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EQ6-R Pro PC Connection

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#1 godber

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 12:58 PM

Hi All,
 
I've got a whole slew of dumb newbie questions but I'll start with this one.  I've got a new Sky Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount that I'd like to connect to my PC (mac or windows, I can do either, was planning on Win 10).  I tried last night with APT and my EQ6 seems different than a lot of the posts I've read.  For the most part I've seen people connect USB to a DB9 serial on the mount or  USB to RJ45 using special cables.  But my mount doesn't have a DB9 serial connector on it:
 
fcaxSg3.jpg?1

 

The SynScan has a USB host port on it as shown below:

 

cqdeFwH.jpg?1

 

So I tried connecting my USB cable to that and then choosing Utilities and Direct to PC mode and tried to control the mount using APT but it never manged to connect.  I fiddled with EQMOD too .. with no effect.

 

I guess the first question is ... is a direct PC connection supposed to work this way?  Or am I supposed to track down a new cable?  It's possible I just didn't go through my setup in fine enough detail to get eqmod/ascom working right ... I ended up playing the my camera and gave up on the mount for the night.

 

Thanks,

 

Austin



#2 TxGeek

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 02:43 PM

You'll need a cable like the USB2EQ5 from ShoeString Astronomy. You could also build the cable yourself but its cheap enough to buy. From there you'll replace the hand controller completely with the new cable.

 

 

http://www.store.sho...products_eq.htm



#3 Phil Sherman

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 11:14 PM

You should be able to use the hand controller as the interface between the computer and the mount. As recommended, it's usually better to use Shoestring's adapter that bypasses the hand controller.

 

EQMOD requires a serial connection to the mount. I don't know what the USB port on the hand controller looks like to the computer but if you open the device manager then connect the hand controller using its USB cable, you will see a new serial port appear if there's a USB to serial adapter inside the hand controller. The other common device the hand controller might appear as is a HID, Human Interface Device. If it's an HID, you can't control it with EQMOD.

 

The hand controller appears to have a serial input port. You should have a serial update cable that provides the (serial) DB9 to hand controller interface. This cable, used with a USB to serial adapter, with the hand controller set in "PC Direct" mode should provide your mount to PC connection. USB to serial adapters based on the FTDI chipset have, as a general rule, less issues than those based on other chipsets.

 

Don't forget that EQMOD must be set to communicate with the mount on the serial port that your computer decides to assign to the USB to serial adapter. The Device Manager will show you what serial port number was picked.



#4 godber

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 08:18 AM

Thanks,

 

I've ordered the USB2EQ5 and I will try to see if the SynScan shows up the Device Manager.  I'll follow up here if I get the latter working.

 

Austin



#5 Phil Sherman

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 11:59 AM

Skywatcher 's hand controller was never manufactured with a USB connection port. I suspect you have a user modified V3 hand controller with the DC power port replaced with a USB connector. Whomever did the modification would have needed to install USB to serial hardware inside the case and hard wire it to the serial input port, something I don't believe there's room for. It's more likely that the power port was replaced with a USB connector in an attempt to make the hand controller usable with a USB cable, using only the power from the cable. An interesting idea but not simple because the power port was designed to take 12V, not the 5V available from USB power.

 

Let us know if plugging in a USB cable has the hand controller show up in the device manager.



#6 skysensor

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 12:17 PM

I’m considering the same mount.  I thought I read on a vendor website (don’t remember which) that the handsets provided with new (current) EQ6-R mounts were now equipped with USB connection, and as a result, no computer connection cable is provided.  I guess somebody assumes that anybody with a computer has (what looks like from the picture) a USB printer cable.

 

Perhaps another recent buyer can confirm that the configuration pictured is new OEM.


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#7 Stricnine

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 12:58 PM

I’m considering the same mount.  I thought I read on a vendor website (don’t remember which) that the handsets provided with new (current) EQ6-R mounts were now equipped with USB connection, and as a result, no computer connection cable is provided.  I guess somebody assumes that anybody with a computer has (what looks like from the picture) a USB printer cable.

