Date   

Re: Question from a prospective buyer: All Star Polar Alignment

W. Christopher Moses
 

Sharpcap PA is Nice!  I'm trying to decide if I prefer it to the PoleMaster.  It's certainly cheaper, $15 vs $250


Re: Sky Safari Interface for Explore Scientific PMC-8 Mounts

Steve Siedentop
 

Hi Chris -

SkySafari is a scope control/planetarium application for Android, iOS, and OSX.

Unfortunately, the integration would have to happen on the SkySafari end.

A work around is to run a free application from Main Sequence Software called WiFiScope.  It's connects to ASCOM and emulates an LX200 Classic, so Sky Safari sees it an LX200.  This, of course, requires a Windows computer in the mix.

-Steve


Re: Exos-2 PMC-8 - pier extension & axes stabilty

Jennifer Shelly
 

Thanks Jerry. I noticed something like that when I was making adjustments, but I thought my mind was playing tricks on me.

I did read that article and unfortunately the link to the Losmandy mount was not helpful because it did not pertain to the Exos-2. It looks different and I did not see where the Exos-2 had the option to move the worm blocks. I suggest adding a link with pictures of for Exos-2 to the knowledge base article.


Re: Exos-2 PMC-8 - pier extension & axes stabilty

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jennifer,

There are actually 2 modes that the wheel can be out of round (run-out) in terms of the mesh adjustment. One mode has 1 low and 1 high spot, the other mode has 2 low and 2 high spots per revolution. I have attached a drawing which shows this.

I would assume that typically any mount will have both modes of run-out at the same time, but one mode may be more pronounced than the other. It is important to understand this when you are adjusting your mount as you may find the first spot to adjust to, but you still could have another high friction spot that will cause some more binding (although maybe not as bad). 

I hope this helps clarify what you may find in your adjustment. I will try and update the knowledge base article I have already posted 


To include this information also.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

Jennifer Shelly
 

Thanks Jerry. Good to know. 


Re: Exos-2 PMC-8 - pier extension & axes stabilty

Jennifer Shelly
 

I called ES last week and obtained clarification on how to determine where the high point is on the worm assembly.

For those interested here are some pointers.
* The high point will be the spot that has the most friction when manually rotating the axis by hand
* The high point should have the least amount of wobble/backlash
* Backlash can be observed by looking at the axis when giving it a little shake and/or by looking at the gear that you are manually turning by hand
* Rotate the axis by hand 180 degrees to find the low point.
* The low point should have the most wobble by observing the axis whilst shaking and/or by looking at the movement of the gear which will show the most movement.
* Only make adjustments at the high point
* If you have a lot of friction the you will need to back out the two end adjustment screws a tiny bit at a time and and rotate the the low spot and check for wobble
* You will likely have to do this as many times as it takes to get to an acceptable amount of wobble at the low point. It might take 5-10 times.
* BE PATIENT because this is a time where patience is indeed a virtue.

*


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jennifer,

It seems like I have read this article before. Yes, based on how it is using the serial port on the mount controller, and also mapping a com port to the Bluetooth wireless device on the computer, it should theoretically work. I would say give it a try. There is nothing there that seems like it would not work with the PMC-Eight. You need to switch the PMC-Eight to the serial port communications, but that's easy to do.

It looks like what this does is substitute the serial cable with a Bluetooth virtual serial cable. One thing to keep in mind is that the range will not be very large as compared to the WiFi connection already supplied with the PMC-Eight and PMC-Eight ASCOM driver. The other thing to know is that the Baud rate for the PMC-Eight is 115,200 which the Bluetooth connection must support.

Thanks for sharing

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

Jennifer Shelly
 


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: All Star Polar Alignment

r_hoskin@...
 

Joe,

If your C14 has a guidescope, and if you can see Polaris, then Sharpcap can help you perform a PA, without additional hardware. 

Without getting into the weeds, it leverages guidescope images from the Polaris area and platesolving, to measure misalignment and show you how to adjust your mount into alignment in real time.  Only takes a few minutes, and it's an inexpensive software subscription.

- Bob
 


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: All Star Polar Alignment

hubbell_jerry@...
 

