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Another EQ6-R Pro Connection Issue, Second Opinions Wanted

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#1 wrnchhead

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 06:41 PM

I have had my EQ6 for about six months now. I have read 100 times John Upton's extensive coverage about connecting this mount at https://www.atm-work...pc-connect.html. It helped me get going connecting this mount to my computer. The third time I used this mount, the hand controller USB connection stopped working. SkyWatcher sent me a new hand controller, which got that working again.

 

While I was waiting on my new HC to arrive, I got my mount connected using the (brand new at the time) direct USB port on the side of the mount. After a few runs with that, my PC desktop and laptop both stopped recognizing my mount being connected. This really got me to thinking that something was going on with my laptop or desktop spiking the voltage and cooking the electronics or something. Well I have been using the HC to PC connection with my new HC for many months now and have had no problems. 

 

But, I still can not connect my mount directly to the PC, it simply does not show up when connected directly. I have tried different USB cables, all of which work normally when used with other devices or through the HC. I guess what I am wanting by starting this thread is to get your opinion on whether I am just the luckiest person in the world when it comes to USB controller failures, or there may be something I am missing to make this work. This did work and I changed nothing when it stopped working. Even if there is some driver issue or other, I would think that Windows would recognize something being connected when I connect the mount, like it does when I connect through the HC. I let this go for a few months since I considered that I may have to send my mount to SkyWatcher, and I'd rather it be dead of winter when I am unlikely to be able to use it anyway. 

 

Thank you for reading. 


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#2 SJ2W1

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 07:11 PM

Mine never worked through the hand controller USB.  I ended up going with the Shoestring USB2EQ6 cable. It eliminates the hand controller and enables the PC to control the mount through EQMOD. It's worked flawlessly since I bypassed the hand controller.


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#3 wrnchhead

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 07:27 PM

Ah yes, maybe that's a solution I could use. That connects through the HC port via the special cable, right? Although given my mount is pretty new, under warranty and supposed to work this way, I can't help but want it to work properly in all ways. 



#4 jdupton

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 07:44 PM

Eric,

 

   It does seem suspicious that both USB ports appear to have failed. It might be the USB port on the PC side but that would be very rare unless something in the laptop has failed in a rather specific way.

 

   I don't think it would be driver issues if nothing at all shows up when you plug in the USB cable between PC and Mount or between the PC and HC. Do you see anything happen in the Windows Device Manager when plug the USB cable from the PC to either the HC or Mount? You should also hear the Windows USB Connection Chime when the cable is physically plugged in even if the software connection never happens to work.

 

   Try turning the volume on the PC all the way up, open up the Device Manager so you can watch for changes, and then plug the USB cable from the PC into the mount's USB socket. Do you hear the USB chime? Do you see any changes (device appearing somewhere in the Device Manager list)? It could be showing up as either a COM / LPT port or as an unknown device. If anything is even halfway alive, you may see a Windows Tray Notification pop up saying Unknown Device Connected.

 

   If none of that happens, the USB to Serial converter chip inside the mount has failed completely. While it could be due to a bad USB port on the PC side, tat would be highly unusual.

 

   Can you recall whether the times you noted the initial failures of the HC or the mount were during cool dry weather? I am thinking that maybe an ESD event (Electro-Static Discharge) may have occurred. Static electricity buildup can happen when moving around in cool dry weather. When you plug in the USB cord, that static electricity can be discharged into the contacts of the socket on the mount or HC. That will immediately kill the converter chip. Very often, unprotected connectors can be the Achilles Heel for outdoor equipment that isn't built to Mil-Spec standards.

 

   If is really is a dead converter chip inside the mount, you will need a new motor control board. Perhaps you could get a warranty replacement board without having to send the whole mount back for repair.

 

 

John


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#5 SJ2W1

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 08:00 PM

Mine is new also. By-passing the hand controller was the quickest way to get it working correctly. I tried two computers, three USB cables, and various software settings before trying the shoestring cable. I attempted to use both the basic and enhanced methods described in the link you provided. I was beyond aggravated at that but wanted it to get it working. I still have no idea why it never worked and hearing that you managed to get yours running for a while that way makes me want to revisit attempting to run it through the hand controller again.



#6 wrnchhead

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 08:40 PM

Ok, just before I made this post, I brought my mount next to my PC with the device manager open, I powered the mount, then connected the mount USB port, and saw nothing in the com port section of the device manager. I powered down, connected the HC, then powered back on. I watched the device manager as I connected the USB cable to the HC, and saw it instantly recognized. Powered down again, disconnected the HC, and tried the mount port again, and nothing on the device manager. 

