Re: Mach2 Unguided testing continues


Roland Christen
 


I guess a question I have for AP is why the keypad is so expensive? 
It's an industrial device which is made for outdoor use. It won't crap out at -40F. It has nice tyactile keypad. It has a good display which also won't die at -40F. It's very rugged. The display always tells you how to do stuff so you don't have to remember in the dead of the night when your brain is not working.

Frankly, I don't like most of the cheap hand controllers that come with imported mounts. I bought a 12" GoTo Dob for use by our guests at our Hawaii house and it came with a hand controller that has oodles of features. And is very non-intuitive. I spent a very frustrating 4 hours with it one night and wanted to chuck it into the nearest sewer. I managed to send it to Mars at one point and at 150x the image was quite nice (plus the diffraction spikes of course). But the planet kept jerking back and forth which was somewhat annoying. I finally pulled the power cord and just moved it by hand the way God and Dobson had intended to use this kind of scope in the first place.

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Donald Rudny <mkea13800@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Sat, May 30, 2020 7:18 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach2 Unguided testing continues

Hi Ray,

Not sure of the exact price of the base AP1100 when I got mine, but AP does include  standard APCC with the purchase of one now.  They include the pro version with the AE 1100.

To answer the last question, I can only speak to my understanding of the AP system.  That is that the CP4 is the brain that controls the mount.  That’s where the money is.  There only needs to be an input device that communicates with the CP4.  AP has given several options.  As Roland has said many times, all you need is the keypad.  I like that, but in my opinion it is way overpriced for just giving signals to the brain.  It has a great catalogue of objects that frankly is available in an App like SkySafari for $39.95.  APCC gives more limit inputs and maybe a few more than the keypad (not sure about that), but it has no catalogue of objects.  Also, there is no Mac version.  I find that SkySafari does everything I need, except for multiple park positions.  I certainly hope that the mounts ability to slew and act safely are built into the CP4.  The operator only need to initialize properly.  If that’s not true, there should be big warnings about that.  I have been using mine for a couple of years now just initializing without setting any kind of limits on anything, and have never had a problem.  It has performed flawlessly.

Just my opinion, but the mount should come with both the keypad and APCC standard software.

You did bring up SB, and their prices didn’t seem that out of line with AP and they include a full package of SkyX and a handset.  Not trying to debate which is better.  There’s plenty of that on CN.  I like my AP1100, but I must admit that I did consider purchasing SkyX after using APCC.  More expense I would need to explain to the CFO.

I guess a question I have for AP is why the keypad is so expensive?  I guess another is can I trade my APCC in to get credit toward a keypad so I can use Roland’s new drift correction system with the keypad?  I honestly would consider that.

