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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL
      #5981908 - 07/20/13 07:48 PM

Here is what I have:
ASGT with an old 6" Newt (portable)
CGEM 9.25 OTA on a pier.

Here is what I know.
1) I know the hand controller port on the CGEM is wired the same as the AUX port (basically parallel connections).
2) I also know that the hand controller talks to the mount via a standard serial signal but at TTL (+/-5V) voltage levels.
3) I also have had great success using tools like "TheSky" to drive my mount via the RS232 connection at the bottom of the hand controller.
4) I also know that people have used the aux port building their own homegrown RS232-TTL conversion tools like this one:
http://www.ea4su.org/equipo/CelestronAS_PCinterface.pdf since Celestron discoed there version of the same a few years ago.

Here is what I would like to do:
I would like to have the hand controller run free of the serial to 4 pin dongle and instead use the AUX port to drive the mount remotely with my PC and tools like TheSky6/X

My question:
RS232 Serial (+/-12v) to TTL (+/- 5v) converters are basically very common and are dime a dozen gizmos... Would any decent RS232 Serial to TTL converter work? would something like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/RS232-To-TTL-Converter-Module-COM-Serial-Board-MAX232...
do the trick?

Anyone done this?


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wolfman_4_ever
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5981932 - 07/20/13 08:11 PM

on which mount? I believe both the CGEM and ASGT/CG5 do not have a "PC port"

You can just use the PC port and the correct cable/adapter. If either mount does not have a PC port, then you can get the very hard to find Auxiliary Port Accessory Kit (part number 93965) mostly used for the CG5 mount. This takes the hand control port and makes it into 2 AUX ports and a PC port.

I am not sure if a 3rd party solution will work. Celestron, I believe. ID's each port as well as has some proprietary pinout with the wiring. You could probably trace it all.

More info here: http://www.nexstarsite.com/OddsNEnds/PortsCGEM.htm

At the bottom of the site, there is a link: Ken Hutchinson has put together a document detailing how to build an adapter that connects to the HAND CONTROL or AUX port and then provides a PC Port that works as described above.

I believe it is the same document you posted.


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5981974 - 07/20/13 08:36 PM

The Aux port is exactly the same as the HC port. Plugging a serial cable into an Aux port will damage computer or scope or both. What you are proposing will not work anyway. You have to have either the hand control, or at least its firmware running on a PC in the form of NexRemote to operate the mount, period.

You CAN operate the mount WITH NEXREMOTE without the HC by plugging the computer into a PC port. Unfortunately the CG5 doesn't have one, and Celestron no longer sells the electronics box, The Aux Port Expander, that provided one, but if you are handy with electronics you can make one with plans available on the Celestron ASGT Yahoogroup.

Edited by rmollise (07/20/13 08:37 PM)


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5982001 - 07/20/13 08:56 PM

Yes! that is exactly what I'm proposing...

The Celestron ASGT Yahoogroup home built PC Port expander (thats the first link in my post) looks to be just a powered RS232 to TTL converter.

My question is has anyone tried a commercial RS232 to TTL converter rather than building one from scratch... as per the Celestron ASGT Yahoogroup plans?

My goal is not to delete the hand control but to use the AUX port (via a coverter) instead of the dongle on the bottom of the hand controler.

And to the second poster, yes, neither mount has a PC port, but I'm focused on using the Aux port of the CGEM as a PC port.


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982112 - 07/20/13 10:11 PM

Why exactly would you want to do that? It won't work. You can use a PC port type connection to operate the mount with NexRemote (you must use NexRemote), or you can run the mount with the hand control and send it on go-tos with an astronomy program through the serial port on the base of the HC.

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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5982146 - 07/20/13 10:38 PM

Howdy Uncle Rod...

Actually, I am looking at this same issue. For me, it is the "untidy" nature of running the computer connection down and around to the bottom of the HC.

For me (or to me....), it would be much "cleaner" cable wise, to have a cable go directly to the mount base, as with the power cable, and guiding cable.

I am very interested in this thread, and am also looking for a solution.

The use of the HC or Nexromote is not the issue (at least to me).


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5982152 - 07/20/13 10:42 PM

Lots of reasons.

In somewhat reverse order:

First of the dongle on the bottom of the hand control is awkward and looks ugly.

Second it is a bear to connect and disconnect.

Third as the telescope slews it drags the hand controller around with it... that is bad, having it move the hand controller plus a dongle, connected to a cable with DB9 ends is even worse. Two curly RJ12 cables would be much more engineering elegant. Not to mention less likely to unplug themselves in the middle of a remote skew.

Fourth (and this is probably the main reason I'm looking into this) I'm trying to simplify setup, take down and storage, since most of this will happen in the cold, in the dark, likely when I'm tired, frustrated and in a hurry to get to bed. My goal was to unplug: power, the HC, an RJ12 line that goes back to the PC (running Nexremote or TheSky) and the USB line that goes to the camera. Power, and the two data lines (RJ12 and USB) are on the pier so the would be easy to connect and disconnect. And they are short, light, elegant and less likely to be pulled out in a slew (I've done this a few times already)

Are we certain that the ASGT homebrew solution won't work? What if I found a NOS or used 93965? Can't I have that in the AUX port and use both the hand controller and "TheSky" or Nexremote? Wasn't that how it was to be used?


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982180 - 07/20/13 11:09 PM

Howdy ur7x...

From everything i have read.... the 93965 was intended to do it all. It was designed for the CG5... which had no aux port. The 93965 would plug into the HC port, and provide two aux ports (HC and GPS), and a PC port (which is what we are looking for.

I too have a CG5 and a CGEM. With the CGEM, it DOES have an aux port (wired in parallel with the HC port). The homebrew box - plugged into the aux port, is intended to provide the computer interface.

I have been searching and searching. Cannot seem to locate a used 93965. Wonder why they stopped making them ?? Or why there are not any used ones out there looking for a home.

I am thinking i will have to build one of the homebrew units. Might look at your circuit board also, and check signals. Have not done that yet.


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SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982211 - 07/20/13 11:44 PM

Quote:

...Third as the telescope slews it drags the hand controller around with it...




Wait... what? The HC for my CG-5GT (ASGT) plugs into a panel that doesn't move when the telescope does. If you want to use the HC at the eyepiece, you do have to take it out of its cradle and move around, and if the serial cable is attached, that's a nuisance, but it HC isn't dragged around by the mount.


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: SkipW]
      #5982255 - 07/21/13 12:29 AM

Hi SkipW...

Yup... you got it right.
BUT....
The CGEM body, where the cables plug into, does move....


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982277 - 07/21/13 12:57 AM

Quote:

Howdy ur7x...

From everything i have read.... the 93965 was intended to do it all. It was designed for the CG5... which had no aux port. The 93965 would plug into the HC port, and provide two aux ports (HC and GPS), and a PC port (which is what we are looking for.

I too have a CG5 and a CGEM. With the CGEM, it DOES have an aux port (wired in parallel with the HC port). The homebrew box - plugged into the aux port, is intended to provide the computer interface.

I have been searching and searching. Cannot seem to locate a used 93965. Wonder why they stopped making them ?? Or why there are not any used ones out there looking for a home.

I am thinking i will have to build one of the homebrew units. Might look at your circuit board also, and check signals. Have not done that yet.




