Last updated: 26 April 2010

Autostar Models

Subject:	494 vs 497 autostar for an etx 80 - yes or no???
Sent:	Friday, April 23, 2010 18:06:36
From:	Randall Prince (
Can a #497 autostar be used with an ETX 80 instead of the #494 autostar

If not, why not?

Searched the website but didn't find an answer.
Mike here: I guess I should update the "AutoStar Models" article (this page) on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page, which only links to the Meade page with the answer. The answer is "yes", as seen on Meade's web site (


Thanks ever so much for the speedy reply.
Your website is the best. Keep up the good work.

Thanks again,


End of today's update
Subject:    Autostar Models and Telescope Models
Sent:   Wednesday, November 23, 2005 08:15:22
From:   Dick Seymour (
I've received 497's with both the "ETX Autostar" and just the plain
"Autostar" label on them... Even Meade reprograms 495's into 497's (the
internal paper labels reveal the history).

All 497's with current firmware can operate -any- Autostar-capable scope: 
they have 25 different models pre-programmed internally.  
There is no difference in the firmware running a DS-70, ETX90, LXD55/75 or LX90. 
You may only be shown 8 or a dozen models in the Setup/Telescope/Telescope Model 
list, but that's because it has already asked the motors "what are you?" 
and limits the model choices accordingly. 
If you look at the list of telescope models suitable for the 497 on Meade's 
support page ( ), they're all there 
(the only exceptions are the 4.25" GEM Newtonian model 4504 and 114EQ/DH-4).

The 4504 and 114EQ/DH-4 are the only two models of telescope which the
497 does NOT know with the normal modern Meade firmware.

But it -can- control it by either of two workarounds:
(a) after plugging it in, select any LXD55 model.
 Then use Setup/Telescope/RA Ratio (and DEC Ratio) to set
 the Ratio values you're now seeing in your Starfinder/494.
(RA=4.562963   DEC=4.562693).  Then it'll work.

(b) install my patch kit, and activate the "replace DS-70 with
 4504" portion.  (or download the already-activated version
 from the Files area of the Meade4504telescopes  yahoo group.
 Then the "4504/114EQ" will appear as a "known" model.

There is no difference between the "ETX Autostar" and an Autostar
capable of running an LXD.  Meade probably dropped the "ETX" from the
label to avoid confusion.

The only thing which truly matters is whether or not the Autostar has
the full numeric keypad.
If it does, it's a 497 and can be programmed to work an LXD.
If it doesn't have the numeric keypad, it's a 494 and cannot.

The labels are just a bit of adhesive-backed plastic added at the last
second.   Some of the 494 labels say "Starfinder" (if they're holding
the programming for the GEM 4504).

The 506 cable/converter will let you use the Autostar Updater to update
the Tours, Satellites, Comets, Asteroids and User Objects.

The 494 actually -has- the programming for Updating, but Meade has never
posted an update for them (but the firmware has changed over the years,
if only to add new models).

What the 494 -doesn't- have is "Safe Load"... if the update were to
hiccough, you'd be totally dead.

Autostar II:
Finally, the Autostar II handbox is not an Autostar at all. It's merely
a screen, keypad and beeper in a "dumb terminal". The actual Autostar is
buried inside the telescope's base.

Thus I suppose we could/should expand the "truly matters" to: "if it has
an 8-wire socket on the bottom, it's an Autostar. If it has a full
numeric keypad, it's a 497, and can be updated from whatever version of
firmware it's carrying to become a fully LXD-compatible controller."
(the Autostar II's handbox has a single 4-wire socket)

have fun

End of 26 November 2005 update
Mike here: The following was posted on Meade's Autostar Update page on 8 March 2002.
#505 Connector Cable Kit - for use with #495 Autostar
All DS Models
All DS-2000 Models
ETX-60 / 70

#505 Connector Cable Kit - for use with #497 ETX Autostar
All DS Models
All DS-2000 Models
All ETX Models

#505 Connector Cable Kit - for use with LX-90 Autostar

#506 Connector Cable Kit - for use with #494 Autostar
All DS Models
All DS-2000 Models
ETX-60 / 70

LX200 Interface Cable - for use with Autostar II
All LX200GPS Models

End of 8 March 2002 update

Mike here: In response to a mis-statement I made, here is the correct answer from our resident Autostar expert:

Subject:	re: autostar 494 on an ETX90?
Sent:	Tuesday, October 16, 2001 21:44:38
From: (richard seymour)
No... the 494 will -refuse- to operate the ETX90.

