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NexStar vs NexStar+ Hand Controller

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#1 HeyJP

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 09:38 PM

Anyone that has used the old NexStar Hand Controller bought a new NexStar+ HC? Which do you like better?

Looks like the features et is currently the same, however the + has a faster processor, more cold-resilient display, and buried the DSO object direct entries under a layer of menus. The latter sounds like an inconvenience. But, new updates will be for the + controller, maybe ni more for older one, it appears.

Thoughts?

Jim

#2 katie

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:31 AM

Ah...It's Jim with the buy of the century CPC1100 :grin:

Jim, here are my HCs side by side. On the left is the new version from my 6SE, on the right is the old version from my CPC1100.

I put the same info in both for easier comparison of text/LCD display.

The new one has smaller text and a brighter display, the scroll up/down buttons are slanted to facilitate finding/using them in the dark and the buttons are arranged/labeled a bit different. Other than that, they both do the job. If the new one is faster or more cold resistant, I have not noticed the variance with use. The only thing I do note is that I need my reading glasses to read the new one.

From a practical standpoint, I use the hand controllers to perform the alignment. After alignment I hang them up and Scope control is performed by more powerful and user friendly interfaces - TheSky/PC for the CPC1100 and SkySafari/iPad for the 6SE.


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#3 RTLR 12

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:52 AM

You can make the text on the HC+ display bolder for easier reading.

Stan

#4 katie

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:01 AM

Stan. Right you are and thanks. I use the HC just for alignment so I missed that toggle. It does make it easier to read. Still smaller and I still need my reading glasses, but it is easier.

EDIT:

Here is a shot showing the Stan suggested bold toggle. A little glare, but you get the idea.

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#5 RTLR 12

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:15 AM

No substitute for large print and volume...at least not at my age!

Stan

#6 HeyJP

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:04 AM

Thanks Katie and Stan. I guess the other key difference is putting all the direct access DSO entries under a nested menu. Seems inconvenient, although your schema, Katie, doesn't care since you do all by remote.

Any thoughts on the DSO goto's, Stan?

Jim

#7 A. Viegas

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:13 AM

I have the newer controller for my CG5. I notice it more when I do a precise GOTO, the calculations are faster, maybe 2 seconds vs. 4or 5 secs for my older controller with CPC... I have the latest firmware and motor control, so I suppose that future updates may become the distinctive factor... Until then... Not a big deal difference...

Al

#8 rmollise

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:22 AM

The downchecks for me? No "M" button, no "NGC" button. What the hell were they thinking? :scratchhead:

#9 katie

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:31 PM

The downchecks for me? No "M" button, no "NGC" button. What the hell were they thinking? :scratchhead:


Just an assumption, but I think I know what they were thinking.

I gave a Nextar 80LCM (same new controller) as a present - to a child of 12 years. A good age to get them interested in astronomy. So, I explained the scope and the alignment and the hand controller. When you look at the hand controller through the eyes of a 12 year old new to astronomy it makes sense. They know about the solar system, stars, etc. And if they point the scope to something all they have to do is press identify. They know not of NGC, Messier, or Cadwell objects. They are also used to a 'help' button.

For a budding astronomer the button labels are more descriptive and user friendly than the old version.

So, based on what I have witnessed....it makes sense.

It is also why, for those of us that have years of astro under our belt, it makes no sense.

Bottom line....it is the bottom-line...better known as marketing.

A philosophic thought:
Personally, I hope the marketing lures work and backyard telescopes become ubiquitous as the cell phone. Then, light polution would go down because it would bother the masses, scope and accessories cost would go down, it would be a nice thing.

Note: My right-brain wrote the philosophic thought above, my left-brain, now writing this, thinks I am out of my mind and to 'get real'.

#10 mclewis1

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:59 PM

:roflmao: :waytogo:

Thanks Katie, great post ... from both a left and right brained point of view.

#11 rmollise

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 06:25 PM

Well, maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure why negotiationg nested menus is more user friendly than a dedicated button. :shrug:

#12 HeyJP

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:15 PM

I think Katie's theory is that having M, Caldwell, and NGC monikers staring at you from day one is intimidating to the neophyte, which might appear true. However, for anyone that uses their scope slightly often, flattening the nest is quite desirable. I'm with you, Ron, while the raised edge buttons seem ergonomicaaly clever, a deep menu nest for what I would use most is frustrating.

