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SnakeyJ

EQMod Tracking but stops responding to input?

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In the category of medium nuisance, but have had some issues with EQMOD losing its communication to the mount on several occasions and wondered if this is expected or if I have a particular issue.

I'm using and HEQ5 Pro mount wired directly to a HitechAstro EQDIR.   Having three USB Ports on my laptop the EQDIR share a single USB controller/port with the game pad sensor, my other two ports are connected directly to image and guide cams.    All cables and connections look good (checked with multimeter for continuity/resistance), are routed away from power, connectors are taped up and I've been careful not to disturb them.     I'm running Ascom 6 SP2 on a windows 7 x64 laptop, with both cams and the mount under Ascom control.

The setup works fine 80% of the time, but sometimes it seems to lock on target and won't take any further instruction to change position or slew to another target.   The mount continues to track the current target, but it does not respond to movement commands via CdC, game pad or directly on the EQascom controller window - though EQascom does seem to be updating (DEC coordinates) and I can still change the slew speed with game pad or directly.

Pretty sure the EQMod, Ascom and CdC are playing nicely on my lappie and there does not seem to be any app actually hanging or producing an error - so had been thinking the EQDir might be suspect, though the fact the mount was still tracking got me a little confused.    If comms were lost would the mount continue to track with no further input?    Or perhaps the serial cable/connections are a little dubious on the EQDir - HEQ5 TX pair.

If it's not a common problem, then EQDir or the serial cable/connectors seem most probable - though any suggestions considered before I hard wire everything in to place with the new pier!

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Hi Jake,

In addition to checking the comms cabling, just check your mount supply is solid too (don't know if the HEQ5 is the same as the EQ6 in this respect but the EQ6 does benefit from a nice steady power suuply and can get upset if it is a bit flakey).

I did experience occasional lock ups in the past but this was due to a low quality USB hub and/or a less than ideal method of supplying power to it, which also I believe wasn't helping the supply to the mount.  Once I got my power distribution sorted and got a good quality USB hub, I've had no further issues (touch wood).  Sounds like you're not using a hub so my circumstances were clearly different to yours but cabling and power would be worth re-checking.

Hope you get sorted.

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I too had a problem with the PSU connection on my Heq5 and lost comms with EQMOD.

replaced d.c plug and secure cable close to mount socket. sorted.

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Hi Jake,

In addition to checking the comms cabling, just check your mount supply is solid too (don't know if the HEQ5 is the same as the EQ6 in this respect but the EQ6 does benefit from a nice steady power suuply and can get upset if it is a bit flakey).

I did experience occasional lock ups in the past but this was due to a low quality USB hub and/or a less than ideal method of supplying power to it, which also I believe wasn't helping the supply to the mount.  Once I got my power distribution sorted and got a good quality USB hub, I've had no further issues (touch wood).  Sounds like you're not using a hub so my circumstances were clearly different to yours but cabling and power would be worth re-checking.

Hope you get sorted.

Thanks Mike and nice to know I haven't suffered alone in this!   The mount supply is very solid with a beefy 13.8V 15A rated bench top psu supplying the mount and 3 dew tapes via an astrozap 3 port controller.     I do have another USB2 hub I can try, though this has more lights than a Christmas tree!    Though the USB itself does not seem to drop out - I cant have a look with the Wireshark/USBPcap to see what's being passed over the USB, which might help narrow the field a little!

Cheers for assist/pointers - Jake

Edited by SnakeyJ

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I too had a problem with the PSU connection on my Heq5 and lost comms with EQMOD.

replaced d.c plug and secure cable close to mount socket. sorted.

Cheers Leelee, I will double check the power cable connections on your and Mike's experience.    It is possible I am disturbing the power cables between the PSU and mount as I walk around - though would a disconnection or drop in voltage leave the mount still tracking?

So many links in this chain with multiple layers of software, hardware and physical data/power cabling that it does present quite a challenge to close in on an intermittent fault.

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I used to have all sorts of issues with USB dropping out. Try swapping the guide cam to a different USB hub, that helped me enormously.

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Yup - same here.  The solution was a decent power supply (Maplins 7A capacity) and a new power cable (the SW one was not good enough!) and ensuring the mount/EQMOD connection was to its own USB port on the computer. (All the other stuff - imaging camera (DSLR), guide camera, gamepad dongle, mouse etc now share the same USB hub quite happily)

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Thanks Simon, the EQDir is using a hub and shares single USB controller on the laptop with the Wireless game pad transceiver.    My other two USB ports are connected to each of the guide and imaging cameras.    Never enough USB port to go around, though I do have an option of adding an Expresscard to add some USB3/USB2 ports.

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Yup - same here.  The solution was a decent power supply (Maplins 7A capacity) and a new power cable (the SW one was not good enough!) and ensuring the mount/EQMOD connection was to its own USB port on the computer. (All the other stuff - imaging camera (DSLR), guide camera, gamepad dongle, mouse etc now share the same USB hub quite happily)

Thanks Roger, consistent theme emerging here and good to hear that I'm not alone in this.   I shall replace the PSU cable with a heavier gauge conductor and make sure it is secured at the mount with sufficient free travel to prevent strain.   I'll also swap the gamepad controller and hub over to share the port with the guidecam, which should also help to bracket the problem out.