It will show the initializing screen,
then will say:  

"Use ETX Autostar
with this model"

Just like the 494 i have sitting on my desk is saying,
as it's plugged into my ETX90.

A 495 can be reprogrammed to operate an ETX90, but not a 494.


End of 18 October 2001 update

Subject:	Re: 494 on an ETX90?
Sent:	Sunday, June 17, 2001 18:55:34
From: (richard seymour)
> Sorry, I have the autostar #495 not #494, will it work with my meade
> ETX-90ec telescope?

Yes... *after* you update it to 21eK or 22eH, with Updater A2.4

> It don't seem to work, Why?
because Meade programmed it to require that you purchase a 497.
However, the current updater allows you to turn it -into- a 497
by downloading.

> I got the #495 for $20.00, & was told just a homemade cable might
> work... So I got it, for $20.00 I thought I can't go wrong,

> $80.00 or so retail that's a good deal.
> If yes, can I get info on haw to make a cable?
There are *two* cables involved: the one from the Autostar to the
Telescope... i assume you have that.  IF not, it requires two
8-pin "rj-45" connectors and an 8-wire cable.  The pins are swapped
from end-to-end, so that pin 1 on one end ties to pin 8 on the other.

The second cable is detailed in Mike's site: it is a 4-pin telephone
handset connector to a 9-pin rs232 connect for your PC.
Among them are:
but -somewhere- on that site he has the clearest picture contained
in a page about a power connector... but it has a gif with the 505
cable very nicely drawn ... and i can't find it.

Now: downloading: since the 495 Autostar refuses to work when plugged
into the ETX90, you have two choices:  after building the 505 
rs232 cable, you would load the Updater kit in your PC,
connect the cables, and...
read the README file in the
\ProgramFiles\Meade\Autostar\AutostarUpdater folder,
about how to do a "FLASH LOAD" procedure.
That involves holding two keys down when powering up the telescope. 
Then the Autostar will be listening for the computer.
So: PC is running, cables are connected.
Power up telescope holding the two keys. 
release the keys and place the autostar on the table.
Start the Updater on your PC... it will -ask- if this is a FLASH LOAD?
Answer YES, and it will operate from there.
Basically: once it is showing you its main many-button screen,
Click **only** the [send software to autostar]  button!!!
It will then send v21eK to the 495 (it will take 35 minutes).
And the 495 will magically become a 497, and WILL be willing to run
the ETX90.

Do **nothing else** on the computer while the download occurs.
Turn off the screensaver.

the other, non-FLASH LOAD way is to build a "power only" cable for
the Autostar, as shown in

If there is no telescope connected, the Autostar is willing to
operate, and you can get to Setup > Download [enter] 
without trouble.

good luck

Subject:	494 on an ETX90?
Sent:	Sunday, June 17, 2001 17:28:43
From: (richard seymour)
> Can the Autostar #494 from an ETX-60AT or ETX-70AT be used with the ETX-90EC?

No, i don't think it will work... (but, to be honest, i haven't
-tried- it).

Electrically, there's no problem.. you can just plug the 494's
cable directly into the ETX90.

But the -program- inside the 494 will get shirty and tell you
that you should use a *real* autostar with that telescope.

That's also what happens to a not-updated (to 22eH) 495 and 
Starfinders.  Unfortunately, STarfinders and 494 Autostars
cannot currently be updated, since Meade hasn't published
any updates.


