NexStar Resource Site

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Firmware Versions on the NexStar 5i/8i/8i Special Edition

These scopes have two sets of processors. There are processors in the hand control (HC) and there are processors in the base of the scope in a section known as the motor control (MC). The MC firmware can be updated by the owner (read this).

There have been three versions of hand control available for the NexStar GPS:

  • Hand control 2.2.  Hand controls prior to version 4 can NOT be updated.
  • Hand control version 4.X.  This hand control can be updated by the owner and was available for purchase from January 2006 through summer 2012.  Read this for info on purchasing the upgradeable hand control and this for step by step instructions on upgrading the firmware.
  • The NexStar+ hand control.  This hand control can be updated by the owner and is available for purchase since February 2012.  Read this for info on this new hand control and this for step by step instructions on upgrading the firmware.

For additional details about features on newer versions, check the Manuals section of this web site.

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NexStar+ Hand Control

Celestron has posted an official document detailing all firmware versions for the NexStar+ hand control:
http://software.celestron.com/updates/CFM/CFM/
Check back periodically for updates.

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Version 4 Hand Control
(firmware files are named NXS)

  • 4.21 - Fixed the RS-232 negative declination bug found in 4.20.
  • 4.20 - This version has a bug - if you connect a computer/PDA/smart phone to the RS-232 port and direct a GoTo to an object with negative declination, the scope will instead point to +90 declination.   It is recommended you upgrade to 4.21 or higher.   Fixed an error in the GoTo RA-Dec menu item.  Hand Control now reports immediately if the are communication ("No Response") difficulties at start up.  No Response errors now give a "Press UNDO to continue" option.  For mounts with a GPS module in use, changed the messages displayed to clarify when the GPS was still attempting a link and when it was successful.
  • 4.18 - An important upgrade with many new features and fixes.  The hand control now calculates positions with respect to precession - in other words, previously all coordinates were J2000 while this version uses JNow.  Polar alignment routine is now under the Align menu and allows alignments on stars other than Polaris.  Additionally, after polar alignment, the scope no longer requires a new alignment.  Fixes problems with Southern Hemisphere alignments.  Pressing ALIGN while in the Named Stars menu now takes you to the Align menu.   If there is no GPS module, changes the initial alignment prompts is always prompted to the the date and time.  Sets slew rate to 5 upon waking from hibernation.  The Factory Settings menu item now resets all motor control settings (as well as the hand control settings) and will force the user to restart the system.  The hand control is now locked when performing a motor control upgrade via the port on the bottom of the hand control.  Added two PC control commands: one to undo any current "Sync", the other to retrieve the local sidereal time from the hand control.  Fixes a bug which changes rate if a direction button is pressed after the RATE button.  Fixes a rare problem updating the motor control through the hand control.  Corrects Abell objects with negative magnitudes.
  • 4.13 - This version allows the motor control (MC) firmware to be upgraded via the port on the bottom of the hand control.
  • 4.12 - The most significant change in this version is variable brightness control for the display and buttons - values are from 0 (off) to 8 (full brightness).  There is also a fix that reduces (but does not eliminate) the chance that the display comes up blank the first time you power up, a problem much more prevalent in cold weather.  The fix on those occasions when it does still come up blank remains the same - turn off the power, wait a couple of seconds and turn on the power again.  The Version menu item has been changed - it now displays the mount model after displaying the HC and MC versions.
  • 4.10 - The most significant change in this version is Sync.  Sync is available both via the hand control and via PC software (TheSky, Starry Night, etc.).  This provides very accurate GoTo pointing in the area of the sky where the Sync is performed and it allows the PC software to match with the actual position the scope is pointed to.  Other new features: Calibrate Goto (help to improve GoTo accuracy) and general pointing accuracy improvement.
  • 4.03 - Minor change from 4.02.  Shipped with the NexStar 8i Special Edition with SkyAlign (N8iSE-SA) from September 2005 on.  This version is compatible with the 5i/8i as well, either through NexRemote or the user-upgradeable hand control, sold separately (owners of older versions read this).  Click here for more details on the features in version 4 of the hand control.
  • 4.02 - First available for use on NexStar "i" series through use of NexRemote.  This version provides several new features.  First, the physical 4.02 hand control is the first version that can be upgraded to new firmware by the user. It also introduced the new alignment methods - SkyAlign, Solar System Align and One Star Align.  Also added are Precise GoTo, Identify, Constellation Tour and few other new features.  Click here for more details.

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Non-upgradeable Hand Control

  • 2.3 - Version originally shipped with the NexStar 8i Special Edition.  This version is compatible with the 5i/8i and also the NexStar GPS scopes, but it was not shipped with those scopes.  Differences are mostly in the alignment procedures and are discussed in my overview of the NexStar 8i Special Edition.
  • 2.2 - Original version for the NexStar 5i/8i.  Note that this version is not compatible with the NexStar 8i Special Edition.

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MC Versions

Though two versions of firmware are available, Celestron has not as of this time made them available for download.  In any case, the main reason for these version has been to support new mounts, not to introduce improvements or new features.

  • 40.03 and 41.03 (hand control 2.2 and 2.3 will display these as 40.3 and 41.3) - Original versions on the NexStar 8i Special Edition.  There are actually two MC processors, one for the azimuth axis, the other for the altitude.  The NexStar 8i Special Edition was shipped with MC version 40.3 on the azimuth axis and 41.3 on the altitude axis.  This version is not used on the NexStar 5i/8i.
  • 30.01 and 31.01 (hand control 2.2 and 2.3 will display these as 30.1 and 31.1) - Original versions on the NexStar 5i/8i.  There are actually two MC processors, one for the azimuth axis, the other for the altitude.  The NexStar 5i/8i was shipped with MC version 30.1 on the azimuth axis and 31.1 on the altitude axis.

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Determining Versions

Use the Version option on the Utility menu.


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