Jim

#13 MikeBOKC

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:23 PM

I would bet that if we were privy to Celestron's sales totals we would find that they sell 20 or more lower-end entry level scopes to every one CPC or GEM-mounted SCT. It makes sense for them to have a universal hand controller design for the entire line. Hence, Katie is likely correct . . . they have redesigned the HC to suit the vast majority of their customers. Having just recnetly acquired an iOptron mount, which has more nested menu items than those Russian nested dolls, I appreciate my old-style CPC controller even more.

#14 JoeR

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 10:00 PM

The downchecks for me? No "M" button, no "NGC" button. What the hell were they thinking? :scratchhead:


I also think the Star button is useless. I only use the Named Stars sub menu when I want to slew to a star. It would be better IMO to have a constellation button.

#15 HeyJP

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 10:21 PM

I'm really liking Katie's thinking. Use the HC to get aligned, then blow the smoke off and tuck it in it's holster... Then go with the totally visual interface of Sky Safari on iPhone or iPad.

You have a sky-centric visual interface or you clean pull up canned observation lists (M's, NGC's, Caldwell's, Herschel's, etc) or create your own seasonal favorites. Much more flexibility than you'll ever get from a 20 button HC.

It's been 30 years since I used a computer with a 2-line led display. iPhone/iPads are a natural.

Jim

#16 rmollise

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 07:08 AM

I'm really liking Katie's thinking. Use the HC to get aligned, then blow the smoke off and tuck it in it's holster... Then go with the totally visual interface of Sky Safari on iPhone or iPad.

You have a sky-centric visual interface or you clean pull up canned observation lists (M's, NGC's, Caldwell's, Herschel's, etc) or create your own seasonal favorites. Much more flexibility than you'll ever get from a 20 button HC.

It's been 30 years since I used a computer with a 2-line led display. iPhone/iPads are a natural.

Jim


Unless you don't want to lug a computer with you. Let's hope they don't change NexRemote to reflect this supposed "better." ;)

#17 HeyJP

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 03:17 PM

The point is that you don't have to lug a computer any more. Just a tablet or a smartphone will give you an elegant visual method of controlling complex devices such as a CPC. And in the case of the smartphone, it's always in my pocket anyway, so no extra schlepping.

Of course I'm not arguing for intentionally making the HC harder to work with. ;-) Just that everything has moved past a dedicated 19-button remote control. The capabilities of these scopes are very high... and access is quite limited by only 19 buttons with fixed text written on them. Fixed text that some small committee decided was the best method for all.

Onkyo, in the home stereo business, has had a well published spec with a common language for accessing and controlling all their receivers over a network for several years. Several companies have built iPhone/Android interfaces to control your home stereo. Some of them have totally configurable buttons that you can drag and arrange in any way you want.

That would make it possible for a simple interface for the beginner.. and a more advanced layout for experienced star-jockeys. Any of us so inclined could create our own custom layouts with all the M, NGC, Caldwell keys we wanted. And then some. Or fewer!

The Sky Safari gang is certainly doing nice things to make for a natural interface to the scope. It would be nice to see other "apps" appear that can control our scopes.

Best,

Jim

#18 mclewis1

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 04:56 PM

This really isn't about beginner vs. experienced, like a tablet or not, or modern vs. uh well not as modern. It's a case of a simple user interface and less complexity that's being compromised for the sake of what it looks like.

The fact is that Messier and NGC objects are the most popular DSOs (for beginners, experienced or anyone in between ... always have been and always will be) and anything that makes it easier or faster (less button pushes) to access them is a benefit and anything that adds button presses isn't. Want to nest other less popular choices in a menu system, fine - but the most popular stuff needs to be simply and easily accessed.

Adding cute button labels and a menu hierarchy that some programmer thinks is appropriate isn't always the best idea. There's a reason the Celestron hand controller and software is popular. If you've used many of the other goto systems you quickly find that your pressing a lot more buttons.

