How to Upgrade Motor Control Firmware
Celestron provides motor control firmware updates for the NexStar GPS,
CPC, LCM, SE, SLT, CGE, CGE Pro, CGEM and AS-GT telescopes mounts. It is recommended that you insure your scope is running the latest
version of firmware (see Firmware Versions on this web site for a list of
the current versions). Use the Version
command on the Utilities menu of the hand control to check the versions -
refer to the manual to see which numbers are the MC versions. If your
scope does not have a Version command on the Utilities menu, read
this to learn how to replace your hand control. If the MC version is 2 or lower
on the NexStar 8/9.25/11 GPS, read
this to learn how to replace your motor control board as boards version 2
or lower are not upgradeable.
To update the MC firmware, download
the MCupdate program from Celestron's web site:
Click the Software category link, then Show More towards the
bottom of the page and search for "motor control firmware
Your Windows PC will need an RS-232 serial port. If your PC does
not have a serial port, you will need a USB-to-serial adapter available at
most computer stores. See PC
Control on this web site for more information and options regarding
computers without a serial port. After downloading and installing the MCupdate program on a Windows 98 or
higher PC (some have had success using Windows 95 but Celestron will not
provide assistance for Windows 95 users), you have three options for
connecting your PC to the scope:
- For scopes with hand control version 4, insure the hand control firmware
is version 4.13 or higher (see
if you need to update). Next, connect the serial port on your PC to
the RS-232 Port on the bottom of the hand control using a Hand Control
RS-232 Port Cable. For details on this cable and sources to purchase
this. During the update process, MCupdate will place the
hand control in a locked state.
- For scopes with a PC Port on the mount (NexStar GPS, CPC and CGE)
connect the serial port on your PC to the PC Port on the mount using the PC
Port Cable. For details on this cable and sources to purchase one,
Note that use of the PC Port is a potential source of difficulty - the PC
port has generally been sitting exposed to the elements and may need
cleaning. If you have electronic contact cleaner, use a swab and clean
the pins in the PC port jack. If you cannot get contact cleaner, slide
the plug in and out of the jack several times to wipe off any contaminants.
- For scopes with no PC Port on the mount, use Celestron's Auxiliary Port
Accessory Kit (part number 93965) which provides the required PC Port. Connect the serial port on your PC to the PC Port on the Auxiliary Port
Hutchinson has created a document describing how to build a PC Port adapter for
the AS-GT, SE and SLT mounts - click
for details. Matthias Bopp has created a document describing how to build
a PC Port adapter for the NexStar "i" Series mount - click
details. If you do not already have one of these adapters, I would
recommend you purchase the new version 4 user upgradeable hand control (read
for info on purchasing the upgradeable hand control) and refer to option 1
Start MCupdate and read through the Help information. Here is a quick
overview of the upgrade process:
- First, insure you are using the latest version of MCupdate. If
you are not using the latest version of MCupdate then the following
instructions may not work and the motor upgrade may fail. Connect to the Internet and start MCupdate. Select None for
the COM port and click the Next button. Click Download
via the Web button. If a newer version of MCupdate is
available, you will be prompted to install it and MCupdate will restart.
You are now ready to update the MC firmware in your scope.
- Connect your PC to the scope using one of the three methods discussed
above. If you are connecting to the mount via the PC Port, remove the hand control from the mount
prior to powering your telescope. If you are using hand control
4.13 or higher and connecting via the port on the bottom of the hand
control do not use the INFO/UNDO button sequence to put the hand
control in the programming state - this is only used when updating the
hand control firmware, not the motor control.
- Start MCupdate from the Programs section of the
Windows Start menu.
- Insure Motor Control Board is selected as the device and click
the Next button.
- Select the correct COM Port for your connection to the scope
and click the Next button. Note that if you do not have
Internet connectivity at location of your scope, you can use None for the
COM Port to first download the correct firmware before disconnecting
from the Internet, traveling to your scope and connecting your PC to the scope.
- If you selected a COM Port and MCupdate cannot communicate with the
scope, an error message will appear. If you are certain your cable
is good, try selecting all the other available COM Port available in
MCupdate. If that still doesn't work, you should check whether
another program has the serial port open - for example, the hot sync
program for a palmtop computer. Either temporarily disable the
serial port selection in the hot sync program or uninstall it altogether
(if you no longer use it). If you are still having problems, clean
the PC port as described above and check to be sure that none of the pins
in the port are bent. Additional suggestions are found in the
Serial Overview section of the help information in MCupdate.
- The next screen lists all the firmware you currently have downloaded
to your PC. Click the Download via the Web button to connect
to Celestron's web site and see if newer firmware is available. This
does of course require that you are currently connected to the Internet,
so as mentioned before, if necessary, use COM Port "none" if you are not
at your scope when downloading new firmware. Once you have the
downloaded the firmware you wish to use, be sure it is highlighted in the list and click the Next button.
Note that it is not necessary to install each version in succession
until you reach the newest version - each version is a complete firmware
load and stands on its own.
- Normally you should then click the Begin Programming button
with All Devices selected in the list. Some owners have
experienced difficulty in completing the upgrade in this manner. In
this case they were able to successfully upgrade by programming the
azimuth and altitude separately.
- The programmer will then proceed and should complete successfully.
If it doesn't, don't panic, just try again a few times - upgrading the
azimuth and altitude separately. If it still doesn't complete, now
you can panic and call Celestron :-)
If the update is interrupted in the middle, (for example, the PC locks
up or the mount is accidentally powered off) you should power off and power on
the mount. If you are updating via a PC Port on the mount or Auxiliary
Port Adapter, simply repeat the update process. If you are updating via
the port on the bottom of the hand control, when you switch the power back on
the hand control may display a No Response error. If so, simply
press the UNDO button on the hand control several times until the No Response
message is cleared. The hand control should then display the locked
message and you will be able to continue with the update as described above.
If you were updating via the hand control and now the hand control displays Initializing and then goes blank, read
Updating MC firmware may reset the following to default values, so
it is best to make a note of the current settings prior to the upgrade:
- anti-backlash settings
- GoTo approach
- autoguide rates
- PEC recording (GPS, CPC, CGEM, CGE, CGE Pro mounts only) - use
to save your current recording before the upgrade and restore the
recording after the upgrade