Date   

Re: Polar Alignment (split from CDC Sky Chart Error Message)

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Bob,

Yes, It is hard to develop and create a system that is all things to all people, or will do what is needed based on the local conditions. We don't have a mount AI that will see where you planted your tripod and figure out the local horizon and then align itself (yet!). So we have to learn enough to realize we setup the correct configuration for our observing session and go on from there. Sometimes the ExploreStars virtual alignment will work fine, other's we may need to do a good physical alignment. There are a lot of factors involved.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Polar Alignment (split from CDC Sky Chart Error Message)

Robert Hoskin <r_hoskin@...>
 

Jerry,

Re: polar alignment...

During the brief time I tried Explorestars, I tried to use its alignment, and ran into the same issue that I had both years ago, with my old Autostar, and the (several) alignment methods I tried in my PMC-8 era before getting things sorted out.  

These methods all seem to want to want to use stars that are lower in the sky, and are easily obstructed by houses and trees in an urban back yard.  I was unable to use them, and picking alternate stars didn't help, as they were often blocked, as well.

Fortunately, I CAN see Polaris.  Sharpcap can use that, and it works like a champ.  It does the same sort of rotated image plate solving that I believe Polemaster does, and it works with an ordinary guidescope and camera.

Where this leads, is that a method that suits one observing site may not suit another. 


- Bob
 



From: "hubbell_jerry@... [ESPMC-Eight]"
To: ESPMC-Eight@...
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2018 10:49 PM
Subject: [ESPMC-Eight] Re: CDC Sky Chart Error Message

 
Hi Jim,

I don't see any attachment or any other indication of the error in you message. You may have to manually upload the screenshot file (I assume that's what it was) and then provide a link to it in your message. I will have to see the message to comment any further.

I am glad you have it working. If you don't know, the ExploreStars polar alignment routines are a virtual alignment that creates a model within the ExploreStars application for pointing the scope. It does not work when using the ASCOM driver, CdC and ASCOMPAD. The ASCOM Standard platform assumes you have a good physical alignment. Most people are using the QHYCCD Polemaster system to do their physical alignments. 

I have been thinking of ways to incorporate an alignment tool into the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver, but to tell you the truth, it would be on the back burner for a while with all the other stuff I am working on. The source code is available for our driver so a customer with good programming skills could create the code to do this and present it to me for incorporation. I have already included the code for the alignment routine in the project but have done nothing with it.

I would use that code and create an interface to acquire the 2 or 3 star data for the alignment and then add a new transform to calculate the Altitude and Azimuth offsets. I would present those offsets as instructions to the user to  move the Altitude and Azimuth a certain amount in a certain direction that should refine the physical alignment.  This would be like the Polemaster except not as fancy nor as fast perhaps.

The other way would be to do the 2 or 3 star alignment and then calculate the pointing coordinates on the fly like we do in ExploreStars based on the pointing model generated.

Anyway, it would take a bit of work which unfortunately I don't have time for right now, perhaps later on this year in the fall. 

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.



Re: Mounts and PMC-8

Robert Hoskin <r_hoskin@...>
 

Cyril and Jerry,

My $0.02...  Based on my own experience, I think that there are real practical limits on putting a topic area in a new title, as the problem likely hasn't been diagnosed yet.  I think best you can do is state a problem and try to keep the OP's thread focused on diagnosing and solving that problem, and starting new threads for subtopics/off-topics as needed.  

Consider my early posts about seagull images.  I had no idea what the source of my problem was - I only knew that I had this new thing and it was exhibiting a problem I needed help diagnosing.  Turned out that there were multiple problems behind those seagulls, only a couple of which had to do with my EXOS2, and none of which had to do with the PMC-8.  But I didn't know that, and the onion had to be peeled one layer at a time in order to find out.  

All of which reminds me...

Cyril, thank you for your post on shims, back in January!  It made me wonder: "what will I find, if I crack open *my* motor cases?..."    

So I opened my motor cases, and I didn't see your problem, but I did see another.  My RA pulley was mispositioned and scraping plastic.  Had you not made your post and made me go 'Hmmmm...', I'd have been a long time finding that layer of the problem.  

FWIW...

- Bob





From: "hubbell_jerry@... [ESPMC-Eight]"
To: ESPMC-Eight@...
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2018 9:26 AM
Subject: [ESPMC-Eight] Re: Mounts and PMC-8

 
Hi Cyril,

I just reviewed the postings you were referring to, to remind myself what the specific comments were and how I responded. The thrust of the issue at that time was that sometimes when we hit reply to a message we don't think to change the subject line if we are going to add our comment to the ongoing discussion. Sometimes the discussion goes into other areas and to clarify, it is sometimes good to change the subject line to better reflect the thrust of that specific post. 

