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Controlling EQ6R using USB


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There seems to be confusion about mount connection alternatives. There are three methods.

Here they are:

1. USB cable from PC to hand controller (HC). The hand controller runs normally, you do polar alignment and 3-star alignment from the hand controller. Kstars/Stellarium/cartes du ciel etc can send commands to the mount to tell it where to go. AFAICT, on-camera  st-4 guiding (phone cord from camera to mount) is the only way of guiding with this configuration.

2. USB cable from PC to HC, just like (1),but set the HC to PC-DIRECT. You no longer need to do a 3-star alignment from the HC. Install INDI or  ASCOM on your PC. It allows the PC to take the place of the HC. This makes things like plate solving possible, which greatly simplifies life (once you get plate solving configured and working). on-camera or pulse guiding are possible, the former being preferred. It also eliminates the need of that phone cord from camera to mount. Anything for fewer cables;)

3. Lose the HC and use a ftdi eqdir cable as recommended here. Connect that directly from the PC to the mount. Control, guide and plate solve from the comfort of anywhere with a network connection. Or from beside the telescope if you like that sort of thing. Simple and effective. 

Having tried them all, the only one which we find works reliably, accurately and each time-every time is (3).

Please add other methods if you know of any.

Cheers and HTH.

 


 

Edited by alacant
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34 minutes ago, StevieDvd said:

I was synching mount to software before ever using Platesolving - that's different from the Platesolve synch to mount contolling software. What platesolver are you using?

Usually ASTAP from within NINA. I had the same issue 3 years ago with my first AZEQ6. If the mount/Eqmod thinks its too far away from a platesolved position, it refuses to sync the coords to Eqmod, though the imaging software keeps platesolving until its on target. I suspect APT and NINA just issue a slew command in milliseconds in both RA and Dec to reposition based on platesolving results, despite what the mount thinks. Otherwise there would be an eternal conflict?

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59 minutes ago, alacant said:

Please add other methods if you know of any.

Cheers and HTH.
 

4) - Where the mount or synscan unit has a USB port fitted, an A-B USB lead between the PC and the mount / synscan unit.  Operates exactly as option 3 once the serial port is set to 115200 baud

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1 hour ago, alacant said:

1. USB cable from PC to hand controller (HC). The hand controller runs normally, you do polar alignment and 3-star alignment from the hand controller. Kstars/Stellarium/cartes du ciel etc can send commands to the mount to tell it where to go. AFAICT, on-camera  st-4 guiding (phone cord from camera to mount) is the only way of guiding with this configuration.

2. USB cable from PC to HC, just like (1),but set the HC to PC-DIRECT. You no longer need to do a 3-star alignment from the HC. Install INDI or  ASCOM on your PC. It allows the PC to take the place of the HC. This makes things like plate solving possible, which greatly simplifies life (once you get plate solving configured and working). on-camera or pulse guiding are possible, the former being preferred. It also eliminates the need of that phone cord from camera to mount. Anything for fewer cables;)

1) HC does work normally, but wasting time with star alignment is not necessary. Also ST-4 guiding is not necessary. Full PHD2 pulse guiding works just as well. The USB port in the HC is a Serial to USB chip in disguise as a normal USB port, which is why the prolific drivers are needed. You have full control of all mount features with both the HC and the PC this way. Both can initiate GO-TOs, slew manually etc.

2) PC-direct mode is only used for certain types of firmware updates and never in "daily use" like this.

This only applies for the latest version of Synscan where both the HC and mount have USB-ports somewhere, but this version has been sold at least since 2018 so most units are like this. I believe method 1 is the ideal way as you do not need to buy the extra Serial to USB cable and still have all features available.

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27 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

HC does work normally

Perhaps the main disadvantage is that one still needs the hand controller in the mix.

28 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

PC-direct mode is only used for certain types of firmware updates and never in "daily use" like this.

Is it possible to use EQmOD without PC-Direct?

Cheers.

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19 minutes ago, alacant said:

Perhaps the main disadvantage is that one still needs the hand controller in the mix.

