SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy 6)


Christopher Erickson
 

<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com


Steve Norvich
 

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@comcast.net

-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com


John Gaul
 

Very well put, Christopher!

As a new arrival in this pursuit a couple of years ago, I did wonder at first about this "old" technology, but quickly realised the superiority of the RS-232 standard for amateur astronomy applications. It's great: simple, reliable, and it does the job perfectly.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:

<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com


Gerald Miller
 

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with USB. All of my other devices such as main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50 years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I had to buy an expensive device to convert it to USB which AP recommends on their site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem than any issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with a device that doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed over 50 years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial ports, and you have to convert the serial to USB anyway, it seems like it may be time to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward. How about this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd have the best(and worst) of both standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@...> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@...
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Ray Gralak <groups1@...>
 

Gerald,

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with USB. All of my other devices such as
main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50
years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.
The problem is probably not the serial port. The problem is probably with the USB converter you are using. If so, that
is a USB problem, not a serial port problem.

IMO, USB is the wrong way to go. Ethernet would be a *much* better solution.

-Ray Gralak
Author of Astro-Physics Command Center (APCC)
Author of PEMPro: http://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: http://www.gralak.com/apdriver
Author of PulseGuide: http://www.pulseguide.com
Author of Sigma: http://www.gralak.com/sigma


-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gmillerok
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:36 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy 6)



Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with USB. All of my other devices such as
main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50
years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I had to buy an expensive device to convert
it to
USB which AP recommends on their site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem than any
issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with a device that doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed over 50 years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial ports, and you have to convert the
serial to USB anyway, it seems like it may be time to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward.
How about this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd have the best(and worst) of both
standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ap-gto%40yahoogroups.com> , "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@...> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@...
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ap-gto%40yahoogroups.com>
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com









Roland Christen
 

I had a very frustrating night a few weeks ago with USB. While trying to connect my Dell laptop to my imaging system (QSI683 and Lodestar) I could not communicate with the Lodestar. I tried every USB port on my laptop, but to no avail. I finally ditcvhed my Dell and borrowed Howard's laptop. Lost several hours of darkness in the process. Later on I noticed that some of the USB connectors on my Dell had a little plastic spacer missing - apparently broken off. So those are now out of commission.

One other thing about USB - our electronic engineer, who works on aerospace equipment, said that USB is not rated for outdoor use. Humidity and cold temperatures can cause failure. It is absolutely forbidden in any equipment that would go on an airplane.

USB also cannot be used long distance. You can be 200 ft away with serial, but not USB. Look at how much trouble Meade has had over the years with USB hubs on their mounts. The future is Ethernet, not USB.

Rolando

-----Original Message-----
From: gmillerok <grmok1@swbell.net>
To: ap-gto <ap-gto@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 5:35 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy 6)


Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with
USB. All of my other devices such as main camera, guider, and focuser all are
USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50 years ago-the
serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I had
to buy an expensive device to convert it to USB which AP recommends on their
site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem than any
issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with a device that
doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed over 50
years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial ports,
and you have to convert the serial to USB anyway, it seems like it may be time
to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward. How about
this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd have the
best(and worst) of both standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@...> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@...
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com









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Pete Su
 

I could get behind Ethernet.

I find the fascination with RS232 in astronomy circles to be puzzling.
While there are certainly reasons that embedded industrial control
applications still use them (super simple device interfaces) this is
not what we are doing with telescope mounts. Telescope mounts (and
cameras, and all the other devices) use the serial line to send
commands to the mount controller which are then translated into lower
level signal to the motors or whatnot. The only rational reason I can
see to prefer RS232 for this above anything else is cable length, but
even that's a red herring IMHO. Ethernet cable runs can be just as
long and what "everyone" ends up doing anyway is to remote control the
mount using a second computer and TCP/IP, which doesn't even need a
wire.

So yeah, ethernet. It's almost as old as RS-232 anyway (invented in
the 70s, vs. the 60s).

Pete


Gerald Miller
 

That much I absolutely agree! That would be fantastic. Think of the possibilities-wifi enabled control-no more wires. No distance limitation-control the mount from anywhere in the world directly by making it a web based server.

