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AS-GT Upgrade

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#1 Wallyl

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 11:24 AM

Now time for some complaining....the AS-GT motors have computer chips that can be updated with newer firmware (programming).  The updates are typically "fixes" for bugs in the original firmware with a few added enhancements.  It's always a good idea to use the latest version;  IMHO.  So all one has to do is download the Celestron Firmware on a computer, connect the computer with a cable to the HC that is connected to the mount and "Presto"...all updated.  BUT  on the AS-GT it is not.  1) The original HC cannot be updated--you need a new one 2) the new one takes a special cable to connect it to the HC and the RS-232 port on your computer--however computers today don't have a RS232 jack anymore;  they stopped making them ten years ago ( I know..you can buy an adapter cable that connects the RS-232 to USB)  3) One has a option to use another cable type this is  a six wire flat cable like a phone 4 wire cable--you hook it to the AS-GT direct and to the computer---no HC needed..BUT guess what their is no such jack on new computers nor on the AS-GT mount to plug it into --you need a special adapter from Celestron to hook up the cable and use an older computer that has the appropriate obsolete jack.  Ok, so I have an old XP computer that has the  jack and I have the right cable...now I need the Celestron adapter (picture below)  to connect to the AS-GT--so if I get the adapter I am all set...right?  Nope...Celestron discontinued the adapter years ago and they are nowhere to be found!  I have seen them on Astromart and there has been bidding wars for them at $100+.  So now what?  Well I found out that you can use a older version 4 HC to connect the computer to the AS-GT to do the upgrade...it just so happens I have one on the N8i...I just need still another cable to hook it up to the RS-232 jack on the computer---of course new computers don't have an RS-232 plug... I can use my old XP computer--BUT I need the special cable ...as luck would have it as I bought one to upgrade the NS11.  The NS11 will not work with the HC+ but will work with a Version 4 HC; just as with the AS-GT. 

 

So I can upgrade/updatre the NS11 & AS-GT mount...once done I can use the HC+ on my  N8i and use it's original Version 4 HC on my NS11.  

 

It has taken me hours of "research" to find this all out...Celestron has nothing published giving one this information.  If you call them you may well not get it either.

 

Many thanks to Mike Swanson for his patience and help....he should be nominated for Sainthood!


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#2 Scott in NC

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 11:57 AM

Good to know.  After reading all that I think I'll just keep my CG5-ASGT the way it is! :ohmy:



#3 wrvond

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 12:04 PM

I have two ASGT's and didn't have nearly the problems you seem to have had. Took all of 15 minutes to update the motor controls to 5.20 on both mounts using one hand control, then updating that hand control to 4.21. One hand control was version 3.something and couldn't be updated, but was replaced with the StarSense hand control anyway.

 

Probably because I started out on Mike Swanson's site: https://www.nexstars...SGTFirmware.htm    and let him do all the researching for me, my life was much easier. I also used Windows 7 and I do have a couple of the adapters as well as the high dollar CG5 specific splitters.

 

IMG 1457
IMG 1462

Edited by wrvond, 15 September 2019 - 12:08 PM.

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#4 Wallyl

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 12:56 PM

Yes, with the right "stuff" it is easier..as you have the cables and costly required splitter  (AKA #93965 Auxiliary Port Accessory Kit).   I have a much older NS11GPS that has the PC port on it to hook up the six wire flat cable directly; with no need for a splitter.   Celestron should have done the same with the AS-GT.   Heck they even discontinued the splitter and you cannot use the original Hand Controller to affect the firmware upgrade. 

 

As you mentioned you had a Win7 computer....from what I know, you cannot use a Win10 to do the upgrades on the AS-GT. 



#5 mclewis1

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 07:54 PM

Wally,

 

a) You must have had one of the very early ASGTs shipped with the V3 hand controllers to have those problems. A  simple fix would have been to get a used V4 hand controller already updated with the gem firmware. Fortunately the vast majority of ASGTs were shipped with up-gradable V4 hand controllers.

 

b) There were no fixes or upgrades specifically for the ASGT mount in the V5 NexStar+ hand controller firmware so going after the "latest" firmware would have bought you nothing. IMHO only the very latest NexStar + hand controller with the USB port would have been an appreciable upgrade.
 
c) The PC Port cable mentioned a few times (the one used without a hand controller in place) is NOT a 6 pin cable ... it's an 8 pin cable. The PC Port cable (Celestron #93922) is a specially wired DB9 to RJ45 adapter plus an off the shelf RJ45 Ethernet patch cable (but no Ethernet or IP networking is involved ... the cable is simply used as an inexpensive 8 pin cable).

 

d) Yes I think Mike should be nominated for saint hood, he's saved a lot of folks a lot of frustration.



#6 Wallyl

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 09:10 PM

mclewis1

 

a)  Yes it was one of the first....it came with a version 3 HC.  I do have a version 4 HC from a N8i.  ON the N8i I'll upgrade with a HC+.

 

b) Yes, as I understand it a HC+ would not give me any improvement to the AS-GT mount.  However the HC+ is far less cold sensitive so you can get a legible display in cold weather.  

