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Last updated: 23 March 2013

Subject:	autostar sticky keys tip
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2013 14:50:18
From: (
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: (
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 (
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

[31 Oct 01]
From: Graeme Davidson (

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)


Graeme Davidson
Davidson Electronics

Subject:	keyboard sensitivity
Sent:	Wednesday, October 31, 2001 5:21:42
From: (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.


Hans Peter Wallner

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