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MattGoo

DIY Synscan Firmware update cable

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Having recently acquired an EQ6 mount with  Synscan v3 handset, I checked it and it was only v3.03 firmware - so therefore wanted to update it to the latest v3.35. The mount didn't come with a firmware update cable, and I looked around and didn't feel like paying the £12 or so, plus another couple of quid for a serial cable or port.

I therefore bought a few cheapo USB to Serial devices and a 4pin RJ11 cable off ebay, but couldn't get any of them to work with the Skywatcher Handset update software.

Next plan was to buy a PCI or PCI-E card with Serial ports, but then I dug out my PC motherboard manual and actually found it had a serial 10-pin header already on it.

MB COM

I searched around the house and in the loft through all my old PC cables and gear but couldn't find a serial port cable. In a flash of inspiration I thought "well, why not butcher a Firewire/USB header since I had a few of those spare.

I cut the Firewire plug off the cable, separated out all the individual cables, cut the header to a 2x4, and left in the 3 cables that are needed (GND, RXD, TXD), then used a quick electrical join to match it to the RJ11 cable.

Cable

Powered down the PC, inserted the cable, turned PC on, entered BIOS and set up the serial port, booted into Windows 7 64bit, checked Device Manager and saw that it had loaded drivers and set it as COM1.

Handset Update

Opened up the Skywatcher Firmware update software and it found it straight away. Update done. :)

Total cost, £0.99 for the 4pin RJ11 cable and £0 for the Firewire header. You could probably get a Serial port header cable for about £1.50.

Schematic

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