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iOptron Mini-Tower vibration problem - Help?!

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#1 Cotts

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 10:09 AM

Ioptron mini-tower: Set-up, go-to and low-power tracking are all just great! However: When using powers above about 120x all the stars are elongated about 3-5 arcsec by the vibration of the motors. I have telephoned ioptron and they tried to be helpful. They have suggested that a firmware upgrade will solve the problem. I am skeptical of this claim. The motors vibrate at a certain frequency and this, apparently, resonates in the mount (which is quite flimsy). How can changing the firmware change the vibration rate of the motors? I have already carefully balanced everything in both Alt. and Az. The telescope is a William Optics 80mm FD, by the way, so optical problems are not the cause of the elongation.
Has anyone else had a similar problem and, if so, what solution presented itself? i.e. will the firmware upgrade work or do I need to get a beefier tripod? The unique way that the mini-tower attaches to its tripod will make changing to a better tripod a very difficult operation which I would rather not have to do.
Note: I purchased it from consignment stock, not new, so returning the unit may pose problems.
Did I buy a lemon?
Thanks, Dave

#2 deepskytraveler

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 10:42 AM

David,

Believe it or not firmware version 090701 should rectify the problem.

Mark

#3 Telescopeman54

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 11:27 AM

Dave:

I agree that the firmware will probably resolve the issue. If, however, you still have problems contact me and I will see what we can do to help. The equipment that you are using is not even a load for the Mini Tower so rest assured that once it is working properly you will enjoy it as much as everyone else does

Steve

#4 jim_m

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 05:33 PM

Dave,
Not "Piling-On", But the new firmware does wonders.
I mow swear by my Mini-Tower rather than at it.

Jim

#5 StargazerBill

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 07:25 PM

I had a problem with jerking motors when trying to slew manually and firmware update completely cured it. Try it.

#6 Cotts

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 11:19 PM

Well, I am impressed with the replies. Thanks, all. I will send my hand controller in for the firmware upgrade* as soon as I get home from the Okie-Tex CLOUD Party!
*Apparently downloading the upgrade is impossible with Mac computers.....
Dave

#7 Falcon-

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 11:43 PM

Dave - what type of mac do you have? I bet I can help you get that firmware flashed from your system....

#8 Cotts

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:03 AM

It's a MacBook laptop....... Thanks for the offer...
Dave

#9 Falcon-

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 06:58 PM

That is good news, I was hoping you had a modern mac. :)

So I looked into it and the tools for the firmware update are indeed Windows only - often companies say that when in fact there are ways to do it on other systems... not the case here that I could see alas.

But all is not lost! Your mac *IS* capable of running windows as well as Mac OS X! There are a couple of ways of doing this and if you are comfortable enough using your computer I can help you do so... All you will need is access to a legit copy of windows - an older copy of Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Windows 98 would even work for this use, though if you want to keep the windows install around afterwards for any other non-mac apps you may run across you would probably be better served by XP or Vista.

If the prospect of installing windows is a bit too much for you then sending away (or borrowing a PC) would be your only other option. Do you know if ioptron will charge for the upgrade service?

Let me know if you want to try the Windows on your Mac method.

#10 macular hole

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:07 AM

The unique way that the mini-tower attaches to its tripod will make changing to a better tripod a very difficult operation which I would rather not have to do.

Thanks, Dave [/quote

Can this mount or the new pro version be used with another tripod like the Berlebach Planet for example? It does look to have a rather unique method of attachment.

#11 GaryML

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:53 AM

That is good news, I was hoping you had a modern mac. :)

...

Let me know if you want to try the Windows on your Mac method.


For Windows firmware updates on peripherals, there is only one way to go: Bootcamp. My experience with trying updates using Windows on a VM like Parallels was unsuccessful. YMMV, but I had no luck with Parallels trying to update things like my SkyScout or BlackBerry. Real Windows running directly on the hardware give the best chance of success. The iOptron has a USB interface which makes things easier. But the iOptron drivers made Windows XP system unstable, so it's best to remove them after doing the update (at least that was my experience in March--more recent versions may be better behaved).

BTW, the Snow Leopard Bootcamp Windows drivers are a big improvement: you can now access the HFS+ Mac partitions from within Windows. Very handy, and this alone makes Snow Leopard worth $29.

#12 Telescopeman54

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:54 PM

I run XP-Pro on my machine and have had no issues at all with upgrading the firmware. Vista on the other hand was totally FUBAR so I dumped it and went back to XP-Pro.

Making the Mini Tower work on other tripods is easy. I use mine on an Atlas and CG5 tripod very often.