 

Perhaps another recent buyer can confirm that the configuration pictured is new OEM.

 

My new (a few months old) EQ6R Pro mount's SynScan hand controller is identical to the one pictured above. 


Edited by Stricnine, 25 December 2018 - 12:58 PM.


#8 jdupton

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 01:22 PM

Austin, (and others),

 

   I'll add a couple of notes. 

  1. You have the brand new hardware Version 5 SynScan Hand Control. They have added a USB connection and an internal USB to RS232 converter. You need to only cable up using USB to connect now. However, internally, it is still an RS232 interface. When you connect and hear the USB connection chime on the PC, look in the Device manager under COM and LPT ports to see which COM port was just connected. Use that COM port number (like COM5) in any program you plan to use for control. After connecting using the USB port on the Hand Control, just proceed as if you just made a Serial RS232 connection. (See tutorial Link below.)
     
  2. When using APT to drive the mount, you MUST NOT put the hand control into PC Direct Mode. Leave it in normal operational mode. PC Direct Mode is ONLY used when you are using EQMOD through the hand control. It will prevent connections when using any other ASCOM connection and driver.

 

   You may want to read through the tutorial I wrote earlier this year. It will provide a lot of background information and should help you get your new mount (Congratulation!!) connected and running under PC control.

 

https://www.atm-work...pc-connect.html

 

 

John


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#9 Bean614

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 05:03 PM

Phil Sherman wrote--"Skywatcher 's hand controller was never manufactured with a USB connection port".....???????

  Really?????

Why would you make such a false statement??  That's very misleading to the OP.  Skywatcher's newer Hand Controller units do, of course, have that USB port.



#10 skyward_eyes

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 05:13 PM

The new V5 hand controller which is currently shipping now has a USB-B port at the bottom to make PC connection easier.
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#11 Phil Sherman

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 10:56 AM

Phil Sherman wrote--"Skywatcher 's hand controller was never manufactured with a USB connection port".....???????

  Really?????

Why would you make such a false statement??  That's very misleading to the OP.  Skywatcher's newer Hand Controller units do, of course, have that USB port.

My Bad.

 

I've used Synscan V2 and V3 hand controllers for years, The new mount I purchased this past Summer has a V4 controller that has only the mount and serial connector on it. I also didn't realize that Synscan has (again) upgraded the hand controller to V5, which added the USB to serial adapter as part of the control board and provided the USB connection port.

 

While I was incorrect about the availability of a Synscan provided controller with the USB connector, I did recommend connecting it and checking if it presented itself as a serial device, This would have immediately resolved the question. Another resolution technique would have been to read the V5 Synscan manual for the hand controller. The usage of the USB port is documented there.


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#12 geethq

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 12:23 PM

you need to install PL2303 usb to serial driver so the PC can identify the V5 hand controller USB connection. i couldn't find the driver on skywatcher site so just googled and download it from somewhere.



#13 godber

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 11:38 AM

Hi All,

 

Thank's for all the feedback!  Clearly the USB connection in the recent V5 handset is news ... and you all were right when you said it would show up as a COM device.  John, your guide is excellent and does a great job describing the two different modes the hand controller can operate in ... you're either telling the hand controller to drive the motors or passing through it and driving the motors directly. 

 

I was able to do the "Basic ASCOM Control Connection Method" after installing the drivers linked to in John's guide.  I could then slew the scope with the manual telescope controls in Cartes du Ceil and take the following picture with APT:

 

https://imgur.com/a/ZjACMvJ

 

It's a distant mountain top, as it was still daylight at that point.

 

After the sun set and the stars came out I was able to 2 star align the scope with the hand controller.  It was a little tough due to trees blocking the entire northern sky and ... well ... I don't know the stars too well at this point.  But I got it aligned well enough that I was able to slew to M15 and M2 using Cartes du Ceil and have those show up in the scope FOV.

