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#1 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

Hello All,

I have a permanently equatorially mounted 16" LX200-ACF that has now become unusable. I have un-commanded and unstoppable full speed slews in both right ascension and declination that occur during auto guiding for imaging. Once they start I have to turn the telescope off and restart completely. Once the slewing starts during imaging when I try a restart the full speed slewing will start during boot up usually before the Smart Drive initialization begins. I called Meade Sky Assurance support at 1 800 291 3392 and talked to someone who does not know that the declination trunnions and worm are a perminant part of the OTA on the 16" and wanted me to send back just the base and fork. He also did not know what a Telescope Drive Master encoder was. When I asked to speak to an engineer about concerns I had about this problem he said that there was no one I could talk with. I have close to $20,000 invested with Meade in this telescope, accessories and Sky Assurance and I find it completely unacceptable that I am not allowed to talk to someone at Meade who KNOWS about this telescope.

I have inspected all ACCESSABLE wires, connections and circuit boards and have found no defects.

Do any of you good people out there know of how I can talk to someone at Meade who knows this telescope?

Sincerely,
ObservatoryCat
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#2 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 02:07 PM

Some more thoughts on my Customer Support.

I am very disappointed by a design philosophy that requires you to return a 350 pound telescope to get a 3 once circuit board replaced. One of the boards is even mounted where you can not get at it with the scope mounted on a pier, you have to take the whole telescope and mount down to access this board. It could easily be put in a place where it could be accesed.

There also appears to be no place to plug in any kind of diagnostic equipment. A person who can set up and use such a telescope, connect CCD cameras, computers, etc. to it is certainly capable of doing diagnostic work with help from Meade and replacing well designed, placed and thought out components.

There is a company, Davis Instruments, right here in California, that makes remote sensing weather stations that you can carry around with one hand. Their Customer Service Department will help you fix almost any problem. This service includes supplying you with diagnostic equipment and instructions on how to use it to determine which component is at fault. You can buy direct from them sensors, circuit boards, motors, batteries, solar panels and anything you might need to get your system back on line. Meade could certainly learn a lot from them.

If anyone asks me about Meade Telescopes these points would an obligation, a moral responsibality, for me to tell them.

A very disappointed ObservatoryCat

#3 akjudge

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 06:29 AM

My Meade LX200 is a fantastic instrument, and worth every dime. However, Meade's Customer Support and "no replacement parts" policy has been a well-known problem for more than a decade. If an owner's scope never has a problem, then it is truly a "best buy". If you develop a problem of most any type, it then becomes an expensive boat anchor...

You may want to try the LX200 GPS Yahoo user's group. Some of the best "Meade experts" hang out there. And surprise, surprise -- they are even willing to help...

Good-luck...

#4 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 08:32 AM

Hello akjudge

I have sent copies of these posts (hopefully with all of my spelling and other errors corrected) to the editors of Astronomy magazine, Sky and Telescope magazine and Dennis di Cicco asking them to include this information into one of their Meade telescope reviews, which of course they will not do.

I also mentioned to them, that as reviewers of astronomy equipment, they too have a moral responsibility to report on the customer support offered by the companies who make the equipment they review. I suggested that they perform one of their famous tests and find out how these companies treat their customers and write an article about the results they come up with so that their readers will known what to look forward to when they have problems. If you would like them to do so and think they should be required to do so, try reaching out to them at letters@astronomy.com and letters@SkyandTelescope.com.

Thanks for your reply,
ObservatoryCat

#5 deepwaterescue4u

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:56 AM

I myself have not had any problems with meade CS but only had to deal with them a few times and for tech support only so far.

That being said, Meade should reconsider the parts selling end as another means of support for both the customer and the company thats money in the bank for meade and a happy and returning customer and word of mouth is the best advertisement for any comapny and the best is the end user WE are the life blood of all companys on this planet.

So meade the about the money end of doing this if nothing else...
Terry

Meade LX200 10" ACF GPS
Meade 4 speed microfocuser
Vixen flip mirror
Milburn Wedge
Panama City Florida

Live long and prosper

#6 MistrBadgr

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:03 PM

I sent a message to someone I know. I cannot promise anything, but hopefully, you will get a response.