Now, that would be a winner in every way. It gets my vote over both Serial and USB and would be a very much welcome solution.


Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, chris1011@... wrote:


I had a very frustrating night a few weeks ago with USB. While trying to connect my Dell laptop to my imaging system (QSI683 and Lodestar) I could not communicate with the Lodestar. I tried every USB port on my laptop, but to no avail. I finally ditcvhed my Dell and borrowed Howard's laptop. Lost several hours of darkness in the process. Later on I noticed that some of the USB connectors on my Dell had a little plastic spacer missing - apparently broken off. So those are now out of commission.

One other thing about USB - our electronic engineer, who works on aerospace equipment, said that USB is not rated for outdoor use. Humidity and cold temperatures can cause failure. It is absolutely forbidden in any equipment that would go on an airplane.

USB also cannot be used long distance. You can be 200 ft away with serial, but not USB. Look at how much trouble Meade has had over the years with USB hubs on their mounts. The future is Ethernet, not USB.

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: gmillerok <grmok1@...>
To: ap-gto <ap-gto@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 5:35 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy 6)


Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with
USB. All of my other devices such as main camera, guider, and focuser all are
USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50 years ago-the
serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I had
to buy an expensive device to convert it to USB which AP recommends on their
site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem than any
issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with a device that
doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed over 50
years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial ports,
and you have to convert the serial to USB anyway, it seems like it may be time
to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward. How about
this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd have the
best(and worst) of both standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com









------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links







[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Gerald Miller
 

Ray, I concur 100% with you on ethernet.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Ray Gralak" <groups1@...> wrote:

Gerald,

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with USB. All of my other devices such as
main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50
years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.
The problem is probably not the serial port. The problem is probably with the USB converter you are using. If so, that
is a USB problem, not a serial port problem.

IMO, USB is the wrong way to go. Ethernet would be a *much* better solution.

-Ray Gralak
Author of Astro-Physics Command Center (APCC)
Author of PEMPro: http://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: http://www.gralak.com/apdriver
Author of PulseGuide: http://www.pulseguide.com
Author of Sigma: http://www.gralak.com/sigma


-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gmillerok
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:36 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy 6)



Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with USB. All of my other devices such as
main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50
years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I had to buy an expensive device to convert
it to
USB which AP recommends on their site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem than any
issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with a device that doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed over 50 years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial ports, and you have to convert the
serial to USB anyway, it seems like it may be time to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward.
How about this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd have the best(and worst) of both
standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ap-gto%40yahoogroups.com> , "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ap-gto%40yahoogroups.com>
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



Christopher Erickson
 

Your problem isn't with the conversion of serial to USB.

Your problem is most likely with investing in box-store Chinese brand-X to
perform the conversion.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
gmillerok
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:36 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy
6)

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with
USB. All of my other devices such as main camera, guider, and focuser all
are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50 years
ago-the serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I
had to buy an expensive device to convert it to USB which AP recommends on
their site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem
than any issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with
a device that doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed
over 50 years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial
ports, and you have to convert the serial to USB anyway, it seems like it
may be time to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward.
How about this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd
have the best(and worst) of both standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@...> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with
regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the
competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@...
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard
universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't
be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the
right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are
driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In
my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead
of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users
related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts
have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and
it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't
support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com









------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links




-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.2740 / Virus Database: 2614/5832 - Release Date: 10/14/12


Christopher Erickson
 

I agree that Ethernet/TCP/IP would be a good choice to eventually-replace
RS-232 serial. Ethernet/TCP/IP is much more stable, extendable and reliable
interface choice than is USB.

USB has built-in obsolescence. The vast majority of USB devices are
disposable junk and nobody cares if you have to buy a new $100 printer every
couple of years. That is a completely different scenario than a $10-20,000
telescope mount.

Computers and laptops these days are geared to the average consumer that no
longer has an understanding or need to interface to serial devices. We
high-tech astro-geeks are now a minority that has to deal with the
limitations of mainstream products for our specialized applications.

