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palatine

sky-watcher 250 flextube goto AZ faulty after starsense fitting

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hello all 

 i hope someone can help

 

i haven't been out with my sope for a few years due tomovighouse and several other issue.

but i decided to takethe plunge and get the starsense alignment camera for my set up

 

everything worked ok last week when i used the synscan handset to do some sungazing with it

anyway, i fitted all the bits of the starsense kit and connected it to my laptop and proformed an update to all teh kit yesterday afternoon before going out last night to set up the align for teh first time.

the scope failed to slew in any direction....

i plugged the Synscan handset in and got this message"caution..... both axes no response...." 

i have checked all teh wires and plugs, includiing the ones under the covers of teh motors etc.

i'm at a loss

 

Haas anyone had this errormessage and who do i go to to get it fixed if i cant do it myself?

thanks 

 

Ira

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or can anyone tell me where to take it to get it fixed?

 

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No response errors are usually power issues..but can be a sign of a board failure

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Reconnect the original handset and see if this setup works or not.  This should take only a minute.  If you conclude the Starsense is faulty, contact the seller.

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6 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

Reconnect the original handset and see if this setup works or not.  This should take only a minute.  If you conclude the Starsense is faulty, contact the seller.

yeah  i reconnected the synscan handset and that's where the error reads 

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8 hours ago, newbie alert said:

No response errors are usually power issues..but can be a sign of a board failure

do you know anyone who fixes the boards?

 

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3 hours ago, palatine said:

do you know anyone who fixes the boards?

 

I'm my case with celestron, they wouldn't supply me with a board, I have to buy through one of the dealers, but then they want me to send the whole mount to celestron via the dealer  but because of covid they're not excepting any mounts atm.. so I looked elsewhere,  and at nr on £300 I'm not paying that... so I got the serial number off the board and put a wanted on ABS,  lucky that a really nice guy from Northampton sold me his really cheap... so it's fixed.. 

A FB friend is going to have a look at mine to see if he can fix it, he's fairly confident he can..

Here's mine 

 

20200515_212815.jpg

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My scope is the 250 flex tube goto. So I need someone who fixes skywatcher boards/mounts. 

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Following on from your post in AstroGeek's thread where we resolved his issue after incorrectly connecting an EQDir cable to his ALT board on his goto Dob let's get some info and then we're start trying to work out a plan of action.

  1. Is the scope under warranty ? - If so then contact the dealer for assistance.  The fact the starsense is for use with Celestron and not Skywatcher telescopes I very much doubt that any repair would be free of charge
  2. If the scope is out of warranty, which version of control board do you have.  On AstroGeeks thread his scope used two MC004 boards, one for each axis.  Newer models apparently have a single pcb populated with components, and a connector board for the AZ motor and sensors
  3. Did you hear anything go pop when you plugged the star sense unit into the mount
  4. We would need to research the pinouts for the startsense and whatever port you plugged it into so we can see what might have been blown.
  5. Do you have access to any test equipment, the basic would be a digital voltmeter
  6. Are you able to solder?

If you have read all 7 pages of AstroGeeks thread then you can appreciate diagnosing issues with the mount can be a round-about process, but with help from other members it is possible to bring back boards from the dead, and even re[program the PIC microcontrollers on them.... so it's possible that we can resolve this for you.  

Anyway, let's start by gathering as much information as we can.  However I didn't envisage starting a part time business repairing motor boards..... so can't promise that if it goes the same way as AstroGeeks board and the PICs were replaced that it would be as quick or as  cheap... there is only so much Kama I can give :)  

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Posted (edited)

i have advised to explain at length what has happened to my scope

so here goes

firstly the scope has been stored in the garage for nearly 4 years due to moving house and other factors 

a family of mice nested in the tube and i have cleaned it all out and the boards didnt lok to be damaged but what do i know

then i attempted to connect the starsense camera and handset to the scope but didnt have instructions so tried to plug the starsense handset into the aux port in the synscan handset with no success i then  plugged it direct to teh scope with no joy obvs.

i then worked out how to plug the starsense set up properly via google and there was zero response from the motors. the next day  i tried to go back to original synscan set up

and the handset gave the error message" cauion no response from both axes"

ive had a friend check that theres 12volt at teh main "side" board

i'm not very clued up with electronics so here i am 

thanks for looking 

ira

forgot to add photos, thus showing my luddite prowess 

2.jpg

3.jpg

1.jpg

Edited by palatine
photos

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Posted (edited)

I'm afraid it looks as though you may have blown the main motor board just like I did.