It is possible to use the ExploreStars alignment transform matrix coefficients (shown by turning on Show Alignment Data under Settings Preferences) to calculate the offset in Altitude and Azimuth of the mount. 

The technique would involve calculating the offset in ALT/AZ and then pointing the mount to a bright star adjusting for the calculated offset values. Then you would manually move the ALT/AZ controls to center the star and that would be it. Once you have manually adjusted the ALT/AZ then you would clear the alignment since you have now physically aligned the mount.

Pretty straight forward. I have worked on that math before but would need to refresh my memory and work on a spreadsheet version of the calculation to test it out. Unfortunately, I don't know when I would be able to spend time on it since I have probably 6 other priorities that I am working on currently 

If anyone is interested in working on this, here is the reference paper I used to create the Alignment function in the ExploreStars application. 


If you are interested in taking on this project (not easy!) I would suggest getting familiar with the equations and then derive a method to convert the transform coefficients to an offset in ALT/AZ coordinates. I use an open source library to do the matrix transform calculations called MathNet Numerics:


This really simplifies the work. I have this on my TODO list but I probably won't be able to get it done for a few months yet.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.

---In ESPMC-Eight@..., <joe@...> wrote :

Celestron's competing CGX mount eschews  a polar scope in favor of their much-touted, "exclusive" All Star Polar Alignment 


    https://www.celestron.com/pages/all-star-polar-alignment


Celestron certainly deserves kudos for a clever idea which I understand works very well.  Celestron doesn't share its code, but the idea is sufficiently general that it shouldn't be patentable.  Is a PMC-8 implementation in the works?  


Every go-to scope manufacturer with sufficient compute power in their scope's processors should be able to implement the idea.  I think it will be common in the near future.  


A PMC-8 implementation affects the choice of whether to purchase an expensive ~$240 Losmandy G-11 scope accessory.


(Thanks for the responses to my many questions!)


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

r_hoskin@...
 

Joe,

My Nikon D5300 will support a wifi connection, and when I was researching how best to integrate all this kit for AP, the advice I ran into was that for astrophotography use, it should be disabled.  This for the very good reason that it's an additional source of heat within the camera.  Someone running on battery might also care about power consumption.  So I live with cables...

One of my requirements was portability, so I sourced a small laptop for scope control. I serial-attach the PMC-8, and USB-attach the camera, etc.  The laptop runs all the control programs: POTH, CdC, BYN, Sharpcap, and AstroTortilla.  It's self-sufficient if I were to take it somewhere dark, but while in my back yard and in reach of my home router, I can manage it remotely from a laptop in my den with TightVNC.

Hope this helps...

- Bob


Re: Beginner question-am I following the right steps?

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
Just to add to Jerry's comments - Leveling is helpful because it means movements in your dec and ra will be independent and, hence, it is easier to align things.  But, don't get overly hung up on it. It doesn't have to be perfect. I've seen beginners spend way too much time trying to get perfectly level.


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: All Star Polar Alignment

W. Christopher Moses
 

You can use astrotortilla, which is free, or use TheSkyX - I think their PinPoint model works with all mounts.

Frankly, I would rather have the requirement of a view of Polaris than of the equator. Of couse, my fov isn't great.


Question from a prospective buyer: All Star Polar Alignment

joe@...
 

Celestron's competing CGX mount eschews  a polar scope in favor of their much-touted, "exclusive" All Star Polar Alignment 


    https://www.celestron.com/pages/all-star-polar-alignment


Celestron certainly deserves kudos for a clever idea which I understand works very well.  Celestron doesn't share its code, but the idea is sufficiently general that it shouldn't be patentable.  Is a PMC-8 implementation in the works?  


Every go-to scope manufacturer with sufficient compute power in their scope's processors should be able to implement the idea.  I think it will be common in the near future.  


A PMC-8 implementation affects the choice of whether to purchase an expensive ~$240 Losmandy G-11 scope accessory.


(Thanks for the responses to my many questions!)


Re: Beginner question-am I following the right steps?

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Lynn,

You are pretty much correct. If I might suggest, it might be easier to level the tripod by itself before you install the mount on the tripod since it is easier to do fine adjustments on the legs without all the extra weight. After you install the mount and your telescope/equipment, then you should check the level and maybe tweak it if you feel that is necessary. Small errors in level will not impact the operation of the mount nor its alignment.