Bill Steen

#7 MistrBadgr

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:08 PM

You might try a fellow named Ron Sampson at rsampsonus@yahoo.com.

He works on LX-200 classics and I think he repairs boards, etc.

Bill Steen

#8 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 10:41 PM

Good Evening MistrBadgr,

I appreciate your response and will keep in mind the suggestions for help that you give. However, you must remember that this telescope is under warranty from Meade. I can not start taking it apart and exchanging parts at this time. The most I feel that I can do is inspect for any obvious damage as I explained above. It is Meade's responsibility to repair this telescope, not mine. My post here is to express my displeasure at their response and methods and to make other people aware of what to expect.

I do not work for Davis Instruments. I own one of their weather stations, which operates in a harsh environment. They have helped me repair it myself several times without having to return it to them, which would be MUCH easier than the effort it will take me to return this telescope. So, my post here is also to try and let Meade know that there is a better way of doing business and that other companies are doing it that way.

Sincerely,
ObservatoryCat

#9 MistrBadgr

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:51 AM

Somehow, I missed the point that this scope is under warranty.

Hopefully, someone from Meade will contact you.

However things turn out, please keep us posted so that we will know.

Thanks,

Bill Steen

#10 vomit

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:08 AM

Good Evening MistrBadgr,

I appreciate your response and will keep in mind the suggestions for help that you give. However, you must remember that this telescope is under warranty from Meade. I can not start taking it apart and exchanging parts at this time. The most I feel that I can do is inspect for any obvious damage as I explained above. It is Meade's responsibility to repair this telescope, not mine. My post here is to express my displeasure at their response and methods and to make other people aware of what to expect.

I do not work for Davis Instruments. I own one of their weather stations, which operates in a harsh environment. They have helped me repair it myself several times without having to return it to them, which would be MUCH easier than the effort it will take me to return this telescope. So, my post here is also to try and let Meade know that there is a better way of doing business and that other companies are doing it that way.

Sincerely,
ObservatoryCat


Scary stuff. I just got the LX-200ACF 10" and am debating getting the 3 year extended plan. I had my LX90 for 9 years without one problem.....but you never know. I hope you get satisfaction. Keep us updated.

#11 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:20 AM

Hello All of You Good People,

I went out to My Observatory tonight to try and get more information about my telescope problems.

The OAT was 49 degrees F, which is normal for this time of year.

I had a normal start up of the telescope and with no external devices or software of any kind I let the scope operate at the normal sidereal rate. I also did some full speed slewing with the hand box and all operated normally.

The full speed un-commanded slewing started after about 40 minutes of sidereal tracking. This was a RA slew to the east. After about 10 seconds this slew stopped and then in about three seconds a full speed RA slew to the west started. While this slew was in progress un-commanded full speed slewing south in declination started. The dec south slewing started and stopped several times, the RH slewing continued. I held the telescope in place with the axis locks loosened for about 15 seconds before I turned the telescope off. There were no error messages on the hand box.

After about five minutes I had a successful restart of the telescope but then the dec slewing started almost immediately.

Shutdown again, had another successful restart and again got immediate slewing in declination. However, this time there was a message on the hand box, "initialization or perhaps initializing fingerprinting".

Shutdown, closed up, could not take any more of this.

It is obvious from this that none of my external devices, software or auto guiding is causing these problems.

Does anyone know what "initialization or perhaps initializing fingerprinting" means?

Thanks,
ObservatoryCat

#12 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:43 PM

Good Evening Everyone,

Accomplished last nights test again today with a 12 volt and a 6 volt automotive battery wired in series (18.7 volts) with a 3 amp fuse. Basically all of the same craziness that occurred last night happened again but it took less than 3 minutes to start during each of the three attemps this time. Had PEC one time, Motor Stalled another, no fingerprinting message. Not the power supply.

Did notice one more thing that I had not noticed before. When the dec full speed slew stopped I could hear the dec motor still turning at a very slow speed for a few seconds before it completely stopped.

