Celestron Hand Controller Problems Fixed!

For several years, my Celestron telescope’s NexStar hand controller has been getting fussier & fussier.  On my last dark sky trip (many hours from home), the hand controller stopped responding.  I messed with it in the field for about 5 hours that night…cycling power, attempting realignments, etc.  Nothing worked.  The one time that night I got the scope’s computer to align, the hand controller stopped responding as soon as I sent it to my first target.

I spoke with Celestron about it and their best suggestion was to send back the entire mount so that they could work on it.  Their estimate to just look at it was $200.  They did tell me that the first thing they’d try was a new hand controller.  So, instead of sending in the telescope, I tried to order a new hand controller.  Except for places I didn’t want to order from, everyone was out of stock.  Months went by.  No hand controllers.

Fed up, I started digging around the internet again for a solution.  I found a post where several people had similar problems.  I tried their solution and it worked!  It looks like the LCD ribbon cable works loose in the Celestron hand controller.  I took apart the hand controller (just 6 screws), pulled back the two tiny black ribbon locks, then removed the LCD ribbon.  The contacts were dirty, so I used some non-residue electrical contact cleaner and a cotton swab to clean them up.

I put everything back together and the scope fired up and aligned without a hitch.  I’ll drag it out at night next weekend to give it a good checkout.  Hopefully, this 10 minute fix saved me $150.

You wouldn’t think that an LCD ribbon would mess up the mount’s ability to slew around & receive commands from my laptop.  Still, it looks like they might be related.

Here’s the original thread at Cloudy Nights.

4 Comments

  • The fix described also works for hand controllers that have display problems or the text is fading or non-existent. Isopropyl alcohol and a q-tip works as well. It sure beats having to replace the hand controller. Use the Cloudy Nights thread for detailed instructions.

  • I have the celestron evolution 8. I am new to astronomy and this my first scope. Currently i have been using the Nexstar+ hand controller
    The hand controller gives much better control using it’s direction keys than my smart device. I made a mistake and now I am stuck in German
    as opposed to English. Manual tells me that pressing the back key will cure any mistakes. Not true. I am stuck in German. Anyone have any
    solution?

  • I have seen this thread (and pictures) but I can not move the black tabs holding the ribbon in place. Do you need to pry up (towards you) or move out /sidesways from the ribbon ?

  • Sorry, I can’t remember exactly. I think the black tabs move sideways and then you can pull the ribbon out.

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