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LS6 Manual Alignment


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#1 AstroKutt

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Posted 10 November 2020 - 09:34 AM

I am finding automatic alignment of my LS6 to be very inconsistent. Some days it’s perfect, other days it can’t even get a GPS lock.

 

My LS6 is programmed with 1.6e firmware, and it’s possible enter a location manually by picking a country/city from the preloaded country/state list. However, the nearest city to me is England/Greenwich which is about 25 miles from my actual location, which is therefore not a very accurate fix.

 

I would like to enter exact Lat/Long coordinates manually, and according to the “Star Aligning with a Restricted Horizon” section of “Meade LS6 & LS8 LightSwitch Primer” on the Meade website (https://www.meadeuk....itch_primer.pdf), it should be possible to edit Date, Time, Lat and Long under “Scope Info”. However, I am only able to edit RA, Dec, Az and El (by pressing GOTO) – all other items appear to be read only.

 

There is an entry in the preloaded country/state list called ‘Custom’, which sounds hopeful. Selecting it leads to the handbox displaying ‘City’ in the 1st line, and ‘Site’ in the 2nd. However, pressing up/down or GOTO has no effect, and there are no other options (i.e. there is no way to enter coordinates). Pressing ENTER just leads on to time/date entry, and then on to alignment which subsequently fails due to the location not having been set correctly.

 

Is there actually a way to enter exact location coordinates?

 

Thanks,

 

John Spry.

 



#2 MistrBadgr

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Posted 10 November 2020 - 12:18 PM

Hi John,

 

Even though I have had an LS 8 in the past, which someone else apparently needed worse than I did, you are asking about something I never experienced.  Hopefully, someone else comes along to answer your question.

 

I will copy your post to an email and send it to customerservice@meade.com.  They are all working from home right now, due to Covid 19, but have been answering my emails about as well as can be expected.  I will then copy any replies to a post here.

 

If you would prefer to contact them yourself, please feel free to do so.

 

Best Regards,

 

Bill Steen


Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#3 AstroKutt

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Posted 11 November 2020 - 06:50 AM

Hi Bill,

 

Thanks for offering to get in touch with your Meade contacts - it's much appreciated  :)

 

It's an annoying problem - I couple of weeks ago, I used the scope for the first time since May. It achieved a near perfect GPS lock and alignment. I was able to spend a happy couple of hours observing a dozen or more objects with my recently acquired Meade zoom eyepiece (which is a neat piece of kit).

 

However, a more recent attempt was a rather different story – I spent nearly an hour repeatedly trying to achieve a GPS lock but with no success at all, leaving only a brief amount of time for observing.

 

I've had this scope for nearly 10 years and this had been a recurring problem - here at home the surrounding trees and buildings limit my view to about 60% of the sky, so I accept that star alignment might take a number of targets to achieve, but the regular misfires on determining my unchanging home location would be resolved so easily by manual entry!    



#4 MistrBadgr

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Posted 12 November 2020 - 02:08 PM

Hi John,

 

So far, I have not heard anything back from Meade.  I will give them another day or so and then give them nudge!

 

Something that came to mind, I am sort of remembering that there is a way to lock in a location after a scope gets it and then turn the satellite search off and just keep the geo-fix in place.  You might read up and see if you can find any information about that.  I will  do some searching too.  When I nudge the Meade folks, I will ask them about that as well.

 

If you do find any information that corroborates my memory, please let me know.  It would be nice if that memory is not just hopeful thinking.

 

Best Regards,

 

Bill Steen


Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#5 Tumblebug

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Posted 14 November 2020 - 05:10 PM

Hi John,

 

I looked up some information on line in the LS User's Manual.  In the setup section, there is a selection called "Use GPS."  If you get your scope to work on one of those good occasions and you get a good location fix, you can then turn of the GPS.  The next time you start up, you will be given the option of using past GPS locations.  This may work anyway, even without getting a good fix first, but I would try it when you do have a good fix first in case that position gets locked in somehow....(like wearing both belt and suspenders.)

 

If this does not work, let me know and I will poke the Meade guys again.

 

Best Regards,

 

Bill Steen



#6 AstroKutt

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Posted 15 November 2020 - 06:47 AM

Hi Bill,

 

That’s exactly what I thought, but it doesn’t seem to work as apparently intended.

 

After getting a good location via GPS, I disable GPS, park the scope, switch it off and on, which leads to 3 options for setting location:

1. Get From GPS

2. Enter Manually

3. Demo Mode

 

The first just goes back to attempting a GPS fix.

