NexStar Resource Site

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NexStar+ Hand Control

In February 2012, Celestron introduced a new version of the hand control - NexStar+.  This new hand control is distinguished by new labels on some buttons (for example, the bottom left button is now the Celestron symbol) and a "+" next to the NexStar label just below the LCD display.  NexStar+ ships with all current Celestron computerized telescope mounts though existing stock at some dealers will still have the older hand control.  Owners of compatible mounts with older hand controls can purchase this hand control at most Celestron dealers.  The NexStar+ originally came with an RJ-22 (telephone jack) serial port on the bottom but since April 2016 the port is a mini USB. The older serial port number was available as part number 93988 for the fork-mounted (alt-azimuth) mounts and 93989 for the German equatorial mounts (GEM). The USB hand control is available for alt-azimuth mounts as part number 93981 or for GEM mounts as part number 93982. It is possible to use either type though and simply reload with the correct alt-az or GEM firmware according to which mount you own.  Read this for step by step instructions on loading firmware.

All NexStar mounts can use this new hand control EXCEPT the original NexStar 5/8 (5i/8i are okay) and NexStar GT mounts sold prior to mid-2012.  As of mid-2012, the NexStar GT models sold through special resellers (Costco NexStar GTs, the Orion StarSeeker - not StarSeeker IV - models and NexStar GTs sold in Japan) have the NexStar 4/5 SE motor control board and are sold with the NexStar+ hand control.  If you have a NexStar 8/9.25/11 GPS or NexStar 5i/8i and have problems with the NexStar+ hand control, read this.

All of the computerized German EQ mounts are compatible with this new hand control, however, the CGE may have experienced intermittent NO RESPONSE errors with the original NexStar+ hand control but Celestron made a change to the NexStar+ hardware in 2017 or 2018 and new NexStar+ hand controls should work well with the CGE.

NOTE: When used on the GPS models, the new hand control requires motor control firmware 4.06 or higher.  After checking the version on your scope, if you need to upgrade, read this.  Note that GPS scopes with motor control firmware lower than version 3 cannot be upgraded by the owner - more details at the link just referenced.

NexStar+ sports significant hardware improvements such as a faster processor and more memory.  Firmware on this hand control will be 5.20 or higher.  Firmware 5.x will NOT work on the older hand control and older firmware will not work on this hand control.

The first firmware version, 5.20, is essentially the same as 4.20 with no significant new features.  Additional features are added as the firmware is updated; refer to the Firmware Versions section of this web site for details as new versions are released.

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Michael Swanson
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