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Phil Fargaze

To EQMOD or not, or what else?

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I`ve been reading up on connecting my mount to the laptop but the different connection options are leaving me confused.

To me, EQMOD is a mythical thing, I`ve never seen it in action and I don`t even know if I need it.

So here goes, I have an HEQ5 mount with synscan upgrade and handset version V3.25. I have an RS232 to USB lead.

I don`t do CCD imaging or auto guiding, but I use a Watec video camera for short captures.

I am usually found to be searching for faint stars and asteroids, so I need to confirm my telescope view with a planetarium programme.

I am familiar with Redshift but it appears that Cartes du Ciel is a good choice for telescope control.

The options for connection seem to be laptop to mount direct or laptop to handset then to mount, from then on things get a bit hazy.

I have connected my scope to the laptop in the past but I got scared because I didn`t know what I was doing, ( a bit like driving a car for the first time)

and basically I can`t remember what or how I did it.

Any help to enable me to throw away my L plates would be appreciated.

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Ok. Download Ascom V6 service pack 2 from here http://ascom-standar...loads/Index.htm then install it. Next download EQAscom from here http://sourceforge.n...s/eq-mod/files/ and install that too. Next up download and install CDC from here http://www.ap-i.net/...art/en/download . Be sure to enter your precise location data in both EQAscom/EQmod and CDC. Once that's done all you need is a cable such as this one from FLO http://www.firstligh...ir-adapter.html and the prolific USB-serial driver (free download). Then plug the USB end into your laptop and the other into the handbox port on your mount. Power on your mount. Open up CDC and click telescope settings (open up EQAScom if it doesn't pop up automatically). Select EQ5/EQ6 and off you go :) If it cannot find your mount then you'll have to go into your device manager and find out to which COM port your mount is assigned then just enter that number into your settings.

Edited by Daddystu
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Nicely summarised DaddyStu :icon_salut:

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So, the fun begins. I have installed CdC and EQascom and Ascom V6 service pack 2. I have input my location into CdC but when I try to start EQascom the control panel keeps flashing up and disappearing.

The laptop is running like a sack of potatoes at the moment. ( hammer might be required to fix things! ). If I don`t get anywhere on this heap, I might try switching to a different laptop.

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Thats quite normal. Try connecting through CDC telescope settings panel with the mount connected and powered on.

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when I try to start EQascom the control panel keeps flashing up and disappearing.

The flashing I think is because it's hunting for the correct COM port - cross check the COM port that is set in the EQASCOM Toolbox, with the one reported in Device Manager that is assigned to the Prolific USB-Serial driver. By the way have you installed this driver? You didn't list it in your last post - you wouldn't be the first person to forget to install it, I know this to be true because I also forgot it midst the excitement of setting up my NEQ6 for the first time :smile:.

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The two big failures I made was not installing the EQdir driver and not setting the com port. At the time I didn't know you could manually set them and every USB port I plugged was higher number than the programme could go.

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Ok, I shall give the latest suggestions a try. Actually, I didnt go to install the Prolific USB-Serial driver, so I had better try that!

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Another option is to use the standard RS232 comms lead that you have already mentioned. Connect that to the serial port of your PC, or use a suitable USB/Serial adapter to the handset and place the handset in PC-Direct option. You need to ensure that EQmod is using the same comm port that is shown in device manager, or use the EQTools option to set up and test the connections first. Once you have established communications, and have entered your location, date and time in both EQmod, and CdC then click on the telescope icon in CDC which will bring up the telscope control panel. Click on the connect button and the red bar should turn green to show that it has connected via the ascom driver to eqmod. You can then click on the hide button to get rid of the telescope panel. Then you can use the find option in CDC to select a target, right click on the target, select telescope, and slew to target. Once the target is located in the field of view (dependent of your polar alignment etc) using the direction arrows on EQMod right click on the target in CDC again and select telescope and sync. you'll then be prompted to confirm that the target is central in the field of view. Confirming this will add an alignment point in EQmod, and the more points you add the better the precision - It's like the normal 3 star alignment you do on the handset, but allows you to build up multiple points to give better accuracy, especially if the scope is on a fixed pier in the garden or in an observatory

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Hi

I was in your same boat a while back and thought why are people raving about moving away from the handset and onto a laptop.

