My review of the Celestron CGEM continues. This article is dedicated to my experience with NexRemote telescope control. This is the first time that I have ever used NexRemote and some things were a bit tricky. But after figuring it out, I thoroughly enjoyed using it! So I hope to provide some helpful hints on getting you started using NexRemote.
The first thing I noticed when I received my CGEM is that Celestron provided an RS-232 cable for connecting NexRemote to the telescope. One end of the cable has a DB9 connector and the other end has a modular phone jack. This was a surprise since most newer computers do not have a DB9 serial port. Thus, I had to buy an adapter cable to use the USB port on my laptop. Unfortunately, not all USB to RS-232 adapter cables work with NexRemote. I had to do some research to determine which one to buy. I selected Celestron’s USB to RS-232 Converter Cable shown below (note: click on photo to open Amazon.com product page):
According to Celestron, the cables listed below are supposed to be compatible with NexRemote as well:
Aten Technologies UC232A USB to DB9 Serial Adapter
Belkin USB PDA Adaptor Cable
Digi 301-1003-10 Edgeport 2C 2-Port DB-9 Compact USB Converter
IOGear USB to Serial/PDA Converter Cable GUC232A
StarTech.com USB-to-RS232 Serial DB9 Adapter Cable (ICUSB232)
There was a little snag while trying to install the NexRemote program from the CD. The following screen auto-loads when the CD is inserted:
I clicked on “NexRemote Installation” on the menu and started following through with installation. But then I got this error: NexRemote is not allowed to run on WinNTx. Setup aborted!
It turns out that there is a compatibility issue with my version of Windows. To fix it, I shut down the NexRemote installation program and went to the NexRemote files on the CD through Window Explorer. There is a file called “NexRemote Install” in the list as shown below. I right clicked on this file.
Then I clicked on the “Compatibility” tab and checked the box to run the program in compatibility mode. Windows XP (Service Pack 2) was the default in the drop-down box which was the correct selection. Here is a screenshot of the final settings:
After pressing the OK button, I launched the installation program from the NexRemote Install file that is shown above. The installation was a success! Note that a restart is required after installation.
Now that NexRemote was loaded, I launched the program from the desktop icon. An odd pop-up box came up telling me that I have 30 days remaining in my NexRemote trial period.
At first, I wondered if my CD was just a trial version and not the full program! It was like one of those free trials you get to use for a period of time to see if you want to buy the full version. However, it was simply a matter of inserting my license key that was found on the NexRemote disk envelope. After adding the key, I didn’t see this message again.
Virtual NexRemote Controller
The next surprise was when I launched NexRemote. CGEM was not listed in the “mount model” drop-down. This was odd given that NexRemote came with my CGEM.
It turns out that I did not receive the latest version of NexRemote. The version on the CD was 1.6.14. I figured out that the latest version had to be downloaded from the Celestron site.
Latest version of NexRemote (click on the “Support/Files” tab and scroll down to the software section).
Although the download file says that it’s a “30 day trial”, I did not have to insert my CD key again. I just downloaded the file to my desktop then ran the setup program. When I went back into NexRemote, the CGEM was listed! The new version is 1.6.25.
Connecting NexRemote to CGEM
It took some trial and error before I could actually connect the NexRemote to my CGEM. I had the USB connector (of the USB to RS-232 adapter) plugged into my laptop. Then the serial cable that was provided with my CGEM was connected to the USB to RS-232 adapter cable. The modular phone jack on the other end of the serial cable was plugged into the jack in the bottom of the CGEM hand controller.
Since the cable was coming off of the USB port of my laptop, I was not sure which PC Port or Virtual Port on the NexRemote to select. After experimenting, I found that the following settings allowed me to connect to my CGEM:
- PC Port- Com4
- Mount Model- CGEM
- Firmware- GEM 4.16
- Virtual Port- None
Screenshot of the NexRemote settings:
Virtual Controller Setup
After connecting to the CGEM, the virtual hand controller on my screen prompted me to do a setup just like the first time I used the actual hand controller. This included my time zone, date, time, etc.
After the initial setup was complete, the NexRemote prompted me to do a star alignment. It was doing everything that the actual hand controller does when turning on the telescope.
From here on out, it was all fun! I was using the NexRemote virtual controller to hop from object to object. I even got to see the planet Uranus for the first time in years. It was just a small blueish dot, but was interesting none-the-less. NexRemote was working perfectly!
Now I can start setting up my remote operation. My observatory has been vacant since I had the LX200 mounted in there. I need to make a few modifications inside the observatory to accommodate my CGEM. The NexRemote software will be key to controlling the CGEM remotely- from inside my garage!
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Clear Skies! Ray Shore