 

I didn't get the camera connected back up after dark unfortunately, but we did have a nice time viewing things with our eyeballs.  That counts, right?

 

Thanks again,

 

Austin



#14 nimitz69

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 03:28 PM

Austin, (and others),

 

   I'll add a couple of notes. 

  1. You have the brand new hardware Version 5 SynScan Hand Control. They have added a USB connection and an internal USB to RS232 converter. You need to only cable up using USB to connect now. However, internally, it is still an RS232 interface. When you connect and hear the USB connection chime on the PC, look in the Device manager under COM and LPT ports to see which COM port was just connected. Use that COM port number (like COM5) in any program you plan to use for control. After connecting using the USB port on the Hand Control, just proceed as if you just made a Serial RS232 connection. (See tutorial Link below.)
     
  2. When using APT to drive the mount, you MUST NOT put the hand control into PC Direct Mode. Leave it in normal operational mode. PC Direct Mode is ONLY used when you are using EQMOD through the hand control. It will prevent connections when using any other ASCOM connection and driver.

 

   You may want to read through the tutorial I wrote earlier this year. It will provide a lot of background information and should help you get your new mount (Congratulation!!) connected and running under PC control.

 

https://www.atm-work...pc-connect.html

 

 

John

 

What an outstanding tutorial!  My SkyWatcher EQ6-R arrives in a couple of days and I was frantically trying to understand the whole “EQMOD” thing ....

 

if your PC has both USB & RS232 ports is there a reason to use one over the other for the connection?

Do you happen to know if I could use SkySafari 5 Pro as my planetarium s/w instead ?  I’d love to be able to not have to relearn everything .... lol.



#15 godber

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 04:06 PM

 

if your PC has both USB & RS232 ports is there a reason to use one over the other for the connection?

 

Something to keep in mind is that the choice is not strictly between USB and RS232 ... when connecting with USB you then have the choice of "telling the hand controller to drive the motors" or to "drive the motors directly".  One of the differences between those two options is that when you "tell the hand controller to drive the motors" you do the alignment with the hand controller (instead of the PC), so the computer is not needed for pointing.  This could be important if you need to take the PC away the batter goes out on your laptop.  As long as the hand controller still had power, you still have alignment.

 

I can't speak for SkySafari, but if it has the ability to point telescopes at all, you might be in luck.  This forum post seems to indicate that it has some ability to control the scope.

 

Austin



#16 stargazer julie

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 01:39 PM

jdupton, excellent review of connection of the EQ6-R to a PC .  Thank you so much for doing this.

 

(A minor typo, Cartes du Ciel is Ciel, and not Ceil).

 

Also, I have a new version of the handset with the RS232 to USB connection already installed on the handset.  I was able to get the mount to connect to PHD2 using this connection and a USB cable only using the ASCOM driver (version 6) and the ASCOM Driver for SynScan Hand Controller downloadable from their site at:

http://www.skywatche...e/ascom-driver/

 

I'll have to see whether the same connection with the USB cable only will allow communication with EQMOD.  

 

Regards

 

Julie


Edited by stargazer julie, 07 January 2019 - 01:41 PM.


#17 jdupton

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 01:57 PM

Julie,

 

   Thanks! I just checked and find that I spelled it right in 23 places in the document and wrong in 59 other places. I need to do an edit to add some more information about the new Version 5 Hand Control which you have, so will correct those spelling errors then.

 

   There should be no problems with EQMOD. Since you got it to work with the SkyWatcher driver, you should not have problems switching over to EQMOD.