NexStar+ may be prettier and seemingly make more sense but it's a step backwards when it comes to simply using the telescope.

#19 rmollise

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 06:47 AM

The point is that you don't have to lug a computer any more. Just a tablet or a smartphone will give you an elegant visual method of controlling complex devices such as a CPC. And in the case of the smartphone, it's always in my pocket anyway, so no extra schlepping.


Bottom line? I prefer the older HC and there are some tangible reasons why I do. If you like the new one, that is fine. ;)

#20 A. Viegas

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 07:04 AM

Anyone have any idea what future firmware upgrades are planned for the new Nexstar+ controller? I hope C left some space for additional catalogues in the ROM, as last night I got flummoxed trying to center the Draco Dwarf Galaxy (UGC 8022) which was prominent in my SkiSafari App but unfortunately not an object in the NexStar HC database. This made it particularly difficult to confirm that I was in the region despite reading the coords from the HC... Just a recent example of how the HC software is somewhat limiting unlike more recent software like SkySafari ...

Al

#21 mclewis1

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 09:45 AM

It sure would indeed be nice to have some more catalogs, one thing I'd personally hope for is easier access to more double stars. Beyond M, NGC, Caldwell and a few objects in other catalogs you're getting into some pretty obscure and usually very difficult to view objects.

For example UGC 8022 is a huge faint object. You may be able to see some of the individual stars but there's nothing to see in terms of condensed structure like other galaxies. It likely has shown up in other apps because it's a topical object (it's been in recent news) but it's ridiculous to consider this dwarf galaxy as an observable object (but there's always someone at the fringes who will prove me wrong).

The hand controller is never going to be the equivalent of PC type devices with extensive catalogs. If someone is going after unusual, obscure, and and exceedingly faint objects they are usually not observing visually. When a camera is involved then a PC usually is too and then you have access to any number of extensive catalogs.

The HC isn't going to be all things to all people, I just hope it continues to be a simple and effective tool to give folks quick access to the majority of interesting visual objects.

#22 A. Viegas

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 11:34 AM

Mark- I agree. Until this morning I really had very little appreciation of how difficult a target UGC 8022 was. Still my point is that I trust the Precise GOTO on my trusty CG5 so much that I wanted to confirm that the starfield I was looking at (through Mallincam) was indeed the correct one. Without UGC catalogue I could not confirm that my 2 or 3 min exposure was on target. Ironically, I do not think that its that expensive anymore to have a much more comprehensive object database as part of the installed database. Heck you can buy a 64GB memory stick for under $30...

Al

#23 mclewis1

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:02 PM

Al,

That's a good point about the precise goto function (that it needs an internal database/catalog to work). I use it quite a bit too but I seemed to have forgotten that it's a very useful function for a variety of uses.

It would be interesting to hear from someone who has a NexStar+ HC and knows the memory chips well enough to comment on the storage capacity of this new HC vs. the older ones.

I do think however that the cost of the extra memory is just one small part of the total cost of expanding the capabilities of the HC (coding, testing, implementation, documentation, support training, multiple product management, etc.)

#24 katie

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:47 PM

Anyone have any idea what future firmware upgrades are planned for the new Nexstar+ controller? I hope C left some space for additional catalogues in the ROM, as last night I got flummoxed trying to center the Draco Dwarf Galaxy (UGC 8022) which was prominent in my SkiSafari App but unfortunately not an object in the NexStar HC database. This made it particularly difficult to confirm that I was in the region despite reading the coords from the HC... Just a recent example of how the HC software is somewhat limiting unlike more recent software like SkySafari ...

Al


Al, have you tried the "Align" function of SkySafari? It is perfect for the situation you described.

Slew to a known and viewable/short exp object close to your target(I use live view), center in the camera, select the same object on SkiSafari, press align. Now select your dim object and slew/center. Works great. It will work within 10 degrees of your selected align object. Basically, it is a local sync (aka precise go-to).

I use it a lot because my travel scope combined with live view of the Canon just cannot pick up DSOs. So, I go to a known near star, center, align, then back to the DSO and image. Never failed to center the DSO.

#25 HeyJP

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:51 PM

Thanks, Katie! Didn't know what that align function did nor how to use it!

Jim






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