I took a long hard look at the ASGT "Homebrew" circuit. It is very elegant, it takes 12V from the mount to power itself and it uses a second IC to buffer the first IC that coverts 10-12V RS232 to 3-5V TTL. The second "buffer" IC is wired in a way that protects the mount (but not the PC..hmmm...). An average Joe would never do that if you knew that your were using a PC to drive this... Unless you were worried about warranty claims on your mount. It looks what I would describe as a "commercial grade" circuit, not at all homebrewed.

The way that the connectors and IC's are numbered it would also have me conclude that this was "designed" with more than a little help from Celestron... .. "copied" might be a more accurate verb than designed. I bet if we ever find a 93965 and open it up you will find 2ICs and a voltage regulator that will look a lot like the homebrew (if not exactly the same).

For the ~$10 that the digikey parts will cost... and given I have a bunch of guys at work who would rather solder for the boss than do their real job... I think I'm going to build the so called "Homebrew" and then see if TheSky6 will drive the mount through the AUX port.

If this works... and I bet it will... I will post back my results... Its gonna take a few weeks.

Have you tried using TheSky6 (or X) though the "dongle" yet? It is interesting that NexRemote requires you to basically re-do the alignment procedure.. But TheSky seems happy just to grab the mount and start moving it around.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982278 - 07/21/13 12:58 AM

to my knowledge everything uncle rod has said as well as others is true, there is no direct HC replacement for nexstar scopes like there is for the synta synscan mounts (EQMOD) the only way a nexstar mount can work with or without a HC via a PC is with nexremote software. you can run the mount via it though the HC PC port or connected directly to a PC port (provided the mount has one on it directly) but when doing so the HC is basically just being used as an interface and is not usable.

heres a great bubble chart showing how things can connect to basically any nexstar mount/scope

http://www.nexstarsite.com/download/NexStarCablingV5.pdf


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982281 - 07/21/13 01:01 AM

i will note however when i say run the mount, i mean align it and get it setup. using the nexstar ascom drivers any ascom compatible program can operate the mount once its setup via the same serial interface nexremote runs from.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982285 - 07/21/13 01:06 AM

ur7x you will not be able to align the mount without nexstar firmware. its a hard requirement. see that chart i posted above. in order to even use a PC program (or tablet/phone app) to control the mount its a hard requirement to have used the hand control to set it up initially and then connect through the HC to the PC.

EQMOD for synscan is what you are trying to do but the problem is nobody has made an EQMOD that can run nexstar scopes and mounts, EQMOD is basically a custom full on firmware replacement, thats why it works the interface is not the main problem your facing, its the fact that there is no software besides nexremote that can operate the mounts with full access and control, making such software would probably require someone from celestron to leak the required info needed to make it possible (likely what happened with synscan and thus EQMOD was born but i'm just guessing)


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982293 - 07/21/13 01:11 AM

if you really want to get into modding mounts to run them that way it may be possible

http://eq-mod.sourceforge.net/reqindex.html

info is there, older simpler motorized only mounts have been converted before, i'm guessing without any research that MC board needs to be scrapped and replaced by home made electronics if done so.


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wolfman_4_ever
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982312 - 07/21/13 01:25 AM

you still have to run nexremote or the hand controller for theskyx to work.

The alignment is kept in the HC.. that's why you need to align with either nexremote or the HC.. if you use nexremote and keep the HC plugged in, if you do everything with nexremote, the HC sits there saying "press enter to begin alignment". When I do a factory reset, I do it both in nexremote and on the HC.

As Frito said, you need to have nexremote do some sort of alignment before theskyx will work. Either 2 star or 1 star or quick or last alignment. If not, theskyx, upon connection, will say "telescope not aligned".


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5982368 - 07/21/13 02:19 AM

I think several people are not understanding the op's effort. Either that, or i don't understand it.

My issue is not he HC. It is the cabeling.

As to the TheSkyX question... yes, when i connect the PC to the HC, I can run either the CG5, or the CGEM. Both the HC and the software work, together.

In my case, i am NOT trying to get rid of the HC... i just want to be able to use the PC (after alignment), and have neater cabeling.

UR7X.... is that your goal also ??


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982378 - 07/21/13 02:31 AM

if that is your goal then why not secure your serial cable going to the HC to the HC's coil cable and then down the mount.

cabling issues don't require interface modules, they just require a bit of work cleaning them up, i made my PC interface cable from a phone handset cord spliced into a serial cable, if i wanted to have it so the HC and PC cord were tied together and still worked as intended all i'd need to do is tie strap some points together and call it a day. if your mount has a PC port on it already like the CGEM then its even simpler.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
*****

Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982379 - 07/21/13 02:31 AM

Quote:

In my case, i am NOT trying to get rid of the HC... i just want to be able to use the PC (after alignment), and have neater cabeling.




As has been stated, the only way to talk to the mount through the mount's PC jack is by bypassing the handbox and using NexRemote instead. That jack doesn't talk to the handbox so when using it the handbox alignment is irrelevant and unavailable. It looks to Nexremote for all that stuff.


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5982394 - 07/21/13 03:02 AM

Your post:

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In my case, i am NOT trying to get rid of the HC... i just want to be able to use the PC (after alignment), and have neater cabeling.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As has been stated, the only way to talk to the mount through the mount's PC jack is by bypassing the handbox and using NexRemote instead. That jack doesn't talk to the handbox so when using it the handbox alignment is irrelevant and unavailable. It looks to Nexremote for all that stuff.

--------------------

Ahhhhhhh. Hold on one. That is NOT correct.
The PC software CAN connect via the serial port on the HC. As I (and others) have said, we do that already.

NexRemote is a nice PC interface. It puts a virtual HC on the screen. But i don't use that. I use TheSkyX, AND/or the HC.

Yeah.... I run the serial cable from the mount (area), down through the HC cable and to the HC. That is working.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982400 - 07/21/13 03:17 AM

yes and that works because the HC is providing the interface, the HC is what is actually talking to the mount, when using it with TheSkyX or any other astronomy software it is simply sending commands to the HC and the HC is translating/relaying them to the mounts MC board.

how mounts work is pretty basic. at the mount head you have the RA and DEC motors, they have Encoders in them, this is how it knows where its pointing. the motors and encoders are connected to the motor control (MC) board, it has its own software (firmware actually because its hardware) that runs everything. the only way you can communicate with the MC board is via software (or firmware in the case of a HC) that is written specifically to interface with it. the interface is not a big deal, the software is the big deal, its propritary and unless something gets leaked celestron's not giving up the info to allow 3rd parties to make software that can interface with their hardware as in the case with the synscan synta mounts with EQMOD.

this is why when we say only a nexstar HC or nexremote can run a nexstar mount that is the case. running a nexstar mount off of a PC via an interface is possible but the nexstar firmware is a HARD requirement in order to access all features/settings/alignment of a mount and act as a translation layer if you will between the two. when you use 3rd party software its using a universal interface (ASCOM) with drivers that celestron has provided the info to be made to interface the mount with. its all just a translation layer make sense?


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
*****

Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982401 - 07/21/13 03:19 AM

Quote:

Your post:

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In my case, i am NOT trying to get rid of the HC... i just want to be able to use the PC (after alignment), and have neater cabeling.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As has been stated, the only way to talk to the mount through the mount's PC jack is by bypassing the handbox and using NexRemote instead. That jack doesn't talk to the handbox so when using it the handbox alignment is irrelevant and unavailable. It looks to Nexremote for all that stuff.

