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Astro-Geek

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Everything posted by Astro-Geek

  1. After much Internet Googling, I've de-forked my Meade ETX125PE. I've been using it for some time now, and I'm very pleased with the optics and compactness, but I'm very dissapointed with the build quality of the goto mount. When I stripped it down to tighten the centre bolt to remove the slop, I was shocked to see so many nylon gears in the Az drive train, (amongst other things). Also, the basic ergonomics of the fork mount make using the rear cell and balancing binoviewers very awkward, and impossible at the Zenith. I've found a suitable size set of rings to fit just in front of the plastic rear housing and have fitted those to an 8" dovetail, which will give me much more scope to balance to the front or the rear. I'm using it on two different mounts, depending on the viewing session intention, a Skywatcher AZ goto (nice and light, for quick views or terrestrial use), and a Celestrian ASGT CG5 (equatorial) for longer sessions and astro photography. This makes it much more versatile and convenient than with the original Meade goto mount. I'd like to add a polar alignment scope to the CG5 to assist in getting the alignment as accurate as possible. I've noticed that some have a graduated external dial around the lens to set the time and date offset of Polaris, and others rely on twisting to line up an imaginary line between two specific bright stars. I think I'd prefer the graduated dial version (the skywatcher HM5), but has anyone any contrary view to this assumption ? Also, am I right in assuming that the Celestron ASGT CG5 is identical enough structurally to the EQ5 for the Skywatcger HM5 scope to fit in the polar sighting hole of that mount ? (I have a fear that there may be a slight variation in the casting or an extra flange or something ! ? )
  2. ....Well I did admit that I'm a sucker for gadgets... ? I managed to get one very cheaply secondhand in "unused" condition. (It even still had the plastic screen and lens protectors on !) It still had the vital AA battery magnetism shielding sleeves, which may possibly explain why many reviewers complain of poor sensitivity if they were missing in many used models. So in case anyone else is ever intrigued by them, here's my opinion of the current situation with them, in 2018, 3 years past their internal date range limit (2015). It's a shame that Celestron dead-ended the GPS support at that point, but it does work OK when you interupt the satellite aquire process and enter your lat/long and date/time manually. I set it to the current time and date, but can only choose a year up to 2015. It's therefore fine for stars and constellations, but no good for planets or the moon. I haven't tried to mount it on my 10" Dob yet as an alt/az indicator or push to because I'd need some sort of spacer to keep it away from the steel OTA. It seems quite accurate with star identification and find and being self-contained and quite small it's more convenient than a tablet running stellarium, though with no zooming capability. I'd say they're still quite an interesting way to sometimes add to your knowledge whilst star hopping, with the audio descriptions through the earpiece being very handy in the dark. Never worth the hundreds that they initially cost, but worth a punt now for under 40 quid or so.....
  3. The plot thickens... ? After much more Internet searching, I'm finding out more of the intricate foibles of this device. The Firmware.Bin file is in the root dir of all of the MySky SD cards, but it is not visible when viewed in a PC becuse it is not only "hidden", but also marked as a "protected system file". I finally did get hold of the elusive 6/12/2007 version, but the MySky still flashes continuously with a blank screen until the battery is removed. This is apparently very, very common with these units because of their extreme sensitivity to the way the card is written to and its size. It seems a totally unnecessary security precaution, since it can only be used in that Meade device, and they've never charged a fee for updates. It merely frustrates genuine Meade customers and has probably resulted in God knows how many units being dumped in the bin. I've now tried every combination of software/firmware, with every legitimate Autostar Suite software version, and I just get the continuous flashing. (Like so many other frustrated users who probably paid full pice for them). The only way to create a working SD card appears to be by using some disc cloning software to make an exact copy of an original card, rather than just the files and directories that appear to be on it. In fact, Owners with working units would be well advised to make a working backup, (and test it), of their SD cards in case they ever fail, rendering their own MySky useless.
  4. No need to be sorry Mark, it may well be the key to why mine isn't working. Whenever I've tinkered with other devices that needed their "firmware" upgrading, the method was to put a ".bin" file in the root directory which was sensed by the device at switch on, and was then loaded to overwrite the firmware memory of the device, and then auto deleted. Even though I haven't noticed any information so far about this with the MySky, maybe that is how it works, and my unit's flashing was it trying to program its Rom. I'll try it again and leave it on for longer this time.
