Re: AP 1600, Universal Time and Connecting to Auxiliary Astronomy Programs for Control


Jack Huerkamp
 

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dale Ghent
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 8:17 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Cc: mallincamusa@gmail.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] AP 1600, Universal Time and Connecting to Auxiliary Astronomy Programs for Control


I have no idea what "Auto DST" in SkyTools means. Generally a planetarium app should make issues surrounding time transparent to the user and not have to present these time conversion options that can be confusing.

If selected in one's location setup, SkyTools automatically adjusts itself to conform to the current time - either standard or daylight savings time

One thing that can be happening here is that the keypad is still initializing the mount and its time upon power-on. This will happen if the "Auto-Connect" setting in the keypad is set to the default of "Yes". If you want to not have the keypad initialize the mount upon power-on, then you must set Auto-Connect to "EXT", for External. This allows the mount to be initialized by the A-P ASCOM driver on the connected PC.

I have Auto-Connect set to EXT. I start APCC and then initialize the mount which then unparks it and starts the mount tracking. I then start SkyTools, connect SkyTools to the mount via the ASCOM driver and I can click on anything on the chart and the mount will slew to it. To shut down the system at the end of a session, I disconnect SkyTools from the mount, close Sky Tools, park the mount using APCC, close APCC, and power down the mount.

This all has worked perfectly for the last 6 years as long as the keypad was set to Central time and I did the twice annual changing from winter to summer and back whenever daylight savings time occurred.

Jack

This is important because once the mount is initialized after a power-on, it cannot be reinitialized - ie you cannot turn on the mount with the keypad connected and its Auto-Connect set to Yes, and then connect to the mount using the ASCOM driver and have it reinitialize. That is not possible.

This stuff is covered on pages 16 and 17 of the Keypad manual:
https://www.astro-physics.info/tech_support/mounts/keypad/keypad-manual.pdf


On Mar 16, 2021, at 20:44, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@gmail.com> wrote:

Dale and the Others Who Responded,

I tried leaving the AP keypad set to UT and setting the PC to my local time (CDT) and added a second UT Clock. I got a similar view to what you sent to me. I tried setting my location in SkyTools to Central Time with Auto DST enabled in SkyTools. I tried to slew to the Sun at about 5PM CDT and from the Park 3 position, the mount started moving to the eastern side of the meridian. The Sun was setting in the WSW. I stopped the slew, parked the mount in the Park 3 position and shut down SkyTools and APCC.

I powered the mount down, waited 30 seconds and powered it back up. I set the keypad to Central Time and Summer. I set the computer time to Central Time, eliminated the second time zone (UT) and started SkyTools. I set my location to Central and enabled auto DST rules. I connected the mount to Sky Tools, did a slew to the Sun, it did so with the Sun centered.

I give up on trying to use UT in the keypad and will have to bite the bullet and change the keypad twice a year to conform to either winter or summer. Using this technique for 6 years has worked. I just wanted to eliminate the semi-annual change the keypad time routine. But I am finding the doing so is easier and less stressful than trying to use UT.

Yours truly,

Jack

Jack Huerkamp
Jack's Astro Accessories, LLC
38388 Pine Street
Pearl River, LA 70452-5192
985-445-5063
mallincamusa@gmail.com
www.mallincamusa.com
30.37N 89.76W

All of us get lost in the darkness.
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars.
………………………………….Neil Peart


From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dale
Ghent
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 11:24 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Cc: mallincamusa@gmail.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] AP 1600, Universal Time and Connecting to
Auxiliary Astronomy Programs for Control


As the document implies, confusion can be lessened by just running all the things in UTC, especially if the person is unaccustomed to operating in multiple time zones. By having your PC and keypad display in UTC, you won't have to change the GMT offset on the keypad twice each year and the time on the keypad will always match the time displayed on your PC. In that sense, such consistency might be attractive to some people.

But it isn't an absolute must for proper operation of the mount. You can still run your PC and keypad in any combination of UTC and local time, you just need to be aware of what the keypad is set to regardless, and if it is set to something other than GMT/UTC, then you will need to manually adjust the timezone offset twice a year if you are in a locale that observes some form of DST.

In Windows (and, at least Windows 10, I'm not sure about previous versions) you can configure the clock in the system tray to display the time in multiple timezones. For example, my imaging PC's clock's main display is my local time zone (US/Eastern), but I added UTC as well if you mouse over it. You add time zones to display under the system time settings in Windows.

