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Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hmmm...A low cost PMC-8 system?  Maybe one small enough to check through on an airplane? I would love that.
I'm heading to my sister's place in Lake Tahoe next week.  She lives at 7700" and has 10K acres of national park as her backyard.  The skies are incredible. Some little mount I could take, or keep there would be great.  I just picked up a WO Star 71 that would be perfect up there.
Let me know if you need any beta testers. 


Re: Thanks Chris for jumping in an helping out

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

I would very much like to try out your utility to swap communication channels on the PMC-Eight. Just send it to me when you get it ready.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: Thanks Chris for jumping in an helping out

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Jerry,
No problem. I actually kind of enjoy doing tech support. Perhaps I'm just a masochist, lol.

And, thank you for the long write-up on the TDM. 

 I fully agree that time is the most valuable commodity when imaging. RIght now my two big time consuming tasks are babying the autoguider and prococessing.  With my camera, a CMOS ASI1600mm-c, it is better to shoot many short photos rather than fewer long ones.  THat actually has some advantages, but not when it comes to processing.  All those files suck up tons of disk space and take forever to work with.  There is no interactivity. You have to have a precisely defined workflow.  A drizzle itegration I did a few days ago took 10h.  That was on a hex core I-7 with 48g RAM and everything running on fast SSDs.

In short, I love the idea of the TDM and if that's how my final analysis comes out, I would really look forward to using one. Is there a lead time for them?

Also, I have that utility to let users change from serial <--> wifi and to send basic commands working.  I'm planning on spending an hour or two on it later this afternoon just putting a real gui on it.  If you have a second ot two to try it out, that would be great.

I hope you haf a good weekend,
CHris


On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, 11:34:23 AM EDT, hubbell_jerry@... [ESPMC-Eight] wrote:


 

Hi Chris,


I have been away from the forum the past few days, I appreciate you jumping in and helping out. To me that is really the value in having this forum, sharing our experiences and helping out inexperienced folks is primary goal here, I have been working on updating the knowledge base; there is an article about the WiFi issue here:


I am working to continuously improve our documentation and help system to help even more beginners take advantage of our system going forward. It will be a lot of work getting beginners going and I expect we will see some more growth later on this year after we release another version of our PMC-Eight mount system at a price point that almost any beginner can afford.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Thanks Chris for jumping in an helping out

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

I have been away from the forum the past few days, I appreciate you jumping in and helping out. To me that is really the value in having this forum, sharing our experiences and helping out inexperienced folks is primary goal here, I have been working on updating the knowledge base; there is an article about the WiFi issue here:


I am working to continuously improve our documentation and help system to help even more beginners take advantage of our system going forward. It will be a lot of work getting beginners going and I expect we will see some more growth later on this year after we release another version of our PMC-Eight mount system at a price point that almost any beginner can afford.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

Mark Lamb
 

Chris,

Thanks a lot!  One step closer.

I expected that the newness of the system was a risk, but I was hoping that it have been out a year would have worked out almost all of the kinks.  I guess that the low volume of these types of products means they will never be as finished as most things.  It is basic economics, and we want ES to be financially viable!  So, we are basically beta testers providing ES revenue.

With that frustration off my chest, it is great that ES is based in the US (though Chinese owned) and Jerry has been very helpful and responsive.  This forum has also been very helpful.

The open source nature should make the PMC-8 less likely to "strand" the buyer if the manufacturer ends its production.  The "community" could also develop extra functionality that could make the PMC-8 the preferred platform.  I am not however a coder at the basic level, though I have been a high powered developer of models using Excel, MATLAB, and Javelin (20-30 years ago) for higher level solutions.

I do not have worry about the physical mount platform, as the Losmandy G11 is beautifully built and has evolved over the past 20 years.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,

I'm glad you got things workings.

I agree that there is no reason the wifi connection should be having problems.  I've only used it a few times and I never had any problems but I was just tinkering around.  

I also agree that ASCOMPAD is a pain. maybe there is an "Always on top" switch somewhere that I'm not aware of.  I've only started playing with it recently.  Usually, I use the controls on the POTH or slew directly to a target in TheSkyX.

