The entire SE base and the NexStar+ hand controller are new, bought within the last couple of months. So it seems unlikely that they would be bad, and I have no problems doing FW updates, or even test connections. All cables are new. So I have a hard time believing it would be a hardware issue. Plus you suggest using Aux, but then say that Kstars and INDI are dependant on USB. I am confident there is no issue with the USB connection.
I suspect it has more to do with my settings since I am not familiar (other than some online docs and videos) with Kstars, Ekos, Astroberry.
Surely there must be someone in this forum who is connecting Astroberry to a Celestron SE setup.