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Dead Nexstar+ handset for AVX and a query about Starsense Handset

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#1 cpl43uk

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:55 AM

Hi everyone.

For several years now i have been controlling my AVX mount with the Starsense HC that came with the Starsense package. before that i used the Nexstar+ HC that came with the AVX quite successfully. I put this HC away in a box. Recently i have need to reconnect the old HC to control the scope instead of the Starsense HC but when i do so i find the HC screen just remains blank on switching on the mount - no red lights around the edge of the screen, no initialising of any form. I can confirm power is good because i can swap out and switch on the Starsense HC successfully. Any ideas why the original HC is “dead”?  Don’t really want to pay for a new one...
 

Thanks



#2 Dynan

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:31 AM

Calling Dr. Swanson...Dr. Michael Swanson! NexStar+ Code Blue! STAT!



#3 mclewis1

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:39 AM

a) connectivity failure in the coiled cable or RJ connector. 

b) failure in the display/ribbon cable connection within the HC (try just the direction arrow keys to see if they work after the HC is plugged in and powered up)

c) failure of a component in the HC ... one thought could be the surface mounted fuses (not normally user replaceable)



#4 Maritime

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:54 AM

Can you borrow one from a local to help isolate the issue?



#5 cpl43uk

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 05:48 PM

Oh dear things have gone from bad to worse.

 

Today i find that not only will the old HC not work but now my previously fine Starsense HC is calling out a failure some 10 secs into the initialisation routine with an Error Message “Cannot find telescope model” or something like that (at 22 secs into its 30 sec countdown as it installs the camera). I have tried without the camera lead connected and also putting the HC into the Aux 1 and Aux 2 sockets. Same message.

 

I am now making sure the battery i use is really charged up (over night) but any ideas what this all means? HC problem? Mount electronics problem? I have never updated the software/firmware on any of my devices since acquiring the AVX in 2016 and the Starsense in 2018.



#6 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 08:01 PM

Hi Chris,

 

I wouldn't try updating any firmware just yet.  Mark's suggestions above were spot on when you thought the problem was just the one hand control, but now it sounds like you have an electrical connection problem at the mount or the battery you are using to power the mount is failing.  So, try the NexStar+ HC in the AUX port (vice HC port if I'm correctly remembering available ports on the AVX mount) and then also find another good power source (for example, the cigarette lighter jack in your car).

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson

https://www.NexStarSite.com 


Edited by Michael_Swanson, 20 January 2021 - 10:55 PM.

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#7 Dynan

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 10:19 PM

(The NexStar "Crash Cart" has arrived... the patient will probably recover smile.png)


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#8 cpl43uk

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 03:52 AM

Hi Chris,

 

I wouldn't try updating any firmware just yet.  Mark's suggestions above were spot on when you thought the problem was just the one hand control, but now it sounds like you have an electrical connection problem at the mount or the battery you are using to power the mount is failing.  So, try the NexStar+ HC in the AUX port (vice HC port if I'm correctly remembering available ports on the AVX mount) and then also find another good power source (for example, the cigarette lighter jack in your car).

 

Thanks Mike - tried what you suggested (used car battery) and used different leads as well that I know are good. Same problem - gets to 22 secs in its countdown and err message. Tried with/without camera lead connected and in the three HC, AUX1 and AUX2 ports. No deal. I then decided to try factory reset on the handset (press 0) but also no joy... I can confirm the effect is always ...

a) Verification of packages ....  Initiation countdown starts... gets to 22 secs then Err: Telescope Mod Number. I can press "Back" and it will continue sequence down to 0 addressing "SSA". It will then record cannot confirm Starsense etc. I can shift it then to "Quick align" where HC will go through location and time set up but then just stops. 

 

The only thing I could say but this may be a red herring is that when I switch on the power button to the mount the red light comes on brightly, then a little instant latter it dims but only very slightly. This was the case with the battery and the car battery.

 

I therefore looked at the Motor Board and reseated the connector for the power jack. All looked good. No obvious hot spots. I will try to attach pics.

 

Anyway - help much appreciated.

 

On a related topic: I noticed that the Motor Board was "Rev E" vs what I now see being sold as a repair kit by a local UK vendor as "Rev H" (8 wires vs my 6 at the port). Will this mean my Board is no longer repairable if it is indeed the board at fault?

 

B11C6FB9-B305-40CE-9F1A-031870FBF40B.jpeg


Edited by cpl43uk, 21 January 2021 - 10:13 AM.


