Re: NINA and AP1200

Dale Ghent

How it compares with any given other app is a highly subjective assessment. NINA has some features that other apps don't have, and NINA does not have some features that some other apps have. What matters out of all that depends on your particular needs and way of operating. Do you have anything specific in mind that's outside the usual schtick when it comes to sequencing apps?

NINA is coded in .Net Standard and its UI is implemented using Windows Presentation Foundation, so it is a Windows-only app for now. This might change in the future with a heavy-lift migration to dotNetCore and replacing the use of WPF with a cross-platform UI framework. But these are not trivial things to do and will take a lot of time. That said, it's not a priority at the moment but the code will move in that direction incrementally.

On Jul 30, 2021, at 12:25, Kent Kirkley via <kgkirkley@...> wrote:

I've just become aware of NINA.
How does it compare with other systems like Maxim DL, APCC, The Sky, etc.
Is it available or works with Mac OS?

Thanks Kent Kirkley

-----Original Message-----
From: Dale Ghent <daleg@...>
Sent: Fri, Jul 30, 2021 9:58 am
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] NINA and AP1200

Hi Luke,

There's nothing in particular that you need to do in NINA regarding the fact that you're driving a 12000+CP3, so your questions are more of a general NINA usage kind. In this capacity, the A-P ASCOM driver "just works" and is basically transparent, so there's nothing in particular that you need to configure to suit NINA. The only things you might possibly want to check up on in the ASCOM driver, from a "good housekeeping" perspective, are syncing your PC's clock to the mount is on and that syncs are converted to recals.

I'm going to assume that you're running 1.10 (hopefully patch level HF3) and are using what we now call the Simple sequencer, as the upcoming 1.11 release adds a new sequencer that we refer to as the Advanced sequencer.

So, you're driving the mount around via the keypad and manually framing. I suggest a different, more deliberate way to go about framing, and this is what Framing Assistant in NINA is for:

First, you can go Framing Assistant and search for an object. If the object you desire isn't in NINA's internal, slimmed-down database of objects, you can import the coordinates of one from any of the support external Planetarium apps - Stellarium, TheSkyX, etc. Given what they are, these apps tend to have very extensive databases of objects. You can select the object or, in Stellarium and TheSkyX, frame it, and then press the button to the right of the coordinates field in NINA to import those coordinates. Setting up an external Planetarium app is covered in NINA's online documentation.

In Framing Assistant there is a multitude of sky surveys that can be selected to fetch images from. I suggest using the HIPS server as it's (generally) the fastest at returning images compared to the others. They're all slow; it's just that the HIPS server is less slow than the other options, if you follow. Make sure that the FOV setting is appropriate for your setup. Generally you want NINA to request images of a FOV that is larger than what your camera sees in order to give you space around your desired coordinate to frame things up.

Once you frame your target, then you can send it to the sequencer using either the "Replace as Sequencer Target" or "Add as Sequencer Target" buttons. The target will then be instantiated in the sequencer, with any predefined sequence template (as set under Options > Imaging > Sequence Template) being loaded for it. A sequence template is a saved sequence that has things set and laid out how you generally want a default to be. Options and the type and number rows in the sequencer and all that can be preset this way. When you send the target info from Framing Assistant to the Sequencer, NINA will load this template and sub in the target's information. It's a quick way to get things going.

Now that you have progressed from Framing Assistant to the Sequencer and have set up your sequence how you prefer (either manually or via the aforementioned template, or template plus some manual tweaks) then you can save your sequence using the Save button down in the lower left. This saves the sequence to a file of your choice so that it can be loaded and used again the next night, with target info saved with it. Doing this will obviate the need for you to go in and try to reframe what you had the previous night. Just save the sequence and you're done.

As for sequence options, you will likely want Slew to Target and Center Target turned on. The first is obvious - it slews the mount to the target's coordinates. The second is key to get what you intend in terms of framing. Centering ensures that your telescope is pointed at the coordinates by the use of plate solving. Once your scope slews to where the mount thinks your target's RA and dec are, NINA will do a plate solve to see if it's actually there. If it isn't, the plate solve results are synced to the mount and another slew to the target's coordinates is commanded. This process will repeat until NINA sees that your telescope is pointing within the configured Pointing Tolerance (see: Options > Plate Solving > Pointing Tolerance).

There is the additional aspect of desired rotation for the target. If you do not have an ASCOM rotator, you can select and connect the Manual Rotator device in NINA. When this is connected, the Centering process will also consider your defined target rotation. You will be prompted during the centering process to also rotate your camera by N degrees clockwise or anticlockwise. As with pointing, the centering process will not be satisfied until the camera is rotated within the defined Rotation Tolerance setting of whatever rotation angle you defined for your target. This setting is found along with the aforementioned Pointing Tolerance setting under Options > Plate Solving.

The rest of the sequence progresses after the above process is done. So framing your target, sending it to the sequencer from within the Framing Assistant, setting up your sequence (manually or via template) and saving your sequence to a file would be my suggestion going forward. The goal here is to avoid the use of the keypad and manually driving the mount around. You can do all the above steps offline, without even being connected to your mount. This means you can set up sequences beforehand, save them to a file, and then load them up when you're actually set up and ready to image for the night. It pays to be lazy.

You mentioned the optional plate solve sync. This option is for when you do *manual* plate solves under the Imaging > Plate Solve window. When you do a plate solve there, you can optionally have it sync the results. You can optionally also have it reslew the mount to the last commanded coordinates after the sync is done. Turning on reslew also turns on syncing as it depends on that. In a sequence, the Center process will always sync the solved coordinates to the mount in order to be able to do its job. There is a way to prevent even that, but this is for very specific mount setups that aren't applicable to your situation.

For further in-depth help, I suggest getting on the NINA Discord chat server where you'll find a lot of community members who can help answer your questions, plus all us developers hang out there. There's a link to it on the NINA website.

On Jul 29, 2021, at 22:54, Luke Dodd <lkdodd@...> wrote:

Hi all,

I am trying to work out how best to use my AP1200 with NINA.

I have had a 10plus year break and have been trying to bring myself up to speed with the tech over the past 6months. I have been getting some good images but with a fair bit of manual intervention in the process.

I have the CPT3 version and I resume from Park 1, mount connects to PC/Nina and slews to target. Generally target is in frame of my QHY294 with 674mm scope. I then use keypad to finalise the position of the object in the frame. ( my keypad backup battery does need to be replaced, as a keypad slew to an object in its database fails to locate the target. But so far things are working just using PC interface)

I can plate solve successfully, do I need to synch anything here, i did note there is a synch option in NINA but I havnt selected this as yet..

Also I am trying to frame the object using the previous nights image as a template. There is something I am missing, as when I use framing assistant and load image from file, then scope wont slew / realign the camera to match. I have not introduced any rotation into the image train from the previous night. I have read the manual tried a google search but I am obviously not really getting anywhere.

What I have done to date is, connect mount using NINA, slew to target using NINA sky atlas, check object is in the frame. I go to Framing assistant, select object, choose load from file. Select last nights image of the object, NINA states a plate solve needed, I then move the framing guide to where I think it should be but scope wont move to reframe the camera. Do I select recentre or slew option. Do I need to enter any coordinates manually? Do I need to load a snapshot of the current image from the camera?

Please note I do most imaging from home, but dont have an observatory, so I dont park the scope at the end of an imaging session as I have to bring scope/camera inside each night.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Regards Luke

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