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Thread: meade ls 8

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    Default meade ls 8



    hi,I have been given the above telescope by my father,he had not used it in a couple of years.After assembling the scope I turned on the lightswitch button on the telescope it beeped and flashed 3 to 4 times then stopped.At this point I lifted out the autostar 3 handset there was an orange glow from the screen but no writing or digits appeared I pressed the arrow keys but the telescope did not move from its parked position there seemed to be no communication between the handset and the telescope.I have tried this with a proper power lead and with Duracell batteries but no luck.Any help with this would be greatly appreciated as I am a beginner.Regards Peter.

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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Check whether there's an SD card in the slot. If there is, it needs to be taken out or it stops the scope from starting up.

    If the slot is empty, you may need to refresh the firmware. Doing this needs a specially loaded Mini SD card, You can load this yourself, but I'd recommend getting in touch with Harrison Telescope and checking you can return the card if it doesn't work (They said OK to that for me), them just order one from them.
    Switch off, insert the card and restart; it should come up with a message and install the firmware.
    I find that the handset can be a little dodgy with its connections, so that may be the problem, I'm not sure what the answer to that is, but if the problem is the firmware, buying a card may be the answer.
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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    The scope has likely lost it's firmware. But you can re-install it.

    The tricky bit is... it requires something called an "mini" SD card (as opposed to a "micro" SD card which is far more common.) Also, it supports SD, but not SDHC nor SDXC. It's still possible to find these ... but they are not common and I'm finding that people are starting to charge a premium for them.

    Make sure you have such a card (ideally it should be a 512MB card but I think it must *not* be larger than 2GB (2GB is ok) or the LightSwitch wont be able to use it. The LightSwitch does not understand modern large filesystem formats.)

    To do this, you'll need a Windows PC and you'll need to make sure you have the Meade "Autostar Update" utility. You can find it at Meade's support site (here's a link: http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Au2ver6.0.0.exe )

    In the Autostar Update utility, there's a button that says "Upgrade Autostar Software Now" - click it ... it'll get stuck (hourglass) and after several seconds it will eventually give you an error message (and that's ok) that it couldn't find an Autostar. Click the "Ok" button and this opens a new window.

    In that Window, you'll see "Specify Type of Autostar..." ... pick "LS" (Lightswitch). Again... it'll seem to hang for a bit with an hourglass... but eventually it'll clear and let you work. Click the tick-box labeled "Make SD"

    Pick your SD card from the list, and click the button labeled "Create LS SD Card".

    It'll format, download, and install the latest firmware on the card.



    Once you have a card, make sure the mount is powered off. Insert the card into the mount (it only fits one way and as you push it into the slot, you'll feel a spring and it will "click in". Push it again and it will "click out" when you are ready to remove it. But leave it in for now.)

    Power up the Lightswitch. As it powers up, it'll notice there's a card inserted and that the card contains firmware. It will ask you if you want to install the firmware on the scope.

    I will say... this is going to take A WHILE (probably most of an hour - have a coffee handy). It's not very fast.

    Also, the firmware itself isn't particularly big... but there are object catalogs, tours, etc. and some of those are big.

    The batteries help it keep the firmware intact. If batteries have been removed for a very long time, these things tend to lose the firmware. The problem is... alkaline batteries typically leak if allowed to drain down to nothing ... so it's also not a good idea to just leave them in all the time.
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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Thanks Tim I will try this.

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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Quote Originally Posted by armadone View Post
    Thanks Tim I will try this.
    I don't want to be negative, but you're more likely to have success if you just buy one. Getting the formatting right is not straight forward, I know - I've been there.

    Like i say, Harrison Telescopes will put you right, on a minimal risk - money back - basis.
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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Thanks everyone for your helpful posts.My meade Ls 8 has come back to life after downloading new firmware from the autostar suite onto a micro sd card uploaded to the scope which in turn uploaded to the autostar handset which is now working also.Looking forward to a clear night to get started.
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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Quote Originally Posted by armadone View Post
    Thanks everyone for your helpful posts.My meade Ls 8 has come back to life after downloading new firmware from the autostar suite onto a micro sd card uploaded to the scope which in turn uploaded to the autostar handset which is now working also.Looking forward to a clear night to get started.
    That's good news.