 

c) Correct, looking at the cable it is an 8 wire Ethernet ....I apologize for my mistake.   

 

d) Amen

 

I had to vent...seems like Celestron keeps changing their required cables with each update..To me this is plain ridiculous.  First it was an Ethernet----than the RJXX/RS-232, then the USB/USB-Mini----then the ridiculous requirement of a 93922  Port cable  (which was quickly discontinued and almost impossible to find) --not to mention that most computer don't have a RS-232 jack so you have to get & program an adapter cable that connects the RS-232 to a USB plug.  STANDARDIZE is my moto---One Size Fits All!!!!  Celestron should offer support like Sturm Ruger & RCBS----they know how to treat their customers!  

 

Please remember most of the firmware updates are corrections to their bad programming---IOW their errors.  Seems like their QC is on the shoulders of their customers.

 

If anyone can tell me how to make direct contact  to their CEO---Dave Anderson, please do---I'd like to chat with him about this.



#7 Wallyl

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 09:30 PM

Addendum....

 

Dave Anderson was Celestrons CEO from June,  2013 to January 2017....the new CEO is Corey Lee.  I am told that Dave Anderson tried hard to improve Customer Service;  after he resigned it went from poor to very bad.



#8 SkipW

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 09:49 PM

Unless you're having some particular problem that an update will address, or lack some wanted feature that an update provides, I disagree that "it's always a good idea to use the latest version".  My philosophy is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

 

If you must upgrade, adapter cables aren't that hard to come by and aren't expensive, but they won't be Celestron branded. For instance:

 

https://www.amazon.c...N200EHZM5Q42A2A.

 

Similarly, USB-to-serial adapters are also thick on the ground. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to serial adapters are also available, but cost more.

 

If you think supporting "obsolete" technology like RS-232 serial ports with odd connectors is a problem, just wait until the particular USB hardware in whatever new equipment you get is no longer supported. There is so much consumer and industrial equipment out there that  USB (or whatever follows it as "the hot new thing") to serial adapters will be available for a long time to come, and if a particular manufacturer stops supporting driver updates as operating systems evolve (or computer makers move away from USB), you might have to replace the adapter, but not your entire mount if you want to attach it to a computer. Ask my brother about his $1500 Nikon USB film scanner; for a long time he had to keep an XP computer running so he could continue to use it. He eventually found a vendor that offered an updated driver for for it that ran on Windows 7 (and maybe even Windows 10, and maybe even one or more Mac OS releases)... for $600. I ended up replacing my flatbed scanner because I got tired of keeping an XP laptop available, but at least it cost only a couple of $hundred and I had gotten years of use out of it by then.


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#9 Wallyl

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 10:05 PM

I upgraded the AS-GT as I was told by a well known Celestron guru that it would be wise to do so.

 

Yes, the cables are readily available...but their cost does add up.  Some RS-232 to USB cables will not work with the Celestron cable.  Same deal with the USB to USB-Mini.  I am of the opinion the appropriate  cables should come with the mount or telescope.  Also, as a matter of goodwill Celestron should have available the 93922 Port adapter...or they should have included a PC port in the AS-GT mount as found in the CPC & GPS telescopes. 

 

I agree, many manufactures cause needless problems for loyal customers with what I consider unethical practices of discontinuing support. 

 

I wish more consumers complained...maybe these companies would be more consumer oriented.



#10 SkipW

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 01:50 PM

I upgraded the AS-GT as I was told by a well known Celestron guru that it would be wise to do so.

 

Yes, the cables are readily available...but their cost does add up.  Some RS-232 to USB cables will not work with the Celestron cable.  Same deal with the USB to USB-Mini.  I am of the opinion the appropriate  cables should come with the mount or telescope.  Also, as a matter of goodwill Celestron should have available the 93922 Port adapter...or they should have included a PC port in the AS-GT mount as found in the CPC & GPS telescopes. 

 

I agree, many manufactures cause needless problems for loyal customers with what I consider unethical practices of discontinuing support. 

 

I wish more consumers complained...maybe these companies would be more consumer oriented.

Since I'm not familiar with your particular situation, I can't comment on whether or not I would recommend an update or not. Sometimes it really is a good idea. Sometimes there is no actual benefit, but there is a finite risk that an attempt to update firmware can fail in a way that creates much bigger problems, or a new version contains bugs that weren't in the earlier version. I stand by my opinion that "it's always a good idea to use the latest version" as a blanket statement is not good advice.

 

All of those extra cables, if included, would add to the initial cost of the mount. If you want them, you can buy them; if they were included, you'd be paying for them anyway, but, since not everyone wants or needs them, there's nothing wrong with unbundling them. A PC port would have been nice, but not many people would have use for it, and omitting it reduces the cost. If the port adapter were selling well, it would still be available, or an aftermarket version would be available.

