Jump to content


Photo

HELP, Disaster 497 Handbox Dead!!

  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 davesaunders

davesaunders

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 238
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2008
  • Loc: United Kingdom

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:56 PM

Hi,

I'm having a bad time at the moment with things technical, started with loosing ASCOM connection to my LX90 scope mount and have for the past two months trying to sort it out, new cables , downloaded drivers etc. still no go!!!
So thought it might be a good idea to do a Autostar update as I cant remember last time. Anyway plugged in scope, handbox to laptop and continued to download version 6.0. It started to download for about 2mins, little box bottom left got up to 3, then window came up saying "connection lost download failed" aborted autostar from laptop and tried again but failed again, window on handbox was saying "downloading do not switch off". Left this for some time but it didn't appear to be doing anything so thought I had better switch it off! Left it for a while and tried again and to my horror the screen on handbox was lit up but blank. At this point panic set in so switched off and then on and things got worse, handbox was completely DEAD!!! no lights nothing.
The handbox was working perfectly ok before Autostar update so I'm hoping somebody out there has some advice,please!!!

Dave.

#2 scott4comp

scott4comp

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Boston, MA

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:58 PM

I believe I have seen this situation discussed on Weasner's Mighty ETX...have you been there yet ?

#3 nitegeezer

nitegeezer

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 1156
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posted 12 October 2013 - 07:42 PM

I hope someone with a better memory will chime in here, but there is a key sequence that puts it in a recovery mode and allows the firmware to be loaded again. I can't remember what this sequence is and as far as I know it is not published in the documentation. It has been mentioned many times here on CN, but I can't find it using the search.

I just found it here for the Autostar II, not sure if the 497 is the same.

#4 Cliff Hipsher

Cliff Hipsher

    Apollo

  • ***--
  • Posts: 1147
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: North Chesterfield, VA

Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:39 AM

1. Make sure the Autostar and ETX are turned off.
2. Press and hold the "ENTER" key and the Scroll Down Key located to the right of the help key on the Autostar handbox.
3. While depressing both keys, turn on your Autostar power switch. This will require you using both hands.
You should see "FLASH LOAD READY" on your display. This indicates that you can proceed to Update new software to your Autostar.

#5 davesaunders

davesaunders

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 238
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2008
  • Loc: United Kingdom

Posted 13 October 2013 - 07:39 AM

Still dead Cliff, will this work as my handset is completely blank, no red light what so ever?

Dave

#6 Cliff Hipsher

Cliff Hipsher

    Apollo

  • ***--
  • Posts: 1147
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: North Chesterfield, VA

Posted 13 October 2013 - 01:59 PM

First, make sure your power supply/batteries are good.
Second, unplug the hand control and turn the mount on. The power LED should light up. If it doesn't, there could be a problem with the switch or the power jack.

If the power LED comes on, turn the mount off and plug the handset in. Turn on the power.

If the handset remains dark, turn the mount off and swap the hand control cable end for end and try again...

#7 davesaunders

davesaunders

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 238
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2008
  • Loc: United Kingdom

Posted 15 October 2013 - 02:23 PM

Thanks for your much appreciated reply's, sadly nothing worked so have sent it to Meade service, hopefully to be repaired.

Dave.

#8 DAVIDG

DAVIDG

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4735
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Hockessin, De

Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:57 PM

What most likely what has happened is that a bad bit has been loaded into the EEPROM on the HC11 and this is causing the HC11 not to find the memory location were the external update program is located. What you have to do is clear this memory location which requires one to open up the Autostar and jumper two pins on the HC11 to ground to force the HC11 into special Bootstrap Loader Mode and use a program that allows one to clear the memory. If you go to the yahoo group ROBOSCOPE, in the file section is "Autostarrevival.pdf" that explain step by step on what to do to bring your Autostar out of it's coma.

- Dave

#9 highertheflyer

highertheflyer

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 693
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2005
  • Loc: Aledo, Texas

Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:01 PM

What most likely what has happened is that a bad bit has been loaded into the EEPROM on the HC11 and this is causing the HC11 not to find the memory location were the external update program is located. What you have to do is clear this memory location which requires one to open up the Autostar and jumper two pins on the HC11 to ground to force the HC11 into special Bootstrap Loader Mode and use a program that allows one to clear the memory. If you go to the yahoo group ROBOSCOPE, in the file section is "Autostarrevival.pdf" that explain step by step on what to do to bring your Autostar out of it's coma.

