ANNOUNCEMENT: New BETA Test Subgroup Available #ExploreScientific #ASCOM #FIRMWARE


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

ANNOUNCEMENT:  New PMC-Eight System BETA Test Subgroup

I have created a new PMC-Eight System BETA Test subgroup for those who wish to participate in the public BETA test of the new PMC-Eight Firmware and ASCOM driver that will be released to the general customer base in the near future. This is a closed forum available only to those that apply to join and are accepted. The forum will provide a place for those participating in the BETA test to report their findings and test results to improve the firmware and ASCOM driver prior to a general release.

Participation is optional of course, but we welcome those customers who wish to participate.

The results compiled in the BETA Test subgroup are not to be divulged to the general forum membership.

Please apply to join the BETA Test subgroup using this link:
BETATest@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io | Home

If you have any comments or questions please post them to this message thread.

Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you.

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!


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

I want to acknowledge the hard work that Wes McDonald has done working with me on the Firmware, and Bob Hoskin and Chuck Lewis for the testing they have been doing over the last couple of weeks. We wouldn't be here without their efforts.

For those that have already requested to join the BETA Test subgroup my plan is to authorize your applications to join by the end of the week once I am satisfied that the firmware and ASCOM driver are ready to go, PLUS I have created the instruction document for you to use in testing the firmware/driver.

Anyone that applies will need to be familiar with using a terminal program and also be able to enter commands directly to the PMC-Eight via Chris Moses' Configuration Manager. THIS IS ONLY FOR THE BETA.  I am actively working on a small configuration tool that runs on Windows Only to be able to easily set the required flags and other new settings that the firmware uses. The testing also requires either a DB9 Serial USB FTDI chipset adapter (G11 EXOS2) OR Type A to Type B min-USB cable (iEXOS 100).

I will post the document here on the main forum describing the new firmware/driver features this week.  I expect this public beta to last about 2 weeks with any updates being posted in the files section of the BETA Test subgroup.

Thanks again to all those interested in helping out the community through testing the new PMC-Eight system!

--
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!


Parag Modi
 

I'm still a rookie learning his fine craft, so I don't think I would be a good beta tester.  However, I'm interested in finding out what would be the key features of this new driver as compared to the current ASCOM driver.

Thank you,
--
Parag Modi

Mounts: ES iEXOS-100
Scopes: APS-C Sigma 18-300 mm
Cameras:  Nikon D7200 (Unmodified)
Misc: Bahtinov Mask, K&F Concept Clear night filter
Software: ExploreStars, Stellarium


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

Hi Parag,

Here is an overview of the most significant changes and upgrades:

  • Universal Firmware for all models of the PMC-Eight
  • Completely backward compatible with all existing PMC-Eight systems delivered to our customers.
  • No More Switching Between Serial and WiFi - Both are available to connect to with either ASCOM Serial, or WiFi ExploreStars (Windows, Android, iPadOS)
  • Settable Motor Currents within defined limits for both Slewing and Tracking.
  • Separately settable Sidereal Rate Fractions in RA and DEC for Autoguiding. 
  • Switch for Automatic tracking at Sidereal Rate when powering up the PMC-Eight - No need for a computer - Old School tracking with manual movement of you scope to any object
  • Hardware configuration auto detection algorithm

That covers the major changes. We did a lot of changes to the code architecture and improved performance overall. Improved performance of the ASCOM driver also.
--
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!


Dino Monaco
 

Jerry

Sounds like some very exciting upgrades to the firmware.
Especially the serial / WiFi connectivity.
 I’m waiting for the next shipment for my EXOS2 to arrive . Hopefully April.
Question: Will I need to do a upgrade to the new version firmware on the back ordered PMC8s , or are they preloaded?

Regards

Dino


On Mar 10, 2021, at 11:46 AM, Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering <jrh@...> wrote:

Hi Parag,

Here is an overview of the most significant changes and upgrades:

  • Universal Firmware for all models of the PMC-Eight
  • Completely backward compatible with all existing PMC-Eight systems delivered to our customers.
  • No More Switching Between Serial and WiFi - Both are available to connect to with either ASCOM Serial, or WiFi ExploreStars (Windows, Android, iPadOS)
  • Settable Motor Currents within defined limits for both Slewing and Tracking.
  • Separately settable Sidereal Rate Fractions in RA and DEC for Autoguiding. 
  • Switch for Automatic tracking at Sidereal Rate when powering up the PMC-Eight - No need for a computer - Old School tracking with manual movement of you scope to any object
  • Hardware configuration auto detection algorithm

That covers the major changes. We did a lot of changes to the code architecture and improved performance overall. Improved performance of the ASCOM driver also.
--
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!