<image001.png>



On Mar 16, 2021, at 11:29, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@gmail.com> wrote:

Dale,

I got this link from George at Astro-Physics in which it says for a
dedicated observatory PC, to set its clock to UT along with the hand
controller being set to UT:

https://astro-physics.info/tech_support/mounts/keypad/keypad-setting-g
mt-utc
.pdf

But it sounds like you are saying to set the observatory PC to local
time and the hand controller to UT, since SkyTools in my case is
looking to the computer time to locate targets.

If so, I will go to the observatory today and set the computer back to
local time, set SkyTools as well and see what happens.

Yours truly,

Jack

Jack Huerkamp
Jack's Astro Accessories, LLC
38388 Pine Street
Pearl River, LA 70452-5192
985-445-5063
mallincamusa@gmail.com
www.mallincamusa.com
30.37N 89.76W

All of us get lost in the darkness.
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars.
..............Neil Peart



-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dale
Ghent
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 8:58 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] AP 1600, Universal Time and Connecting to
Auxiliary Astronomy Programs for Control


So here's the deal: the mount CP deals only in UTC. All calculations
involving positions of objects in the sky are done UTC. For the
purposes of a mount's internal operations, UTC is the only thing that matters.

When you set the timezone on the keypad, you are essentially just
configuring the keypad's display and input of UTC time as local time.
The mount itself doesn't care that your offset from GMT is now -5 instead of -6.
That factors into none of its operations and calculations. What it
does factor into is how your keypad displays time, and how it converts
time that you input to and from UTC. The former - displaying the same
time as your local time - is just for convenience. The latter -
inputting your local time
- is critical for the mount to derive the proper UTC time if you were
to program the mount's clock using the keypad. So if your local time
is
18:45:00 and you were to program your mount's clock using the keypad
today, it would definitely need to know your current offset from GMT
so that the proper conversion to UTC can take place (that it would be 23:45:00 UTC).

The reason why you have to manually set the GMT offset in your keypad
every time DST begins or ends (or if you move to a different timezone
altogether) is because the keypad lacks its own timezone database that
it can use to do this automatically. You might ask "well how hard
would it be for the keypad to have one so that I don't need to do
this". It's a valid question, but the reasons are fairly basic. The
timezone database is large and would occupy a non-trivial amount of
the keypad's very finite amount of static memory. It also changes
quite often as various countries and locales change their DST
observances or, in rare cases, which timezone(s) they are in. This
would demand that A-P issue several firmware updates a year in order to keep up with these changes.

As for the computer and accessing the mount through the ASCOM driver,
this changes the situation in terms of mount time management. In this
case, it is presumed that your computer's clock is reasonably accurate
as any modern OS will automatically sync the computer's clock to an
internet time source at least once a week or more often, assuming it
has internet access. There is a setting in the A-P ASCOM driver to sync the computer's clock to the mount.
This should always be on if your computer's clock is reasonably accurate.
The ASCOM driver itself will then program the mount in UTC time
directly in this case. Despite your computer's timezone being set to
US/Central, the OS itself still operates in UTC internally. Because
your OS does have a maintained timezone database, it can do the
display and input conversions between your timezone and its internal clock, which runs in UTC.

So, the only reason why you would want to run your computer in UTC is
if you prefer viewing time that way. Even if you set the display of
time on your PC to be in your local timezone, the mount is still going
to get programmed with the proper time in UTC. It makes no difference to the mount.

As for the keypad, you can also just leave it with a timezone offset
of 0 so that it displays and takes input in UTC. However if you want
it do display and take time input in terms of your local time, you
will need to manually set the proper GMT offset whenever DST starts and ends.



On Mar 16, 2021, at 09:13, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@gmail.com> wrote:

I use SkyTools 3 and SkyTools 4 to control my AP1600 mount using the
ASCOM driver. But every 6 months, I was having to switch the AP
keypad from standard time to daylight savings time and then back again 6 months later.
It was suggested to me to set the AP keypad to UT and also setting the
computer to UT to avoid have to mess with keypad settings every 6
months. I did so and can control the mount using the keypad.


I then tried configuring my observatory location, but when I connected
the mount to SkyTools and did a slew to the Sun this afternoon, the
scope tried to aim into the ground on the southwest side of the pier.
I need to know how to set my location in SkyTools now that the mount
and computer are set to UT. I am in the Central US time zone.


I would appreciate feedback on this as I would hate to have to go back
to setting the computer and AP keypad to the current local time.


Yours truly,

Jack Huerkamp









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