Last updated: 27 May 2004

GPS for Autostar 495/497

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Sent:	Tuesday, June 17, 2003 19:51:35
From: (Chris Carson)
With the help of Dick Seymour (the Autostar expert!) I've developed a
GPS Setup patch for the Autostar 495/497 which allows it to interpret
GPS NMEA 2.0+ data and use this to set the date, time, latitude and
longitude.  In addition, Dick helped me dream up the idea of a newer
Windows program I've called StarPatch which allows my GPS Setup patch
and Dicks' Autostar and Autostar II patches to be added in a simpler
manner - you just check off the patches you want to install and click
"Update Autostar".  All the details, including a free download of
StarPatch can be found at

The StarGPS package contains the following items:
1) High performance 12-channel GPS receiver
2) cable to connect the GPS power/data to the telescope/Autostar
3) StarPatch CD-ROM & registration key to add GPS Setup capability
4) cable to connect your PC to the Autostar (similar to Meade #505)

The key features of StarPatch are:
1) Adds 495/497 GPS Setup capability (see below)
2) Fast 495/497 updates in LESS THAN 2 MINUTES
3) 495/497 updates are automatically verified
4) SmartLoad reuses unchanged data from previous updates
5) Easy selection and use of available patches
6) "Update Autostar" button simplifies updates
7) "Get Updates" retrieves the latest software
8) Works with Autostar II (excluding features 1, 2 and 3)
9) Free trial version

The StarPatch CD-ROM includes a registration key that enables all the
program features and allows the GPS Setup patch to be installed onto one
Autostar 495/497 Handset. This patch allows you to connect a GPS
receiver to the Autostar so the date, time, latitude and longitude can
be automatically set.  Unlike the LX200gps it cannot North align and
level the tripod :)

The Trial Version has the following limitations:
1) 495/497 updates are slowed to 9600 baud (vs 115K)
2) GPS Setup patch results are displayed, but not saved
3) SmartLoad feature is disabled

NOTE:  StarPatch does not entirely replace the Meade AutoStar Update
program (ASU).  The ASU must still be used to move Library Objects to
and from the Handset (eg. satellites, comets and tours).

Your ETX Site is fantastic!!!

Best Wishes,
Chris Carson
PixSoft Inc.

Reviews and Comments

Review: GPS for Autostar (Japanese) (7/06/03)

Subject:	Ref StarPatch Software
Sent:	Thursday, July 24, 2003 14:09:58
From: (Paul Atkins)
Having received the registration key from Chris at StarGPS earlier
today, I have now uploaded the GPS Setup patch into my #497 Autostar and
connected my Garmin StreetPilot Atlantic.

With the street pilot already powered up (I would say that 2 mins is
adequate to allow for acquisition of satellites), I power up my ETX90
and the Autostar shows 'Checking for GPS' then shows the correct 'Time,
Date and Longitude/Latitude then shows Align: and I am ready to go.

This will save a few minutes on setting up my ETX90EC, very impressed.


Paul G Atkins

Subject:	StarGPS for 497
Sent:	Thursday, October 16, 2003 07:19:59
I've visited the site and looked around to see if this subject has
already gotten some coverage. Didn't see it, so I thought I'd drop you
this line.

The StarGPS add-on for the 497 Autostar by Scopetronix works great.
Having a Garmin E-Trex GPS receiver, I bought the version less receiver
and had no problems. Having time and location download is just a
convenience, but it was worth the price for me, especially since the
ETX-125 is my grab-and-go scope and is intended to be carried to any
site. In case there are other Autostar users who have been wondering if
anyone has tried this product out, I can tell you that it works as
advertised and am happy to have it.

Regards - Paul Graham
Mike here: I'll add your report to the reviews page "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Information page (this page).
Subject:	ETX-90 StarPatch GPS experience
Sent:	Thursday, October 16, 2003 18:44:42
From: (R&JS)
As regulars to this site know, a company named StarPatch has released a
GPS-cable(s)-software package that will interface a GPS receiver to
several of the Meade scopes -- in this case, to the ETX scopes.

Search the Mighty ETX Site for a link to StarPatch.

You can purchase a complete package with a small GPS receiver, cable to
connect it to the scope, CD to update the Autostar.  Or, if you already
own a Garmin GPS receiver, you can purchase the CD and two cables -- one
to connect your computer to your Autostar to update the Autostar and one
cable to connect your GPS receiver to the Autostar.