To be clear, all discussion of anything related to Explore Scientific's PMC-Eight product line including the mount hardware is very welcome here and encouraged. This is a software, electronic, electrical/mechanical system where the problems that arise can involve all aspects of the system, so it's good to understand and discuss the full scope of the issue at hand. 

I am guilty of not changing the subject line of my posts also.

To your point, I do not really do much, if any moderation of this forum, I don't think I have removed any posts made as I think we all have practiced good etiquette and have not been disparaging in our remarks. So we will get a large range of topics as you have seen. I have seen the moderators at CloudyNights allow remarks that are far worse than any I have seen on this forum.

The only effective tool that you can apply to the current messages that are in the forum is the search tool to look for specific terms within the messages. I would suggest, but won't enforce the idea that when creating our subject lines, if we were to add a topic area term such as MOUNT, or CONTROLLER, or DRIVER, or any other such term to the start of our subject line, it might accomplish what you are suggesting. Perhaps we can discuss a SMALL list of headings.  I would start out by maybe suggesting HARDWARE, CLIENT, DRIVER, G11, EXOS2, FIRMWARE.  We could do multiple keywords if the topic involves more than one, or perhaps use OTHER, if it doesn't speak to any of these, such as this topic.

For some on this forum, that may be an extra bit of work that they don't want to deal with, and I understand, I am not going to enforce this, as again this is pretty much an unmoderated forum, but to Cyril's point, I think it another way that we can show our consideration for those members who are looking for answers and do not want to spend hours browsing all the messages looking for that little nugget or gem of information that may have been mentioned in passing.

One of my many tasks that I have volunteered for as part of my duties at Explore Scientific is to get our knowledge base up to speed. I am sure some of you know, over the past year and a half, I have answered hundreds of questions both on CloudyNights and here and my goal is to compile all these questions and answers and get them boiled down to an extensive set of Q&A's. It will take me several months to get the knowledge base current and then we can all refer to that when responding to comments and questions as the guide to the PMC-Eight.

I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for this system, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to all of you about the system I started thinking about over 4 years ago and is on it's way to a bright future. 

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.



Re: Mounts and PMC-8

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Cyril,

I just reviewed the postings you were referring to, to remind myself what the specific comments were and how I responded. The thrust of the issue at that time was that sometimes when we hit reply to a message we don't think to change the subject line if we are going to add our comment to the ongoing discussion. Sometimes the discussion goes into other areas and to clarify, it is sometimes good to change the subject line to better reflect the thrust of that specific post. 

To be clear, all discussion of anything related to Explore Scientific's PMC-Eight product line including the mount hardware is very welcome here and encouraged. This is a software, electronic, electrical/mechanical system where the problems that arise can involve all aspects of the system, so it's good to understand and discuss the full scope of the issue at hand. 

I am guilty of not changing the subject line of my posts also.

To your point, I do not really do much, if any moderation of this forum, I don't think I have removed any posts made as I think we all have practiced good etiquette and have not been disparaging in our remarks. So we will get a large range of topics as you have seen. I have seen the moderators at CloudyNights allow remarks that are far worse than any I have seen on this forum.

The only effective tool that you can apply to the current messages that are in the forum is the search tool to look for specific terms within the messages. I would suggest, but won't enforce the idea that when creating our subject lines, if we were to add a topic area term such as MOUNT, or CONTROLLER, or DRIVER, or any other such term to the start of our subject line, it might accomplish what you are suggesting. Perhaps we can discuss a SMALL list of headings.  I would start out by maybe suggesting HARDWARE, CLIENT, DRIVER, G11, EXOS2, FIRMWARE.  We could do multiple keywords if the topic involves more than one, or perhaps use OTHER, if it doesn't speak to any of these, such as this topic.

For some on this forum, that may be an extra bit of work that they don't want to deal with, and I understand, I am not going to enforce this, as again this is pretty much an unmoderated forum, but to Cyril's point, I think it another way that we can show our consideration for those members who are looking for answers and do not want to spend hours browsing all the messages looking for that little nugget or gem of information that may have been mentioned in passing.

One of my many tasks that I have volunteered for as part of my duties at Explore Scientific is to get our knowledge base up to speed. I am sure some of you know, over the past year and a half, I have answered hundreds of questions both on CloudyNights and here and my goal is to compile all these questions and answers and get them boiled down to an extensive set of Q&A's. It will take me several months to get the knowledge base current and then we can all refer to that when responding to comments and questions as the guide to the PMC-Eight.

