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Orion / Synta Electronics on XT10g


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Hi all, I have owned this XT10g for around 3 years,  the first year was great, no problems at all, the optics are sound and the GoTo worked like a dream and then I upgraded the firmware and that was it. Communication problems between the handset and the motors. So spoke at length with Orion, replaced the main board, no change, replaced the PSU, no change, tried to upgrade the motor firmware but not able to comunicate with the controller and so after 2 years I have now given up and decided to replace the Synta electronics with what looks to be a very good Arduino system. What I'm hoping to find is someone who has information on the existing motors as I would like to use them with the Arduino setup. I have looked online but can't find anything about them so if there is any knowledgable person out there who could shed some light on this I would be very very grateful.

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14 hours ago, Mysteron said:

So spoke at length with Orion, replaced the main board, no change, replaced the PSU, no change, tried to upgrade the motor firmware but not able to comunicate with the controller

Which piece of hardware have you not swapped out?

In a Celestron Nexstar SLT mount, there is a common error code meaning 'drive not responding' which is usually caused by the motor drive firmware in the mount becoming corrupted.

You have downgraded the controller firmware but now cannot communicate with it?

As a general comment, not necessarily aimed at you, a lot of people assume that they have to perform firmware upgrades, or treat it as the first resort if anything does not work as expected.  They may be led astray by the perpetual security upgrades of Windows, Android, etc.  But look it another way: when did you last upgrade the firmware in your car? or your washing machine, or your electric toothbrush, or a VCR, or your burglar alarm?  The sensible course is to read the small print of what the upgrade is supposed to fix, and if it does not fix an actual problem that you are experiencing, and the kit works, then leave well alone.

Edited by Cosmic Geoff
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Having repaired four SW goto motor boards I think what's happened is that the upgrade has corrupted the code in the micro-controller, and now it's impossible to reload the original firmware back.  However, if you have already had a new main board swapped out then that would / should have resolved the problem.  I would have thought that Synta would have standardise the parts used in their mounts and the fact that the firmware version for the XT10g is listed as the 209 version, the same for the SW flexitube and standard Dobs would suggest that the MC boards are indeed the same.

The only thing that they didn't replace was the handset.... so it could be that the handset is the issue.  As mentioned, I've repaired four motor control boards (as documented here https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/351363-any-ideas-on-repairing-a-slightly-blown-motor-board/ ) but as you have already tried a replacement board, flashing two more PICs and replacing them probably won't resolve the issue.  

I would be inclined to see if the handset is functional, especially if you are intending to build an Arduino based controller that still requires the handset to be used (I'm not familiar with any arduino unit that has the database coded into it).  Most Synta mounts use stepper motors, NEMA 12 and 17 are common.  Just remove one and check the dimensions or any markings

 

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Thanks for the come back Brown Dwarf and the reply Main Sequence. The only things I havn't replaced are the actual motors and the motor board in the base., I even bought a new hand controller but still received the same unable to communicate error! So the probability of corrupted firmware on the motor board is high as this was discussed with Orion but as the original firmware was quite old and a copy was unavailable plus if it's the corrupted firmware thats stopping the communication It wouldn't have loaded it anyway. How do you get around corrupted firmware??

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46 minutes ago, Mysteron said:

How do you get around corrupted firmware??

On a Celestron Nexstar SLT mount, if the motor control firmware is corrupted you just reload it with the appropriate utility. This assumes of course that everything else is in working order.

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21 minutes ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

On a Celestron Nexstar SLT mount, if the motor control firmware is corrupted you just reload it with the appropriate utility. This assumes of course that everything else is in working order.

This is on the assumption that the microcontrollers have not been damaged and the handset can establish communications with them in the first place..  As the OP had a new mainboard replaced then in theory there should be no problem with the board, so if when the handset is connected to a PC via the correct cable and the firmware loader application manages to communicate with the mainboard through the handset then there is a chance that reloading the firmware would work.  If however the handset is faulty it still may not see the motor board and thus the OP won't be able to try this.

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1 hour ago, Mysteron said:

Thanks for the come back Brown Dwarf and the reply Main Sequence. The only things I havn't replaced are the actual motors and the motor board in the base., I even bought a new hand controller but still received the same unable to communicate error! So the probability of corrupted firmware on the motor board is high as this was discussed with Orion but as the original firmware was quite old and a copy was unavailable plus if it's the corrupted firmware thats stopping the communication It wouldn't have loaded it anyway. How do you get around corrupted firmware??

Now I'm really confused (easily done though !)

Peter,  I'm not familiar with the internals of your scope, but from what I can gather they have replaced the main board which the motors plug into (there could be one board with the AZ board being just a bare board with connectors, or you may have an MC003 for each axis), replaced the PSU, and replaced the handset but you get the same error message of no communications between the handset and the mount..... but you have been able to update / roll back the firmware on the motor board??  - The firmware update application will normally ping the command through to the main board to request it's current version when the request is sent.  If it returns the version of firmware back to the PC application, and you have then been able to upload the image file to the motor board via the handset and essentially roll the firmware back then this proves the communications on the mainboard, and the handset are fine.  If the PICs had been damaged, or the comport on the handset was inoperative you would not have been able to do this 

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Nope, I think the confusion is all mine malcom lol. I'm remembering back 2 years and lots of conversatioins with Orion!! It was the hand comtroller that had it's firmware rolled back, the motor boards could'nt communicate. The boards are the MC004 rev f with the PIC16F886 chips.

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Ahhh right.

I would need to do some research to confirm if the 209 firmware used in the SW badged version is the same (which I'm 99% confident it is) for the Orion scope, but I do have the ability (as mentioned above) to reprogram two new PICs and replace the old ones, so if you want to give this a try drop me a PM for more details.  So far there have been four happy SGL members who's telescopes have had a new lease of life :)

If you have a read of the thread I linked to, you will see that the first "customer" was faced with the fact that some of these boards have since been upgraded and the cost of having to replace both boards and not knowing if there was a physical compatibility meant that a repair really was his only option.

Drop me a PM if you want me to try a repair.

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Well I've just tested the "official" Orion firmware uploader application to see if it could return the firmware version of an 16F886 programmed with the SW HEQ5 code and it correctly returned the firmware version, so that does confirm the Orion software uses the same SW protocols.  So flashing the PICs with the 209 code used on the previous MC004 boards will work.

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  • 1 month later...

I have been having problems with my Orion XT10g probably for a couple of years, spending hours on the phone to Orion, dozens of emails and all to no prevail....UNTIL.....I came across Malc-c, what a trooper, sent him both Synta motor boards and within 2 days they were back sitting on my desk with 2 new Pico chips fitted. I installed them, powered up the system and hey presto IT WORKS for the fist time in a couple of years. I almost put the scope up for sale (My Wife was pushing me as I wasn't using it) but now I can justify keeping it lol. Thank you so much Malc-c, a well priced first class service that was very very much appreciated. Your a star!!

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