Topics

One beginner's guide to getting EXOS2/PMC8 fully operational with ASCOM, Stellarium, SharpCap, ASPS, and ASCOMPAD


Alex Arjomand
 
Edited

Hi everyone,

Over the last 1-2 years, I have slowly been learning to use my EXOS-2 PMC8 system. At the outset I was completely new to this, and entirely new to equatorial mounts (having come from an ALT-AZ visual background). Social isolation finally gave me the time I needed to dedicate to this project, and I have finally gotten to a completely working system. I have learned so much along the way, and learned so many things from you via this forum - how to set up the mount, how to polar align, connect to various software via ASCOM, how to drive the scope via Stellarium, how to plate solve, and so much more. I am now in a place where I can easily and reliably observe (primarily via EAA for the time being; astrophotography is at least a year or two down the road for me). 

I am so grateful to all of you on this forum, and to Jerry & Explore Scientific in particular. I feel as though I've learned so much; and have accomplished more astronomy in the last three months than I managed in the last ten years. Sincere and profound thanks to you all.

Along the way, I have been documenting the steps I followed to get my system fully operational, in case it may be useful to any other beginners out there. The document linked below attempts to show everything that a new user might need to do to set up their EXOS2 PMC8 and get it working via wired ASCOM with Stellarium / ASCOMPAD / SharpCap Pro / ASPS. I know this is just one possible stack out of many - it's just the one I stumbled on in following your collective advice. 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15PeG6k3xgs6c48g9PVfGHCPmCjp48NShAGOZDt76QlM/edit?usp=sharing

--
Mounts: ES EXOS2 PMC-8
Scopes: Celestron C8, 10" Antares Dobsonian
Software: ASCOM, Stellarium, SharpCap Pro, ASPS, Ascompad
Computer: Lenovo X1 Carbon, Windows 10/64
Cameras: ZWO ASI385MC
Location: Toronto, Canada (Bortle 8)


Luke
 

Great work Alex, thank you for the work you did explaining in so much details. Greatly appreciated. Luc


From: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io <MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io> on behalf of Alex Arjomand <alex@...>
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2020 10:59:21 AM
To: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io <MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io>
Subject: [ESPMC-Eight] One beginner's guide to getting EXOS2/PMC8 fully operational with ASCOM, Stellarium, SharpCap, ASPS, and ASCOMPAD
 
Hi everyone,

Over the last 1-2 years, I have slowly been learning to use my EXOS-2 PMC8 system. At the outset I was completely new to this, and entirely new to equatorial mounts (having come from an ALT-AZ visual background). Social isolation finally gave me the time I needed to dedicate to this project, and I have finally gotten to a completely working system. I have learned so much along the way, and learned so many things from you via this forum - how to set up the mount, how to polar align, connect to various software via ASCOM, how to drive the scope via Stellarium, how to plate solve, and so much more. I am now in a place where I can easily and reliably observe (primarily via EAA for the time being; astrophotography is at least a year or two down the road for me). 

I am so grateful to all of you on this forum, and to Jerry & Explore Scientific in particular. I feel as though I've learned so much; and have accomplished more astronomy in the last three months than I managed in the last ten years. Sincere and profound thanks to you all.

Along the way, I have been documenting the steps I followed to get my system fully operational, in case it may be useful to any other beginners out there. The document linked below attempts to show everything that a new user might need to do to set up their EXOS2 PMC8 and get it working via wired ASCOM with Stellarium / ASCOMPAD / SharpCap Pro / ASPS. I know this is just one possible stack out of many - it's just the one I stumbled on in following your collective advice. 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15PeG6k3xgs6c48g9PVfGHCPmCjp48NShAGOZDt76QlM/edit?usp=sharing

--
Mounts: ES EXOS2 PMC-8
Scopes: Celestron C8, 10" Antares Dobsonian
Software: ASCOM, Stellarium, SharpCap Pro, ASPS, Ascompad
Computer: Lenovo X1 Carbon, Windows 10/64
Cameras: ZWO ASI385MC
Location: Toronto, Canada (Bortle 8)

--
Mounts: ES PMC-Eight G11 - upgraded with OPWB on both RA and DEC
Scopes: Televue NP127IS with HSM20 and focuser boss II - Questar field model 3.5 - Takahashi FC76 classic MC - Zeiss telementor - Lomo Astele 150mm
Cameras:  ZWO ASI071 PRO
Misc: Televue 0.8 X  Focal Reducer
Eyepieces: Pentax - Masuyama - Televue - Takahashi - Vixen
Software: Starry night PRO 8  - Nebulosity - Topaz studio - Sharp cap