    Keep in mind that if the scope is stored for a long period without batteries, it will lose firmware. But ... but the scope takes 'C' size batteries (not many things use that size anymore) and those are mostly alkaline batteries. If alkaline batteries are allowed to drain to completely empty... they can leak ... creating a mess in the battery tray.

    The scope's GPS "almanac" is also maintained by those batteries. And since your scope lost firmware, it also lost the almanac. This means it is reset back to the factory state. GPS satellites drift a bit in their orbit and this would normally cause all GPS receivers to have problems getting an accurate position fix. To solve this problem, the GPS network is constantly broadcasting the most up-to-date GPS almanac (basically it's broadcasting the orbital elements for each satellite. But each satellites broadcasts the entire almanac (for all satellites ... not just their own orbital elements). That means that it will get updates even for satellites that are currently on the opposite side of the planet.

    The transmission speed for the almanac is rather slow. It takes 12.5 minutes for the entire almanac to broadcast. That means the scope needs to be left running for that long (with GPS active) for the system to update.

    Do not be surprised if it fails to get a position fix the first few times you try ... until it gets the almanac updated enough to finally start working. As I recall... the Lightswitch powers-up the GPS when it needs it... then powers it down to save energy once it has it's position fix (it is not left running continuously when the scope is powered on.)



    You may also experience some calibration issues ... e.g. poor compass calibration, etc.

    There is a hidden factory calibration menu.

    To get to this... start with the scope powered off
    1. Boot scope, watching keypad to wait for version info. to display on keypad.
    2. Tap (but do not hold down) ‘9’
    3. When scope prompts for access code, enter: 752


    You'll find that when you go into the setup menu there is now a factory calibration menu that was previously hidden.

    The feature on that menu you're mostly likely to need is "calibrate north". As the Lightswitch self-aligns, one of the steps involves finding "north" (true north ... not magnetic north). The other alignment stars will be located based on their location relative to north ... so if 'north' is wrong, the scope can get lost.

    To calibrate north, I used Polaris. It doesn't care what you do with the altitude axis ... it's just watching what you do to the azimuth. Basically it will go to where it *thinks* true north is located and prompt you to correct it (so I just point to Polaris and that's certainly close enough.)
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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Thanks Tim.I had the Ls 8 out last night and had the problem with the gps you mentioned in your post,i probably didn't give it enough time to find satellites.when it suggested jupitor and I pressed enter it slewed round and pointed at the grass.I switched off Ls and started over but fared no better so ended up slewing the scope with the arrow keys.The next time I will leave it on longer as you advised.

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    Default Re: meade ls 8

    Usually you’ll get an error that it couldn’t determine your location. If it doesn’t complain, then it thinks it was getting good data from the satellites.

    Planets (or any solar system object) are special. For any “deep sky” object (stars, nebulae, galaxies, clusters, etc.) the catalogs of objects are just “look up tables” (with the coordinates) because these objects don’t move by any significant amount in a single human lifetime (they do move... just not enough so we’d notice).

    The planets, asteroids, comets, etc. in the solar system move CONSIDERABLY (as does the Earth we stand on while trying to observe). This means those objects are not a mere look-up table... those have to be calulated. The math can be extensive. Since the computer is trying to conserve power... it runs at low speed and does some cheating to do a simpler version of the math. That math will get the scope “in the ballpark” but don’t expect planets to show up in the center of the eyepiece. It’s “close enough” that in a low-power eyepiece you’ll see it and just re-center the scope.

    Pointing to the grass... sounds like something was a bit more than just not getting a good GPS fix, etc. Not sure why that would happen (if you manually enter date/time/location then my first inclination to suspect an error entering data ... but if the scope got the date/time successfully via GPS, then that’s probably not the issue.)

    I’d try again... give it at least 12.5 minutes and see if it’s performance doesn’t improve the more you use it.
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