Steve

#13 Falcon-

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 04:58 PM

GaryML

I have found that USB-to-serial adaptors that can be handed over to the VM fully work very well in VMWare Fusion, but yes, BootCamp is even a more sure-fire method. From what I read the ioptron controller has a usb-to-serial adaptor internally so I suspect it would work fine in vmware. I do not use parallels so I have no way to say for that one.

Did not know about the HFS+ mounting abilities of the new bootcamp drivers... yet another reason I need to get myself back over to the mainland and pick up a copy of 10.6!

Steve: Thanks for that bit of info, I will keep vista issues that in mind when it comes time to upgrade the firmware of my now-in-the-mail cg-5!

#14 JimmyK

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:39 PM

Hi Steve,

The MT's you deliver I take it already have the latest firmware. Can you confirm that? I am ready to order one as soon as I get the shipping $$ together. (I know how lame that sounds but when factoring present Doctor bills it actually is an issue LOL)

Thanks!

#15 Telescopeman54

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 03:49 PM

Yes, we update all of the controllers befor they leave here.

Trust me, I know exactly what you mean about the bills to the doctor!

Steve

#16 GaryML

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 07:52 PM

GaryML

I have found that USB-to-serial adaptors that can be handed over to the VM fully work very well in VMWare Fusion, but yes, BootCamp is even a more sure-fire method. From what I read the ioptron controller has a usb-to-serial adaptor internally so I suspect it would work fine in vmware. I do not use parallels so I have no way to say for that one.

Did not know about the HFS+ mounting abilities of the new bootcamp drivers... yet another reason I need to get myself back over to the mainland and pick up a copy of 10.6!


The MT Mini-tower has a USB connection so no serial-to-USB adapter required. I've tried firmware updates from Windows running Parallels ver. 3 & 4 without any luck. Windows sees the USB device (it is visible in Device Manager) but the updater software simply doesn't work. I had this problem with a BlackBerry and with the Celestron SkyScout. I now have Windows in a Bootpart partition for this sort of thing and it works fine -- just updated the firmware in my BlackBerry yesterday.

Snow Leopard is working good for me, and updated drivers and software are appearing every day. I now have my Canon inkjet printer working properly with 64 bit apps with the new CUPS drivers released a few days ago. :woohoo: Still a few issues with few apps but nothing I can't work around. For $25 including shipping from Amazon it is an irresistible upgrade. Check this wiki list for an idea of what will work and won't work (but it is not definitive: I've gotten a few things to work that are shown as incompatible):

Snow Leopard Compatibility

#17 Falcon-

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:06 PM

The MT Mini-tower has a USB connection so no serial-to-USB adapter required


That is what I meant by "Internally". If you look at ioptron's firmware download page you will see that one of the required items is a "USB to COM port driver". This tells me that the ioptron controller is in fact a serial device, but to be more modern-friendly it integrates a usb-to-serial adaptor directly into the device. So even though it physically has a USB port it looks/acts to the PC as a serial device. The firmware upgrade drivers even step you though finding out what COM port number has been assigned to the controller.

"Serial", "COM Port" and "UART" are in this case the same thing. Confusing to have the terms mixed, but as windows refers to serial ports as COM Ports it does make sense that ioptron would use the same language.

#18 GaryML

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 04:39 PM

That is what I meant by "Internally". If you look at ioptron's firmware download page you will see that one of the required items is a "USB to COM port driver". This tells me that the ioptron controller is in fact a serial device, but to be more modern-friendly it integrates a usb-to-serial adaptor directly into the device. So even though it physically has a USB port it looks/acts to the PC as a serial device. The firmware upgrade drivers even step you though finding out what COM port number has been assigned to the controller.

"Serial", "COM Port" and "UART" are in this case the same thing. Confusing to have the terms mixed, but as windows refers to serial ports as COM Ports it does make sense that ioptron would use the same language.


Thanks for the information. The presence of the USB to RS-232 serial driver may explain the instability of the iOptron drivers. And now that you mention it, I do recall the rather poorly written update program for the mount that had you looking for a virtual Com port. (I don't have the mount anymore as I ended up returning it after using it for a week. I also had vibration problems as well as some assembly quality issues.)

Having a USB to RS-232 adapter in the device itself that requires an external driver is a nasty kludge. The real advantage of USB is the standardized interface so no custom drivers are required. Requiring proprietary drivers to access a USB device is not a good way to do things. Why is it that these telescope mount manufacturers are stuck in the stone age of peripheral communications? I have three Windows machines here with conventional RS-232 ports using DB25 connectors, so if that is the interface then I'd rather just use one of those rather than some cheesy adapter with buggy and unstable drivers.






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