RS-232


 

Why does Astro-Physics continue to use RS-232 in their CP mount electronics?  This adds to the difficulty of upgrading the electronics with current computers, especially operating in Win 10.  What other telescope mount maker uses RS-232?  These plugs are not on current laptops, they are so old system developed in 1968!  Today's electronics only need USB.


Steve Reilly
 

Look at the CP 4 and you’ll see many options of which includes RS-232. Win 10 can easily run RS232 ports and the hardware is available. I use StarTech PCIe boards on new builds. As for laptops, I don’t even try to run an observatory on one especially if imaging. I use the Ethernet connection as primary with a RS232 backup.

 

-Steve

 

 

 

From: main@ap-ug.groups.io <main@ap-ug.groups.io> On Behalf Of Peter Natscher
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 1:43 PM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: [ap-ug] RS-232

 

Why does Astro-Physics continue to use RS-232 in their CP mount electronics?  This adds to the difficulty of upgrading the electronics with current computers, especially operating in Win 10.  What other telescope mount maker uses RS-232?  These plugs are not on current laptops, they are so old system developed in 1968!  Today's electronics only need USB.


 

What are you connecting your CP4 RS-232 directly to?  What other external devices have RS-232 ports?  Why continue to rely on RS-232-to-USB adapters anymore? I would think that most AP mount owners who connect their mounts to an external device, commonly a laptop or imaging device, they would only need USB ports.  RS-232 is so old and outdated.


Dale Ghent
 

On Jul 16, 2020, at 1:42 PM, Peter Natscher <natscher@redshift.com> wrote:

Why does Astro-Physics continue to use RS-232 in their CP mount electronics? This adds to the difficulty of upgrading the electronics with current computers, especially operating in Win 10. What other telescope mount maker uses RS-232? These plugs are not on current laptops, they are so old system developed in 1968! Today's electronics only need USB.
The CP4 and CP5, which all new A-P mounts have shipped with since at least 2016 and all GTO mounts since the late 90's can be upgraded to, offers 4 different interconnect types including USB. Are you confused?

/dale


Dale Ghent
 

On Jul 16, 2020, at 2:19 PM, Peter Natscher <natscher@redshift.com> wrote:

What are you connecting your CP4 RS-232 directly to? What other external devices have RS-232 ports? Why continue to rely on RS-232-to-USB adapters anymore? I would think that most AP mount owners who connect their mounts to an external device, commonly a laptop or imaging device, they would only need USB ports. RS-232 is so old and outdated.
RS-232, the protocol, is still quite relevant and still useful for low-bandwidth synchronous communication between devices.

Are you complaining about the 9-pin D-sub style physical interface? The CP4/CP5 has those, but also a USB type-B plug that can be used instead. Have you ever looked at one of these before? RS-232 signaling can exist over many different physical layers.


Steve Reilly
 

From: main@ap-ug.groups.io <main@ap-ug.groups.io> On Behalf Of Peter Natscher
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 2:20 PM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-ug] RS-232

 

What are you connecting your CP4 RS-232 directly to?  What other external devices have RS-232 ports?  Why continue to rely on RS-232-to-USB adapters anymore? I would think that most AP mount owners who connect their mounts to an external device, commonly a laptop or imaging device, they would only need USB ports.  RS-232 is so old and outdated.


Ray Gralak
 

What are you connecting your CP4 RS-232 directly to? What other external devices have RS-232 ports? Why
continue to rely on RS-232-to-USB adapters anymore? I would think that most AP mount owners who connect
their mounts to an external device, commonly a laptop or imaging device, they would only need USB ports. RS-
232 is so old and outdated.
Some things:

* GTOCP4/5 has Ethernet, WiFi, USB, and RS232 ports.

* USB is known to have reliability issues.

* USB cables are limited to 15 feet without active extenders.

* USB plugs are not physically very secure. That is, they are easy to get pulled out especially with only 15 feet of cord.

* Many customers are still using RS232 ports, so getting rid of them would not be wise.

* You can still get computers with built-in RS232 ports and add in cards are cheap and very reliable.

