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Can not connect my computer to my LX200 telescope


Mike37N113W
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I hope you can help – I’m going crazy.

I have a Meade LX200ACF 10” (bought new 2 years ago) and I have never been able to hook it up to my computer. I tried when I bought it and gave up in frustration. I’m trying again – and have been for 2 weeks now. I’m totally missing something but don’t know what.

First – cables:

I bought: (#1) the Meade USB/RS232 adapter cable; (#2) A female RJ11 to female DB9 end adaptor for Autostar and compatible devices (from SoftwareBisque); (#3) A 15-foot, four-conductor telephone-type cable terminated with a male RJ11 modular plug on one end ("telephone-type" plug) and a male RJ22 modular plug on the other end (from SoftwareBisque).

Note: #1, #2, and #3 above – first I bought generic versions of these from RadioShack – they didn’t work so I thought they were the problem. So I bought the items above – they don’t work either.

Second – driver

I installed the Autostar Suite version 3.1 software CD. Didn’t work.

I installed the Meade USB to Serial software download from Meade Instruments Corporation - Meade Customer Support - didn’t work.

I ran the driver remover DRemover98_2K.exe and then re-ran the “download driver” – didn’t work

NOTE: The operating instructions sheet from Meade says what folder and file names are created – but that’s not what I get. I get a folder in “my documents” called “PL2303_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v1210” – in that folder is the application file with the same name. I run that application to install the driver.

After reboot I plug in the usb adapter and look for it in control panel – I find “Prolific USB-to-serial Comm Port (Com7)” – I right click to troubleshoot – no problems found.

I right click for properties – under hardware, device status it says “the device is working properly” I click properties – port settings and get all of the correct settings: 9600, 8 , none, 1, none. I click “driver details” and it shows 2 files with the first one selected = C:\Windows\System32\DRIVERS\ser2pl64.sys --- the 2nd file is same location, name = serenum.sys – but it is not highlighted/selected

Today I went to the prolific site and downloaded a newer version of the driver.

After all this – and uninstalling and re-installing a number of times – when I plug in to my telescope (the jack directly right of the handbox jack) – nothing happens. I have tried starting the telescope first and going through the 2 star alignment before plugging in – I have tried plugging in before turning on power to the scope. I have tried the other jack to the right of the first one. I have tried my generic Radioshack adapters/cables.

The only thing I have not tried yet is shooting myself in the head – but I’m getting close to that decision.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Mike

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Hi Mike

I feel for you, but look on the yahoo LX200GPS site and you'll find your problem is all too common.

Just to really rub it in, recently Meade have been selling cables that are incorrectly wired.

Anyhow, you seem to have your USB to Serial working.

I'd guess you need to get the scope aligned and working on the autostar handset before firing up Autostar Suite and connecting the serial cable (which you have tried).

Then there will probably be a menu item to "connect to scope".

What you haven't mentioned, In Autostar Suite you will probably need to select the right COM port to connect to (COM7 in your case).

Watch out, the COM port number chosen by the USB to Serial adapter may change each time you switch on your PC and plug in the adapter.

Good Luck

Michael

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Thanks for helping. The telescope listed in astroPlanner I selected is LX200 GPS 10" -- that's my scope.

I have tried to connect to the scope using AstroPlanner, Meade's software, and SkyX Professional --- not working for any of them.

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Hi Mike

What you haven't mentioned, In Autostar Suite you will probably need to select the right COM port to connect to (COM7 in your case).

Watch out, the COM port number chosen by the USB to Serial adapter may change each time you switch on your PC and plug in the adapter.

Good Luck

Michael

Thanks Michael - sorry - I should have mentioned the com port - yes I am telling AstroPlanner (and the other software I've tried) what com port my computer assigned.

My computer picks a comm port number of 7, 8, or 9 - nothing lower. I'm wondering if that's a problem? no idea if it means anything.

someone suggested i try a Keystone usb/serial adapter - so i ordered it today.

i'm wondering if the rs232 port on the telescope is bad (i've tried both of them with no success) - but no idea how to test for that.

oh well -

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Thanks again Michael - I think i originally copy/pasted wrong info from bisque site - the cable i got from them does only fit into the rs232 port on the telescope - it is too big to fit into the hand controller or the port on the scope for the hand controller --- this is what i meant to say i bought from bisque = Software Bisque

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Michael - first off, it's nice having someone to bounce ideas off of - so thank you. I don;t know any other amateur astronomers in my area so having you and others here to talk to is great.

Yes, someone recommended the KeySpan adapter. I just ordered it 30 minutes ago - here by 12/28 so I'll either have success with it or i will be the proud owner of 3 adapters (meade, gigaware, and now keyspan)

my computer picks a com port number )7, 8, or 9) - all of the software defaults to a lower number - com3 i think - but you can click an update button on the software and it looks for the right port - and finds it.

Thanks again - maybe it will be as simple as the Keyspan adapter. I guess i can use thye other 2 adapters as paperweights.

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Thank you everyone for taking the time to help me solve my problem.

Thanks to you I have a solution.

It was suggested that either Windows 7 was the problem, or my Meade USB/Serial adapter was the problem, or both. (Note: If the Meade adapter is the problem, I also had a problem with a Gigaware adapter previously.)

I never thought to use an old computer I have that runs Windows XP and does have a serial port. So I set up AstroPlanner on it and hooked it up to my telescope and it works perfectly. Sometimes you can’t see the stars for the sun.

I don’t want to use that old computer for astronomy, but will if it is all I’ve got that works. So I am following up on other tips you offered to try and get my newer netbook with Windows 7 & USB working. This includes getting a different adapter (before reaching a solution this morning, I ordered the KeySpan adapter some recommended – should get it 12/28) as well as check the cable wiring, etc.