Depends on the user. For me it is an advantage as i do not have to use stellarium or CdC with a remote desktop connected tablet (pain in the backside) and can do some things with the HC. For people who can abandon their setup overnight running in their backyard and do everything remotely with a proper PC, maybe a disadvantage as it is one more trinket to connect and carry outside. But also why buy an extra Serial chipped cable when the handset will act as one? Some like, some do not.

20 minutes ago, alacant said:

Is it possible to use EQmOD without PC-Direct?

Not through the HC. Without? Its a tricky question since you have no way to set PC-direct mode without the HC so i think the answer is no you cannot.

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8 hours ago, malc-c said:

this forum really needs a sticky post on how to set up goto mounts with a computer

+1

Maybe when the current thread has come to an end would be a good time to apply. All information in plain language in one place would be very helpful. 

The main problem would be catering for all variants e.g. we've already revealed at least four methods of connecting just one mount...

Phew...

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1 hour ago, ONIKKINEN said:

But also why buy an extra Serial chipped cable when the handset will act as one?

We connect via eqmod, sometimes remotely. Quite often I'm the guy on the ground at the telescope end...

Speaking from bitter experience, they're cheap items and for us at least,  replacing three pieces of hardware (eight mating surfaces to go wrong) with just a single cable makes for far fewer sleepless nights!

Cheers

Edited by alacant
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Whilst Alacan's post was to try and clarify things, further posts seem to have muddied the water.  From my experience repairing motor boards this is my understanding, based on my experiences

  • With versions of the handset that doesn't have a USB socket, a D9 serial to RJ11 cable (used to be supplied with the goto mounts - but also an optional purchase) can be used to connect direct to a computer with a true RS232 serial port.  These handsets have a MAX232 chip inside which converts the true serial signals to 5v TTL.   If the computer lacks a true serial com port, and USB to serial (not an EQDIR ) adapter can be used.  Using this method I personally found the handset had to be placed into PC-Direct mode in order to pass through instructions to the mount.  The handset is seen as a serial port and needs to be set to 9600 baud to work.
  • The ideal method of connection when the handset lacks a USB port would be to use an EQDIR cable.  This REPLACES the handset and connects between the handset port on the mount and any USB port, directly or via a hub, to a PC.  These normally use FTDI chipsets so have drivers native to windows so is more or less plug and play.  The EQDIR cable is seen as a serial port by the PC and normally works at 9600 straight out the box.   It should be noted that if a standard USB to Serial adapter is used rather than an EQDIR cable on EQ6 mounts fitted with a D9 socket it will damage the board as between 12 and 24v will be sent to the PIC chips on the motor board and blow the UARTs.
  • From reading post on the forum, newer mounts with USB ports on either the handset or the synscan / mount can use a standard USB A-B lead to connect either the handset or the mount to a PC.  However I personally can't confirm if when using the cable between the handset and PC the handset needs to be in PC-Direct mode to pass through the instructions to the mount ( my guess is that it would other wise how would the handset kown it needs to pass through the instructions ?).  However if you have a set up that gives the option to connect the synscan / mount direct to the PC then this would IMO be the better option.  It removes one item in the loop, and makes for a neater installation and prevents possible issues as detailed below.  It is also my understanding that regardless if the USB cable is connected to the handset or the mount, the PC will see the synscan unit / mount / handset as a serial port which needs to be set to 115200 baud.

It was noted in a recent post on the EQMOD user group then when the handset is connected to the mount that has a USB port, and a USB cable is also used between the handset / mount, it's easy to end up screwing up the positioning (such as goto) when driving the mount via the PC if the handset is first used to polar align / or any function that requires the mount to move as EQMOD loses positioning data and then has no means of knowing the true position of the scope.  IMO it is therefor better to use either just the handset for control and remove the PC connection, or if PC control of any sort is used (plate solving / guiding / alignment etc) then just use the PC and associated applications to do so.  This way each application knows where the mount is pointing as they all communicate via ASCOM / INDI.

