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Sky Watcher AZ GTi - New Firmware Available V3.30


GoldTop57
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I've downloaded the firmware (not yet applied the update) to have a look at the release notes. I've pasted the top couple of entries although they are vague and don't really give much of a clue as to the changes. Looks like 3.26 is the firmware that mustn't be mentioned.

 

AZ-GTi motor controller  firmware version 3.30:
Version 3.30
    1. Fix bugs.
    2. Support new MCU.

Version 3.22
    1. New command set added to support path tracking(e.g. tracking satellite).
       Check http://www.skywatcher.com/download/software/synscan-app/ for applications.
    2. Improved peformance on calibration/guiding for declination axis(equatorial mode).

 

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3 minutes ago, Ags said:

Was just about to paste the release notes too. Not very informative, are they?

Not very helpful at all. I've noticed the standard version has support for new mounts an there is also a new version of the firmware loader - although that does not have any release notes at all.

Edited by Shimrod
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I think the main reason behind this is that a lot of the new scopes are using a new revision motor board that is based around an ARM microprocessor, where as older boards were PIC microcontroller based hence the MCU support (2).  As these new boards use a totally different processor and platform, the firmware has had to be ported as a new version. 

What advantages migrating to ARM cortex processors over PICs has I have no idea.  

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25 minutes ago, malc-c said:

I think the main reason behind this is that a lot of the new scopes are using a new revision motor board that is based around an ARM microprocessor, where as older boards were PIC microcontroller based hence the MCU support (2).  As these new boards use a totally different processor and platform, the firmware has had to be ported as a new version. 

What advantages migrating to ARM cortex processors over PICs has I have no idea.  

This makes sense. I suspect the answer due to a few reasons; ARM has a much bigger community support base, where PIC support may potentially start to dwindle over time. ARM has multiple manufacturers vs PIC's single manufacturer, which gives you choice and makes it cheaper, and ARM is technologically more advanced with 64-bit options, better protocol support, support for newer hardware and system on a chip capabilities meaning smaller motherboards, fewer components etc. 

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Joe,  I concur with everything you say, but I would it may well be that at the moment the processor has had a lot of those advantages throttled back.  The handsets still transmit the protocol as serial at 9600 baud, so can't take advantage of any USB ports the ARM has, it will still need a bog standard serial UART.  Now on mounts that have wi-fi there may be an advantage, but for direct connection nothing much is gained on a hardware front.  

One thing for sure, I predict a hike in the cost of mounts / or spare boards with these ARM processors on.  Given the global silicon shortage, these ARM processors price have risen 10 fold in the past three months, from just under $4 to $33 each !  But as you say, more than one manufacture, so easier to source alternatives.

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10 minutes ago, malc-c said:

Joe,  I concur with everything you say, but I would it may well be that at the moment the processor has had a lot of those advantages throttled back.  The handsets still transmit the protocol as serial at 9600 baud, so can't take advantage of any USB ports the ARM has, it will still need a bog standard serial UART.  Now on mounts that have wi-fi there may be an advantage, but for direct connection nothing much is gained on a hardware front.  

One thing for sure, I predict a hike in the cost of mounts / or spare boards with these ARM processors on.  Given the global silicon shortage, these ARM processors price have risen 10 fold in the past three months, from just under $4 to $33 each !  But as you say, more than one manufacture, so easier to source alternatives.

Yes definitely. No huge immediate benefits for the various established interfaces, except as you said WiFi. Maybe at some point they will switch to using newer standards (e.g. USB for handsets etc) and they're gearing up for that? I'd imagine though that it's just easier/cheaper to manufacture boards containing SoC at scale if you want to support some modern stuff like WiFi or Bluetooth, but for most interfaces it's not really needed. They're probably going to use the same base boards for multiple models, and simply remove components for the more budget models. 

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To be honest I have mostly given up on the mount, haven't used it once since I last vented my frustration on the forum. I am tending to think a an EQ3-2 with non-computerized clock drive might be better for me -  01:00 AM is not the time to be fighting the silicon gremlins!

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8 minutes ago, Ags said:

To be honest I have mostly given up on the mount, haven't used it once since I last vented my frustration on the forum. I am tending to think a an EQ3-2 with non-computerized clock drive might be better for me -  01:00 AM is not the time to be fighting the silicon gremlins!

No not at all. It could be something really simple though like a loose connection? Dry solder on a power line? Might be worth (in the daytime of course) trying to reproduce the issue - jiggle the power connectors, shake the mount a little to see if you can get it to do it consistently, which might lead you closer to the answer (although you may have already done all this so ignore me if so!) 

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7 hours ago, Ags said:

My AZ GTi is a bit buggy (random spontaneous slewing) so maybe this will fix the issue?

What power supply are you using? This happened to me a couple of times, giving me a slight fright at 1am in the dark hah. Eliminated after changing from a 20000mah power bank to a Talentcell 6000mah 12v 3a battery and Lynx Astro cable.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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58 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

What power supply are you using? This happened to me a couple of times, giving me a slight fright at 1am in the dark hah.

