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How to update various Celestron Nexstar Firmware using Windows 10


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This is a post that I made in another forum that I think might assist SGL members who have not seen it.

This is how to use Celestron Firmware Manager (CFM) via Windows 10 to update the firmware for;

  1. NexStar + hand controllers via Windows 10.
  2. StarSense HC via Windows 10
  3. StarSense Camera via Windows 10.
  4. Motors for a few modern Celestron Mounts via Windows 10.

Yes, it is possible via Windows 10; so no need to seek out old Windows 7 laptops with serial ports! But great care is needed as the process can be confusing.

Please note that CFM currently won't update motors on older mounts such as the CG-5 and CGEM. In fact, you can't use their older MCUpdate software with the StarSense HC. You first have to use the NexStar or NexStar + HC. But on some of the newer mounts where the motors can be updated via CFM (e.g. like the Evolution or AVX mount); that also requires use of the NexStar+ HC. So you might need to update via those mounts twice using BOTH NexStar + and StarSense HC’s for a complete solution (n.b. the repeat is required to update the StarSense HC).  However, whilst CFM won’t update (say) a CPC or NexStar SE motor; it will update their NexStar + HC’s and/or their StarSense (if applicable). Yep folks, it is all a tad confusing! This explanation will hopefully cut through much of the mystery…….but do note that future releases of CFM might embrace more devices... so let's keep updating this thread!

Celestron publish this diagram which shows the StarSense Camera separately connected to the laptop computer by a mini USB to USB cable.

If you don’t have StarSense, obviously ignore that cable.

StarSense_Connection_Diagram.jpg

If you don’t connect this camera cable, my experience (e.g. with an Evolution; CPC and NexStar SE4) is that CFM will  still find the StarSense Camera via merely the HC to laptop cable(s) and later report that “All devices were updated”. This is probably FALSE and wider user evidence suggests that BOTH cables are required to update the StarSense Camera.

Note that for the very latest NexStar + HC you will replace the ‘USB to Serial Adapter/Celestron Programming Cable’ with a ‘mini USB to USB cable’. Note too that it is best to first update using the NexStar + HC; then repeat the process for the StarSense HC and Camera (where applicable). That should ensure that both of your HC’s; and your camera and your motor are updated (n.b. the latter is only possible where CFM updates for motors do apply; e.g. only later mounts - see above). Whilst this cable is USB to USB, your device is still 'Serial'. The only difference is that the adapter is now inside the HC. Hence you will still need the drivers described below.

1. First step, before connecting ANYTHING; I installed the driver for my Trendnet TU-S9 ‘Serial to USB adapter’ into my Windows 10 laptop from the Trendnet supplied CD-ROM.

If using a later NexStar + HC with mini USB (output)  to USB cable then a different cable driver might be required - this is a PL2303 (can be downloaded from the Internet). This can be particularly confusing as normally you don't need a driver for USB devices. But the new HC is not a USB device as it is still Serial inside!

My Windows 10 then insisted on doing a ‘Windows Automatic Update’. This might be just coincidence, but it may have been required to update the Trendnet ‘Serial to USB adapter’ driver to Windows 10. You must install Windows 10 drivers for your specific cable if Serial output (or go find a Windows 7 laptop etc.).

2. You then need to install the latest Java into your Windows 10 Laptop. Again, do this before connecting anything.  In my instance, Windows 10 then decided it wanted to do yet another automatic Windows 10 update.

3. I then downloaded Celestron Firmware Manager to my Laptop from the Celestron Site. Unzip it and run the executable jar file. Note that this won’t run without step (2). You might also find it a bit fussy and may need to use <’open with’….Java.>. But this too can be stubborn. If you can’t get it to work, try this;

a) Right click on your desktop. Select <new>; <shortcut>.
B) Browse and find the path to the relevant folder.
It will be something like <thisPc>; <documents>; <cfm_2.1.6050>; <cfm>.
c) This creates a shortcut on your desktop. Name that CFM
d) Click on that shortcut and CFM will open.

If that doesn’t work; try this (it’s the same procedure, but if your PC has dropped the folder elsewhere this more detailed route will help you find it);

a) Right click on your desktop and choose create new shortcut and then click the Browse button.
B) Browse to the C:\Program Files\Java\VERSION\bin\java.exe (When browsing your folders, VERSION is dependent on the version you have installed.  This is 64 bit Java, if you don't have 64 bit, just replace "C:\Program Files" with "C:\Program Files (x86)" you will know, because the Java folder will not be just in C:\Program Files, but you will see it under C:\Program Files (x86) folder when you browse.
c) Call the shortcut CFM
d) Right click on the new shortcut on your desktop and go to properties
e) Modify the top Target line and add this to the end of it with the following, just make sure you put a space after the existing last " in that line:
  -jar C:\CFM_2.1.6050\CFM.jar
(This is the folder you put the CFM Program in, so modify it accordingly)

f) Modify the Start In: line in the shortcut to your folder where you have the CFM installed.
example:  C:\CFM_2.1.6050

Now it will launch just by you double clicking it.