I've been meaning to connect a wireless XBox controller to it, but really just for fun. 

I also, also (lol) agree that the current method of switching between wifi and serial is kind of a hack.  Actually, I just wrote a program to do it automatically, and to send the common commands to the PMC-8.  I'm pretty sure it all works, but I need to spruce-up the interface a bit.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to do that this weekend. I'll post the executable here and the source on github asap.

I think the entire AP world would rejoice if there was some decent way of simulating tracking.  The only method I've ever seen is very, very convoluted.  In short, no.

The PMC-8 is new.  We all have to decide how much we want to live on the cutting edge.  For most people, I think it will just be a matter of figuring out which configuration, programs, and workflow suite them best.  The nice thing is that the PMC-8 gives us lots of flexibility to customize those.  It also has lots of potential for future development.  Just my opinion.
 
Keep me posted.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

Mark Lamb
 

Chris,

Thanks!

I have been out of the house, going to church immediately after I sent my last reply.

I just got back to my computer, and I changed the PMC-8 driver port to COM3.

I am in my basement, as we are forecasted to be cloudy and/or rainy for the next several days.

After the COM3 change, my tablet is operating my G11/PMC-8 via the serial cable, hopefully the serial connect will not have the erratic communication drops the wifi has.  There is NO REASON that the wifi should problematic as the tablet is just a few feet away and the data transmission rates are minuscule.  When the PMC-8 has dropped wifi in the past, it has been after it has been working for at least an hour, so I am wondering if it has a bad electrical part or too narrow operating envelope, and as something heats up it flakes out.  (Though I would expect the aluminum case is a good heat sink, assuming the heat generating parts are thermally coupled to the case.)

Now hopefully I can find ASCOMPAD to work when it is not the active window; it is working the exact same way on the serial cable as it was with wifi (as expected).  At least the XBox controller works (and a HUGE improvement over using touchscreen/mouse), but having to switch to the ASCOMPAD window everytime is a PITA.

I also will need start trying guiding with PHD2.  My QHY5L-II-Mono cam came more than a week ago, but I have not yet tried it.  Being a newbie, I have too many things to get to work, and I have been to add one thing at a time.  

Is there a way experiment with PHD2 with the guidecam and mount while the mount is inside and no actual stars to track?

At some times I feel that the PMC-8 is still an early stage "beta" or maybe "alpha" product instead of commercial production release.  The process of going from wifi to/from serial seems very kludgy, and almost like an unofficial "hack", akin to processes that allow my Oppo bluray player to rip SACDs.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

W. Christopher Moses
 

Also, I would make sure you have closed putty


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
Glad you are making progress.
The com port can have any number. It doesn't have to be com1.  In this case, it looks like your machine has randomly decided to use com3.  Just set that in the driver under Serial Port Setup.  Do you know where I'm talking about?  If not, I'll upload a screen shot.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

Mark Lamb
 

Chris,

Thanks!

I did NOT go into the driver to change from wifi to serial.

So, I redid the process, and changed the driver to serial, but I get I different error when trying connect POTH:
"Error connecting to telescope.
801131620- ASCOM Utilities
The port 'COM1' does not exist"

Again, my tablet has only 1 USB port, and according to Device Manager it is COM3.

Can this work with only COM3 on my tablet?

How do I fix?


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

W. Christopher Moses
 

I don't have the instructions in front of me, but I would double check that things are really getting switched to serial mode and that you changed the ASCOM driver to use serial mode.

For the first, just issue the "%%%" and "###" instructions from putty to enable and disable the diagnostics mode.  DIagnostics mode is just a bunch of numbers, but it means you are properly connected.  There are pretty detailed instructions in the document titled (something like)  ESAN002.pdf in the sdk.  Are those the instructions you followed?

Also, in the driver, make sure you set it to use serial mode.  It is an option right at the top.  Note - telling the ascom driver to use one vs the other does not switch it.  It simply tells it which mode the PMC-8 is in.  Make sense?

I'm almost certain it is one of those. 



Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

Mark Lamb
 

I got good weather for Wed/Thurs and again set up my G11/PMC-8 using wifi, with POTH, CdC, and APT.

