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Celestron Hand Control Fix - Control LCD weak

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#1 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:24 PM

Celestron Hand Control - THE Fix for a weak LCD display. This is for an older HC (I purchased mine in 2005). It is the older non-upgradable type.

Problem: suddenly my hand controller (HC) LCD displayed very weak. Think of a solar powered calculator dimming down when you turn it's light source off. This is NOT a problem with the red back light for the LCD but the black lettering. NOTE: with this older version, there is only the option to turn the red lights on or off on the LCD display or the keypad.

My Version: HC version 2.2 Motor control 4.5 To find this. Menu>Utilities>Version --- on mine you see two lines:
Line 1: 2.2 4.5 4.5
Line 2: 10.1

In line 1 the 2.2 is the version of the HC and 4.5 is the motor control.

As of July 24 2009 - you can get an HC from Celestron HC ver. 4.13 --- you need to have at least Motor Control 3 or higher to use the upgraded Celestron HC. The Motor Control is $192.00 available from Celestron.

I have opted to keep my old HC and not spend the $160 (including shipping) for a new one. I fixed mine.

Here is how. The FIX --- re-seat the LCD ribbon cable.

#2 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:30 PM

Open the back. Note there are two screws that are slightly smaller. They go on the bottom.

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#3 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:32 PM

Look for the ribbon cable at the top near the LCD.

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#4 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:33 PM

Carefully pull out the black tabs on ether side of the ribbon port.

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#5 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:34 PM

Here is another pic of the tabs.

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#6 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:36 PM

Carefully pull out the ribbon cable.

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#7 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:39 PM

Spay Precision Electronics Cleaner from Radio Shack (item 640-4345) on a Q-tip and wipe the contacts on the ribbon. Spray some inside the ribbon port. Wipe off excess and wait to dry --- a minute or so.

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#8 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:40 PM

Precision Electronics Cleaner.

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#9 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:41 PM

Reseat the ribbon cable and push the black tabs on both sides in.

#10 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:43 PM

Assemble back making sure the front keypad is properly seated.

Put the 6 screws back in --- remember where those two shorter screws go back. DONE!

Now the LCD display works like a charm again!

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#11 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:51 PM

I want to thank Anthony Costanzo owner of the Astronomy-Shoppe in Plastow NH http://www.astronomy-shoppe.com/ for his tip in getting this HC to work properly again. He spent time on the phone with me, no charge, helping me out. I'll be in to spend some money in this local shop!

All it takes is a good drop to slightly unseat the ribbon cable.

It saved me $160!

#12 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 04:20 PM

Finally a version history of the Celestron Nexstar Hand Controller as of July 27th 2009

HC Versions

4.13 - This version allows the motor control (MC) firmware to be upgraded via the port on the bottom of the hand control.
4.12 - The most significant change in this version is variable brightness control for the display and buttons - values are from 0 (off) to 8 (full brightness). There is also a fix that reduces (but does not eliminate) the chance that the display comes up blank the first time you power up, a problem much more prevalent in cold weather. The fix on those occasions when it does still come up blank remains the same - turn off the power, wait a couple of seconds and turn on the power again. The Version menu item has been changed - it now displays the mount model after displaying the HC and MC versions. This version is also the first to support the new NexStar SE mounts.
4.10 - The most significant change in this version is Sync. Sync is available both via the hand control and via PC software (TheSky, Starry Night, etc.). This provides very accurate GoTo pointing in the area of the sky where the Sync is performed and it allows the PC software to match with the actual position the scope is pointed to. Other new features: Calibrate Goto (help to improve GoTo accuracy), general pointing accuracy improvement, a display of the polar alignment error (when EQ mounted on a wedge) and the ability to start PEC playback and proceed with normal use of the hand control.
4.03 - Minor change from 4.02. GPS scopes manufactured from October 2005 forward where supplied with the user-upgradeable hand control and this firmware version. Owners of older GPS scopes can take advantage of this new firmware by using NexRemote or by purchasing the user-upgradeable hand control separately (owners of older versions read this). Click here for more details on the features in version 4 of the hand control.
4.02 - First available for use on NexStar GPS series through use of NexRemote. This version provides several new features. First, the physical 4.02 hand control is the first version that can be upgraded to new firmware by the user. It also introduced the new alignment methods - SkyAlign, Solar System Align and One Star Align. Also added are Precise GoTo, Identify, Constellation Tour and few other new features. Click here for more details on version 4 of the hand control.
2.2 - A minor upgrade that includes support for the NexStar 5i/8i and a slightly more accurate Wedge Align routine.
1.6 - The updated hand control with all features described in this review.
1.2 - Shipped with original NexStar 8 GPS and 11 GPS scopes. Several features have since been added and if you have this version, you should definitely upgrade. To upgrade, purchase the user-upgradeable hand control (read this for more information) or contact Andre Paquette (click here for more information) regarding upgrading a version 1.2 hand control to version 1.6 or 2.2.
MC Versions