I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for this system, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to all of you about the system I started thinking about over 4 years ago and is on it's way to a bright future. 

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: CDC Sky Chart Error Message

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jim.
I have seen this type of error message when more than one ASCOM client is trying to connect to the ES_PMC8.Telescope driver at time. The timing isn't really an issues as the PMC_Eight driver has been tested to provide a transaction rate for certain functions up to 60 times per second. The minimum transaction rate has been around 20 times per second for other functions. The default refresh rate on the POTH is 1 second I believe. 

You may be doing this correctly but I want to review the connection sequence. Are you running POTH, or are you connecting directly from CdC to the PMC-Eight driver ES_PMC8.Telescope? Are you then trying to connect to ASCOMPAD to ES_PMC8.Telescope. Are you running version 2.09 of the ASCOMPAD?

The way you have to connect everything is:

POTH  to ES_PMC8.Telescope
CdC to POTH
ASCOMPAD to POTH

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Mounts and PMC-8

CYRIL BONNETT
 

HI jerry

When I first received my mount and PMC-8  I discovered that I had a problem with the stepper motor slipping and asked for some advice, from that post until I resolved the problem I received some comments that I shouldn't have posted the problems that I had with my mount.


I now seeing  comments about  problems some are have with THEIR mounts inundating the conversations!


So is there a way that you can filter messages for problems with mounts and that of the PMC-8.


Cyril


Re: CDC Sky Chart Error Message

James Buck
 

The message box comes up from CDC

Warning:

Error:  Unable to read data from the transport connection:  An established
connection was aborted by the software in your host machine.


I am sure it is being generated by Sky Chart but not sure why.  The only thing I can figure out is when I use the Xbox controller and push the knob in one direction and then another direction too quickly then it comes up. It also may have something to do with the refresh rate too.  

Jim B


Re: CDC Sky Chart Error Message

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jim,

I don't see any attachment or any other indication of the error in you message. You may have to manually upload the screenshot file (I assume that's what it was) and then provide a link to it in your message. I will have to see the message to comment any further.

I am glad you have it working. If you don't know, the ExploreStars polar alignment routines are a virtual alignment that creates a model within the ExploreStars application for pointing the scope. It does not work when using the ASCOM driver, CdC and ASCOMPAD. The ASCOM Standard platform assumes you have a good physical alignment. Most people are using the QHYCCD Polemaster system to do their physical alignments. 

I have been thinking of ways to incorporate an alignment tool into the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver, but to tell you the truth, it would be on the back burner for a while with all the other stuff I am working on. The source code is available for our driver so a customer with good programming skills could create the code to do this and present it to me for incorporation. I have already included the code for the alignment routine in the project but have done nothing with it.

I would use that code and create an interface to acquire the 2 or 3 star data for the alignment and then add a new transform to calculate the Altitude and Azimuth offsets. I would present those offsets as instructions to the user to  move the Altitude and Azimuth a certain amount in a certain direction that should refine the physical alignment.  This would be like the Polemaster except not as fancy nor as fast perhaps.

The other way would be to do the 2 or 3 star alignment and then calculate the pointing coordinates on the fly like we do in ExploreStars based on the pointing model generated.

Anyway, it would take a bit of work which unfortunately I don't have time for right now, perhaps later on this year in the fall. 

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


CDC Sky Chart Error Message

James Buck
 

Jerry,


I get the following error message when using Sky Chart (CDC) and ASCOM Pad 
Not all the time, just some times.  When it comes up, I just have to reconnect ASCOM Pad to mount.  
Any ideas?
It is really neat that you can now use a joystick to control the mount.  
Next clear night, will give it a try with first Polar Alignment with ExploreStars then switching to CDC.

Thanks for your help in getting this put together.

Jim Buck



Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

Jeremy Parker
 

Hello Jerry, All,

While I wait for new couplers, as well as another type I found on McMaster-Carr that could potentially work, I decided I needed to do something to be absolutely sure that the helical coupler is my issue. So as a proof of concept of what a more 'ideal' coupling would look/feel like, and to confirm that the coupler is responsible for the wiggling/runout I've measured so far, I found a piece of vinyl tubing that I heated up and stretched over both the motor shaft and worm shaft. Lo and behold, the wiggling on the worm and bearing blocks went away almost completely!! There was much less movement, more what I would expect from coaxial coupling; a big improvement. As in the picture below, I could hold the assembly and feel very little excess torquing of the bearing blocks or worm.


