Couple questions about the EXOS2-GT PMC8 #EXOS2 #ExploreStars


Tony
 

Hi All - 

I had a couple of questions about the EXOS2-GT PMC-Eight that I couldn't find answers to through searching.

1. If I accidentally close the explore stars app, does the mount maintain the star alignment?  Can I simply re-open and continue using go-to functionality without skipping a beat?  Is the alignment info stored in the controller, as opposed  to the app?

2. I plan to autoguide with my laptop and the ASCOM drivers, most likely through a wired connection.  Can I switch seamlessly from my tablet (for alignment) to the laptop (for autoguiding)?  The manual mentions issuing the "ESX!" command but I cant find much info on it.  How is that command issued?  After the mount is powered down, will it default back to wifi next time out?

3. Is there a description of the status indicator lights?  I guess this is more of a curiosity than anything else.

Thanks guys.


 

Hi!
 
#1) I'll let someone who uses Explorestars handle questions on that.
 
#2) The PMC8 basically toggles between wifi and serial, and it remembers the toggle setting.  I switched mine off wifi shortly after I got it, and it's been steady on serial ever since.  You can open up a terminal session and give commands directly as you describe, but it's probably easier to use one of the utilities on ES's download page to switch back and forth.
 
#3) The status lights are described in the Programmers Reference manual, also on the ES downloads page.  You'll also find instructions on using a terminal session to instruct the PMC8 to switch from wifi to serial in that doc (but the utility is easier).  
 
HTH...
 
- Bob
 
Link:
--
Mounts: ES PMC-8 EXOS2
Scopes: SV 102EDT, ZWO 60/280 Guide
Cameras:  Nikon D5300, Altair GPCAM2 290M
Software: ASCOM, CdC, AstroTortilla, BYN Pro, Sharpcap, PHD2
Computer:  Thinkpad x230, Win7Pro/64


Bill Black
 

Hi guitsboy,
I'm not exactly answering your questions here, but just some advice since you plan to auto-guide.
The current Windows version of ExploreStars only uses wifi and I don't find the process of switching from wifi to serial exactly seamless. It's not difficult, but you have to open another application to switch the communication interface back and forth.

If you are doing AP and auto-guiding, my recommendation is to stick with a serial connection through the ASCOM POTH and use something other than ExploreStars to navigate the sky for now. I use Stellarium because I like the interface, but Cartes du Ciel (CDC) is also popular (those are both free open source programs).

These programs do not have an alignment process, but all you need to do is get a good polar alignment and then sync on a target within the navigation software you choose. I actually find that process much easier than a multi-star alignment process. However, to get a good polar alignment I need another tool that plate solves. I find SharpCap Pro easy to use for this, plus I also use that as my capture software (the fewer the applications I have up and running the better!). SharpCap Pro has a polar alignment routine that uses plate solving and is very easy to use. To get access to that routine, you have to get the Pro version of SharpCap, which costs something like $20 a year.

Anyway, that's the direction I would go for AP and auto-guiding.
--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Kim
 

I am setting up iEXOS100 for auto-guiding. I have gotten the wireless connection working with TCP, SharpCap connected to my LPI-GM camera and POTH for polar alignment, and PHD2 connected to the camera and POTH for guiding. I want to use Stellarium to acquire target coordinates, but it isn't connecting to POTH. How have you ccnnected Stellarium to POTH?


George Fargone
 

You select POTH when you configure the telescope in Stellarium. There is a telescope icon on the screen bottom menu. It sounds like you already configured the mount in POTH.


Bill Black
 
Edited

Kim,
For Stellarium, you need an interface between Stellarium and POTH. That interface is called Stellarium Scope.
It's free from Welshdragon at: https://welshdragoncomputing.ca/x/index.php/home/stellariumscope/download-stellariumscope
After you install Stellarium Scope, there is a button on the user interface to update the Stellarium configuration.
There is also a button to launch Stellarium from the Stellarium Scope interface.

So you will launch POTH, connected to the PMC 8.
Launch Stellarium Scope, connected to POTH.
Launch Stellarium (I use the button on Stellarium Scope for this step, but you can also just launch it from the desktop or whatever).

When Stellarium launches you should see your "Scope" centered on the North Pole.
Ctrl-1 is the command in Stellarium to slew the scope to the selected object
Ctrl-3 is the Stellarium command to Sync the scope to the selected object (i.e., does not physically move the mount, but updates the coordinates)
Ctrl-5 is the emergency stop command to abort a slew in progress.

Hope that helps!
 Bill

--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Bill Black
 

I feel out of date, since last year!
I was just checking out Stellarium for updates and the latest version is 20.1 and I've been running v 19.2.
It appears that starting with v 19.3 direct support for ASCOM telescopes was added and you can connect directly to the POTH Hub through Stellarium.
I have not tried it yet so I'm not sure how well it works, but I plan to check it out soon. Note that you would want to use the POTH Hub if you are going to have other programs talking to the mount as well (e.g., auto-guider).
So, in theory, this should negate the need for Stellarium Scope if you are using Stellarium v 19.3 or later.
--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Kim
 

Bill,

I have Stellarium 20.1 that I have been trying to connect to POTH. I had looked at StellariumScope and read the note about it not be necessary with the newer versions of Stellarium. The configuration only specifies ASCOM which doesn't seem to work with POTH. I really don't see how it can as the PMC-Eight driver is also ASCOM. How would it know which ASCOM driver to select? I haven't tried looking at any code, so I don't know what parameters are associated with the ASCOM selection that are used to find the appropriate API to connect to.


Patrick Maher
 

Stellarium works fine without the need for the quirky and unstable Stellarium Scope now and for the past few months.  However, make sure you are still using the current version of ASCOM Platform and not the Beta version.  

Patrick
--
Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 and EXOS-2GT (non-PMC)
Explore Scientific ED 102mm Refractor


jrichard333 <jrichard333@hotmail.com>
 

Good day Patrick,

 

Would you be so kind as to explain how it works without the need for Stellarium scope?  How is your device setup?

 

JR

 

From: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io [mailto:MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io] On Behalf Of Patrick Maher via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 11:44 AM
To: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ESPMC-Eight] Couple questions about the EXOS2-GT PMC8 #EXOS2 #ExploreStars

 

Stellarium works fine without the need for the quirky and unstable Stellarium Scope now and for the past few months.  However, make sure you are still using the current version of ASCOM Platform and not the Beta version.  

Patrick
--
Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 and EXOS-2GT (non-PMC)
Explore Scientific ED 102mm Refractor


Bill Black
 

I would like to know this as well.
I installed the latest version of Stellarium, but no luck getting it to work directly with the PMC 8 on my EXOS II. However, Stellarium Scope is still working fine, so I'm still using it for now.

My steps were:
  • Installed Stellarium 20.1
  • Started POTH connected to the PMC 8
  • Started Stellarium and went into the Scope configurations
  • Added a new scope, selected ASCOM, selected ASCOM POTH
  • Click connect, connected to the mount, Scope icon appears on the Stellarium screen at the NCP reporting essentially the same coordinates as the POTH hub.
  • Pick an object in Stellarium, click current object coordinates, click slew... nothing
  • park the scope in POTH, click slew in Stellarium, get a message from Stellarium that you cannot slew a parked scope.
  • unpark the scope in POTH, click slew... nothing
  • click sync... nothing.
So the communications all seem to be working fine, but Stellarium does not seem to be sending any commands to the POTH Hub, but it is reading information from the POTH Hub.

Also tried bypassing the POTH Hub and just connect directly to the PMC 8 from Stellarium (the PMC8 shows up as one of the options in Stellarium directly when you pick ASCOM).
However, similar results. The Scope icon appears on the screen, has essentially the correct coordinates, but when I click slew I get the "parked scope" message from Stellarium and now no way to unpark the scope, since I've bypassed the POTH Hub.

Interestingly, Stellarium Scope is still working fine. I can Start Stellarium Scope and also connect directly to the Poth Hub so that I now have two active scope icons showing in Stellarium (I named the direct connection "Direct" and the default name for Stellarium Scope is just "Scope"). So with this set-up, I can control the mount with the "Scope" connection and the "Direct" connection will follow it around on the screen. However, I cannot issue any commands through the "Direct" connection... it just sits there.

Valiant effort from the folks at Stellarium, but as far as I can tell it doesn't actually work.

Wondering if anyone has actually gotten it to work with the PMC8 EXOSII... or any PMC8 for that matter.
Thanks!
--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Kim
 

You actually got more working than I did. I clicked on ASCOM and I didn't any further configuration options. 


Dave Cherry
 

Hi Bill,

I feel your pain, I’ve spent the last 3 days trying to get this to work!

 

But last night , everything worked! And I’m not entirely sure why

Using ascom 6.4 ,  6.5 does not work for me

 

 

Reboot the laptop from cold

Connected to mount via wifi (I’m going to try the serial tonight)

Load poth

select Ascom , setup ascom with pmc driver check you site data etc...

dis-engage tracking then re-engage it.

load sharpcap Pro (but do not connect it to any mount, this is still a problem for me)

load Stellarium select poth as mount.

Load ph2 select poth as mount

 

 

It worked , like I said if you have asked me a couple of days ago , I would have said its never going to work?? Who knew.

I’m going to have another go tonight.

If I find anything else out , Ill let you know.