I can’t thank you all enough. I spent hours trying to get this owrking, along with buying multiple cables and adapters.

I’m thrilled. Now instead of having a bunch of variables porgrammed in my hand controller, I can use the computer to more easily pick out and move to appropriate variables any time.

Best wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2012.

I will report back in a week or two to let you know how I got the Windows 7 computer with USB working (if I do get it working).

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  • 4 years later...

Hi Mike,

I have been reading your topic with interest as I am having similar problems with my Meade LX200 GPS 10" , I am trying to connect it to Stellarium but I get intermittent connections sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I am using Windows & Pro and Sellearium and spoken on numerous sites about the problem but have not solved it yet, I 'm getting to the point of getting rid of the scope, I do have another Meade EXT 125EC which I have no problems connecting to or controlling, which makes me think it is the scope, and the intermittent connection could be the RS232 port next to the HBX port, I have been told not to use the other spare port and then again have been told to try it. 

Got any ideas on the next move I should take, they would be welcome.

Regards

George

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19 hours ago, Pluto1948 said:

Hi Mike,

I have been reading your topic with interest as I am having similar problems with my Meade LX200 GPS 10" , I am trying to connect it to Stellarium but I get intermittent connections sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I am using Windows & Pro and Sellearium and spoken on numerous sites about the problem but have not solved it yet, I 'm getting to the point of getting rid of the scope, I do have another Meade EXT 125EC which I have no problems connecting to or controlling, which makes me think it is the scope, and the intermittent connection could be the RS232 port next to the HBX port, I have been told not to use the other spare port and then again have been told to try it. 

Got any ideas on the next move I should take, they would be welcome.

Regards

George

You can use either of the RS232 ports on the LX200GPS.

If you can connect ok to the Meade ETX is this powered by batteries or on external power? You can sometimes have problems on the RS232 link if the telescope and the laptop are powered from different power supplies and a leakage path exists between them via the RS232 cable, try connecting to the LX200GPS while the laptop is running on internal battery only and the only connection between laptop and telescope is the RS232 cable.

The other issue is that not all USB to RS232 adaptors are exactly equal and will work ok with certain RS232 ports and not others, it is likely that the  RS232 port in the ETX is not the same device as the RS232 port in the LX200 and trying a different make of USB to RS232 adaptor might be the solution. Most USB to RS232 adaptors from any manufacturer will contain a chip set made by either Prolific or FTDI. Some of the Prolific chip sets used in the USB to RS232 adaptors can be a bit picky, the FTDI chip sets reportedly seem more stable and able to accept a wider range of connected equipment.

Are the pin connection wires in the RS232 sockets on the LX200 clean? The RS232 sockets should use gold or gold alloy spring wires that resist tarnish and corrosion but to save money manufacturers often use inferior silver-tin and after the telescope has been exposed to a few cycles of dewing and drying the wire contacts become corroded increasing the resistance and this causes poor RS232 signal transfer. You can gently clean the contacts with a cotton-bud and metal polish but avoid pressing too hard as you can bend the contacts permanently and then the socket will have to be replaced.

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Hi Mike 

Both the scopes are run from an external power supply which is a regulated power showing the output on a meter of 13volts, the USB to R232 is the FTDI model, with regards the ETX you have to connect that via the control pad which has a second socket. I will try what you have said about the Laptop and just use it with battery power and no power adapter connected and hope that sorts the problem, will let you know.

Thanks 

George

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Hi George

You haven't mentioned it, but I guess you have the right RJ-11 to DB9 cable for the LX200 GPS?

That's a #507 cable, the ETX uses the #505.

Otherwise download the Autostar Suite planetarium from the Meade site and try that, it's clunky but has some buttons for testing the connection, and has a virtual handset you might find useful.

Or just download one of the many virtual handsets, if it connects then hold down a RA slew button while you wiggle the cable and plug, to check for intermittent connection.

Michael

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2 hours ago, michael8554 said:

Hi George

You haven't mentioned it, but I guess you have the right RJ-11 to DB9 cable for the LX200 GPS?

That's a #507 cable, the ETX uses the #505.

Michael

Though it is not recommended, using the #505 RS232 cable for the ETX, which has a 4pin RJ-10 plug, for connection to the LX200, which has a 6 pin RJ-11 RS232 socket and normally uses the #507 cable, this will not cause an electrical problem. Although the RJ-10 plug will be mechanically a loose fit in the RJ-11 socket, the signal pins used are identical, the LX200 does not use the outer most pins, only the inner four, and these carry the same pinout sequence as the smaller ETX cable. The pin spacing is identical.

If the smaller RJ-10 ETX plug is used in the larger RJ-11 LX200 socket extra care has to be taken to ensure no undue mechanical strain is placed on the cable since pulling it sideways will cause intermittent connection problems.

You can build the correct cable yourself if neccessary with a length of CAT 5 data cable, RJ-11 crimp plugs and DB9 plugs available from many hobby electronics stores.

Reference web links and the pinouts can be found for both ETX and LX200 below:

3317724-LXserial.gif

505colored.gif

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Hi Mike 

Good news I have connection Via Stellarium and Redshift the only problem is if close the screen or the screen goes to sleep I loose connection, so to solve this I switched the screen power save option off .

Thanks for the help at least I can now start setting up my shed to use as a observatory and won't have stand out in the cold.

Cheers 
George

 

 

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Oddsocks

Thanks for the info on the #505 and #507 cables, I hadn't spotted the wiring was the same. 

I certainly wouldn't trust myself to align a 4P4C plug into a 6P6C socket without suffering connection problems, which was what George was experiencing I would think.

Michael

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