Personally, I would rather take a few steps to improve/upgrade the
disposable, mainstream products so they will work with my premium astro
gear, versus asking the makers of my premium astro-gear to turn their
products into disposable objects.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
Ray Gralak
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:42 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)

Gerald,

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem
with USB. All of my other devices such as
main camera, guider, and focuser all are USB. The only device I have an
issue is the one developed over 50
years ago-the serial port on the AP mount.
The problem is probably not the serial port. The problem is probably with
the USB converter you are using. If so, that
is a USB problem, not a serial port problem.

IMO, USB is the wrong way to go. Ethernet would be a *much* better solution.

-Ray Gralak
Author of Astro-Physics Command Center (APCC)
Author of PEMPro: http://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: http://www.gralak.com/apdriver
Author of PulseGuide: http://www.pulseguide.com
Author of Sigma: http://www.gralak.com/sigma


Zak Foreman
 

I'd love to hear more peoples experience using the combination of the Icron Ranger and the Tripplite Keyspan (4 port in my case). I assume Geralds problems are the exception rather than the rule?

I was hoping to use these to remote control the 1600 and cameras/accessories, especially during the cooler months (reached -18C some nights last winter, a bit too chilly for my liking!).

I would be using a Dell XPS / Win7 64 bit laptop.

Thanks!

Zak


Christopher Erickson
 

USB appears to be simple to the user but is incredibly-complex to the
developer. RS-232 is simple for developers, especially since it is
built-into just about all microcontrollers.

When the data-rate is low, RS-232 is the fastest, cheapest and most
reliable interface to implement in microcontroller-based devices.

All of the USB-to-Serial problems I have ever investigated to date have
been related to brand-X adapters, their junky drivers or because the
user installed the wrong drivers for his/her particular OS.

I hope this helps.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
Pete Su
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:50 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)

I could get behind Ethernet.

I find the fascination with RS232 in astronomy circles to be puzzling.
While there are certainly reasons that embedded industrial control
applications still use them (super simple device interfaces) this is
not what we are doing with telescope mounts. Telescope mounts (and
cameras, and all the other devices) use the serial line to send
commands to the mount controller which are then translated into lower
level signal to the motors or whatnot. The only rational reason I can
see to prefer RS232 for this above anything else is cable length, but
even that's a red herring IMHO. Ethernet cable runs can be just as
long and what "everyone" ends up doing anyway is to remote control the
mount using a second computer and TCP/IP, which doesn't even need a
wire.

So yeah, ethernet. It's almost as old as RS-232 anyway (invented in
the 70s, vs. the 60s).

Pete


------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links



-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.2740 / Virus Database: 2614/5832 - Release Date: 10/14/12


pgwsteve
 

I bought the USB to 4 port serial converter from AP and installed it into my obs. I would have random BSOD occurrences that would really mess up an imaging session. It got to a point where I could no longer make it through an evening so I had to investigate the issue in depth with the help of the IT guy I employ. Using a special viewer to look at the dump file related to the crash, a driver related to the event kept showing up, WDS84 or something IIRC, I could check if needed.

I verified it was the Tripplite driver and filled out a tech support request on their site. Needless to say I spoke to a tech and they stated that Windows 7 wasn't supported, and it was unlikely it would be. By the end if the day I had a 2 port RS232 card installed and no BSOD since.

I agree with the uselessness of USB for all applications other than picture download. The Ethernet port on some SBIG cameras is interesting.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:

USB appears to be simple to the user but is incredibly-complex to the
developer. RS-232 is simple for developers, especially since it is
built-into just about all microcontrollers.

When the data-rate is low, RS-232 is the fastest, cheapest and most
reliable interface to implement in microcontroller-based devices.

All of the USB-to-Serial problems I have ever investigated to date have
been related to brand-X adapters, their junky drivers or because the
user installed the wrong drivers for his/her particular OS.

I hope this helps.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com



-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
Pete Su
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:50 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)

I could get behind Ethernet.

I find the fascination with RS232 in astronomy circles to be puzzling.
While there are certainly reasons that embedded industrial control
applications still use them (super simple device interfaces) this is
not what we are doing with telescope mounts. Telescope mounts (and
cameras, and all the other devices) use the serial line to send
commands to the mount controller which are then translated into lower
level signal to the motors or whatnot. The only rational reason I can
see to prefer RS232 for this above anything else is cable length, but
even that's a red herring IMHO. Ethernet cable runs can be just as
long and what "everyone" ends up doing anyway is to remote control the
mount using a second computer and TCP/IP, which doesn't even need a
wire.

