NexStar GPS Motor and Hand Control Upgrades

Some Context

Celestron introduced the NexStar GPS line of telescopes in 2001. For the first few years the motor control board was not upgradeable and these earlier v1.0 or v2.0 boards had fewer features, more bugs, and made strange noises while slewing or tracking. Celestron offered a free upgrade program for these units for quite a while, but doing an upgrade today requires a purchase of a new motor board from Celestron for a few hundred dollars.

Similarly, these earlier units were shipped with the original hand control firmware, v1.2, which only works with the old motor firmware and also has fewer features and more bugs.

Mike Swanson has an excellent website that gives a great deal of information about and resources for all Celestron telescopes. You can follow this link to see information specific to firmware versions for the NexStar GPS telescopes.

The Service

I am now offering a low-cost upgrade service to update v1.0 or v2.0 motor boards to v4.06 and to upgrade v1.2 hand controls to v1.6 or v2.2 as requested.

v4.06 is the latest motor board firmware for the NexStar GPS -- with this upgrade, you will be able to update the motor board yourself using the MCupdate application if Celestron comes out with new firmware updates. (This requires appropriate programming cables.) v4.06 also has a working PEC, and tracking without jumps.

Although v2.2 is the latest non-upgradeable hand control firmware, I recommend v1.6 over v2.2 because it has all the features and fewer bugs. Specifically, v2.2 has a bug where it will fail to detect a GPS link, which can be quite annoying -- this problem is more prevalent with the original GPS units, which is what was shipped with the v1.2 hand control.

Note that original hand control units can not be converted to the newer upgradeable hand controls (at least not without a lot of work), hence I only offer upgrades from v1.2 to v1.6 or v2.2 -- the newly installed version is not upgradeable.

The Details

I charge $20 for the upgrade service. This is not a money-making venture and the $20 is intended to cover the return shipping cost, plus a little bit for my time. This fee can be paid in US or Canadian dollars via cash, cheque, or Paypal. If you live very far from me (Ottawa Canada) then shipping cost may be higher and I may ask for more than $20.

I do not offer any waranty for this service. This is partly because of the price and partly because you are responsible for the removal and replacement of the motor board from the fork arm. You have to be very careful to record where the cables go and to ensure that they go back into the correct jacks and in the correct orientation -- if you fail to do that then the board will be damaged. Note that I do test the upgraded boards before I return them and will let you know if I find any problems at that time.

Parcels sent to/from me from outside of Canada appear to take about 1.5 - 2 weeks in each direction. When you send the parcels, I suggest you use regular post and mark them as "used telescope parts" with a $10.00 value for customs if you are outside Canada.

If you are interested in this service, you can email me at andre at astrogeeks dot com to get my full address. If you are upgrading a hand control unit, please let me know which version you would like installed. Paypal payments can be made to the same address.

Some Resources

Mike Swanson includes some useful resources on his website for determining what version of firmware you have and how to remove/replace the NexStar GPS motor board. You can find this info at this link.