--
Dino Monaco


Walter Vinci
 

Exciting update!


Does it mean we will be able to control the mounts with ascom and explorestars commands at the same time?

Walter

On Mar 10, 2021, at 9:46 AM, Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering <jrh@...> wrote:

Hi Parag,

Here is an overview of the most significant changes and upgrades:

  • Universal Firmware for all models of the PMC-Eight
  • Completely backward compatible with all existing PMC-Eight systems delivered to our customers.
  • No More Switching Between Serial and WiFi - Both are available to connect to with either ASCOM Serial, or WiFi ExploreStars (Windows, Android, iPadOS)
  • Settable Motor Currents within defined limits for both Slewing and Tracking.
  • Separately settable Sidereal Rate Fractions in RA and DEC for Autoguiding. 
  • Switch for Automatic tracking at Sidereal Rate when powering up the PMC-Eight - No need for a computer - Old School tracking with manual movement of you scope to any object
  • Hardware configuration auto detection algorithm

That covers the major changes. We did a lot of changes to the code architecture and improved performance overall. Improved performance of the ASCOM driver also.
--
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!


--
———

Walter Vinci

ES EXOS2-GT PMC-Eight
ES ED80
Starfield 0.8 Field Flattener/Reducer.
ZWO ASI290mm-mini & Orion 50mm Guide Scope
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
SharpCap, APT, PHD2, SiriL, Stellarium


Steve Lang
 

Hi.

Sounds awesome Jerry. I need to sort my gear out soon, and will be happy to test then, including ASCOM conformance testing.


One question on the new ASCOM driver - does this version have built in server/hub functionality (replacing POTH/Device Hub)?


Cheers -


On 11/03/21 5:46 am, Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering wrote:
Hi Parag,

Here is an overview of the most significant changes and upgrades:

  • Universal Firmware for all models of the PMC-Eight
  • Completely backward compatible with all existing PMC-Eight systems delivered to our customers.
  • No More Switching Between Serial and WiFi - Both are available to connect to with either ASCOM Serial, or WiFi ExploreStars (Windows, Android, iPadOS)
  • Settable Motor Currents within defined limits for both Slewing and Tracking.
  • Separately settable Sidereal Rate Fractions in RA and DEC for Autoguiding. 
  • Switch for Automatic tracking at Sidereal Rate when powering up the PMC-Eight - No need for a computer - Old School tracking with manual movement of you scope to any object
  • Hardware configuration auto detection algorithm

That covers the major changes. We did a lot of changes to the code architecture and improved performance overall. Improved performance of the ASCOM driver also.
--
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!

This email has been filtered by SMX. For more information visit smxemail.com

--
Mounts: ES PMC-8 G11, Orion Atlas
Scopes: ES FCD100-80, GSO RC8, Orion XT10i
Cameras: QHY 8L, QHY163m, QHY5L-II, Polemaster
Misc: QHY FW, OAG
Software: NINA, PixInsight


Wes Mcdonald
 

Walter

The ascom and Explorestars will work together somewhat.  This is not going to be something we think most people should do, but with certain caveats they do function together.

Another feature for the iexos 100 crowd is the ability to switch between UDP and TCP in the field with a dongle.  This will make it possible to  have left home with the thing set for wireless ascom in tcp mode and get to a remote site intending to use Explorestars at which time you discover it won’t connect because Explorestars demands UDP.  No problem if your kit includes your WiFi dongle which in this case is used for the switch.

Another feature we added is that the WiFi dongle now changes the WiFi channel each time you insert it.  In the past you got one insert per boot up.

We also added the ability to enable continuous tracking when no commands were present.  This will keep the mount going when your iPad or whatever goes to sleep.  In the past there were two different firmware versions for this. Now it is a configurable item  that is persistent between reboots.

Related to the last, the ascom driver now detects if the mount is tracking when it boots up.  Thus if you need to shut down poth for example if it gets twisted, you can restart it and the mount will report its position and all can carry on.  

Various other things the users can play with but these plus what jerry mentioned are the low hanging fruit that are going to be most used I believe.

Wes



On Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 6:05 PM Walter Vinci <wltvinci@...> wrote:
Exciting update!


Does it mean we will be able to control the mounts with ascom and explorestars commands at the same time?