So yeah, ethernet. It's almost as old as RS-232 anyway (invented in
the 70s, vs. the 60s).

Pete


------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links



-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.2740 / Virus Database: 2614/5832 - Release Date: 10/14/12


Gerald Miller
 

I was attempting to use the Tripplite USB/Serial converter as recommended by AP on their website.

Wanting to be sure it would work I bought the device from AP based on that recommendation. No such luck.

Actually, the much cheaper Chinese made Startech USB/Serial converter works without any issues whatsoever. And both use the same chip and drivers.

Maybe I just have a bad unit. I have contacted support for Tripplite but haven't heard a word back other than they are looking into it about a a month ago. I am not giving up on it just yet.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:

Your problem isn't with the conversion of serial to USB.

Your problem is most likely with investing in box-store Chinese brand-X to
perform the conversion.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com



-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
gmillerok
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:36 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the SKy
6)

Apparently, there are quite a few other folks that don't have a problem with
USB. All of my other devices such as main camera, guider, and focuser all
are USB. The only device I have an issue is the one developed over 50 years
ago-the serial port on the AP mount.

I understand the idea that "if it aint' broke, don't fix it." But again, I
had to buy an expensive device to convert it to USB which AP recommends on
their site to use that didn't work, and I would say that is a bigger problem
than any issue in using USB-at least for me who is now $150 poorer and with
a device that doesn't work.

Yes, I undertand the stability of RS-232. It should be, it was developed
over 50 years ago.

But when most computers and laptops sold today no longer even have serial
ports, and you have to convert the serial to USB anyway, it seems like it
may be time to catch up to the 21st century, even if it is a step backward.
How about this-put both a USB AND a RS232 port on the controller. Then you'd
have the best(and worst) of both standards and could take your pick.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Norvich" <snorvich@> wrote:

This is an absolutely wonderful post. It reinforces my decision with
regard
to the Astro-Physics GTO1600. I was never comfortable with the
competition
s USB oriented solution.

snorvich@
-------Original Message-------

From: Christopher Erickson
Date: 10/17/2012 3:19:59 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)


<SNIP>
"Roland, are your new mounts going to stick with the old serial port
standard? I hope not."
<SNIP>

Careful what you wish for...

Points to consider:

* For better or worse, RS-232 Serial has been the defacto-standard
universal
denominator for decades and will likely continue to be so for decades to
come. With hardly an exception, very microcontroller made in the world
today has an RS-232 serial port cast right in its silicon. Whether you can
see them or not, RS-232 serial ports are EVERYWHERE. In fact all modern
"smart" refrigerators have hidden RS-232 serial ports that exist for the
service technicians armed with smart diagnostic tools. Even your car's
OBD-II or CANbus diagnostic interface has embedded RS-232-style serial
communications. Serial can be converted to just about anything (USB,
Ethernet, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, fiber-optic, Xbee wireless, etc.) USB can't
be
converted to anything without an intervening pair of computers and the
right
software on both ends, which usually doesn't exist. Not to mention the
expenses involved.

* RS-232 Serial can be run great distances (even thousands of kilometers)
using a great number of inexpensive media types and converters. USB can
barely make it across the average room without brain-splitting problems.

* Probably 90% of all problems with USB-Serial adapters are
driver-software
related. Just about everything coming out of China has Chinese-written
drivers and these have always been incomplete and highly-problematic. In
my
experience, the best and most trouble-free adapters use FTDI chips.
Prolific is a distant second place and everything else is almost complete
junk for any but the most basic of applications.

* For years, iOptron has offered GOTO mounts with USB interfaces instead
of
serial interfaces and the unending grief experienced by their users
related
to USB problems is infamous. In fact iOptron's most recent GOTO mounts
have
gone back to serial interfaces! Good news for people with iOptron mounts
with USB interfaces is that all iOptron did was incorporate a Chinese
USB-to-Serial chip into the mount and the iOptron microcontroller has a
serial interface on it! Cutting two traces and installing a connector has
allowed users to bypass iOptron's junky serial-to-USB adapter chip and
it's
horrible drivers.