It's an easy mistake to make with these Flextube Goto Dobs, because Skywatcher chose a dangerous combination of socket types on the main motor panel.

In the photo attached, it shows that the Synscan handset must be plugged into the smaller RJ socket on the left, which is a 6 way RJ12. (And when using the Starsense for Skywatcher accessory, the linking cable from the Celestron Skywatcher Adapter hub must also be plugged into the smaller RJ12 socket, and not the RJ45.)

The empty 8 way RJ45 socket next to it on the right, is exclusively for use with the special linking cable that goes down to the AZ motor in the base.

The big danger with this is that although they are labelled, it's so easy to plug an RJ45 accessory item, (such as an EQMod adapter, or the Starsense for Skywatcher linking cable) into this linking cable socket.  In my case, my RJ45 EQmod adapter immediately blew the PIC controller on the MC004 motor board inside.

The mistake is made even more likely because Skywatcher often do connect their Synscan handsets to the mounts via an 8 way RJ45 socket, like on the EQ5.

....However, on their AZ mounts, like the Goto Dobs, Skywatcher connect their Synscan controllers via a 6 way RJ12 connector lead.

It's such an easy mistake to make, and I'm so determined that in a possible future moment of forgetfullness I don't make the same mistake again, I'm going to make a neat little screw on clip that holds the RJ45 linking cable plug (semi) permanenty in place !

 

felxtube goto connections.jpg

Edited by Astro-Geek

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12 minutes ago, malc-c said:

Following on from your post in AstroGeek's thread where we resolved his issue after incorrectly connecting an EQDir cable to his ALT board on his goto Dob let's get some info and then we're start trying to work out a plan of action.

  1. Is the scope under warranty ? - If so then contact the dealer for assistance.  The fact the starsense is for use with Celestron and not Skywatcher telescopes I very much doubt that any repair would be frees  of charge
  2. If the scope is out of warranty, which version of control board do you have.  On AstroGeeks thread his scope used two MC004 boards, one for each axis.  Newer models apparently have a single pcb populated with components, and a connector board for the AZ motor and sensors
  3. Did you hear anything go pop when you plugged the star sense unit into the mount
  4. We would need to research the pinouts for the startsense and whatever port you plugged it into so we can see what might have been blown.
  5. Do you have access to any test equipment, the basic would be a digital voltmeter
  6. Are you able to solder?

If you have read all 7 pages of AstroGeeks thread then you can appreciate diagnosing issues with the mount can be a round-about process, but with help from other members it is possible to bring back boards from the dead, and even re[program the PIC microcontrollers on them.... so it's possible that we can resolve this for you.  

Anyway, let's start by gathering as much information as we can.  However I didn't envisage starting a part time business repairing motor boards..... so can't promise that if it goes the same way as AstroGeeks board and the PICs were replaced that it would be as quick or as  cheap... there is only so much Kama I can give :)  

hi Malc

 

1 no i bought the scope about 7 years ago, the version of the starsense autoalign is for skywatcher scopes

2  mc004 boards on each axis photo's attached

3 didnt hear anything but i'm deaf on the left side so anything could have happened

4 how do i help do that,its beond my skill level of 0

5 i have a multimeter at work

6 yes i can solder

 

i really appreciate teh effort

if i need to buy new boards i will but i'm getting the vibe that that isnt that easy either

 

ira

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ive added photos to one of my posts...lol

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Astro-Geek said:

I'm afraid it looks as though you may have blown the main motor board just like I did.

It's an easy mistake to make with these Flextube Goto Dobs, because Skywatcher chose a dangerous combination of socket types on the main motor panel.

In the photo attached, it shows that the Synscan handset must be plugged into the smaller RJ socket on the left, which is a 6 way RJ12. (And when using the Starsense for Skywatcher accessory, the linking cable from the Celestron Skywatcher Adapter hub must also be plugged into the smaller RJ12 socket, and not the RJ45.)

The empty 8 way RJ45 socket next to it on the right, is exclusively for use with the special linking cable that goes down to the AZ motor in the base.

The big danger with this is that although they are labelled, it's so easy to plug an RJ45 accessory item, (such as an EQMod adapter, or the Starsense for Skywatcher linking cable) into this linking cable socket.  In my case, my RJ45 EQmod adapter immediately blew the PIC controller on the MC004 motor board inside.

The mistake is made even more likely because Skywatcher often do connect their Synscan handsets to the mounts via an 8 way RJ45 socket, like on the EQ5.

....However, on their AZ mounts, like the Goto Dobs, Skywatcher connect their Synscan controllers via a 6 way RJ12 connector lead.