BTW - It was good to get out under some good clear skies and trial the new obsy!  With luck my plinth should be arriving this week (modelled closely on your original), so should complete the fit out this weekend (less lighting) and be almost fully operational :)

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I should have said it was interferrence from that pesky tin shed that i managed to get rid of :evil:  :evil: :evil:  :evil:  :evil: !!!!! 

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It does sound very much like a USB dropout, although that might just be the manifestation of something else of course.

Have you noticed in task manager that you can kill off Ascom & CdC and restart them and if the mount connects it knows where it is anyway.

I think it carries on tracking as the mount just sits there moving at sidereal rate until told to do something else.

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Thanks Simon - i will investigate further hopefully tonight ;)

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Thanks Mike and nice to know I haven't suffered alone in this!   The mount supply is very solid with a beefy 13.8V 15A rated bench top psu supplying the mount and 3 dew tapes via an astrozap 3 port controller.     I do have another USB2 hub I can try, though this has more lights than a Christmas tree!    Though the USB itself does not seem to drop out - I cant have a look with the Wireshark/USBPcap to see what's being passed over the USB, which might help narrow the field a little!

Cheers for assist/pointers - Jake

Hi yes I have also suffered from this.I don't know how long your usb lead is but if it is over 3metres you should use an active repeater cable to prevent dropout.As said above power interuptions can cause this.I found the startech 7 port industrial hub solved my usb issues the best hub by far in my opinion check out this link

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/187079-startech-industrial-usb-hub/?hl=+startech +usb +hub

If your going to use a hub I would say use this one,all the other hubs I used caused similar issues to what you are experiencing be it camera,mount filter wheel losing connection.

Edited by andyo
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Thanks AndyO - I'll get work to order me one of those hubs first thing tomorrow, for test purposes obviously ;)   The USB lead I'm using with to the EQDir is just a standard 1.8m, and then a 5m Cat 5e and 9  pin headshell for the serial connection to the mount, the old EQDir units are quite clunky and I believe that you can get ones now that are all molded into a single cable, though no reason to change provided that this will work fine and its convenient to be able to change the leads is there is any wear or mounting requirements change.

Thanks again - Jake

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Thanks AndyO - I'll get work to order me one of those hubs first thing tomorrow, for test purposes obviously ;)   The USB lead I'm using with to the EQDir is just a standard 1.8m, and then a 5m Cat 5e and 9  pin headshell for the serial connection to the mount, the old EQDir units are quite clunky and I believe that you can get ones now that are all molded into a single cable, though no reason to change provided that this will work fine and its convenient to be able to change the leads is there is any wear or mounting requirements change.

Thanks again - Jake

Hi Jake I am not sure about the lead you are using but I would connect all usb peripherals to the startech usb hub(I just got the 7 port usb 2 hub not usb 3 from ebay unless you are using usb 3 devices I would stick with usb 2).Then just run your usb output cable to the laptop,cant see a problem.Personaly I would get rid of the old eqdirect cable and get the single cable FLO sell them.Then download the latest driver for it.I have attached a photo of my set up which may help.If you zoom in you can see the startech hub on the left of the pier shelf,on the right is a cigarette power hub and on the floor at the base of the per is my bench power supply in the wooden box.I then just have the one active repeater going from the startech hub to the desktop at the back in the observatory.Hope this helps.

post-23045-0-86697100-1381181835_thumb.j

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I found the startech 7 port industrial hub solved my usb issues the best hub by far in my opinion check out this link

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/187079-startech-industrial-usb-hub/?hl=+startech +usb +hub

If your going to use a hub I would say use this one,all the other hubs I used caused similar issues to what you are experiencing be it camera,mount filter wheel losing connection.

Agreed - this was the hub that solved all my problems.  Expensive for sure, but well worth the investment IMHO.

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I still get the occasional loss of EQASCOM connection to the mount and find I have to reboot the laptop to get it working again.  I feel sure it's USB related but can't find the problem.  Intermittent faults are the very devil to track down as any electronics engineer will tell you and this is quite a rare occurrance nowadays.

I have a separate PSU for the mount (7A 13.5v Maplin), EQDir box and run it from it's own USB port on the laptop.  The other USB devices run from a powered hub attached to the scope and the other devices are powered from an exPC PSU for 12v and 5v.  Power connectors are XLR for the main distribution and the standard small concentric plugs for the mount and cameras.  Dew heaters use phono connectors.

The poorest connectors in the whole system are definitely the USB!  Occasionally on starting up, the astro camera USBs are not detected and I have to reboot.

Edited by Gina
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Thanks Andy0 and Mike,

I've just ordered the Startech Ind 7 Port USB3 hub and a single port flush Startech USB3 ExpressCard34 interface for the 'work' laptop.    A little gamble on the USB3 side, though this will be very nice to have for dumping capture off to external disk and for newer industrial cameras in future.    I've also orderd up some reasonable USB2 cables and a decent 3m USB3 cable so they can be properly installed in the observatory.

