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Everything posted by malc-c

  1. Could be a gear mesh issue, missing / cracked tooth, bearing, or something else... Your choice is either to dismantle it and see what's causing it, and either re-mesh the gears, or replace any damaged part. Leave it as it is and if it still performs Ok then leave it as is, or bin it and get a new replacement.
  2. I use the 9 x 50 straight finder that came with the Explorer 200P, with an old QHY5 camera... works well for guiding and electronic finder
  3. The only other thing to try is a different 2303 driver - There have been some documented issues with PL2303 drivers - This one worked for me with an USB to Serial adaptor used for my camera control. You would need to uninstall the device in Device Manager, and choose the option to delete the current driver. Then install the attached driver, connect the mount and hopefully it will show up in Device manage without any yellow exclamation marks. Check for connectivity, and try the two speeds as stated. If that fails then it would indeed seem that updating the firmware isn't going to be possible. If the mount is otherwise working then just leave it as is. To be honest, unless the newer firmware addresses a particular issue that you are experiencing, then there is no real reason or need to flash the firmware. If as a result of re-flashing the firmware the mount no longer works, then the only way to resolve that is to either replace the motor board in the mount or return it to the distributor and have then reprogram the microcontroller. PL2303_64bit_Installer.zip
  4. Open up the properties of he PL2303 com port. Check the speed settings - If its set to 9600 baud try changing it to 115200 and see the loader connects to the mount. If its set to 115200, try 9600. Also try a second usb cable just in case the one you are using is just a charging cable
  5. You're welcome. The links worked for me when I tried them this evening, so here are the zip files. As I said I'm exclusively windows, but would presume a zip file can be opened on Max OS setup_icap_en.zip Lynkeos-Sources-3-0.zip
  6. Nic, welcome to SGL, Don't have a Mac, but by all accounts the camera is Apple IOS compatible Looking at the links as directed on that page you are taken to oaCapture https://www.openastroproject.org/downloads/ where there is a dmg file (which I'm guessing is the equivalent of a self extracting EXE ?) at the top of the page. All the other files are for Linux so you can ignore them. - Glancing at the documentation is would seem the software detects the Celestron cameras... I don't think drivers are needed on a Mac Hope that helps
  7. With precise polar alignment the HEQ5 will track for a few minutes before things like backlash and periodic error will cause the stars to drift, so for any serious DSO imaging guiding is a must have option. How you guide is down to you and your budget and methodology. You can get an all-in-one guide camera that you attach to a guidescope. It has the ability to process the image it sees and send corrections to the mount without the need for a computer of some description. An alternative is to use a 9x50 finder scope and attach a camera to it and then use some form pf computer with free software to control the mount and handle the guiding. The subject of what options are available are very well documented in similar threads so I won't repeat myself here. It's worth browsing the forum and reading up on whats available. Whether you opt for an all in one, or a computer based system, budget around £200 - £350 for the guidescope & camera / or scope & autoguider options.
  8. The HEQ5 has been the popular mount for serious imagers for some years. It's a great mount, and is well suited to all the scopes you mentioned. Whilst you save a small amount purchasing a complete combo of mount and ota together, I would suggest you just purchase the HEQ5 and try it with your existing 130 aperture f5 scope. This would give you an insight into imaging without spending too much money. If you later found the scope under performing for your needs then look at upgrading the ota at a late date. If you want more light gathering for fainter objects then the 150 / 750 here would be my choice, mainly as it to is an f5 so any accessories such as a coma corrector should work with either scope. The f4 154/600 might be too fast, and could need special correctors to give a flat field across the whole image. Personally, an f5 scope is a nice sweet spot, ideal for DSO imaging. Longer focal lengths, typically associated with SCT's or Refractors are more suited for planetary work, although with reducers they can take stunning DSO images.
