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This Miserable Mess with DB9 Serial and Computers?

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#1 highertheflyer

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 01:49 PM

Why oh why are the telescope companies so enamored with serial controllers?
I have been plagued with their glitches and crashes for years as I try to connect.
To load a Serial to USB controlling a telescope mount can easily become a nightmare, so come on mount manufactures...!!!!!.
Please, please come up with updates that will allow us to work with newer computers and not get entangled with com port troubles and the errors that follow.
Thank you so much for your understanding.
Jim

#2 StarmanDan

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:42 PM

IMO, I think most manufacturers are staying with RS-232 as it is (at least for me) more reliable and you can use it over longer distances than USB without needing any fancy adapters or converters. It would be nice though to see USB supported with maybe a built in USB hub in the mount to reduce cable clutter.

#3 highertheflyer

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:19 PM

The troubles I run into are that every modern computer comes with just USB ports.
Those USB to Serial connections are difficult to control as they are always assigned new com ports and constantly requiring one to go into the hidden files and remove the unused ones.
There's very little automatic about operations and requires a moderate knowledge of manipulation in order to keep the system assigned.
Jim

#4 korborh

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

I have no issues whatsoever with my serial and serial-usb links. Serial is more robust (environment/distance) and still in existence where high data rate is not needed. And mount control does not need very high data rate. Its a slow com link so robustness is more important. Besides, USB connectors also hart short lives and wear out easily.

#5 highertheflyer

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:09 PM

USB connectors also hart short lives and wear out easily.

Well, that usb side of the laptop could very well be worn out.
Sure wish newer laptops had a serial port connection with which eliminates the troubles...

#6 frolinmod

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:26 PM

I paid a little more for a Dell Latitude specifically because it has both an ExpressCard 34 slot and a PC CARD slot as well as an available slim docking port with a real serial port on it. Talk about flexibility. I use the serial port to interface my GPS with 1PPS for Stratum-0 level time keeping in the field and the ExpressCard slot to interface my Firewire-800 camera. I haven't found any use for the PC CARD slot yet.

#7 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:10 PM

Serial will be around for a long time as long as there is high voltage machines requiring data communication.. Serial is much easier at controlling isolation between the devices.. Serial is also the preferred form of communications when motors are present. Serial is also much easier with OOB (out of band) communications are needed.. You could use a modem and phone line to control your mount with a pc..

It's cheap too..

#8 highertheflyer

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:13 PM

Thanks frolinmod.
I will remember you purchase with the next laptop I get and thanks...
I have actually found now a broken wire in the cable from the Audiostar HBX and the Serial connector !!
Darn if I did'nt overlook the mechanical parts of the troubles and immediately jumped to the software.
Things are back to normal again tho.
Thanks for all your inputs,
Jim

#9 orlyandico

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

also if you buy USB to serial, make sure to get FTDI ones.

i have been using a Targus unit for a long time and have been plagued by slow serial communications (almost to the point of locking up the ASCOM driver while USB-to-serial retries). this wasn't a cheap unit either.

i got a couple of FTDI USB-to-serial on ebay and things are much faster now... cheap too.

#10 Phillip Easton

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:52 PM

I second the FTDI. When I was using a netbook I got a FTDI USB to serial adapter from usbgear.com (model USBG-10ft232-STF). Worked fine without any problems. Since then I have started using an old Dell Latitude D620 which has a serial port on it. But I keep the netbook and serial adapter for backup ;)

Cheers!

#11 orlyandico

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:06 PM

Phillip, OT. But I would love to get my hands on a Dell Dxxx (D4xx, 5xx or 6xx).

The cool thing about that one is that it has a huge dock (the PD-01X) which you can buy used fairly cheaply these days.

The dock has serial, parallel, and it can hold a full-height PCI card. So if you want to futz around with those Roper Scientific KAF6303 cameras on ebay which have a PCI interface...

#12 n1wvet

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:21 AM

As long as we complainin' - I can't believe manufacturers used RJ45, RJ11 and RJ9/10/22 jacks and cables. These phone comm connectors were never meant for this type of application. They are even more obsolete than D-sub connectors. Although I would take a d-sub over an RJ anyday. How many pennies did we really save here? Really?

#13 CounterWeight

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:52 AM

It would be nice though to see USB supported with maybe a built in USB hub in the mount to reduce cable clutter.


This is something I really like about the design of the SB Paramount MX!