On Wed, everything worked without any problems for more than 3 hours.  I was able to get APT to platesolve and I took many 60s/ISO1600 frames of M101 (for experience not for AP output; still unguided).  The downside was that we had high/thin clouds, but it accomplished the learning purpose.  I also took longer unguided exposures, up to 5min, to see how the G11 was working.  From a full frame PoV, the 5 min frame did not seem to show any obvious stars trailing; I guess my PoleMaster alignment was good.  Progress!

The next night, the situation was not a favorable as the PMC-8's wifi issues arose after about 3 hours.  It was a shame as the sky was perfectly clear, and the problem arose as I was starting to shoot M101, and was wanting to try multiple 120s/ISO800 shots.  This was the 1st time I had wifi drops using POTH.

So today I decided to try physical serial hook-up, and it does NOT work at all.

I performed the PUTTY process to convert the PMC-8 to serial, with the last step showing "ESX0!".  (This process seems very "hacky", and the switching from wifi-serial and back needs to be directly integrated into the PMC-8.)

I have connected the PMC-8 to my tablet with a Sabrent CB-FTDI USB/DB9 cable (with FTDI chipset) through a powered USB hub, as my tablet has only 1 USB connection.

When I run POTH and try to Connecting Scope, it does not connect and I get the error:
"Error connecting to telescope."

With the PMC-8 oriented with the lights to the left, the Explore Scientific logo on top, and the mounting groove on the bottom, the monitoring lights are as follows:
Top Left:  Off
Top Middle:   Green Solid
Top Right: Off
Bottom Left: Green Blinking
Bottom Middle Off
Bottom Right  Red Solid

I believe this is the same light indications as when I had wifi disconnects.

By the way, there seems to be confusion as to what is the top vs bottom on the PMC-8 documentation, as my user guide shows the lights on the right, and I believe has have seen other documentation that shows the lights on the left (as I have it).  To me, it is most natural for the bottom to be the grooved side, and therefore lights on the left.

Why doesn't my PMC-8 connect to POTH via serial?

Thanks!





 


New file uploaded to ESPMC-Eight

ESPMC-Eight@...
 

Hello,

This email message is a notification to let you know that
a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the ESPMC-Eight
group.

File : /Mount Related Files/Chris_PHD2_GuideLog_2018-05-24_234654.txt
Uploaded by : Chris_Moses <chris_moses@yahoo.com>
Description : Calibration, GA, and 3+ hours guiding

You can access this file at the URL:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ESPMC-Eight/files/Mount%20Related%20Files/Chris_PHD2_GuideLog_2018-05-24_234654.txt

To learn more about file sharing for your group, please visit:
https://help.yahoo.com/kb/index?page=content&y=PROD_GRPS&locale=en_US&id=SLN15398

Regards,

Chris_Moses <chris_moses@yahoo.com>


Re: Random Tips

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Jerry,
    I'm glad that is a known issue.  Personally, I would give it a very low priority.  At least for me, it has zero impact now that I learned how to stop it from disabling guiding.

    Incidentally, my guiding for about 4h last night fluctuated from about 0.55" to about 0.75" Total RMS. With occational better and worse periods.  I'll post the details in a new guiding thread.  The original one is becoming a bit long. But, I was pretty happy!


Re: Random Tips

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

I have been aware of issue 1 since I released the beta test version of the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver. Currently the Slewing() property is set true in my driver code if the current rate on either RA or DEC is set > 54 micro-steps/sec or 15.1875 arc-sec/sec. This is only slightly above the nominal Sidereal Rate. So when PHD is correcting the mount, it will momentarily slew faster than Sidereal Rate when correcting to the west. I set the value for minSlewRate at 54 in the code, you can look for it. 

I would suggest doing as you said and set Phd2 to ignore this error while guiding. You can watch the status change by looking at the POTH display.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Random Tips

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,

These aren't really specific to the PMC-8 but I thought I would post them anyway:


1. In PhD2 I was receving sporadic "Mount is slewing" errors.  I saved the debug logs to try to figure out what was going on, but I also discovered you can set it to automatically ignore the error and keep guiding. Much better than continually wondering if your guiding has failed.