#9 mlord

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 10:16 AM

Just for giggles, can you measure the actual voltage on that button-cell battery?  It should be very close to 3.0V.



#10 cpl43uk

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 11:39 AM

Just for giggles, can you measure the actual voltage on that button-cell battery?  It should be very close to 3.0V.

I decided to simply replace it anyway but to no effect. 

 

I also followed up another suggestion I noted on-line for the "Err: Model Num" issue which was to connect HC into Aux 1 and Starsense into HC Ports which seems to work for others but sadly not for me.

 

I guess all I am left with is to (a) do a firmware update for the HC (never done one) but not sure this would work (b) buy an AC 12V/5A converter just to check again on the power issue..??

 

 



#11 mlord

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 12:12 PM

For the purpose of getting things to simply power up, as opposed to running the slew motors, just about any 12V power supply will work.  The standard Celestron ones provided with lesser mounts are rated for 2A output, which is enough to run everything including the motors.

 

If you have a spare supply from, say, a wireless router, odds are decent that it might be a 12V supply rated for 1.5A or more.  Enough for a basic sanity test on the mount.


Edited by mlord, 21 January 2021 - 12:12 PM.


#12 cpl43uk

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 01:11 PM

For the purpose of getting things to simply power up, as opposed to running the slew motors, just about any 12V power supply will work.  The standard Celestron ones provided with lesser mounts are rated for 2A output, which is enough to run everything including the motors.

 

If you have a spare supply from, say, a wireless router, odds are decent that it might be a 12V supply rated for 1.5A or more.  Enough for a basic sanity test on the mount.

sadly the devices I do have for such a test have plugs that are too wide to attach onto the pin...



#13 cpl43uk

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 11:59 AM

So an update and I wonder where this now leaves me:

 

I decided to update the firmware. Connected the Starsense HC on its own and went into BOOT LOADER mode. After a few turns around the houses to get the computer to see any serial port (my handset has the old style serial connector...) it saw the HC but not the mount. It updated the software for the HC. I then redid this with the Camera attached. This time the system did not see the attached camera, only the HC despite playing around with ports.

 

On switching on the AVX mount power after this procedure I was still getting the "err: Model Num" but now more quickly (after a couple of seconds!

 

I have access to my old Nexstar SE Mount and so I attached the Starsense HC and it works fine with this mount (but WHAT a pain to plug in the handset into the arm housing- had forgotten this nightmare of a design!!). I could now query the status of the HC software and I find it is now V 01.20.20265 Build Sept 22 2020 so must have updated when attached to the AVX mount, even though I could not query this when attached to that mount. So I guess the HC is fine. The camera version is V 01.02.13343 - I can't recall what the original version I had was. Is this a concern that I could not see my camera but just my HC?

 

I then decided to set up the CFM to update the Nexstar SE mount. The CFM finds the HC and now the SE mount but I could never get it to find the attached camera.

 

I next looked at the old Nexstar+ SE HC. It is the old style, No "Celestron" button and so I could not figure out how to send it into boot loader mode just to see if I could update this on either mount. On the SE the HC operates fine. Old software at 4.12. However when I plug THIS HC into the AVX I get an "error 16" message.

 

The original AVX HC (pre Starsense) remains dead on either the AVX or the Nexstar SE mounts.

 

So where to go from here? The Starsense handset seems fine. I would like to update the old Nexstar+ SE handset to see if this sheds any further light on the error but don't know the BOOT LOADER key. The AVX handset seems dead - took the back off but can't see any obvious reason for its inability to light up.

 

However the main conclusion seems to be that the AVX Mount does not want to play. Does this all mean the AVX Mount Control Board is dead? Should I attempt MCUpdate? I read that you cannot do this with the Starsense HC but would this be possible with my old Nexstar+ HC that seems to work in my old Nexstar SE mount  (in which case do I need a BOOT LOADER command and if so what are the menu buttons that allow this?)


Edited by cpl43uk, 22 January 2021 - 06:18 PM.


