Resolved STXL-6303E failing to connect

Discussion in 'STX and STXL' started by Eric Dose, May 3, 2019.

  1. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    Unfortunately, this is a continuation and worsening of previous thread http://www.diffractionlimited.com/forum/threads/stxl-6303e-timeout-failure-on-after-cooling.5720/

    My camera now fails to connect almost every evening, and loses connection during observing sessions. My observing program is crippled.

    I have made 2 trips to the observatory, most recently yesterday, and it connected then, but tonight by remote it fails on every try, usually with "Driver Error: 8" or "Camera not found 1".
    • There is no driver error. DriverChecker64 consistently reports drivers up to date.
    • Firmware is up to date as of last week.
    • USB ports and connections have been changed, no effect.
    • USB Selective Suspend is verified Disabled x 2.
    • All USB "Allow PC to turn off" are verified Disabled.
    • Failure to connect is the same for CCDOps5 (up to date) and MaxIm 6.20 (up to date).
    • On the rare occasions that the camera connects, it looks normal in Windows Device Manager.
    • Camera is on its own dedicated USB port and uninterrupted Belkin Gold cable.
    • All other USB items work normally.
    I am open to all suggestions of things I can try remotely (settings & software), but I am not making another observatory trip to test connections etc. That's been done.

    So if nothing has corrected this by Monday morning, I will then drive up to retrieve the camera and send it in for repair, to replace the whole USB communications circuit. Because this can't go on.

    Thanks for any help.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  2. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Hi Eric, I'll have a look at the prior thread. I can't promise any fresh ideas - the team doesn't work weekends. Will give it some thought though.
     
  3. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    To me this sounds like a hardware problem or some low-level OS/driver issue.
    Have you tried hooking up the camera to a separate PC eg your laptop so we can eliminate the software stack and work with a different machine?

    In the prior thread:
    - you mention ASCOM 6.2SP1 - the current version is 6.4SP1 - maybe that was a typo. I dont think it matters.
    - which version of TSX Pro are you using? 10.5.0 daily build 12165 ?
    - which version of MaxIm ? 6.20?
    - is TSX CAO controlling MaxIm DL's camera? Or are you using SBIG support in CAO directly without MaxIm? (I think its the former)
    - do you have any FTDIchip based USB/RS232 devices? Windows updates sometimes seem to revert the driver version from the current 2.12.28 to a prior version. Doing a check for updates doesnt find the update.
    https://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm

    Have you run USBView to dump out what is on each USB port, eg are any devices sharing the same bus?
    Camera on a separate bus?
    Camera cabled up to the rear USB ports in the computer, not the front panel ones (extra cable length and quality issues sometimes).
    How long is that Belkin USB cable from camera to PC?
     
  4. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    One more idea - with MaxIm alone - have you tried doing a sequence of say 1000 images - just to exercise the camera - like let it run and run and run while doing nothing else?
     
  5. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    All good questions, Colin:
    • ASCOM Explorer shows version 6.4 SP1 (6.4.1.2695). That's not it--CCDOps and MaxIm both fail to connect with no (other) ASCOM devices powered on or physically connected.
    • TSX Pro is version 10.5.0 build 10305. That's not it--when camera fails it does so whether TSX is closed, open, or disconnected from scope.
    • I am controlling camera directly from MaxIm (for use in ACP). TheSkyX has nothing to do with the camera.
    • MaxIm is 6.20, recently reinstalled. Drivers and firmware up to date.
    • Camera is on its own port. I never run cameras through hubs.
    • This is a high-end i7 laptop--no front panel or back panel USB ports. All 3 ports are equal. And when I swapped cables and ports, still only the camera failed to connect.
    • The Belkin USB cable is of legal length, probably 12 feet, I would have to drive up to the mesa to measure it. Whatever it is, it is as short as the rig allows, and it is the very same cable that has worked fine for 4 years, through the same mount to the same laptop, and last night it ran fine for half the night.
    • I have no idea about FTDI chips etc, not sure how to find this, not sure why I'd need to. I'll have a look but this is most unpromising. There are no external USB-Serial adapters. All other USB devices are very standard equipment (FLI Atlas focuser, Paramount MX+, Alnitak light panel), they run fine every time with whatever drivers they use, and if the camera now decides it can't play nicely with them as it had done for 4 years, shame on the camera.
    • Yes, Thursday afternoon I exercised the camera to get > 400 images--I couldn't make it fail. Four hours later, the camera failed to connect no matter what I tried.
    • Will install USBView and run it.
    So the problem is already isolated to the camera connection. The camera has failed to connect to CCDOps when all other programs are closed, when all other USB devices are unplugged, and when PC is freshly started. So it's unlikely to be any of the interactions you suggest.

