ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems


W. Christopher Moses
 

Hmmm...A low cost PMC-8 system?  Maybe one small enough to check through on an airplane? I would love that.
I'm heading to my sister's place in Lake Tahoe next week.  She lives at 7700" and has 10K acres of national park as her backyard.  The skies are incredible. Some little mount I could take, or keep there would be great.  I just picked up a WO Star 71 that would be perfect up there.
Let me know if you need any beta testers. 


Mark Lamb
 

I have been away for a few days, but last night I got out again.  I had high thin clouds, but had enough visibility to setup, align, use Bahtinov mask to focus, get APT to platesolve, and to take a few shots for training (only) purposes.   I am still not trying autoguiding, as I want to take one step at a time.  With the next couple of days/nights without rain, I may attach my QHY5L-II-M and try PHD2 by Wednesday.

The PMC-8 serial connection does NOT work as I was expecting.  My impression was that after switching to serial with the PUTTY process, it would stay in the serial mode.  I had mine switched to serial in my basement last week, and when I tried it tonight it would NOT work with the serial cable, but would work with wifi.  I noticed the same thing last week, as I switched to serial and my tablet talked to the PMC-8 as expected, but the next day (after turning off the system), the PMC-8 had reverted on its own back to wifi, requiring redoing the convoluted serial switch process.  Is the PMC-8 supposed to always revert to wifi upon power down?

If the PMC-8 automatically reverts to wifi when shut down, it is even more necessary to get an easy, one-click switching method.

Since it was already dark when I went out, I left it in the wifi mode, and it worked perfectly.

Last week I had seen Jerry note on wifi issues, and one of the points was to have the PC more than 1-2 feet from the PMC-8.  I was previously having tablet ~ 1ft from the PMC-8.  Last night, I moved it ~3ft away and had no problems.

When looking at the photos, it seems that my focus is off a bit, as the stars are round but noticeably too large.  I was also trying various exposure times, from 60s to 420s, and upon viewing on my 11" tablet, all of the exposures look ~ the same, with no obvious star trailing.  If I had better fine focus, I wonder how much of a difference there would be?  The 6min and 7min exposure might have been a little ragged, but I have to get the photos on to my Z440 and view on a 27" monitor to check.  So from that experiment (which was consistent with last week), it seems that my G11 is working well and my alignment (with Polemaster) has been good.

When I viewed on my 27" monitor, the star shapes are ~ the same on exposures from 60s to 420s. While the stars in the center of the frame are very round (though slightly out of focus), those on the edges are slightly oval.  To this novice, that seems to tell me that the mount is tracking very well unguided, but I have some field curvature in my ED102CF (there is NO field flattner) and/or some slop in the compression fitting that attaches to my camera's 2"nose tube, causing the sensor to be slightly off parallel.



Robert Hoskin <r_hoskin@...>
 

Mark,

I put my PMC-8 into serial mode shortly after I received it.  It's been powered on and off, many times since that, and has not reverted to wifi. 
- Bob


From: "lamb_mark@... [ESPMC-Eight]"
To: ESPMC-Eight@...
Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2018 9:48 AM
Subject: [ESPMC-Eight] Re: ASCOMPAD and PMC-8 Connection Problems

 
I have been away for a few days, but last night I got out again.  I had high thin clouds, but had enough visibility to setup, align, use Bahtinov mask to focus, get APT to platesolve, and to take a few shots for training (only) purposes.   I am still not trying autoguiding, as I want to take one step at a time.  With the next couple of days/nights without rain, I may attach my QHY5L-II-M and try PHD2 by Wednesday.

The PMC-8 serial connection does NOT work as I was expecting.  My impression was that after switching to serial with the PUTTY process, it would stay in the serial mode.  I had mine switched to serial in my basement last week, and when I tried it tonight it would NOT work with the serial cable, but would work with wifi.  I noticed the same thing last week, as I switched to serial and my tablet talked to the PMC-8 as expected, but the next day (after turning off the system), the PMC-8 had reverted on its own back to wifi, requiring redoing the convoluted serial switch process.  Is the PMC-8 supposed to always revert to wifi upon power down?

If the PMC-8 automatically reverts to wifi when shut down, it is even more necessary to get an easy, one-click switching method.

Since it was already dark when I went out, I left it in the wifi mode, and it worked perfectly.

Last week I had seen Jerry note on wifi issues, and one of the points was to have the PC more than 1-2 feet from the PMC-8.  I was previously having tablet ~ 1ft from the PMC-8.  Last night, I moved it ~3ft away and had no problems.