* You can run serial cables several hundred feet.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-ug.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-ug.groups.io] On Behalf Of Peter Natscher
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 11:20 AM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-ug] RS-232

What are you connecting your CP4 RS-232 directly to? What other external devices have RS-232 ports? Why
continue to rely on RS-232-to-USB adapters anymore? I would think that most AP mount owners who connect
their mounts to an external device, commonly a laptop or imaging device, they would only need USB ports. RS-
232 is so old and outdated.


 

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone?  Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big computer tower with PCI slots.


Ray Gralak
 

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone? Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big
computer tower with PCI slots.
I don't see the problem. There is WiFi on GTOCP4/5.

Just because you are using a laptop doesn't mean everyone else is!

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-ug.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-ug.groups.io] On Behalf Of Peter Natscher
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 11:31 AM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-ug] RS-232

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone? Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big
computer tower with PCI slots.


Dale Ghent
 

What is the problem you are trying to solve? The CP4 *has* a USB port, which is a built-in serial-over-USB connection. You can also use network-based connections over ethernet and wifi as well, yet you're acting like any of these don't exist. Is there a deeper problem that you are trying to solve here and have trouble figuring out where to start?

On Jul 16, 2020, at 2:31 PM, Peter Natscher <natscher@redshift.com> wrote:

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone? Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big computer tower with PCI slots.


Howard Hedlund
 

Let me jump in.  In Peter’s defence, his issue with the RS232 occurred when attempting to load the database back into the keypad after the battery had been replaced.  For that activity, we do not yet offer a web-based loader, but it will be coming along with the next generation of keypad firmware.  

 

PLEASE NOTE:  We now have a version of CP4 software – P01-14 – that allows both RS232 ports AND the USB port to be used for keypad loading.  Older CP4 versions and all earlier control boxes were top RS232 port only for keypad loads.  P01-14 is not up on the website, yet, but I can provide a dropbox link to anyone who needs it.  The only difference between P01-13 and P01-14 is this one feature.  If you have P01-13, and you don’t need to load keypad firmware or the database, there is no need to rush out and get P01-14

 

Except for cameras, almost all astro-equipment is serial if you look under the hood.  Manufacturers (our friends at Optec come to mind) do exactly what we did:  they install an OEM USB to serial converter inside the device electronics.  You may be plugging in a USB cable, but the communication is serial.

 

Serial may be old technology, but it has many advantages.  Ray summarized them beautifully!

 

FINALLY  I AM MOVING THIS TO THE AP-GTO GROUP WHERE IT BELONGS.

 

Mag. 7 Skies!

 

Howard Hedlund

Astro-Physics, Inc.

Phone: 815-315-7015

www.astro-physics.com

Please include this e-mail with your response.

 

P Consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

 

From: main@ap-ug.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-ug.groups.io] On Behalf Of Steve Reilly
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 12:53
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-ug] RS-232

 

Look at the CP 4 and you’ll see many options of which includes RS-232. Win 10 can easily run RS232 ports and the hardware is available. I use StarTech PCIe boards on new builds. As for laptops, I don’t even try to run an observatory on one especially if imaging. I use the Ethernet connection as primary with a RS232 backup.

 

-Steve

 

 

 

From: main@ap-ug.groups.io <main@ap-ug.groups.io> On Behalf Of Peter Natscher
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 1:43 PM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: [ap-ug] RS-232

 

Why does Astro-Physics continue to use RS-232 in their CP mount electronics?  This adds to the difficulty of upgrading the electronics with current computers, especially operating in Win 10.  What other telescope mount maker uses RS-232?  These plugs are not on current laptops, they are so old system developed in 1968!  Today's electronics only need USB.