Decided to call Meade today and see what I could buy from then in the way of parts. They said I could get a new hand box and cable. I said here is my credit card number. He thought a minute and said - Well, since your scope is under warranty we will send it to you at no charge. The first thing I suggested to this guy in my email to him, over a week ago, explaining my problems, was to try these first. Have talked to him several times since, but was never informed they were available. The only other thing I can get is a new power supply, but customer support doesn't have them, have to buy them off the web site.

ObservatoryCat

#13 deepwaterescue4u

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:24 AM

Cat have you tryed updateing the firmware on your handbox yet..
Terry

Meade LX200 10" ACF GPS
Meade 4 speed microfocuser
Vixen flip mirror
Milburn Wedge
Panama City Florida

Live long and prosper

#14 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:58 PM

Good Evening deepwaterescue4u,

See #12 above, it has not gotten here yet.


To see my observatory, telescope and images please look at www.flickr.com/photos/myobservatory 

To watch a video, part of which includes me operating the telescope, please look at  password "cosmos".  This was a class project of students in the M.F.A. program at Stanford University.

ObservatoryCat

#15 deepwaterescue4u

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:32 AM

Can't see it cat it says " This is a private video. Do you have permission to watch it? If so please provide the correct password."
Terry

Meade LX200 10" ACF GPS
Meade 4 speed microfocuser
Vixen flip mirror
Milburn Wedge
Panama City Florida

Live long and prosper

#16 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 06:51 PM

Reference password.

See # 14 above. It says there after the link "password "cosmos"". Therefore, the password is "cosmos". Do not enter the quotation marks. Just cosmos all small letters, no capitals. Feel free to pass it on to anyone.

#17 d33d0gg

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:50 AM

worked for me!

Daniel
--------
LX200GPS 12"

LX80
ETX90


#18 MistrBadgr

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:28 PM

Interesting video!

Looking at the picture of whom I am guessing is you, using the LX200-16, I can see why you are reluctant to take it down and ship it back to Meade. Man!!! That is a big scope! Hope the handset works out.

The scope is a robot. A relatively big robot, with a lot of strength. Even though it is relatively contained, I would be very concerned with something like that making unexpected movements.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen


#19 ObservatoryCat

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 12:57 AM

Good Day MistrBadgr,

That was me, I had the easy part! All I had to do was make suggestions, do what they wanted and ignore the camera. Those graduate students really worked hard. The original plan was to have two other people playing different parts but they both backed out at the last minute so they had to do something to fill the time. The whole game plan had to change. They made eight videos, each person in the class had to do one and everybody helped with all of them. Did not have a lot of time to do them.

Reference #7. It has been a week since you sent a message to someone you know and I have heard nothing. No handbox yet.

I believe the clutches are designed to slip if it runs away and hits something. I really have to torque down on the declination clutch to prevent it from slipping during a normal slew. The motor and worm shaft gears are plastic, don't think they would last to long or perhaps the motors would stall of it hit anything, which of course I do not want it to do.

ObservatoryCat

#20 MistrBadgr

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 09:31 AM

Hi ObservatoryCat,

The thing I was thinking about with unexpected movements was somebody having a finger in the wrong place and getting it pinched badly, or some other such calamity.

I am not sure what kinds of plastic they might use in a scope like yours, but I do have experience in the little DS mounts. I am a mechanical engineer by training. Even though I do water chemistry things now, at one time I worked with coal pulverizers and other such equipment that had gears. I applied that experience to my little DS mounts to help them perform better. I actually got into trying to sand down plastic gears in the gear train. Had to us a magnifying glass to see them. The earliest DS mounts had metal gears and would wear out quickly. The plastic ones simply will not. It would take hours and hours of work to get any results that were detectable in the plastic gears. I believe I will wear out before those little gears will. I developed a hearty respect for them.

I expect that the gears you have that are plastic will last a very long time, as long as they are not pushed passed the deformation point of the base plastic. Having a gear fail under the kind of situations we have been talking about is probably a good thing in that major portions of the scope would not be damaged. I do not know if a finger would be stronger than the gears though.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen




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