- Dave


For I too have suffered the same fate while taking the usual upgrades and encountered the very same problem!
My 497 is toasted as yours, not even worth a weight for fishing!
Hopefully, with the new owners exchanges, Meade will help us all.
Jim

#10 Geo.

Geo.

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2773
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:12 AM

There are 7 flavors of Autostars (counting the Starfinder and 494) The 495 and the original 497 CANNOT be upgraded beyond ver. 4.3EG. Firmware ver. 5.0 and above are only usable for the Autostar 497EP (Audiostar). Attemping to use these firmware versions with the 495/497 will brick them.

I'm not aware of any easy cure for a bricked Autostar. There may be a low level protocol to reset the main processor by fiddling with the pins, but it's not for the faint hearted.

The Autostar II and III are dumb control boxes. The circuitry normally found in the 497/497EP is located in the mount, so the mount has to be upgraded. The LX200, LX400 and LS models use various methods to connect to a PC for the upgrade.

#11 davesaunders

davesaunders

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 238
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2008
  • Loc: United Kingdom

Posted 18 October 2013 - 10:34 AM

There are 7 flavors of Autostars (counting the Starfinder and 494) The 495 and the original 497 CANNOT be upgraded beyond ver. 4.3EG. Firmware ver. 5.0 and above are only usable for the Autostar 497EP (Audiostar). Attemping to use these firmware versions with the 495/497 will brick them.

I'm not aware of any easy cure for a bricked Autostar. There may be a low level protocol to reset the main processor by fiddling with the pins, but it's not for the faint hearted.

The Autostar II and III are dumb control boxes. The circuitry normally found in the 497/497EP is located in the mount, so the mount has to be upgraded. The LX200, LX400 and LS models use various methods to connect to a PC for the upgrade.


What a pity Meade do'st make this more clear I for one have spent vast amounts of money for Meade products over the years and at the moment feel a bit let down (hope your listening Mr Meade).We are your loyal customers!!
So my handset is also "toasted" and Meade service in UK say cannot be repaired so have had to buy a new Audiostar replacement @ £144 !!!

Dave.

#12 OzAndrewJ

OzAndrewJ

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 951
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2010

Posted 18 October 2013 - 03:53 PM

Gday George/others

Re

Firmware ver. 5.0 and above are only usable for the Autostar 497EP (Audiostar). Attemping to use these firmware versions with the 495/497 will brick them.



Partly true.
497EP and Audiostars are physically different beasties.
The 497EP uses firmware starting with 5
The Audiostars use firmware starting A
Unfortunately, there are then ( at least ) 2 sub models of Audiostar ( and you cant tell which is which ).
The difference is the type of memory chip used ( they use different low level erase/write protocols )
You can load any of the A or 5 series firmwares onto a 497EP or early version Audiostar with no real drama, but if you load 5 series or early versions of A firmware onto a late model Audiostar, you will "semi brick" them, as the earlier firmwares dont have the code to deal with the new memory type.
Ie the handbox will still work normally, but can no longer have any of its flash memory updated.
If that occurs, the handbox can be recovered via a 2 stage process.

Attempting to load the 5 or A series firmwares onto a classic 497 "shouldnt" totally brick them, as the 497s have all their safeload mode code in a protected section of flash memory that cannot be erased as part of a normal upload procedure. As such, even if the upload erases all the existing flash memory used for general code, the safeload region will still be there, and can be used to recover the Hbx.
The 497EP and Audiostars do not have their safeload code in a protected region and every normal firmware reload also overwrites the safeload code. If the load process dies when doing that bit of code, the Hbx is toast.

Soooooo, for the 2 Hbxs referenced in this thread, what type are they??

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

#13 Geo.

Geo.

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2773
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 20 October 2013 - 05:41 PM

:foreheadslap:So 9 flavors of Autostar?

#14 OzAndrewJ

OzAndrewJ

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 951
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2010

Posted 20 October 2013 - 06:22 PM

Fun, isnt it :jump:

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

#15 DAVIDG

DAVIDG

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4735
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Hockessin, De

Posted 21 October 2013 - 11:01 AM

When you load the wrong version of the firmware into an Autostar, what happens is bad bit is loaded into the EEPROM in the HC11. This also can happen when it is not powered down incorrectly.
This causes the HC11 not to look for external memory so it can not find the Safe Loader program. The only way I know to fix this is what I outlined in the Roboscope Group and outline in the document "Autostarrevival.pdf" located at that site. You need to force the HC11 into Special Bootstrap mode and then clear out this bad bit. Now when you power up the 497 it can find the Safe loader program and you can reload the firmware.

- Dave






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics