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Cheap Windows machine for updating firmware?

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#1 dvb

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:41 PM

I have an iOptron iEQ45 and and Skywatcher NEQ 6 mounts, but my computers are Apple products.

Seems that, to update the firmware on these mounts, I need a Windows computer.

1) Is there a cheap Windows computer I can get just for this updating task (i.e., connect to internet, download firmware, load onto handset)?

Any chance of one with a 9-pin output plug?

2) Should I just be buying a Windows OS to play on my iMac through the Bootcamp program?

Thanks,

#2 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:50 PM

I have an iOptron iEQ45 and and Skywatcher NEQ 6 mounts, but my computers are Apple products.

Seems that, to update the firmware on these mounts, I need a Windows computer.

1) Is there a cheap Windows computer I can get just for this updating task (i.e., connect to internet, download firmware, load onto handset)?

Any chance of one with a 9-pin output plug?

2) Should I just be buying a Windows OS to play on my iMac through the Bootcamp program?

Thanks,



dvb,

I am all Mac based too.

I use VMWare fusion for the "windows" only firmware updates. To connect I use a keyspan connector. Everything works great!

#3 Mkofski

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:35 AM

I'm a Mac user also and have a Windows machine for things I just can't do on my Mac. You can get a laptop for less than $300 at walmart or on line. Using Boot Camp would be a reasonable solution,if you have enough hard disk space on your Mac but I'd go for a cheep Windows laptop. At buy.com or rakuten.com you can get refurbished laptops for under $200.

Mike

#4 Falcon-

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:47 AM

Nothing in the last couple years will have a serial port (the 9pin port) but there are good usb to serial adaptors that work in both OS X and Windows.

As others have said VMWare or Parallels work well for running windows on the mac. I have VMWare on my Macbook Pro. Since my MBP is my main workstation I also though have a cheap windows netbook that I use for camera control and auto-guide - you do not need much power for things like camera/mount/guide/firmware-updates. :)

#5 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 01:19 AM

Gday Falcon

Nothing in the last couple years will have a serial port (the 9pin port)



Just for info, if you are happy to use a cheap desktop instead of a laptop,
you can still get brand new motherboards with BOTH true LPT and COM ports
( ie parallel and serial ) integrated into the board.
If you get an Intel board with B75 or B85 type chipsets on them,
they will run the latest OS and chips,
and most have headers on the board.
Just look at the specs for the board in the "internal headers" sections.

You need to make/buy a jumper cable to fit on the headers,
but they are there, and are less hassle than USB2ser for some things.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

#6 Falcon-

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:01 AM

Ok true, I was thinking laptops only (move the computer to the mount, not the mount to the computer ;))

#7 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:02 AM

I'm a Mac user also and have a Windows machine for things I just can't do on my Mac. You can get a laptop for less than $300 at walmart or on line. Using Boot Camp would be a reasonable solution,if you have enough hard disk space on your Mac but I'd go for a cheep Windows laptop. At buy.com or rakuten.com you can get refurbished laptops for under $200.

Mike



Yes this is an option, but my main complaint is that one would be dragging around another laptop. Most Mac's have sufficient disk space to work with EXCEPT for the mass quantities of photos and videos folks can take (family, astro stuff, etc.). Though large capacity hard drives are quite cheap now a days for back up and extra storage (I have over 5 TB at home now).

For me, both for work and pleasure, it is vastly easy to work with just one laptop.

From my Mac, astronomy wise, I can control all my needs - video astronomy, astrophotography, firmware updates, telescope control and networking the results. Certainly the performance of a Mac is more than sufficient to handle windows under VMWare Fusion. And yes, I do use the iPad and iPhone for SkySafari Pro.

Note - If you do work off one machine you should have at least 256GB of storage and 8GB RAM, though I run a minimum of 16GB of RAM. The extra RAM will help with performance and the demands of applications like Photoshop, Matlab, Mathematica, etc, however even a simple MacBook Air can handle all except the most taxing applications on a 12 hour battery life (this might drop to 5 hours with all the video and such, but I have not tested this out yet).

#8 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:19 AM

Gday Falcon

Ok true, I was thinking laptops only (move the computer to the mount,



If its fixed in an Observatory, then its moot,
as you can always leave a cheap PC there.
If its indoors, i have a 100foot rs232 cable that i use
quite happily off a real COM port. No moving of PC or mount.

That said, a lappie is certainly much more portable,
but i needed real LPT and COM ports. ( esp LPT )
Most people said the same as you, ie they are no longer available,
but just in case people really do need them,
i wanted to put it out there that they do exist :jump:

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

#9 Mkofski

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 03:24 AM

I'm a Mac user also and have a Windows machine for things I just can't do on my Mac. You can get a laptop for less than $300 at walmart or on line. Using Boot Camp would be a reasonable solution,if you have enough hard disk space on your Mac but I'd go for a cheep Windows laptop. At buy.com or rakuten.com you can get refurbished laptops for under $200.

Mike



Yes this is an option, but my main complaint is that one would be dragging around another laptop. Most Mac's have sufficient disk space to work with EXCEPT for the mass quantities of photos and videos folks can take (family, astro stuff, etc.). Though large capacity hard drives are quite cheap now a days for back up and extra storage (I have over 5 TB at home now).

For me, both for work and pleasure, it is vastly easy to work with just one laptop.

From my Mac, astronomy wise, I can control all my needs - video astronomy, astrophotography, firmware updates, telescope control and networking the results. Certainly the performance of a Mac is more than sufficient to handle windows under VMWare Fusion. And yes, I do use the iPad and iPhone for SkySafari Pro.

Note - If you do work off one machine you should have at least 256GB of storage and 8GB RAM, though I run a minimum of 16GB of RAM. The extra RAM will help with performance and the demands of applications like Photoshop, Matlab, Mathematica, etc, however even a simple MacBook Air can handle all except the most taxing applications on a 12 hour battery life (this might drop to 5 hours with all the video and such, but I have not tested this out yet).


I'd only use a dedicated Windows machine because it would be less expensive than adding a copy of Windows and a Windows emulator to a Mac. Like Andrew said, a desktop could be even less expensive and have a true serial port.

Any way you go will get the job done.

#10 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 11:18 AM

I was able to use Parallels on my MacBook Air to update ServoCAT and SkyFi. Worked fine, and was much easier than dragging out the old Dell desktop from the crawlspace storage area. (Not to mention that my Mac runs Windows XP faster than the Dell ...)

Hint - if you plug in the USB cable after launching Windows you'll get a dialog asking to use the device under Windows or Mac OS. Much easier to do it as a Mac device! (Or better yet, have everything connected before launching Windows on your Mac.)

IIRC I had to buy a USB-232 adapter from Best Buy. The price of progress.

#11 MRNUTTY

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:30 PM

For little things, like configuring switchs and routers, I use a windows XP netbook like a dell9. No virtual machine side effects. Otherwise, I use Parallels, VirtualBox, and Fusion depending on the use case.

For a serial port a vanilla USB -> Serial port adapter works fine.

#12 dvb

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 01:22 AM

Many thanks, all, for the excellent suggestions!

#13 CharlesW

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 09:42 AM

If you are on friendly terms with a neighbor, invite them over for a beer/steak and rent some time on their laptop. Then all you have to buy is the USB/serial adapter and cable. It isn't like Celestron is kicking out these firmware updates on a monthly basis.

#14 dvb

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 07:59 PM

Beer sounds good!

I have, so far, installed Windows 8 Pro using BootCamp 5 on my MacBook (which is running Lion, not Mountain Lion).

But, now I need the beer!






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