 

 

John



#18 cloudswimmer

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 08:40 PM

Hey guys I'm kinda in the same boat as Austin .. but even greener! Bought a new EQ6R-Pro around Thanksgiving along with a new Dell XPS 15 laptop and a couple OTA's. Goal is Deepsky astrophotography with my DSLR now .. mono CCD later. I haven't so much as even plugged this mount into anything yet .. been working on the OTA's, upgrading focusers, and getting a more solid pier situation. So I upgraded my tripod to a Tri-Pier today and was trying to figure out where to put my Synscan hand controller .. and was getting kinda frustrated .. then thought to myself "I wonder if I even need this hand controller" .. starting researching and landed here at this thread. So am I reading this right all I need is the Shoestring USB2EQ5 cable and I can ditch the hand controller? My new laptop only has USB 3 ports .. is that going to work with that cable? Also the Shoestring USB2EQ5 is only 5.9ft long which is cutting it kinda short to my planned utility table .. will it accept a USB extension cable? I'm pretty much done putting together my rig mechanically and now need to buckle down and learn the electronic side of things .. Man things seemed alot easier in my old hypered film manual guiding days lol.

 

46717757442_1c2d5475ba_z_d.jpg


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#19 godber

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 09:04 AM

Hi,

 

The Shoestring cable turned out to be unnecessary for me, though I may use it at some point.  I was able to control the EQ-6 with just a USB A to USB B cable (typically called USB printer cable) connected from my computer to the SynScan hand controller.  I followed the "Basic ASCOM Control Connection Method" instructions in John's excellent post: https://www.atm-work...pc-connect.html

 

You have a few options I'd think:

 

I think since most of the telescope accessories I've seen have been the older USB connectors, you'd going to want some sort of USB C hub/adapter at some point.  I guess it's possible the Shoestring guys have a USB C version now, but I don't recall seeing one.



#20 f300v10

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 10:24 PM

Hey guys I'm kinda in the same boat as Austin .. but even greener! Bought a new EQ6R-Pro around Thanksgiving along with a new Dell XPS 15 laptop and a couple OTA's. Goal is Deepsky astrophotography with my DSLR now .. mono CCD later. I haven't so much as even plugged this mount into anything yet .. been working on the OTA's, upgrading focusers, and getting a more solid pier situation. So I upgraded my tripod to a Tri-Pier today and was trying to figure out where to put my Synscan hand controller .. and was getting kinda frustrated .. then thought to myself "I wonder if I even need this hand controller" .. starting researching and landed here at this thread. So am I reading this right all I need is the Shoestring USB2EQ5 cable and I can ditch the hand controller? My new laptop only has USB 3 ports .. is that going to work with that cable? Also the Shoestring USB2EQ5 is only 5.9ft long which is cutting it kinda short to my planned utility table .. will it accept a USB extension cable? I'm pretty much done putting together my rig mechanically and now need to buckle down and learn the electronic side of things .. Man things seemed alot easier in my old hypered film manual guiding days lol.

 

46717757442_1c2d5475ba_z_d.jpg

cloudswimmer, I've been using an EQ6-R since October and have not touched the hand controller in months. I use an USB2EQ5 cable and EQMOD to control the mount, Sequence Generator Pro for camera control and targeting and PHD2 for guiding.  Using plate-solving with SGP means I don't even bother to do a star alignment. After polar aligning with SharpCap, I simply start the sequence in SGP and after a couple of quick plate solves the target is dead center. 

 

As far as cable length, I Velcro mounted a powered USB3 hub to the EQ6R and run the mount and cameras cables into the hub, with a single cable back to the laptop.

 

By the way, what brand of Tri-Pier is that (iOptron?), it looks like a very nice piece of kit.  Also what type of pier adapter plate are you using?


Edited by f300v10, 17 January 2019 - 11:13 PM.

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#21 cloudswimmer

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 10:04 PM

cloudswimmer, I've been using an EQ6-R since October and have not touched the hand controller in months. I use an USB2EQ5 cable and EQMOD to control the mount, Sequence Generator Pro for camera control and targeting and PHD2 for guiding.  Using plate-solving with SGP means I don't even bother to do a star alignment. After polar aligning with SharpCap, I simply start the sequence in SGP and after a couple of quick plate solves the target is dead center. 

