Date   

Re: Problem Compiling

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Yes, you could make a small client with just a single button to send the command and swap it. I probably will add that to the ASCOM driver configuration dialog box at some point.


Re: Problem Compiling

hubbell_jerry@...
 

I guess I never considered that someone might want to swap back and forth multiple times in one evening.


Re: Problem Compiling

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
I have not.  I have an ESP8266 laying around. I think it was for a wireless focuser I never quite finished- like most of my hardware projects.
Except for tinkering, I'm really more of a software person.


Re: Problem Compiling

W. Christopher Moses
 

Speaking of off-topic, What are the "Tr" and "P" in ExploreStars?  "Tracking and Parked?


Re: Problem Compiling

W. Christopher Moses
 

The reason I would want to swap back and forth is cable management and testing.

I.e - I'm still getting my cable management worked out and while I test some things, cabling and software, one is easier than the other.


Re: Problem Compiling

hubbell_jerry@...
 

They are designated for Track Mode and Point Mode. Track Mode is the standard fixed tracking rate and Point Mode is a more sophisticated mode when you do not have a good physical polar alignment. When you perform a 2 or 3 star alignment, in Point Mode the app will continuously point to the calculated position of the object. This results in the mount RA and DEC rates being dynamically changed to keep the object centered.


Guiding Settings

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,

Anybody used PhD or TheSkyX to guide yet?  I just tried last night and couldn't get it to work.  No matter what I did, PhD kept reporting an "Orthoganality Error" of 88% + , in the "Calibration Sanity Check" window.  In both PhD and TheSkyX, it looks like there wasn't movement along one of the axis.


I was using ST4 and had the mount(s) set up correctly in PhD, but I'm not sure if there are any other special settings for ST4.  I did read the whole section about it in the manual and don't think I missed anything.


Are there any special settings in ExploreStars?


Thanks,

Chris


Re: Guiding Settings

hubbell_jerry@...
 

The firmware has a fixed sidereal correction rate of 0.7x Sidereal rate for the ST4 port. Which axis did not seem to move when you were doing the calibration?  We may need to see what values are read by the firmware when you close the contact on each of the directions from the camera. I have tested the ZWO ASI120MM camera successfully with the default calibration from the factory. The ST4 port inputs are simple contact closure inputs, that is what we use to test the PMC-Eight Autoguider port.


Re: Guiding Settings

W. Christopher Moses
 

It moves W and E in relatively few counts, but then never seems to move N or S.



Re: Guiding Settings

hubbell_jerry@...
 

I probably should step you through looking at the data from the ST4 port when closing each of the contacts from the camera N,S,E,W. PHD allows you to manually move the mount through the camera ST4 switches. We can use that to input the contact closures from the camera (actually a Field-Effect Transistor switch) and check the values as read by the PMC-Eight controller. I think I sent you my phone number already, if you can give me a call we can talk about how to do that so that we can check the calibration for your PMC-Eight.


First-Time Setup Issue

W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Jerry,

I've been helping Nandita Archer learn about the G-11 before it arrived. It arrived yesterday and today is her first time out in the field and she seems to be having some issues.  Here is our last exchange:


Nandita:

Having a hard time Chris. Hey can i have ur no? My husband wants to talk to you about the setup. I think they interchanged the stepper motor for ra and dec. Also pmc wifi is not showing up at all( only once was visible). Connected everything even the antenna. After 5 hrs the pmc 8 wifi came once and for some reason the dec didnt move and kept making a loud noise. Ra was fine.Then while teying to go the serial route the cmd prompt failed and it stopped working completly. In ur mount, the dec motor pins are they male or female? Mine is male but as per the manual its wrong. The Dec in pmc box is male and other end has to be female as per the cable they provided. Unable to get any help on this. To make matter worse no wifi. Guess gotta ask Jerry. Hey can u do me a favor and ask him? Got barely enough wifi to message you chris.


My Response:


Feel free to call me at (404) 316-****.

 

 

Also, I'll post this to the Yahoo group. Jerry seems to monitor it pretty regularly. Of ccourse, it is a holiday weekend...


You can change the PMC-8 channel by inserting the little dongle/key thingy that came in the box.  Stick it on for a second, wait a second or two, and then unplug it.  That will change the wifi channel.  Usually, of course, that is used for when there is a bunch of noise, but that doesnt sound like your problem.  Only thing I can think of.


I have found that you should always check "Connect Automatically" when connecting to it.

 

I've never paid attention to which one is male and which is female.  You can't connect it wrong, so I never bothered.  I just make sure the cables go on and all is good. Try just connecting everything. You wont hurt the steppers if you connect them wrong. Although, if you have a scope on it, I would stay ready to turn it off, just in cae it slews to a funny position. 

 

I do have an idea about why the dec wouldn't move.  I suspect the casing is to tight. I hope you have a very small allen wrench with you.  ONce you get conencted and going, you can remove the cover over the dec screw by gently backing out, just a little, the two very small set screws on the cover.  I'll try to send you a picture.

 

Give me a call when you can and let's see if we can at least get you connected.



Jerry, any other ideas for them?






Re: First-Time Setup Issue

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

I responded to several of Nandita's questions on CloudyNights pm. Apparently the SSID does not show up anymore on her computer system even when the lights are showing that the WiFi module is active. I suggested that she send her PMC-Eight back to us to see what the issue is. We have never seen this failure mode after hundreds of hours of several controllers using this WiFi module. The DEC motion problem is a gear mesh problem and requires an adjustment.

As you found out, the G11 is a fine instrument that requires precise adjustment to get the best performance. Not unlike the collimation adjustment on a reflector, the mount requires adjustment and then should maintain its performance once the adjustment is done and locked down. A seasonal adjustment may be necessary between the summer and winter to maintain the best performance. This particular problem with Nandita's mount may be a result of shipping.


Basic Understanding of PMC-8

Ben K
 

Hello everyone,


Much thanks to Jerry and his team for all the hard work developing this, and to Chris Moses, for being so vocal and asking great questions.


I'm likely to order a PMC-8 (Exos 2GT) in a day or so, and I wanted to be sure I understood the software topography beforehand. I've got a few basic questions, some of which I believe I know the answer to, some of which I don't.


To be clear, I'm merely trying to understand what PMC-8 will help solve, and what isn't really within its scope, meaning I'm not trying to nitpick, etc.


1) As I understand it, if I have a mount that is ASCOM compliant, I can use any ASCOM software with it, to guide it, plate check things, control cameras (if ASCOM compliant) and so on. Is that right?


2) I also understand that PMC-8 has an ASCOM driver, and the PMC-8 hardware box has a serial connection to run to my computer. Correct, yeah?


3) Jerry has mentioned that because PMC-8 is open source, people can write their own applications for it, to do any number of things. My main question - how is this different than ASCOM? If something is ASCOM compliant, can't I write an application for that (like AstroTortilla, SGP, Stellarium Scope, etc.)?


4) So, why would I write an application specific to PMC-8, instead of simply writing an ASCOM based application? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the role of the PMC-8 software in the topography.


5) I understand that PMC-8 is simply how the hardware is controlled, its, literally, a "precision motor control" system, and ASCOM is much more than that, in that it links to star maps, GPS, whatever you want to connect to it, etc. So, that said, is there really a lot of tinkering to be done on motor control? Isn't it basically "move this gear at this rate for this long, then move this other gear at this other rate for this other length of time"? Please don't be angry if I just simplified things in a way that seems offensive, I know the motor control stuff is complicated, I just thought it was somewhat more concrete/finite than the ASCOM application side of things?


Thank you in advance, looking forward to order my PMC-8 soon!


Ben


Re: Pulse Guide

Ben K
 

Perhaps we could set-up a poll-feature to track what features folks want, and Jerry and crew could use that (and their own understanding of the code, their strategy, etc) to make decisions about what they're interested in? Lots of software companies do something similar, especially when first adding features.


Unable to download App.

michaelrathburn@...
 

First Timer here.  Am really interested in this software and have been monitoring talks on cloudy nights.

Anyway I am running Windows 7 and the Windows App Store wasn't started until Windows 8.  As a result I could not download the App.


Will this App will run on just about any Windows platform?


Or do I have to upgrade my Window Platform?


If not where do I get the App?


Thanks

Michael


Re: Basic Understanding of PMC-8

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Ben,  thanks for your questions. I appreciate the kind words about the development of the PMC-Eight.

