Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

Pages: 1
AlBoning
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/06/11

Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new
      #6072639 - 09/10/13 05:57 AM

It's been about ten months since I last fired up the Atlas that I got the previous December.

At first I didn't even notice there was a problem. The controller asked if I wanted to start from park and that was the last prompt for information I saw. As I was intent on slewing to Mirach and aligning the RACI and Telrad I just slewed off and did so without noticing that it didn't ask me if I wanted to do an alignment. It was when I went to PARK the scope in preparation to doing an alignment and couldn't call up the Utility Menu to access the PARK Command that I became aware that the only controller functions that were working were slewing and changing the slew rate.

I tried and checked everything I could think of, on/off, unplug/plug in, battery voltage, stand alone mode of the controller, without avail ... the only thing I can think of is that after ten months idle the firmware could stand to be refreshed.

Since I got the Atlas Orion has added a controller manual to their list of downloads. This manual mentions that the controller has a self diagnostic routine. However, it is meant to done in stand alone mode with a couple of shorted plugs inserted. Without such plugs it is unable to test the COM ports. Nonetheless I tried the self diagnostic and as to be expected it did report a failure in both COM ports, but did not report an EEPROM Failure, or a Flash Failure, additionally it tests all keys for function (they all work) and displays the voltage and temperature (it does).

I'll be heading off to the Shack in the morning for a RS232/USB cable so I can download/refresh the firmware from my computer to the controller. Currently I have V3.27 and I've already downloaded the new version firmware to my computer.

Course I've already written to Orion but surely this problem has come up before and someone here knows what to do about it. If so I'd like to hear about. Besides the answer here is likely to come quicker.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rimcrazy
sage


Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Overgaard, AZ
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: AlBoning]
      #6072728 - 09/10/13 07:55 AM

Having manufactured EEPROM's for a number of years, I believe I can safely say that I would be very surprised if your problem is the EEPROM's. More than likely you have a cable or connector which has failed. If there is an open connector it could have become corroded, covered with bug dung, spider webs, dust, etc. A dirty connector would cause a communication failure. EEPROM's, especially the serial kind used in this kind of application, require million's of R/W cycles before you even approach a failure point.

That being said, not knowing your setup or location, if you have a fixed observatory could you have had a lightning strike close by? How about a power surge from your power company? My observatory is located in a rural community. Until I put everything computer/network related on UPS's I was losing about 2 routers and/or switches a year. I never tracked it down but I suspect a combination of surges from my power company and possibly close lightning strikes as we get a lot of T-storms in July/Aug (Arizona).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: AlBoning]
      #6072825 - 09/10/13 09:22 AM

No...it is not like day old fish.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6072846 - 09/10/13 09:43 AM

I guess random gamma rays could affect the ROM but that is highly unlikely.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6073631 - 09/10/13 05:44 PM

Quote:

No...it is not like day old fish.




That comment still has me laughing Rod.

I glad I wasn't drinking milk.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mich_al
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/10/09

Loc: Rural central lower Michigan ...
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: JimMo]
      #6073701 - 09/10/13 06:32 PM

Most failures with electronic gear, especially that that has been sitting unused, is connector related. Reseat everything possible, including plug in EPROMS. Don't bend amy pins.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
AlBoning
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/06/11

Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: mich_al]
      #6073960 - 09/10/13 09:23 PM

That the hand controller exhibits the same dysfunctionality (the only commands working are slewing and changing the slew rate, which seems to rule out the motor controller board as the source of the problem) whether connected to the mount or in stand alone mode rules out a cable connection as the problem.

I was able to refresh the V3.27 firmware (to no effect) and load the V3.35 firmware (also to no effect) rules out the EEPROM as the problem.

Orion's recommendation to check the R232/USB adapter (a connector I don't even have so that couldn't be the problem) seems to rule out any solution other than replacing the controller.

At this point it seems there is no alternative to the purchase of another controller.

I'm no fan of GoTo and since the controller is still slewing the mount and I can change the slew rate the mount remains useful and I could live with that, provided it is tracking. Something I'm checking right now. But it would irritate me every time I thought about the Atlas or used it that it wasn't fully functional, and the 400 bux for a new controller would be worth it to me to just get it off my mind.

Thank you to each of you for considering and writing a response.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ravenous
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: AlBoning]
      #6074578 - 09/11/13 08:44 AM

A piece of electronics left alone for ten months could develop any number of faults.

You've ruled out the connecting cable, but on the circuit board I guess there will be any number of connectors, mini board mounted switches, etc that could have got a bit dirty. (I don't know anything about your controller but I'm guessing there could be any number of possible conmponents that could go dodgy.)

If it's still under warranty, speak to the dealer. If it's out of warranty, you could try opening it up yourself (if this is even possible) and checking every connector on there for cleanliness, cycling every switch (if any) twice, etc to see if it clears the problem... you never know...

Look again at mich_al's post, going over the board looking for something that might not be properly in its socket is the first thing to try.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
AlBoning
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/06/11

Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: Ravenous]
      #6075781 - 09/11/13 08:15 PM

Call me an idiot. Thank you I have earned it. The problem was never with the controller it was with me. I was hitting ESC instead of ENTER to bypass the Solar Viewing Warning. Doing so to abort the Solar Viewing Warning, or at any point during entry of all the setup parameters disables all key functions other than slewing and changing the slewing rate until one hits ENTER once again launching the warning, and hits ENTER again to begin the string of prompts for setup parameters.

Fortunately I discovered this within 30 min of placing the order for a replacement so I was able to cancel the order. Go ahead laugh. I am suitably chagrined.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rimcrazy
sage


Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Overgaard, AZ
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: AlBoning]
      #6075824 - 09/11/13 08:42 PM

Don't feel bad. I sent my first CCD camera, an ST7 XME camera all the way back to SBIG for repair simply because I did not know that that model won't turn on unless BOTH the power is applied and the USB port is plugged into a live socket. They did a nice job refurbishing it but it worked fine. Nothing broken. I would imagine CN is full of similar such stories.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: AlBoning]
      #6075972 - 09/11/13 10:09 PM

Quote:

Call me an idiot. Thank you I have earned it. The problem was never with the controller it was with me. I was hitting ESC instead of ENTER to bypass the Solar Viewing Warning. Doing so to abort the Solar Viewing Warning, or at any point during entry of all the setup parameters disables all key functions other than slewing and changing the slewing rate until one hits ENTER once again launching the warning, and hits ENTER again to begin the string of prompts for setup parameters.

Fortunately I discovered this within 30 min of placing the order for a replacement so I was able to cancel the order. Go ahead laugh. I am suitably chagrined.




D'oh. I hate when that happens to me. Operator error was always one of my worst problems. Manuals? We don't need no stinking manuals.

I'm mostly better now.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? [Re: JimMo]
      #6076310 - 09/12/13 03:19 AM

It may be worth posting a message to the support people telling them what you did and suggesting that they ask the developers if there's some way to make the control more intuitive. This sort of UI design isn't easy and the software tends to teach people how to work round things, without even realising they are doing it.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #6079657 - 09/14/13 12:07 AM

Quote:

Does Firmware "Spoil" from Lack of Use?




Another example of bit rot. Happens all the time (especially with software I write).

Thanks for reporting back the real problem, as hard as that might be. Another advantage of reporting this to the developers is it can be added to the troubleshooting tree for their support group ("can", not necessarily "will").


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1


Extra information
9 registered and 32 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Dave M, richard7, bilgebay 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 598

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics