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Old NexStar GPS motor control and hand control firmware update info

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#26 RogerClark

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 07:51 PM

My base unit has #11041 written on it.

 

I bought it in 2005 or 2006, but the PCB in the HC is dated 2003. I was pretty sure it was a Nexstar 4 (something)

 

When I looked up what scope a #11041 related to I got a lot of search results for Nexstar 4GT, however perhaps it now appears that its a Nexstar 4 (not GT)

 

http://astro.ago.fmf.../celestron.html

 

 

Looks like I initially posted to the wrong thread as this thread looks like it may be only for the GPS versions and mine pre-dates those (sorry for the mistake)



#27 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 08:16 PM

My base unit has #11041 written on it.

 

I bought it in 2005 or 2006, but the PCB in the HC is dated 2003. I was pretty sure it was a Nexstar 4 (something)

 

When I looked up what scope a #11041 related to I got a lot of search results for Nexstar 4GT, however perhaps it now appears that its a Nexstar 4 (not GT)

 

http://astro.ago.fmf.../celestron.html

 

 

Looks like I initially posted to the wrong thread as this thread looks like it may be only for the GPS versions and mine pre-dates those (sorry for the mistake)

You have a NexStar 4GT.  The NexStar GT series was released shortly before the NexStar GPS series.  All that said, ignore all that info I posted about connecting via the PC Port on the base :-)

 

Next - there is no update for the motor control; the version you have is the only motor control firmware Celestron produced for those mounts.

 

Finally, visit my website here for firmware version info for the NexStar GT:

https://www.nexstars...om/Firmware.htm

The article "NexStar GT, Orion StarSeeker and Tasco StarGuide".  That version of the GT mount is compatible with the NexStar version 4 hand control, but not the currently available NexStar+ hand control.  The version 4 hand control does support the pass-through commands which allow NexRemote to work and also make it compatible with most other software currently on the market.  If you have more questions, it would be best to start another topic.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#28 RogerClark

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 08:32 PM

Mike

 

Thanks very much for the information.

 

Since my HC returns ASCII code 101 when I send it a "V", I think its probably version 1.01 (listed on your page) and linked to https://www.nexstars...TController.htm

 

If I have any more questions I'll star a new thread. But I'm making reasonable process, with my command converter microcontroller (STM32F103 using the Arduino API etc), and hopefully I'll get Stellarium taking to the HC soon.

 

Thanks again

Roger



#29 ChuckM

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 11:57 AM

I have a Nexstar 11 GPS that I purchase new in 2001. I have some questions on the Hand Controller. I did upgrade to the Motor Controller Version 4.06 with no issues. I do have problems with the Hand Controllers. I have two versions:

 

Hand Controller #1

 

Newer Version 

Firmware Version 5.29.7137 (Upgraded with CFM)

Boot Version = 3.1.6100

 

Hand Controller #2

 

Older Version

Firmware Version 4.12 (Upgraded with HCUPDATE)

 

With either of these two Hand Controllers the GPS function no longer works. It never searches for the GPS signal if I have the GPS on or off in the utilities selection.

 

The new version (Hand Controller #1) jumps on slew with the motor speed set up for 7 or greater.

 

I have tried in vain to get assistance from the Celestron Support line and have abandoned any hope of getting the GPS to operate again. Their last suggestion was to replace the GPS unit, which the do not have in stock.

 

So, my questions to the group are, what is the last tested successful firmware version of hand controllers where the GPS still operated and smooth slewing? Finally, does anyone else have issues with question to Celestron. They don't seem to be very knowledgeable on legacy equipment. Thanks everyone.

 



#30 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 08:51 PM

Hi Chuck,

 

We are at a point where Celestron's support staff have not personally used the oldest NexStar models, the GPS included.  So, they are limited to what they can pull from their internal knowledge base.

 

Regarding the NexStar+ HC (#1), I do have older firmware available that I know works well on my vintage 2001 NexStar 11 GPS.  If you would like to try that older firmware, go to this page of my website:

https://www.nexstars...NexStarPlus.htm

and send email via the link in the second paragraph.  Typically, individuals have not needed the older firmware unless they find the arrow buttons are sometimes non-responsive or the newer firmware simply doesn't seem to work at all with their NexStar GPS scope.

 

What exactly do you mean by "jumps on slew"?  Do you mean it jumps at the beginning or the end (or both) of any manual movement via the arrow buttons?  Have you attempted adjusting the backlash settings in the menu?  Sounds like they are set too high.

 

Regarding the version 4 HC (#2), that is my preferred model for all my scopes.  The current firmware version is 4.21, perhaps you just mistyped?

 

Regarding the GPS, when GPS is ON in the Utilities menu (often people confuse the current state as the menu prompts to press ENTER to change rather than telling you what the state currently is), do you ever see a "no response" error?  When you say it never searches for GPS, how are you determining it is not searching?  When was the last time GPS worked?

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#31 ChuckM

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 10:08 PM

Mike,

 

Thank you for your response. In regards to HC #2, that is not a typo. When I tried to upgrade the Version 4 Hand Controller to 4.21 using HCUpdate program. It did complete the update (09D7), but cannot verify. Errors with "Found Difference at Bank; 0, Block; 0". I tried a Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 computers with a Keyspan USA-19HS with the latest Keyspan software and a serial port built in. I receive no “Non-Response” errors. Celestron could not help me with this error.

 

With the GPS, I don’t remember when was the last time it worked. When I try with HC #2, it does this:

 

Turn on Scope

Nexstar GPS “Press ENTER to begin alignment.”

Turn on GPS in Utilities

Press ENTER

Select Method “Auto Two Star”

ENTER

 

At this time there is a pause with a blank screen, then it asks for the local time, which is incorrect and then wants me to enter the time, longitude, latitude, time, time zone, and date. This happens every time. In the distant pass it used to say “Searching for GPS”. I have tried a complete reset, both hand controllers, replaced the GPS battery twice and check it with a volt meter.

 

As for the possible jumping which occurs in both directions, the backlash is set to “0”. I do have a ticket into Celestron and I am waiting for a response on that issue. 

 

Thank you again,

Chuck



#32 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 11:47 PM

Mike,

 

Thank you for your response. In regards to HC #2, that is not a typo. When I tried to upgrade the Version 4 Hand Controller to 4.21 using HCUpdate program. It did complete the update (09D7), but cannot verify. Errors with "Found Difference at Bank; 0, Block; 0". I tried a Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 computers with a Keyspan USA-19HS with the latest Keyspan software and a serial port built in. I receive no “Non-Response” errors. Celestron could not help me with this error.

 

With the GPS, I don’t remember when was the last time it worked. When I try with HC #2, it does this:

 

Turn on Scope

Nexstar GPS “Press ENTER to begin alignment.”

Turn on GPS in Utilities

Press ENTER

Select Method “Auto Two Star”

ENTER

 

At this time there is a pause with a blank screen, then it asks for the local time, which is incorrect and then wants me to enter the time, longitude, latitude, time, time zone, and date. This happens every time. In the distant pass it used to say “Searching for GPS”. I have tried a complete reset, both hand controllers, replaced the GPS battery twice and check it with a volt meter.

 

As for the possible jumping which occurs in both directions, the backlash is set to “0”. I do have a ticket into Celestron and I am waiting for a response on that issue. 

 

Thank you again,

Chuck

Hi Chuck,

 

Regarding HC #2 - when it does not verify with firmware 4.21, do you then load 4.12 as you know that one works?  Or is it failing right at the beginning and not loading 4.21?  Or are you attempting to use the "verify" button before you try the "program" button in HCupdate?  Your description does seem to indicate that you are using the "program" button but it fails the automatic verification; but I don't yet know how you are getting back to 4.12.

 

It sounds like the GPS module is simply dead.  Is it correct that after you attempt an alignment, if you go back into Utilities you find that GPS is again off (it is again prompting you to press ENTER to turn on GPS)?  Normal operation of the hand control is that if it cannot location a GPS module, it will automatically turn GPS off in the Utilities.  It could be:

a) the entire GPS module is inoperable

b) just the part of the GPS module that interfaces with the serial board under the top cover of the base is bad

c) you have a faulty connection between the GPS board and the interface board sandwiched right underneath it

d) you have a faulty connection between that little interface board and the serial board under the top cover

 

Reseating the GPS board to the little interface board may fix it or reseating all the connector cables might fix it.

 

It may be worth a try to load the older firmware on the NexStar+ HC to see if that fixes the jumping.  I saw your message in email and I'll send you the instructions for the older firmware as soon as I find them :-)  I did actually post the instructions here on Cloudy Nights somewhere so I might find them here before I get a chance to look for them on my home computer.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#33 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 11:51 PM

Okay, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, here is the posting:

https://www.cloudyni...ight/?p=8534001

These are the same instructions I send via email.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#34 ChuckM

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 12:09 AM

Mike,

 

HC #2 does program to 4.21, but then fails the verification. From there I backtrack through all revisions, which all fail until I get back to 4.12 which passes.

 

The GPS is off by default when I power the scope on and have to manually turn in on in Utilities. I’ll double check all of the  connections again with the GPS board, interface board, and cabling, but I fear it’s a bad GPS unit.

 

Thanks for the link to the older firmware release. I’ll give it a try in the morning.

 

Thanks again



#35 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 01:00 AM

HC #2 does program to 4.21, but then fails the verification. From there I backtrack through all revisions, which all fail until I get back to 4.12 which passes.

 

Hi Chuck,

 

Each successive version of 4.xx firmware was larger in size - sounds like there is a bad memory location in HC #2 which isn't in use until you go above version 4.12.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com


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#36 mbolen

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 12:53 AM

Alright Michael Swanson, I’ve got a novel for you—I’m going to be lengthy in case there is useful information in any of it. I’m counting on you to tell me that I need to push two buttons on the hand controller and it will all be fixed! :-)

So, I couldn’t find anyone who had the hardware or the know how to flash the MC board on my old GPS 11. So I sprung for a new fork with MC board v. 4.0 and a hand controller NXS v. 4.21. I saw it posted in the classifieds here on cloudynights. When it came, I moved the telescope to the new fork and took it out for a test run. I had it mounted AZ. Everything looked good, it aligned quickly and easily. I pointed it at M42 and it went right to it. I then attached my DSLR to the back (I’ve always been curious about how long of an exposure I can take without a wedge). But I couldn’t get the image in focus. After taking a closer look, I found that the stars were bouncing ever so slightly in the field of view about every second, which is why it seemed like I couldn’t get it in focus. I thought maybe the gears were a little warn, so I decided to move the MC board, the HC, and the scope to my original fork. I followed instructions on how to replace the MC board that I found on this site. I ran the test that the instructions said after moving the MC board (watch directions in settings, right button causes the azimuth to increase and up button causes azimuth to decrease). But something is very wrong when I try to align it. It almost seems like the azimuth is backwards. For example, when I try to do the auto two-star alignment, I start with Betelgeuse, and align it. Then I choose Rigel and it slews down and to the left (currently Rigel is down at to the right of Betelgeuse). When I slew it to Rigel and push align, it says alignment success, but it can’t find either alignment Star again when I tell it to slew to them. As I watch the alignment stars, they move across the FOV fairly quickly—in fact, I even turned the scope off to watch if it was even tracking in the right direction, and the movement of the star in the FOV is slower with the scope turned off than with it “aligned”. Also, when when I push the right button the scope rotate counter clockwise, and vice versa when I push the left button. I tried resetting everything to factory settings, but it doesn’t seem to have helped.

So what I really need it either a way to fix the stars from bouncing in the new fork, or a way to fix the alignment with the updated MC board and HC on my old fork (or both).

Any advice?

Thanks,

Mitch

#37 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 06:20 AM

Hi Mitch,

Some of the earliest NexStar 11 GPS mounts required an adapter cable to invert the direction of one of the axes with some variations of the mc board. I don't have all the details about this (and I don't think Celestron does either) but I think that is your problem when you moved the electronics to the original mount.

As far as the jump on the newer mount, MC version 4.06 and 4.00 are the only two that do NOT experience that problem to some extent in alt-az. So, I think you have a mechanical issue but wouldn't really know where to look without seeing the scope in person. You might be able to compare the two mounts with the covers off to find the problem.


Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com

#38 mbolen

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 12:52 AM

Mike,

Thanks so much for the quick reply! My brother and I were discussing and we think it’s possible that the problem is the altitude gear in the new mount. So, we are considering taking the arm with the altitude gear from my old one, and pairing it with the base/azimuth mount of the new one, the new MC board, and the new HC. After looking at things, it seem like this would only involve feeding a few wires through the arm to accomplish this. Before we start ripping pieces of of each of these mounts, is there anything about this plan that seems like a bad idea?

Merry Christmas!

Mitch

#39 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 03:08 AM

Hi Mitch,

 

It should work.  You definitely have enough parts to make at least one good mount!  Looking forward to your report :-)

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.NexStarSite.com



#40 mbolen

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 02:02 PM

Mike,

I think this story has a happy ending! (Although I technically haven’t tried it out on a clear night yet) As we started taking things apart, we found that my old mount (with the good gears) HAD the adapter cable on it already, so all we had to do was remove the adapter cable! Everything appears to be working properly now! We did a test auto two star alignment indoors and it went to where the second star should be! I’m very excited! If you hadn’t mentioned the adapter cable in your comment, we never would’ve known how quick of a fix it was!

Thanks again,

Mitch

Edited by mbolen, 26 December 2018 - 02:03 PM.


#41 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 06:11 PM

Hi Mitch,

 

That rings a bell.  In fact, I believe this article at my website describes your situation:

https://www.nexstars...Replacement.htm

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#42 jogybaer

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Posted 18 May 2019 - 07:10 AM

Hello 12Bass,

i have two C8 Gps Forks with the old 1.xx mc Firmware.
Now i will program it with mc 4.06 Firmware.
Can you tell me how i can do this? I have a pi kit 3.5 Programmer with Programmer Software 3.01

Best regards

Juergen

#43 12Bass

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 04:27 PM

Greetings Juergen,

 

 

Here are the MC board flashing instructions that I received directly from Andre Paquette:

1) Become a member of the NexStar GPS Yahoo group: https://groups.yahoo...NexStarGPS/info

 

2) In the root of the files section: https://groups.yahoo...exStarGPS/files you'll find a file named "n11gpselectronics.zip". This includes the schematics for the motor board.

 

3) In my folder on that group: https://groups.yahoo...es/Andre Stuff/ you'll find a file named "mc1_0406.hex". That is the latest firmware, including bootloader, for the NexStar GPS telescopes.

 

4) Make an adapter from your PIC programmer to the motor board. From the schematic you can see there's a "PGM"  header that includes the 3 programming pins from each motor controller device.  I made an adapter that I use to connect to those three pins plus a 2-pin adapter to get +5V and ground from J9 (the Index connector).

 

5) Program the firmware: Load in the 0406 hex file. Use a configuration bits value of 0x3f72. Set the eeprom area to all zero *except* for the last byte (offset 0xff) which you should set to 0x01.

 

6) Repeat for the second motor controller device.

 

 



#44 fmav

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 08:49 AM

Hello,

 

I've bought a used NS 8 GPS two months ago. It had an upgradable MC, which could be upgraded to MC4.06 with a serial cable.

But the Hand control had V1.2 on it, which thanks to the hint of the OP, has been upgraded to V2.2.

I have used a GALEP IV programmer and a PLCC to DIP adapter.

The PCB was marked with the label "NXW210 REV.B 2001"

The PCB of my hand controller has a PIC16C756A microcontroller and two AT49F040 flash memory chips (for a total of 512kx16 memory)

But now, with the GPS rollover problem I have investigated a little more the firmware versions and I noticed that the NXS98.22 (which is a v4 firmware) the same size as the V2.2 firmware is (512kx16). Furthermore it is combatible with the 16C756A processor of my PCB.

So I flashed the 49F040 flash memory chips of my hc with the NXS98.22 binary file (after splitting it in high and low bytes of course). After powering up, the HC booted normally and the 98.22 firmware (V4) is running on my old HC. So far everything works fine.

I've tried also the serial cable upgrade, the HC upgrade program finds the HC, but when a programming procedure starts, the whole flash memory is being erased, including the boot loader, so the in-circuit programming cannot be continued and the memory chips have to be programmed with an external programmer again.

For the 49F040 there is a boot-block protection option, which prevents the boot-block from being deleted-altered. I've tried this also, but with no success. Apparently the V4 HC uses another flash memory chip like 29C040 which allows a single block erase...??

 

My questions are:

has anybody opened his V4 HC and knows what memory chips are installed?

Also, does anybody have the schematic of the V4 HC, to confirm that the two controllers are compatible?

Or could somebody take a photograph of the pcb of his V4 Hc.

 

It would be helpfull for a lot of people, as many have an old hc, which is (was) considered as non-upgradeable to V4.

Thank you


Edited by fmav, 22 June 2019 - 08:50 AM.


#45 12Bass

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 02:40 AM

My questions are:

has anybody opened his V4 HC and knows what memory chips are installed?

Also, does anybody have the schematic of the V4 HC, to confirm that the two controllers are compatible?

Or could somebody take a photograph of the pcb of his V4 Hc.

 

It would be helpfull for a lot of people, as many have an old hc, which is (was) considered as non-upgradeable to V4.

Thank you

IIRC, some years ago Andre Paquette looked into the possibility of upgrading original NexStar GPS hand controls to version 4 specifications; however, I am not aware of the technical details myself.  Andre may be able to provide more assistance.  A Google or Bing image search may reveal more information about the specific ICs used in each handset. 

 

I'm somewhat surprised that you got v4 working with a flash.  Good to know that it works!  Even if the serial programming function doesn't work, this may not be much of an issue as it seems doubtful that Celestron will offer any future updates to v4 hand controls after the date rollover fix.  At the moment, v4 seems the most up to date hand control for the GPS mounts as the newer v5 units are not reliable in operation; almost every session I've attempted with mine resulted in No Response 16/17 errors at some point, requiring re-alignment of the scope.  Sadly, SkySafari version 5 and higher are not compatible with the original handset running firmware v1.6/2.2, but are compatible with v4.  Thus, flashing an original GPS hand control with v4 could be useful for some users.


Edited by 12Bass, 07 July 2019 - 03:10 AM.


#46 fmav

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 03:33 AM

So far the upgraded Hand Controller is working as it should.

I have found pictures of HC V4. The flash memory chip of the new version pcb is the SST 39SF040. I have ordered a couple and when I receive them I will try the upgrade procedure, which I am pretty sure will succeed.

I attach a picture of the pcb of my HC and of the newer V4

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Nexstar my HC pcb2.jpg
  • Nexstar HC pcb.jpg

Edited by fmav, 07 July 2019 - 04:41 AM.

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#47 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 03:49 AM

IIRC, some years ago Andre Paquette looked into the possibility of upgrading original NexStar GPS hand controls to version 4 specifications; however, I am not aware of the technical details myself. Andre may be able to provide more assistance.

<snip>

I'm somewhat surprised that you got v4 working with a flash.
<snip>


Actually, for a number of years Andre provided the service of flashing 1.2/1.6/2.2/3.0 hand controls to the latest v4 firmware but he discontinued the service about 7 or 8 years ago. He also provided the same upgrade service for older MC boards.

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com

#48 12Bass

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 04:46 AM

Thanks to Fanis (fmav) for providing the above info, along with the split v4 binaries.  I've successfully used a TL866A to flash my original NexStar GPS hand control to the latest v4 firmware (NXS98.22).  Apart from requiring a reset (hold zero button at power on), the old handset seems to be working properly.  At the moment it is connected to my Android phone via a Bluetooth to serial/RS-232 adapter, running SkySafari 5.  There was some question as to whether the old GPS handset serial port would work correctly due to the inability to program new firmware mentioned above; however, thankfully that particular hardware limitation does not seem to affect software telescope control.

 

I had considered buying a v4 handset due to the fact that v5 has compatibility issues with GPS mounts; however, if the v4 flash continues to work as expected, this will no longer be necessary.

 

Owners of original v1.2/1.6/2.2 GPS hand controls may find it useful to flash upgrade to the latest v4 firmware if they want to use software like SkySafari or have the newer firmware features.  Disassembly, IC removal, flashing, and reassembly only took a few minutes.  It does, however, mean losing the convenient North & Level GPS alignment routine, which is replaced with SkyAlign.



#49 12Bass

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 04:59 AM

So far the upgraded Hand Controller is working as it should.

I have found pictures of HC V4. The flash memory chip of the new version pcb is the SST 39SF040. I have ordered a couple and when I receive them I will try the upgrade procedure, which I am pretty sure will succeed.

I attach a picture of the pcb of my HC and of the newer V4

Are you planning on removing the GPS handset's original flash memory IC and replacing it with SST39SF040, then using the serial port for firmware upgrading?  Even if this proves unsuccessful, as mentioned above, the inability to program via the serial port may not be an issue because it seems unlikely that Celestron will be providing future firmware updates for v4 hand controls. 

 

Please update the thread with your results.



#50 12Bass

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 05:04 AM

Actually, for a number of years Andre provided the service of flashing 1.2/1.6/2.2/3.0 hand controls to the latest v4 firmware but he discontinued the service about 7 or 8 years ago. He also provided the same upgrade service for older MC boards.
 

Thanks, Mike.

 

While I knew that Andre provided NexStar GPS HC and MC firmware upgrades for many years, I was unaware that he offered a v4 flash upgrade for older GPS handsets.  Hopefully, with the above info, most GPS owners with old firmware will be able to upgrade their mounts and handsets themselves, or have a friend do it for them if they lack the necessary technical know-how.


  • NickInSac likes this


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