 

Cheers

Dave

 

 

Note that when using Stellarium directly with poth the slew sync and cancel keys are different than Stellarium scope.

Eg: ALT SHIFT 1 to sync

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

From: Bill the Mortal
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 8:31 PM
To: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ESPMC-Eight] Couple questions about the EXOS2-GT PMC8 #EXOS2 #ExploreStars

 

I would like to know this as well.
I installed the latest version of Stellarium, but no luck getting it to work directly with the PMC 8 on my EXOS II. However, Stellarium Scope is still working fine, so I'm still using it for now.

My steps were:

  • Installed Stellarium 20.1
  • Started POTH connected to the PMC 8
  • Started Stellarium and went into the Scope configurations
  • Added a new scope, selected ASCOM, selected ASCOM POTH
  • Click connect, connected to the mount, Scope icon appears on the Stellarium screen at the NCP reporting essentially the same coordinates as the POTH hub.
  • Pick an object in Stellarium, click current object coordinates, click slew... nothing
  • park the scope in POTH, click slew in Stellarium, get a message from Stellarium that you cannot slew a parked scope.
  • unpark the scope in POTH, click slew... nothing
  • click sync... nothing.

So the communications all seem to be working fine, but Stellarium does not seem to be sending any commands to the POTH Hub, but it is reading information from the POTH Hub.

Also tried bypassing the POTH Hub and just connect directly to the PMC 8 from Stellarium (the PMC8 shows up as one of the options in Stellarium directly when you pick ASCOM).
However, similar results. The Scope icon appears on the screen, has essentially the correct coordinates, but when I click slew I get the "parked scope" message from Stellarium and now no way to unpark the scope, since I've bypassed the POTH Hub.

Interestingly, Stellarium Scope is still working fine. I can Start Stellarium Scope and also connect directly to the Poth Hub so that I now have two active scope icons showing in Stellarium (I named the direct connection "Direct" and the default name for Stellarium Scope is just "Scope"). So with this set-up, I can control the mount with the "Scope" connection and the "Direct" connection will follow it around on the screen. However, I cannot issue any commands through the "Direct" connection... it just sits there.

Valiant effort from the folks at Stellarium, but as far as I can tell it doesn't actually work.

Wondering if anyone has actually gotten it to work with the PMC8 EXOSII... or any PMC8 for that matter.
Thanks!
--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385

 

Virus-free. www.avg.com

 

 


--
Scopes: Sky Watcher 200PDS, Skywatcher 72ED
Mount: Explore Scientific PMC8 EXO2
Cameras: ASI 294MCPRO Coooled, Altair guide cam + 50mm scope
Software: Sharpcap Pro ,PH2, Stelarium Startools


Dave Cherry
 

 

Correction.... Cntrl Shift 1 for sync not Alt shift 1 !

Dave.

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

From: Bill the Mortal
Sent: 20 May 2020 20:31
To: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ESPMC-Eight] Couple questions about the EXOS2-GT PMC8 #EXOS2 #ExploreStars

 

I would like to know this as well.
I installed the latest version of Stellarium, but no luck getting it to work directly with the PMC 8 on my EXOS II. However, Stellarium Scope is still working fine, so I'm still using it for now.

My steps were:

  • Installed Stellarium 20.1
  • Started POTH connected to the PMC 8
  • Started Stellarium and went into the Scope configurations
  • Added a new scope, selected ASCOM, selected ASCOM POTH
  • Click connect, connected to the mount, Scope icon appears on the Stellarium screen at the NCP reporting essentially the same coordinates as the POTH hub.
  • Pick an object in Stellarium, click current object coordinates, click slew... nothing
  • park the scope in POTH, click slew in Stellarium, get a message from Stellarium that you cannot slew a parked scope.
  • unpark the scope in POTH, click slew... nothing
  • click sync... nothing.

So the communications all seem to be working fine, but Stellarium does not seem to be sending any commands to the POTH Hub, but it is reading information from the POTH Hub.

Also tried bypassing the POTH Hub and just connect directly to the PMC 8 from Stellarium (the PMC8 shows up as one of the options in Stellarium directly when you pick ASCOM).
However, similar results. The Scope icon appears on the screen, has essentially the correct coordinates, but when I click slew I get the "parked scope" message from Stellarium and now no way to unpark the scope, since I've bypassed the POTH Hub.

Interestingly, Stellarium Scope is still working fine. I can Start Stellarium Scope and also connect directly to the Poth Hub so that I now have two active scope icons showing in Stellarium (I named the direct connection "Direct" and the default name for Stellarium Scope is just "Scope"). So with this set-up, I can control the mount with the "Scope" connection and the "Direct" connection will follow it around on the screen. However, I cannot issue any commands through the "Direct" connection... it just sits there.

Valiant effort from the folks at Stellarium, but as far as I can tell it doesn't actually work.