End of 20 June 2001 update

Subject:	495 on an ETX-60/70
Sent:	Tuesday, June 12, 2001 14:08:12
From: (Scott Horne)
>Question - can the Autostar 495 be used with the ETX70AT. I bought it to
>use with the DS114 but since I am returning DS114 I thought I'd see if I
>can salvage the Autostar.
Yes, it can.  And it works very well! :)  I did the same thing.  I'm
using the 495 autostar (firmware version 2.2ef) with my etx-60 and much
prefer it over the 494 autostar that came with the scope.  Somewhere in
the latest firmware versions, Meade added support for all the autostar

Scott Horne
Honolulu, Hawaii

End of 13 June 2001 update

Subject:	Autostar models (as of 3/2001)
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 19:27:42
Here's the current model scoop:

The current "highest" model is the 497.  With 1 megabyte of Flash Ram.
The current firmware (that i'm aware of) is v21eK. 
It ships with the LX90, and it's a downloadable option for the ETX90,
ETX125 and all other telescope models.
It can operate any other ETX- or DS- scope.
It does -not- have specific programming for the German Equatorial Mount
of the Meade 4504 (also called 114EQ-DH4).  But it -will- run them, if
you just enter the proper gear ratios (Az:4.56296253, Alt:4.56269264)

The 495 was the Autostar sold for use with all "lower" scopes...
from the original ETX60 and 70, and all of the DS- models.
For the last few months it has been "free" with the DS-114 and DS-127,
in place of the "494 Autostar".
In the original Meade advertising, they said that the 495 had a half-meg
of Flash Ram.  Recent surguries by a number of people have shown every
one opened so far to actually contain a full megabyte of Flash Ram.

Both 497 and 495 have full numeric keypads.
497's have "ETX Autostar" written above the display.
495's have just "Autostar" written above the display.

Delivered with the current ETX60at and ETX70at are  494 Autostars.
Delivered with 4504 and 114EQ-dDH4 are "Starfinders".
They appear to be -exactly- the same hardware, and just differ in the
programming.  Starfinders do not offer changing "Telescope Model" and
-do- know about German Equatorial.

Some common questions:

> Per our recent discussions on the newer AutoStar instructions, what 
> "model" (i.e., 497, 494, etc.) does the ETX come with??
The ETX (I assume 90 and 125) doesn't "come" with any.
It's an exra-cost option, and you get whatever firmware version the
dealer happens to have in stock.  I still hear of v1.1j getting sold.

Since the LX90 and Autostar are sold -together-, they get the current
version.  The LX90 started with v21eI, (that's an "eye") and now arrives
with v21eK.  I heard of at least one v21eJ arriving.

> I have heard reference also that the firmware version loaded with
> those are something like v3.3....
you were misinformed.

> I assume that the internal memory of library objects (the "30,000+ 
> referred to) is within the microprocessor built for the LX 90 AutoStar, 
> and the same (?) AutoLoader (A2.4) would still be used to augment 
> that information. 
The "Updater A2.4" merely ships the "firmware" (v21eK, at this time)
to the Autostar.
The "firmware" consists of two files: autostar.rom and dbase.rom
The 30,000 objects are in that second file.  The two files are quite
interrelated, and only exist as "2" to overcome an internal limit of
the Updater itself.  They should be thought of as one -huge- file.
They form -exactly- the same stuff you now have pushing your ETX125
It is -exactly- the same stuff pushing my ETX90, and anyone's LX90.
No difference.  Only the 495 and 494 Autostars have fewer objects.

> I checked with Meade's largest dealer yesterday and they said for all
> they knew ".... the LX90 Autostar was a fancier version of #497,"
And, indeed, the earlier (last fall)  Meade advertising for the LX90 
stated that the Autostar would have two megabytes of Flash Ram.
Then reality struck.
Meade managed to squeeze the 30,000 object database
into the current one-megabyte 497, so they did, at the cost of losing
the previous multi-lingual capabilities of the Autostar.
The LX90 uses -exactly-  the same Autostar and firmware as the ETX-90EC 
and ETX-125EC do.


End of 25 March 2001 update

Subject:	 Meade AutoStar model confusion
Sent:	Thursday, November 2, 2000 15:36:20
From: (Dick Mead)
Meade has a problem, and makes it MY problem by having so many models of
Autostar that are not positively identified.