1) Yes, the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver allows any compliant ASCOM client use the mount. To be clear, the ASCOM Standards API that the mount is controlled with is the TELESCOPE API. There are only certain things the TELESCOPE API allows you to do. The complete ASCOM Standards API contains other objects such as CAMERA, FOCUSER, and also libraries to do plate solves and ephemeris calculations. These are other API's that provide a complete suite of interfaces for all the different types of clients to use.

2) The standard interface for ASCOM is a hardwired serial connection. I have also provided a switch in the PMC-Eight ASCOM driver to connect to it using the computer's WiFi connection. This is transparent to the ASCOM client software and connects to the PMC-Eight's WiFi module.

3) Yes you can create your own programs to use the PMC-Eight controller with its command language. This is mainly for people who either don't want to use the ASCOM TELESCOPE API or if they want to develop solutions on other platforms such as Apple iOS or Android, or anything else for that matter. ASCOM at the current time is a Microsoft Windows only API. You can create ASCOM Client software that utilizes the driver if you like also. I have written an ASCOM Driver test program client that demonstrates this also with the source code for this client included in the SDK.

4) See my answer in 3

5) You are correct in that the PMC-Eight is designed specifically as a precision motion control system. Practically all mount control systems offered by all the other companies are specifically designed as a telescope mount controller. My philosophy is a little different. We have abstracted out the astronomy-centric commands out of the controller and raised them up to the driver and/or the client level. The command language is much simplified compared to other controllers in that it only has around 20 commands versus 40-60 commands. Another aspect of the controller is that it uses raw data (motor count data) versus engineering units (RA/DEC). This helps to keep the performance high and the response time fast when commanding the controller. All engineering unit calculations are done at the ASCOM driver level, or the application level. The ExploreStars application does not use the ASCOM API as it codes directly using the PMC-Eight command language. There is a bit of history there as that was the first application being built even before the PMC-Eight project started over 3 years ago. The PMC-Eight firmware is only concerned about the motors and provides functions for precision tracking and slewing including smooth ramping to provide accurate slews so that motor counts are not skipped. The motor current is controlled to provide the best level of performance of the motors when slewing.

Overall, the philosophy is the opposite of the trend in controllers to push more and more into the hand controller or motor control system. We made the decision to separate out the astronomy centric processing to take advantage of the inexpensive computer systems that are available in the tablets and laptops. Our two main goals were to maximize performance and reliability through our hardware/firmware design, and our separation of functions. Most industrial control systems are designed this way.

The two biggest assets we have based on our micro-controller choice is 1) no interrupts and 2) no operating system. This simplifies and boosts performance. That, plus the fact that we have 8 processors to separate tasks keeps the system very reliable. The other thing we have in our favor is that there is plenty of margin in the design in terms of performance and memory space available. We are also leveraging the hardware and firmware designs and pushing it down into lower end mounts.

Thanks for considering the PMC-Eight for your mount control system.





Re: Unable to download App.

hubbell_jerry@...
 

Unfortunately, I don't believe the ExploreStars application will work on a Windows 7 machine as it was designed from the start as a Windows 8 tablet or as it's known, a Metro Application. It was developed on a Windows 8 system and is not compatible with Windows 7 as it is not really a desktop application.


Re: Unable to download App.

michaelrathburn@...
 

Jerry,

Thanks for the update.  Maybe to bad for me, right now, 

I have gone through alot of info on this system, at the Explore Stars web site, Cloudy nights & the youtube vids.

It is only stated as a Windows program.  No version listed anywhere.

If what you say is true Explore Stars might want to make that known.

Regards,
Michael


Re: Unable to download App.

hubbell_jerry@...
 

I think that you have already alluded to the information in that it is only available from the Microsoft Windows App Store. This is not available on Windows 7, only 8 and above as you said. Sorry about that. I will make sure that that is clarified in our documents. Thanks.


Re: Unable to download App.

hubbell_jerry@...
 

There is always the option of taking the source code and converting it into a windows program that would run on Windows 7. I know, that's a lot of work. The alternative is to use the ASCOM driver and use a third-party program such as Cartes du Ciel. It provides a lot of functionality but is not as intuitive as ExploreStars.