Walter

On Mar 10, 2021, at 9:46 AM, Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering <jrh@...> wrote:

Hi Parag,


Here is an overview of the most significant changes and upgrades:

  • Universal Firmware for all models of the PMC-Eight
  • Completely backward compatible with all existing PMC-Eight systems delivered to our customers.
  • No More Switching Between Serial and WiFi - Both are available to connect to with either ASCOM Serial, or WiFi ExploreStars (Windows, Android, iPadOS)
  • Settable Motor Currents within defined limits for both Slewing and Tracking.
  • Separately settable Sidereal Rate Fractions in RA and DEC for Autoguiding. 
  • Switch for Automatic tracking at Sidereal Rate when powering up the PMC-Eight - No need for a computer - Old School tracking with manual movement of you scope to any object
  • Hardware configuration auto detection algorithm

That covers the major changes. We did a lot of changes to the code architecture and improved performance overall. Improved performance of the ASCOM driver also.
--
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!


--
———

Walter Vinci

ES EXOS2-GT PMC-Eight
ES ED80
Starfield 0.8 Field Flattener/Reducer.
ZWO ASI290mm-mini & Orion 50mm Guide Scope
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
SharpCap, APT, PHD2, SiriL, Stellarium


--
Wes, Southport NC
EXos2-GT PMC-8, iExos 100
ES ED 127, 10" LX200GPS+wedge, Astro-Tech 8" Newt, ETX-90, 60mm no-name guide scope ~ 260mm FL
Polemaster, Orion ST-80 and SAG, ZWO 290MM, D5300 astro modified
Nina, Bootcamped Mac Mini control computer, RDP to iMAC
110 amp hour lead acid deep discharge battery for field power
Electrical Engineer, Retired


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

On Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 06:05 PM, Walter Vinci wrote:
Does it mean we will be able to control the mounts with ascom and explorestars commands at the same time?

Walter
Hi Walter,  I don't want to give too much away right now, with this release, we have eliminated the need to switch back and forth between the serial and WiFi communications channels. As you may realize, having the PMC-Eight communicate concurrently with 2 separate control systems requires a significant amount of coordination between the systems. That is our end goal for reasons that I will not divulge here. I can say that there is already code in the firmware to handle this, but it will not be supported by customer service in the first release until we announce anything. I would also say that there is nothing to stop you from attempting it.

Bottom line is that with this release we fully support connecting to EITHER Serial OR WiFi, NOT BOTH at the same time. This will change quickly after the general release to the public. 
 
--
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!


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

On Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 08:22 PM, Steve Lang wrote:

One question on the new ASCOM driver - does this version have built in server/hub functionality (replacing POTH/Device Hub)?

 

Hi Steve,

No the version of the driver is still just the driver and not the server. I do apologize as we have been promising the release of a server based ASCOM interface to the PMC-Eight for about 2 years now. We were working on it in 2019 and by the beginning of 2020 had made significant progress, but unfortunately the primary developer was not able to continue the work and complete it last year. After we release the new version of the ASCOM driver (which is still fully compatible with the POTH Dome Scope Hub) we will start working to get a server version of the ASCOM driver completed.
 
--
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!


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

I wanted to update everyone about the status of the PMC-Eight Universal Firmware BETA test program.

Today I am packaging up the files to share on the Beta Test subgroup for those who have subscribed. I have not yet approved all those who have joined the forum but will do that shortly.

If you are still interested in joining in on the fun of testing the new PMC-Eight Universal Firmware please join the subgroup.

Thanks!
--
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!


Parag Modi
 

Jerry,

Just wondering how the beta testing is progressing.  Any forecast on when this maybe available to general public?

Thank you,
--
Parag Modi

Mounts: ES iEXOS-100
Scopes: APS-C Sigma 18-300 mm
Cameras:  Nikon D7200 (Unmodified)
Misc: Bahtinov Mask, K&F Concept Clear night filter
Software: ExploreStars, Stellarium


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

On Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 11:16 PM, Parag Modi wrote:
Jerry,

Just wondering how the beta testing is progressing.  Any forecast on when this maybe available to general public?

Thank you,
--
Parag Modi
Hi Parag,

I am going to end the test period probably today or tomorrow. I think the software is pretty much ready to release to the general customer base. i have a couple of tweaks to the configuration tool that I want to make and I need to finalize the release notes for the new programs and firmware. I expect to be able to release it on April 12, 2021 to everyone.

Thanks

 
--
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!