A friend of mine suggested using CDC with the proviso that it would be a bit harder than the likes of using stellerium, but the rewards when working correctly would be greater.

After many different attempts I bit the bullet (well @£40 more like an artillery shell) and purchased the shoestring astronomy usbdir cable.

It goes direct from laptop to handest socket on scope control box and works first time.

But as I mentioned, not cheap.

I'm now with some guidance starting to use a purely eqmod alignment from laptop for my viewing sessions.

It does take some getting used to, but in my opinion it's worth the effort.

Neil

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Thanks for this post I've been wondering about eqmod for some time but have never plucked up the courage to try it. might well do now :laugh:

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The flashing I think is because it's hunting for the correct COM port

The flashing occurs because CDC opens up EQASCOM and instructs it connect to the mount, when this fails EQASCOM tells CDC which then decides to shut down EQASCOM and try all over again. If only CDC would just leave EQASCOM open rather then closing it you'd be able to read the error message that EQASCOM puts out on its main display. For anyone attempting a first time use of EQASCOM I would recommend using the toolbox app that installs with EQASCOM to validate comms as this won't close EQASCOM and lets you read the error message (there are essentially three, Port not found, port open or timeout).

Chris

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Hi Chris. I had the same flashing when opening up EQAscom_run independent of CDC. It was however the same issue re the COM port which is solved as you say by setting it in the toolbox.

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Thanks for all the info so far. I did read that it was not best to put the handset into PCdirect mode but I think that is how I did it before in the past.

I was hoping that my existing USB to serial lead would be fine to use or do I really need to get the HitecAstro EQDIR adapter?

I will give it a try at connecting tonight anyway.

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Hi Chris. I had the same flashing when opening up EQAscom_run independent of CDC. It was however the same issue re the COM port which is solved as you say by setting it in the toolbox.

Yes, that is correct. EQASCOM_run, like CDC, will doggedly keep closing and reopening EQASCOM in the hope that whatever is preventing the undelying comms issue resolves itself. It is a valid way of operating and if things do resolve themselves it works out quite nicely - but if there is a permanent fault using the toolbox is the way to go to diagnose it.

Chris.

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Have had some progress. I have got the driver for the cable installed. My lat and long has been set twice. Connected to mount and started CdC and EQUASCOM. I pressed connect telescope and got the green light.

EQUASCOM was showing "connect error: invalid parameter". The mount hasn`t `fired up` yet despite being switched on.

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If you are reasonably confident you can self build an EQ-Direct cable from a CAT5 network cable and 5v FTDI USB to RS232 cable (or if you already have an adapter and know the TX, RX and GND pins on a D9 connector then use that). Details here

http://eq-mod.sourceforge.net/reqindex.html

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Thanks for all the info so far. I did read that it was not best to put the handset into PCdirect mode but I think that is how I did it before in the past.

I was hoping that my existing USB to serial lead would be fine to use or do I really need to get the HitecAstro EQDIR adapter?

I will give it a try at connecting tonight anyway.

You need the adaptor. It regulates the electrical impulses to a format that the mount can understand. However, the handset can also do this too.

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Malc-c, I like the idea of self build, but I would need to study into it a bit. To save myself any extra time and work I would likely opt to purchase the adapter.

My mind gets drawn to the current "how much money have you spent" thread http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/188543-how-much-do-you-think-you-have-spent/unread/

However if I can get away with going through the hand controller I will give that a try to start with.

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Hi Phil ..I bought the eqtooth mod for my eq3/2 pro and had we bits of bother my self ..the eq ascom flashed too the prob was it was not cconnecting due to port setting needed changed...Chris will be watching and keep you right if you ask..cdc and eqmod is a brilliant combo...I don't miss the handset at all now...Davy

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Shirva, looking forward to getting it going. I ordered the EQDIR adapter Thursday eve from FLO and just got it delivered this morning, how`s that for efficient service! :icon_salut:

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