Once you have completed your polar alignment with Polemaster, then you can do a 2 or 3-star alignment ( I always suggest a 3-star alignment) After you complete the alignment the ExploreStars app will sit at the last star you aligned after you SYNC'd on it and wait for you to slew to your first object. You can do that or PARK the mount to start out if you like but it is not necessary.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

hubbell_jerry@...
 

The WiFi module used in the PMC-Eight can be reconfigured as a station on a WAN versus as an access point. There is an Application Note I created to do just that. The Application Note tells you what to do to change the configuration but not how it needs to be changed. That needs to be worked out as far as the settings are concerned. Early on (3 years ago) we demonstrated the configuration for connecting to a WAN but have not done any work on this since then. See this knowledge base article:


Most, if not all of your other questions may be already answered on our knowledge base:


Please spend some time browsing those and then I will be pleased to answer any other questions you may have.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.



Beginner question-am I following the right steps?

clchev@...
 

Not sure if I have the steps correct and in the right order setting up the ESPMC 8 and Losmandy ES G-11 mount.
Feedback welcome!
  • Set up/balance tripod-one leg towards true north
  • Install RA & DEC units on Tripod
  • Install counter weight bar and counter weights
  • Install telescope and balance in RA & DEC
  • Level RA & DEC
  • Run Polemaster
  • Open Explore Stars
  • Press 'Set Alignment'
  • Press Park Mount?



Re: Question from prospective buyer: MacOS / iOS support

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jim,

Michael Fulbright has developed an INDI driver for the PMC-Eight that runs in LINUX. There is an INDI server available for MAC OSX that I had started testing using a OSX virtual machine on my PC, but I was waiting for the driver to be rolled into the INDI distribution. That is now available but I have not had time to try it out. You may want to find the INDI server (which includes the drivers for several devices including the PMC-Eight) and try it out on your MAC OSX machine. I am not an Apple developer, so I cannot speak to how good it is or how it was developed.

The iOS version of ExploreStars is under active development now and should be released before the end of the year.

As far as a browser interface, I started down that path early in the development of the controller using a WiFi module that included a web server that supported Java. I developed some rudimentary web pages that allowed you to issue commands to the PMC-Eight using that interface. I know that there is active development going on to create an ASCOM web server so that you can post HTML commands to the driver hosted on the web server and control a mount that way. I will probably start looking into that and talk to some folks involved with that.

Overall, development is happening!

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


---In ESPMC-Eight@..., <joe@...> wrote :

I use two Mac laptops, and iPad, and an iPhone.  One laptop is configured with bootcamp, so I use Windows under duress. ExploreScientific sales (always helpful) say MacOS and iOS support is coming and may happen in early 2019.  Can anyone confirm or provide further details?


I run Windows Autostakkert 2 and 3 and Registax executables inside wine on my Mac.  Does ExploreStars and other Windows executables that interface to the PMC-8 run work properly inside wine on a Mac that has a USB-serial interface? Can I survive until there is real Mac support?


What are my options if I choose to sidestep the platform issue by controlling the G-11/PMC-8 from a browser window that was tethered via wifi or 100-base-T ethernet? Would I have basic slewing controls? Could I do alignments? Could I switch between point and track mode?  Would I have Go-To capability?


Re: Question from prospective buyer: No hand paddle

Mark Lamb
 

I have successfully been using an XBox controller with ASCOMPAD through ASCOM Poth.  It is much nicer than using a non-tactile touchscreen.  However, for me ASCOMPAD needs to be the active window for this to work (PITA).  This is for Poth not for ExploreStars.


Re: Question from prospective buyer: MacOS / iOS support

W. Christopher Moses
 

1. iOS/Mac support:
I have no idea. Someone from ES will have to handle that one.

2. Wine:
I haven't heard of anyone trying that configuration.  I would imagine that if ascom runs under wine then the PMC-8 driver would run.  There is also an INDI driver.

3. BRowser interface
There is no browser interface to the pmc-8. It has wifi, but not a web server.

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