I have had my doubts about my 8 year old lead acid power tank... Trying to charge it now but I think it is dead. Looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/batteries-powerpacks/celestron-lithium-lifepo4-powertank-pro.html

Edited by Ags
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Just now, Ags said:

I have had my doubts about my 8 year old lead acid power tank... Trying to charge it now but I think it is dead. Looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/batteries-powerpacks/celestron-lithium-lifepo4-powertank-pro.html

Power dips would likely explain the eccentric behaviour. I'm actually thinking about the smaller version of that same tank for my AZ-GTi. 

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5 minutes ago, Ags said:

I have had my doubts about my 8 year old lead acid power tank... Trying to charge it now but I think it is dead. Looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/batteries-powerpacks/celestron-lithium-lifepo4-powertank-pro.html

I have one of those, but bought from picstop where it is £55 cheaper (and another couple of % off if you use topcashback). I've had no issues with mine.

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4 minutes ago, Shimrod said:

I have one of those, but bought from picstop where it is £55 cheaper (and another couple of % off if you use topcashback). I've had no issues with mine.

I reckon we Europe mainlanders would have problems getting those shipped from the UK unfortunately. I looked at buying a powerpack from FLO a while back but they're unable to ship them here. 

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21 minutes ago, Ags said:

I have had my doubts about my 8 year old lead acid power tank... Trying to charge it now but I think it is dead. Looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/batteries-powerpacks/celestron-lithium-lifepo4-powertank-pro.html

If the psu is needed only for an azgti or an azgoto mount then save yourself a lot of cash;

https://www.talentcell.com/lithium-ion-battery/12v/yb1206000.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/lynx-astro-silicone-power-cable-21mm-dc-jack-to-21mm-dc-jack.html

Add a small waterproof bag and velcro straps and you're good to go.

1708654639_IMG_20210416_2147521792.thumb.jpg.dea59ba45615408bcb19a399e094cdc4.jpg

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10 hours ago, Shimrod said:

       Check http://www.skywatcher.com/download/software/synscan-app/ for applications.
    2. Improved peformance on calibration/guiding for declination axis(equatorial mode).

 

I'd definitely be interested in seeing if this improves my guiding in EQ mode. Note I haven't connected the counterweight shaft and bar in this image or my dslr and cables, just sorting sone of the cable management first. 

IMG-20210725-WA0012.jpeg

Edited by AstroNebulee
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26 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

If the psu is needed only for an azgti or an azgoto mount then save yourself a lot of cash;

https://www.talentcell.com/lithium-ion-battery/12v/yb1206000.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/lynx-astro-silicone-power-cable-21mm-dc-jack-to-21mm-dc-jack.html

Add a small waterproof bag and velcro straps and you're good to go.

1708654639_IMG_20210416_2147521792.thumb.jpg.dea59ba45615408bcb19a399e094cdc4.jpg

That's what I did with mine before getting an asiair pro, the talentcell battery lasts for absolutely ages and has a USB port for dew heaters or charging anything, so plus one for this battery though I have the 3000mah one 

Edited by AstroNebulee
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It would seem the SW website really needs to make things clear, plus I can see one real issue for HEQ5 owners who have replaced their main boards.  If you requested a replacement motor board for an HEQ5, it comes as an MC020 board with an ARM processor.  But the the only listing for firmware on the SW website is for the old 2.04 version from 2018, which works on the PIC 16F886. - AFAIK that won't work ! 

The other confusion is for the EQ3 / EQ5 owneres.  There s firmware (2.04) for EQ3 / EQ5 goto mounts, which states underneath that its "For EQ3, EQ5 Pro GOTO mounts". Yet the next firmware down is for EQ3 / EQ5 Pro- Goto mounts (2.07) states "Universal motor controller firmware for Skywatcher EQ3, EQ5 GOTO mounts." - Confusing !   At least they make things clearer for the new ARM based versions in the 3.09 firmware "This is the motor controller firmware for EQ3, EQ5, EQM35 mounts. It is for the version 3.xx motor controller which has an on board USB port."

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3 hours ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

If the psu is needed only for an azgti or an azgoto mount then save yourself a lot of cash;

https://www.talentcell.com/lithium-ion-battery/12v/yb1206000.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/lynx-astro-silicone-power-cable-21mm-dc-jack-to-21mm-dc-jack.html

Add a small waterproof bag and velcro straps and you're good to go.

1708654639_IMG_20210416_2147521792.thumb.jpg.dea59ba45615408bcb19a399e094cdc4.jpg

That's a nice, neat package for visual - I like just the one cable!

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Updated firmware yesterday and taking the scope out for a spin tonight.  What's happening now is the exact same frustrating thing that is happening when I first bought the mount.  Trying to do north-level alignment and as soon as I input a couple stars and set it north to begin, the thing thinks I'm pointing south or something and starts slewing towards the ground.  Even tried installing the update again and same thing.  So I guess I'll just manually observe tonight.  Oh also, before the update installed it used to ask me every time I connected if I wanted Alt-Az or EQ mode...that seems to have completely gone away and it automatically connects me to Alt-Az mode?  Not even sure how to change that if I wanted to.

Have to be honest and say that this mount has been very hit or miss with me...it's not that great quite frankly.

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2 hours ago, Maideneer said:

Trying to do north-level alignment and as soon as I input a couple stars and set it north to begin, the thing thinks I'm pointing south or something and starts slewing towards the ground.

Is the telescope on the "correct" side of the mount? Try mounting the scope on the opposite side and see if it improves.

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