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New Hand controller for Nexstar 8 GPS

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#1 RRandol

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 09:48 AM

I have a 2003 Nexstar 8 GPS AZ telescope with a Non updatable hand controller.  The GPS alignment is not working now due to the GPS ROLLOVER issue.   Celestron says I need a version 4 controller to solve the problem.  But I am getting confusing information from Celestron, one group tells me the new 93981 will also work and other people tell me it will not communicate with my older Nexstar mount and I should get the version 4.

 

Can someone please tell me the correct hand controller I need to make my scope useful again.

 

93981 or 93998 or what.

 

Very confused.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

 



#2 dcollier

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 10:02 AM

Check this out.  

 

https://www.nexstars...GPSFirmware.htm

 

This is Mike Swanson's site.  Mike is Mr Nexstar.   He indicates that you can use the Version 4 or The Nextstar+ Version 5 controller.   I am Not sure if the Version 5 needs to be serial or if either the Serial or USB one will work? Hope fully someone will chime in on this detail.

 

                 -Dave 



#3 Wallyl

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 10:14 AM

There is a seller on E-bay that will sell you a used Handcontroller--if it doesn't work, he has agreed to accept returns.  I have an Nexstar 11 GPS  circa 2001 and just ordered the Handcontroller+ w/USB connector.  I plan on testing it out.  ..



#4 12Bass

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:29 AM

Basically, the GPS rollover issue means that GPS alignment is no longer viable without manually adjusting the date.  GPS alignment will not work with a v4 hand control either as the alignment procedure was removed in v4 due to a lawsuit with Meade.  Auto Two Star alignment is the most similar option in the newer handsets.  Some people with GPS mounts have experienced control issues and No Response errors with the newest v5 hand controls (myself included), which is why many suggest that v4 is the best option for GPS scopes, specifically firmware NXS 4.22.

 

That means either buying a v4 hand control, or flashing the original GPS hand control's socketed AT49F040s with NXS 4.22 using a universal programmer like the TL866 and PLCC32 adapter (and losing GPS alignment).



#5 RRandol

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:29 AM

I just talked with Celestron again and he indicates that the Nexstar+ should work with my telescope because I currently have version 4.5 motor control software.  Is this a better option than a version 4.

 

He also informed me, that any programable controller with the "UNDO" button should work also with the correct software downloaded.

 

Any commits. 

 

This all seems very confusing to me.



#6 dcollier

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 02:39 PM

The Version 5,  Nexstar + controller is current and they release regular updates for it.   Version 4 support was ended several years back and it only gets sporadic updates.  Other than that they are very similar in function but have different key layouts. you can buy a very good used one from Wing & Sons on Ebay and save a few bucks.  Version 5 uses CFM to update and that has less issues on Win 10 computers. 

 

              -Dave 



#7 12Bass

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 02:53 PM

To repeat: Some with GPS mounts have experienced control issues and No Response errors with v5 hand controls (myself included), which is why many suggest that v4 is the best option for GPS scopes, specifically firmware NXS 4.22.  While some users have reported success, a v5 HC is simply not reliable on my NexStar 8 GPS, even with older 5.22.3280 firmware; No Response 16/17 errors have occurred during every single viewing session when using the v5 HC.  And the latest 5.31.9200 firmware fails within seconds after attempting to move the scope.  I bought a v5 hand control a year ago under the assumption that newer is automatically better, but that is unfortunately not true with the 2001 vintage NexStar GPS mounts. 

 

However, NXS 4.22 works perfectly on the NexStar GPS... meaning a v4 HC is a better solution.



#8 mclewis1

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 02:59 PM

I just talked with Celestron again and he indicates that the Nexstar+ should work with my telescope because I currently have version 4.5 motor control software.  Is this a better option than a version 4.

 

He also informed me, that any programable controller with the "UNDO" button should work also with the correct software downloaded.

Any commits. This all seems very confusing to me.

As 12Bass has mentioned there has been quite a bit of confusion and miss information about the use of the v5 (NexStar+) hand controllers on the NexStar GPS scopes. Mike Swanson has waded through much of this and provides some really good info. The problems have often been related to the interaction between the hand controller firmware and the motor controller firmware (the two motor controllers are on a board inside the scope/mount).

 

Celestron's support has maintained that if the motor controllers on the GPS scopes are running MC firmware 4.5 or greater then the v5 NexStar+ hand controller will work. I think we've seen a few cases where this wasn't true, but in general it was a reasonable guideline. But this is also why Mike and others strongly suggest using the v4 NexStar (the one with the UNDO button), as it works with all older NS GPS scopes regardless of the different motor controller firmware.

 

So if someone with a GPS scope needs a new hand controller it has been safer to simply suggest using an older V4 hand controller and updating the firmware to the NXS4.22 level ... particularly since there is still a supply of hardly used V4 models from inexpensive Celestron scopes. Some GPS owners can also take advantage of the new V5 hand controllers and if so that's great as they can use a new factory fresh hand controller.