 

"Some RS-232 to USB cables will not work with the Celestron cable." I'm not sure what you mean by this. Most RS-232 USB adapters come with a DB-9 male plug with the standard DTE pin assignments. It's possible to get adapters with different termination, but those are pretty unusual and have to be sought out if you need one for a particular purpose. That said, the Bluetooth serial adapter I got has a DB-9 female socket, so it requires a gender changer to work with the standard Celestron-type adapter cable. To be fair, the BT serial adapter can be selected to be DTE or DCE, so the gender its connector "should" be is ambiguous. Other than that, what's not to work?

 

I also disagree that discontinuing support for equipment is unethical. Providing ongoing support and development for old products is expensive and has to be paid for somehow. Companies that are known to support their products for a long time might be able to charge a premium, since that is a desirable feature, and still sell enough equipment to cover those costs. Companies that immediately abandon recently-produced gear may become less desirable because of that. This also illustrates why I think including systems that will need continuous development to properly support into the future (e.g. USB) in equipment that should reasonably be expected to last for decades, like a nice equatorial mount, should be avoided when practical. You're not going to transfer video or large-image data over an async serial connection, but for most mount control functions, or even an occasional firmware update, its relatively low speed is adequate.


Edited by SkipW, 16 September 2019 - 01:54 PM.


#11 Alexastra

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 02:33 PM

I have the adapter to connect the mount directly to the PC built myself a long time ago. There are instructions for it in the network. The problem is the different voltages that need to be adjusted. In this way I was able to easily update the MC via the PC and even control the mount. Without a hand controller that was a v3 anyway.



#12 Sammy

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:05 PM

15 years ago it wasnt so bad..... Seems some of the technology is stuck in the past. I recently had to update my autostar HC and had to use an rs232 cable, good thing I have an ancient dell workstation that I was able to use. And at like 56k baud through the rs232, it took like an hour to update lol

#13 Wallyl

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:09 PM

I have the adapter to connect the mount directly to the PC built myself a long time ago. There are instructions for it in the network. The problem is the different voltages that need to be adjusted. In this way I was able to easily update the MC via the PC and even control the mount. Without a hand controller that was a v3 anyway.

Very nice.  I never attempted making one as if one makes any mistakes with voltage or polarity, you can destroy the electronics.



#14 Wallyl

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 08:00 AM

Skipw

 

So good of you to discuss this issue.  The updates on firmware and motor control are almost always a “fix” for a  ”bug” in the original program. I think that we can agree that if Celestron deemed it necessary to create an updated version to fix the bug, it is well worthwhile to upgrade.  There is no doubt that Celestron  designed their instrument to be able to be upgradeable.  So I still feel that my statement “it's always a good idea to use the latest version” is correct. 

 

Regarding cables and ports….again Celestron designed their instrument to be upgradeable.  The cost to include both would be but a few dollars and on instruments that cost thousands of dollars, they could add in that cost quite easily.  I dare say that most would use them if they were included.  I have no idea how many never upgraded their instrument because they didn’t have an included cable or port.  However I strongly feel many more would have had they been included.

 

As to the incompatible cable issue…the first Celestron Hand Controllers (HC) had RJ-11/12 plugs and required a cable to hook them to a RS-232 jack in a PC (#93920).  However most PCs don’t have a RS-232 port (in my case my XP machine does…my Win 7 & 10 do not).  So one had to obtain an adapter cable to connect the RJ-11/12/RS-232 cable to a computer via USB.  That adapter cable had to be programmed to work…this made the “process” complicated and I had read that some adapter cable never worked at all.  Of course one could have purchased the Celestron adapter cable (#18775) —but they were fairly expensive, when first offered. Had Celestron researched this and found out that most computers no longer have a RS-232 port,  they could have had a cable that could hook up the RJ-11/12 on the HC to USB on a typical computer…with no need for two separate cables.  The cost of the two cable on Celestron’s website is now $37.90—add $8.00 for shipping…its’s almost $46.00.  (as some have opined about this----are you telling me that I spend a few grand for a telescope/mount that had imperfect programming code which now requires a firmware upgrade—now I have to spend $46 to buy cables to upgrade?)  This just doesn’t sit well with me.  On Celestrons latest HCs  they use the USB to USB mini cable.  I went to numerous large box stores and could not find a cable to fit the HC+. Another customer was in the store and looked at the HC+ jack----he said it was an older plug type used in the Garmin GPS devices . As luck would have it, I have a Garmin and the cable (THAT CAME WITH IT) worked!  The Garmin GPS cost $100 and came with a cable…just like with Celestron …it was meant to be upgraded.

 

We disagree as to what degree of support would be considered unethical.  I am a consumer.  Big corporations make huge profits and I feel when they no longer support their products, that is unethical.  Yes, it costs them more, but companies that do support their products  enjoy better “goodwill”.   You are the first person that I’ve run across that seems to side with the corporations on this.  As for me I a m a bit tired of everything for the bottom line;  so that  the CEO can have a larger compensation “package”.


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#15 SkipW

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:25 PM

Skipw

 

So good of you to discuss this issue.  The updates on firmware and motor control are almost always a “fix” for a  ”bug” in the original program. I think that we can agree that if Celestron deemed it necessary to create an updated version to fix the bug, it is well worthwhile to upgrade.  There is no doubt that Celestron  designed their instrument to be able to be upgradeable.  So I still feel that my statement “it's always a good idea to use the latest version” is correct. 