  5. Thanks for the prompt replies. My understanding so far is that they were somewhat "knobbled" by Celestrian to fail on GPS startup after Jan 1st 2016. I also believe that this can be got round by interrupting the process and entering the date manually, but still having to keep it pre-2016. Wouldn't this make planetary positions innacurate for the correct year ? I admit I'm a sucker for gadgets (at a reasonable price), so the idea of fixing it to a Dob and having effectively an automatically set Push-to and Alt Az readout is attractive. Though I have already fitted an electronic inclinometer and a DIY Azimuth circle to the base pivot that I set to North by Polaris.
  6. My tinkering with my cheaply bought MySky (still not working yet !), has piqued my interest in the SkyScout. I apologise for asking questions that are possibly already answered somewhere within this very extensive forum section, but could someone give me a short precis of how it stacks up now, in 2018, as a working entity ? I've read about the GPS not accepting dates after 2015 and fixes for it, and no continuing support from Celestron. I guess the plethora of free android planetarium apps have greatly improved the basic functionality and visual experience of pushto and identification, but the standalone dedicated functionality of the Skyscout is still appealing, particularly as a possible fixture to a Dobsonian for pushto, (with suitable precautions against magnetic interferance). I've looked at individual theads here and elsewhere, but they're all several years old now.
  7. Thanks again for taking the trouble to send all the files Mark, very kind of you. I carefully rebuilt the sd card with them, but still the same result I'm afraid, no screen but a constant flashing of all the LEDs until I remove a battery to switch it off. It is another variation, though, previously it would make just ten flashes, then switch itself off, so there's still a glimmer of hope that it is maybe software related. I'll try creating the LOST.DIR hidden directory and see if that has any effect. (I've come up against hidden and system files before with something else, and there are Windows settings that can reveal hidden and system protected files.) The other possibility is the main file in the root directory, "Firmware.bin". From what I've gleaned on the Internet, that appears to be the crucial one, and the elusive version is dated 12/6/2007 and has a size of 397 KB. With all of my versions of the Autostar Suite, I haven't found that one yet. It was the only file missing from the ones you kindly sent me. Is the one on your SD card that date and size ? As for the flashing LEDs at startup, I did find an old video on Youtube that showed a MySky starting up, and the normal situation appears to be that they light up steady, with the LCD screen showing a menu. (the start up button gets pressed at 58 secs in.)
  8. That's very kind of you Mark, message sent. It's tantalising not knowing whether it's almost working or whether it's possibly a hopeless case with a duff screen. Following the numerous hints and tips o the Internet, I now have three versions of the Autostar suite and 4 bin files, and with one combination I can now get it to flash continuously until I switch it off by removing a battery. I'm wondering if they do that as the normal startup, perhaps with a message on the screen waiting for something to be selected. I've temporarilly hot wired the sub miniature pcb start up switch, but if I can get it working the replacment is only 60p, and is "get at able" with my miature soldering iron. It's quite well made inside apart from the horrible sticky rubberised coating, but I managed to remove that fairly easily (with the workings removed) with iso propyl, and it's now a nice clean shiny bare grey plastic. If I can get it working it will be a real triumph considering what I paid for it, and it's interaction with my Meade ETX125 could be handy. I must admit though, the full retail price is mind boggling, for something that is fairly toy like, and who's main functionality is way outclassed by a simple phone and free plantarium software.
  9. I've got a Meade MySky that has a fault which seems to be caused by software rather than hardware. When it's switched on, it does various things depending on whether the SD card is inserted or not. If the card is in, the keypad and sighting LEDs flash once, and then it goes out. If the card is out, the LED's stay on for ten seconds, then give ten distinct flashes, then go out. At no time does the LCD screen illuminate. I've Googled it quite a bit, so I've found out all about the "self-destruct" Meade software update that killed so many units. I've downloaded a couple of versions of the Autostar Suite (v5.1 and v5.5), and tried to create/update another fresh SD card for it, but have run into all the problems that so many other users have had. So I'm wondering if it's still worth persevering with the SD card rebuild or if it maybe has a more fundamental hardware fault. (Hence wondering what the significance of the exact ten flashes is). I know they're mostly scorned upon, but I was hoping to try it with my Meade ETX125, and I did get it very cheap, even for a non-working item, so binning it won't be disastrous.
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