#14 mclewis1

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:57 AM

Chris,

 

That old style HC from the SE won't tell you much. With it's Alt Az firmware you won't get beyond the initial power up (normally it should tell you it's on an AVX mount ... more on that in a minute). If later on you want to update the firmware in this older HC you need to use the HCupdate.exe utility (and not CFM), you will be able to bring the firmware level up to NXS4.22. More info on all of this is on Mike's website ... www.nexstarsite.com

 

Now about your AVX, from all of this it sure sounds to me like your MC board isn't happy. (the HCs and the CFM utility don't see the board correctly ... regardless of type or firmware level the HCs should at least correctly identify they are connected to an AVX when they power up). I think the best course of action is to replace it. The DEC cable change (between the older and newer model boards) isn't a big deal if you are aware of it. So just make sure that if you order (or can only get) a newer version board that you also get the newer DEC cable with it. The cable was changed from one with a 6 pin to an 8 pin connector to prevent folks from plugging it into the other 6 pin ports on the mount.


Edited by mclewis1, 23 January 2021 - 11:00 AM.

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#15 cpl43uk

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:14 PM

Chris,

 

That old style HC from the SE won't tell you much. With it's Alt Az firmware you won't get beyond the initial power up (normally it should tell you it's on an AVX mount ... more on that in a minute). If later on you want to update the firmware in this older HC you need to use the HCupdate.exe utility (and not CFM), you will be able to bring the firmware level up to NXS4.22. More info on all of this is on Mike's website ... www.nexstarsite.com

 

Now about your AVX, from all of this it sure sounds to me like your MC board isn't happy. (the HCs and the CFM utility don't see the board correctly ... regardless of type or firmware level the HCs should at least correctly identify they are connected to an AVX when they power up). I think the best course of action is to replace it. The DEC cable change (between the older and newer model boards) isn't a big deal if you are aware of it. So just make sure that if you order (or can only get) a newer version board that you also get the newer DEC cable with it. The cable was changed from one with a 6 pin to an 8 pin connector to prevent folks from plugging it into the other 6 pin ports on the mount.

Thanks Mark.Still trying to decide if its the board and appreciate the views. I have the old style 6 pin MC board and my vender says he can order this "Rev E" version. I see elsewhere that when you ask for a board upgrade they send you the Rev H version plus an additional "mod' unit at extra cost to get you back to being compatible. Any advantage just getting a straight vanilla replacement rev E board for the AVX or the "updated H plus a mod" (at more cost)? Really beginning to lose my affection for the AVX!!

 

The good news is that I have got my Starsense HC and camera up and running on my old Nexstar SE mount. Been ages since I was in the "Alt Az" world and its kinda neat to be so compact and light weight! I wonder if the Evolution corrected all the backlash problems with the 8" SCT that used to drive me nuts?!!


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#16 SkipW

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:40 PM

Is the "mod" a small board with 8-pin connector to replace the 6-pin connector in the dec housing? You will need that, too.



#17 cpl43uk

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 05:56 PM

No further updates but still curious why the power light comes on when i add power yet no response from the handset? How does this tie in with the MC itself going down? Jyst what to be sure i’ve checked all possibilities... aka “clutching at straws”. Anyway going to source a new battery power pack as no longer confident in the one i use...

#18 cpl43uk

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 09:48 AM

Not sure anyone is reading this post anymore but getting to my wits end on all this. Felt I had progress today (in a way - see next) but now back to square one. 

 

Today I decided to have a really good look at the board. Am not electrically minded so don't possess multipoint probes etc but even so I unclipped all the connectors to the Motor Control boards, reattached and generally fiddled about with different power connector cables to the AVX and now running off an ac to dc converter ( a new purchase).

 

The power light continues to start strong then dim. No idea if this is normal at switch on. Anyway at one point I seemed to have success. The hand controller went to a different setting (I am now using the Starsense in my old Nexstar SE for which I updated the firmware) and so the HC noted that I was connecting to a new mount and "did I want to add a new user profile" etc etc. Never had this before! It then continued past Starsense camera loading but finally flashed a new message " Critical Error!:File:.\Source\Mo ... Line:1468 An unexpected error" etc etc

 

I then realised I had not reattached the 6 port white lead plug that heads off to the Dec system (i assume) so assumed the device had detected this but seemed hopeful. Reattached this lead, switched on and ..... back to "Err: Model Num".

 

Tried to recreate this error chain by unplugging the connector lead again etc but no change. Back to the same Err" Model Num" response.

 

Meanwhile I attach image of my power plug connector if anyone cares to look and see obvious errors but the MC Board remains (to me) fine. No scorches etc etc.

 

 

 

Really don't want to go and buy a new MC Board if a simple remedy can be tested to identify what is happening here.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

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