    Last night (since my first post above), the camera failed to connect at dusk, but did connect 3 hours later, and it ran the remainder of the night to give several hundred images. I'm beginning to sense a time-of-day and temperature problem, either at the PC or the camera. And after all it is seasonally warming rapidly in New Mexico. But I used to run this rig fine in much, much hotter weather, so something has definitely gone wrong here.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  6. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Sounds like it will need to go in to @Bill for repair.
    Perhaps worth testing on the kitchen table with a different computer, first.
    Its almost as if its mechanical / a failed solder connection.
     
  7. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin, I was reaching the same conclusion, and I was about to retrieve the camera. But there's a new clue...I've left the power on to the camera, and lo and behold the camera has run and has remained able to MaxIm-connect repeatedly for 36 hours now. It's also taken several hundred good images over 2 nights, and I was just now able to MaxIm-connect again and again it's running fine.

    My camera's failures to MaxIm-connect seem to require BOTH of 2 conditions:
    • newly powering the camera on
    • at time-of-day about dusk, probably meaning highest temperature
    That is, something about powering on the camera when it and the PC are hot (core temp > 55C; USB port temp = ?) is blocking initiation of the low-level USB port. But once powered on (and initiating the USB port) at lower temperatures, the USB link then seems to survive higher temperatures.

    My view is that this implicates the PC and/or Windows more than it does the camera. It almost definitely rules out a bad cable, USB port conflict, etc. So for now I'll simply leave the camera powered on until I can get up there and attend to cooling the PC more effectively. I'll also take a spare Windows laptop for more testing if needed. If all that doesn't work, then yes, I'll be sending the camera in.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  8. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Eric, are you saying the ambient temperature is 55C ? (130+ F) ?
     
  9. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    I just did a check on various laptops - many are designed for an ambient temperature range of 5C to 35C. (eg looked up an Asus, a Thinkpad, and a Dell).
    Will get back to you on the operating range temperature of the camera.
    Besides heat, oscillator frequencies drift with heat, and this can cause timing issues (and USB problems).
     
  10. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    No, +55C is the CPU core temp, a proxy for hottest spot temperature inside the laptop, and monitored via utility SpeedFan. Core of +55C is pretty normal, maybe a bit on the high side. Ambient temperature at this rather high-altitude [2220 m] scope rarely exceeds +30C, so far this season has not exceeded +25C. Temperature at the PC might exceed ambient by +5C. [Just for the record, this is a HP laptop w/i7 CPU.]

    The camera's fan and CCD cooling are operating normally.

    After leaving the camera powered on again all day yesterday, camera seems to have run fine again last night. So this problem is getting narrowed down to the initial OS-level USB connection upon camera power-on. Whether the camera or my PC is causing the problem is yet to be determined. I still have some things to try at the PC end.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  11. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    A colleague offered another couple thoughts:
    Does the camera not show up in device manager at all when plugged in? Or does it show up but doesn't connect to MaxIm DL or CCDOps?
    If it won't connect in MaxIm, can you check if it is showing up in the Windows device manager when it is in the can't connect state?
    I know this isnt easy considering it is remote.
     
  12. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    Thanks, I will check these the next time it fails to connect. From office here I cannot plug or unplug cables of course, but I can easily power the camera on and off.

    For now the camera seems to connect and perform normally if left powered on 24/7, which may serve until I'm next at the observatory (prob can't be this week unfortunately).
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  13. William B

    William B Cyanogen Customer

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    Hello Eric

    Just an added point to check.

    I too run a Paramount MX, (original version) and had been experiencing increasingly frequent drop-outs of one of my guide cameras (Lodestar) connected to socket USB-B on the versa plate, often, but not always, a Windows pop-up would appear announcing that a hardware device had stopped responding even though it still appeared in device manager.

    Fault finding revealed that one of the two SB standard internal USB cables from the MKS5000 board up to the Versa Plate had a bad connection, actually a failed pin on one of the Molex cable plugs at the MKS5000 board end, and slight movement of the cable as the mount rotated through RA/DEC would cause the pin to go open circuit and the camera to stop responding.