Fingers crossed this helps solve the issue!    I'll order the new HitecAstro EQDir adaptor from FLO at the end of the month, though suspect this will be purely for cosmetic reasons!

Really like the rolling shed observatory Andy0 - quite a feat of engineering and looks very nicely fitted!

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Power connectors are XLR for the main distribution and the standard small concentric plugs for the mount and cameras.

The poorest connectors in the whole system are definitely the USB!  Occasionally on starting up, the astro camera USBs are not detected and I have to reboot.

Absolutely agree with this Gina, the USB connectors are a very poor design!  I spend quite a lot of work time locating faults in both copper and fibre networks and the vast majority of the time it resolves down to bad, dirty, damaged or worn connectors.   Unfortunately bad design or often a few pounds saved during 'Value Engineering', results in many thousands spent over the lifetime of an installation resolving these faults.    Even so it's never an easy sell to the customer, who only ever see the headline capital costs :(

On the plus side it does result in a considerable amount work and more than justifies the costs of some nice test equipment.   It's also quite rewarding to locate and resolve these faults and have the occassional gloat ;)

Neutrik (good IOW company) make a lot of the XLR and Mini XLR connectors and agree that these are very good for low voltage/current projects and will survive many connect/disconnect cycles!    I also like the humble RJ45/RJ11 as low cost, low weight and while not as rugged can easilly be replaced - Voltage and Current are limited due to conducter size 24AWG for Cat 5e and 23AWG in Cat6, maybe not so good for peltiers and dew tapes but certainly sufficient for the Arduino's and smaller steppers!

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Hi Jake,

I had similar problems with my NEQ6. Upgraded to a Maplins PSU and Startech 7 port hub. I still didn't feel

comfortable running two ccd imaging cameras, lodestar guide camera, two electronic focusers , electronic filter wheel 

and mount through the usb hub. I decided to make the eqmod bluetooth module. Works a charm no issues of the mount freezing

again.... But then the worst times my mount froze was in the depths of winter. So we will see if it runs as impeccably as it as since the bluetooth upgrade.

BTW +1 for the XLR Connectors - nice, lockable and solid.

cheers

Steve

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Thanks Steve, I'll see how I get on with the new hub and cables, but will look up the BT mod as anything that cuts down the amount of wiring is definitely worth serious consideration ;)

Sometimes when starting a thread such as this I'll often mull over to consider if I've missed anything glaringly obvious and search to see if it's been asked before - though it's a credit to all forum members I've never seen anyone shot down for asking a daft or repetitive question!    This was one of those questions where the search terms were so comonly used (often in members signature lines) as to be almost useless, so my apologies for any repetition of previous threads - however, very big thank you to all respondees for some excellent advice and pointers.    :)

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Sometimes when starting a thread such as this I'll often mull over to consider if I've missed anything glaringly obvious and search to see if it's been asked before - though it's a credit to all forum members I've never seen anyone shot down for asking a daft or repetitive question!    This was one of those questions where the search terms were so comonly used (often in members signature lines) as to be almost useless, so my apologies for any repetition of previous threads - however, very big thank you to all respondees for some excellent advice and pointers.    :)

Jake - Never worry that your question might be repetitive or have been answered elsewhere.  I always think that each problem is fairly unique; we don't all have identical setups or computer configurations. Sometimes all you need is the right suggestion or pointing in the right direction to get your problem solved  :grin:

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Thanks Andy0 and Mike,

I've just ordered the Startech Ind 7 Port USB3 hub and a single port flush Startech USB3 ExpressCard34 interface for the 'work' laptop.    A little gamble on the USB3 side, though this will be very nice to have for dumping capture off to external disk and for newer industrial cameras in future.    I've also orderd up some reasonable USB2 cables and a decent 3m USB3 cable so they can be properly installed in the observatory.

Fingers crossed this helps solve the issue!    I'll order the new HitecAstro EQDir adaptor from FLO at the end of the month, though suspect this will be purely for cosmetic reasons!

Really like the rolling shed observatory Andy0 - quite a feat of engineering and looks very nicely fitted!

Thanks for the compliment about the obsy Jake.I use the neutrik xlr connectors on my power supply but still have the cigar ones on the power hub(hate them but are working ok so will leave them).Like Steve said the Bluetooth connector is another option,I looked into doing this but after swapping to the startech hub everything has worked fine so didn't bother.I have all my power leads anchored to Velcro straps so there is no pulling on them may not look all that neat and tidy but it is practical

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Me too! Same problem. Same setup as used over the last year or two.

All looked and sounded (mount) well until I tried to make a change (which could have been hours later during this testing). I am still unsure, not confident the problem is resolved but the last thing I did was to port the mount from the laptop's powered usb and it then ran without a hitch. Other suspicions include usb cables, power connector at mount - driven by a 12V mains supply. I also use the Eqdir to the HEQ5 but is the USB connector at the Eqdir a standard connector??

Frustrating because of the intermittent nature - why couldn't it just break?

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