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Skywatcher says EQ6-R Pro USB only for firmware updates

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#1 jessebear

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Posted 18 September 2023 - 06:57 PM

I'm trying to wrap my head around this and was curious if anyone else had heard this.

I bought a new EQ6-R Pro from High Point in November of 2021. I've used it a couple times a month since then, always with the mount connected directly to my PC by way of the USB port on the mount itself. Skywatcher, High Point, and Agena all advertise this as a capability. No EQMod cable needed, no need for the hand controller. Worked great for about 22 months.

Last weekend, the USB port stopped connecting. No physical damage, and it still passes voltage. But it shows up as 'malfunctioning' under Windows and does not assign a COM port. Multiple PCs, cables, power supplies, and operating systems tested here. No COM port shows up. I saw a few threads where similar things have happened and SW sent out a new main board. I guess they use a Prolific USB chip and those are not always reliable.

Skywatcher responded to my warranty request by telling me:

"The USB port was designed for Firmware updates. And the software companies have made the
programs so advanced, the USB2 cannot keep
up with then anymore."

To me, this sounds inaccurate. Have I missed something? I was always under the impression that the USB port was also for direct PC control. All the literature I can find says so.

Any ideas?

#2 jessebear

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Posted 18 September 2023 - 06:59 PM

For added reference, they are saying that I shouldn't be using the onboard USB port and rather should buy an EQMod cable or use the port on the hand controller. If I wanted that, I could have bought an older model EQ6-R and saved some money. But I wanted the USB port.

#3 hyiger

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Posted 18 September 2023 - 08:55 PM

If I remember (I haven't taken mine out in while) the USB port uses the Prolific USB to serial drivers. There was an issue where Windows update could make the port inoperable by installing a newer version of the driver that wasn't compatible with the EQ6R-Pro chipset. The remedy was to uninstall the driver and install an older version. 


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#4 SkipW

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 08:46 AM

I agree with the above. First thing is to check the driver.

 

This is an example of the reason why building USB to serial conversion into the hardware is not a good idea.



#5 andylast

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 10:58 AM

If I remember (I haven't taken mine out in while) the USB port uses the Prolific USB to serial drivers. There was an issue where Windows update could make the port inoperable by installing a newer version of the driver that wasn't compatible with the EQ6R-Pro chipset. The remedy was to uninstall the driver and install an older version. 

When Windows does an auto update and decides to replace the driver with a newer one, and that driver causes the USB on the mount to stop working, does Windows delete the older driver from the laptop?..or will the Restore an older driver feature still work?



#6 hyiger

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 11:11 AM

When Windows does an auto update and decides to replace the driver with a newer one, and that driver causes the USB on the mount to stop working, does Windows delete the older driver from the laptop?..or will the Restore an older driver feature still work?

I'm primarily a mac user don't remember well but you can rollback a driver update by opening the device properties in the device manager. I believe the chipset used in the EQ6R-Pro is an older Prolific chipset that is no longer supported by their current drivers. 



#7 jessebear

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 11:30 AM

I've done all of these things on several machines using Windows 7, 10, and 11, and also used Linux machines. The issue persists, and the mount will not provide a COM port over USB in any case.

Looks like SW shipped out replacement main boards for some individuals in this case and that sorted it. Unfortunately for me, they are requesting I send the entire head back.

Has anyone else been told by SW that this USB port is not to be used for PC connection, but rather only for firmware updates? That statement is completely contrary to their own website, materials, and the advertisements by all the major astronomy dealers who sell the mount. I pointed this out and instead of getting an answer, I was asked for my shipping address.

#8 jessebear

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 12:46 PM

SW will not provide reasoning on why this issue was fixed with a replacement board being sent to some users and yet requires a mount head being shipped back for others. I've asked twice and I'm only given the response that 'it's a warranty repair'. Well, so were the other cases.

I also had to ask on three separate emails for an estimate on return time. I realize that can be a difficult question to answer, but for a known repair it should be possible to get an estimate. Or at least acknowledge a question rather than ignoring it. They also will not comment on his previous statement about the USB port being used only for firmware updates rather than PC control, despite current literature stating the contrary.

