Tag : lx200

How To Clean the Meade Autostar Handset

For ages my Meade Handset on my LX200 GPS telescope has been very unresponsive to key presses. I always find myself having to hammer the keys in order to get the handset to register the key press.

But I did not want to buy a new Meade handset as they are so expensive, so I was glad to find some details on the internet on how to clean the handset.

All you need to do this is some cotton wool buds and some alcohol.

Begin by unscrewing the 4 screws on the back of the handset, then remove the rear plastic case cover which contains the red light plastic cover.

Opening the Meade HandsetYou will how find that the front of the handset and the main motherboard are joined by a ribbon type cable, so be careful not to stress this cable as the cable is not that long.

I then began by dipping my cotton bud into the alcohol and gently rubbing each of the contacts in turn and then using another cotton wool bud in order to dry and further clean the contact.

Meade Inside Handset ControllerThere are quite a few contacts to clean, so you may find yourself using quite a few cotton buds, but you should visibly see the dirt on the cotton wool buds.

After doing all the contacts on the main board, I then cleaned the black rubbery dots on the back of the keys using the same method.

Cotton Buds after cleaning the Meade HandsetAfter finishing I then put everything back together and made sure that the ribbon cable does not get put in front of the main lcd screen, as otherwise you will see the ribbon cable in the window and some of your wording on the handset will look strange. I did this first and then noticed it when I attached the handset to the telescope and turned it on. I then took the handset apart and repositioned the ribbon cable.

Once I tried the handset with the LX200 I was then amazed at how responsive the keys then were. This is definitely a quick and simple little job to undertake if your Meade handset keys are also not working so well.

I also recorded a video on what I did to clean the Meade handset, and it can be found below:

Solar Activity 13th March 2010

Writing this blog post from actually inside the observatory today, now I have sorted out my internet access, by using a powerline adaptor which passes the network data through your home electrical wires and is a lot more stable than wireless. especially if you are any distance away from the house.

Did not expect to do any imaging today, just opened the roof to check on the Sun and see if there was any activity, and there was, even better than when I looked a couple of weeks ago.

Here are my images, the enlarged images of the sunspots were taken on my 10″ LX200 with a glass solar filter, using an SPC900 webcam and then stacking in registax, one in colour and one in black and white.

Sunspots in Black and White via SPC900 webcamSunspots via LX200 and SPC900 webcam

The large shot of the Sun below was taken via my Canon 450D SLR using a Televue 2x Barlow on my 80mm refractor with a Mylar paper solar filter.

The sun spots via DSLR and mylar paper on 80mm refractor

How To Make a Diffraction Spike Mask

I have seen these pleasing images where the stars have spikes coming out of them, most notably on the pleiades (seven sisters) images.

I want to be able to get these in my images as well, and now I have found out how to get them by using a diffraction mask on my LX200.

Today I decided to make some by using some plywood left over from my observatory build.

Here is a list of the raw materials I used:

  1. Plywood
  2. 8x Screws
  3. Spare length of wood (24″)
  4. 2ft Washing Line
  5. Black Wood Paint (optional)

Cutting out the wrong size maskCutting the right size maskI began by taking the LX200 telescope metal cover and drawing a circle around that thinking that would be just right, although after then cutting it out with a jigsaw I found out that it was far too big.

So I went back and just measured the diameter of the telescope and then found an old style school compass to draw the circle on the wood.

I then cut out the circle using my electric jigsaw.

I then cut down the piece of plywood into one manageable piece, with about 1.5 inches to spare around the sides of the hole.

Adding all side woodNext I cut four lengths of some rough timber I had spare which was used on a previous gardening job. You don’t have to add this part, but I did because I wanted the mask to sit back from the front of the telescope, plus these pieces of wood at every side allowed me to make the mask fit snugly around the scope.

I then screwed the pieces of wood with 2 screws on each of the 4 pieces of wood, although I only used 1 screw on 2 pieces of wood so that I could still move the pieces of wood once the mask was on the telescope to fit them even more snugly against the scope.

Now go back to the telescope and place the mask on the front and mark on the blocks of wood you have just attached to the mask where the screws are on the LX200. You should have a screw in each of the four corners of the cover that holds the main front glass in place on the front of the telescope.

Doing this will mean that your washing line crosshairs will be exactly in the centre on the mask.

Adding washing line crosshairsI then cut 2 feet of washing line from our main home washing line, although you could go out and buy this. I then cut the 2 foot piece into 2 x 1ft pieces.  I tied a knot at one end of each pieces of the washing line.

Now drill holes with an electric drill all the way through the blocks of woods at the location you previously placed your telescope screw marks.

Thread the washing line through one of the holes. To hold the other end of the washing line in place I could have used wing nuts or bolts, but I did not have any, so I used a piece of dowelling, and hammered this into the holes to hold the washing line in place.

Diffraction spike mask completed unpaintedDiffraction spike mask on lx200I then tried the mask on the LX200 to make sure the washing line crosshairs were exactly centered.

On my first attempt they were not so I had to re-drill some more holes and re-thread the washing line, then they were perfect.

Here is the unpainted mask on my 10″ LX200 telescope.

I then painted the mask by using some black wood paint from Wilkinsons.

Hopefully I will now get the chance to try the diffraction spike mask out and see what images I get.

Satellite Tracker

Satellite Tracker is a very useful freeware Windows program which can connect to an LX200 and it allows you to track and view satellites with your telescope, including the ISS.

The satellite tracker software was a hard program to find and download, I actually got sent it by someone who sold me my Meade Super Wedge. So I have decided to put the program on my site for download, so hopefully more people can find it and use it.

Satellite Tracker for Windows

You will need to create an account at www.space-track.org in order to download the satellite data.

Download Satellite Tracker (528k)

Update 10th May 2016

I have now been told that Satellite Tracker has a new lease of life and the file above is quite old. A new version and new forum is available at: https://www.heavenscape.com/