 

Regarding cables and ports….again Celestron designed their instrument to be upgradeable.  The cost to include both would be but a few dollars and on instruments that cost thousands of dollars, they could add in that cost quite easily.  I dare say that most would use them if they were included.  I have no idea how many never upgraded their instrument because they didn’t have an included cable or port.  However I strongly feel many more would have had they been included.

 

As to the incompatible cable issue…the first Celestron Hand Controllers (HC) had RJ-11/12 plugs and required a cable to hook them to a RS-232 jack in a PC (#93920).  However most PCs don’t have a RS-232 port (in my case my XP machine does…my Win 7 & 10 do not).  So one had to obtain an adapter cable to connect the RJ-11/12/RS-232 cable to a computer via USB.  That adapter cable had to be programmed to work…this made the “process” complicated and I had read that some adapter cable never worked at all.  Of course one could have purchased the Celestron adapter cable (#18775) —but they were fairly expensive, when first offered. Had Celestron researched this and found out that most computers no longer have a RS-232 port,  they could have had a cable that could hook up the RJ-11/12 on the HC to USB on a typical computer…with no need for two separate cables.  The cost of the two cable on Celestron’s website is now $37.90—add $8.00 for shipping…its’s almost $46.00.  (as some have opined about this----are you telling me that I spend a few grand for a telescope/mount that had imperfect programming code which now requires a firmware upgrade—now I have to spend $46 to buy cables to upgrade?)  This just doesn’t sit well with me.  On Celestrons latest HCs  they use the USB to USB mini cable.  I went to numerous large box stores and could not find a cable to fit the HC+. Another customer was in the store and looked at the HC+ jack----he said it was an older plug type used in the Garmin GPS devices . As luck would have it, I have a Garmin and the cable (THAT CAME WITH IT) worked!  The Garmin GPS cost $100 and came with a cable…just like with Celestron …it was meant to be upgraded.

 

We disagree as to what degree of support would be considered unethical.  I am a consumer.  Big corporations make huge profits and I feel when they no longer support their products, that is unethical.  Yes, it costs them more, but companies that do support their products  enjoy better “goodwill”.   You are the first person that I’ve run across that seems to side with the corporations on this.  As for me I a m a bit tired of everything for the bottom line;  so that  the CEO can have a larger compensation “package”.

I appreciate your thoughtful reply, Wally, but still disagree about the need to apply every single firmware update that comes along under all circumstances.

 

Certainly Celestron and others don't go through the effort to design, implement, and (I hope!) thoroughly test firmware updates just for the fun of doing it; of course they do that only to fix specific problems or add features. I do not agree that that alone makes it worthwhile to update. The question is, does a problem an  update addresses affect you, or is some new "feature" something you want enough (or at all), and might actually use, to make it worth going through the bother - and risk - of updating? If not, then why do it? As you and others have noticed, it's a bit of a hassle, and, as I mentioned earlier, there is always some risk when attempting to re-flash hardware you can "brick" the system - the risk is small nowadays but it does still exist. So why go through that if there is no perceivable benefit to you?

 

If I may give an example, I have written an application that controls Celestron mounts, and it works quite nicely with my CG-5 ASGT and AVX equatorials. After it was stable, I wanted to see if if worked correctly with a friend's Alt-Az CPC 1100. I plugged it in, and the application immediately recognized the mount ID, HC and MC firmware versions, and displayed the coordinates (and object ID) it was pointing to. Cool! GoTo to another star... bingo! GoTo to something else... yes! GoTo to Sirius... it points at the north pole. Whaaat??? GoTo another star... works. GoTo Sirius,,, slews to NCP. GoTo something else south of the equator... slews to NCP. Well, that's odd. Later, I find out this was a known bug in that particular release of the firmware - external GoTo commands to targets south of the equator cause the mount to go to the pole instead. I emailed my friend letting him know what he needs to do to fix this. His reply was something like: "thanks, but no thanks. I don't use that and don't expect to, so I see no reason to update."  Years later, he's still using that telescope and mount, and it still does what he wants it to do. Who am I to tell him he "should" update it? If he ever wants to use computer control, he may have to update, but until then, the bug doesn't affect him in the slightest.

 

With modern computer operating systems, it's a different story; many of the patches that are pushed out, whether you want them or not, are fixes to security flaws that can wreak havoc not only with your own computer, but also affect others if they are exploited on your machine. The necessity for updating the firmware on computerized serial mounts is a different issue, unless it's connected directly to the Internet. The likelihood of someone hijacking your mount's controller connected to your computer by async serial link for nefarious purposes are vanishingly small, if possible at all.

 

TL;DR: I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree here.

 

Moving on, I thought we were talking about ASGT mounts, which sold new in the $700 range, not thousands (and, though somewhat of a kludge, IMO worked well and were a terrific bargain at that price considering what they could do).