 

The second leads to the Country/State/City pick list. Choosing any of these overwrites the location with the selected pre-set. Choosing ‘Custom’ leads to the single option (’Site’), which sets Lat/Long both to 0.

 

Oddly enough, the third option (Demo Mode) does actually retain the previous location, but there is no route to completing the setup with the actual time (which is defaulted to 09:00:00PM UTC) or  star alignment. It is Demo Mode after all !

 

Now, the manual says there should be another option (in bold) which isn’t displayed for me: “When the GPS is disabled, you are presented a menu that offers you the choice of using the previous locations, and the internal clock time, entering the date, time and location manually, taking a GPS fix, or starting in a Demo/Terrestrial mode.”

 

My scope doesn’t remember the internal clock time - perhaps this is because I power it from an external power pack, not the internal batteries? So could this be the solution to my location issue – use internal batteries? I don’t have any of the right type to try it just yet, but will buy some soon.

 

Thanks for your continued assistance. If you’re happy to, please continue to poke the Meade team!

 

Incidentally, while trying to get to the bottom of this problem, I’ve continued to experience intermittent problems with getting a GPS fix. Just for fun I decided to point the scope base in roughly the same direction as when I got a good fix a couple of weeks ago (which happened to be north-ish), and guess what? I got a good fix!   I tried again today purposely pointing it in a different direction and got no fix, then pointed back to roughly north and got a fix again. So it looks like setting up with the base facing north may increase my chances of a good fix – the GPS in my scope seems to be quite sensitive to its location/surroundings!

 

Regards,

 

John.



#7 AstroKutt

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Posted 15 November 2020 - 01:24 PM

I spoke too soon - clear skies here tonight (after 1.25" of rain during the day), but 3 failed attempts at getting a GPS fix ...



#8 MistrBadgr

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 07:53 PM

Hi John,

 

Have you tried using the nearest city to you in that list for your location?  You might do so if you have not, and see what happens.  The scope may then go ahead and make the adjustments as it finds the guide stars to bring the alignment in to what it should actually be.  It could be that the scope needs a starting spot reasonably close, as compared to the whole Earth.

 

By the way, what version of the software do you have in your scope?

 

I will poke Meade Customer Service again tomorrow.  I have not heard from them.

 

Best Regards,

 

Bill


Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#9 MistrBadgr

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 04:12 PM

Hi John,

 

I have been thinking about the issue you are trying to address. I do not think terribly fast any more, but keep rolling an issue around in my head until the ball of thoughts firms up.

 

The 25 miles you are located from Greenwich is about a thousandth the distance around the world.  So 25 miles would create an error of 360/1000 or 0.36 degrees.  That is within the acceptable correction range for your scope when it takes a picture of a guide star, during the alignment process.  I think your system should handle it. 

 

If not, then there is a correcting mechanism that should help, if an object is off center in a consistent way, due to this location error.  I do not remember exactly where it is in the menu, but I think I remember that it picks a guide star and goes to it, centers things up as it sees the situation, then you can make a manual adjustment to move the object into the center of the field. 

 

I had to use it one time with my LS8 after an almost auto accident where the scope rolled off the back seat of my car and landed on the floor.  The camera was bumped out of alignment a little and I used that process to let the scope know how much the error was.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Bill Steen


Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#10 AstroKutt

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 07:38 AM

Hi Bill,

 

My LS6 is programmed with 1.6e firmware, which I believe is the latest version.

 

I had a brief opportunity in between clouds last night to try again. After two failures to get a successful GPS fix, I picked Greenwich manually and entered the exact time.

 

It was getting late so I went straight to “Tonight’s Best” without doing an alignment to see what would happen. I picked Mars and the scope slewed to about 10 degrees east of the actual planet. Even without star alignment I’d expected it to be a bit closer than that! (something along the lines of your calculation – at my latitude, 25 miles is a fraction over half a degree). I’m not sure star alignment would have succeeded either with this level of accuracy.

 

I believe the correcting mechanism you’re thinking of is Setup -> Calibrate -> Finder Center, which according to the manual “recomputes the center of the ECLIPS camera. When you change diagonals or other equipment the alignment of the equipment with the ECLIPS camera can change. If you are getting good alignments, but objects are consistently off center by the same amount, you should use the option to improve centering.”

 

This would definitely help to fine tune things if only I could get a good alignment!

 

Clear skies are forecast here tonight, so I hope to conduct some more experiments. I’m not getting my hopes up too much though - the accuracy of weather forecasts has also deteriorated significantly over the last few months!

 

Many thanks for your continued assistance.

 

Regards,

 

John.






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