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Author Topic: How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod  (Read 24077 times)

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Offline psjshep

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Introduction

EQMod (or EQDir for the EQdirect connect hardware) is arguably one of the most important pieces of software for amateur astronomers. It allows a modest mount (HEQ5, EQ6 & NEQ6 Synscan and Syntrek) to become a superb imaging platform.

One area which seems to cause the most questions to be asked is around the installation & configuration of the computer -> mount hardware, specifically the Serial interface for computers without a serial port. Most (if not all?) laptops/notebooks these days do not have a serial "COM" port. This leads to a problem in that communication with most telescope mounts requires a Serial Interface

The typical setup for EQMod is :

Computer ----> USB Port ----> USB/Serial Device ----> Serial Cable ----> EQMod Dongle ----> Mount


If you construct your own cable using a TTL device, or Transistor-transistor-Logic device (or use a retail one like Hitecastro's ), then the setup is more simple:

Computer ----> USB Port ----> TTL Device & Cable ----> Mount

Notes

INFORMATION:
 If you have a Hitecastro EQdir cable & dongle, follow the Prolific Device installation EITHER with the driver they suggest from their site (it is Version 1.0.5.18) or from the Prolific site as suggested in these pages (currently Version 1.7.0 - 19-SEP-2012). I haven't tested the earlier one, but Hitecastro have been running with it so it will be fine. The only real need to use the latest is if you have any other Prolific devices on your system.

Which USB-Serial adapter do I have?

Being able to identify which chipset the USB-serial device is can be tricky. In order to find out which chipset your adapter has, I would suggest the following methods :

  • Examine the device to see if there is any text with "Prolific" (or PL2303) or "FTDI" anywhere. Unfortunately, most devices do not indicate which type it is
  • If the device contains the wording "Prolific" or "PL2303" or "PL23xx" - follow b) Prolific USB-Serial Installation
  • If the devices contain the wording "ftdi" - follow a) FTDI USB-Serial Installation
  • Next, if the device comes with an installation CD, examine the contents to see if "prolific", "PL2303" or "ftdi" phrases exist anywhere either in filenames or within README type text files.
  • If that does not give any clues, follow the installation steps for a b) Prolific USB-Serial Installation as this requires the driver to be installed before the hardware is plugged in
  • If the hardware is not recognised, then follow the installation for a) FTDI USB-Serial Installation
  • If the FTDI installation method does not work either, then you have a USB-Serial device which I have not come across - perhaps it came with it's own drivers. I would be very wary if you are in this position as it is likely you will have issues in the future & I would recommend finding another device.
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #1 on: 12:37:15, 27 May, 2012 »
All the screen shots I have used are from a Windows laptop runing Windows 7 64bit

1. USB -> Serial Devices

From my experiences, there are two main types or chipsets used for USB/Serial devices; Prolific and FTDI

Both work well & also seem to operate together when both are installed.

Note: Prolific have stated in a number of places that there are a lot of fake Prolific devices circulating and have provided a tool with their installation to ensure the validity of the device. See the Prolific installation later here.

a) FTDI USB-Serial Installation

Web Site : http://www.ftdichip.com/
Drivers : http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm   (32-Bit & 64 bit for Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8)

1. NOTE: DO NOT plug in the device yet.

Assuming you have either constructed an FTDI cable or purchased an FTDI USB/Serial device, the following shows how to get it configured (or re-configured) on your system.

2. Download the Drivers

  • Visit the web page (see 1st post) & download the FTDI Virtual COM Port (VCP) driver to your computer
  • NOTE: be sure of which you are using - 32bit or 64bit Windows : download the correct drivers
  • I suggest you create an FTDI directory & unzip the files into that directory
  • Current version is 2.08.24 as of 27-May-2012, filename : CDM 2.08.24 WHQL Certified.zip

3. Device manager
First, open your Device Manager to see what, if any, Serial devices you have.
  • Windows 7 & Vista : Start Button -> type in Device Manager & then RETURN/ENTER key
  • Windows XP : On your Desktop, Right-click on My Computer & select Properties

Assuming there are no Serial devices on your computer, the Device Manager should look like the following screen shot.
(If there are devices, then note which COM port they are so you know what devices is created when you plug in the new device)
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #2 on: 12:56:21, 27 May, 2012 »
If there is already a serial or Parallel (LPT) device, then you will see the following screen shot:
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #3 on: 13:19:26, 27 May, 2012 »
4. Disconnect from the Internet

Before pluggin in, I suggest you disconnect from the Internet so Windows does not try to download the driver.

5. Plugin device

Next, plug in the USB Serial device into a free USB slot.

NOTE: It is possible that if you use a different USB slot in future, the device may pick a different COM port number. FTDI seems to often keep the same, but Prolific OFTEN does not. Be aware of this when troubleshooting.

If you have not installed any FTDI devices before, then the device install will fail - this is normal at this point.

6. Install driver

In your device manager, the entry will look like the screen shot below

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #4 on: 13:23:12, 27 May, 2012 »
Next, you will update the Other Devices entry with the driver already downloaded :

Right-click on the entry & left-click properties
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #5 on: 13:30:31, 27 May, 2012 »
In the Properties dialog, notice the message indicating the device status.

Next, left-click on the Update Driver button, and select Browse my computer for driver software

Using the Browse button, navigate to where you downloaded & unzipped the FTDI software.

Click on the Directory name, NOT the other folders inside.

Then click OK to accept the location.

Before clicking next, ensure the Include subfolders is ticked, then click Next to continue.