Thinking I should have bought from a different company. Fast responses are useless when half your questions are ignored.

#9 hyiger

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 12:58 PM

SW will not provide reasoning on why this issue was fixed with a replacement board being sent to some users and yet requires a mount head being shipped back for others. I've asked twice and I'm only given the response that 'it's a warranty repair'. Well, so were the other cases.

I also had to ask on three separate emails for an estimate on return time. I realize that can be a difficult question to answer, but for a known repair it should be possible to get an estimate. Or at least acknowledge a question rather than ignoring it. They also will not comment on his previous statement about the USB port being used only for firmware updates rather than PC control, despite current literature stating the contrary.

Thinking I should have bought from a different company. Fast responses are useless when half your questions are ignored.

I suppose then the choice is between using an EQMOD cable (replacing the handset) or sending it in for repair. It does suck that they won't let you swap the board out yourself. I've had mine disassembled in the past and it's not hard. Very odd though that you would be told the USB port was not intended to control the mount. Is it the same person telling you this or different people?

 

If you do have to send the mount head, hopefully they will provide you with a shipping label since that thing is heavy. 


Edited by hyiger, 19 September 2023 - 01:12 PM.


#10 jessebear

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 01:25 PM

I suppose then the choice is between using an EQMOD cable (replacing the handset) or sending it in for repair. It does suck that they won't let you swap the board out yourself. I've had mine disassembled in the past and it's not hard. Very odd though that you would be told the USB port was not intended to control the mount. Is it the same person telling you this or different people?

 

If you do have to send the mount head, hopefully they will provide you with a shipping label since that thing is heavy. 

 

Yep I think that's about where I'm at. I'm not opposed at all to just making an EQmod cable and using that, but I do worry about the board long term. If something caused the USB issue now, what's next? Maybe nothing, but if there is another issue (or one related to this one) that crops up, I'll likely be out of warranty range. It is the same individual I've been speaking to the past few days, or at least it's signed with the same name. I asked to speak with someone else before (if) I ship the mount, because I'd really like some clarification.

 

They did send me shipping labels for the mount head, which was generous as it is heavy. 



#11 hyiger

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 02:45 PM

If something caused the USB issue now, what's next? Maybe nothing, but if there is another issue (or one related to this one) that crops up, I'll likely be out of warranty range. 

A valid point. I suppose it's best to send it in now, maybe with luck you'll get it back before the new moon. 



#12 andylast

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 05:25 PM

Just as an experiment I uninstalled the driver from the COM5 on my laptop. Now, no matter what I do, the Port doesn't show and ASCOM shows no port detected. The only way back I found is via a specific pathway through ASCOM Device Hub. Open up ASCOM Device Hub - Tools - Setup - Press Choose button on next window - then selct EQMOD ASCOM HEQ5/6 in drop down window, then Properties next to it. EQMOD ASCOM SETUP red window opens. Timeout set to 1000. BAUD to 115200 (and in my case COM5). Click OK at bottom, then click OK to the next two windows open. You are left with the original Device Hub window. Press - Connect Telescope. It should work. 

 

Andy



#13 fredruciak

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Posted 21 September 2023 - 08:19 AM

Hi, I bought a brand new EQ6R beginning 2023. The drivers proposed by SW on their site for direct USB control doesn't work. I found one that worked immediately and up to now without any problem, I am using the mount without the hand controler. The driver is here https://www.prolific..._id=225&pcid=41

The driver is at the very top of this page. At the bottom of the page you can download a small program to let you know which chip version you have in front of the PC. I don't remember if I had to use it but at least you have eveything directly from prolific.

My configuration is based on a Mele quieter2Q with NINA, Eqmod, PHD2. In the meantime I updated my miniPC Mele with windows update and I still have no problem.

Hope this helps.

Frédéric


Edited by fredruciak, 21 September 2023 - 08:25 AM.



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