2.  I was using TSX to image and PhD2 to guide.  I forgot and left dithering on in both.  Bad idea.  As soon as I turned it off in TSX, my total RMS fell by about 0.05"


3.  If you are like me and forget to properly set the naming convention for your image files, http://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/Screenshots.php will be a big help.  It's my favorite renamer.


Just a few random tips...

 


Re: Assistance...

Steve Siedentop
 

An update to this....

After some troubleshooting on the phone with Jerry, we determined that the RN-131 WiFi module had failed.  A replacement module is being provided.

Thanks for getting involved at this level, Jerry.  I appreciate it.

-Steve


Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

Jeremy Parker
 

Hi Chris,

No problem, glad to help.

1. I bought it right off their website, right from that link, basically. I remember it said something like that when I added it to my cart, but it seemed to go through with no issue. Maybe try it again and see what shows up in the cart. Worst case, you could probably call them and place an order.

2. I remember studying the following links, if you haven't seen them before:
This guys also has a nice write-up/analysis of the work he did:
Here's the way I've been doing it... you remove the motor assembly (keep in mind there are two sets screws on each shaft in the stock ES coupler), so that you can turn the worm by hand. I used a 5mm drill bit inserted into the coupler, so I could really get a good feel for the adjustment and rotate it fairly quickly. 
Then you loosen both bearing blocks, and then squeeze them together while pushing the worm into the follower (or wheel). (You're basically trying to prevent any lateral slack in the worm between the bearing blocks, while getting a rough mesh adjustment.) Once the worm's making full contact with the follower gear, while still squeezing, you should tighten the bolts for both bearing blocks - but not all the way, just enough to hold their position.
Then tighten the inner bearing block (closest to the coupler) a bit more. With a straight-edge up against both bearing blocks, I used an adjustable wrench to fine-tune the angle of the inner bearing block to sit flat against the straight-edge. Then I would slightly loosen the outer bearing block to make it sit flat against the straight-edge, while still keeping axial compression on the worm.
The next step would be to turn the worm to move the follower all the way around, to find where you feel any binding. Whenever it binds, I would slightly nudge the outer bearing block away, while keeping the squeezing/compression that was established from the first couple steps. Once there is no binding, and it feels smooth with a full rotation of the axis, I would then do a final tightening of both bearing block bolts, while holding them with the adjustable wrench to keep them from rotating, checking their alignment with the straight-edge as needed. A little extra backlash in RA is no problem, but in DEC you want to minimize it. Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but hope this helps! It gets easier with practice!

Regards,
Jeremy


Re: TheSkyX move/jog section not displayed

W. Christopher Moses
 

Looks like TSX is doing something funky when it gets the CanMoveAxis.  The code clearly specifies TRUE for Primary and Secondary, but the TSX log shows it is getting FALSE.
    I can't imagine they are looking at CanMoveAxis for TERTIARY, but maybe I'll set that to TRUE just to see.


Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

Mark Lamb
 

For the 1st time in a week, we had decent conditions last night, so I setup outside.  I only connected my Win10 tablet using ASCOM wirelessly using POTH, CdC, and ASCOMPAD.  I used XBox controller w/ ASCOMPAD to do the rotations need for PoleMaster, as well as tweeking the GoTo pointing.

Everything worked without any disconnects over the 2+ hours.  As far as connections were concerned, my only complaint was that XBox controller w/ ASCOMPAD does work unless the ASCOMPAD window is visible and the active window.  So tweeking the mount's direction required bringing ASCOMPAD up from the hidden tray before using the controller, but at least it can work though a PITA.  (I have posted my ASCOMPAD issues to the EQMOD group, and my only response so far is that it might be an XBox controller driver issue.)

My entire session had my camera connected instead of EP, and I was trying out the trial version of APT.  APT worked, but I could not get it to platesolve.  Earlier in the day, I installed PlateSolve2 and ASPS and their respective catalogs, but APT could not find the catalogs.  I sure this is user error, as this is the 1st time I have used the software.

So progress is being made, although slowly.
 

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