 
Edited

For many years, laptops have stopped using the 9-pin RS-232 port for the 15-pin port.  This in itself requires that more adapters need to be used to connect via RS-232 to the CP electronics.  The other day, I spent two evenings trying to replace a corrupted database in my Mach1 Keypad  I started out using my MacBook Pro partitioned with Parallels and running Win 10 64.  After downloading APs Keypad Database Tool, Win 10 wouldn't open it up, even after installing the other AP recommended utilities. Howard Hedlund helping me out acknowledged this for Win 10.  Win 10 is here and AP needs to get onboard with it.  Hanging on to RS-232 is like hanging on to Win 7. Since my laptop doesn't have a RS-232 port, I connected a RS-232-to-USB cable between it and the CP4 electronics.  Win 10 wouldn't recognize this connection between the two even after installing the driver for it.  Frustrated, I then used a late 2000's laptop PC with Win 7 32.  The Win 7 wouldn't even open up the Keypad Database Tool and the PC had the usual 15-pin RS-232 port, something I had no cable for to connect to the 9-pin RS-232 port on the CP4. Do you see where I'm going?  For a average owner of a AP mount who just wants to operate it for observing, and doesn't use an observatory, it becomes very difficult to manage their expensive mount electronics with support that doesn't work easily, if at all.  These mounts should be as easy to update and reload software as my everyday cell phone and laptop computer.  The RS-232 requirement just gets in the way.


Donald Rudny
 

Peter,
There is a need for the serial connection if you want to use SkySafari on an iOS device with it hard wired to the CP4 or 5.  You could use Wi-Fi, but some have trouble with drop outs.  SC sells Skywire to connect an iOS device to the serial port with a DB9 connection.

On Jul 16, 2020, at 8:31 AM, Peter Natscher <natscher@...> wrote:

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone?  Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big computer tower with PCI slots.


Howard Hedlund
 

LET'S MOVE TO THE GOT AP-GROUP
--
Howard Hedlund
Astro-Physics


Howard Hedlund
 

GTO    Darned auto-correct!
--
Howard Hedlund
Astro-Physics


Steve Hoff
 

I am


Sent from Steve's iPhone

On Jul 16, 2020, at 12:31 PM, Peter Natscher <natscher@...> wrote:

What good is this board for a laptop, pad, or phone?  Most mount operators aren't running their mounts from a big computer tower with PCI slots.


Karen Christen
 

Hello all – this thread has been moved to the ap-gto group as Howard attempted to say below.  Subject is [ap-ug] RS-232, which is not at all confusing.  ;-)

Karen C

AP

 

From: main@ap-ug.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-ug.groups.io] On Behalf Of Howard Hedlund
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 2:13 PM
To: main@ap-ug.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-ug] RS-232

 

LET'S MOVE TO THE GOT AP-GROUP
--
Howard Hedlund
Astro-Physics


Frank Widmann
 

Like many users I run my system remotely with a headless industrial mini PC that has a nice array of RS-232, USB 2 and 3, Ethernet and WiFi. USB always is high maintenance. I have two StarTech hubs on the rotating side to handle the on scope equipment, and I have to be careful with the serial to USB adapters or they get installed on the wrong port. Windows 10 handles RS-232 with no problem. I never use a craptop any more. Even in the field I run a mini PC with a field monitor. 

Frank

On Jul 16, 2020, at 11:56 AM, Peter Natscher <natscher@...> wrote:



[Edited Message Follows]

For many years, laptops have stopped using the 9-pin RS-232 port for the 15-pin port.  This in itself requires that more adapters need to be used to connect via RS-232 to the CP electronics.  The other day, I spent two evenings trying to replace a corrupted database in my Mach1 Keypad  I started out using my MacBook Pro partitioned with Parallels and running Win 10 64.  After downloading APs Keypad Database Tool, Win 10 wouldn't open it up, even after installing the other AP recommended utilities. Howard Hedlund helping me out acknowledged this for Win 10.  Win 10 is here and AP needs to get onboard with it.  Hanging on to RS-232 is like hanging on to Win 7. Since my laptop doesn't have a RS-232 port, I connected a RS-232-to-USB cable between it and the CP4 electronics.  Win 10 wouldn't recognize this connection between the two even after installing the driver for it.  Frustrated, I then used a late 2000's laptop PC with Win 7 32.  The Win 7 wouldn't even open up the Keypad Database Tool and the PC had the usual 15-pin RS-232 port, something I had no cable for to connect to the 9-pin RS-232 port on the CP4. Do you see where I' going?  For a average owner of a AP mount who just wants to operate it for observing, and doesn't use an observatory, it becomes very difficult to manage their expensive mount electronics with support that doesn't work easily, if at all.  These mounts should be as easy to update and reload software as my everyday cell phone and laptop computer.  The RS-232 requirement just gets in the way.