 

Of course they could include an RJ-to-DB9 cable, and even a USB-to-serial adapter (even though someone might not need that), for an additional cost that's likely to be less than buying the same from Celestron at retail. But neither is necessary for the basic operation of the equipment, and despite your speculation about how many people would have updated their mount's firmware but didn't because the cable wasn't included, I'm skeptical that it's more than a handful, if even that many. Realistically, how many ordinary users do you think would have misplaced the cable before discovering they had a use for it? I bet your guess is lower than mine! wink.gif

 

Personally, I consider a dedicated USB-to-RS-232-to-Celestron cable to be a poor idea. A Celestron to DB-9 adapter and DB-9 serial to USB adapter is much better, even if it costs slightly more. Why? Because the adapter cable can be used with any number of different serial ports as long as they have the common DB-9 male RS232 connector; when Windows 13 comes out, will your specialized adapter still work? Maybe, maybe not; it depends on whether or not the drivers change, and, if they do, the adapter's manufacturer supports the new OS - assuming they're still in business. If you're faced with the same problem using general purpose USB-to-RS232 adapters, even if your current adapter will not work under the new OS, it's just a matter of finding another general-purpose one that does work. The market for those is vastly larger than the market for Celestron accessories so updates will be much quicker to market, and there's no need to look for a specialized one, which may or may not ever become available. In addition to all that, you can use your existing USB-to-RS-232 adapter, which is presumably already installed on your system and working, on other equipment, like, say, a Meade mount, instead of having to install yet another USB driver to use with that equipment.

 

To answer your parenthetical question about spending less than $50 to buy the capability to update the programming on your mount for the somewhat rare case where you actually need it, as well as giving you the option to operate the mount under computer control, yes. I see nothing wrong with that. You most likely would have been paying a good fraction of that if the cables were included in the original price, anyway, and you can find equivalents elsewhere for significantly less (and probably with free shipping). 

 

You also point out the futility of chasing the latest and greatest interface. I gather from the comment that the USB Mini-B connector is now officially hopelessly passé (despite loads of new equipment currently being sold that uses it). Nonetheless, those cables are still easily available from many vendors. More worrisome, the USB-to-serial conversion that's now done inside the handset must be supported by whoever Celestron buys the chips from. I've heard that it is FTDI, a respected manufacturer of that type of equipment, but a few years ago they intentionally rendered some of their old equipment obsolete with driver updates intended to foil counterfeit products, but also did not work with some of their own previous-generation products. If that happens again, or if computer manufacturers abandon USB2-compatible ports (which they will), you're probably looking at a new handset to retain the functionality you want instead of just a new adapter, or an additional whatever-is-now-it-to-USB2 adapter, if the drivers will work with that. 

 

Throwing in the example of your Garmin coming with a USB-A to Mini-B cable is irrelevant. That cable is necessary for the basic operation of the device, unlike the ASGT mount, where a data cable is not required. The GPS uses the USB cable for power, and also for routine map updates since even a 100% accurate map at the time of its release will go obsolete in almost all cases. Now, if the mount came without a handset, which it would be useless without, you would have a reasonable complaint, especially if that were not disclosed. As I recall, my ASGT mount did come with a power cable (with cigarette-lighter adapter) as standard equipment (which didn't work, and they exchanged).

 

It would be unethical for a manufacturer to advertise "we will support this product forever", or even "for X years" and then not do that. Absent such a promise or even an implied promise, abandoning support for an old product may be an unwise business decision, but I don't consider it unethical.

 

With any for-profit business, large or small, it's ultimately about "the bottom line". Going off on a tangent about "the corporations" doesn't really advance the discussion. A mom-and-pop shop also has to be aware of what they can and can't do and still stay in business.

 

I have no way of knowing who you associate with, but I guarantee that I am not alone in this attitude.

 

Since we're talking about what might and might not be ethical, and you mentioned Garmin, they prominently advertise "Free Lifetime Maps" for at least some of their products. It turns out that Lifetime in the promotional material turns into "useful lifetime" in the fine-print T&C, where the definition of "useful lifetime" is most assuredly not "forever", or even "as long as your particular item continues to work correctly". Is this unethical? I'd say yes, it is, and there is a class-action lawsuit over this. By the way, I like Garmin and think they make great products. I was also skeptical about the meaning of "lifetime" in their ads, assumed there was a catch, saw there was, but figured I wasn't going to find anything better so it didn't really matter.

 

At any rate, after all that, I presume we will continue to disagree, but that's OK. You have presented your opinion and rationale clearly, and I hope I have done the same. Carry on, my friend.


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#16 Wallyl

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:52 PM

SkipW

 

Thanks again for you detailed and well thought out reply. In my mind this is a discussion and I do appreciate your input. 

 

Yes, I was talking about the AS-GT mount but I have also updated an N8i and a Nexstar 11 GPS....they are at higher cost. 