--------------------

Ahhhhhhh. Hold on one. That is NOT correct.
The PC software CAN connect via the serial port on the HC. As I (and others) have said, we do that already.




It is precisely correct. I specifically referred to the mount's PC jack - the one you would like to use. I told you how to use it. You can, instead, connect to the port on the handbox and use the handbox but you are already doing that and said you wanted to do something different.


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982625 - 07/21/13 09:27 AM

Quote:

times already)

Are we certain that the ASGT homebrew solution won't work?




Yes...the PC port can be used for two things:

1. Operate the mount with NexRemote.
2. Upgrade the motor control firmware for earlier HC versions that did not allow MC updates through that bad old HC port.


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982626 - 07/21/13 09:29 AM

Quote:

Yeah.... I run the serial cable from the mount (area), down through the HC cable and to the HC. That is working.




Actually, you can use TheSky and other programs with NexRemote. Very easily, too, by using its virtual port feature. NexRemote _is_ the hand control, just running on a PC. NexRemote would do everything you want.


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982669 - 07/21/13 09:57 AM

Quote:

to my knowledge everything uncle rod has said as well as others is true, there is no direct HC replacement for nexstar scopes like there is for the synta synscan mounts (EQMOD) the only way a nexstar mount can work with or without a HC via a PC is with nexremote software. you can run the mount via it though the HC PC port or connected directly to a PC port (provided the mount has one on it directly) but when doing so the HC is basically just being used as an interface and is not usable.

heres a great bubble chart showing how things can connect to basically any nexstar mount/scope

http://www.nexstarsite.com/download/NexStarCablingV5.pdf




As per my original post, I'm not looking to replace the HC, I'm looking to use it AND a PC to drive the scope. Cabling IS the issue.


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982671 - 07/21/13 10:00 AM

Quote:

I think several people are not understanding the op's effort. Either that, or i don't understand it.

My issue is not he HC. It is the cabeling.

As to the TheSkyX question... yes, when i connect the PC to the HC, I can run either the CG5, or the CGEM. Both the HC and the software work, together.

In my case, i am NOT trying to get rid of the HC... i just want to be able to use the PC (after alignment), and have neater cabeling.

UR7X.... is that your goal also ??




Yes, Mr. Douglas! We are on the same page, that is exactly the goal.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982739 - 07/21/13 10:49 AM

AIUI what you want to do is:
Align the scope with the HC.
Connect a serial cable from a PC to an AUX port on the mount and use this to control the scope, essentially in parallel with the HC.

If that's the case there is, as far as I know, no software that will do that. You have to go through the port on the base of the HC.

The alternative is, as Rod has said, to use NexRemote. That connects to the mount instead of the real HC and the control software connects through the virtual port provided by NexRemote.

Chris


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5982777 - 07/21/13 11:06 AM

Quote:

AIUI what you want to do is:
Align the scope with the HC.
Connect a serial cable from a PC to an AUX port on the mount and use this to control the scope, essentially in parallel with the HC.

If that's the case there is, as far as I know, no software that will do that. You have to go through the port on the base of the HC.

The alternative is, as Rod has said, to use NexRemote. That connects to the mount instead of the real HC and the control software connects through the virtual port provided by NexRemote.

Chris




As I test, fiddle, read, google, and consider the boolean logic here...

I'm starting to get what you all are talking about...
OK, what about this idea...

NexRemote and the HC seem to be able to co-exist, and both seem to be able to drive the scope almost at the same time. (of course right now all of this testing is done with NexRemote plugged in the bottom of the HC)

You can also have NexRemote offer a virtual com port to TheSky... I picked Com3... TheSky was happy.. and it worked. It was interesting, I could have one slew rate on the HC, a different slew rate on the NexRemote and TheSky not only was happy with all of it, but it nicely kept track of where the mount was pointing.

The question is can the HC and NexRemote co-exist with one in the HC port and the other in the AUX port (via a PC port adapter?)

If I can do that... then I can have my cake and eat it too..


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5982802 - 07/21/13 11:18 AM

No.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5982860 - 07/21/13 11:48 AM

cn register 5 said it perfectly. you have two options. commands from external programs must go though the nexstar software either the HC or the nexremote software.

that is why i was saying earlier that what you are thinking of doing is what EQMOD does on synscan mounts, its a full HC replacement software, even on those mounts using it thesky would still have to interface though EQMOD make sense?


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dmdouglass
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Reged: 12/23/07

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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5982967 - 07/21/13 12:53 PM

I read these posts, and I chuckle....
It is all sort of crazy.

Apparently, some here are thinking that the CGEM has a computer port (serial RS232) on the mount. It does NOT !
It does have an AUX port (which is NOT compatible with a PC directly).

There is lots of reference to NexRemote. But, as has been mentioned, the only serial connection for the PC is on the HC. Thus, to use NexRemote, you still need the PC connection (thus the HC). I have read in numerous places that one must use caution when using NexRemote. You must initialize with it, and control with it. The only thing you should do with the real HC is the slew buttons for minor position correction.

Why is this? Well, the HC and/or NexRemote is/are the controlling element (aka... the brain). All the registers are contained within. It NexRemote is in charge, then commands given via the HC are NOT recorded in NexRemote (and vis versa). They get VERY comfused.

I have read that you can setup NexRemote with no HC -- thus the real HC is out of the picture. My reading seems to imply this is possible with the CG5 AND the CGEM. I am not sure how that works just yet, without the computer port. And for those two mounts, with no HC, there is no computer port. That is where the computer port mod for the Aux port would be nice. NexRemote needs the interface!

Anyone know how to make NexRemote work on a CG5 or CGEM without a real HC attached (to provide the computer port [RS232]) ???


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5982980 - 07/21/13 01:06 PM

Quote:

Anyone know how to make NexRemote work on a CG5 or CGEM without a real HC attached (to provide the computer port [RS232]) ???




That is referenced in the very first post in this thread and the solution is provided there. That's why it hasn't been revisited with each subsequent post. BTW - if Nexremote is used through the handbox it serves merely as a remote keypad for the handbox; alignments and other info are stored in the handbox. The only time Nexremote takes full control is when connected directly to a PC port or port adaptor.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5982995 - 07/21/13 01:18 PM

Quote:



BTW - if Nexremote is used through the handbox it serves merely as a remote keypad for the handbox; alignments and other info are stored in the handbox. The only time Nexremote takes full control is when connected directly to a PC port or port adaptor.




Not the case at all. If you use NexRemote, the HC is just acting as a pass-through. That's why you must not touch any of the buttons on the HC other than simple direction buttons when you are using NexRemote in this fashion. You would be attempting to use two hand controls.


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dmdouglass
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5983006 - 07/21/13 01:24 PM

Hi John...
Thank you for your post. But again, one of us (and for all i know, it is me....) does not understand something.

The CGEM (and CG5) do NOT have a mount configured PC port. There is a PC port on the HC. So..... just how would NexRemote take full control, as opposed to what you describe as shared control ??

Actually, everywhere i read says that the real HC and NexRemote do NOT "share" command structure (except the arrow slew buttons)... and that you should use one or the other but not both... and that if using NexRemote, be sure to do the initialization with it (and not the real HC).