* Having a serial interface on my mounts means I can easily control them
with a PC, wired/wireless smartphone or tablet computer. If it only had
USB, that usually eliminates the smartphone and tablet computer. SkyFi has
a wireless USB adapter (expensive) coming out that may work with some
USB-only iOptron mounts but they are already warning people that it is a
"work in progress."

* USB 1 is obsolete. USB 2 is officially obsolete. USB 3 is current but
USB 4 is right around the corner. Most USB 3 ports these days don't
support
USB 1 peripherals. USB 4 ports are unlikely to support USB 1 or 2
peripherals. Why would I want to spend $10-20,000 for a premium mount with
an interface that will be obsolete and unsupported in about five years?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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Gerald Miller
 

Well, that sure would have been nice to know since all Windows based machines now come with Win7! I guess I could go back to Vista! :-)

I didn't have crashes, just comm failures although i never used it for long. Actually it worked fine when connected directly. The problem only occurs when using it with the Icron Ranger.

Maybe, AP may want to reconsider it's recommendation.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "pgwsteve" <steve@...> wrote:

I bought the USB to 4 port serial converter from AP and installed it into my obs. I would have random BSOD occurrences that would really mess up an imaging session. It got to a point where I could no longer make it through an evening so I had to investigate the issue in depth with the help of the IT guy I employ. Using a special viewer to look at the dump file related to the crash, a driver related to the event kept showing up, WDS84 or something IIRC, I could check if needed.

I verified it was the Tripplite driver and filled out a tech support request on their site. Needless to say I spoke to a tech and they stated that Windows 7 wasn't supported, and it was unlikely it would be. By the end if the day I had a 2 port RS232 card installed and no BSOD since.

I agree with the uselessness of USB for all applications other than picture download. The Ethernet port on some SBIG cameras is interesting.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@> wrote:

USB appears to be simple to the user but is incredibly-complex to the
developer. RS-232 is simple for developers, especially since it is
built-into just about all microcontrollers.

When the data-rate is low, RS-232 is the fastest, cheapest and most
reliable interface to implement in microcontroller-based devices.

All of the USB-to-Serial problems I have ever investigated to date have
been related to brand-X adapters, their junky drivers or because the
user installed the wrong drivers for his/her particular OS.

I hope this helps.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com



-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ap-gto@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
Pete Su
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:50 PM
To: ap-gto@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: SERIAL PORTS (was: cannot connect gto CP3 to the
SKy 6)

I could get behind Ethernet.

I find the fascination with RS232 in astronomy circles to be puzzling.
While there are certainly reasons that embedded industrial control
applications still use them (super simple device interfaces) this is
not what we are doing with telescope mounts. Telescope mounts (and
cameras, and all the other devices) use the serial line to send
commands to the mount controller which are then translated into lower
level signal to the motors or whatnot. The only rational reason I can
see to prefer RS232 for this above anything else is cable length, but
even that's a red herring IMHO. Ethernet cable runs can be just as
long and what "everyone" ends up doing anyway is to remote control the
mount using a second computer and TCP/IP, which doesn't even need a
wire.

So yeah, ethernet. It's almost as old as RS-232 anyway (invented in
the 70s, vs. the 60s).

Pete


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Gerald Miller
 

The Icron Ranger and Startech 4port USB/serial converter work perfectly if that helps. Just don't buy the Keyspan/Tripplite device. I ran a Pyxis rotator and the Mach1GTO through the Startech to the Icron Ranger and then ran a QSI683wsg, Lodestar guider, and micro touch focuser through the Icron directly.

Not a single issue so far with anything with this combination. Note the range is limited to 150' if I remember correctly.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, Zak Foreman <zakky2k@...> wrote:

I'd love to hear more peoples experience using the combination of the Icron Ranger and the Tripplite Keyspan (4 port in my case). I assume Geralds problems are the exception rather than the rule?

I was hoping to use these to remote control the 1600 and cameras/accessories, especially during the cooler months (reached -18C some nights last winter, a bit too chilly for my liking!).

I would be using a Dell XPS / Win7 64 bit laptop.

Thanks!