SA 4.00 - Prior to being discontinued, the NexStar GPS was sold in a SkyAlign version - the GPS-SA. The MC version on this scope was SA 4.00. This version is the same as 4.06 with two exceptions. First, it will not function with hand control firmware below 4.02. Second, it is not possible to load older versions of MC firmware (all those listed below) over this version.
4.06 (hand control 2.2 or earlier will display this as 4.6) - In addition to the fixes introduced in 40.40, this newer version also improves autoguider performance, fixes a runaway that occurred when at rate 1 or 2 and using the "double key press" for rate 9, fixes PEC issues and is the first version to support Celestron's free PECTool utility.
40.40 - This is a beta (test) version but was released to the public. Fixed autoguider problems including runaway slew when autoguiding. Finally fixed the hop in Alt-Az mode.
4.5 - Fixed a minor problem with manual slewing at rates 5 and 6.
4.4 - That pesky hop was still present on some scopes and this version attempted to address that problem, though it turns out that a some scopes still have the problem when running this version.
4.3 - Incorporates a slightly improved tracking algorithm that attempted to eliminate a slight hop seen in some scopes when used in Alt-Az mode.
4.1 - This version features silent, accurate tracking and support for all the latest NexStar features. It also improves the encoder resolution to 0.112 arcsecond. Unfortunately, it introduced a slight hop seen in many scopes when used in Alt-Az mode.
3.0 - This version is characterized by the 'bee in a can' tracking sound that solved the vibration issue. It does not support some of the newest features such as cordwrap prevention and advanced control via a Personal Computer. This is also the first version that allowed user upgrades to the MC firmware.
2.0 - Shipped for a short while in both the NexStar 8 GPS and 11 GPS. This version overcame problems with tracking, but there were still some problems with vibration in some telescopes. If you have this version, read this.
1.0 - Shipped only in the original NexStar 11 GPS. This version had some problems with smooth tracking and should definitely be upgraded. The most detrimental problem is a vibration that affects high magnification views and astrophotography. If you have this version, read this.
Determining Versions

With hand control version 1.6 or higher, you will find a Version option on the Utility menu. If you don't find a Version option on the Utility menu, you have hand control version 1.2 and motor control version 1.0 or 2.0.

#13 Firewood

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:15 PM

Musicwon,

Thank you so much for posting this. The LCD on my hand control came loose a few months ago, and although the HC was still working, I was afraid to use it. I followed your instructions, re-seated the LCD and stuck it with a few tiny drops of adhesive, and put it all back together. Just tested it in the daytime, and it worked! I really didn't want to spend the $150 for a new HC, and lose the ability to do a level/north align along with it! I'd been meaning to post and ask if anyone knew how to fix my problem, but you beat me to it. Thanks!!!

Also, just a heads up: I believe the CloudyNights Terms of Service (TOS) prohibits posting info that's not your own. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think your hand controller history is from Mike Swanson's NexStar Resource Site. A link to that page, like this (NexStar Site HC Info ), should suffice.

Thanks so much again, and welcome to CloudyNights!

#14 musicwon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:22 PM

Awesome Jeff!

It's very rewarding to see someone else is using this info already!

Thanks for the big welcome!

#15 musicwon

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 02:02 PM

UPDATE:

I dropped my hand controller again and I got the same symptoms! All it takes is a good hit/ jar to unseat the ribbon.

I opened it up again and reseated the ribbon. Next time this happens I am going to use some adhesive/ silicone to keep the ribbon stable in the event of an accidental drop. Celestron used some silicon in the controller to dampen shocks to the controller. I think the problem started when the silicone started to dry up.

#16 intermediatic

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 02:50 PM

I thought I had killed my hand controller. But no, this fix works! I am so glad!!!

#17 pev

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 04:00 PM

Thank you very much for this very informative fix.

Just wanted to add that I was able to accomplish the same fix using isopropyl alcohol. Time will tell how long it will last.

#18 crsrs

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:17 PM

I too, was grateful to find this fix. My handheld readout suddenly became very faint, then it was gone completely and no-longer visible. My red screen was well lit, but no lettering or numbers visible at all. Your fix did the trick, Thank you so much for posting this repair option with your detailed information including the photos, it was a huge help.






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