Are you thinking there is a PC port on the CG5 or CGEM (other than on the real HC) ??


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ur7x
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Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5983018 - 07/21/13 01:30 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Anyone know how to make NexRemote work on a CG5 or CGEM without a real HC attached (to provide the computer port [RS232]) ???




That is referenced in the very first post in this thread and the solution is provided there. That's why it hasn't been revisited with each subsequent post. BTW - if Nexremote is used through the handbox it serves merely as a remote keypad for the handbox; alignments and other info are stored in the handbox. The only time Nexremote takes full control is when connected directly to a PC port or port adapter.




If that is the case, if I read you right, that alignments are stored in the HC even if we are running NexRemote through the HC, that doesn't make sense, and doesn't match what the telescope is doing.

NexRemote will do an alignment procedure independent of the HC and in fact the HC basically "stalls" waiting for alignment to be done...

So if the NexRemote Alignment was stored in the HC, why does the HC not recognize it?

As I'm starting to get it... The telescope can have one alignment, and that can be stored in either the NexRemote Application or in the HC, but not both...

Of course I have experience that shows that isn't the case either...(I have completed the alignment procedure in both the NexRemote and the HC... But only one would be right.)

I think the best way to solve this problem is to:
1) Give up
2) "source" a RJ11 (4P4C) terminated curly wire...
3) replace the RJ12 (6P6C) plug on my pier with a RJ11 plug
4) Call it a day and be happy that it works.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5983074 - 07/21/13 02:09 PM

Quote:

Are you thinking there is a PC port on the CG5 or CGEM (other than on the real HC) ??




Nope. I've owned and used enough Celestron mounts, with and without the built-in PC port, to be very familiar with both. Read the post that began this conversation - it directly addresses and describes adding a PC port to a mount that doesn't have one. The rest of the conversation flows from that.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5983098 - 07/21/13 02:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:



BTW - if Nexremote is used through the handbox it serves merely as a remote keypad for the handbox; alignments and other info are stored in the handbox. The only time Nexremote takes full control is when connected directly to a PC port or port adaptor.




Not the case at all. If you use NexRemote, the HC is just acting as a pass-through.




Hi, Rod.

I guess that means my information is out of date. I know how it worked when I last used Nexremote - the documentation made it very clear that NR was only being used as a I/O device for the handbox unless the PC port was used. They have apparently added this "pass through" mode you describe since then. Must have happened at the same time they changed the handbox firmware to permit "pass through" MC updates. I wonder if the original keypad-only mode is still an option?


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rmollise
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5983199 - 07/21/13 03:28 PM

Quote:




Hi, Rod.

I guess that means my information is out of date. I know how it worked when I last used Nexremote - the documentation made it very clear that NR was only being used as a I/O device for the handbox unless the PC port was used. They have apparently added this "pass through" mode you describe since then. Must have happened at the same time they changed the handbox firmware to permit "pass through" MC updates. I wonder if the original keypad-only mode is still an option?




I don't know what the documentation you had said, but I've been onboard with NR since the beginning--I was a beta tester for its original version, "hCAnywere"--and I've always been told the opposite...including by the program's developers. If NR were just a "remote handbox," how would you be able to select a firmware version different than what's in the hardware HC, which you can...?

Edited by rmollise (07/21/13 03:29 PM)


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5983222 - 07/21/13 03:42 PM

I don't think that NR was ever anything but a HC on the PC. Originally it only worked with a PC port but the change to allow a real HC to operate in pass through mode happened quite early, by HC version 1.6 I think.

What is happening is that NR contains a PIC emulator that runs the normal HC code. The emulator is wrapped in code that handles the HC IO and memory.

Chris


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5983383 - 07/21/13 06:00 PM

That is all it is and has ever been, the NexStar hand control code running on a PC. What people don't understand is that NexRemote, is a hand control, just running on a laptop instead of the little HC computer.

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ur7x
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Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5984421 - 07/22/13 12:47 PM

Quote:


I think the best way to solve this problem is to:
1) Give up
2) "source" a RJ11 (4P4C) terminated curly wire...
3) replace the RJ12 (6P6C) plug on my pier with a RJ11 plug
4) Call it a day and be happy that it works.




I think I have uncovered a new way to have my cake and eat it too.

Since this is, at its core, all about remotely driving my CGEM mount from a dedicated imaging/observatory PC/Laptop from a warm "enclosed" position some 40' from the pier... While not having a rats nest of cables, controllers, dongles at the pier.

Lets consider this:
Step one: I take the HC, and put it away, safe in its foam lined box.
Step two: I run a 40' serial signal to the mount on the pier over a Cat6 cable and a homebrew Celestron PC Port Converter...
Step three: On the PC/Laptop I run my copy of NexRemote to drive the mount over the wire in step two... I will use NexRemote, to store alignments, park the mount, hibernate, etc.
Step four: On NexRemote I activate a virtual port and I use that to link to TheSky (since I really like that point and go interface)

So far that is pretty straight forward right?

Step five: So I'm thinking how to I align with a tethered PC running NexRemote that is about 40' from the eye piece... Wireless GamePad anyone? I'm sure one of the geeks at work is likely to have something that I can borrow and test.


So lets see:
Less cabling (at least at the pier)? Check
Less things to setup and take down at the pier? Check
Engineering Elegance? at the pier Check... at the PC? Not really
One less unsecured kinda expensive sensitive gizmo to be left outside? Check
Will it work? testing underway...

I wonder what the max range of a wireless gamepad is...
So close and yet so far away...


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dmdouglass
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Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5984449 - 07/22/13 01:09 PM

Keep us posted on your progress.

And it you make one.... can you make more than one ??


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5984548 - 07/22/13 02:24 PM

The wireless gamepad, usually a Logitech, is the usual solution. Not only can you move the scope with one, you can map various NexRemote functions to the pad's buttons, including tours, etc.

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ur7x
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Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5984596 - 07/22/13 02:55 PM

Quote:

The wireless gamepad, usually a Logitech, is the usual solution. Not only can you move the scope with one, you can map various NexRemote functions to the pad's buttons, including tours, etc.




I think I recall reading a Blog about this... That blogger looks a lot like you, but with a darker beard and a hat...

Sadly everything that I have also read about wireless logitechs is that they have a range of 4' not 40'

At work we have some very long range wireless presenters devices that apparently can be made to look like a joystick to the device manager... That will be my first try.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5985635 - 07/23/13 08:40 AM

I've never had a problem with the range of the game pad.

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ur7x
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Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: rmollise]
      #5986000 - 07/23/13 12:43 PM

Wow, after only a few hours of playing with NexRemote and a USB wired XBOX 360 Controller (Wireless one coming in a few hours). I'm beginning to understand your not so stubble NexRemote love affair that comes through in some of your NexRemote Blogs and Reviews.

This is super cool! And I haven't even connected it to the mount yet, this is all virtual. But the fact that you can not only map out all of the buttons and the fact that there are "hidden" buttons button that you can map is really cool. I cant wait to ditch the "arrow keys" for a joystick.

Next stop Wireless Remote range.

Say is there a link somewhere that has a list of all of the NexRemote programmable buttons?


