Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Losmandy didn't respond

I wanted to test using Stellarium with a telescope mount. Personal interest. But also to prepare for my level 2 Stellarium course. Asked Phil if he was willing to let me play. He was game. But he corrected me. I had assumed his Meade LX 10 was a GO TO 'scope. Nope. PUSH TO. Only has a tracking motor. But his Losmandy has the Gemini system. And it supports the Meade command set. Phil suggested we try it. OK. Cool.

I asked if we might do it Tuesday night. That's when I had intended to try anyway, on the eve of our SNO LAB trip. Working in the basement, fiddling with electronics, talkin' astronomy? Come on! We got clearances and pressed.

He set up the tripod and the mount as I prepared my netbook and Stellarium. He started to remove the refractor from the case. "We don't need that," I pointed out. Back in the case. I dug out my serial-USB adapter. We hooked up the motor cables to the Gemini control panel. Skeena monitored.

Then Phil fished out his modular jack / serial cable. "Oh oh." He showed me the serial DB connector. "Oh oh." It was male. So was my adapter. I thought he had hooked up to the computer before; he explained that this was a cable for his GPS. I had forgotten that he had told me that back on 3 Feb, when we sent over the Gemini Level 4 user manual PDF.

"Do you have a female-to-female 9-pin serial adapter?" I asked Phil, thinking of my huge cables bin back at home... I probably have a half-dozen of these... but they were 40 km away. Phil retrieved his misc parts bin. USBs, old Linksys router, phone cords, a DVI, DB-25s, some 9-25 adapters, etc. No F-F DB-9 gender benders. Damn. Looked like we were stymied.

Phil said, "We can build a cable." He pointed out that we had all the bits. Modular male plugs (the smaller headset size, erroneously referred to as RJ-9 or RJ-22), 4-wire phone cord, female DB-9 connectors. All right! We gathered tools and supplies: DMM, soldering station with sponge, helping hands with magnifier, side-cutters, heat shrink, crimper, knife, beer. At the workbench, we severed the old serial cable, cut back the casing, and stripped the 9 coloured wires. Using the GPS cable with its 4P4C modular jack connected to the stripped DB-9 female plug, we traced the three wires, and carefully made our notes.

We only called for a medic once.

We tested the new cable.

And it didn't work.

We checked our notes, tried didn't software, verified the assigned COM port, different computers. It just didn't work.

It was way past Phil's bed time. Even I was yawning. We threw in the towel.

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