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Meade 6" LightSwitch Skipping Alignment Stars Question

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#1 Tom Duncan

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 02:59 PM

When it's going through the machinations of automatic alignment with the onboard camera the instructions say if the star the scope has selected is hidden you can "...press the SCROLL DOWN (their caps) key and the LS will find another star to align upon". Mine doesn't, it will stop the search for a moment and then continue looking for the same star. I'm pressing the down arrow, bottom right on the Autostar III HC.

 

Anyone else had this be the case, and hopefully found a fix? Or am I doing something wrong? 

 

Thanks

 

Tom Duncan



#2 wtd1114

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 05:03 PM

The LightSwitch is a pretty fun scope when it is working...   I don't have my LightSwitch anymore.  Yeah, I think you use the bottom up and down keys on the hand controller to select another star.  Do you know if you have version 1.6e of the firmware?  Version 1.6e was suppose to fix the GPS rollover issue a few years ago.  I kind of remember the LS acting very squirrelly when running 1.6d.  After going to 1.6e, it was working again.

 

If you do not have 1.6e, it is a real hassle to get it yourself because you will need a 2GB *MINI* SD card, which no one sells anymore.  Meade also does not have 1.6e on their website for download either.  The best bet is to see if you can get  the firmware already loaded on the mini SD card from Meade.  I hear it was something like $20, but that was a couple three years ago...  If you can get it from Meade, it will save you a lot of heartache.

 

Once you have the firmware and the card, keep it handy-  because you may need to reload the firmware after a long period of non-use.  I had to reload the firmware at a star party once--4 nights camping in the middle of nowhere...

 

Best,

 

Willis


Edited by wtd1114, 28 May 2021 - 05:06 PM.


#3 Tom Duncan

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 06:58 PM

I have 1.6d firmware in the scope and the oddball MicroSD adapter with a microSD card in it with LS software but I don't know what version it is (though I suspect it's 1.6d, no e). 

 

I'm loath to update the firmware, had lots of bad luck with that kind of thing and read lots of horror stories about the process. However the ability to abort an unseeable alignment star is pretty important so I guess I'll have to consider it. I can just let the scope continue to choose alignment stars until it gets one it can see but sometimes it will go through several stars before finding one. 

 

I see two UK companies sell an SD card with tested 1.6e firmware on it, but can't find any from the USA. 

 

The GPS has never failed to connect within seconds, even with a partially obscured sky. At least that works!

 

Thanks Willis

 

Tom 


Edited by Tom Duncan, 28 May 2021 - 07:00 PM.


#4 wtd1114

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Posted 29 May 2021 - 12:21 AM

You probably will not have any issue connecting to the GPS.  However, in April 2019, the week number rolled over so if your firmware is not modified and aware of the issue, it will think it is starting time from week zero again, and the LS will interpret it as a date in 1980-- kind of like the Y2K issue new years day in 2000...

 

There might be a way to change the date manually according to this forum entry:

I found out from a couple LS users that their older mounts were having trouble with GPS, which I inquired about. They also did not find a way to enter date/time/location manually. I was told the LS fix was not complete yet, should be forthcoming. The reply for entering data manually is as follows:

The customer can enter the date/time/location manually by pressing the MODE key when the telescope starts looking for GPS. This will happen shortly after the telescope boots up and before any night sky alignment takes place. They can also turn off the search for GPS in the SETUP/PREFERENCES menu.

 

This hassle with overriding the date could take the joy away from using the LightSwitch.  I remember at a star party, I turned the LS on and walked to the porta-potty. When I walked back to my camp site, the LS was all aligned!  I did not touch a thing.

 

I remember when I had issues after April 2019, I was not able to change the date and time manually.  The date and time was definitely screwed up.  Updating to 1.6e got it working.

 

As I mentioned, after I had my LS for a few years, it seemed to need a firmware upload if I did not use it a few times a year.  Reloading the firmware takes about 45 minutes and is pretty painless.  Put the mini SD card in the unit, turn it on, and confirm the upload, and wait.

 

Unless you can override the date and time from the GPS, I don't think the GOTO will work.  Pre-pandemic, Meade would sell you a preconfigured SD card if you can contact the support line.  I would highly recommend that.  Support gave me a link for the 1.6e firmware download and instructions to make the SD card. It was not straight forward and took a lot of messing around but I finally got a working SD card. Buying the SD card from Meade is worth not going through the hassle.

 

Anyway, Good Luck, and hope you get it sorted out-

 

Willis

 



#5 Tom Duncan

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Posted 29 May 2021 - 10:39 AM

You probably will not have any issue connecting to the GPS.  However, in April 2019, the week number rolled over so if your firmware is not modified and aware of the issue, it will think it is starting time from week zero again, and the LS will interpret it as a date in 1980-- kind of like the Y2K issue new years day in 2000...

 

There might be a way to change the date manually according to this forum entry:

I found out from a couple LS users that their older mounts were having trouble with GPS, which I inquired about. They also did not find a way to enter date/time/location manually. I was told the LS fix was not complete yet, should be forthcoming. The reply for entering data manually is as follows:

The customer can enter the date/time/location manually by pressing the MODE key when the telescope starts looking for GPS. This will happen shortly after the telescope boots up and before any night sky alignment takes place. They can also turn off the search for GPS in the SETUP/PREFERENCES menu.

 

This hassle with overriding the date could take the joy away from using the LightSwitch.  I remember at a star party, I turned the LS on and walked to the porta-potty. When I walked back to my camp site, the LS was all aligned!  I did not touch a thing.