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5986049 - 07/23/13 01:19 PM

I got the list (partial?) of assignable buttons:

Align - Align Key
Enter - Enter Key
Undo - Undo Key
Up - Move Scope Up at current Rate
Right - Move Scope Right at current Rate
Down - Move Scope Down at current Rate
Left - Move Scope Left at current Rate
FastUp - Move Scope Up at Rate 9
FastRight - Move Scope Right at Rate 9
FastDown - Move Scope Down at Rate 9
FastLeft - Move Scope Left at Rate 9
Key1 - 1 Key
Key2 - 2 Key
Key3 - 3 Key
Key4 - 4 Key
Key5 - 5 Key
Key6 - 6 Key
Key7 - 7 Key
Key8 - 8 Key
Key9 - 9 Key
Key0 - 0 Key
Info - Info Key
Rate - Rate Key
RateUp - Increment Current rate by 1
RateDown - Decrement Current Rate by 1
ScopeX - Move the Scope in the X Axis (Joystick)
ScopeY - Move the Scope in the Y Axis (Joystick)
SelectionUp - Increment Current Selection by 1
SelectionDown - Decrement Current Selection by 1
Select - Execute Current Selection
Shift - Assigns second value to buttons.
MenuUp - Scroll Menu Up (same as Key6)
MenuDown - Scroll Menu Down (same as Key9)
TourUp - Increment Current Tour by 1
TourDown - Decrement Current Tour by 1


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beammeup
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Reged: 12/22/08

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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5986066 - 07/23/13 01:27 PM

What about this:
http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p6057_P...

Only works with nexremote apparently.

Or the usb version
http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p6058_P...


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ur7x
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Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5986163 - 07/23/13 02:17 PM

And if you paste this at the end of the Joystick.ini file

Your XBOX controller will take over the scope.
[JOYSTICK]
Name = Controller (XBOX 360 For Windows)
; This is the USB Wired XBox 360 Controller
Button1 = Rate ;Button A
Button2 = Undo ;Button B
Button3 = Align ;Button X
Button4 = Enter ;Button Y
Button5 = MenuUp ;Button LB
Button6 = MenuDown ;Button RB
Button7 = Shift ;Button Back
Button8 = info ;Button Start
Button9 = Key5 ;Left Stick Down press for Planets
Button10 = ;Right Stick Down
Button11 =
sButton1 = Down ;Shift+Button A
sButton2 = Right ;Shift+Button B
sButton3 = Left ;Shift+Button X
sButton4 = Up ;Shift+Button Y
sButton5 = RateDown ;Shift+Button LB
sButton6 = RateUp ;Shift+Button RB
sButton7 = ;Shift+Button Back
sButton8 = ;Shift+Button Start
sButton9 = ;Shift+Left Stick Down
sButton10 = ;Shift+Right Stick Down
sButton11 =
Axis1 = ScopeX ;Joystick1 X
Axis2 = ScopeY ;Joystick1 Y
Axis3 = ;Left Rudder (not suitable to drive scope)
Axis4 = ;Right Rudder (not suitable to drive scope)
Axis5 = ;Joystick2 X (X Rotation) (do not use)
Axis6 = ;Joystick2 Y (Y Rotation) (do not use)
Axis7 = ;
Axis8 = ;

Sadly, the NexRemote was not able to map or recognize the "Point of View Hat" on the controller, which would have been a perfect substitute for the Up/Down/Left/Right on the NexStar.


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: beammeup]
      #5986178 - 07/23/13 02:25 PM

Yes that will save my the pain (and fun) of soldering up a RS232-TTL converter. Nice Find!

But at $40 plus $10 shipping... I will likely go the digikey route.


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wolfman_4_ever
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5986231 - 07/23/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:


I think the best way to solve this problem is to:
1) Give up
2) "source" a RJ11 (4P4C) terminated curly wire...
3) replace the RJ12 (6P6C) plug on my pier with a RJ11 plug
4) Call it a day and be happy that it works.




I think I have uncovered a new way to have my cake and eat it too.

Since this is, at its core, all about remotely driving my CGEM mount from a dedicated imaging/observatory PC/Laptop from a warm "enclosed" position some 40' from the pier... While not having a rats nest of cables, controllers, dongles at the pier.

Lets consider this:
Step one: I take the HC, and put it away, safe in its foam lined box.
Step two: I run a 40' serial signal to the mount on the pier over a Cat6 cable and a homebrew Celestron PC Port Converter...
Step three: On the PC/Laptop I run my copy of NexRemote to drive the mount over the wire in step two... I will use NexRemote, to store alignments, park the mount, hibernate, etc.
Step four: On NexRemote I activate a virtual port and I use that to link to TheSky (since I really like that point and go interface)

So far that is pretty straight forward right?

Step five: So I'm thinking how to I align with a tethered PC running NexRemote that is about 40' from the eye piece... Wireless GamePad anyone? I'm sure one of the geeks at work is likely to have something that I can borrow and test.


So lets see:
Less cabling (at least at the pier)? Check
Less things to setup and take down at the pier? Check
Engineering Elegance? at the pier Check... at the PC? Not really
One less unsecured kinda expensive sensitive gizmo to be left outside? Check
Will it work? testing underway...

I wonder what the max range of a wireless gamepad is...
So close and yet so far away...




Been doing this for multiple years now.. I use a Logitech F710 wireless remote, nexremote with theskyx talking to the virtual port on nexremote.

You can even have nexremote connect to your favorite serial over wifi device, skysafari, skyq, bluetooth, etc.


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5986488 - 07/23/13 05:27 PM

Quote:



Been doing this for multiple years now.. I use a Logitech F710 wireless remote, nexremote with theskyx talking to the virtual port on nexremote.

You can even have nexremote connect to your favorite serial over wifi device, skysafari, skyq, bluetooth, etc.




What sort of range are you getting on the F710?

Some sites report connectivity problems at a few feet.. Some report that they can run these things 30+' away from the PC... The XBox remotes seem to have better range reviews some stating that they can run as much as 50' away from the PC.

I would have pretty much clear line of sight between the pier and the remote location.


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wolfman_4_ever
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Reged: 07/15/11

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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5986714 - 07/23/13 08:18 PM

I have a Pod Observatory.. I'm never farther away than 8ft.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5987143 - 07/24/13 12:00 AM

range on common wireless RF devices can be impacted by many things, walls, material walls are constructed from and other RF devices operating on the same frequencies in the same local area are all factors. generally speaking RF controllers like the 360's use the same band Bluetooth and common wireless phones use, not to mention wifi as well so range can and will vary but as long as you are within a reasonable distance of the receiver it should work reliably. 30-50 feet is not what i would in my experience consider a reasonable distance, 20 feet or less is more realistic most of the time.

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Jmel
member


Reged: 01/24/12

Loc: Eastern North Carolina
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: frito]
      #5998599 - 07/30/13 02:53 PM

Funny stumbling across this thread. My coworker is making me a converter box in the office next to mine as I type this.

I myself have had a similar idea to yours, and I'll lay out what I am thinking, what I've done, and maybe we can collaborate...

I have a cg5 mount. I also have a laptop that runs the mount as well as handling the imaging. I also have an android tablet.

Here is my intended setup:

Mount connected via converter box and serial/usb prolific adapter. Then to a usb hub, then to laptop.

Also connected to usb hub is the Canon 1000D I use for imaging, as well as a gpslim 236 (with proprietary usb cable, though you could use it via bluetooth), and soon, in a few days, a temperhum usb stick.