Thanks,

Don

Don Rudny


> On May 30, 2020, at 12:01 PM, Ray Gralak <groups3@...> wrote:
>
> Hi Don,
>
>> I was a little surprise to have to shell out what I did for APCC after spending over eight large
>> on the mount.
>
> A-P could have increased the price of their mounts and included software with every mount. That's what, for example, Software Bisque does with their mounts. And you have to pay an annual subscription fee if you want to keep getting new features.
>
> But A-P allows each person to decide if they want to purchase the software or not. The same thing with the keypad. You could have been "forced" to pay for the keypad if you wanted your 1100 but you got to save money by not having to. Doesn't this make sense?
>
>> on the mount.  One would think that software to run it would have been included.
>> I love the mount, but sorry to say, was disappointed in the control software.
>
> And I am glad you love your mount! I love mine too!
>
> But, APCC wasn't intended to be control software. In fact, one goal was that it be "transparent" to third party control software. APCC Standard adds safety features and new functionality. APCC Pro adds sophisticated pointing and tracking rate correction.
>
> Third party applications don't even know, nor have to know, about APCC's safety features, or that APCC Pro is applying pointing and tracking rate correction. APCC just automatically works and is transparent to every software application using it. I think that people underestimate the value of this.
>
> That said, what do you feel should have been included in terms of control software with the mount?
>
> -Ray Gralak
> Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
> Author of PEMPro V3:  https://www.ccdware.com
> Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Donald Rudny
>> Sent: Saturday, May 30, 2020 1:19 PM
>> To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
>> Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach2 Unguided testing continues
>>
>> Hi Ray,
>>
>> I think any imaging program would work.  From my understanding the images just need to be saved in a folder
>> that is watched by Atrack.  It coordinates Pinpoint to plate solve the images and then adjusts the tracking rate
>> accordingly.  I haven’t used it yet, but have been reviewing the user guide.  I assume that any image file format
>> could be used similar to astrometry.net.  I use Starlight Live, and it can save each exposure to a selected folder
>> as a fits file.  I think that will work.  Unfortunately it doesn’t solve my Mac issue.  Starlight Live does have a
>> native Windows version, too, but I prefer Mac.
>>
>> I have the APCC standard version.  I do have a Windows 10 machine strictly used for Astro stuff.  I use it to
>> initialize my mount and park it for my home observatory.  After initializing, I connect to my iPad and use
>> SkySafari the rest of the night.  My home observatory uses a P3 park position, so that’s why I use APCC.  I
>> understand SkySafari was suppose to add other park positions, but I don’t think that happened yet.  They only
>> use P4 which works well in the field.  There I don’t even bring my PC with Windows.
>>
>> I’ve been a Mac guy since 1984.  I cringe every time I even hear the word Windows.  I see all the issues
>> everyone has with it.  The idea of having APCC on a Mac or iPad sounds appealing.  I just hope I don’t have to
>> pay for it again.  I was a little surprise to have to shell out what I did for APCC after spending over eight large
>> on the mount.  One would think that software to run it would have been included.  I love the mount, but sorry to
>> say, was disappointed in the control software.
>>
>> Don
>>
>> Don Rudny
>>
>>
>>>> On May 30, 2020, at 7:57 AM, Ray Gralak <groups3@...> wrote:
>>>
>>> Hi Donald,
>>>
>>>>  I’m not trying to say that any system is better than any other.  I’m just trying to understand what is
>>>> available and what options users may have.  Cost is important as well.  I believe Atrack is free, but Pinpoint
>>>> runs about $150.  They have a 60 day trial period.  Some users out there with CP3’s might be interested in
>> this,
>>>> too.
>>>
>>> Wouldn't you also need an imaging program, like MaximDL Pro or SkyXPro?
>>>
>>>> I did purchase APCC, but I find it lacking for the price.  No
>>>> catalogue of objects.  No Mac version.  Not very intuitive.  About the only thing I use it for is to initialize the
>>>> mount at my home observatory.  Then I switch to my iPad and SkySafari for control.
>>>
>>> I take it you have APCC Standard? If you are not using Windows you are missing out then on some safety
>> and convenience features, like auto-park, and meridian and horizon limits.
>>>
>>> So, what if there was an iPad version of APCC with a full planetarium view? One of the plans for the next full
>> version of APCC is to make it cross platform. I've already started designing it and IOS is one of the possible
>> target platforms.
>>>
>>> -Ray Gralak
>>> Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
>>> Author of PEMPro V3:  https://www.ccdware.com
>>> Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver
>>>
>>>
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Donald Rudny
>>>> Sent: Saturday, May 30, 2020 10:04 AM
>>>> To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
>>>> Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach2 Unguided testing continues
>>>>
>>>> Rolando,
>>>>
>>>> If you’re interested, here’s my mobile setup.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Don Rudny
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>  On May 30, 2020, at 6:59 AM, Donald Rudny via groups.io <mkea13800=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>  Hi Rolando,
>>>>
>>>>  Here is the link to the Pinpoint site.
>>>>
>>>>  http://pinpoint.dc3.com/
>>>>
>>>>  There is a section on accuracy that suggests that it is very accurate.
>>>>
>>>>  I’m not trying to say that any system is better than any other.  I’m just trying to understand what is
>>>> available and what options users may have.  Cost is important as well.  I believe Atrack is free, but Pinpoint
>>>> runs about $150.  They have a 60 day trial period.  Some users out there with CP3’s might be interested in
>> this,
>>>> too.
>>>>
>>>>  I like your keypad method for what I do, which is usually a portable setup with my AP1100 and C11 Edge
>>>> at  f/6 or f/2 with Hyperstar.  Sometimes I will do f/10.  It might not sound very portable, but I put everything
>> in
>>>> the back of my pickup and drive up to Maunakea to set up off the back of the truck.  It takes about 20
>> minutes.
>>>> It gets pretty cold, so we sit in the pickup and view the object images on an extended monitor.  I run the
>> cables
>>>> through the rear window.  When the VIS was open, we did something similar and put on shows for the
>> visitors
>>>> with the equipment there.  It was a big hit.  I use a Mac, so I was able to download our captured images to
>> the
>>>> visitors iPhones.  Some people stayed the whole night just to get all of them.  That’s when I first
>> experienced