  9. Pardon me... I lack the clairvoyant skills to have known you are so talented
  10. I'm going to state the obvious here... I take it you also adjusted the alignment of the pulleys and tensioning wheel too... Otherwise you'll be back to square one again soon
  11. It might help if you stated what size OTA you plan to use.....
  12. Reading through the manual, it seems that the connection between the computer running the firmware loader application and mount is via USB cable, as the USB to TTL Serial conversion is done in the mount. The software and firmware can be found non the skywatcher website. Updating the firmware appears to be no different to other mounts, in that once the loader software has detected the mount and established connection clicking update sends the firmware file to the mount, reprogramming the micro controller(s). With modern mounts that have USB ports there is less, almost no risk of physically damaging the motor board compared to older mounts that needed USB to TTL serial convertors which were blown due to the wrong convertor being used. However, if power failed whilst the firmware is uploading then it will corrupt the firmware, but it shouldn't brick the board as the bootloader will be preserved so you should be able to repeat the steps as per page 26 of the star adventure manual It is always advisable to update the firmware with the mount powered from a reliable external source rather than using the battery pack. One other cause could be the wrong version of firmware being uploaded, especially as there are experimental versions on Skywatchers website
  13. You're welcome... but like I said, it's just one way. Some of the modern software have their own "driver" built in and can talk to the mount without EQMOD or GSServer ( a more flashier GUI version of EQMOD originally developed for the EQ8, but will work with other Synta EQ mounts). 10 years ago when I built my observatory the way I described was basically the norm for those running a windows machine. A lot has changed in those 10 years...but as my equipment hasn't, and the newer software over looks older gear (and the developers can't see the point in adding that feature), It's how I roll (as the kids say !!) As for guide scopes, I used to have an ST80, but sold that and converted the SW 9 x 50 finder into a guidescope to accept my old Mk1 QHY5 - You can still do this, but with a modern camera for around £195 from FLO - Like all things astro, there are plenty of options, and that is just one of them Anyway, glad to hear you got there in the end and can now control the scope.
  14. Not that it really matters but this was my workflow, which works with my basic equipment. Not saying you should do so, but thought I would post it anyway juts in case it helps. Download and install ASCOM platform and install (along with any prerequisites such as DotNet) Download and install the driver for the EQDIR cable I use, which in my case is an FTDI based cable that replaced the handset (In your case this is the Prolific chipset built in the mount) Download and install EQMOD, setting it up via the Toolbox to use the com port allocated to the EQDIR cable. For me my EQDIR cable runs at 9600 so no need to make any changes. I also set the position co-ordinates for the observatory Download and Install Cartes du Ciel as my planetarium application of choice, and set it up with the same location data that was entered into EQMOD. Open up the setting in Cartes du Ciel to choose the EQMOD.ASCOM driver (the wording may have changed with the newer version) and connect to the mount (this launches EQMOD) Download and install the ASCOM drivers for my cameras Download and install PHD2 and check the connection to both guide camera and mount Now there are a million ways to skin a cat, and my working method is just one option. I use CdC to handle the pointing of the mount, PHD2 to guide and APT to control my dSLR camera and take all the subs. Others will use NINA or APT to control the mount, plate solve, take the exposures and make the tea ! I can't comment on how best to use them as I'm old school and prefer to stick with what I know and what works with my old kit (one of the reason I dropped NINA as it doesn't support serial shutter release for old Canon cameras). The bottom line is it doesn't matter what software you use, so long as you can point the scope at a target, track it via guiding, and get a decent image at the end of the night, which is what we are all aiming for
  15. Peter, thanks for correcting the link... I was typing further suggestions but see you just posted saying that you have it working....
  16. Dave, might be worth posting on the EQMOD user group. I confess I'm at a loss, other than a balance / backlash issue, which given your level of expertise would rule both of those out.