Since it was working so well, I put the assembly back on the RA axis of the mount and adjusted the mesh, as well as fine-tuned the exact position of the motor before tightening the two hex screws. I used the same technique as before, where I would align the bearing blocks while pushing them together and pushing the worm into a reasonable mesh. I turned on the RA motor and let the RA axis spin completely around, fine-tuning the position of the outer bearing block until I heard no resistance. The big difference was that the outer bearing block did not wiggle and torque when its mounting screw was loosened (like it did with the original coupler). I added small zip ties to secure the tubing.


This may not be a permanent solution, but it is working quite well as a proof of concept, even as I push on the RA axis to simulate an imbalance. The true test of this will be of course to take it outside, but I feel that should be the next step while I wait for new couplers. If my base PE is substantially improved, I know this is the solution. I wonder if this has been done before on the G11?

Jeremy


Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jerry,

Yes, I tried to simulate the capture of the bearing blocks and worm by holding everything in line, and there is clearly excess twisting forces exerted on both couplers that would make good PE impossible. With everything locked down, the worm may not wiggle that much as you say, but the net force has to go somewhere, and that is back into the motor shaft as rotational resistance, which I believe has been the source of my PE, all along. My measurements confirmed that the coupler’s outer diameter and inner bore were not rotating in alignment with the motor (or each other) by more than a slight amount. The inner bore is what matters, and I can’t get it better than about 0.02” off-center with a degree or two probably of axial misalignment with the motor shaft. I’ve done extensive reading on the Losmandy forum, and the coupler should be able to accommodate angular/axial misalignment between motor and worm, but it should in itself not impart any misalignment. It is doing exactly that, and I’m confident it needs replacing. I spent several hours last night working on this, and I’m very hesitant to put this back on the mount in its current state. I’m running out of time and patience for further experimenting honesty, and what would be the reason/risk not to exchange the coupler at this point as soon as possible?

Once the motor-coupler-worm block assembly can rotate with minimal excess movement, I would feel comfortable putting it back on the mount and adjusting the mesh with the follower per your instructions.

Regards,
Jeremy


Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

hubbell_jerry@...
 

HI Jeremy,

I understand. I will talk to Alex and get a new coupler sent to you. You I would be interested to see what you measure as the difference between the two. While you are waiting on the coupler (it might take a couple of days) you may want to take the coupler off the DEC axis to see if it has the same problem as the RA coupler, or if it looks much better and will give you a point of reference. You may even want to exchange the couplers if this is the case and try it out.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Jeremy,

I have no doubt the coupler could be slightly out of alignment, but consider that with the worm fully captured by the end blocks, the worm will not oscillate. The way I typically mount the worm and motor is to fit the worm blocks and the worm with the motor and coupler completely removed as you have it now. Go through the process of setting the worm flat against the wheel by first rotating the wheel around 360 degrees to identify the high spot. Once you do that, mount the worm and work to minimize the lash while running the axis through the high spot(s) and tightening the worm block screws until you have it locked down with the minimum overall lash. 

I have attached a drawing showing 2 types of wheel defects causing high spots. 1. A shift in a perfectly round wheel causing 1 high spot and 1 low spot per 360 degree turn, and 2. An oval wheel which causes 2 high spots and 2 low spots in the wheel. You need to determine which one you have. Type 1 error is caused by the hole not being centered in the wheel, and 2 caused by not machining the wheel perfectly round. There also could be a combination of these errors to different degrees causing 2 high spots one bigger than the other. 

The goal of this first part is to get the worm on the mount near perfectly aligned and meshed without any influence from the motor or coupling. You should be able to easily turn the shaft on the wheel by using your fingers all the way through the 360 degrees without any discernable change in the torque required to turn the worm. Once you have that and the worm is tightened down so it doesn't shift, then you can attach the coupler and the motor. The coupler is designed to be able to take a little bit of angular shift between the motor shaft and the worm shaft, that is the purpose of it. That shouldn't cause a problem. tighten the coupler between the motor and the worm, on both shafts and then finally put in and tighten the motor screws to the motor plate.

This procedure should provide the best result for minimizing the amount of PE on your mount.

If you can manage it, it would be good to try and use the dial indicator to measure the roundness of the wheel also so you can see if it is just shifted because the hole is not centered, or if it is an elliptical shape instead of perfectly circular causing it to have 2 high and 2 low points per 360 degrees. 

If you could do this first then we can work on any residual error and consider the coupler replacement.

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.