When looking at the photos, it seems that my focus is off a bit, as the stars are round but noticeably too large.  I was also trying various exposure times, from 60s to 420s, and upon viewing on my 11" tablet, all of the exposures look ~ the same, with no obvious star trailing.  If I had better fine focus, I wonder how much of a difference there would be?  The 6min and 7min exposure might have been a little ragged, but I have to get the photos on to my Z440 and view on a 27" monitor to check.  So from that experiment (which was consistent with last week), it seems that my G11 is working well and my alignment (with Polemaster) has been good.

When I viewed on my 27" monitor, the star shapes are ~ the same on exposures from 60s to 420s. While the stars in the center of the frame are very round (though slightly out of focus), those on the edges are slightly oval.  To this novice, that seems to tell me that the mount is tracking very well unguided, but I have some field curvature in my ED102CF (there is NO field flattner) and/or some slop in the compression fitting that attaches to my camera's 2"nose tube, causing the sensor to be slightly off parallel.





W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
   It sounds like you are making real progress learning things!  Be sure to read the Phd2 troubleshooting guide before you go out with it.  It seems really hard when you first start, but there really isn't that much to it.  Feel free to PM me with questions.  I'm not an expert but will try to help.

   The pmc-8 should not be reverting to wifi, at least to my knowledge.  I've never seen that on mine.
    I'll be posting a utility to switch back and forth later today.  I'll consider it a beta until it has been used a bit but it seems to work well.

Yes, that sounds like field curvature to me. 


W. Christopher Moses
 

BTW - which OS are you using?  I ask because the utility I wrote will work on any version of windows.  I have a windows 10 specific one in the works.  It provides some additional capability.  If you would like to test it, send me an email, please. 

Actually, that goes for everyone.  Anyone who wants to test the win10 version, just let me know.


Mark Lamb
 

Chris,

I am running Win10Pro.


W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi,
Good.  As a programmer, I can do a lot more when people are running Win10.  Trying to support older versions is just a pain.  The Win10 version will automatically switch wifi networks for you.  With the other version you still have to switch to the pmc-8 network manually, but it will handle doing the switch in the pmc-8.


On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 11:33:16 AM EDT, lamb_mark@... [ESPMC-Eight] wrote:


 

Chris,


I am running Win10Pro.


hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Mark,

There is nothing in the firmware which forces it to select back to WiFi when the PMC-Eight powers up. Unless the ESX! command is sent it will stay at its current value. As has been stated earlier, just powering down the PMC-Eight and powering it back up will not switch the communications port back to WiFi. 

Having said that, you may be seeing that the SSID for the PMC-Eight is still available for connection and you can in fact connect to it as the WiFi module always powers up when booting up the PMC-Eight. The firmware switch selecting the communications channel is stored in the EEPROM memory (permanent) and can only be changed with the ESX! command.

If you cannot make the serial connection work then there is something else going on with your connection. To verify that your serial cable works fine, you can do the following procedure:

1. Connect your serial cable to your computer
2. Determine the com port assigned to your cable.
3. Start the Parallax Serial Terminal Program


4. Select the proper com port and set the BAUD rate to 115200
5. Power up the PMC-Eight
6. The splash screen for the PMC-Eight should show up in the terminal verifying that you have proper communications with the controller.
7. OPTIONAL - You can send a command via the terminal to see the controller respond, %%% (Diagnostics Mode OFF), or ESB! (reboot), 

If you do not see the splash screen, then verify that the controller is actually selected to the WiFi channel by connecting ExploreStars to the PMC-Eight and making sure it works. If that works fine, then do the following:

1. Go through the procedure again to switch from WiFi to Serial.


2. Try and connect to ExploreStars again to make sure you have actually switched to the serial connection.
3. Follow the procedure above to see if you get the splash screen.

Remember, when switching from WiFi to serial using the ESX! command, you should see ESX0! as a response verifying that it is selected to the serial channel. If you do not see a response then it did not switch.

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.
 


hubbell_jerry@...
 

I have created an Explore Scientific Knowledge Base article from this message here:


Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.



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

Hi Mark,

There is nothing in the firmware which forces it to select back to WiFi when the PMC-Eight powers up. Unless the ESX! command is sent it will stay at its current value. As has been stated earlier, just powering down the PMC-Eight and powering it back up will not switch the communications port back to WiFi. 

Having said that, you may be seeing that the SSID for the PMC-Eight is still available for connection and you can in fact connect to it as the WiFi module always powers up when booting up the PMC-Eight. The firmware switch selecting the communications channel is stored in the EEPROM memory (permanent) and can only be changed with the ESX! command.