It's such an easy mistake to make, and I'm so determined that in a possible future moment of forgetfullness I don't make the same mistake again, I'm going to make a neat little screw on clip that holds the RJ45 linking cable plug (semi) permanenty in place !

 

felxtube goto connections.jpg

hi astror

yeah i think ive got my wires crossed as i think i tried evey combo of plug in every socket at one point

 

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To be honest this one may be difficult to resolve because having googled the Skywatcher version it seems to use an connection hub to interface between the mount, camera and StarSense handset.  I have no doubt that at the minimum there will be crossover wiring to ensure that the camera and handset is routed to the right pins on the mount.  My hunch would be that there is actually some circuitry in there to do the routing and possibly a level shifter to convert the 5v TTL signals to 3.3v.

Have both the AZ and ALT boards been fried or are you in the same boat Astrogeek was with just one board that was fried ?

I've been googling for the past couple of hours to try and obtain some pinouts for the various ports, and to try and work out what voltages got shoved where without much success. 

Can you run through some of the things in that other thread to see if the PC updater application can communicate with either of the boards.  

Can you also confirm that the startsense version is the correct SW version.... if it is and its news then you may have some redress from the retailer as the device has caused the damage... The compatibility is a bit vague as it says "AZ Synscan mounts" but doesn't mentions Dobsonian goto mounts directly as it does HEQ5 / EQ6 / EQ8 etc.

You say you can solder, does that include replacing SOIC chips? -  If the consensus is that the PIC(s) have been blown then as they are the same as those used in AstroGeeks MC004 boards it would be an easy task to program a PIC or two and post them to you.  But first we need to confirm that this is the issue.

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thanks malc

i will go through the other thread and try to do the tests you have said

it will have to be tomorrow or saturday as i'm working tomorrow day

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No worries... in your own time :) 

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ok 

i have ran the same voltage test and got the same voltages as astro got for the main board 

checked cables and connections etc

checked the motors with a probe. they run with direct connection to teh probe 

what do i need to do/test to try to find whats wrong

 

also looking at the chips i dont think i have the skill set to solder them out or in again. they are very small 

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Are you able to connect the boards to the PC and run the Firmware updater application (I can't remember if the PC direct cable comes with the handset.  But from memory you connect the serial cable to a PC, and plug the other end into the SW handset and set the handset to PC-Direct mode).

If not then we can only presume the PICs have been fried and will need replacing.  I'll drop you a PM and we'll look at replacing them and reprogramming the firmware.

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i have updated the handset today 

do i need to update the motor controllers?


Firmware: Skyliner Series Dobsonian GO-TO Mounts, Version 2.09

For 8" to 16" Dobsonian GOTO mounts. Support turning off auxiliary encoders.
   Size: 5 KB  |  25-06-2018  |  Motor Controllersimage.thumb.png.1ea513ee39dec90fcb778184968f9b00.png

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You can try, but if the PIC's are fried it won't work.  The new PICs will come with this firmware coded directly into them.  I was really wondering what response you get when you have the PC connected to the motor boards via the handset and use the motor firmware updater application to read back the current firmware of the motor boards.  If this responds then the PICs are OK, however it has been reported that sometimes the newer handset firmware may give a false result, but Synscan hand controllers with older firmware ( 3.08) will report the motor board firmware without issue, which is strange.

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The two boards were received this lunchtime.  Plugging in the PIC programmer to the ICSP header confirmed the PICs were blown as they could not be detected.  

Two new 16F886's were programmed and the old PICs removed.  Only one pad lifted, but an easy fix with a link to the via that the track the pad connected to was all that was needed.

Once the new PIC had been soldered to the boards the PIC programmer was connected to each board in turn and it detected and confirmed the PIC type.  The code was also read back from the PIC confirming each one is running.  Palatine included return postage so the boards were packed and dropped off at the local post office, so hopefully by this time tomorrow we'll know if this is another goto dob that has been brought back from the dead :)

If the mount still fails to respond after swapping out the PICs then I'm at a loss as to what might be the problem, and as mentioned in AstroGeek's thread, without a schematic, and dedicated test equipment there would be little more that we can do.  But, hopefully it was just the PICs that were blown and replacing them will fix it.

P1019170.JPG

P1019172.JPG

P1019174.JPG

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i have everything crossed....twice..

thanks again to malc for the help with my dead boards

 

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Posted (edited)

Excellent, 

Nice to see another mount given a new lease of life.  Please to of been assistance, and if my 21 year old Volvo V70 fails her MOT (so far she hasn't failed yet !)and I need parts I'll be sure to take you up on our offer  🍻

Edited by malc-c
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