Greg Vaughn
 

Hi Everyone,

 

While I mainly lurk in the shadows and try to benefit from the contributions made by those much more experienced than I am, I wanted to make a small statement here.

 

I’ve been using my mounts since about 2007 and for imagery since about 2012.   After a brief stint using the Losmandy G-11 with Gemini 2,  I was fortunate enough to switch to AP with the purchase of a Mach 1 (then with CP3, now upgraded to CP4) and recently moved to the Mach 2 (with CP5).   (I also acquired a used AP 400GTO prior to the 2017 eclipse and recently added a CP4 as its controller.)

 

For most of my imaging sessions, I use a MacBook Pro 13in laptop running Windows 10 Pro (in Bootcamp mode) that only has two USB ports, has no serial ports and no Ethernet port.   Connected to that laptop I have a seven slot USB3 powered hub with the following connections:

  1. to the Mach 1 and 400GTO CP4 (or Mach 2 CP5 ) mounts with a USB to serial connector,
  2. to my CMOS monochrome camera (and filter wheel) with a USB3 cable,
  3. to my Boss II focus controller with a USB to serial cable,
  4. to my guide camera with a USB2 cable,
  5. to an environmental sensor (MGBOX V2) with a USB2 cable, and
  6. to a 256GB USB3 thumb drive for data acquisition

 

To keep me off the deck and out of the cold or mosquitos (depending on the time of year) I use a remote desktop application (Ultra VNC today) to connect to the 13in via Wi-Fi.   It all works very well.  (The remote desktop used to be the Achilles heel when I used TeamViewer and to a lesser extent Microsoft Remote Desktop.)

 

I like the USB to Serial converter to connect to the mount.  I’ve never had any issue with it and I appreciate the solid connection at the mount (CP4 or CP5).  The different nature of flashing from the LED on the converter itself provides indication of proper operation – both waiting for me to power the hub, then for me to power the mount and then after the connection to the mount has been made.  I forget how important these indications are that everything is working properly until I do something foolish.   When I don’t get those indications, it reminds me that perhaps I haven’t plugged the hub into the laptop or I haven’t actually powered up the mount yet – it’s only the operator errors that have plagued my use of the equipment.   The USB to Serial connector is now about 8 years old and still going strong.   I have essentially no issues with the serial connection and wish I could say the same about the USB connections to the cameras, for example.  Although, in fairness, the adoption of a powered USB3 hub has actually seemed to have improved the reliability of all of the connections.

 

I have tested the CP4 and CP5 Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections successfully (thanks, George) and I’ve used the Ethernet connection successfully for firmware updates, but I still prefer the USB to Serial Converter for my connection to the Mach 1, Mach 2 and occasionally to the AP400GTO.

 

Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but the USB to Serial converter just fades into the background along with the mount.   My strongly positive experience makes me appreciate that AP, unlike Apple, support legacy connectivity choices while introducing additional choices at the same time.  The ultimate in user-friendly design and outstanding customer support.   That backward compatibility is difficult to sustain indefinitely, but the efforts to date have significantly extended the usability of their components by a wide range of customers using a variety of setups.   Ray has mentioned some good utilitarian reasons for using Serial connections to the CP4 and CP5, I use it because it just appears to be bombproof – though I have little experience with the other connection modes.

 

I say BRAVO to AP.

 

Is there always room for improvement?  Of course!  But not by removing the RS232 connection option in my opinion.

 

Stay safe and clear skies!

 

Cheers,

Greg

 

p.s.  Your experience and mileage may vary – but the above is based on my positive experiences.


Virus-free. www.avast.com


 

Hi Greg,

Is your Serial to UBS connector a FTDI chipset connector or would any serial connector (Best Buy model) work between my MacBook Pro (USB) and the CP4 serial port on my Mach1 mount?

Peter