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SETTING UP A PERMANENT SCOPE TO OPERATE VIA PARK OPTION

by:  P. Clay Sherrod

Below is a very concise description of setting up the scope for easy use each night:
NOTE that the description is based on the Meade Autostar, but PARK function on all GO TO telescopes is essentially the same; thus, these tips are useful with any telescope that you might have!
PARK is a function that is intended for permanently mounted telescopes to eliminate the need to ALIGN every night.  PARK does not work if a telescope is portable, has been moved, or if the locking clamps on either axis have been loosened, or the instrument bumped between power cycles.
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1)  You are already on a polar wedge and I assume that you are aligned to Celestial North, just as you were before the telescope was removed.
2)  Connect all cables, Autostar, and have the telescope equipped just as you plan to use it, with all accessories, etc. on it.
3)  Make sure your finderscope is aligned to the main scope.
4)  Turn on telescope and let it initialize ("Meade" will appear, then the version, and sometimes this takes a few minutes....seems forever).
5)  It should go to "Align" on the Autostar menu....
6)  Whatever the Autostar shows after the initialization, simply press MODE until you see 'SETUP/ALIGN'
7)  Do not press ENTER....you do not need to align since you already are.
8)  At Setup/Align, press the LOWER RIGHT scroll key at the bottom of the Autostar until you see TELESCOPE, press ENTER
9)  Use the same scroll key and find "Telescope/Mount" (press ENTER); select POLAR and press ENTER again.
10)  Now, stay on the Telescope menu and continue to scroll down a few more until you see "GPS"; press ENTER
11)  Scroll until you see "At Startup"; select that by pressing ENTER;  Now your telescope will immediately start getting a GPS fix each night when you first turn it on and will automatically enter the time, date, DST or standard time and your location.
12)  If, for whatever reason you cannot get a GPS fix (this happens to all of us sometimes), simply press MODE while it is trying to get the fix and that will allow you to enter the TIME, DATE, and DST ("No" to DST right now).
13)  Once you have set the GPS for "At Startup" press MODE twice again and this will show:  SETUP/Telescope again.
14)  Use the lower right scroll key at the bottom of Autostar again until you see SETUP/SITE, press ENTER.
15)  Now scroll down until you see SELECT SITE, press ENTER....this should show Springfield or your default site...if it does not, the press MODE to set your site:  this will now show SITE/Select after you MODE.
16)  To set your site, simply scroll under the SITE menu until you see ADD  ("SITE/ADD"), press ENTER
17)  Enter your latitude and longitude (latitude is positive number, longitude should also be positive) and your TIME ZONE (-6.00 for you)....each of these is prompted from you, you do not need to worry with how to do this....it asks you for it.
18)  NOTE:  if the GPS gets a fix, you do NOT need to even do steps #14 through #17 at all!!
19)  Remember at this point the telescope is NOT going to be tracking sidereal at all....it has not yet been synchronized to the sky.
20)  On Autostar press MODE until  you see OBJECT on the menu, press ENTER and scroll down to STAR; press ENTER to open the star menu and scroll until you see NAMED....press ENTER and scroll and select a bright star that you can see in your sky overhead.  Press ENTER one time...do not hold the key down.  This simply opens that star on the menu at this point.
21)  Immediately unlock both axes and manually lock onto that bright star and roughly center it at low power....it will be drifting out of the field since the scope is not tracking....move QUICKLY!  Lock both clamps firmly but not over-tighten.
21)  Once centered press and HOLD DOWN the ENTER key again for about 3 sec. until you hear it beep; that will synchronize the star in the Autostar AND it starts the telescope tracking.
22)  Now that it is tracking, you  will want to precisely align the star....simply center it again at low power (since it drifted a bit) and the put in a high power eyepiece or reticle and center it precisely this time; let it track for a moment to catch up any lash and make sure it is centered.  Once it is dead center, press ENTER and HOLD again for three seconds and it will precisely synchronize your scope to the sky.
23)  Once you have synced the scope you CANNOT UNLOCK either axis, nor can you use either one of the manual slow motion knobs on the telescope; this will destroy your sync!
USE ONLY THE HAND CONTROL SLEW KEYS from this point forward.
24)  Go ahead and observe and enjoy the sky for a bit and do some GO TOs.
25)  Decide what position you want the scope to be stored in when not in use; best position is typically with the telescope pointed due east or west on the horizon.  Any position that you like and that is good for you to use is okay however.
26)  SLEW, using the keys on Autostar, to the selected position.  Once there, go back into Autostar by pressing MODE until you see SETUP/Align again.  Using the scroll keys, once again scroll down until you see:  SETUP/TELESCOPE again and press ENTER to open the scope menu.
27)  Scroll down the Telescope menu until you see TELESCOPE/Park Position.....press ENTER.
28)  Scroll down the PARK option until you see USE CURRENT and press ENTER.  The press ENTER again to be sure.  This establishes exactly where your telescope is pointing at that time as your new PARK POSITION.
29)  At the end of the night when you want to shut down, do not turn off power yet.  No matter where you happen to be pointing in the sky, to shut the scope down by Parking it (so that you will not have to go through any of this again....), go once again to MODE and press until you see SELECT and then scroll down the menu until you see UTILITIES; press ENTER.
30)  Scroll down the Utilities menu until you see PARK SCOPE; press ENTER and stand back....the telescope will now SLEW on its own to that position that you selected in step #26 and stop.
31)  Once it has stopped, do not turn off until Autostar shows 'TURN OFF SCOPE'.....turn if off
32)  While parked, even if you are working on it or cleaning it, NEVER unclamp the telescope at all or you will lose your Park position and sky Sync.
33)  Now, each new night, simply turn on the scope, press MODE until you see SELECT/OBJECT and open that menu and select any bright star that you can identify.  
34)  Do not move the scope....simply select the star by NAME, press ENTER first, then GO TO and the scope should slew automatically to the star and it should be centered IF you got a good GPS fix or manually entered the new time date, etc.
35)  REMEMBER that Autostar does NOT retain Time, Date, DST, or Time Zone but DOES RETAIN your location....you do not ever have to re-enter the location unless you move the scope, but either the GPS must find the time and date, etc. or you will need to MODE out of the GPS fix and set that yourself, being accurate to within ONE MINUTE.

As long as you do not unclamp, or move the telescope, you are set every night for wonderful viewing!
Enjoy.

Dr. Clay
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Arkansas Sky Observatories
MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
MPC H43 - Conway West
http://www.arksky.org/
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