 

As far as cable length, I Velcro mounted a powered USB3 hub to the EQ6R and run the mount and cameras cables into the hub, with a single cable back to the laptop.

 

By the way, what brand of Tri-Pier is that (iOptron?), it looks like a very nice piece of kit.  Also what type of pier adapter plate are you using?

Perfect! I plan on using the same software setup myself.  I went ahead an ordered the USB2EQ5 and a couple 6ft USB extension cables, its good to know if those extensions don't work there is the powered hub soloution. I use a couple powered USB hubs in my recording studio and can rob one of em if needed, do you use your hub in the field with a battery? Yes the pier is iOptron, and the pier plate is also iOptrons Tri-Pier adapter for Takahashi/Skywatcher. Also I finally figured out the stock Skywatcher plastic handset holder fits perfectly between the top slots of the iOptron piers using a longer 3" wide velcro cinch stap .. but I like the idea of just going direct computer to mount .. one less thing to deal with in the field. Thanks for chimming in!



#22 f300v10

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 10:40 PM

Perfect! I plan on using the same software setup myself.  I went ahead an ordered the USB2EQ5 and a couple 6ft USB extension cables, its good to know if those extensions don't work there is the powered hub soloution. I use a couple powered USB hubs in my recording studio and can rob one of em if needed, do you use your hub in the field with a battery? Yes the pier is iOptron, and the pier plate is also iOptrons Tri-Pier adapter for Takahashi/Skywatcher. Also I finally figured out the stock Skywatcher plastic handset holder fits perfectly between the top slots of the iOptron piers using a longer 3" wide velcro cinch stap .. but I like the idea of just going direct computer to mount .. one less thing to deal with in the field. Thanks for chimming in!

Yes, I power the USB hub, camera cooler and laptop with an Orion 155Wh lithium battery, but use a SLA to power the EQ6-R.  This mount works best on voltages over 12.5.



#23 Megiddo

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 02:57 PM

As far as cable length, I Velcro mounted a powered USB3 hub to the EQ6R and run the mount and cameras cables into the hub, with a single cable back to the laptop.

 

I just ordered one... excellent idea. (Not sure why I didn't think of it earlier)

 

BTW, do you put you mount in "PC Control Mode"... not sure of the exact menu text.    But when I do that, Synscan can see the mount but my PHD2 cannot.    

 

Oh and my new (purchased this summer) does NOT have the USB type hand controller... darn!



#24 f300v10

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 03:57 PM

I just ordered one... excellent idea. (Not sure why I didn't think of it earlier)

 

BTW, do you put you mount in "PC Control Mode"... not sure of the exact menu text.    But when I do that, Synscan can see the mount but my PHD2 cannot.    

 

Oh and my new (purchased this summer) does NOT have the USB type hand controller... darn!

Dave, do you mean 'PC Direct Mode' on the hand controller?  If so, no I don't the hand controller stays at home.  All control of the mount is done by EQMOD running on the PC.  I have several choices to point the scope (manually using an xbox controller, via Stellarium, plate solving with SGP) at a target, all going through EQMOD.


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#25 Megiddo

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 09:36 AM

Dave, do you mean 'PC Direct Mode' on the hand controller?  If so, no I don't the hand controller stays at home.  All control of the mount is done by EQMOD running on the PC.  I have several choices to point the scope (manually using an xbox controller, via Stellarium, plate solving with SGP) at a target, all going through EQMOD.

Yeah it must be that... I don't have it on to read the menu choice, but that must be it.

 

So you don't even attach the hand set but go straight to the mount!   Interesting.  I thought I read that that you need some power protection device... which the hand controller does.    I'm going to have to check it out!    I hate the hand set and all those clunky menus (oh and don't look at the Sun!... remember, don't look at the Sun!). waytogo.gif




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