    I built up a pair of replacement internal USB cables rather than buying and shipping to the UK the Bisque spare parts though it’s not something I would like to do that often, failing eyesight and trembling fingers are not a good match for Molex Micro-Blade crimp terminals, even with the right tooling.

    When I stripped the mount last week to fit my self made replacement standard Bisque USB internal cables I found my pair of previously added through-the-mount USB cables for main camera and second guide camera were both in very poor condition too and I pulled those out for replacement but have decided to give up on added through the mount cabling as I think this puts too much strain on the Bisque through-the-mount cable loom and may have contributed to the failure of the built-in USB cables.

    If you are plugged into one of the Versa Plate USB sockets on the MX, or using added through-the-mount USB cables and are experiencing random connectivity problems with one of the USB devices then it may be a USB cable problem and not necessarily your connected hardware.

    Test by connecting to the camera and drive the mount through the full RA and DEC range while checking that the camera stays connected, If you have the same faulty internal USB pin/socket/cable that I had then you might find the camera stops responding at certain mount angles and then appears to begin working again as the mount rotates a little further.

    Another test you could do, if using the Versa Plate sockets is to swap over the devices connected to USB-A and USB-B and see if the problem moves over to the other device.

    It has been noted on the SB forum previously that the internal USB cables on the MX can work loose from their sockets so drop the MKS5000 cover and the Versa Plate connection box and check that USB-A and USB-B Molex connectors are firmly seated and locked into their respective sockets. Note that the Versa Plate connection box can be accessed without having to remove the telescope, the screws for that are underneath the Versa Plate.

    If you do find a faulty internal USB cable on the MX contact Sarah Kimberly at SB to order the factory replacement cables and replace both at the same time.

    I put my mount back into operation last Friday after being down for a week while I built the replacement internal USB cables and imaged for twelve hours over two nights this weekend with no further problems.

    William.
     
  14. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    Unfortunately, the term "through the mount" is ambiguous, referring to either of two very different camera-connection styles:
    1. running USB-B from the camera via a very short cable to a VersaPlate USB-A socket (then carried via the mount's own USB cable to the PC); versus
    2. simply running a single long USB cable straight under the VersaPlate and through the Dec axis port to the PC.
    I think you're describing method 1. That would run the camera's signal through the mount's internal USB hub, with the cautions you describe. But again, I never run any camera signal through a hub of any description, not ever. Only my focuser (FLI Atlas) runs USB through the mount's hub, and it's worked fine that way for 3 1/2 years (very low data rate in any case).

    I use method 2. My STXL-6303E is connected via a single, uninterrupted Belkin Gold (well shielded, very flexible) USB cable threaded through the mount's Dec axis right to a dedicated USB socket on the laptop . No adapters, no extensions, nothing. One cable. I've inspected it, it's in good shape. So my camera has no USB or power connection with the mount whatever.

    Or do I misunderstand your post?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  15. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    I believe I have finally located the cause of this camera USB disconnect + MaxIm lockup problem: a neighboring scope is putting out excessive RF during its long and fast slews for parking, and possibly during other long or fast slews.

    It has happened in exactly the same way 3 mornings in a row now, and this morning I actually watched this happen real-time at 4:43 am. As soon as the other scope's end-of-session parking slew started, my own MaxIm started slowing and then it hung entirely. But immediately after other scope's park ended, I reconnected fine and ran again as though nothing had happened. Of course, I'm using well-shielded USB cables, but no shielding is perfect, and to be fair the cable has been in place and torsioned during slews (often 200 per night) for 2 years. Perhaps ~ 80,000 torsions is too much to ask of any cable shielding.

    Happy accident: as scheduled, next week my scope is moving to an entirely different building, and I'll replace the USB cable then too. After all that I'll report status again here. Hopefully full resolution!
     
  16. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Do you know what make the other mount is?
    I use snap-on TDK ferrites on all my calbes, as I am in a high RF area.
     
  17. Eric Dose

    Eric Dose Cyanogen Customer

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    No, I don't know what the other mount is. But we're short-circuiting the problem by moving my scope to the other building next week. I'll try to locate and identify the offending mount when I'm up there.

    For years I have always had ferrites on all active cables.
     

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