 

Ok when this initially happened, the weather was summer. I don't notice too much static around here in the summer. Standard fairly humid Kansas weather. I do see the weird connection between two converter chips going out within a very narrow time frame. Objectively I haven't ever had a single other USB issue with my PC or my laptop though. With the new HC, I haven't had a single issue of recognition or operation. My ASIAir using all the same power and cabling hasn't had any problems. I don't purport to know the supply chain of parts for Synta, but possible there was a bad batch of converters and I just happened to get two? 

 

Thank you for your outside opinion, I think I will email SkyWatcher and see what they propose. I am confident I could do the motor board swap myself, but I completely understand if they are hesitant to have an unknown person working on something they have a standing warranty on. I will report back my results. My first experience with them was all gold stars, I expect this will be the same. 



#7 wrnchhead

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 08:52 PM

SJ, my amateur opinion on your situation is that you probably had a dud hand controller from the get-go. SkyWatcher sent me a new one right away. 



#8 OldManSky

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 09:20 PM

If you're willing to try something fairly simple, try this:

 

Go to this page: https://www.ftdichip...Drivers/VCP.htm

 

Get the driver for your OS (probably Windows, right?).  For easier install, look on the right for a link to the "Setup Executable."

Install the driver.

 

Then try to connect the mount again using the USB cord.  See if there's any difference.

 

This is the official, signed driver for the FTDI USB-Serial chipset.  It won't harm your computer in any way.  But Windows 10 usually won't download/install it automatically, and if a Windows update happened since you first connected, you may not have it on your system now.

Worth a shot :)



#9 wrnchhead

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 09:38 PM

Ok I did try that Mr. LeFevre, same results. Good tip though!


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#10 jdupton

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 10:00 PM

Eric,

 

   I didn't think it would help for two reasons. I think the newer Skywatcher mounts with USB Ports use an internal Prolific brand USB-Serial converter chip. Loading an FTDI brand driver will not allow it to talk. Secondly, the chip is not answering Windows at all or else you would hear a Windows USB Connection Chime sound when you plug in the mount to the PC.

 

   A high level view of what happens when you plug in a device to a USB port is something like this:

  • Hardware detects a physical connection and notifies Windows
  • Windows sends a request to the currently unknown device asking for its VID and PID
    (Vendor ID and Part ID).
  • If windows gets a response, it will chime indicating it is talking to something.
    If no response is received back, nothing further happens. There will be no chime. (Either the device didn't activate the hardware port or never responded at all to the ID request.)
  • Upon getting notified of the Vendor and Device type, Windows searches for the device in its list of installed device drivers.
  • If no driver has been registered for this VID / PID, Windows will post a notification that an "Unknown USB Device connected".
  • If a matching driver is found, the driver is loaded, the device is initialized, and it is added to the Device Manager.

   So, in cases where no Chime is ever heard, the device is likely dead, Dead, or DEAD. If a garbled VID / PID is returned or no device driver has been found to match, then Windows notifies you of an Unknown Device having been connected. Your system can have lots of odd and ends device drivers loaded. They do no harm other than take up a little disk space. They are only invoked when a (working) device with a matching VID / PID is connected.

 

   The good news here is that if you pursue a direct USB2EQ5 cable, your FTDI driver will already be loaded. The Shoestring Astronomy USB2EQ5 cable uses the FTDI chip set. You are all set for the fall-back position if you go that route rather than having the mount repaired.

 

 

John


Edited by jdupton, 08 December 2019 - 10:03 PM.

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#11 OldManSky

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 10:33 PM

Ok I did try that Mr. LeFevre, same results. Good tip though!

Oh, well, worth a shot.  If they do use the Prolific driver instead of FTDI, you can try again with that driver:

 

http://www.prolific...._id=225&pcid=41

 

At the very least, doing so will exhaust the "it's a driver issue" excuse from the manufacturer when you get support from them!


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#12 arrowspace90

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 01:42 PM

Mine never worked through the hand controller USB.  I ended up going with the Shoestring USB2EQ6 cable. It eliminates the hand controller and enables the PC to control the mount through EQMOD. It's worked flawlessly since I bypassed the hand controller.

This is the method I have decided upon also.

But I just ordered the cable, no telling how long it will take to arrive (I accept that the maker doesn't call it "shoestring" for nothing).

 

I have used the Celestron style hand controllers for my CPC-8 and StarSense.  I find them clunky and for my (aging) eyes, difficult to read in the dark!


Edited by arrowspace90, 09 December 2019 - 01:55 PM.