On a secondary usb port on the laptop, an orion starshoot autoguider (of the magnificent mini autoguider package). This is due to the high bandwidth requirements of autoguiding.

On my pc, I run backyardeos for imaging/virtual illuminated reticle. PHD for guiding. Nexremote and nexgps for mount alignment. Alignmaster for polar alignment assistance. Stellarium and stellarium scope for one click 'goto' without having to use the hand controller. Astrotortilla for relocating specific spots in the sky I was imaging the night before (or the week before)...

I also use an app called "wifi scope" which allows ip based wifi control of the mount (using ascom) so that I can use skysafari pro on my tablet or phone for "goto's". This works pretty well, but took a little configuring on the skysafari end that I didn't anticipate.

The plan? Well, I go outside to my site (drive the truck, unload etc). I do a rough polar alignment on the scope, hook up all my power, and cables (I have them in a big fat wire loom now, for simplicity). Then, after starting the laptop and the software conglomeration, I close the lid (it doesn't go to sleep) and go inside where it's warm. I fire up team viewer (free btw, for lan use too) on the android tablet, and connect to the laptop via wifi. For this I use the built in (to my laptop) "my wifi" app, that turns my laptop into an access point. Next thing I know, I'm looking at a remote desktop of the laptop. Too small on the 7" screen? Well, I hook my tablet up to hdmi and use the bluetooth mouse and usb keyboard I bought for it.

Now we're makin bacon!

I was hoping to find a way to connect the gpslim 236 from holux directly to the mount, but right now that seems kinda pointless as it's more work researching cabling than I want to put into it.


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ur7x
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/08/12

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #5999054 - 07/30/13 08:16 PM

Aren't co-workers great! Subordinates are even better...

Yes you and I are on the same page... other than I plan to run mine on a permanent pier... And I have a laptop with an actual old school serial port...

Are you building the converter with a perforated board... or are you etching a customer Printed Circuit board?

If you are etching... I would love to see/share your PC design... I'm on the road to build a etched PC board next week.


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Jmel
member


Reged: 01/24/12

Loc: Eastern North Carolina
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #5999133 - 07/30/13 09:18 PM

perforated... I didn't know the other existed... I'd have loved to have recreated the celestron adapter with 2 aux and a PC port though.

Edited by Jmel (07/30/13 09:18 PM)


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #5999401 - 07/31/13 01:28 AM

pcb etching is messy but great, used to do it in high school electronics class back in the late 90's, i bet they don't allow it these days due to the chemicals (ferric cloride) I know you can buy the stuff still, my local electronics store sells ferric cloride as well as copper clad PCB blanks and small tanks, i don't build enough custom PCBs to warrant buying the stuff and when i need to build something i just go with a breadboard becase its cheaper for one off stuff thats not complicated but having a real PCB to work with can help emmensely with building home made circuit boards for sure.

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Jmel
member


Reged: 01/24/12

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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6000791 - 07/31/13 11:45 PM

Quote:

Aren't co-workers great! Subordinates are even better...

Yes you and I are on the same page... other than I plan to run mine on a permanent pier... And I have a laptop with an actual old school serial port...

Are you building the converter with a perforated board... or are you etching a customer Printed Circuit board?

If you are etching... I would love to see/share your PC design... I'm on the road to build a etched PC board next week.




Went to test tonight on a spare mount I have, and it looks like perhaps V+ and C1+ were accidentally connected to each other with solder. I started checking the board when I noticed no communication from the pc to the mount after plugging it in.

(EDIT: this may not be the issue, I'm still trying to see what is going on with the circuit... testing all points tonight).

On the bright side, my mount is not fried, nor is my usb to serial adapter smoking away.

Hopefully he can remove the solder tomorrow and it didn't hurt anything during my testing.

If not, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience, and get one of those posieden (sp?) boxes from germany and just not deal with the work of getting the box made. My friend said the rj12 cable was the worst; it was stranded copper and very tiny. The last wire he soldered is the one where I think he accidentally jumpered the pins I stated above.

EDIT: Looks like my friend had it right, and the tiny part that I was supposed to do was wrong. I had pins 6 and 8 confused on the diagram for the serial port connection. I realized this by going back to the nexstar site and looking at the "pc cable". The font that was used on the schematic page at the end was hard to decipher. It's working perfectly now, and I'm very happy that I can leave the stupid hand controller at home.

Edited by Jmel (08/01/13 10:20 PM)


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #6004662 - 08/03/13 11:42 AM

Wow... Nice work... I have now laid out a custom PC board for this project and will etch one next week at work. With little effort I got it all down to a board about 1"x2"...

I will post .ai, .pdf, .jpg files once I test it for anyone to copy.

I also have managed to get the hat/rocker/POV switch on my Xbox controller to drive the scope now too!

Simply down load a freeware Game Controller keyboard mapper (I'm using Xpadder) and assign the keyboard arrow keys to the POV switch and now those buttons are active too.

If you want your cake and eat it too (and this is the theme of this thread) then you assign "shift arrow" keys to the rocker/POV shitch and the joystick will drive the scope at the set slew speed and the POV switch will drive the scope at the full "9"...

Oh and I discovered a small bug with the NexRemote software!

When you drive the mount using assigned "FastUp" "FastDown" "FastLeft" or "FastRight" assigned buttons or keys the virtual display does not flash rate "9" in the corner, it reports that it is moving the scope at the preset (likely slower) rate. The good news is that buttons do work and it will move the scope at the faster rate...


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Jmel
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6007250 - 08/05/13 09:11 AM

Wow, that is awesome ur7x! I'm eager to see your posts.

I would really have liked to have incorporated a couple of things into a replacement circuit, if I had the time. One would have been a built in aux splitter, to hook up a gps if one so chose... the other would have been to have incorporated a serial to usb adapter - but on the second point, I realize this may not be as good as it sounds; I understand there are limits not only on the usb length, but also on the length of the cable from the mount to the converter. Serial has the longest length limits.

I was struggling to get both joysticks working. It would have been nice to have a trigger set to shift (not a shoulder button), or to have one stick slew at 9 and the other at a slower slew. I won't be using the joystick much though, it was just fun to play with.


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #6009904 - 08/06/13 04:56 PM

Regarding "extra" aux port if you are to believe the various CGEM and ASGT wiring diagrams all over the place.

A simple 6 connector RJ11/RJ12 splitter with a jumper over pins 2 and 4 should produce your extra aux port.
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/attachments/3870190-Celestron%20HC%20a...

Take care with the jumper since pin 3 is +12V and that will not mix well with the sensitive CMOS level signal on pins 1,2,4 and 6


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Jmel
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6011321 - 08/07/13 11:49 AM

I was going to use a surface mount dual rj12 jack from monoprice, but they have some weird color scheme going on, I'll have to number the pins with labels before working with the innards. I was going to mount the box to the head of the cg5 mount, with a 6 inch rj12 flat cable going to it. Then, the converter box would attach to the surface mount 'splitter' leaving another aux port, just in case.


What would be helpful is a pin number to pin number diagram... The 'icons' in that diagram you pasted (which I saw on this thread: http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/3870386/Main... ) are a little misleading to a non-electronics guy like myself... orientation specifically... I don't want anything to be reversed...

http://www.commandfusion.com/wiki2/_media/rs232_pinout.png

Edited by Jmel (08/07/13 01:38 PM)


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #6012516 - 08/07/13 10:04 PM

In your pinout link those are the same... The male connector is pictured top down and the female is bottom up... Or in other words... to plug one into the other, one needs to be turned over.