I purchased the second option, planning to use my Garmin GPS receiver. 
I have two Garmins -- the Garmin Camo and the eTrex Legend.  The cable
provided works with either.

Here is my experience with installing the update and using the scope
with the GPS function.  This experience applies ONLY TO THE ETX; I
installed the GPS capability on my ETX-90.

Set up was simple.  Insert the CD and let it run -- if it does not
start, go to your CD drive and RUN the setup.exe file.  Install
StarPatch on your computer.

On the StarPatch menu bar, click on Help>User Manual.  Read the steps
for installation, print them if you need to, then install the GPS patch
to the ETX.  It works just like updating the Autostar with a patch from

The CD box will have a label attached with a registration code --
register you StarPatch at the point indicated in the setup instructions 
Be certain to go through the steps to register the Autostar, otherwise,
it will not remember the GPS data.

After everything was installed, I turned off the scope, let my Garmin
Camo get a fix, connected the cable between the GPS receiver and the
scope, and turned on the scope.  Scope came to life, beeped, then the
Autostar flashed "Obtaining GPS data."  In a few seconds, the time and
lat-longs appeared on the Autostar.  I waited another few seconds and
the familiar Align routine came up.  I aligned the scope and went on my

So, why is this convenient?  First, GPS time is accurate -- very
accurate -- and it is automatically entered into the scope, complete
with DST adjustment.  Second, if you move the scope, even a foot or two,
there is no need to enter the coordinates of your observing site -- the
GPS tells the scope where it is.

I set up the scope on my balcony and ran it through its paces several
times -- turn on, acquire GPS, align, view a few objects, turn off (not
park).   Turn on, acquire GPS, align, etc.  Scope performed flawlessly
-- it really was reading the time and location from the GPS.

So, do I recommend this?  Well, not necessarily for everyone.  The
complete StarPatch with the GPS recevier is $179.00 or so; if you use
your own GPS receiver, it's $99.00 for the CD and cables.  If you
observe from one or two spots, and you have them entered in the SITE,
and you don't mind changing sites, do it by hand and forget the GPS. 
However, if you travel with your scope, or if you just don't want to
fool with entering the time every time the scope is turned on and
changing SITE when you travel, the StarPatch GPS is for you.

My experience is that it installed without a glitch, instructions were
well-written and clear, the cables are sturdy and well-made, and it
worked right out of the box.

Joe Schlatter
In my earlier message in which I described my experience with installing
and using for the first time the StarPatch GPS for the ETX-90, I forgot
one thing.

I am using a Garmin GPS receiver.  After I turn on the Autostar and it
acquires the time, date, and location from the GPS recevier, then I
unplug the GPS receiver, turn it off, and stick it in the lens case --
no need to keep it connected all the time.  Just be certain it's
connected when you turn on the scope.

If you get the StarPatch kit that includes its own GPS receiver, you can
attach the receiver module to the scope or tripod and leave it there and
plugged in.  Leaving the Garmin plugged in will not hurt anything -- I
unplug mine just to get it out of the way.

Joe S.

Subject:	StarPatch GPS for ETX-90
Sent:	Sunday, October 19, 2003 05:12:50
From: (R&JS)
This is my third message since I installed the StarPatch GPS upgrade to
my ETX-90's AutoStar -- I am a happy StarPatch customer.

Over the past couple of days, I traveled with my scope to two locations:
-- 100 miles south of home
-- 35 miles ESE of home

I am convinced this StarPatch GPS was a good buy for me and I recommend
it to anyone who moves around with their scope or who just wants the
convenience of automatically setting date, time, and location to very
high accuracy.

I use mine with a Garmin Camo GPS receiver.  Turn on the GPS and let it
acquire satellites (1-2 minutes).  While the GPS is acquiring, set up
the scope, level and point north (I use alt-az alignment).  By the time
the scope is set up, the GPS has acquired a good fix.  Plug the
StarPatch-supplied cord from the GPS into the AutoStar hand controller,
turn on the scope -- it gets date, time, and location from the GPS then
goes into the Align mode.  Unplug the GPS -- it's job is done -- and go
through alignment.

