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Re: ExploreStars feature request

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

That's a good thought except that there is no way to validate that the coordinates are the correct ones for that location. You could still put a value in there but it would not slew to the correct location if it is not right. If the value is set correctly the first time (assuming you are not traveling too far from the initial location) then it should work okay. The user needs to be knowledgeable enough to understand the importance of the location data and keep it in mind when setting up their mount. One of the issues we have as a manufacturer is that we have to assume a certain level of knowledge and skill for the customer when creating documentation. For instance, we need to assume that the user knows how to use Windows and can install and configure programs on their Windows device.

I think your suggestion is good, but I also think that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. It's how we learn things. I always say that we don't learn anything by being successful, it's only when we fail that we learn. So I don't think it is bad to have the mount slew off in a wrong direction per se, as long as the user can figure out what is wrong. I would suggest that we put a caution in the manual that says that if the wrong coordinates or no coordinates are put in the setup preferences then the mount will point in the wrong direction. We don't explicitly state that, but again, the assumption is that the user will understand that implicitly if they understand the purpose of those values, along with the time being accurate.

Let me know what you think of that approach.

Thanks


Re: ExploreStars feature request

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Jerry,
I completely agree.
I think what I was trying to say is that it should force them to enter a location at once. Otherwise the location is inherently incorrect.


Re: Pulse Guide

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Jerry,
Thanks for the info.
Please add +1 next to the votes for it.

I have to admit that I'm a little bit concerned that pulse-guiding might be a check-list item for some people. Many new comers (and even some people that have been in AP for a while) may never have used ST4 and may be reluctant to learn how to do it.

If I ever get around to making that video, I'll be sure to show how to set it up in PhD.


Re: ExploreStars feature request

W. Christopher Moses
 

In other words, they have to enter coordinates before they can slew for the first time.
Clearly, the program won't know if they have moved the mount*, but it will make sure it is set the first time and, just as importantly, train them as to where and how to set it.

*It could, or course check the internet, if available, but with the default ad-hoc network, it wont be.  Even if it is, it may not be accurate, especially if they are using a VPN.


Re: ExploreStars feature request

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

Yes of course, I understand now. I actually do this with the ASCOM driver by setting the Explore Scientific HQ location. We could add code that would prompt them to enter it, but It may be more cost effective to include a specific note about setting the location and time information in the user manual. This also assumes that customers will read and heed the instructions given.

Bottom line is that we would need to discuss spending the time and effort to make it completely fool-proof for absolute beginners in the application assuming that the instructions are not being used.


Re: Pulse Guide

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris, yes that is a concern here also. I am sure you have seen the conversations on CloudyNights about it also. It is priority 2 on my things to do (out of about 15). I am currently working with a new prototype board I just received that is priority, when I get that done, then I will move to this (among other updates to the firmware and ASCOM driver.)


Re: ExploreStars feature request

hubbell_jerry@...
 

I think you have a lot of good ideas that need to be discussed, but my priority right now is to make sure the base functionality, as implemented in the current design, is as bulletproof as possible. We need a stable platform to start out with before we begin to add all the desired features.

I very much appreciate your enthusiasm Chris, and feedback on improvements. We'll get there!


Re: ExploreStars feature request

W. Christopher Moses
 

I fully agree with the base functionality. 
As a software developer, I know what it is like to be bombarded with new feature requests. 


Re: Pulse Guide

W. Christopher Moses
 

I have not noticed that thread. Is it in Mounts?


New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

Randy OConnell
 

I am just starting to test my new PCM-8 today (G-11 upgraded model).  How does the mount decide where the park position is?  Can it be adjusted?

Also, what is the procedure for aligning the mount during the day (for solar observing)? I've got other questions too.

Thanks,
Randy



Re: New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

W. Christopher Moses
 

I hope Jerry will correct me if I'm wrong:

Park position appears to be wherever the mount is when you power-up the pmc-8. My previous mount (Ieq45) was also like this. It was a PITA. But, with the G-11's built-in levels on the RA and DEC, I have found it to be really easy.
If you are in an observatory I could see the use of having a park position that is different than the zero position. If not, whatt, exactly is the goal? (Really, I'm asking - maybe I can write a quick program to do it) 

I've been meaning to get a solar filter. (We have to do something during the days, lol) Come to think of it, I'm not sure I know how to switch to solar tracking. However, I do think the sun is an option in ExploreStars. I assume selecting and slewing to it would change the tracking rate accordingly


Networking Issue

W. Christopher Moses
 

It appears that I can't use the pmc-8 as a normal ad-hoc network:


Steps to reproduce: 


1. Connect a pc (pc1) to the PMC-X network

2. connect a second pc (pc2) to the PMC-X network

3. initiate a remote desktop connection from pc2 to pc1

4. Use the connection for a few minutes


Expected result:

1. Normal remote desktop session


Actual Result:

1. Remote session dies after a few seconds to a few minutes

2. pc1 and pc2  loose their  IPs from the PMC-8

3. rebooting pc1 and/or pc2 will not restore IPs

4. The PMC-8 must be restarted before any IPs will be issued.



Re: New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Randy, 

The programmed park position for the PMC-Eight G11 and EXOS 2 mounts is at the North Celestial Pole (NCP). This is the zero (0) count position of the motors and the scaling calculation in the ASCOM driver and ExploreStars application are based on this reference position. If you have physically positioned your mount to any other position than the NCP as Chris suggests, the pointing will not be accurate. ASCOM defines two positions that are similar, PARK and HOME. HOME is typically used in conjunction with an external sensor for a built in reference position. PARK is used as a user defined position.