#13 arrowspace90

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 01:57 PM

"These seemingly complicated connection methods will become clear after following the connection procedure once or twice. Soon it will be second nature and any initial apprehension will be forgotten. If you take a little time to learn why and how these methods differ, you will soon be helping other beginners get the most out their SynScan mounts."

 

Seemingly complicated is right....


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#14 MikeECha

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 08:28 PM

I have had my EQ6 for about six months now. I have read 100 times John Upton's extensive coverage about connecting this mount at https://www.atm-work...pc-connect.html. It helped me get going connecting this mount to my computer. The third time I used this mount, the hand controller USB connection stopped working. SkyWatcher sent me a new hand controller, which got that working again.

 

While I was waiting on my new HC to arrive, I got my mount connected using the (brand new at the time) direct USB port on the side of the mount. After a few runs with that, my PC desktop and laptop both stopped recognizing my mount being connected. This really got me to thinking that something was going on with my laptop or desktop spiking the voltage and cooking the electronics or something. Well I have been using the HC to PC connection with my new HC for many months now and have had no problems. 

 

But, I still can not connect my mount directly to the PC, it simply does not show up when connected directly. I have tried different USB cables, all of which work normally when used with other devices or through the HC. I guess what I am wanting by starting this thread is to get your opinion on whether I am just the luckiest person in the world when it comes to USB controller failures, or there may be something I am missing to make this work. This did work and I changed nothing when it stopped working. Even if there is some driver issue or other, I would think that Windows would recognize something being connected when I connect the mount, like it does when I connect through the HC. I let this go for a few months since I considered that I may have to send my mount to SkyWatcher, and I'd rather it be dead of winter when I am unlikely to be able to use it anyway. 

 

Thank you for reading. 

Things to check for the USB port on the mount to work assuming you use EQMOD (you did not say).

 

1- On the laptop, check the number of your Prolific COM port. It should be a number less than COM16. Windows 10 keeps assigning port numbers as you use different devices and different physical usb ports. This is important because EQMOD has a limit, I think COM16.

 

2- Make sure that the baud rate on both the port on laptop Device Manager and EQMOD is set to 115200

 

3- Use the Toolbox utility that installs with EQMOD. This is where you setup driver starting parameters. Register and then setup the driver there. That is where you enter the 115200 baud. Then check if EQMOD finds the mount.

 

4- I find that I have to turn on the mount first before plugging the usb cable in order for EQMOD to see it. 

 

Againg, this is assuming you are using EQMOD. In any case do not get discouraged, the usb conection works great. My mount has never done a star aligment and the HC stays in the house.

 

Hope this helps


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#15 kevindt

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Posted 12 December 2019 - 02:14 AM

I have the Orion version of EQ6 (Atlas Pro) that came with the USB2 ports on both the mount and the SynScan handset.   Connection via the handset USB in PC-Direct mode works reasonably but is clunky.   Connection directly to the mount USB shows the USB device present but has never yet managed to achieve a working connection - probably my configuration, not the mount. 

 

What did work out of the box and has done so without a single fault for months now is this $15 FTDI USB2 cable that connects to the handset port on the mount:  https://www.amazon.c...uct/B07HL2Z741/

 

Delivery was in 2 days for me.


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#16 arrowspace90

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 02:57 PM

I would like to clarify some wiring confusion that I experienced.  I want to connect my mount to the laptop without the clunky HC.

 

When watching a video of a well know AP guy taking his new SkyWatcher EQ6-R out of the box, he showed the connection ports and noted that it had the "new USB" port installed under the Hand-Control and Auto-Guiding ports.

From this comment, I surmised that he connected his computer to the mount via this port.

Nope, I am now informed that the computer is connected via the hand-controller port.  Yes that does make more sense.

But when you are new to this stuff, and you have no idea what the difference is between an RJ-45 and a RJ-12 or a "USB-to-serial" port, confusion comes easily.

I never could find a video or verbiage to explain the connection in unambiguous terms.  But there must be one

 

EDIT:  The guy that has the video site affirmed to me that he connects his laptop to his SkyWatcher EQ6R plugs into the "USB" Serial to USB port.   So once again I am confused.

Is connection between PC and Mount without using the hand controller possible using the mount hand controller port OR the "new" USB port?

Are there multiple cable connectors that will work in different ports?

This is so confusing to amateurs.


Edited by arrowspace90, 16 December 2019 - 03:46 PM.


#17 jdupton

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 03:39 PM

kevindt and arrowspace90;

 

   To connect to the USB port on the mount without having the HandControl attached, you can use the following abbreviated procedure:

  • Find a "USB Printer Cable". This will have a normal USB-Type-A connector on one end for the PC and a USB-Type-B connector on the other end as is often used for USB printers / scanners or other equipment.
     