Wondering if anyone has actually gotten it to work with the PMC8 EXOSII... or any PMC8 for that matter.
Thanks!
--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385

 


--
Scopes: Sky Watcher 200PDS, Skywatcher 72ED
Mount: Explore Scientific PMC8 EXO2
Cameras: ASI 294MCPRO Coooled, Altair guide cam + 50mm scope
Software: Sharpcap Pro ,PH2, Stelarium Startools


Bill Black
 

Hi Kim,
When I click the "ASCOM" Radio button on the "Add New Telescope" window in Stellarium, it activates the lower portion of the window.
I had to click the lower scroll up/down arrows (circled in yellow in the pic below) to find the input to select the type of ASCOM telescope.
When I click the "Choose ASCOM Telescope" button (big red arrow), it pulls up the ASCOM interface where I can choose the POTH Hub (or alternatively connect directly to the PMC 8).
I'm curious if you get these inputs, and if so, can you get it to work for you?


--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Bill Black
 

Thanks Dave,
I was just using the serial connection. I did not try wifi. I also have not tried rebooting my PC.
I may give those a shot and report back weather or not I have any luck.

--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385


Kim
 

I had to take Stellarium out of full screen mode to find the last dialog box for choosing the POTH Hub. After I selected that it acted like it connected, but I still couldn't get it to slew. I downloaded and installed StellariumScope. After I configured through StellariumScope I was able to slew the mount in Stellarium. Unfortunately, everything seems a bit unstable and has a tendency to hang, especially POTH Hub.


 

Kim,

You had an earlier post that mentioned that you were connecting wireless?  It wasn't clear just how 'wireless' you are, whether just the PMC8 or other gear as well.

Anyway... No idea if that's part of your present issues, but we have had a few members try guiding over wireless and they generally end up a bit frustrated.  
Thing is... when you're guiding, you're basically setting up a closed-loop, near-real-time control system.  
Wireless anywhere in that control loop can have latency issues and dropouts that you don't notice when going visual, but different story if you're guiding. 
A serial FTDI-to-USB cable plus drivers connecting the PMC8 is more stable than wireless for guiding, and fast enough to do the job well.  

HTH...

- Bob

--
Mounts: ES PMC-8 EXOS2
Scopes: SV 102EDT, ZWO 60/280 Guide
Cameras:  Nikon D5300, Altair GPCAM2 290M
Software: ASCOM, CdC, AstroTortilla, BYN Pro, Sharpcap, PHD2
Computer:  Thinkpad x230, Win7Pro/64


Tony
 

Hi All.  I'm hoping to get the scope out for the first time tomorrow, and wanted to make sure I had all my ducks in a row.  I've done a little bit of testing in my living room, but still not sure how it will work once I drag everything outside.

Firstly, I'm woefully unfamiliar with Stellarium or CDC, so I really dont feel comfortable using either of those for alignment or navigation.  And plate solving for PA is something well beyond my abilities right now.   Typically I would just use the handbox for both, then simply let PHD do its thing.

I'm guessing the way that makes the most sense to me is to simply use explorestars via tablet for star alignment since it most closely resembles the handbox method.   
Once alignment is done, I can use the EXOS utility to switch from Wifi to serial.
From there, I have both APT and PHD are configured to use POTH instead of the mount directly.  And POTH is configured over serial.
It appears that mount alignment, RA and Dec info is carried over when I make the switch from WiFi to Serial, is that correct?
I also believe I can use APT directly for navigation if I'm not mistaken, though I have not actually done so.

Exactly how big of a no-no is attempting to guide over wifi?  I'm guessing the latency causes all sorts of problems.  I find it would be much much easier to keep it in wifi mode and simply toggle between POTH or Explore Stars on the tablet.  Otherwise it could get a bit unwieldy slewing to find something while looking through the eyepiece.  I'm guessing that I may simply have to toggle between wifi and serial every time I change targets, unless my go-to's are dead on, which they never are.


Bill Black
 

Hi All,
Just wanted to give an update on using the direct ASCOM connection in Stellarium without Stellarium Scope.
Thanks to Dave's notes, I've discovered that not only do you need to unpark the Scope with POTH, but you also need to turn on tracking in POTH.
Once I did that, everything started working! (pic below... yellow circle on tracking box, which must be checked and red arrow pointing to park/unpark button, which must say "Park Scope"... i.e., it is unparked)

guitsboy, Sorry about hijacking your thread here.
To some of your questions, I do believe that the PMC8 controller retains the alignment data until it is rebooted or realigned -- but I can't swear to that as I don't really use ExploreStars.
Also, I recommend pulse guiding over a serial connection for your auto-guiding. I've gone to a strict serial connection now due to sporadic results over wifi.


--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385