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6 minutes ago, malc-c said:

It was noted in a recent post on the EQMOD user group then when the handset is connected to the mount that has a USB port, and a USB cable is also used between the handset / mount, it's easy to end up screwing up the positioning (such as goto) when driving the mount via the PC if the handset is first used to polar align / or any function that requires the mount to move as EQMOD loses positioning data and then has no means of knowing the true position of the scope.  IMO it is therefor better to use either just the handset for control and remove the PC connection, or if PC control of any sort is used (plate solving / guiding / alignment etc) then just use the PC and associated applications to do so.  This way each application knows where the mount is pointing as they all communicate via ASCOM / INDI.

If EQMOD is used with the USB plugged to the mount but not the HC, the HC must not be used as the HC and EQMOD do not communicate directly and yes you do lose positioning information. But the idea of using the USB to HC connection is to not have to use EQMOD as it is not necessary (IMO, dont shoot me). USB to HC connection means EQMOD does not work. So in this way yes it is correct that the worst possible way is to use a USB cable plugged to the mount and running EQMOD but still doing GO-TO/slewing with the HC. In that case you must ditch the HC as it is nothing but trouble.

With USB to HC connection you do not, and can not use EQMOD. But both the HC and PC are fully aware at all times of the position the mount is in. You cannot slew in one with the other being out of touch and losing the position. I can slew to M51 with the HC and NINA agrees of the coordinates. Likewise i can do it the other way around, slew in NINA and the show position utility function confirms the coordinates as M51's coordinates.

 

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25 minutes ago, alacant said:

We connect via eqmod, sometimes remotely. Quite often I'm the guy on the ground at the telescope end...

Speaking from bitter experience, they're cheap items and for us at least,  replacing three pieces of hardware (eight mating surfaces to go wrong) with just a single cable makes for far fewer sleepless nights!

Cheers

8 surfaces?

HC to cable, cable to mount, HC to USB-cable, USB-cable to PC. 4 connections?

But i do understand in that case. If you cannot physically access the setup the thing with least possible points of failure would probably be desirable. But also i cant really see how the HC somehow unplugs itself with the self locking connectors, but i dont have to care for unattended mounts so it could happen for all i know.

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10 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

4 connections

So, plug and socket on each;)

In this game, especially at 03:00 when you're half asleep and the dew has had chance to work its magic, you need the fewest possible bits to check. Believe me!

Cheers

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18 minutes ago, alacant said:

So, plug and socket on each;)

In this game, especially at 03:00 when you're half asleep and the dew has had chance to work its magic, you need the fewest possible bits to check. Believe me!

Cheers

Thats why i go to sleep at 05:00

highresrollsafe.jpg

But yeah, less things to break is generally better for reliability. I used to be a car mechanic and my favourite vehicle was the Suzuki PV (a moped). Do you know why?

There are basically 2 cables in the entire vehicle that go to 3 places. 1 connection to the rear light and 1 to the switch to control low beam/high beam and from there to the front light (no other electric appliances). Either the alternator is broken, the light bulb is burnt or the cable is disconnected somewhere so very easy to fix 😂.

A customer bringing in a car that sometimes has an electrical problem with nothing in the diagnostic computer is a NIGHTMARE. Never doing that again unless forced.

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5 hours ago, Midnight_lightning said:

When you say "HC connection" are you referring to a USB cable connected to the handset or the handset port on the mount?

USB cable to the handset USB port. Of course the HC is connected to its port on the mount too.

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Attention everyone having USB issues!

I just received a brand new AZ-EQ6 and the Prolific USB to Serial drivers from Skywatchers site DO NOT work with the mount. Skywatcher is probably using whatever chips they have on hand due to the global chip shortages and have failed to update the driver download section on their website.

I had to manually install the newest version of Prolific drivers for the handset OR mount USB connectors to be picked up by device manager as working COM ports.

Here are the correct drivers: http://www.prolific.com.tw/US/ShowProduct.aspx?p_id=225&pcid=41

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