Re: ES G11 / ExploreStars issues

Jeremy Parker
 

Hi Jerry,

I took the mount base/RA section down to my table saw, and borrowed a dial indicator from work, so I could take some measurements with reference to the flat table saw surface. I removed the worm and motor and inspected the worm, turning it by hand in the bearing blocks placed on the flat surface of the table saw. The worm doesn't appear to be bent, which is good news. I clamped the RA motor to the table saw surface and connected the PMC-Eight to my laptop, so I could spin the RA motor as needed with the POTH motion controls. I used the dial indicator to measure the coupler next.


I could see that the outside was still bent by a fairly large amount, as rotation of the coupler would move the dial indicator. So I carefully bent the coupler back into round by small amounts at a time:


Once it appeared to be spinning with minimal movement of the dial indicator, I inserted a 1/4" drill bit with a little teflon tape shimming to give me a reference point for the bore of the coupler. The shaft of the drill bit was rotating both uncentered and at an odd angle as far as I could tell. I did make some improvement by gentle bending again, but there was still measurable movement. 


I placed the worm back into the coupler, still on the motor, and I could still sense the same type of wiggling in the bearing blocks that I noticed from the other night. So per our conversation today, I believe you are correct about the coupler being the problem. There's no way the PE will be optimized until the coupler can evenly apply torque from the motor in a perfectly coaxial manner to the worm. I'm fairly certain at this point that the coupler was defective or damaged at some point, since the mount came to me this way. 

Would you be able to send me a coupler as soon as possible? I believe I now have a setup to validate the alignment of the motor, coupler, worm and bearing blocks.

Regards,
Jeremy


Re: UPDATED PMC-Eight ASCOM Driver version 20180327BETA - ASCOMPAD

r_hoskin@...
 

Jerry,

I took a look at that test report.  Yes, very nice! 
Testing is all weather dependent, but if I am able to take it for a spin, I will.

- Bob


UPDATED PMC-Eight ASCOM Driver version 20180327BETA - ASCOMPAD

hubbell_jerry@...
 

I have update the BETA version of the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver which includes the ASCOMPAD fixes. Please see my previous message about getting the latest version of the ASCOMPAD program version 2.09. I have fixed a few little issues with the previous BETA version, namely the intermittent SLEWING status indicator. I have also completed a few little features that were left out of the previous versions, i.e., Optical parameters are now included on the Site Data tab.


I have also added some notes on the setup dialogue box to help those who might have questions about the different settings. If you hover you mouse pointer over the field, the ToolTips information will come up also (this has always been there, I just updated the information.)


Here is the link for the DLL file:

Just rename the previous one by appending some characters and then copy this one to the directory:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ASCOM\Telescope

I have also posted the Conformance Test Results for this driver in the files section here:

Take a look at the test report, you will see how extensive it is and why it is a great tool do to regression testing on the driver after major changes are introduced.

After everyone has a chance to run this version and give me their feedback, I will package it in the installation setup program for release and update the SDK download also.  I  would appreciate it if anyone who would like to comment on the use of this BETA driver would respond by Friday, April 10, 2018. That gives you 2 weeks to let me know if you found any bugs or would like to see a change. I will take such suggestions under advisement and determine if I will implement the change.

I very much appreciate everyone's help on this release. This is the first public release of a BETA version of the driver and I hope to be able to do this in the future if everyone likes this.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.




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/ASCOM.ES_PMC8.Telescope.Validation.txt
Uploaded by : hubbell_jerry <hubbell_jerry@yahoo.com>
Description : PMC-Eight ASCOM Driver 20180327BETA Conformance Test Report - 100% COMPLIANT

You can access this file at the URL:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ESPMC-Eight/files/Mount%20Related%20Files/ASCOM.ES_PMC8.Telescope.Validation.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,

hubbell_jerry <hubbell_jerry@yahoo.com>


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/ASCOM.ES_PMC8.Telescope_20180327BETA.zip
Uploaded by : hubbell_jerry <hubbell_jerry@yahoo.com>
Description : Updated PMC-Eight ASCOM driver version 20180327 BETA Test DLL file.

You can access this file at the URL:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ESPMC-Eight/files/Mount%20Related%20Files/ASCOM.ES_PMC8.Telescope_20180327BETA.zip

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,

hubbell_jerry <hubbell_jerry@yahoo.com>


Re: ASCOMPAD release - new versions

James Buck
 

I figured out where the .DLL file goes:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ASCOM\Telescope

Is this correct?


Re: ASCOMPAD release - new versions

James Buck
 

Thanks for finding this Jerry.  However,  after uninstalling the older version, and installing this version, I still have the same issue of the mount continuing to move after releasing the control knob.  Do I need to delete some files that were left from the old version?

Also the ASCOM.ES_PMC8.DLL file.  After unzipping it, where do we need to place it?

Jim Buck

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