4. Connect the items as per the photograph (ignore camera and cable if you don’t have StarSense).

    Follow the process below first using NexStar + HC (then repeat for your StarSense HC if you have one).

5. Switch on telescope (don’t press anything on HC). Here, it should now enter Bootloader Mode rather than requesting an Align.

I believe that if you switch on before connecting the cables (etc.); CFM may prompt you to reboot holding certain HC keys to get into Bootloader Mode. But 5 should work automatically in a ‘plug & play’ type manner if you switch on after all cable connections are made.

6. Click on ‘<Seek Devices> in the now open CFM.

I believe that in some earlier versions of CFM you also had to PRIOR select Telescope, but not on the latest version of CFM.

7. For my Evolution CFM found HC; StarSense Camera and Motor (hence; 3 devices). When I later repeated this for the CPC and NexStar 4 it found only StarSense HC and StarSense Camera (2 devices); hence not their motor (you still need MCUpdate for those; but at some stage I guess that CFM will be revised to embrace other devices).

8. Follow further instructions on screen; click on <update> in CFM. This downloads all available firmware updates for the identified devices.  In my instance, CFM applied six firmware patches to my Evolution Motor + StarSense HC + StarSense Camera. It installed fewer for CPC and NexStar SE4 (as it didn’t update their motors).

Phew,…..good luck! It worked for me.

Here is a list of all firmware updates for NexStar devices since 2014 up to January 2017

 

Firmware_Revision_History.pdf

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Thanks for the comprehensive guide.  Looks like my Starsense is fairly well updated (latest bar one) but the Nextar+ handset from my SLT bears investigation (the battery low warning looks useful).

I'll need to look into the situation re the Nexstar HC (not +) and other firmware on my second-hand C8 se. But if I successfully swap the Starsense over to it I won't be too bothered about the Nexstar HC.

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Since I created the original post (elsewhere) , Celestron has twice updated CFM

The first update was version 2.1.6356. This wouldn't run properly for me, so I kept 2.1.6050. I have a feeling 2.1.6356 had a problem.

Today I downloaded version 2.3.7016. Not yet run it with my telescopes, but it opened fine and downloaded the packages despite no device being attached.

 

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  • 3 months later...

My Story.... 

I recently decided to upgrade my rig from the beginner scope received last  year. After spending MONTHS deciding what to go for I plumped on the Celestron EDGE 8' HD on the Advanced VX Mount for various reasons. Along with this I also picked up the StarSense AutoAlign - If you live in the UK you will know that an hours clear sky observing is a luxury and after saving up, I wanted to reduce the set up time to allow as much observing as possible - & hey - I could just use with the help learning the night sky.

I must admit, this whole firmware issue has hit me from the left field and I wasn't expecting to be spending my nights hunched over a laptop researching firmware when I purchased my new setup.

I set my kit up for the first time, not using the Starsense - I wanted to have a go aligning without the assistance - beginners stripes if you will. After spending 10 minutes just looking at my setup (it looks beautiful) I set to and I'll admit I struggled to get the alignment purely down to that I wasn't really sure what star was the correct star to center in my finderscope and main. After a few poor and one really close attempts I did a solar align on the moon - This would have been 8th May in the UK - first clear night for an age. The scope slewed around was a bit off but I soon had it working and then promptly selected Jupiter and it slewed bang on the money. Do we all remember the buzz the first time this happens.

My second night with my user manual in hand I attached the StarSense to auto the alignment for me. I turned all on for the first time and this is were it started to go downhill: 

QUICK START: ALIGNING STARSENSE

1. Setup scope - check

2. Turn on scope - check

3.  Profile option (for additional scopes) - hmmm not in the manual, I skipped this.

4. Press ALIGN then select STARSENSE AUTO and press Enter - yep, can do. I think this is where I may have gone wrong as the scope then slewed away acquiring its position only to get to a certain point and just freeze. Turn off and on a few times no joy - get back inside have a google learn of the famed CFM.

Since then the skies in the UK have been terrible - I have read a heap, including this great thread about updating the firmware - as of writing - I have established that my Starsense HC (new one with mini USB) is an older update (Feb 2016) - I am assuming that my mount may also need an update. I have managed through the menus to add the correct time/date and latitude/longitude into the Starsense HC. I did note that I couldn't select CITY as with my other HC (again, update issue?)

Next actions - try setup again now I have actually added correct details into Starsense - If not try and update firmware.

Wish me luck and clear skies!

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1 hour ago, AstroKane said:

4. Press ALIGN then select STARSENSE AUTO and press Enter - yep, can do. I think this is where I may have gone wrong as the scope then slewed away acquiring its position only to get to a certain point and just freeze. Turn off and on a few times no joy - get back inside have a google learn of the famed CFM.

It should be busy pointing to various parts of the sky and then report a success or fail (if it's the same as on a SE alt-az). I'd suspect a bad power/bad power connection problem.

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4 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

It should be busy pointing to various parts of the sky and then report a success or fail (if it's the same as on a SE alt-az). I'd suspect a bad power/bad power connection problem.