>>>> your excellent mounts and keypad.  They had an AP1100 set up with an 11” RASA.  I didn’t purchase a
>> keypad
>>>> with my AP1100 because of the expense.  I decided to go with my iPad and SkySafari.  I have Luminos too.
>>>> Both work very well and are very inexpensive.  I did purchase APCC, but I find it lacking for the price.  No
>>>> catalogue of objects.  No Mac version.  Not very intuitive.  About the only thing I use it for is to initialize the
>>>> mount at my home observatory.  Then I switch to my iPad and SkySafari for control.
>>>>
>>>>  I really don’t like to set up the auto guiding stuff, so your keypad system interests me.  I think it would
>>>> work best for what I need, but I would need to center the star by eye on my Mac computer screen with
>>>> crosshairs.  How accurate will that be?  It will probably be more valuable for me running at f/6 or f/10 with
>> the
>>>> C11 than at f/2.  At f/2, I can already get a couple of minutes unguided just with using the RAPAS for PA.
>> It’s
>>>> f/6 and especially f/10 that drift some.
>>>>
>>>>  I do have the CP4, but I would need to invest another $900 for a keypad, so you see my dilemma.  I’m
>>>> willing to invest, but I need to know that it will really work for me.
>>>>
>>>>  Thanks,
>>>>
>>>>  Don
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>  Don Rudny
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      On May 29, 2020, at 7:38 PM, uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io
>>>> <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          How accurate is centering a star by eye.
>>>>
>>>>      I actually do it automatically in MaximDL. I switch the main camera over to guide mode, let the
>>>> guider program pick whatever star it wants in the image and let it autoguide. At the end of 3  - 5 minutes I
>> press
>>>> the Enter button on the keypad and let the program advance to the next calibration point. I don't do the
>>>> centering manually, i let MaximDL do that. When I have gathered enough points I switch the camera back
>> over
>>>> to imaging and take my exposures.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      I can see where Atrack can adjust the guide rates after each image, however that means that
>>>> there is drift in the image that is being measured. I'm not 100% convinced that plate solve can determine
>> the
>>>> position to an accuracy level of sub-arc seconds, so i did not pursue this method. Besides, if you're going to
>>>> use fancy software for this, then I would simply use APCC Pro and make an all-sky model, and be done with
>> it.
>>>> My program is for portable setups where the user has a mount, scope and keypad, maybe a laptop and
>> maybe
>>>> just a digital camera. No fancy software, just the basics to have some imaging fun.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      Rolando
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      -----Original Message-----
>>>>      From: Donald Rudny <mkea13800@...>
>>>>      To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
>>>>      Sent: Sat, May 30, 2020 12:12 am
>>>>      Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach2 Unguided testing continues
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      Rolando,
>>>>
>>>>      I haven’t used Atrack, but have been reviewing the manual and I believe the program
>>>> continuously adjusts the drift rate as you capture images.  They are saved in a file that is watched by the
>>>> program and plate solved through Pinpoint.  I believe there is also a modeling routine that I assume can be
>>>> saved as long as the setup remains the same.  As I say, I’m not 100% sure of this, but it looks like it’s worth
>>>> taking a look at.
>>>>
>>>>      One question I have on the AP keypad system is accuracy.  How accurate is centering a star by
>>>> eye.  I would think that a longer time between inputs would be necessary to improve accuracy.  If I have a
>> fairly
>>>> decent PA, I would think I might need a 10-15 minute drift measurement.  A longer focal length would also
>> help.
>>>>
>>>>      Don
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      Don Rudny
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          On May 29, 2020, at 6:15 PM, uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io
>>>> <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          Basically you get one data point in about 200 seconds (3 - 4 minutes) which sets the drift
>>>> rate at that point int he sky. So that will work for a while, maybe 1/2 hour to an hour, after which the drift will
>>>> have changed. So then you take another 3-4 minute run to establish a new drift rate. You do that every hour
>> or
>>>> so along the path that the object takes.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          That's exactly what I'm doing also. 3 - 5 minute drift measurement which is good for an
>>>> hour. However, if I take just 3 drift measurements along the path, spread out over a 5 - 6 hour period, the
>> CP5
>>>> will then compute a continuously variable tracking rate for all points in between for the entire 6 hour period. I
>>>> can do this measurement all at once before the sun goes down using 3 widely spaced stars of Mag4 or
>> brighter
>>>> and an H-a filter.  Takes about 15 minutes total. This path is then computed and ready to go when twilight
>>>> ends. I can even do another object path at a different Dec, download it and be ready to image two objects.
>> In
>>>> fact, if the two Dec lines are widely spaced, I can image all objects in between also unguided because the
>>>> model computes the variable tracking rates for the entire sky area as well as +- 10 degrees outside those
>> two
>>>> Dec lines.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          Below see the tracking graphs for the imaging that I am doing tonight. They show how the
>>>> tracking rates vary over approx 45 minutes.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          Rolando
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          <dummyfile.0.part>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          -----Original Message-----
>>>>          From: Steven Steven <steven447@...>
>>>>          To: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
>>>>          Sent: Fri, May 29, 2020 9:52 pm
>>>>          Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach2 Unguided testing continues
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>          That comment has to do with a long-time on-line chess game, not for you/forum. Sorry, it's
>>>> wrong context, I've a busy day on email today.
>>>>
>>>>          In reply to your own query, you set up each object separately. I use the Autosave feature
>>>> on Maxim and when finished with one object, move to it, train ATrack, an make the second one. It's that
>> simple.
>>>> The User Guide is a good start and will answer your queries without reference to chess moves. 😉
>>>>
>>>>          S
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>
>
>
>


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