If you cannot make the serial connection work then there is something else going on with your connection. To verify that your serial cable works fine, you can do the following procedure:

1. Connect your serial cable to your computer
2. Determine the com port assigned to your cable.
3. Start the Parallax Serial Terminal Program


4. Select the proper com port and set the BAUD rate to 115200
5. Power up the PMC-Eight
6. The splash screen for the PMC-Eight should show up in the terminal verifying that you have proper communications with the controller.
7. OPTIONAL - You can send a command via the terminal to see the controller respond, %%% (Diagnostics Mode OFF), or ESB! (reboot), 

If you do not see the splash screen, then verify that the controller is actually selected to the WiFi channel by connecting ExploreStars to the PMC-Eight and making sure it works. If that works fine, then do the following:

1. Go through the procedure again to switch from WiFi to Serial.


2. Try and connect to ExploreStars again to make sure you have actually switched to the serial connection.
3. Follow the procedure above to see if you get the splash screen.

Remember, when switching from WiFi to serial using the ESX! command, you should see ESX0! as a response verifying that it is selected to the serial channel. If you do not see a response then it did not switch.

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.
 


Mark Lamb
 

My PMC-8 has remained in the serial mode the last few times I have used it in the past week; each time having been totally powered down in between.  I have no idea why it was automatically reverting to wifi after power down the previous couple of times???  I will keep it in serial connect mode, though in the interim wifi had worked flawlessly for two nights last week, with the tablet ~3ft from PMC-8.  My previous wifi problems could have been caused by my tablet being 1-2ft away???

My ASCOMPAD continues requires the window to be visible and being "clicked" on for my XBox controller to move the mount, however.  PITA

I still have not done any PHD2 guiding, as PHD2 was NOT getting exposures from my QHY5L-II-M.  Yesterday, I played with PHD2 in my basement, and I still had some connectivity problems, but I was finally able to get the camera to work connecting it as "QHY Camera".  For some reason, connecting as QHY5L-II (???) would not work.  Hopefully, PHD2 will work the next time I have good weather.




 


hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Mark,

That's good to hear that your PMC-Eight is behaving itself now. That really is a strange problem. I'm sorry I can't help you with the ASCOMPAD issue as I don't really have any time to investigate it. I think you said you posted the issue on the EQMOD group, but didn't get any good response there. All I can suggest is to maybe try it again.

Thanks for they update!

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering 
Explore Scientific, LLC.


W. Christopher Moses
 

I seem to remember that my QHY5L-II-M was pretty finicky also.  I'll be home in a few days and will check my notes to see if I have any info that might help you.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 11:16:49 AM PDT, lamb_mark@... [ESPMC-Eight] wrote:


 

My PMC-8 has remained in the serial mode the last few times I have used it in the past week; each time having been totally powered down in between.  I have no idea why it was automatically reverting to wifi after power down the previous couple of times???  I will keep it in serial connect mode, though in the interim wifi had worked flawlessly for two nights last week, with the tablet ~3ft from PMC-8.  My previous wifi problems could have been caused by my tablet being 1-2ft away???


My ASCOMPAD continues requires the window to be visible and being "clicked" on for my XBox controller to move the mount, however.  PITA

I still have not done any PHD2 guiding, as PHD2 was NOT getting exposures from my QHY5L-II-M.  Yesterday, I played with PHD2 in my basement, and I still had some connectivity problems, but I was finally able to get the camera to work connecting it as "QHY Camera".  For some reason, connecting as QHY5L-II (???) would not work.  Hopefully, PHD2 will work the next time I have good weather.




 


Mark Lamb
 

I got outside last night for a few hours before clouds, and PHD2 worked with my QHY5L-II-M, using QHY Camera", though tracking was not very good, ~1.9" error.   I was tracking M13 near the Zenith.  Looking at 60s exposures before and after engaging PHD2 showed a noticeable improvement, however.  

I wanted to get 1,2,3,4,5 min exposures to see how they compared, but it was clouding up noticeable during the exercise, with many PHD2 warnings during the 4 min exposure (loosing stars), so I only have 1-4 min to compare.  Although the conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and background sky color changing significantly, the star shapes of 4 min was close to that of the 1 min, upon casual inspection.

Having used PoleMaster for alignment, is PHD2 drift alignment needed?  (I did NOT.)

