Low Cost PMC-8 System


Steve Siedentop
 

Moving this to a thread with a relevant cover...

I had a chance at NEAF this year to see the current iteration of the Low Cost PMC-8 system that Jerry mentioned in another thread.  I believe it was called the EXOS iEQ.

I thought I would put together a couple of wish lists of sorts to provide some feedback on features that I feel need to be fully baked for a product with an intended user base that includes beginners and people moving up from a star tracker.

General PMC 8 Wish List
1) Robust WiFi connectivity - WiFi connectivity on my PMC8 is fine for use with the Explore Stars app, but it is unreliable for astrophotography.
2) SkySafari Control - for mount control, SkySafari has become ubiquitous, is already available on multiple platforms.
3) A UI for switching between the serial port and WiFi connectivity.  I agree with Mark that the current method is a bit hacky.  I don't have a problem executing the instructions, but I'm a software developer with a solid technical background in multiple areas.  The target audience of this product will likely be intimidated by this and go elsewhere for competing products with a higher level of polish.
4) Refactor the ASCOM driver to function as a server and eliminate POTH from the mix.

EXOS iEQ Specific Wish List
1) A more robust tripod.  The mount I saw at NEAF was solid and didn't feel cheap.  However, the tripod was on the order of the Celestron SLT tripod.  I see that as weak point creating more issues for a beginner to deal with.   
2) I don't recall seeing a polar scope on the mount.  In the absence of one, a method to relatively quickly polar align the mount would be desirable.  A polar alignment feature in Explore Stars would be a good selling point.  While PHD and SharpCap offer polar alignment options, the more feature inclusive the product is, the more likely a new person is going spend their money on an Explore Scientific product.

This is intended to be a starting point for discussion, so please feel free to add to it.

-Steve



W. Christopher Moses
 

Hi Steve,
Why do you want to get rid of POTH? And, what would you want in its place?


hubbell_jerry@...
 

Hi Chris,

What Steve and I would like to provide is a server based driver versus the existing driver. The ASCOM platform development tools provide a server template for driver development that allows the driver to connect to several clients at the same time which is basically what POTH does for us. POTH also includes a hand controller which could be provided in the driver also, but I have to see if that is needed or not.

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.


W. Christopher Moses
 

I guess what I was asking is what benefit does that have?  

Something like iOptron Commander would be nice, I suppose. It basically replicates the handset's functionality on the PC.


hubbell_jerry@...
 

I guess the only real benefit is that you have one less piece of software to run when using multiple clients connected to the PMC-Eight driver. Plus it gives the user more choices on how to run their system. Other than that, there may not be any tangible difference.

I would be tempted to just let the PMC-Eight developer community create the local server version of the PMC-Eight driver if there is a need. The ASCOM developer tools have documentation on how to do it. Depending on how easy (or difficult) it is, it may be a while before I can get it done based on the priority projects I am working right now. 

Jerry Hubbell
Director Electrical Engineering
Explore Scientific, LLC.