#14 frolinmod

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 03:50 AM

This is something I really like about the design of the SB Paramount MX!

Not just the MX, but also any mount that uses the MKS-5000 control system. That's currently the MX and ME II. Soon it may also be any ME that has been upgraded to MKS-5000 with an upgrade kit.

#15 BlueGrass

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:45 PM

I use a StarTech 2 port USB to Rs232 with 2 port USB hub to control my mount, guider and camera. It has two serial ports and two USB 2.0 ports. I run a single USB cable from the laptop to the hub on the mount and everything connects from there, letting me use shorter serial and USB cables. So far it's worked very well. Sadly, a search for a source to post here, shows that it's a discontinued item... If you can find one, it's model number is ICUSB232HUB2.

#16 ourobouros2k2

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:51 PM

Yes, be very wary of any serial to usb adapters using the prolific chipset. A lot of cheap adapters on ebay claiming to have genuine prolific chipsets are actually cheap chinese bootlegs and will give you nothing but nightmares. I like cheap stuff too sometimes, but this is a case where you get what you pay for and it is better to pay a little more for a genuine device.

#17 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:07 PM

A lot of cheap adapters on ebay claiming to have genuine prolific chipsets are actually cheap chinese bootlegs



The latest Prolific driver download i got ( 1.7.0 ) actually includes a utility to validate the chipset in the lumps, due to so many counterfeit units being out there.
The genuine prolifics i have work well on all my scopes in all modes.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

#18 orlyandico

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:14 AM

guess i got lucky with my $20 FTDI ebay specials :)

i'm gonna check if they work with the CGEM (if you recall my "PEMPro lockup problems"). Because even though my old Targus worked on the AP, it took forever to upload the PEM curve, the new ebay specials do it much faster.

methinks some retries were going on in the background, so no errors but glacial performance.

#19 Raginar

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:26 AM

I have a prolific that works just fine. You know what I really like? My ethernet controller on the Gemini-2 works awesome btw.

#20 ourobouros2k2

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:41 PM

didn't mean to imply the Prolific chipset is bad, just that there are a lot of malfunctioning copies out there labeled as prolific. Guess it's evident that if it is a 5 dollar "prolific" adapter, it is a good chance that it is counterfeit.

#21 cn register 5

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:44 PM

I'd go for an FTDI or Edgeport adaptor.
I have a Prolific adapto and it's got some strange foibles, while it's fine with a short RS232 cable with a longer RS232 cable it's very unreliable. Also it's OK connected directly to my laptop but if I go through an active extension and a hub it's OK with the ASCOM driver but PECTool doesn't work.

In all cases the FTDI and Edgeport adaptors just work.

Chris

#22 jrbarnett

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:54 PM

I basically agree, but it is what it is.

Do yourself a favor and get a Keyspan USB-serial adapter.

http://www.tripplite...9&txtModelID...

Regards,

Jim

#23 zerro1

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 09:14 PM

Why oh why are the telescope companies so enamored with serial controllers?
I have been plagued with their glitches and crashes for years as I try to connect.
To load a Serial to USB controlling a telescope mount can easily become a nightmare, so come on mount manufactures...!!!!!.
Please, please come up with updates that will allow us to work with newer computers and not get entangled with com port troubles and the errors that follow.
Thank you so much for your understanding.
Jim

Wich is why I keep using my Panasonic Toughbooks CF-74 and CF-52 have native DB9/RS232 ports. I think the latest CF-52's are running the i5 cpu. They cost but I don't have adapter failures. They can be picked up on the used market for pretty cheap. They are fairly rugged so outdoor work is not an issue. The CF-52 has 4 X USB and the COM port. the CF-74 has 2 X USB and the COM port..

CF-52

#24 orlyandico

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 09:35 PM

Robert, what laptop are you using to drive your Quantix? there aren't many laptops with docks big enough to hold a PCI card... the Quantix card is full-height right?

#25 zerro1

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:11 AM

I have a Dell D630 C2D with the PCI expansion dock for that camera, but I only use the Dell and the Quantix at home or my friends place in Winthrop. When I head out to "really dark" sky's I take the toughbooks and my QHY's.

The D630 has the serial port as well. I think I paid $150 for the Dell and $20 for the dock. Using the Serial Port free's up the USB port and I never have a connectivity problem with either with EQMOD on my Atlas or my LXD75's.

The toughbooks have better battery life though, so I can refrain from powering the laptop most of the time. :)






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