 

I remember when I had issues after April 2019, I was not able to change the date and time manually.  The date and time was definitely screwed up.  Updating to 1.6e got it working.

 

As I mentioned, after I had my LS for a few years, it seemed to need a firmware upload if I did not use it a few times a year.  Reloading the firmware takes about 45 minutes and is pretty painless.  Put the mini SD card in the unit, turn it on, and confirm the upload, and wait.

 

Unless you can override the date and time from the GPS, I don't think the GOTO will work.  Pre-pandemic, Meade would sell you a preconfigured SD card if you can contact the support line.  I would highly recommend that.  Support gave me a link for the 1.6e firmware download and instructions to make the SD card. It was not straight forward and took a lot of messing around but I finally got a working SD card. Buying the SD card from Meade is worth not going through the hassle.

 

Anyway, Good Luck, and hope you get it sorted out-

 

Willis

Oh, I think I see what you are referring to, the GPS will connect but the date might be wrong, which as I understand it wouldn't necessarily affect deep sky but would planets and the moon (or do I have that wrong?). I'll check the date it comes up with first. As there are no planets visible at a reasonable hour and the Moon has been behind trees for me I haven't asked the goto to look for either. 

 

I was focusing on the GPS connect as I had an LS6 a while back that wouldn't. 

 

Thanks

 

Tom



#6 wtd1114

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Posted 29 May 2021 - 04:58 PM

Actually the wrong date and time is going to mess up everything-- DSO, stars, planets, the whole sky.  The date and time is used to calculate the local sidereal time.  Given your local sidereal time and GPS coordinates, the computer figures out what should be visible in the sky at that date and time.  If the date and time is wrong, then what the computer thinks is in the sky and their positions will not match what is really in the sky.  So for example, with your alignment stars, it may choose the wrong stars to align on because they are not actually visible in the sky.  If everthing is working correctly, it will pretty much pick the brightest star to align on and it positions the scope pretty close to that star and takes a picture with the camera and then does an exact alignment based on the picture.

 

I kind of recall that before the update to 1.6e, my LS was acting funny with the hand controller, like you experienced.  You'd press something and it would not work right.

 

I have an LX-90 scope as well so I kind of have an idea of how to change the date and time and do a 2 star alignment manually.  I tried to override and do thing manually on the LS, and I recall having all kinds of issues, giving up and finally upgrading to 1.6e.

 

I think you will have all kinds of hassle with the GOTO if you are not running 1.6e.  I believe you can hit the MODE button a bunch of times at the beginning of the bootup and you can get out of the automatic alignment mode.  Then you can use the scope in manual, non-GOTO mode by hitting the direction keys to skew the scope...

 

Willis

 



#7 Tom Duncan

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Posted 29 May 2021 - 09:17 PM

Ah, so it's not like the Celestron Ultima 2000 where the Y2K bug wouldn't allow the current date but it only affected the planets. 

 

Actually the alignment and goto are fine once it see two good stars, the only issue I'm having is I can't skip a star that is blocked by a tree or some such so it might go through four or five stars before getting two seeable ones. 

 

I may have to do the firmware upgrade, I'll look into the memory chip that came with the scope to try and figure out what version it is. 

 

Thanks

 

Tom



#8 Kutt

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:20 PM

To skip an obscured star during alignment, press BACK (the manual wrongly states SCROLL DOWN!)



#9 Tom Duncan

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 05:16 PM

I thought I tried that but I'll do so again. As well as check the GPS date/time. 

 

Tom 

 

To skip an obscured star during alignment, press BACK (the manual wrongly states SCROLL DOWN!)



#10 Tom Duncan

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 10:46 AM

Tried the scope again last night and indeed no button will get the auto align to skip a star. I get either no response at all or a brief delay and then continuation of looking for the assigned star. 

 

So it looks like I will have to pursue the firmware upgrade to E, currently D. Sure hope I don't brick the mount!

 

Also the GPS seems to be working correctly. I couldn't find time and location anywhere in the menu but the goto worked fine for a variety of deep sky objects and the Moon. 

 

Tom



#11 Tom Duncan

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 12:28 PM

Reloaded the 1.6d firmware that was on the chip, no change, still no button press will skip an alignment star. So now it's on to getting the 1.6e firmware, not looking forward to that. 

 

Tom



#12 Tom Duncan

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 11:20 AM

Loaded 1.6e from Opticstar, no change, issue remains. 

 

Tom 



#13 Kutt

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Posted 07 September 2021 - 04:57 PM

Just been out for my first observing session for a few months and can confirm that pressing BACK does indeed skip the current alignment star and go on to the next.

 

However, this only works only once it has completed slewing to the star you want to skip and is waiting for you to center it. If you press BACK too early while it's still slewing, it just pauses briefly then carries on slewing.  

 

My LS6 has 1.6e firmware.



#14 Tom Duncan

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Posted 08 September 2021 - 10:39 AM

Just been out for my first observing session for a few months and can confirm that pressing BACK does indeed skip the current alignment star and go on to the next.

 

However, this only works only once it has completed slewing to the star you want to skip and is waiting for you to center it. If you press BACK too early while it's still slewing, it just pauses briefly then carries on slewing.  

 

My LS6 has 1.6e firmware.

Hmm, interesting. I'll have to get the scope back out and try again but as I remember it the operator doesn't do any centering, the camera does. As I recollect the camera looks for the star, says it can't find it, says it's going to widen the search or some such, says again it can't find it, then moves on to another star.

 

Am I wrong here? 

 

Tom 


Edited by Tom Duncan, 08 September 2021 - 11:08 AM.



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