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LX200GPS completely unresponsive

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#1 jkhalaf

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 10:54 AM

Recently, our astronomy club was gifted a 10" LX200 GPS as a donation.  The donor had told me that he couldn't get it to work anymore, but we figured we could at least try to figure out what was wrong with it, perhaps flash the firmware, and, in the worst case, defork the OTA.

 

I got the telescope home, plugged in the AC adapter and Autostar II handbox, and turned on the power.  Immediately, I noticed the Autostar just started displaying red boxes/squares on the display, one at a time until it fills the screen, but no text.  I turned the power off and back on a few times to see if this was an anomaly, but it did the same thing.  I left the system on for an hour to see if any change might occur, but the results were still the same (a string of red squares/boxes on the Autostar II display screen).

 

I then tried seeing if I could go into download mode by hitting "999" as soon as power was turned on, but all that did was either stop the squares from showing up or caused other strange characters to appear on the screen (the most common was a lowercase x with a line above it).  I tried connecting via a laptop with StarPatch to see if I could flash the telescope with another firmware (laptop-->USB-to-serial connector-->Meade 507 cable-->left RS232 port on telescope base, a setup I've used several times with my own 12" LX200 GPS), but the software cannot connect to the telescope through the COM port. Also, the telescope does not respond to any other commands to slew in any direction,

 

At this point, I was hoping the community might have some other suggestions.  My guess is that there is an issue with the main board, but it's just a guess at this point.  Has anyone seen this issue before and found a solution to the problem?  TIA.

 

Image attached of the handbox and the display.

 

Joe

 

IMG_8862-1.jpg


Edited by jkhalaf, 17 April 2024 - 11:07 AM.


#2 Lindhard

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 11:40 AM

Have you tried with another handbox?



#3 jkhalaf

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 12:49 PM

Have you tried with another handbox?

I did. I got the same thing. It appears to be an issue with the internal system as opposed to the hand box. 



#4 DAVIDG

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 02:21 PM

 The fact that the display changes when you do the 999 safe loader mode shows that there is some life in it.  I  would double check your laptop setting with StarPatch on your own scope just to make sure that is working. Have you tried both serial ports on the scope ?  Also look carefully at the springy wires in the RS232 ports  and hand controller port. I had one were the wires were pushed back and would not spring forward  because of dirt so they  were not making full contact with the plug when it was inserted.  You can also try the 444 test and see what happens. 

  When you tried another handset did you use a new cable as well ?  After that it's time to open the base and see what is going on. Take nothing for granted since I have seen were cables have been plugged in  and missed a contact.  So  look for stuff like that since it might be an  easy fix.

 

                     - Dave 


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#5 jkhalaf

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 01:15 PM

 The fact that the display changes when you do the 999 safe loader mode shows that there is some life in it.  I  would double check your laptop setting with StarPatch on your own scope just to make sure that is working. Have you tried both serial ports on the scope ?  Also look carefully at the springy wires in the RS232 ports  and hand controller port. I had one were the wires were pushed back and would not spring forward  because of dirt so they  were not making full contact with the plug when it was inserted.  You can also try the 444 test and see what happens. 

  When you tried another handset did you use a new cable as well ?  After that it's time to open the base and see what is going on. Take nothing for granted since I have seen were cables have been plugged in  and missed a contact.  So  look for stuff like that since it might be an  easy fix.

 

                     - Dave 

Thanks for the input, Dave - I did try another cable and ended up with the same results, but that cable looked a bit old and ragged.  I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference, though, as I've gotten the same results with two different handsets and two different cables.  I have not tried the 444 test, so I'll give that a shot, next.  I'll also head out to my observatory this weekend and grab the controller and cable from my telescope, which I know are working well.  In the meantime, I'll open the scope up and see if there's anything glaring and perhaps disconnect/reconnect the cables where I can to see if reseating them makes a difference.  Thanks again!



#6 DAVIDG

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 01:55 PM

  I don't believe that the motor control boards or GPS would cause it not to boot but the main board will boot with everything else disconnected. You will just get a error message about the motor board failure and it can't  find the GPS.  So with everything disconnected that would rule those other parts out and point to the main board being the problem. 

  The battery is just for the memory on the GPS put there has been a report here that an almost dead battery caused issues.  I would pull the battery and see what happens.  I would also take the two Autostar II with you and try them on your scope. The displays go bad all the time and you might have been  unlucky have two with bad displays. 

My  club was also donated a dead  10" LX200GPS.  It was acting like yours.  I found that pins for hand box and both RS232 had corrosion and dirt in the slot that the springy wires slide in. So they didn't move and were not making full contact..  Fixing that issue got it back to life and it also had the Home sensor bent out of place. After fixing that, updating the firmware with StarPatch and replacing the LCD screen in the Autostar II it now works great. It puts an object in the eyepiece every time.   So don't give up on it, if it does need a new main board I understand that Meade does have them but you will need to call them directly.

  By the way I have repaired one that was a real basket case, it was in pieces and I had to rewind both motors. https://www.cloudyni...lx200gps-mount/

 

                        - Dave 


Edited by DAVIDG, 18 April 2024 - 01:58 PM.

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#7 jkhalaf

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 06:43 PM

Thanks for the sharing that story. It is motivation to not give up. I forgot to mention to everybody that I did change out the battery. As a matter fact, that was one of the first things I did. But I will take out the main board and see if I can get some sort of response without anything else connected. I want to try a 444 command, as well.

A few years ago, I recall Meade used to sell things like main boards for their telescopes directly through the website. I cannot find those on the website now, so I suppose it’s just a direct call to me in order to get that ordered, correct
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#8 DAVIDG

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 09:27 PM

 I believe it was reported  here and also on the LX200GPS Groups IO forum in the last year that people have been able to buy new main boards from Meade but had to call them directly and I also believe get on a list since they were getting a few at a time from their supplier. 

  Did you get any information from the person that donated the scope what happened to cause it to fail ? 

 

                - Dave 


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