The driver will then be installed.



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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #6 on: 13:41:47, 27 May, 2012 »
The FTDI device should now be installed.

7. Adjust settings

To confirm the device is properly installed AND/OR change the device settings, perform the following:

NOTE: This procedure is also used in future to change any of the settings

- Run the Device Manager as before.
- Expand the Ports (COM & LPT) by left clicking on arrow to the left of the text.
- For an FTDI device, you should see USB Serial Port (COMxx) , where xx is a number between 0 and 32 (? I do not know what the maximum is)
- Right-click on the USB Serial Port (COMxx) & left-click Properties
- In the Properties dialog, select the Port Settings tab at the top
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #7 on: 13:50:06, 27 May, 2012 »
- Once in the port settings, ensure the settings are as shown :

  • Bits per second : 9600
  • Data bits : 8
  • Parity : None
  • Stop bits : 1
  • Flow control : none

- Then click the Advanced button. This is where the COM port number can be set.
- In the Advanced settings, the drop-down COM port will display a list of all the ports available, with ones "in use" indicated so. Unless you have a need to change the port, leave it as it is and NOTE THE NUMBER FOR LATER

NOTE: For the FTDI driver, ensure the Serial Enumerator is ticked.

- Then left-click OK on the button at the button of the advanced tab.
- Then left-click OK on the button at the button of the Properties box.
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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #8 on: 13:52:20, 27 May, 2012 »
At this stage, the device is ready for use with EQMod.

Proceed to the "2. Installation of the ASCOM 6 platform" if you do not have any further devices to install.

To install a Prolific chipset USB-serial device, then please continue.
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #9 on: 14:04:08, 27 May, 2012 »
b) Prolific USB-Serial Installation

Web Site : http://www.prolific.com.tw/
Drivers : http://www.prolific.com.tw/admin/Technology/GetFile.ashx?fileID=232   (32-Bit & 64 bit drivers are the same download) - Release date 2012/08/01

*edit* Prolific have changed their website to stop spam so you need to login as userid guest & password guest

1. NOTE: DO NOT plug in the device yet.

Assuming you have either constructed an FTDI cable or purchased an FTDI USB/Serial device, the following shows how to get it configured (or re-configured) on your system.

2. Download the Drivers

Note: As the driver version change, just substitute the new version below... they will be very similar conventions.

  • Visit the web page (see above) & download the required ZIP file to your computer
  • I suggest you create an Prolific directory & unzip the files into that directory
  • Current version install 1.7.0 (32bit and 64 bit drivers are included)
  • 1.7.0 filename : PL2303_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v1.7.0.exe

3. Device manager

First, open your Device Manager to see what, if any, Serial devices you have.
  • Windows 7 & Vista : Start Button -> type in Device Manager & then RETURN/ENTER key
  • Windows XP : On your Desktop, Right-click on My Computer & select Properties

Assuming there are no Serial devices on your computer, the Device Manager should look like the following screen shot.
(If there are devices, then note which COM port they are so you know what devices is created when you plug in the new device)
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Offline psjshep

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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #10 on: 14:17:05, 27 May, 2012 »
If there is already a serial or Parallel (LPT) device, then you will see the following screen shot:

Click on the arrow next to Ports (COM & LPT) to note the number of the existing entries.
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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #11 on: 14:20:09, 27 May, 2012 »
4. Install the Prolific driver

For the Prolific USB-Serial, the software is installed before plugging in the device.

- Navigate to where the software was downloaded & unzipped.
- Double click on the installer EXE. It should contain "installer" in the text & have a yellow icon.
(The V1.7.0 is called PL2303_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v1.7.0.exe)
- The install will then proceed.
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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #12 on: 14:21:34, 27 May, 2012 »
5. Pluggin the Device into a free USB slot

-Once the driver has successfully installed, the device can be plugged into a free USB slot in the computer.
- The familiar "bing-bong" should indicate new hardware, and the device should successfully be installed when indicated.

6. Adjust settings

To confirm the device is properly installed AND/OR change the device settings, perform the following:

NOTE: This procedure is also used in future to change any of the settings

- Run the Device Manager as before.
- Expand the Ports (COM & LPT) by left clicking on arrow to the left of the text.
- For a Prolific device, you should see Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COMxx) , where xx is a number between 0 and 32 (? I do not know what the maximum is)
- Right-click on the Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COMxx) & left-click Properties
- In the Properties dialog, select the Port Settings tab at the top
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How-To : USB-Serial config & installation, ASCOM install & EQMod
« Reply #13 on: 14:41:43, 27 May, 2012 »
- Once in the port settings, ensure the settings are as shown :

  • Bits per second : 9600
  • Data bits : 8
  • Parity : None
  • Stop bits : 1
  • Flow control : none

- Then click the Advanced button. This is where the COM port number can be set.
- In the Advanced settings, the drop-down COM port will display a list of all the ports available, with ones "in use" indicated so. Unless you have a need to change the port, leave it as it is and NOTE THE NUMBER FOR LATER
- Ensure the rest of the settings are as indicated in the screen shot.

NOTE: For the FTDI driver, ensure the Serial Enumerator is ticked.

- Then left-click OK on the button at the button of the advanced tab.
- Then left-click OK on the button at the button of the Properties box.
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« Reply #14 on: 14:45:02, 27 May, 2012 »
At this stage, the device is ready for use with EQMod.

Proceed to the "2. Installation of the ASCOM 6 platform" if you do not have any further devices to install.
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