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Hand controller swapout results in failed goto

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#1 BPoletti

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:35 AM

I'm not even sure how to properly describe the problem.  I purchased  a new hand controller, a Celestron NexStar+ to replace the existing one on my NexStar 8SE scope. The replacement had an actual USB port instead of a jack that converted to a DB9 (or DB7) serial port connector for connecting to a PC.  I thought it would be convenient, sources here and locally seemed think there was no compatibility issues.  The controllers look very similar though the new USB model looks slightly larger (maybe).

 

I removed the earlier hand set and connected the hand set to the computer in the same port.  (A bit of a chore with my basket-size hands.)  I set up the system using the Sky Align process as I had done numerous times in the past.  Everything had to be input fresh, so I was doubly careful to provide the correct information.

 

I aligned the scope using three stars I have used in the past.  At the end of the third star, I confirmed the three stars used.  They were completely wrong.  I selected Polaris from the GoTo menu for stars and the scope slewed around to the high southwestern sky. 

 

I shut down the system and started from scratch thinking I must have incorrectly input some of the data.  I walked through the Sky Align process using Polaris and two different stars.  At the end of the third star, I checked the three stars I had selected, Polaris being the first.  Polaris was not on the list.  I selected a star cluster in Cassiopeia.  The scope slewed around to the west.  Probably the correct altitude.  

 

What happened?  Did I miss a step in the set-up?  Do I have a "bad" controller?  Do I need to update firmware / software?  (I have no idea where to get the updates, what files to use and what utilities to use to load the firmware / software to the hand unit.)       

 

Thanks in advance for helping to troubleshoot.   



#2 barbarosa

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:31 AM

It is always best to use stars to align, not deep space objects or solar objects.

 

I would triple check that the time, date, and location are at least approximately correct. That data sets up the alignment. It used to be true and may still be true that the hand control's location is the coordinates for an office building in China. 

 

If for example you do a three star alignment and the time is wrong but the alignment stars are still visible in your local sky, the alignment is accepted but all of the go to slews are wrong.

 

The first two stars in a three star alignment are the critical stars. The third star is a go/no go check on the first two. That being true, many people prefer to use 2 star or 2 star auto. If you learn the bright stars or some of them (with help from a chart or planetarium program when needed), alignments are quick, because you know that the right stars are selected and you know about where they should be in the sky.

 

Polaris and one other alignment star in the east or west and not to low or too high will get you up and running.

 

If all of this is bunk, check the power supply voltage  and then wait for an expert to come along here with a better answer.



#3 enigma-2

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 04:08 AM

Considering the satellite time reset, have you upgraded to the latest software version in your new hc?

#4 wmgeorge

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 07:06 AM

I guess I do not understand the advice on how to use his scope and he has used it for years? Sounds like he needs a software update.


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#5 mclewis1

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:11 AM

BPoletti,

 

First I would so a simple Factory Settings reset of your new hand controller. Yes you will have to re input all of your data, and don't forget the time zone and DST settings.

 

What is the version and type of firmware in your hand controller (just run the Version command, it's under the Utilities menu) and tell us what the numbers are (and include the prefix letters too).  For your SE scope you want to see something like nxs5.xx.xxxx.

 

If you see gem5.xx.xxxx then you have the wrong type of firmware installed. This is quite easy to fix. You will need a USB mini cable (not a micro connector, the older and less popular mini connector). The guidelines to perform changes to the firmware in your NexStar + hand controller are available on Mike Swanson's website www.nexstarsite.com


Edited by mclewis1, 26 September 2020 - 07:50 PM.

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#6 audioengr

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:55 AM

Connect the hand control by USB cable to your laptop and go here to verify your firmware levels and to download the latest.  Download CFM first.



#7 BPoletti

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:47 PM

Downloaded CFM.  Connected new hand controller.  Turned on scope.  Loaded 11 updates to the scope and hand controller.  I don't know if they were actual updates or if the system just din an overwrite of the existing software / firmware.  But it appears that all is up to date.  Went through initial set-up - location, date / time.  Slewed the scope to vertical, shut down and put the cover on it until tonight.  Maybe the new hand controller just needed a wake-up call.

 

I will update late tonight.    

 

Thanks for the help and explanation.



#8 Terrybythe sea

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:25 PM

One other thought: did you possibly purchase an EQ hand control rather than an AZ?

 

https://www.amazon.c...01148165&sr=8-2

 

https://www.amazon.c...01148165&sr=8-7


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#9 BPoletti

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:54 PM

Good thought.   

 

I just checked the order history from Agena.  It is an Alt-Az Hand Control.  And I'm not using a wedge, just a simple Alt-Az setup.  Interestingly, the "old" hand controller is marked "GEM" next to where the update cable connects.  But it worked just fine in Alt-Az mode.


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#10 BPoletti

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 03:50 PM

It never even occurred to me that the old controller might not have been working as expected because it needed software / firmware upgrade(s).  After this evening's session, I might swap out the hand controllers and update the old controller.  I have the RS232 cable for the controller and a USB adapter.  Why not?  What have I got to lose?      


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#11 mclewis1

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 07:55 PM

Labels and such on the hand controller are not an effective way of determining the type of firmware loaded ... just run the Version command and you'll be certain of what you've got.

 

It might be somewhat useful to have both hand controllers running the same level firmware (assuming the original is also a + model, if it's not then forget all the firmware upgrade instructions you've just gone through).

 

Why did you get another hand controller?



#12 BPoletti

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 08:00 PM

The "original" was a "+" model.  The difference is computer connectivity.  The new one is a direct USB connector, the older one used a DB9 or 7 serial connector.  

 

I got a new hand controller because it seemed that some of the keys were unresponsive at times.  

 

Update....

 

I can't say it's perfect, but the scope was able to attain alignment using the Sky Align process.  I say "not perfect" because the scope did not precisely center selected objects in a 24mm 68 degree eyepiece.  That said, it was close enough to manually center the object using the hand controller.  

 

Thanks to everyone to help troubleshoot the problem and provide suggestions for a fix.  And also to help remove my anxiety.  

 

My best to you,

 

Bill


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