I only did the PHD2 calibration at my M13 target, near Zenith.  I recall that it is recommended to calibrate on stars near the horizon at meridian, which I definitely did NOT do.  Is this a problem?


hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Mark,

Good to hear you had positive results with your auto-guiding even with the deteriorating conditions. You should calibrate the guide system near where your target is for best results. You definitely DO NOT want to calibrate near the horizon. You can also get a good calibration near the position 0 deg declination. perhaps 1 hour before or 1 hour past the meridian depending what side of the meridian your target is on.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


Darryl Ellis
 

What does the 'Splash Screen' look like?

--

DHEllis59, Dover, DE
Orion ST120mm With Electronic AccuFocuser,
Explorer Scientific EXOS GT 2 With PMC Eight 
Celestron Luminous 31mm, Meade MWA 10mm, and 5mm EPs
"The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens" - Proverbs 3:19


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

On Sat, Feb 9, 2019 at 04:40 AM, Darryl Ellis wrote:
What does the 'Splash Screen' look like?
Hi Darryl,

Here is the splash screen for the iEXOS 100

 
--
Jerry Hubbell
Vice President of Engineering

Explore Scientific, LLC.
jrh at explorescientific.com

www.explorescientificusa.com
1010 S. 48th Street
Springdale, AR 72762
1-866-252-3811

Author: Scientific Astrophotography: How Amateurs Can Generate and Use Professional Imaging Data
             Remote Observatories for Amateur Astronomers: Using High-Powered Telescopes From Home


Mark Slade Remote Observatory (MSRO) IAU MPC W54 Equipment
Wilderness, VA
Mounts
: ES PMC-Eight G11 + Telescope Drive Master (TDM)
Scopes: ES 165 FPL-53 ED APO CF, ES 102 FCD100 ED APO CF
Cameras:  QHY174M-GPS + FW, QHY163C
Misc: 3-inch 0.7x Focal Reducer Field Flattener, Filters: Luminance,
Red, V-band Photometric, Diffuser, 200 lpmm Spectral Grating

Software: MaxIm DL 6, Cartes du Ciel, Astrometrica, AstroImageJ, AutoStakkert!


Darryl Ellis
 

Thanks Jerry.  I didn't get anything like that.  Then I realized I just ordered a usb to serial cord and did not bother to check if it was FTDI compatible.  I already returned it, and I am waiting on its replacement, lol.

--

DHEllis59, Dover, DE
Orion ST120mm With Electronic AccuFocuser,
Explorer Scientific EXOS GT 2 With PMC Eight 
Celestron Luminous 31mm, Meade MWA 10mm, and 5mm EPs
"The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens" - Proverbs 3:19


Wes Mcdonald
 

Folks

Is the ascompad in the files section modified from the eqmod web site?  Ie will any ascom pad work or just the one In files section?  And do we need the beta ascom PMC driver or will the latest "any" version of the driver work?

Regards
Wes
--
Wes, Southport NC
PMC-8, ES ED 127, 10" LX200GPS, Astro-Tech 8" Newt, ETX-90
Polemaster, Orion ST-80 and SAG
Electrical Engineer, Retired


Larry Young
 

Interesting, I'm using ASCOMPad v1.20 that I got from the ASCOM site.  I haven't tried v2.09 from the Files folder.

Larry
--
EXOS II PMC-8
Celestron 6SE
Dobstuff rebuild of Coulter 17 with Nexus2


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

Hi Wes,

The version 2.09 ASCOMPAD in the files section is the latest one I could find on the internet. The PMC-Eight ASCOM driver SINCE April 4, 2018 (I believe) have the fixes for ASCOMPAD.The latest driver should work fine. I will remove that older BETA driver from our files.
--
Jerry Hubbell
Vice President of Engineering

Explore Scientific, LLC.
jrh at explorescientific.com

www.explorescientificusa.com
1010 S. 48th Street
Springdale, AR 72762
1-866-252-3811

Author: Scientific Astrophotography: How Amateurs Can Generate and Use Professional Imaging Data
             Remote Observatories for Amateur Astronomers: Using High-Powered Telescopes From Home


Mark Slade Remote Observatory (MSRO) IAU MPC W54 Equipment
Wilderness, VA
Mounts
: ES PMC-Eight G11 + Telescope Drive Master (TDM)
Scopes: ES 165 FPL-53 ED APO CF, ES 102 FCD100 ED APO CF
Cameras:  QHY174M-GPS + FW, QHY163C
Misc: 3-inch 0.7x Focal Reducer Field Flattener, Filters: Luminance,
Red, V-band Photometric, Diffuser, 200 lpmm Spectral Grating

Software: MaxIm DL 6, Cartes du Ciel, Astrometrica, AstroImageJ, AutoStakkert!