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Last updated: 16 October 2009
Subject:	Review: Meade ETX LS 6
Sent:	Thursday, October 8, 2009 08:41:44
From:	steve nastos (
Hi, there's no question here, simply my extremely frustrating story with
the LightSwitch 6". I just thought I'd share.

Thursday Oct 8, 2009

After taking a long hiatus from astronomy I've decided to get back into
it, mostly due to the Meade 'for dummies' ETX LS 6. I was never able to
properly align my old telescope, thus it sat unused. The idea that I
could have a self aligning telescope really peeked my interest and last
week I decided to get one. It has probably been the most frustrating
week I've had in a long time (maybe my expectations are too high). I've
read many reviews of people having success with the alignment in cloudy
days, close to buildings, bad conditions, etc, so I figured my backyard
should be adequate.

Day 1: When purchasing the telescope, my dealer filled me in on a
communication that was sent by Meade to the dealers outlining their
return policy and that there's new firmware for the scope. Right away I
knew this wasn't a good sign, new firmware in any product (cell phones,
cameras, etc) this early means there's something wrong. The telescope is
well built, easy to set up, but I strongly recommend printing the full
manual (found online or the included CD), because the quick setup guide
that it comes with isn't very detailed. I was a little frustrated that
Meade did not include a power adapter (or batteries), so my first night
with the scope was a bust due to my lack of 8 C batteries.

Day 2: After purchasing 8 batteries, I waited for nightfall and took the
scope out to my backyard. I turned it on, and viola! A voice begins and
I'm super excited. I feel like it's Christmas, except there's no snow
and instead of Santa leaving the scope under the Christmas Tree, he left
me a big Visa bill in my mailbox (but close enough). After listening to
the intro the voice then proceeds to tell me it will now use 4
satellites to get GPS position and time, it should only take a few
minutes. I would say about 10 minutes later, it doesn't find a single
one. So I move the telescope and try again, but also it's unsuccessful.
The Autostar prompts to "Enter location manually", I scroll through the
option locations and my location isn't there. I know Toronto, Ontario
isn't the biggest or best city, but the fact they have the most obscure
States/Provinces/Countries in their very small list and don't have
Toronto annoyed me. So I resort to plan B, upgrade the firmware to
version 1.2g which has "much better GPS support". I figure I'll connect
my laptop upgrade the firmware and we should be in business - yea right!
While I go inside and prep my laptop, I decide to give the GPS one more
shot (which was unsuccessful again). I bring my laptop, usb cable,
manual, and everything else I need outside and hook everything up. Of
course the Autostar software doesn't work all that well with Vista but I
forge on. I update the Autostar software on my laptop and begin
downloading the newest firmware on to my laptop to transfer it. No one
told me it would be 200+MB. Once the download is complete I attempt to
upgrade the firmware on the telescope. I attempted, and I failed. Now I
have a nice blue brick on a shiny tripod.

Day 3: So I researched the fix and thanks to many great sites like this
one, I found that I now have to update the firmware via the MiniSD card.
Of course finding a MiniSD that is 2GB or smaller (not an SDHC) isn't
the easiest of tasks, but nonetheless I get one. Format the card as
FAT32, copy the necessary files using mySKYupdate and insert it into the
Telescope. The MiniSD slot on the telescope is terrible! Once I turn on
the scope it begins updating. The update took a while, but it went
flawlessly and now I'm using version 1.2g. So I try again, back to the
backyard with my new firmware set up in the middle of the yard, turn it
on and... nothing. It doesn't find a single satellite. At this point I
call Meade, he told me to reset defaults using the keypad (which I did)
but it still didn't help. He then said, maybe it doesn't work in your
backyard. Great, I've got a self aligning telescope which won't self
align in the one place I use it the most! He suggested I take it
somewhere flatter.

Day 4: I decide to take my scope to the park. It travels very well, easy
to set up on site, I was happy about that. I went to a local park that
is popular for city astronomy. Turn on the scope, hold my breath, and
nothing. No satellites. Once I get home, I call Meade, the offer to
change the entire unit, I spend 20 minutes on the phone with a gentleman
who takes all my info, and tells me to pack up the scope, and you'll get
a UPS shipping label in your email. I wait 5, 10, 15 minutes for this
email, and it never comes. I call back and apparently they can't find
this order that was just placed, so I spend another 20 minutes giving my
details and I eventually do get my shipping label.

Day 5: That's where my story ends for now. I haven't sent off the scope
and at this point I'm really regretting buying it. I don't understand
how an Iphone can have GPS that works flawlessly, and something as large
as a telescope, they're unable to put GPS in it that won't work near a
house; a car; anything metal; power lines or trees. Nice try Meade, but
better luck next time.
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the problem. Sounds like it might have a bad GPS receiver.

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