 

The USB to Mini USB cable is difficult to find because the latest is now a USB to Mini-USB ©.  While at one store I looked at the plethora of cables....I had the  HC+ with me so I could be certain that the Mini USB plugs would fit. I

looked at scores of them..none did.  I got quite upset and commented to my poor wife, why can't they standardize these gosh darn cables or at least label them better so on can be assured they have the right one.  A guy was by us and heard me...an very nice East Asian...he inquired what the problem was.  I showed him the HC+ and told him I needed a cable to connect it to a USB computer port.  He was an IT guy and knew of the Celestron HC...he said he'd find the right one...after ten minutes of diligent he gave up...not one USB Mini cable plugs fit the HC+.  Then he gave me his phone no. and told me to call that he knew he had a few cables that would fit at home. He then mentioned the USB Mini looked like one used in a GPS.  When I got home I looked at the cable on our Garmin and it fit.  I called him later to thank him.

 

Yes,  the old fine print pertaining to the Free Lifetime Maps, not unlike a Limited Lifetime Warranty on shingles...

 

I am uncertain how many higher end model  telescopes and mounts that Celestron  sells....as far as I know there are no statistics available.  I would guess it is not very many and they don't make all that much per unit sold.  I do know that the demand for such instruments is down considerably, as younger folks just aren't interested in Astronomy....as my son would say, you can see a lot more on the NASA  website. My Nexstar 11 GPS is no Hubble.  

 

I shall carry on...I feel better to have vented and I really do appreciate your taking the time to respond.     



#17 MikeBY

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:55 AM

Honestly, the simple solution to all of this is to correctly document the pinout on the serial ports of the ASGT and the HC RJ11/RJ45 jacks, and any adapter cables. This should be provided by the manufacturer. It is then up to owner if they want to buy a ready made cable or make their own.
'Programmable' RJ45 to DB9 connector adapters are readily available.

It's amazing that these companies don't do a better job at these simple things.
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#18 mclewis1

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 06:05 PM

The hand controller RS232 serial port connection pin outs are in the manual, appendix D ... as is the AutoGuide port (page 47). The AUX ports are not intended to be used for any PC connections so they aren't documented.

 

The hand controller RS232 serial cable (#93920) conforms to RS232 standards on the DB9 side.

 

The appropriate information is all there if you want to make your own cable for controlling the mount or upgrading the firmware in the hand controller.  If someone had a lower level V4 hand controller (and didn't want to buy any additional hardware) the firmware had to be upgraded to also have the ability to upgrade the motor controller firmware through the hand controller serial connection.

 

With an ASGT mount and without the higher level v4 hand controller firmware (below gem4.13) you'd need the Auxiliary Port Accessory (#93965) and the PC Port cable (#93922) to perform any motor controller firmware changes. To the best of my knowledge Celestron did not formally provide the PC Port cable pinouts in any manual but they were commonly available via Celestron support, various Yahoo Groups, and Mike Swanson's website www.nexstarsite.com. There was also DIY information online about building your own AUX port accessory interface.

 

The vast majority of firmware changes for the hand controller were to add functionality, not fix bugs. Remember that with v4 firmware the code is common for all gem style mounts so many changes applied to other mounts. The motor controller firmware only went through a few changes, again most were due to functionality changes. 

 

If someone was only worried about bug fixes there were very few relevant firmware changes.

 

Supplying cables, updating interface ports, and other nice to have features all add costs (and far more than just the raw cost of the item) that end up raising prices. As an entry level goto gem style mount the ASGT was very price sensitive. Price increases would have meant less volume sold.  Less volume sold would have further raised prices or shortened how long the mount was sold for. Including additional items would have made a few people happier (myself included) but it would have meant less ASGTs in the marketplace.


Edited by mclewis1, 19 September 2019 - 06:12 PM.

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#19 Wallyl

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 07:07 AM

The information is all there, but frankly I don't have the capability of using it to make a cable to upgrade the firmware.  I do have a V 4 HC  from my N8i which I will use to do so.

 

The Auxiliary port 93965 you mentioned was long ago discontinued ...I have seen  no. of "requests" from others begging for one.  Occasionally one is offered on Astromart on a bid basis and they typically sell for $100+.  Yes, one can build one...again  is something that I don't feel comfortable doing. You make a mistake and you can damage/destroy your electronics. 

 

I am attaching a list from Celestron of the upgrades for the HC+..notice the word "bugs" in the list which shows that almost all the updates were for fixes. I use it as an example.  

 

Your last statement....about the ASGT being very price sensitive makes sense.  I take it you like your ASGT.  Frankly I like the one that I have as well except the 3.06 HC is very cold sensitive. When it is at below freezing the display works sluggishly then quits.  It's funny, but the HC on my older Nexstar 11 GPS has no such issues  (V 1.6).   I decided to upgrade to a HC+ that handles the cold better as I could not use the ASGT in the colder months. 