Zak


Zak Foreman
 

Thanks Gerald, its good to know that alternatives exist and work. As AP recommend the Keyspan, it obviously has been successfully tested under some configurations.

Tell me, does your keyspan work when connected directly to your PC? Or does it just not play nice with the Icron your have?

Anyone else care to share their experiences?

All the best,
Zak

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "gmillerok" <grmok1@...> wrote:

The Icron Ranger and Startech 4port USB/serial converter work perfectly if that helps. Just don't buy the Keyspan/Tripplite device. I ran a Pyxis rotator and the Mach1GTO through the Startech to the Icron Ranger and then ran a QSI683wsg, Lodestar guider, and micro touch focuser through the Icron directly.

Not a single issue so far with anything with this combination. Note the range is limited to 150' if I remember correctly.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, Zak Foreman <zakky2k@> wrote:

I'd love to hear more peoples experience using the combination of the Icron Ranger and the Tripplite Keyspan (4 port in my case). I assume Geralds problems are the exception rather than the rule?

I was hoping to use these to remote control the 1600 and cameras/accessories, especially during the cooler months (reached -18C some nights last winter, a bit too chilly for my liking!).

I would be using a Dell XPS / Win7 64 bit laptop.

Thanks!

Zak


Richard Moore
 

I have been using the Icron Ranger/4 port Keyspan USB-Serial converter combination for several months now. It was sold to me by AP. This combination has been controlling my 1200GTO, Kendrick dew heater controller, RCOS TCC that controls the scope's focuser and secondary heater, all of them RS232 devices. And through another one of the Icron Ranger's USB ports, my SBIG STL11000 camera, AO-L and filter wheel. I use the ASCOM AP Driver for the 1200GTO which has not reported any communication errors. And there has not been any problems using the combination. I use a Dell 64 bit Win7 laptop. I also use a 32 bit Win 7 netbook at times. Both computers control the system without problems. The software is Sky6 and CCDSoft.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, "gmillerok" <grmok1@...> wrote:

The Icron Ranger and Startech 4port USB/serial converter work perfectly if that helps. Just don't buy the Keyspan/Tripplite device. I ran a Pyxis rotator and the Mach1GTO through the Startech to the Icron Ranger and then ran a QSI683wsg, Lodestar guider, and micro touch focuser through the Icron directly.

Not a single issue so far with anything with this combination. Note the range is limited to 150' if I remember correctly.

Gerald

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, Zak Foreman <zakky2k@> wrote:

I'd love to hear more peoples experience using the combination of the Icron Ranger and the Tripplite Keyspan (4 port in my case). I assume Geralds problems are the exception rather than the rule?

I was hoping to use these to remote control the 1600 and cameras/accessories, especially during the cooler months (reached -18C some nights last winter, a bit too chilly for my liking!).

I would be using a Dell XPS / Win7 64 bit laptop.

Thanks!

Zak


observe_m13
 

I had a problem with the Tripp Lite USA-19HS Keyspan High-Speed USB to Serial Adapter connected directly to my laptop. After about an hour it would lock up randomly and quit communicating. After fiddling around with it and its settings for a while, I gave up on it.

I dug around and eventually found Win7 drivers for my old Edgeport/4 which I had used extensively with XP. Since it worked superbly, I bought an Edgeport/1 and a Sabrent FTDI USB to Serial single port. Which I use in two different set-ups. Both the Edgeport and Sabrent units work flawlessly, direct with standard 5m USB cables, direct via an "active" 10m USB cable, via 3 connected 5m "active" USB extenders, and with the Icron Ranger on both 25m CAT5 and 100m CAT5 and replaced with CAT6 since the CAT5 was getting damaged and kinked from repeated outdoor use.

Some people don't have problems with the Tripp Lite / Keyspan device but mine went into the garbage and I will never have another.

--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups.com, Zak Foreman <zakky2k@...> wrote:

I'd love to hear more peoples experience using the combination of the Icron Ranger and the Tripplite Keyspan (4 port in my case). I assume Geralds problems are the exception rather than the rule?

I was hoping to use these to remote control the 1600 and cameras/accessories, especially during the cooler months (reached -18C some nights last winter, a bit too chilly for my liking!).

I would be using a Dell XPS / Win7 64 bit laptop.

Thanks!

Zak