  17. I'm wondering if the driver downloaded form the SW website is custom written to work with the synscan app So basically you have the com port on the mount that has the PL2303 com port driver installed on the windows PC. Then you need the "ASCOM compliant driver" which is going to act like EQMOD or GSServer would as being the interface between the planetarium application and the mount. So one possible thing to try to establish communications - Having installed the PL2303 driver I posted, down load EQMOD from here Once installed open up EQASCOM TOOLBOX and under the setup panel ensure EQASCOM is selected in the dropdown box, and click on Driver set up. This will launch the driver - Under mount type chose "SyntaEQ " if not already defaulted to this option Set the baud rate to match the 115200 set in device manager for the port, and set the port number to match that assigned to the mount's com port For now as this is just a test ignore the site info - click OK Place the mount in the default parking position, weights down and scope pointing North With the mount powered on and connected to the PC click the "test connection" button - if all is well this should launch EQMOD and establish communications with the mount. If it keeps timing out and closing / opening over and over again, then click the disconnect button on the Toolbox to close EQMOD. Assuming it connects, in the "slew control" section, change the 1 to 4 in the small drop down boc between the RA and DEC rate sliders. Now click on the NSWE buttons - the longer the click the more the mount should move. Move the mount as if pointing at a random target and click the park to home button - the scope should move both axis to revert the mount back to the default home position. Under whichever planetarium software, or any application that needs to control the mount, when in the option to select the mount just choose EQMOD HEQ5/6 (as this was what EQMOD was originally designed for back in the day). Don't worry about your mount not being listed, EQMOD interrogates the motor board to obtain information from it so it knows the correct gear ratios etc. Naturally this can all be done in the day time - Fingers crossed If you still get issues seeing the com port (even though Device Manager states its working fine) then you might just have to reside yourself to the fact this won't work for some reason, and purchase and use a LYNX FTDI EQDIR cable instead
  18. What messages are you seeing in device manager - does it show the com port is installed correctly with no yellow exclamation marks or messages that the driver isn't installed ? Not saying it will work, but this is the old Prolific 2303 chipset driver form prolific that I use for a USB to serial virtual com port for my serial shutter release on my DSLR. You may need to remove any existing 2303 driver via device manager just so that you know you have a clean installation. PL2303_64bit_Installer.zip One possible issue is that you are having a permissions issue under windows. If the software is being run under a user profile that lacks administrator privileges then it will fail to load the driver. One thing you can do to verify the driver for the chipset used is to google the hardware ID. Here's an example (its using the CH340 chipset found on my Arduino Nano, but the same applies to any hardware)
  19. Given the lack of posts, and ambiguous markings its doubtful that the chip has been identified. Without knowing the functionality of the chip it's impossible to locate an alternative. It could be anything form an op-amp to a microcontroller
  20. Are you using EQMOD for mount control or GSServer (both ASCOM "drivers" ). Is there any option to perform an auto meridian flip ? How certain your polar alignment hasn't changed (mount been accidently nocked ?)
  21. I think they are mount and camera specific. What mount are you using and does it have the SNAP port (as detailed in the manual). If the handset had the multi purpose port then this is normally used for camera that have the old style shutter release port - which I believe is propriety rather than being a 3.5mm jack socket like that on older canon cameras. If you google "synscan shutter release cable" and check out the results form online suppliers such as First Light Optics or Rother Valley Optics (other retailers are available) and see if you can find a match
  22. I thought I covered that Joking apart, there are lots of possibilities
  23. Options for guiding: Autoguider - £280 to £800 (Skywatcher to StarAid) - No need for any laptop or software - totally standalone Basic finder guider - £190 to £220 - Required a computer of some description to run free software to track and command the scope Guidescope / camera - £300 - As above, a computer of some description is needed to run the free software Finder Guider with dedicated astro PC - £500 - products like the ASiair plus Off axis guider - £100 to £250 + camera - Requires some form of computer or dedicated astro PC Off axis guider and illuminated eyepiece - £250 - manual guiding (ie the old fashioned way )
  24. I do think that the forum should have a sticky post on this subject seeing how many times it gets asked and how many times the answers are posted ! In a nutshell: a) - If the Skywatcher mount has a B type USB port then you can use a standard A-B USB cable to connect the mount to the PC. Irrespective of the operating system used on the PC the mount will be seen as a com port. You will need to go into the settings for the com port, which for example in windows is done via Device manager. If the driver is missing then you need to download and install the Prolific driver from the Skywatcher website. Once installed set the BAUD rate to 115200 and save the settings. You should then be able to set your chosen planetarium up to point to that com port as detailed above b) - If the handset has a USB port but the mount does not, then then follow the same procedure as above but with the A-B USB cable connected between the handset and the PC, with the handset plugged into the the RJ socket on the mount. Depending on the version of firmware on the handset you may need to place the handset into "PC-DIRECT " mode to enable pass through of the commands. c) - If the mount has wifi and the PC is running windows then using the above mentioned windows application, connectivity can be wireless d) - Even with built in USB ports, some people have mentioned issues using method a, mainly due to the use of the Prolific chipset in the mount. An alternative is to replace the handset with an FTDI based EQDIR cable between the PC and the port where the handset normally connects. FTDI chipset is natively supported under windows so no need to install drivers, and as they run at the default 9600 Baud, no need to change the settings in Device Manager Hope that helps
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