  • Load the ASCOM Platform software onto your PC if you have not already done so.
     
  • Load the SkyWatcher Unified ASCOM Driver or the EQMOD ASCOM Driver / Package (if you prefer to use EQMOD) onto your PC.
     
  • Load the low-level device driver for a Prolific USB to Serial converter onto the PC. You may be able to skip this step as Windows will often identify the converter inside the mount and load the right driver automatically.
     
  • Open the Windows Device Manager on the PC. Open up (expand) the twistie next to COM & LPT Ports in the Device Manager.
     
  • Connect the cable directly between the mount and the PC.
     
  • Power on the mount and listen for the Windows USB connection chime. At the same time, a new port should appear in the Device Manage list view of COM and LPT Ports.
     
  • Click on the new COM port and select "Properties". Go to the Port Settings Tab.
     
  • Set the Bits per Second value to 115200. The other settings there should be left at 8, None, 1, and None. Press OK.
     
  • Now open a program that can control the mount via ASCOM such as a planetarium program like Cartes du Ciel or a guider program like PHD2.
     
  • In the planetarium program, initiate a connection to the telescope. Choose the ASCOM selection and then in the ASCOM Chooser, pick the proper driver (SkyWatcher or EQMOD). Select Configure. Set the Port number to equal the COM Port than appeared when you powered up the mount. Set the communications speed to 115200 if there is a setting entry for it.
     
  • Press OK (maybe multiple times) to wind your way back the the ASCOM connection dialog for the planetarium program and then tell it to actually connect. It should do so without error.

   This procedure is much like connecting with the FTDI direct cable with only two exceptions: 1) you connect to the USB port on the mount rather than the HandControl Port on the mount, and 2) you use 115200 bits per second rather than 9600 bps.

 

   Give it a try to see if it works for you.

 

 

John


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#18 arrowspace90

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 03:51 PM

kevindt and arrowspace90;

 

   To connect to the USB port on the mount without having the HandControl attached, you can use the following abbreviated procedure:

  • Find a "USB Printer Cable". This will have a normal USB-Type-A connector on one end for the PC and a USB-Type-B connector on the other end as is often used for USB printers / scanners or other equipment.
     
  • Load the ASCOM Platform software onto your PC if you have not already done so.
     
  • Load the SkyWatcher Unified ASCOM Driver or the EQMOD ASCOM Driver / Package (if you prefer to use EQMOD) onto your PC.
     
  • Load the low-level device driver for a Prolific USB to Serial converter onto the PC. You may be able to skip this step as Windows will often identify the converter inside the mount and load the right driver automatically.
     
  • Open the Windows Device Manager on the PC. Open up (expand) the twistie next to COM & LPT Ports in the Device Manager.
     
  • Connect the cable directly between the mount and the PC.
     
  • Power on the mount and listen for the Windows USB connection chime. At the same time, a new port should appear in the Device Manage list view of COM and LPT Ports.
     
  • Click on the new COM port and select "Properties". Go to the Port Settings Tab.
     
  • Set the Bits per Second value to 115200. The other settings there should be left at 8, None, 1, and None. Press OK.
     
  • Now open a program that can control the mount via ASCOM such as a planetarium program like Cartes du Ciel or a guider program like PHD2.
     
  • In the planetarium program, initiate a connection to the telescope. Choose the ASCOM selection and then in the ASCOM Chooser, pick the proper driver (SkyWatcher or EQMOD). Select Configure. Set the Port number to equal the COM Port than appeared when you powered up the mount. Set the communications speed to 115200 if there is a setting entry for it.
     
  • Press OK (maybe multiple times) to wind your way back the the ASCOM connection dialog for the planetarium program and then tell it to actually connect. It should do so without error.

   This procedure is much like connecting with the FTDI direct cable with only two exceptions: 1) you connect to the USB port on the mount rather than the HandControl Port on the mount, and 2) you use 115200 bits per second rather than 9600 bps.

 

   Give it a try to see if it works for you.

 

 

John

A printer cable!  Yes, now I get it!  I wish I had read that!  I have one right here.  Ok, I downloaded  ASCOM but I will triple check that driver.



#19 kevindt

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 08:42 PM

Thank you, John.

 

I have plenty of USB A to B cables to play with.

 

Having tried this previously, I just needed the baud rate/bit depth-start-stop settings to make it work.  It will work fine with both ASCOM and with INDI with those settings (115200 8N1), while the handset defaults to requiring 9600 8N1.  I actually used it briefly (between clouds and rain) with the ASIAIR using those settings last night without any problems.