Edited by mclewis1, 06 September 2019 - 03:00 PM.


#9 12Bass

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 03:10 PM

FWIW, my GPS scope has MC 4.6/4.06 firmware on a 2002 MC board, which appears to use the final production PCB, not the early production MC board with tacked-on components and the crossover cable.  While I'm not sure why some GPS scopes do not work properly with v5 hand controls, I can confidently say that v5 is simply not reliable on my mount.  The v5 HC sort of works with 5.22.3280 firmware, but generally suffers from No Reponse 16/17 errors a few times each session, sometimes requiring a new alignment to continue.  NXS 4.22 just works as expected....


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#10 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:31 PM

12Bass and Mark have correctly explained the potential issue with a newer NexStar+ HC used on a NexStar 8/9.25/11 GPS mount but here is some additional information and correction on supported MC versions on the NexStar GPS mount:

 

  • The "no response" errors will make the NexStar+ HC unusable if your mount has the original version serial bus (used from introduction up until 2002 or 2003).  You can only tell if you have the original verison if you have an older HC (version 2.2) that displays 5 sets of numbers with the Version command on the menu.  On that HC, the top line will display HC version and MC alt and az versions and the second line displays the GPS version and the serial bus version.  If the serial bus is verison 1, NexStar+ will have the no response problem with the current firmware (including the version that fixes the GPS rollover issue).  If you don't have a version 2.2 HC to make this check, it is trial and error to determine if NexStar+ HC works on your mount.  Celestron is aware of this issue and may try to address it in future NexStar+ firmware.
  • Version 4 and NexStar+ HCs will NOT work with MC version 4.5, they require version 4.6 (which will display as 4.06 on newer HCs).  So, you will need to update the MC.  On the NexStar GPS mount this can be done via the PC Port or via the port on the bottom of the HC (requires different cables).  IMPORTANT - the current NexStar+ firmware has one more bug regarding older mounts:  it will kill the firmware in the MC if you attempt an update via a connection to the NexStar+ HC.  To fix it you would need to use older firmware on the NexStar+ HC or use a version 4 HC or connect via the PC Port on the mount (bypassing the HC).

Instructions for loading firmware at the bottom of this page of my website:

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


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#11 mclewis1

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 03:42 PM

So it's now a solid NO on NS GPS scopes with MC 4.5 firmware using v4 or v5 hand controllers?



#12 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:11 AM

Hi Mark,

 

As best as I remember, Version 4 has never worked on anything other than 4.06 and SA 4.00 (that version that shipped with HC version 2.3 to remove all "north and level" routines) and the 40.40 beta that is nearly the same as 4.06 and accidentally leaked to the public.  There have been sporadic reports of the NexStar+ (version 5) HC working on MC 4.05 (4.5) but I have more often heard of nothing but "no response" errors until the MC was updated.  And I would strongly recommend updating to 4.06 (4.6) due to the improvements it brings:

 

Improves autoguider performance including runaway slew when autoguiding, fixes a runaway that occurred when at rate 1 or 2 and using the "double key press" for rate 9, fixes PEC issues and is the first version to support Celestron's free PECTool utility, finally fixed the hop in Alt-Az mode.

 

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



#13 mclewis1

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 07:25 AM

Thanks Mike,  That was my understanding too (mostly from your site years ago but also one data point from 10 years ago when I still lived in the US) ... but I was wondering if Celestron's support staff was suggesting otherwise or were just not that emphatic about not using the v4 hand controller at all on anything but MC 4.6/4.06.

It sounds like we've clarified all of this (and BeatingADeadHorse.gif grin.gif ) and now have some straight forward quidelines.

 

I hope all this means that there will be some more old NS GPS dusted off and used more regularly.



#14 JMP

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:55 AM

Thank yous to Mike, Mark and 12Bass. I had a N11GPS with a v.1.2 controller and an N5i with a bad v.2.2 controller. I was able to swap the program chips and now have a good v.2.2 controller for the N11GPS and I ordered a v.4.22 controller from Wing and Sons for the N5i. Reprogramming the MC board may be beyond my skill, but I'm delighted to have two functioning scopes.

 

JMP



#15 12Bass

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 01:20 PM

Thank yous to Mike, Mark and 12Bass. I had a N11GPS with a v.1.2 controller and an N5i with a bad v.2.2 controller. I was able to swap the program chips and now have a good v.2.2 controller for the N11GPS and I ordered a v.4.22 controller from Wing and Sons for the N5i. Reprogramming the MC board may be beyond my skill, but I'm delighted to have two functioning scopes.

 

JMP

You're welcome!

 

Please check the date returned by your internal GPS.  If it is correct, then your mount/HC are free from the GPS rollover bug, which is good news as it means that you can continue using the 2.2 HC without GPS issues.




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