The only wire that should give you pause is the 12V red one... don't screw that one up... the others will not cause damage.

Of course Celestron Pinouts are different then your post. The use a TTL/CMOS signal at the scope, NOT RS232


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Jmel
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6018346 - 08/10/13 11:08 PM

I think I'll work on that tomorrow. However, I believe the GPSlim 236 from Holux (which is what I'd use, since I have one currently hooked up to pc and connected to NexGPS) is already outputting TTL...

Here is the manual:

http://www.holux.com/JCore/UploadFile/3205400.pdf

"4.6. Output and Interface
z Output
I. Output protocol
Baud Rate: 38400 bps
Data bit: 8
Parity: No
Stop bit: 1
II. Format. NMEA0183 V2.2: GPGGA (1time/1 sec), GPGSA (1 time/5 sec.),
GPGSV (1time /5 sec.), GPRMC (1time /1 sec.), GPVTG (1 time/1 sec), (GLL,
or SiRF binary format for optional).
III. Datum: WGS84.
z Input/ Output Interface:
I. Compatible Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP), Version1.1 and class 2(up
to 10 meter range).
II. In/Out Port. GPS signal (Out)/Command(In) with CMOS/TTL Level。"

I have the usb to serial cable, which is essentially a prolific serial to usb adapter built into a chip near the usb plug on the computer side:

Table 1
Pin Pin Name Signal and description
1 GND Signal ground, Battery charging ground.
2 VOUT Unregulated voltage out: 3.6 V max 100mA.
3 TXD
Transmit Data. From organizer to peripheral.(Voltage Level is 3.3V ~
5.0V).
4 RXD
Receive Data. Form peripheral to organizer.(Voltage level is 3.3V ~
5.0V).
5 VCHARG
Positive terminal of DC adaptor that powers the internal charging
circuit of Li-Ion battery. The approved power supply is 5.0V +/-
5%@1A.

Edited by Jmel (08/10/13 11:11 PM)


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #6034948 - 08/19/13 05:03 PM

Understand that two things need to happen here to make this work...

First you need to get the two devices (mount and GPS receiver) to "talk" over the right pinouts at the expected TTL/CMOS levels.

Second you need to get the mount and the peripheral to basically speak the same language.

Celestrons communication protocol is detailed (at least in part) here:

http://www.celestron.com/c3/images/files/downloads/1154108406_nexstarcommprot...


You can see, as you might expect, that there are some rules as to how the mount talks to the hand controller or other attachments... It expects the device to say "Hey, here comes some GPS coordinates" before it sends three (or four) large number sets that denote log, lat, and date/time.

And there is a handshake protocol where the mount after successfully getting the correct information basically says "Thanks, I'm good"

Of course the "Hey, here comes some GPS coordinates" can be as simple as the letter "W" and the "Thanks" can be as simple as "#"

But if this info isn't there it will be like your GPS receiver is speaking German and the mount is speaking Chinese.

I would not just randomly start plugging things into the HC or AUX port unless the manufacture and/or Celestron certifies the device will work.


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Jmel
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6035228 - 08/19/13 07:20 PM

Agreed... I guess I will continue to use the gps on the pc from here on out. If there was a hardware device that was inexpensive that expected serial output of a gps and could translate to the mount, I'd buy it. But typically these types of devices (if they exist) are not inexpensive.

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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: Jmel]
      #6130138 - 10/10/13 11:16 PM

Bringing this thread back from the dead....

I have updates...

It took me months but I etched a PC board, bought all of the necessary IC's, Capacitors, cables, connectors, and what not... All of the bits and pieces can be easily sourced for less than $10 if you are willing to wait 20 days of shipping from the far east.

Completed soldering the whole thing today...

I have pictures of all of it that I will happily post and I have PDF's and other formats of my PC board that I will also share...

Also of interest, while I was waiting for parts... a unused #93965 converter came up for sale on flee-bay and I scooped it. It is shipping slower than the second coming, as I watch it track through several USPS sorting facilities on the wrong side of the continent... I suspect I won't have it till after Columbus Day...

My plan is to first get this all working with the #93965...

If it works I may never plug in my home brew version of the #93965... Frankly I'm not all that interested in risking either mount on this circuit... If the #93965 doesn't work I will likely give up and drive it through the HC which I know works.

If it does work... then I will probably build a 12V power connecter/tester to make sure that the voltages are all with in the comfortable range before I risk my mount.

The guys at work, who helped me build this thing are taking an office pool if I will be able to wait to do the necessary testing or if I will just chance it.


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dmdouglass
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6130237 - 10/11/13 12:22 AM

Keep us posted...

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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #6147517 - 10/19/13 10:15 PM Attachment (43 downloads)

Update... So my little 93965 arrived... and while it did cross the continent its path seemed as simple and as fast as Hannibal's crossing of the Alps... Be that as it may... the second thing I did when I got this "newish" box home... was take it apart... the first thing was to make sure it works.

So here are what the front of guts look like:


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6147537 - 10/19/13 10:25 PM Attachment (37 downloads)

And the back looks likes like this...

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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6147576 - 10/19/13 10:45 PM

This should solve a lot of the mysteries about the Aux ports and the home built converters...

First off this little OE gizmo's has two IC's and a voltage regulator just like the "home brew" version... and the two IC's are a Max232 and an 74HC125... and the Voltage regulator is a simple 12V-5V regulator... so far so good... interesting that the Home brew has 2 resistors... this one technically has 2 as well... but one is required to support the LED... so really it only has one... And the Home brew has 6 capacitors and this thing has 8! It looks like some of those capacitors might come into play in the Aux split... Maybe they act a form of voltage spike protection that can occur when you plug and unplug things...

And while most of the interesting traces are hidden by the RJ45 and RJ12 connectors... The ones that we can see don't match the Home brew schematic... For example in the photos you can see that pin 9 of the Max232 seems to go to pin 13 of the 74HC125 and yet the wiring diagram has pin 9 going to pins 1 & 4 of the buffer chip... If you follow some of the traces the HC125 chip and at least one of the capacitors is involved in the Aux split... looks like the Aux split is a little more complicated then originally thought too.

With this knowledge in hand.. and after testing that the signal ports on the telescope side of my home built converter weren't outputting more than 5V's I plugged it into my laptop and scope and no surprise... It didn't work... and it didn't do any damage either..

Back to the test of the 93965 with NexRemote...

In short.. Wow.. works fine over a long haul (35') Cat 6 wire... telescope slews, tracks, hibernates and homes with direction from the remote laptop like it was being driven from a hand controller. Mission accomplished... too bad that I couldn't get the home brew to work... The good news is I only wasted about $6 building the thing...

Celestron should consider bringing this back as part of a pier adapter kit for some of their "heavier" mounts.


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6154414 - 10/23/13 08:58 PM

Another update.

Not able to leave well enough alone, the two circuits were sent to my radio shop at work to see why one works and one didn't

An employee of mine who understands TTL circuits and IC logic way better than me took a look at both and specifically at the Homebrew circuit... His observation is that the Homebrew should work.

Turns out that as a result of initially installing the 12-5v rectifier backwards I had fried the 74HC125 buffer chip... I swapped that out... and tada... the home brew came to life.

