AUTOSTAR KEYPAD CLEANING/REPAIR
Last updated: 23 March 2013
Subject: autostar sticky keys tip Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 14:50:18 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) After 10 years, my autostar keys were next to impossible to press and get a response without having to hold them down with quite a bit of pressure and for quite a while... I tried cleaning with alcohol and then used graphite, that helped a little, but not enough. I called Meade to see what could be done and was told that i needed to replace the autostar 497. I was not quite ready to do that, so what i did was I took the autostar apart and soaked the rubber key pads in good old dish washing soap! Rinsed completely, then let it dry for a few hours... when i put the autostar back together again, i was surprised that was what was needed! I am guessing some 'gunk' had gotten into the recesses of the keypad. Now the Autostar is quite responsive and I no longer have to put on a death grip to get it to respond! But make sure it is thoroughly dry before turning it back on!! Or you will need to buy a new one. ps...I had been surfing the web for a new autostar! So I figured that if this didn't work, I would be ready to buy the new one.
End of today's update
Subject: AutoStar keypad repair Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 12:58:51 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) Over the years some of the keys on the AutoStar 497 that I purchased in March 2000, along with my ETX 125, became more and more difficult to get to make contact. At several times I tried the various key pad cleaning suggestions on Mike Weasner's Mighty ETX Site with limited success. The keys that move the telescope right and left had become especially difficult, with very heavy pressure and rocking on the key required to make contact. Recently while looking in the Dealers list in the Mighty ETX Site I looked in ScopeStuff's site and found a Rubber Keypad Repair Kit made by Circuitworks. On ScopeStuff's site were detailed instructions on the procedure to repair an AutoStar 497 keypad. At 26 dollars it was a little pricy but I decided to try it. It is a two part paint like material that must all be mixed together all at once and is supposed to then have a pot life of three days, in the sealed container. After some trepidation, I opened my Autostar and painted the repair compound on several of the key pad contact buttons that were problematic. After 24 hours drying time, I assembled the AutoStar and found that all of the keys that had been painted worked with a very light touch and were noticeably better than the ones that had not been painted. I checked the repair compound and found it was still good, so I opened the AutoStar again and painted the remaining buttons, which after drying and re-assembly worked noticeably better. At this point my AutoStar keys seem to work better than new and I am very pleased. Only time will tell how durable the repair is. Maybe it will last another ten years or more. Forrest Lundberg
End of 24 March 2010 update
Subject: Another Autostar #497 Keypad Response Fix Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 05:43:21 From: Nohr Tillman (email@example.com) You've got a couple of these out on the site already, but here's another one confirming the outstanding results of keypad cleaning: The ETX-90 controller was purchased gently used, and always had a slow-responding keypad. Especially the "1", "0" and "Mode" keys, it would take strong pressure, and a press-and-hold time of 1-2 seconds to get a response.. I attributed this to older design, slower chip, etc. until the ETX-125 showed up. The ETX-125 controller was much friendlier to use with an instant reaction to the press of any button. Researching your ETX site, it seemed a cleaning was in order. Hint: Once the case is off, it is a good idea to disconnect the display and get it out of harm's way. On the main board, slide the locking bar toward the ribbon to unlock the connection. Then slide the ribbon out of the connector. Reverse on assembly. Other posts describe how to do it well enough, but I'll add what I used to accomplish this. When I opened up the Autostar, I was less optimistic that a cleaning would change anything. All the tinned board contacts were shiny with no crud or tarnish. I cleaned them anyway with Radio Shack Edge Connector Cleaner and Protector pen # 64-4340. Firm strokes in once direction with the pen, on each contact "grid," de-glossed and flattened the solder tinning. About every sixth one, I de-blackened the pen tip by wiping on a paper towel. Hint: 4X reading glasses help in getting "on the surface" to inspect your work. Back together, it was time for a test. It was a completely different controller! Key presses resulted in instant reaction from the Autostar. It was like the processor had been sped up by four times! The gloss I was seeing must have been a film of flux preventing good contact with the rubber keypad graphite buttons. Whatever it was, cleaning with the edge cleaner pen was well worth the effort! Nohr Tillman Troy, MI, USA Earth
End of 26 April 2009 update
I had to fix another Autostar issue tonight - keyboard sensitivity. From day one the keys were quite unresponsive, requiring too much pressure than would be comfortable. Being new, and not suspecting a fault, I thought Meade might have less than optimal keyboard scanning circuitry. I emailed Dick to seek some wisdom in this area but before he had a chance to answer I'd solved it :o)
I took the Autostar apart and it dawned on me... the PCB keyboard contacts were tin-plated. I've had problems with this type of set-up before where there must be either an oxide layer or a residual flux on the contact surface. I cleaned it down with Isopropyl Alcohol and tested - much better. For good measure I gently cleaned the rubber keyboard contact pads too.
What a difference :O)
Subject: keyboard sensitivity Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 5:21:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (hpwallner) The keys of my #495 Autostar were quite unresponsive the last weeks and the problem was getting worse, requiring lots of pressure (I never had this problem with my AS #497). I tried to improve the contact with Isopropyl Alcohol (like G.Davidson described it in the Autostar Information section). It helped - but not very long - just a few days and the problem returned. So I tried GRAPHITE contact spray on the black rubber keyboard contact pads. The result is fantastic! My #495 is even better than the #497 now. Regards, Hans Peter Wallner http://members.aon.at/wallnerstelescopes
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