Last updated: 10 April 2003

How to Update an Autostar's Firmware with the ASU 3.61 Updater

Sent:	Saturday, April 5, 2003 23:48:46
From: (Richard Seymour)
How to Update an Autostar's Firmware with the ASU 3.61 Updater

The following  applies to both Autostars with numeric keypads (495 or 497)
and the  LX200gps' Autostar II.   19-March-2002 Updated 5-Apr-2003

To Update an Autostar, you need four ingredients: 
The Autostar Updater Application (ASU), which runs in your PC,
and the Firmware "rom file" which will be transferred to the Autostar.
You will need a cable to connect your PC to your Autostar.
 For the 495/497, it is a Meade 505 cable, a non-Meade equivalent,
  or you can build your own from the plans at
For an LX200gps, you need a similar cable with the same pinout
in a wider plug (RJ11/14 instead of RJ22), although a 505 cable can
be used if balanced carefully in the socket.
Finally, you need a PC (or Mac with VirtualPC) running Windows95 or newer.

The first two items come from Meade's support webpage:

or just click here, and perform a "Save to Disk":

Warning: that link brings a 3-megabyte download.
 Receiving it takes a long while on a slow modem (like mine).

Once that ASU361.exe file is transferred to your PC, double-click on it,
 and it will unpack and  install the Updater itself.
You only need to do the above once.
  (well, until Meade updates the Updater....)

Turn off your PC, and CAREFULLY following the hook-up instructions
 to connect the 505 cable between your PC and Autostar.
Note that the cable goes to the AUTOSTAR, -not- the AUX port.

For LX200gps's, the cable plugs into the -left- rs232 port, closest to
 the Handbox/Autostar cable.

The 9-pin end goes onto your PC's COM port, or into a USB-to-serial
adapter if your PC does not have a typical COM port.

The Autostar has to be attached to the telescope to receive power.

Power up the telescope, answer date/time/daylight, and bring the
Autostar to where it prompts for Aligning.  That's far enough,
Don't bother to align.

Turn on your PC.

Look under your [start] menu, in Programs...
look for "Meade Inst", under that is "ASU". 
Click on -that- to start the ASU.

A small window will appear with a BIG button labelled
 [Upgrade Autostar Software Now]
Click it...   (LX200gps users: first read the footnotes below about speed)
that will bring up a two-choice box where you can choose
to get the firmware from either the Internet or from a local file.
(if your Autostar is -not- connected to your PC, you may also be asked
 "which autostar?" .. choose as appropriate.. this is to allow you
 to fetch the new firmware without having the Autostar connected)

You can also click the button which offers to check the Internet for
Meade's latest posted version.

If you already have the "build.rom" or "buildLX.rom" file on your PC,
 choose Local, and use the drop-box to locate the version you wish to
load (my patch kit, right?).  The list of versions will be generated by
the updater looking at all files in the Ephemerides folder for appropriate
files.  The name does not have to look like "build.rom".

If you -do- choose to have the ASU download the latest firmware from the net
for you, that can take a long time (15 to 20 minutes, or double that for
if you're coming over a dial-up modem.  The progress indicator is on the
bottom of the Updater's window, and moves at a truly glacial rate.
 ("Slow as molasses" is far, far, faster)

After the firmware file is transferred to the PC, the ASU will pop up a small
message box telling you to Reset from the keypad if you wish to (after 
the Update).  Respond to the two message boxes by clicking  [OK],
and the actual transfer to the Autostar will begin.

The download from PC to Autostar takes about 35 minutes.
And LX200GPS takes 18 minutes at high speed, or 90 minutes at slow speed.
The progress indicator is a slowly incrementing percentage number displayed
in the lower left margin of the  Updater's window on your PC.
If you have the Updater fetch the newest version for you, the
"fetch time" for a megabyte or two is added to that time estimate.
But not necessarily shown on the percentage indicator.

During the transfer, do NOT use the PC for other operations.
Have screen savers and power-saving features like "Suspend" turned OFF,
or keep tapping the Shift Key or moving your mouse to keep your PC awake.
Having the PC shut down during a download it the main reason folks need
the Autostar's Safe Load feature (see footnotes).

That's it... One Button operation. (really!)
(you do remember the "[Update Now]" mentioned far above?)

After it's done, click the Updaters [exit] button to shut it down.
When you next use your telescope, do a Setup > RESET [enter][enter]
to guarantee proper initialization of all the inner variables. 
You'll have to re-enter your City, Telescope Type and 
reCALIBRATE and reTRAIN for best operation.

If you wish to "freshen up" the Autostar's Satellites, Tours or Comets,
please read
which covers that aspect of the ASU.  

Autostar II WARNING:  Do NOT use the Autostar's keypad to set your Autostar II
 into Download mode!  Let the UPDATER do that.  Otherwise the Updater
 cannot properly determine your current firmware level, and it may cause
 minor havoc.   Also: see the "LX200gps" item a few paragraphs down.

Autostar 495/497: if your version is earlier than 2.1 (the version
number is shown on the screen during the Initialization), you may 
need to put the Autostar into "Download Mode" for the ASU to work with it.
That is under Setup > Download

Both Autostars and Autostar II: In case of severe problems, or if the
Autostar simply will not work after an update, you can use Safe Mode
to perhaps recover from disaster.

Autostar 495 or 497: You enter Safe Mode by holding the [enter] and
[scroll down] keys pressed when you power up the telescope.  The
Autostar will say "Flash Load Ready"... now go start the ASU.

Autostar II: if you need to use Safe Mode to recover from a disaster,
turn on the telescope, and key 999 before it says "Initializing"
The Autostar will say "Flash Load Ready"... now go start the ASU.

LX200gps: BEFORE proceeding further, click on the OPTIONS item on the Top Bar.
  Now click on "Garbage Collect Hbx"  ... this will perform data cleanup
  within the Autostar which will avoid potential mess-ups.

LX200gps: The first time you use the ASU, or if you previously used the
ASU  to talk to an Autostar 495 or 497, you will want to increase the
serial line speed from its default 9600 baud to the 8-times-faster 57K baud.
You do that by attaching as above, powering up the telescope, starting
the ASU, and click [Advanced Functions].  Now  click on [Connect].
The Autostar type and current version should appear in the lower right margin.
Now click on the "Options" choice in the top menu bar. 
From that drop-down list, click on "Max Baud Rate", and a list of mumbers 
will appear.  Click on the 56,600 choice if it is not check-marked.
Now you can press the [Update Now] button.

LX200gps: Under the Updater's Tools menu is "Edit User Data".  
That allows you to save (to a PC disk file), edit and restore your
Site list, your Owner information and (LX200gps) your PEC tables.
If you use this to restore the Sites to the Autostar, you must -first-
use the Autostar's keypad to answer it's "first questions after an update"
slate, before the Autostar will listen to the User Data function.
Once the Autostar is prompting for an Alignment style, you may use
the Edit Data feature to [Send] the data to the Autostar.

LX200gps: if you have an OLD version of the firmware (v1.2 or earlier),
You may experience totally strange behaviour after updating.
If that occurs, do the following:  Retrieve and Save your User Objects 
(see ) and
update again... but this time, in the "Internet/LocalFile" window,
tick the "Erase USer Banks" option... that does a total erasure of
the Satellites/Comets/Asteroids/Tours/Landmarks/UserObjects in your
Autostar, but can overcome this problem.  After completing the second
Update, use the [Send Data] button (next to retrieve) to restore those
objects to the Autostar II.

good luck

Go back to the Autostar Information page.

Go back to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©1999-2003 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2002-3 by the Submitter