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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.


Re: Question from a prospective buyer: networking

W. Christopher Moses
 

It's definitely possible to run the mount through a serial connection.  That's how I use it all the time.

Sorry, It's been too long since I used wifi to answer the other questions.


Re: Question from prospective buyer: No hand paddle

W. Christopher Moses
 

I have frequently used my Surface book in tablet mode - with the KB disconnected.  I used ascom to move/jog the axis.  It worked fine, although I did have to wipe it off once or twice as condensation formed.  I doubt that would happen in most cases but it was a fast temperature drop.

I'm not  sure about anyone grafting a paddle onto the serial port, but it should be pretty easy if you want a project to play with.

There have been some threads about using xbox controllers to control the mount via EQMOD.  It sounds like it works but you should double check, I haven't followed the threads closely. 


Question from a prospective buyer: networking

joe@...
 

I've read through a number of conversations/questions about having the PMC-8 use DHCP to join a LAN. I haven't seen a solution.  Does a recipe exist?


If not, is there an engineering reason that LAN functionality is precluded from ever being implemented?


I've seen helpful documentation of configuring a PC with putty to use a terminal window to TELNET to a PMC-8.  Does a PMC-8 support ssh, and can you disable telnet?  In the internet of things, if PMC-8 joins a LAN, it potentially could be hacked.


Is there a recipe for using an ethernet cable to connect a laptop to a PMC-8 instead of wifi?


There are some DSLR's that can already be controlled and read out via wifi from a laptop.  We are living in the Age of Fastar. Dedicated astrocams that readout over wifi  so as not to drape wires in front of and SCT corrector is just around the corner. I really hope that there is no fundamental limitation to LAN connectivity, and that a camera and a PM-8 can join the same LAN so that a laptop can control both a mount and a camera.  Imagine, for example, controlling your mount and recording astrophotos from inside a house on a cold winter's night. It would be a pity to throw out $1000 electronics in a year because it can't join a LAN




Re: Question from prospective buyer: Suitability for EdgeHD C14

joe@...
 

I've noticed (!), but extrapolating from a C11 to a C14 would be foolhardy. I have a friend who gets great results with a C11 on an Orion Atlas mount, but a C14 exceeds the 40 lb load spec for the Atlas. 

(If I want to annoy my students, I'd say that good results with a C11 was necessary for similar results with a C14, but not sufficient ;-) )


Question from prospective buyer: No hand paddle

joe@...
 

Paddles have tactile buttons that can be pushed while looking through an eye piece to center an object.  Touch screens don't.


Has anyone successfully grafted a traditional hand paddle onto the DB-9 intended for auto guiding? If not, is there a technical reason why this couldn't/shouldn't be done?


I am interested in the impressions of those who have been using phones or tables for tweaking RA/declination.  Are phones just as good as paddles? Am I anticipating a non-problem, or did ES miss this "human-factors" engineering/design issue?


Thanks!


Question from prospective buyer: MacOS / iOS support

joe@...
 

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?


An existing poll has been modified, check it out.

ESPMC-Eight@...
 

Poll to see which Operating Systems we are using. This will help me when developing programs for the PMC-8
Created by: Chris_Moses
  1. Android tablet


Thanks!

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