 

NexStar+ Hand Control
Version # release date updates
5.30.9200 8/2019 Patch : account for additional modules, including those that failed after April 6th.
Bug Fix: patch in 9104, could fail on August 17th for some modules.
5.30.9104 5/2019 Patch : account for GPS modules that failed the April 6th Week Number Rollover.
5.30.9015 1/2019 Critical Bug Fix: The “Get RA/Dec” bug and other issues introduced in 5.30.9009.
Known Issue: User Objects was removed from the GEM build for technical
reasons, but it will return in the next release.
5.30.9009 1/2019 Fixed flawed database pointers detected in 5,30.8333
Bug discovered after release: GEM version didn’t work with Get RA/Dec.
Alignment may also be affected. Alt-Az seems unaffected.
5.30.8333 1/2019 Support for Motorized Focuser.
Bug Fix: Due to database corruption, some languages did not show all menus
Bug Fix: dates/times with uninitialized time zones do not read as “local” which
caused many people to believe their GPS modules were not working.
Feature: When selecting a time zone, the HC will try to pick a close one based on
the longitude
Known Issue: While waiting to acquire GPS, the time shown is nonsense until
the GPS is fully linked up and the location is computed.
Bug discovered after release: Flawed database pointers for cities
5.29.7137 7/2017 Bug Fix: if time in the 12 o'clock hour (between 12pm and 12:59 pm) was
entered, the date was incorrectly incremented.
Bug Fix: returns immediately with error after receiving
MTR_UNRECOGNIZED_COMMAND without trying 4 times again.
Bug Fix: switch calibration had a sign error
Bug Fix: CGX(L) offered Tandem Mode erroneously
5.29.6226 2/2017 Bug Fix: CGX-L mount reported as “CGX”. No functional changes.
5.29.6225 9/2016 CGX support.
Bug Fix: LED settings not initialized at power up.
Support for warnings messages, e.g. “slew limit reached”, and “battery low”
Support for error messages, e.g. “CGX hardware switch failure”
Note: Errors and warnings require MC support. Currently CGX only.
5.29.6111 3/2016 Support for Astro Fi
Fixes restores ASCOM.
Corrects problem discovered in 5.28.5183.
5.28.5300 11/2015 Bug Fix: RS-232 “h” command failures
Bug Fix: language resets
Bug Fix: Incompatibility with GPS modules
Known Bug: Completely breaks ASCOM. sorry.
5.28.5183 8/2015 RS-232: new command “y” : last alignment
Half hour and quarter hour time zone support
Updated and expanded the city database
Known bug: lock ups occur when polling with ASCOM while using the MENU tree.
5.27.5150 7/2015 Korean Language support
5.26.5080 3/2015 Bug Fix: User Objects getting smashed when new units added.
Bug Fix: Factory reset does not reset Language setting
Boot Loader 3.1.xxxx improves support of old HC’s with old WiFi modules.
5.25.4320 12/2014 Bug Fix: ASPA doesn’t work in southern hemisphere.
Official Support for WiFi updating.
Bug Fix: RS232 commands Side of Pier and Desired SOP.
EVO: Japanese and Russian support
5.24.4200 9/2014 Bug Fix: Peripherals menu showing in non-Evolution mount.
Improved CFM support for WiFi updates — still failing for some users.
5.24.4182 8/2014 Support for Evolution mount:
peripherals menu, controls and monitors for battery, WiFi module, etc.
Beta support for updates via WiFi module.
Bug Fix: long messages on the aux bus, could crash the HC.
5.23.4110 5/2014 Support for COSMOS ™ mount.
5.22.3xxx ?/2013 Support for hardware changes to the PCB and the LCD
5.21.2336 12/2012 Bug Fix: Display not correct contrast
Bug Fix: Moon not showing in Solar System Align (since 5.21.2014)
AVX: supports RTC 2.0 protocol. (fewer glitches near hour/date rollovers).
AVX: improved meridian sweep.
Holding button 0 at power up, leads to Factory reset for HC.
5.21.2200 9/2012 Support for Advanced VX
Support for Orion StarSeeker
Bug Fix: Camera menu showing up in mounts other than SE 4/5.
Bug Fix: Custom Rate9 support not showing in SE 4/5
Support for half width characters in Asian languages e.g. α-Boötes
Bug Fix: Scrolling characters overwrite information on LCD.
5.21.2102 4/2012 Support for CostCo 2012 mounts
5.21.2064 3/2012 Bug Fix: Alt Az mounts when Dec < 0.
Bug Fix: erroneous “No items in database” error during 2-star alignment
Bug Fix: rare alignment failure on Alt-Az mounts due to math library error.
Bug Fix: Soft Sync when tandem mode set.
Bug Fix: Land objects in the south (north in the SH).
5.21.2014 1/2012 Hand control menu added.
European Language support (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian)
Asian Language support (Chinese, Japanese)
Bold, Contrast, LED brightness settings
Bug Fix: Set Mount position when median mode active
Bug Fix: Hard Sync failure when OTA orientation west.
5.21.1236 12/2011 Corrected “Direction Button” polarity bug
CPC_Deluxe support
Bug Fix: NCG objects greater than 5462
Bug Fix: Blinking on View Time/Site page
5.21.1180 9/2011 Initial release
 



#20 SkipW

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 09:59 AM

That list illustrates the fact that most of the bug fixes and enhancements are simply not applicable to very many users.

