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Reconditioning The Meade  497 Handset
Hello, has your Meade Autostar 497 handset keypad become difficult to use?  Do you have to put excessive pressure on the touchpad buttons and wiggle them around to get them to respond?  Possibly some have even become so bad they respond intermittently or not at all at times.  What to do?  Buy another new Autostar 497 handset, or take a chance on a used one in "Good condition, responds well!!"?  These do not seem like very affordable or desirable options, but fear not there is another much better way to fix this situation without dropping the price of a new Autostar 497 handset or taking a chance on a used one.  In this article we will show you one way to fix or recondition your Meade Autostar 497 handset to reliable and easy one touch operations again.

To recondition the touch pad contacts of your Meade Autostar 497 handset you will need a few things on hand.  First you will need to get a Rubber Keypad Repair Kit of some kind, likely you will have to order this or look to a dedicated electronics repair store.  I chose the Chemtronics CW2605 CircuitWorks Rubber Keypad Repair Kit to use for my Autostar 497 reconditioning.

Next you will need to get a small bottle of at least 91% isopropyl alcohol for cleaning the rubber keypad contacts and the circuit board contacts.  I was able to find this at either the local CVS or Walgreens stores.  You will need a number one Philips head screw driver; a small jewelers' type slotted screw driver; some cotton swabs like the Q-Tip brand or similar; and a good clean work area where you can leave everything disassembled for a 24 hr period.

OK, once you have acquired all of the necessary tools and supplies you're ready to go to work, lets start by taking the Meade Autostar 497 Handset apart.  Take the Philips head screw driver and remove the 4 small Philips head screws from the back cover of the Handset.  Carefully separate the back cover from the Autostar 497 handset from the circuit board and front cover.  Next step is to separate the circuit board from the front cover.  You could remove the rubber keypad at this point and just clean and recondition the rubber touchpad contact points only, let it cure for the 24 hours and reassemble the handset.  I however, wanted to be sure to clean the contact points on the circuit board to be certain all aspects of reconditioning the Autostar 497 handset were covered.  There is a ribbon cable that attaches to the display window in the front cover of the Autostar 497 handset, it is secured into the circuit board by a plastic receiver and plastic snap in anchor piece.  To separate the front cover from the circuit board you will need to release the snap in anchor bar and remove the ribbon cable from the plastic receiver on the circuit board.  Once this is done you can gently pop the circuit board off of the front cover to be able to access the front of the circuit board to clean the contact points on it.

OK, now that you have the Autostar 497 handset completely disassembled it is time to go to work on the reconditioning procedure.  Take a cotton swab, wet it in the 90(+)% Isopropyl Alcohol and lightly scrub each of the rubber touchpad's small black contact points.  Do this until a clean alcohol soaked cotton swab comes back clean with no black residue left on it.  Now take the circuit board and clean the touchpad contact points on it using a cotton swab just dampened with the Isopropyl alcohol, again until a clean swab remains clean after scrubbing the circuit board contact points.  Once you have finished cleaning all of the contact points on both the rubber touchpad/keypad and the circuit board it is time to mix the two components of the Chemtronics CW2605 CircuitWorks Rubber Keypad Repair Kit while the alcohol is drying off of the contact points.  You will notice the Chemtronics CW2605 CircuitWorks Rubber Keypad Repair Kit comes with a small 'paint brush', a cotton swab and a mixing stick for mixing and applying the mixed reconditioning solution.  The small brush worked great for me for applying the compound to the rubber touchpad contact points.

Once you have mixed the compound and the alcohol has dried on the rubber touchpad/keypad contact points use the small paint brush or application device of your choosing to apply a light coat of the mixed Chemtronics CW2605 CircuitWorks® Rubber Keypad Repair Kit compound to each of the small black contact points in the rubber touchpad/keypad only.  Try to keep it neat without slopping the compound all over the pad, once all of the contact points on the rubber touchpad/keypad have been coated set the rubber touchpad/keypad aside in a place where it can dry and cure for at least 24hrs undisturbed.  That's it you are done with the reconditioning portion of this operation - you DO NOT do anything other than clean the contacts on the circuit board.  DO NOT use the Chemtronics CW2605 CircuitWorks® Rubber Keypad Repair Kit compound on the contact points on the circuit board!!!

OK, it's at least 24hrs later and you're ready to re-assemble the Meade Autostar 497 handset.   Properly and carefully snap the circuit board back in place into the front cover, keeping the ribbon cable pulled up for reconnection into the circuit board.  Once you have the circuit board properly replaced into the front cover take the ribbon cable end and replace it in the plastic receiver on the circuit board and snap the plastic retainer lock bar back into the receiver to secure the ribbon cable.  I used a small tweezers to handle the small snap bar when resecuring the ribbon cable in place.  Once you have re-secured the ribbon cable and have the rubber touchpad/keypad in place complete the Autostar 497 reassembly being sure to watch not to forget the small red LED light cover is on place.

Well that's it, you are done with the reconditioning of your Meade Autostar 497 handset, and if you have done everything correctly it should now respond quickly, with even a light pressure on the touchpad!!  Have Fun!

Clear Skies!
The Mad One
Mark Jordan
39.79020 N - 85.81410 W

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