I purchased an ETX-70 (EC or AT the box and paperwork don't agree). The
box shows an Autostar with NO numeric pad. That's NOT what I got. I have
an Autostar with the numeric pad. Looks like the #497 picture. The
paperwork calls it #495. Nowhere have I found a clear definition of the
differences, and how to identify these units. The new software uploader
claims it will know what model it is talking to and not try to load the
wrong version of database and firmaware. I hope so. After I play with
the stock unit, I'll try to update from V1.2c to 2.0i which I just

The main reason this bugs me so is that I purchased the #506 software
package, specifically designated as for the ETX 60/70 with a supplied
cable. Only the cable won't work becase it is not for the RS-232 port on
the Autostar I have. It talks to some proprietary bus either on the
scope or in one of the other controllers, who knows. I have since made
up my own cables that work fine, no thanks to Meade.

I searched the Meade site, but never found the info I sought.
Mike here: I agree that the Autostar models is a source of confusion. Which models are supported on which telescopes (thanks to the help of others) we've tried to put together the beginnings of a clarification on this page. And what are the differences in the models. With all the newer models, we have a long ways to go.
End of 3 November 2000 update

Subject:	 495 vs ETX90's... (summary, synopsis)
Sent:	Thursday, April 13, 2000 08:57:09
From: (richard seymour)
Where there's a will, there's a patch...

I asked:  "But before i buy a 495, i'd really appreciate hearing from
(at least) one person who's actually -used- a 495 with an ETX90 and had
it work."

Among  the numerous "Meade says it won't" (and one "i hope it will, i've
ordered one") responses, only Scopetronix's Jordan Blessing actually
-tried- it.  He wrote:
> I just tried this yesterday. The Autostar said "USE ETX AUTOSTAR FOR THIS
> TELESCOPE" and froze. So there is your definitive answer ; ) Funny enough,
> this same autostar lists the ETX125 as one of the scopes!

About 99.995% of the two autostar.rom files (495 and 497) are -exactly-
the same. The 495 has an extra paragraph added that checks the handbox
and scope type... and complains and freezes if it detects a high-priced
scope on a bargain controller.

The 497's code doesn't contain that paragraph... the message is in the
database, but it's never referred to.  That's why i hadn't seen anything
in my 497's code that would have prevented the 495-ETX90 mix.

**usual warning: i haven't tried the following, since i don't have a 495

Well, a one-byte patch to the 495 autostar.rom code (plus the obligatory

add-a-checksum-pleasing byte at the end), should avoid the USE AN ETX!
message and trap.

To whit: (in v2.0i) change byte 49FE5 (hex) from 27 (hex) to 20 (hex).
(and, therefore, append a 07 byte checksum-pleaser to the end of the
entire file)

That changes a "branch if equal" to "branch always" and avoids the trap.

There are 7 other places in the code where it checks the handbox type,
and one of the others may (well, will) change an "ETX-125" telescope
type to ETX-70, (and ETX-90 to DS-60) but i think that's mainly
cosmetic. I'll dig further.

Thanks to all who responded,
now, off to buy a 495... (watch this space)

footnote: i said "-exactly- the same".. they're not.  Minor shuffles
caused by such things as the above-described paragraph cause many
absolute addresses to differ slightly, so a byte-by-byte comparison
yields thousands of differences. If the absolute addresses are replaced
by human-friendly labels, the "exact" nature emerges.

Subject:	 DS Model user Feedback - Autostar #495 vs. #497
Sent:	Tuesday, November 30, 1999 13:39:51
From:	Scott G
Just talked with Meade technical support.  I'm looking at getting the
DS90-EC and wanted to know if the #497 (16,000 object database) works
with the DS series.  The answer from Meade is YES.

The #497 works for the ETX & DS models
The #495 only works for DS models, NOT the ETX.

Just thought I'd pass along the information.  Again, this information is
from Meade, not first hand.  Will let y'all know when it becomes first
hand knowledge....

Scott G

Mike here: For those who've been asking about it, there is a model #493 Autostar. As described on Meade's web site: "#493 Autostar Computer Control System: Supplied complete with 2 control motors, battery pack accepting ten (user-supplied) AA-batteries, control panel, and Autostar hand controller. Permits the full range of Autostar functions on any DS model, including automatic GO TO object-location, as described on p. 78. Note: Owners of DS telescopes already equipped with the #492 EC System, above, need to purchase the #495 Autostar handbox, only, to convert their telescopes to full Autostar operation."

Go back to the Autostar Information page.

Go back to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©1999-2002, 2005, 2010 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 1999-2002, 2005, 2010 by the Submitter