 

Kevin.



#20 jdupton

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 02:20 PM

arrowspace90,

 

   The COM & LPT ports option may not show up until you connect and power on the mount. If it doesn't show up then, watch for an undefined device to appear in the list when you power up. 

 

   If neither of those things happen and you do not hear the Windows USB Device Connected chime sound when you power up the mount, then the USB to Serial converter device in the mount may be dead. There should be at least a chime heard on the PC when you power on the mount if it is connected. (Turn the Windows Sounds volume up to make sure you can hear it.)

 

   Refer to my post earlier in this thread (at Post #10) for more information on what should happen.

 

 

John



#21 arrowspace90

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 03:33 PM

arrowspace90,

 

   The COM & LPT ports option may not show up until you connect and power on the mount. If it doesn't show up then, watch for an undefined device to appear in the list when you power up. 

 

   If neither of those things happen and you do not hear the Windows USB Device Connected chime sound when you power up the mount, then the USB to Serial converter device in the mount may be dead. There should be at least a chime heard on the PC when you power on the mount if it is connected. (Turn the Windows Sounds volume up to make sure you can hear it.)

 

   Refer to my post earlier in this thread (at Post #10) for more information on what should happen.

 

 

John

Yes, I did that before I saw this post.

The com port showed as 3.  Then I set the baud at 115200.

i got to eqmod and with plenty of fumbling found the tools and set com 3 and 115200 there too.  Plugged in mount with no scope attached.

It said mount not found on com 3!  
Doubtless more user error.

I had earlier downloaded the drivers, but perhaps not correctly.  
 



#22 arrowspace90

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 03:44 PM

arrowspace90,

 

   The COM & LPT ports option may not show up until you connect and power on the mount. If it doesn't show up then, watch for an undefined device to appear in the list when you power up. 

 

   If neither of those things happen and you do not hear the Windows USB Device Connected chime sound when you power up the mount, then the USB to Serial converter device in the mount may be dead. There should be at least a chime heard on the PC when you power on the mount if it is connected. (Turn the Windows Sounds volume up to make sure you can hear it.)

 

   Refer to my post earlier in this thread (at Post #10) for more information on what should happen.

 

 

John

Like this

Attached Thumbnails

  • rsz_eqmod.jpg
  • rsz_errror.jpg

Edited by arrowspace90, 17 December 2019 - 03:53 PM.


#23 MikeECha

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 07:41 PM

Yes, I did that before I saw this post.

The com port showed as 3.  Then I set the baud at 115200.

i got to eqmod and with plenty of fumbling found the tools and set com 3 and 115200 there too.  Plugged in mount with no scope attached.

It said mount not found on com 3!  
Doubtless more user error.

I had earlier downloaded the drivers, but perhaps not correctly.  
 

Make sure the mount is powered up before you plug the usb to the laptop. I have noticed that sometimes the mount is not found if the mount is powered after starting EQMOD.

 

But first, on he EQMOD toolbox app (different app than the driver app), hit the register button. When register is successful, then run driver setup and search for com port with boud 115200. It shoud find it. Once the toolbox app finds it, so should the driver.



#24 GoFish

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 07:52 PM

Why do manufacturers insist on using the Prolific chips?  The FTDI chips just plain work!  I’ve soldered hundreds of FTDI FT232RL chips onto circuit boards, as well as having used a dozen or so cables with them embedded. Still waiting for the first problem ...



#25 jdupton

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 08:14 PM

Mike,

 

Make sure the mount is powered up before you plug the usb to the laptop. I have noticed that sometimes the mount is not found if the mount is powered after starting EQMOD.

 

   This is a good point. For a "dumb" device like a mount communicating through a USB-to-Serial converter, the smarts to respond to the communications initialization is in the firmware and not a smart USB chip. The mount controller (inside the mount) will need to boot up fully before it can respond over what it sees as a serial connection.

 

   For that reason, I stand corrected about the converter being dead if no Windows USB chime is heard upon power up of a connected mount. Powering on the mount and giving it a few seconds to internally boot will allow it to have a chance to respond when Windows starts talking to it.

 

   To both the OP (wrnchhead) and arrowspace90, try turning the mount on first, wait 10 seconds or so and then connect up the USB cable. It may work better. 

 

   In the screen shots above by arrowspace90, it looks like the electrical connection was made successfully (Windows found the device) but the software was not talking properly. You may want to try pulling the cable, power cycling the mount and after a short wait, reconnect the cable.

 

 

John


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