Bill Kocken
 

You should put this document into the Files section on this site. I'm not a user of this equipment but it looks like a valuable asset of documentation.
--
Bill Kocken.
Ioptron zeq25gt and Es102 carbon fiber scope. (Also 3 dobs, 4.5", 8" and 16" )


 

Thank you Alex for documenting and sharing this information. I’m a beginner with my EXOS2 and just started finding my way around. I know that I will find the information extremely valuable.

Peter 
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Jerry Hubbell - Explore Scientific VP Engineering
 

On Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 01:59 PM, Alex Arjomand wrote:
I am so grateful to all of you on this forum, and to Jerry & Explore Scientific in particular. I feel as though I've learned so much; and have accomplished more astronomy in the last three months than I managed in the last ten years. Sincere and profound thanks to you all.

Along the way, I have been documenting the steps I followed to get my system fully operational, in case it may be useful to any other beginners out there.
Thanks Alex, for your work and relating your experience getting the PMC-Eight to work for you. I very much appreciate it.
 
--
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!


Jennifer Shelly
 

Alex:

Bravo.  You have fully embraced what the Open GoTo Community is all about.  My hats off to you sir.
--
Sincerely,

Jennifer Shelly
AstroPorch, VA

Mounts
: ES PMC-8 G-11, ES PMC-8 EXOS-2
Scopes: ES ED127 FCD-100, ES Levy Comet Hunter, ES N208CF, QHY Mini Guide Scope, Solomark F60 Guide Scope
Cameras: QHY600M, QHY128C, QHY168C
Misc: MoonLite CFL 2.5 / High Res Stepper / V2 Mini Controller, Baader SteelTrack NT / SteelDrive II, Baader UFC, Optolong 2" L-Pro / L-eNhance, QHY CFW3-L, Baader 2” LRGBSHO CCD
Imaging Software:  NINA, APT, SharpCap Pro
Processing Software: PixInsight, Lightroom, Premiere Elements


 
Edited

Thanks to Kent, my Parallax cable arrived and I appear to be making progress along the path to serial communications and control.

Here is where I am at:
1. Started PMC-Eight Config Manager 
2. Connect edvia COM3
3. Advanced Tab sent messages to PMC-8 as shown:
5       Mount appears to be connected on Serial
4       Received: ESGvES6B09T15EXOS2!
3       Sending via Serial: ESGv!
2       Received: ESGp0000000!
1       Sending via Serial: ESGp0!
0       Com Port: COM3
 
4. Ran ASCOM Diagnostics DeviceConnection Tester:
Create              Creating device
Connected           Connecting to device
                   
Name                Explore Scientific PMC-Eight ASCOM Driver
Description         ES_PMC8 Telescope
DriverInfo          Explore Scientific PMC-Eight Mount Controller ASCOM Driver. Developed by GRHubbell. Contact Explore Scientific at www.explorescientificusa.com . Version: 6.0
DriverVersion       6.0
InterfaceVersion    3
RA, Dec             17:18:07.870 90:00:00.000
Latitude, Longitude 37:55:00.000 -120:38:00.000
Tracking            False
                   
Connected           Disconnecting from device
Dispose             Disposing of device
Dispose             Completed disposal
ReleaseComObject    Releasing COM instance
GC Collect          Starting garbage collection
GC Collect          Completed garbage collection
 
5. Unable to get any response from the mount using UDLF from PHD2.

6. Now that I am connected via serial, l
ooking for the next steps to do the following - i.e what am I missing ?:
A. Use Stellarium for GOTO Slew functions (also have Stellarium is running as a web server)
B. Tracking and short exposure imaging < 20 secs
C. Future: PHD2 for auto guiding in the future for longer exposure imaging
 
One of the challenges of such a flexible setup is understanding which components one needs to to succeed. If there is documentation for the next steps, would appreciate the links.
 
Thanks,
Peter
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Wes Mcdonald
 

Peter

The UPLR buttons on PHD only move the mount at the guide rate set in the driver.  They are not meant to skew the mount, they are for manual guiding.   

