autostar>AutostarUpdate  folder.
double-click on the AUTOSTAR UPDATER.HLP file,
 (or perhaps it's ASLDRDIALG.HLP)
 ...that'll fire up Windows' help utility, and you can read 'til
 your eyes cross...

p.s. was it you?  Don't SYNC on Planets... since they're calculated
 objects, if the calculation is off, then the SYNCed adjustements to
 all fixed-objects will be equally off, too.  Only SYNC to stars and
 DSOs.  Don't blame Meade on this (long story).

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Copyright ©1999-2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_editing.html