Serial / USB Mount to Computer Connectivity
Devices, Adapters and Cables

Astro-Physics is delighted to offer products from Keyspan by Tripplite, and Icron Technologies that provide connectivity between our GTO mounts and today’s PC's and laptops which rarely have genuine serial ports any more. Let us start out by stating emphatically that we are NOT a computer company. We are not the Microsoft® Help Desk, and we cannot make any guarantee that we can solve any and all issues that may arise as you try to communicate with your mount via an external computer. That being said, however, we have found these products to be reliable, easy to set up and configure, and an excellent value. The Keyspan and Icron units work well with Windows® machines and with MacOS® systems, and they all offer superior customer support. Furthermore, there is even support for the LINUX® operating system for the Icron USB Ranger® and most of Keyspan’s products.

The USB to Serial conversion devices by Keyspan are all backward compatible and fully upgradeable. They employ the latest chipsets from Texas Instruments, which include re-programmable ROM. The separate drivers for Windows, MacOS and LINUX are kept at the most current level and the driver software will update the device's ROM as needed. We strongly advise that you check the Keyspan website often for the latest in driver updates to ensure continued high performance and top level compatibility.

The Icron USB Ranger is the latest in a long line of USB devices designed to overcome the 5 meter limitation of conventional USB. Think of it as the ultimate USB extension cord that can provide up to 100 meters of separation with no loss in speed or performance!

Some of the text below is taken directly or mostly from the Keyspan and Icron websites, and is obviously geared toward the general public. In the paragraph(s) that follow the bulleted points from Keyspan, we have made some commentary from our own personal experiences that relate directly to astronomy uses in general and to Astro-Physics GTO mount operations in particular.

USB to Serial Adapter (USB1PFTDI)

This is the easiest way to connect a single serial device to a USB port on your PC and Mac. The USB1PFTDI is FTDI's premium USB to RS232 adapter. 

It uses the same fully-supported, state-of-the-art FTDI driver that is used in our CP4 control box, which makes it both convenient and compatible.

The electronics are housed in an attractive glossy white enclosure with blue, side-lit LED TX and RX traffic indicators.  A matching white 10 cm USB cable uses gold plated USB and DE9 connectors for oxidation-free connections.

The USB1PFTDI uses an enhanced RS232 level converter and is capable of communication rates up to 1M Baud.  It is RoHS compliant and is CE and FCC approved. 

Most importantly, it is the only USB to serial adapter that we know of with an operation range down to -20° C.

FTDI VCP driver is found at this site: http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm
Select the Windows driver under "Comments" all the way to the right of the table. The driver is the "setup executable" link. Stay current.

USB1PFTDI$43.00 in stockAdd USB1PFTDI To My Cart

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Icron Ranger® 2304 USB 2.0 Extender - Four-Port (USBIEXT4P-2304)

The USB 2.0 Ranger® 2304 is a four port USB 2.0 high speed extension solution, enabling USB 2.0 connections at up to 480Mbps over 100m/330ft of Cat 5e (or better) cabling, without the need of additional software drivers. A true plug-and-play solution, the Ranger 2304 is compatible with all leading operating systems, and supports all USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1 peripherals such as flash drives, keyboards, mice, webcams and interactive whiteboards across a dedicated Cat 5e connection.

The Ranger 2304 is the latest USB 2.0 extender system from Icron, offering the same reliable USB 2.0 extension benefits as the Ranger 2204, but with faster throughputs when using read/write devices such as external hard drives as well as supporting a greater number of connections (up to 31 devices and hubs). The Ranger 2304 provides an integrated four port remote USB 2.0 powered hub delivering 600mA to each port

Features:

  • Extends USB range up to 100 yards/330 feet
  • USB Device Support:
    • Traffic Types: All USB 2.0 and 1.1
    • Device Types: All USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1 devices
  • Supports all USB devices up to 480Mbps
  • True plug and play. No drivers required
  • Supports all major operating systems: Windows®, Mac OS X®, and Linux®
  • Uses a standard solid core Cat 5e (or better) cable for easy installation
  • Number of devices can be increased using additional USB hubs
  • FCC Class B
  • Rugged metal enclosure  

Note that the remote unit requires power for proper operation (included AC power adapter is 24 volt DC output). Astro-Physics stocks units with the North American standard power adapter. UK, European and Australian adapters are available by special order and may require a small surcharge.

Icron USB Ranger® 2204 Data Sheet (PDF)

USB Ranger 2304 System Includes:

  • Local extender unit (LEX)
  • Remote extender unit (REX)
  • 2 meter USB 2.0 cable
  • AC power adapter
  • Two year warranty from manufacturer

More distantly remote observatories (over 100 yards/330 feet from the controlling computer) will generally require a computer or IP addressable server in the remote observatory itself, and a high speed internet connection for communication with your home computer. Such solutions are beyond the scope of Astro-Physics to supply or support.

Note: A Cat 5e (or better) cable is required for use (not supplied).

USBIEXT4P-2304$375.00 in stockAdd USBIEXT4P-2304 To My Cart

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15 Foot Straight-through, RoHS-compliant Serial Cable (CABSER15)

You would think that a serial cable would be a straight-forward simple device that would be confusion- and mistake-proof. This is unfortunately not the case. The most common source of computer / mount communication failure is the wrong cable! There are straight-through cables and reversing cables. The reversing cables are also called crossover cables, null cables, modem cables, and null modem cables just to add to the confusion. Then there is every possible configuration of male / female plug - with locking screw or nut, without locking screw or nut. Many are not even labeled as to their orientation. (Maybe it isn't considered politically correct!) It is simply ridiculous. And the flunky at the big box computer store is no help.

Your mount MUST be connected with a straight-through cable. Straight-through cables are wired with the corresponding numbered pins of the connector wired to each other: pin #1 on the male end to hole #1 on the female end; #2 to #2 and so on. Other serial cable types cross or reverse some of the wires making communication with your mount impossible.

We have found a source of genuine standard straight-through serial cables and selected these 15 foot cables as the most universally appropriate. They have molded connectors, are fully shielded, and are lead-free for RoHS compliance (and all-around environmental friendliness). They also employ gold-plated contacts for superior data retention and corrosion resistance. They can even be used for monochrome or CGA/EGA monitor cable extension. Finally and most importantly: They actually work, and you don't have to drive all over town to find one! Need we say more?

CABSER15$15.00 in stockAdd CABSER15 To My Cart

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This page was last modified: April 29, 2016

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