 

Some apply to deficiencies in specific versions; if you don't have an affected version, you don't have the bug, and the update is unnecessary unless it also provides some wanted feature or fix. Many others apply to systems that many users don't have, like GPS and index switches, or different mounts entirely. Almost all of the language-related bugs and enhancements are irrelevant to me, except perhaps 5.26.5080, which fixes the language not getting reset (presumably, to English) upon factory reset; if the language inadvertently got switched to some language unrecognizable to me, this could be important, although navigating to the language selection list may not be much more difficult than navigating to the Factory Reset option if the prompts are in, say, Chinese. On the other hand, for someone who intentionally selected a different language, this "fix" could be a nuisance. 

 

It also shows how often updates introduce new bugs, which then need to be corrected in a later update if they apply to your situation.

 

If I ever haul my mount to the southern hemisphere, applying updates to correct southern hemisphere operations would probably be desirable.

 

There are a handful in there that would be worthwhile for me to apply, and I seriously doubt I anywhere near alone in this. All the rest are either irrelevant, or offer something that might be nice to have, but aren't worth the effort and risk for marginal benefit. This is why I don't recommend routine updates just because an update is available.



#21 mclewis1

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 10:37 AM

I thought we were originally talking about the # of bugs in the V4 (NexStar) hand controller not the + model, but as you correctly point out there are a lot of them in that + firmware. To understand why you first have to separate the two families, the GEM from NXS firmware (I believe it's coded as one singular code base and then separately built for release) ... and then remember that with the introduction of the + hand controller Celestron also released a bunch of new mounts (AVX, CGEM DX,  CGX, Evolution, etc.) while maintaining current mounts (CGEM, CGEPro, CPC, SE, SLT, GT, etc.) and fending off requests from owners of discontinued mounts (ASGT, CGE, NexStar8/11, NexStar GPS, etc.) and therefore made a LOT of code changes. 

 

When the + model was introduced it was also clear that there was a different process in place for developing and testing revisions and managing "bugs" ... and an awful lot of them in the change list above were actually introduced in the + firmware - they simply were not present in the original NexStar firmware. That old NexStar firmware certainly wasn't perfect but it was substantially more stable. 

 

So yes while there certainly are good reasons to use the + model it also brings with it a lot of ongoing code changes for other mounts. 

 

 

The AUX Port adapter was offered while the ASGT mount was being sold. During the lifespan of the ASGT the v4 hand controller firmware evolved (starting with gem4.13) so that the AUX Port adapter (well specifically the PC Port) was no longer required to do motor controller upgrades. As an ASGT owner with a non upgradable v3 hand controller you had two options at the time a) buy the AUX Port adapter or b) buy a v4 hand controller. Which one do you think was the more popular option? After realizing the limited demand for the AUX Port adapter Celestron dropped it. Any demand today is usually by folks who want to run mounts without a physical hand controller in place (a feature of the PC Port connection and NexRemote software).

 

If an early ASGT owner waited past the AUX Port adapter availability, past the v4 hand controller availability, past the end of life for the ASGT, and then wanted to do motor controller upgrades they had to either buy a new v5 NexStar+ hand controller and take their chances (the + was never formally tested and offered on the ASGT, it was only through some customer testing that it was suggested as an option) OR go to the used market for the older gear.

 

So Celestron certainly could have done things to make things easier for those early customers, but the same could be said for the other scope/mount manufacturers and their older gear. They are all operating in a low margin cut throat marketplace. I don't think it's an issue of executive compensation, and frankly even as imperfect as they are I think we're lucky Celestron is even still in business. The ASGT is now a 15+ year old product. Do you know too many other 15 year old consumer products (phones, cameras, GPS, a/v gear, etc.) where the original data cables still work (including s/w drivers and upgrade apps) or the manufacturer will even answer your questions about doing upgrades? 

 

Yeah I like my old ASGT mount, it has the original v4 hand controller and the original motor controller firmware. It gets limited use, usually only for occasional remote or outreach events and just keeps ticking along (it's been re lubed, worm gear adjusted, and had the power switch replaced). PC connectivity is handled through the HC serial port, Celestron HC serial cable, and an I/O gear USB-RS232 serial adapter. In the cold I put the hand controller in a plastic bag with a chemical hand warmer.



#22 Wallyl

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 11:33 AM

We are...I couldn't find  the Celestron update firmware list for V 4: I did state that the list was a sample.

 

Yes, so I decided to upgrade with the HC+. 

 

Yes,  I did figured that  out about why the 93965 was discontinued....the Version 4 HC made it unnecessary.  

 

I know,  as mentioned, I was venting. My therapist says it is a good thing to do so!  I guess my expectations are just too high.  I have read stories from others that felt Celestrons CS wasn't all that reliable.  Years ago I had dealings with the and did pretty well....Lance was The Man. 

 

Glad to hear that you like yours and still use it.  The HC has a short cord which I try really hard not to tug on.  Yes, there are ways to use it in the cold...none of them appeal to me so, I opted to buy the HC+ to help support Celestron. 


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