I had the mount plugged in, not running on battery so I would hope the power isn't an issue - no unit powered down - it just froze.

Hoping I get some cloud break tonight to re-test - Like I say, I have now added my location details to the HC - so all being well it should work eh!

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  • 2 months later...

Noah4x4, you are a complete and utter hero! Thank you for writing this post. I had been tearing my hair out trying to get CFM to work and finally came across your post. It worked a treat within minutes and my NexStar 5SE (borrowed from Celestron for a course I am running next week, when I turned it on it had the Bootloader error... argh!) is now fully updated and ready to educate a group of interested amateur astronomers. Thank you so much.

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7 hours ago, PhotoGav said:

Noah4x4, you are a complete and utter hero! Thank you for writing this post. I had been tearing my hair out trying to get CFM to work and finally came across your post. It worked a treat within minutes and my NexStar 5SE (borrowed from Celestron for a course I am running next week, when I turned it on it had the Bootloader error... argh!) is now fully updated and ready to educate a group of interested amateur astronomers. Thank you so much.

PhotoGav,  it has been 'pinned' in Cloudy Nights where there is a dedicated 'Celestron Nexstar Forum', and I have been told that Celestron customer support sometimes refer to it (but I don't know how true that is).  I have also created similar threads regarding common Celestron WiFi and Wedge issues. 

It is a shame that SGL doesn't have dedicated Celestron; Meade; Skywatcher etc 'how to' threads. Whilst <search> is powerful, if you don't know what is causing the problem you often don't know where to find the answer. 

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks very much for these instructions.  A few weeks back I tried unsuccessfully to install CFM to update my new CGX mount.  I made sure I had the latest version of Java, but still no luck, then found and used the first part of your para 3 instructions.  Still couldn't get it to work.  I couldn't quite face your italicized next section ("If that doesn't work...etc"), but I got back to it last night and succeeded eventually, working down in the depths of the shortcut, feeling like a computer hacker! You have done a great service here, but it does seem surprising to me that Celestron can't produce a firmware manager that downloads and installs more readily.

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  • 3 months later...

Great post , solved an issue for me where CFM would not actually run , you would click to run the standard routine that CFM installer package had created , it would open for a millisecond and close ! , so do a fresh shortcut as per the article and hey presto it works , awesome job thanks. :). 

 

On the uodates sude my new Starsense Camera and new Starsense HC both updated as they would be expected to and all good I think , not actually used them yet as I am having another issue :(. 

Hoping someone has seen this before ! , I have a 8se base with a c8 Carbon XLT OTA , so the firmware on my new Starsense is 4.21 latest as above , my firmware on my original HC is also updated to 4.21 , however my MC is stuck on 5.14 which I desperately need to update so it has the correct software and firmware for the motors to match the new starsense , I should also point out I’m a rookie at this lot so feel free to kick me etc ! . It’s something I have always wanted to do and illness has made me do myself a bucket list and astronomy plus Astrophotography both made it into my top 10 list every time I kept updating my list ! .

so I purchased a good quality FTDI chipped programming cable that works perfectly with a 4se that I have which is about three years old , my idea was the 4se was a sort of crossover as the big scope is too much for anything land based with my dslr or the neximage camera etc. Anyway so updated my 4se all too latest HC and MC firmwares using the cable as above , as we all know the rs232 ports are dead now in the it industry for laptops , portables etc. Anyway so I move onto the 8se base and can I get the base seen by anything ! Hmm nope , the what I’m told is the original little software app that does your HC or MC depending on which one you run will not see the 8se base or a telescope etc, the CFM sees the Starsense as above but does not detect a telescope either when plumbed into the 8se ! So I’m totally stuck and do not know where to go next ! HELP ! ( I have also ordered a rs232 to USB converter cable in the meantime to see if it’s a cable issue but I do not see it as it’s perfect on the 4se every time !?.  Could it be a port problem on the 8se base ? Could it be that I’m facing the wrong way ! Could it be that the milk has gone off ! I’m hoping it’s something stupid as in me or if someone else has seen the same problem etc , thanks in advance for any help guys !. 

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Firstly, in Windows 10 you need a PL2303 'serial to USB adapter' driver. One should be supplied with your new cable.

The good news is that whilst the Starsense HC has been updated on multiple occasions, the Starsense camera has never been updated. However, if you use only the single USB to Serial cable CFM will falsely report that the camera has been updated! You must attach a seperate cable to camera during the update process (but not necessary until it is updated). 

CFM will not update some older mounts. I think the file needed is called MCUpdater (or similar). Take a look at Mike Swanson's Nexstar Resource site for great information about updates and compatibility. However, I have an Evolution and SE4 and CFM works fine with both.  That makes me think this isn't a CFM issue unless your particular SE requires the older updater (is it an old model?). 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Many thanks also for this post.  Boot error last night, updated this morning.  What a palaver!  But one question.  How much information is retained?  Lat, Long, time zone, last update maybe, PEC?

no doubt I will find out but perhaps someone can enlighten me before then.

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  • 3 months later...

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