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Using the Configuration Utility


Configuring and Programming Your AstroEQ Board

With the release of AstroEQ6, configuring your mount couldn't be easier. AstroEQ can now be programmed with a compact utility which has been designed to allow the whole process to be completed within a single program. It is required that your computer has Java installed, and optionally has EQMOD/EQASCOM installed.


First Steps - Connect AstroEQ

Before running the utility you need to connect your AstroEQ board to a USB port on the computer. Windows will then automatically install a virtual COM port associated with AstroEQ. If Windows says that it failed to install the driver, then it means it failed to find it through Windows Update. This will most likely happen, but is not the end of the world. If the driver fails to install, then you need to install it manually. Information on how to do this can be found Here . The driver can be downloaded from the Downloads page. Inside the archive is a file called “mchpcdc.inf” which is the AstroEQ Windows driver information.


Starting the Utility

First you need to have downloaded and extracted the configuration utility from the Downloads page. Once extracted you will find an program called AstroEQ. This is the utility which is now used to program AstroEQ.

Upon opening the utility a splash screen will appear with the AstroEQ logo, this will then disappear and you will be presented with the home screen:

AstroEQ Update Utility Home Screen

NOTE: For people using Windows Vista/7/8, you will be asked by Windows whether you want to allow AstroEQ to make changes to your computer. You will need to select Yes. Nothing on your computer will be changed, however admin rights are required to access the USB port to which AstroEQ is connected.

Once you can see the utility you will need to select the serial port of your AstroEQ board from the 'COM Port' dropdown menu. You will also need to select which AstroEQ board you have from the 'Board Version' dropdown. For hardware bought from me, this will be the default selection, however if you have legacy hardware you will need to select the corresponding entry.

Once the board and version are selected, press the large Begin button.


AstroEQ Priming

In order for the utility to work, a special EEPROM firmware needs to be loaded onto the AstroEQ board. This will be done automatically. Simply wait for the upload to complete and then click Next. Should the update fail, check you have the correct COM port and board version selected. If this still fails try disconnecting the power and USB cables, waiting for 10 seconds and then reconnecting (power first).

If successful, Click Next to move onto the next step.

Programming EEPROM Configuration Firmware


Loading Prior Configuration

If you have programmed AstroEQ before using this utility, the firmware will attempt to read back that configuration. If a valid configuration is found, it will be read and you will be informed that a read was successful. You can skip the next step if this is the case. Should the read fail, it could mean that the EEPROM inside AstroEQ has become corrupted. If this is the first time you have programmed AstroEQ, the board will be blank. This is not a problem. The utility will rebuild the EEPROM configuration file for you in the next step.

Click Next to move on to the next step.

Reading Previous Configuration


Repairing or Rebuilding the EEPROM

In this step, the EEPROM will be repaired. Simply wait for the for a 3-4 seconds for the utility to do its job, and then click Next to move on to the next step.


Configuring AstroEQ

It is time now to set the parameters for your Mount. For this you need to know 5 things:

  • The step angle of the motors you are using.
  • The gear ratio between the Motor and the Mount.
  • The worm gear ratio. This is the ratio of the mounts main worm gear.
  • What motor driver IC you are using.
  • Whether or not to enable microstepping

If these are unknown, please refer to the common gear ratios page.

Enter the ratios and step angles into the configuration screen. There are text boxes for each axis and setting. These numbers can have a decimal point, accurate to 6.d.p. The motor driver version can be set by clicking the toggle button next to 'Motor Driver IC Type'. Similarly a button is presented for '1/16th Microstepping'.

Once all the values are entered, click the 'Update' button for any axis whose data has changed.

It is also possible to correct for either of the motors turning in the wrong direction. Usually I run the utility once with axis reverse turned off, then test the mount and if I find that one or both of the motors are reversed, I will run the utility again and turn on reverse for whichever axis it was that is going in the wrong direction. Finally you can enter the speed at which you would like each axis to perform Go-To movements as a multiple of the sidereal rate.

NOTE: if you do not need to change the axis values, then don't press the update button. For example you can change the Axis direction and Go-To speeds without pressing update. This is useful if you have a previously stored configuration which was loaded in the second step. Once valid values are entered, the 'Done' button will be enabled which will allow you to move to the next step.

AstroEQ Configuration Screen


Programming the Configuration

The utility will now automatically store the values set on the previous screen to the AstroEQ EEPROM. Sit back, relax and wait a few seconds while the values are stored for you. Then click Next. If the configuration fails, you can press the Back button and then try again. If it keeps failing, feel free to get in touch.

Mount Configuration Stored


AstroEQ Firmware Update

The next step is to upload the AstroEQ firmware itself. Again this is an automated process. The firware is provided precompiled and so you do not need the Arduino IDE for this process any more.

Once the upload is complete, press Next. Should the upload fail, let me know.

Uploading the AstroEQ Firmware


Testing time

If EQMOD is installed on your computer, the AstroEQ Update Utility will automatically configure it for AstroEQ. This configuration is just a case of setting the EQMOD COM port to that which AstroEQ uses, no other EQMOD settings will be changed. EQMOD will then be opened and you can test the AstroEQ board out using the Slew and track rate controls. When you are finished testing, click the Done button in the configuration utility to close EQMOD.

EQMOD loaded for testing


Finished

If you have made it this far, AstroEQ is good to go. You can run the utility any time you like if you need to change any values or settings. Click the Finished button to close the AstroEQ Update Utility.

Finished :D