It takes more time for me to type this message than to actually do it. 
The advantage, of course, is that I do not need to fiddle around trying
to remember where SITE is located in the AutoStar, finding out I did not
enter the site, etc., etc.

Joe Schlatter

Subject: Garmin e-Trex/497 Autostar/StarGPS
Date: 3/31/04, 17:16
From: Paul Graham (
Having had some queries from ETX users regarding the use of the
receiver-less version of the StarGPS, I thought it might be useful to
put this info here for general reference. I have first-hand experience
only with the 497, only with the StarGPS for the 497, and only with the
basic e-Trex model (there are several models). Those wanting to know
absolutely for sure if their e-Trex selection will work with StarGPS
should check with Garmin ( Here is the info you need:

You must set the output [SETUP page > INTERFACE] to NMEA OUT. This
should be standard NMEA-0183. Output data must be NMEA $GPRMC at 4800 or
9600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit. I suspect that all the e-Trex models
answer to this, but an E-mail query to Garmin will remove all doubt. It
is best to allow the receiver to obtain a stable fix before turning on
the ETX so that data is flowing when Autostar initializes.

I recommend Garmin's combo data-out/power-in cable (part # 010-10268-00)
since the e-Trex has just the one specialty (proprietary) connector for
both functions. With this you can power the receiver from your field
pack, car, or DC supply (as long as you have the cigar-lighter type of
jack) while also having the receiver connected for data output (which,
of course, is the point of the exercise). This way you do not have to
rely on internal dry cells. All you need to connect the Garmin data
cable to the D9/RS232 cable provided with the StarGPS,which connects to
the Autostar, is a D9 null modem and one gender changer (Radio Shack
off-the-shelf). If you don't think you want this outboard DC capability,
there is nothing else to buy except batteries for the e-Trex, as the
StarGPS comes with everything you need (the patch on CD and two cables).

There seems to be an assumption on the part of the StarGPS that the
Garmin will be the receiver of choice since one of the cables is
terminated with a connector that fits this proprietary e-Trex
termination. It might be best to mention that it is an e-Trex being used
when purchasing the StarGPS to make sure you get the right interface
cable anyway - just in case. This is not an issue if you get the Garmin
combo cable.

Regards to all. Paul Graham

Subject:	StarGPS
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 2004 20:11:36
From:	"Terry Cooper" (
I have enjoyed your site. As a relatively new user of a Meade ETX-105,
I can say that it is a great little telescope. It is not perfect in
every regard, but few telescopes are. I settled on the scope primarily
for portability considerations (I already own a Celestron 8" SCT) and
ease of use and have not been disappointed. I am delighted with the
optical quality of the primary optics, although I still prefer to use my
existing set of Ultima eyepieces.

I had the great fortune of buying and using the PixSoft StarGPS
purchased through Scopetronix. Shortly afterwards, when I was working
an unrelated minor problem with Meade regarding some lost hardware on
my mounting. I let it outto the Meade customer service representative
that I had bought a StarGPS. He asked me how I liked it. I don't. I
LOVE IT. The softwarewas very easy to install and instructions provided
are very straightforward. When the Autostar initializes, the system
locates your exact latitude and longitude and sets your local time in
the Autostar. It is a perfect companion for a telescope that is largely
meant to be portable travelling telescope.

For more information check out their web site:

Terry Cooper

Subject:	StarGPS comments
Sent:	Thursday, May 27, 2004 13:26:03
From:	John Williamson (
Thanks for the great site. I was wondering if you would like to add my
comments to the rest regarding the StarGPS by Pixsoft.

I purchased this product a while ago and was using it with my own
Magellan GPS unit. The software installs with no issues what-so-ever. It
works exactly as published with no problem.

Recently, I had some problems that were with my Magellan. Chris at
Pixsoft had helped me confirm this. I had posed some questions about
this on a weekend and Chris responded WITHIN MINUTES! I was amazed to
say the least. Well I ended up buying the GPS 6010 from Pixsoft to
replace my broken Magellan. Then, Chris offered to exchange my Magellan
A-Star cable with the correct one for the GPS-6010 (with the provision
that my cable was in like new condition)! I was even more amazed!

In short, buy this product! It works very well and the customer service
is second to none.

John Williamson
Hi John,

Thanks!  Of course I can't guarantee that e-mails will be answered on
weekends :)


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