Solutions for PDA to Scope Communication Problems
This section is a work in progress. Your insights and suggestions are appreciated - firstname.lastname@example.org.
PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants like Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs) were not really designed to interface with specialized equipment such are your telescope. This can make things a bit difficult at times, but here are some things to try to get your PDA and scope communicating:
1. The telescope must be aligned before it will accept commands. To test indoors, simply perform a Quick Align or an Auto Align, accepting the locations pointed out for the two stars.
2. NSOL and almost all other astronomy programs can only communicate with the telescope via the port on the bottom of the hand control - not the ports on the base of the mount.
3. Perhaps you selected the wrong telescope type in the program; you will not harm your telescope or computer testing other scope types.
4. When using a serial port card in the card slot of your PC, you should use the standard Hand Control RS-232 Port Cable widely available at astronomy dealers. When using the PDAs serial "sync" cable - you must use a special cable or a series of adapters to connect to your scope. Refer here for more details on both cable types.
5. Some combinations of PDAs and NexStar telescopes are sensitive to the order of events when connecting the two. Try aligning the scope with the PDA disconnected from the hand control. Then connect the PDA and start your astronomy software.
6. For some models of NexStar (N5/8 and the current version of the N60/76/80/102/114/4/130), you must enter 'RS-232' mode from the hand control menu before the scope will accept commands.
7. Be sure there are no other programs using the serial port. On a Pocket PC, be sure to disable ActiveSync.
8. Try other 'Comm Port' settings in the PDA software.
9. A faulty cable might be the problem.
10. Take a good look at the connector on the bottom of the hand control - insure none of the pins appear bent or misaligned.
Hopefully one of these tips will resolve any issue you have.