Here is a short list of thoughts to get you organized 

1.  Get poth up and select the Es pmc8 driver in its setup...you did this
2.  Open stellarium and set it up for telescope control.  This is something you have to read about .  Alex wrote a nice doc on all of this



3.  Stellarium will allow you goto targets and get close 

4.  Once the mount is under your control via stellarium you will have to learn how to polar align it.  This will improve your goto accuracy.

5.  You will have to learn how to level the mount.

6.  You will need to determine the home position to a high degree of accuracy.  You can find a paper on this in the files section of the Mounts subgroup


7.  You may wish to adjust cone error.  A document for that is also in the same directory.

Wes





--
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


 

Thank you Wes, will work on the next steps.

Much appreciated.
Peter
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


 

Hi Wes, 
Making progress, but few questions:
Step 7 in the linked document, when I try to connect the scope through Stellarium via the Telescope control plugin, I just get a “Connecting” status. Is there something I need to do on Poth. Poth Hub is running and I can manually slew the mount using the on-screen  buttons.

Also, do I need ASCOMPAD without a game controller ?

thanks,
Peter
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Wes Mcdonald
 

Did you pick poth hub in 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


 

I had not. Now that I have  I see it is “connected”👍🏽

At this point how do I invoke the slew function  - is it from within Stellarium or from Poth hub ?
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Wes Mcdonald
 

So select an object on stellarium and press , I think, the control key at the same time a the number 1.    The mount will slew I think.  

--
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


 

Never mind, just found it in Stellarium.  The location must be off, as I tried slewing to the sun and it’s pointing towards the ground almost 180 deg opposite to where the sun is...
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Wes Mcdonald
 

Don’t point your scope to the sun!!!!

--
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


Wes Mcdonald
 

You have to have the location of your site set both in the Es ascom driver and in stellarium.  You also have to make sure the time is set in your computer and the stellarium time is “now”.

Also remember in stellarium the longitude is “west” and in ascom driver it is -  ( negative)

--
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


 
Edited

Understand the issue pointing to the Sun Wes 😊! I'm indoors and have the lens cap on . 

Thank you all, Wes, Kent and Chris (doc on iExos 100) for your input in getting me up and running. A true testament to the integrity and commitment of this community. I’m honored to be part of it.

regards,
Peter
-- 

--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


 

Hello Wes, Kent,

Unfortunately I'm back to the start again - can't connect via serial! 

Wifi works, but serial connectivity is dead. I've rebooted the laptop, PMC-8 controller multiple times. After selecting the scope via POTH Hub, when I try yo connect to the mount it, the app just hangs with a spinner... Any suggestions ?

Peter



--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA


Wes Mcdonald
 

Peter

Give us a rundown on your configuration, cables etc etc.  

One item that bit someone with the iexos was the usb cable they were using was a charging only cable with no data wires.  Make sure you have a real usb cable.

Wes

--
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


 
Edited

Wes,
USB to Serial via Parallax FTDI chip cable (https://www.parallax.com/product/28031)
- tried both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports
- I have two of these cables and each gave the same results - interestingly, PMC Manager shows different COM ports whe I i plug in each cable/adapter (COM 3 and COM 5 respectively), in the same USP port
Nothing else connected to laptop at this time.

PmC-EIght Config Manager output:
7       Com Port: COM3
6       Com Port: COM3
5       Received: 
4       Sending via Serial: ESX!
3       Received: 
2       Sending via Serial: ESGp0!
1       The mount does not appear to be connected. Please check your settings and network connection.
0       Com Port: COM3

Tried WiFi connection - this worked. Disconnected the WiFi and attempted to switch to serial "Via ASCOM" and received pop up message: 
"Mount is currently busy. Please try again in a second...":

31       The mount does not appear to be connected. Please check your settings and network connection.
30       Com Port: COM3
29       Switching to TCP......Already on TCP
28       Switching to TCP...
27       Switching to ASCOM......Could not switch.
26       Switching to ASCOM...
25       Switching to ASCOM......Could not switch

Could the PMC-Eight unit be faulty ?
Thanks, 
Peter
--
Mount: EXOS2-GT, Orion SkyView EQ
Scope: ESED80-FCD100, Orion 8” Newt
Guide system: Starfield 50mm, Altair GPCAM2 130M
DSLR: Canon 6D, T3i
Software: ExploreStars W10, iOS; Sharpcap, Altair ImageCapture, PMC 8 Manager, Stellarium 
Location: Sierra Foothills, CA