I will post pics and Pdf versions of the PC board tomorrow.

With a little effort this can be made small enough to fit inside of a 2XAA battery box.


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6155454 - 10/24/13 12:32 PM Attachment (52 downloads)

So now that I actually have my version of the Home brew working I feel a little more comfortable posting photos.

Here is the PC board in the vice ready to be soldered.


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6155465 - 10/24/13 12:36 PM Attachment (75 downloads)

And here is a PDF version of the PC board.

You will see that there are two versions the one in the vice is the smaller one on the right. Since then I moved the 12V rectifier to a more open spot of the board... in version 1.0 it is too jammed up with the buffering capacitors and with its heat sink it is too tall to fit in the 2XAA box that I got on ebay for 99 cents.


In version 2.0 the rectifier has enough room to be bent over and lie flat.

I have tested and can confirm that this circuit works great with both my CGEM and ASGT.

Of course as always... double check your work, and use at your own risk...

If you are following this... on my first attempt I installed the rectifier backwards and was pushing a full 12V through the whole circuit. This fired the 74HC125. Of course if it had of been attached to the scope at the time it would have likely fired something in the scope too...

BEFORE you plug anything like this to your scope, attach it to an external 12V power supply (jumped with the right polarity to the red and yellow RJ12 wires from the scope) and read the volage levels coming back to the scope on the blue, black and green wires... if you see ANYTHING over 5v STOP, and figure out what is wrong.

If anyone wants the native drawing of the PC board or a list of components and cheap ebay vendors to supply them... PM me and I will happily provide them.

I literally bought enough parts to build two of these for about $8.


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derelicte
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Reged: 08/30/13

Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6155702 - 10/24/13 02:47 PM

Great work!

Is nextremote the only sw that can communicate with the mount over this interface? The reason I ask is I'd like to build a bluetooth serial adapter that plugs into the aux port and communicates with a tablet running Sky safari.

I have this setup working now, but the bluetooth adapter is plugged into the hand control. I'd like to move it to the aux port so I can power it from the mount and not use another battery.

This circuit is pretty simple. I could design a pcb pretty easily that should only cost a few dollars from my favorite cheap pcb house, oshpark.com

Thanks!


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ur7x
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: derelicte]
      #6156320 - 10/24/13 08:40 PM

As far as I have been able to determine, the scope needs either NexRemote or the HC (and not both at the same time) to store the scope alignment... No NexRemote or no HC and the scope is basically clueless as to where it is pointing.

All connections that I have seen that attempt to control the scope need to go through either NexRemote or the HC

There are bluetooth and wifi tools that will let an iPad perform a remote takeover of a PC (or a laptop) but this just add layers of complexity.

Have you tried running the Sky Safari through the virtual com port in NexRemote... That seems to be how it is done.


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derelicte
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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6157177 - 10/25/13 10:43 AM

That's a bummer. I was hoping to eliminate the bt connection to the hc.

I haven't tried connecting nexremote to the bt adapter because of a limitation in the nexremote software. It won't let you connect to a serial port above 16. The bt stack running on my laptop creates a virtual com port in the 40's. I haven't bothered to try a different bt adapter and stack to try this out as I don't want to use nextremote as a bridge. I just want the tablet to connect to the scope directly via bt.

So until sky safari can talk to the mount via the aux port, I guess my idea is dead.


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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: ur7x]
      #6244238 - 12/10/13 08:41 AM

First off, congratulations on seeing this undertaking through to the end! Based on this thread it was a wild and challenging ride!

I'm new here and this is my first post. I was hoping you could answer a question though.

I've got Parkinson's disease and the tremors that go along with it so I try to avoid (or at least minimize) soldering tasks. I'd like to try making this homebrew AUX-to-PC port adapter on one of those prototyping boards using sockets, pins, posts, and wire jumpers, etc. rather than soldering and then if/when I get it working I could drizzle it with epoxy to 'lock it down'.

With that in mind, I was wondering... based on what you know now would it be possible or advisable to try to leverage one of the prefab serial to TTL (or USB to TTL) interface modules found on eBay or are they not suitable for the application? Could the right prefab module (maybe one that already includes the 5 V regulator) be wired with the 74HC125 chip to streamline construction?

I saw that this was the root of your original question that kicked off this thread but I didn't see that this possibility got pursued or investigated. Is it worth exploring further?

I wonder why Celestron stopped making the auxiliary port accessory? It was definitely the easiest way to add a PC port to a Celestron mount. It's not like they wouldn't sell!

Thanks in advance for your time.
Vic


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Re: Celestron Nexstar "AUX" port... Serial to TTL new [Re: vicd]
      #6244567 - 12/10/13 11:45 AM

Quote:

First off, congratulations on seeing this undertaking through to the end! Based on this thread it was a wild and challenging ride!

I'm new here and this is my first post. I was hoping you could answer a question though.

I've got Parkinson's disease and the tremors that go along with it so I try to avoid (or at least minimize) soldering tasks. I'd like to try making this homebrew AUX-to-PC port adapter on one of those prototyping boards using sockets, pins, posts, and wire jumpers, etc. rather than soldering and then if/when I get it working I could drizzle it with epoxy to 'lock it down'.

With that in mind, I was wondering... based on what you know now would it be possible or advisable to try to leverage one of the prefab serial to TTL (or USB to TTL) interface modules found on eBay or are they not suitable for the application? Could the right prefab module (maybe one that already includes the 5 V regulator) be wired with the 74HC125 chip to streamline construction?

I saw that this was the root of your original question that kicked off this thread but I didn't see that this possibility got pursued or investigated. Is it worth exploring further?

I wonder why Celestron stopped making the auxiliary port accessory? It was definitely the easiest way to add a PC port to a Celestron mount. It's not like they wouldn't sell!

Thanks in advance for your time.
Vic




Thanks for the post, your idea of starting with a prefab serial to ttl board was exactly my idea, but after I got into the project, it became clear to me that the risk to my mount(s) was not worth the few bucks I was going to save so I abandoned that line of thought. To do this I would have to build a test/simulate/stimulate system to ensure that a confortable <5V ttl signal was all that was coming out of the translater. Of course the curiosity here was that I had to build that setup anyway before I was willing to chance a $1200 (or even a $600) mount on a home brew project. And as you will note, as you follow my thread here, it is EASY to make a simple mistake and build something that could (and likely would have) killed my mounts electronics.

I have some luxury in that where I work, I have a small army of guys who work for me who would love to take a break from configuring servers and network equipment and solder something goofy "for the boss".

Ask around,I'm sure you will find friends and family who will solder this up for you in exchange for a bottle of wine or a 6pack of beer.

Failing that, the OE converter still do come up for sale from time to time on the classifieds here or on ebay. They seem to go for about $50 (I got mine for $40), vendor claimed it was "new" It had clearly been out of the box, but it was mint and it works perfectly so who am I to complain.

And ya, given that the guts of these things probably cost Celestron around $1.50 (I bought enough components to build 2 for less than $8...) I can not see why the new mounts don't come with PC ports built in or even better why they don't still sell these converters.

Once you have controlled your mount with a PC app like TheSky (or what have you), you will never got back to the hand controller. For those of us with a semi-permanent pier set up, or a permanent observatory, this is the first thing to buy/build/obtain.


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