In the current version of the ASCOM driver, the HOME position is the same as PARK and is not user configurable, although there is a way around this. This is typically found in a permanent observatory setting, and I use this technique in the remote observatory I manage. You can position the mount in any orientation that you wish and then turn tracking off. This is similar to telling the mount to go to a user defined position. Once you do that you MUST LEAVE THE PMC-Eight POWER ON to retain the current position.

Currently in the firmware, the motor positions are not stored in the non-volatile memory space. We have that on the list of updates to the firmware, and would not be a big amount of work to incorporate that.

Give me some time and I will get that incorporated along with a few other updates.


Re: Networking Issue

hubbell_jerry@...
 

The PMC-Eight wireless communications was only designed and tested to have a single host connected to the controller at a time, although, as I will explain, this can be cheated a little. The ExploreStars application is designed as a virtual hand controller with the same restriction that it, and it alone will communicate with the controller. The ExploreStars application uses UDP/IP protocol. The TCP/IP stack is also running on the controller, and the ASCOM driver uses TCP/IP over the same port. We have never tested 2 hosts connecting to the controller SSID at once.

This is not by design, but I have been able to connect the ExploreStars app and the ASCOM driver at the same time to the controller. The system is fast enough to respond to the commands issued by both programs, and the handshaking is robust enough so that the messages are not mixed together (for the most part). I find that after a few minutes the communications fails and the connections must be reset from scratch.

I understand your goal of being able to remotely control the local PC over the same network. We do that at our observatory by configuring the PMC-Eight to communicate with PC1 serially using the ASCOM driver, and then plugging PC1 into a switch connected to our Internet router. From there we can remotely access PC1 from anywhere in the world. It is very reliable.

There may be a configuration setting that needs to be changed on the RN-131 that will allow you to reliably have more than one host communicating between themselves on the ad-hoc network, although it would probably be more reliable to have the PMC-Eight join a LAN network router.




Re: Pulse Guide

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Yes, here is the link, I think you participated in the discussion, although not specifically about pulse-guiding. I think it is in some of the later conversation, this is a long thread.





 


Re: Networking Issue

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
Thanks for the info.
Connecting everything to another wifi network would be preferable anyway.  This was just easier to test.
For tonight, I'm going to concentrate on getting ST4 guiding working and routine.
I'll try switching the networks tomorrow.

Thanks,
Chris


Re: New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

Randy OConnell
 

Thanks Jerry,

I did touch base with Scott yesterday and he filled me in on a few things.  I am still having a few issues and am a bit perplexed.  at one point when I went to park the scope ended up in a unusual position.  I am thinking that maybe I rebooted the PMC8, and didn't have the mount positioned in the park position.  

I have the mount oriented towards North and the GPS on my surface is on and updating the mount with the proper location.  For some reason when i would try and do an alignment, the some of the alignment stars that would be selected were below the horizon.  Unfortunately I had set my mount up behind the house (south side), so some of the northern stars were obstructed.  (it doesn't help that I tend to be solar oriented, and my star locating skills leave a lot to be desired).  

My problem is that when even selecting and alignment star (like Vega or Spica), when slewed to it, the scope would be no where near the the star.  At that point I wasn't sure if I should loosen the mount and manually adjust it, or try and drive it to the star.  Any suggestions?  BTW, when I ran the mount using the original drive system, I could do a North alignment, and set on the sun, and it would stay linked up for most of the day.  I believe I should be able to do the same with the new drive.

Randy


Re: New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

W. Christopher Moses
 

It sounds, to me, like one of two things: either your zero position was inaccurate or your location was not set correctly.

You can test the zero position by parking the scope. If it doesn't go back to a "straight up and down" position, and the bubble levels on the RA and DEC aren't level, then your zero position is off.  Just loosen the clutches and adjust it, while parked.

I would double check your location manually. Click on the icon in the upper left and select settings.


Re: New PCM-8 Upgrade testing

W. Christopher Moses
 

If you are doing things remotely, the other ideas don't work, or you just want another method, you could use Astrotortilla (or SGP, or TheSkyX) to do a plate-solve and sync.


Wired Connection

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,

I'm trying to control the pmc-8 via ASCOM and a wired connection.

I have selected "Enable Serial Port" in the the driver and chosen the correct com port, but it does not appear to be connecting. POTH does not report an RA,Dec, Az, and Alt are empty.


I've tried two different cables.


Do I need to use that utility to flip it over to wired mode first?