Date   

Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

Bill Long
 

A good way forward would to be to develop a fully functional INDI driver, and provide those binaries (and no source code) to the INDI project for use with AP mounts. AP would not be the only company to do that for INDI support. Then Mac and Unix/Linux users have a solution they can use. 


From: ap-gto@... on behalf of 'Ray Gralak (Groups)' groups3@... [ap-gto]
Sent: Thursday, May 2, 2019 5:31 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?
 
 

Hi Ez,

> I can pretty much guarantee if you pose this 'INDI or Alpaca' question on the INDI forum

This is not the ASCOM forum. It is the Astro-Physics mount forum. Besides, ASCOM and Alpaca are open source yet INDI exists. Why haven't the INDI developers given up and started working to help the much larger ASCOM pool of users? It's probably because ASCOM runs on Windows! So I think the real reason INDI exists is there are Mac and Unix/Linux user out there that don't want to run windows.

The number of software developers with the skillset, time, and astronomy knowledge to help create non-Windows applications is small. How many active Astro-Physics mount owners are also software developers active on INDI?

Also, is there are way to find out how many A-P mount owners regularly run INDI?

> you won't get one person in support of the closed model you are using or apparently pursuing.

But the A-P command protocol is not closed. Enough of the protocol is available to do useful astronomy and astrophotography work. The amount of the protocol published doesn't change the excellent machine work, design features, and precision of these mounts.

> This poll really seems to be not much more than confirmation bias and definitely a bit disingenuous. If AP had
> absolutely no intention to open the driver up, why ask? I ask this earnestly.

First, A-P has agreed to provide more of the protocol to help INDI improve their driver. Michael seems to be unhappy that 100% of the protocol won't be documented, including proprietary commands and dangerous commands that could affect the proper functioning of the mount if used incorrectly.

BTW, undocumented features and protocols exist commonly in many hardware devices. For example a number of undocumented CPU instructions and device driver back doors were found in Intel CPUs by researchers.

Second, you must have missed my post where I proposed to create a cross-platform driver that would work with Alpaca, INDI, and INDIGO. However, I never said it would or wouldn't be open source. The idea is that since INDI is here today it may make sense to work with INDI developers first.

Ultimately, I think what matters most to 99.9% of the people is that the mount driver works for their O/S and is supported by the company that built it. Right now the state of the INDI driver doesn't seem to be good and needs help. It is coming in the form of more protocol commands and possibly with a hand in development, assuming the offer to help isn't rejected simply because A-P isn't documenting 100% of the protocol.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): http://www.astro-physics.com/index.htm?products/accessories/software/apcc/apcc
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 9:45 PM
> To: ap-gto@...
> Subject: RE: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?
>
>
>
> I just did a poll in my household of how many people like their last name.... Looks like were not changing it.
>
> I can pretty much guarantee if you pose this 'INDI or Alpaca' question on the INDI forum you won't get one person in
> support of the closed model you are using or apparently pursuing. You might get a better read of the interest on CN,
> if you truly want to know what people think. I don't mean to be rude and I actually find your software products quite
> useful, but you can't be serious if you think this poll represents the total user base of AP mounts or even the total
> potential user base of new customers. I purchased my AP mount in spite of the OS that it is linked to, because I felt
> it was a better mechanical product than what I was comparing it against. The SB mounts have native support on 3
> operating systems. For me, they don't need to be open source because they give a choice.
> < br>
> This poll really seems to be not much more than confirmation bias and definitely a bit disingenuous. If AP had
> absolutely no intention to open the driver up, why ask? I ask this earnestly. It seems to only have opened a sore
> spot and potentially alienated potential new mount customers. Furthermore, I am not sure this approach offers any
> data that could be valuable as marketing research either.
>
>
>
> I look forward to seeing where the ALPACA leads us. Hopefully it will mean I can operate my 1100 mount without
> windows... at all, anywhere in my system. Otherwise I do not see the point of it and perhaps just continuing the
> development of current products is a better use of resources.
>
>
> Ez
>
>
>


Re: PEC

Ray Gralak
 

Hi Bob,

By default after power on the mount will have PEC disabled. If you initialize the mount with the AP V2 driver you have the option of automatically turning it on when you connect to the mount.

You would turn PEC off if you want to measure the uncorrected periodic error of the mount.

You will want to select PEC Record to record the periodic error. Keep in mind that the periodic error will not likely be smooth because of stellar scintillation and it will also be phase shifted by the sum of the duration of each exposure and the time for the autoguiding program to calculate and send an autoguiding pulse.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): http://www.astro-physics.com/index.htm?products/accessories/software/apcc/apcc
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...]
Sent: Thursday, May 2, 2019 8:51 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] PEC



Hi all,
I have a 2010 AP1200+GTO-CP3+Key Pad (Set for external control)+AP V2 driver.
I used the keypad to do a PEC run but in the AP V2 setup you get a choice of turning the PEC on or off. What is the
purpose of that? Also, My telescope has a 2200mm focal length. What is the best guide rate?
Can I use the guiders in software such as MaxIm Dl or CCDSoftv5 while doing a PEC run or is a crosshair eyepiece
better?
Thanks,
Bob



Re: PEC

Roland Christen
 

You can turn PE correction on with keypad or the driver. Whatever the last one sent the command, that's the one that will function for the imaging session. If you are always starting with the AP driver, then set it to on and forget about any setting in the keypad.

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: imager1940@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 8:05 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] PEC



Thank you Roland, 
Last 2 questions: What PEC setting would I use in the AP V2 driver (on or off) since I'm using my keypad (set for external control) to record the PEC? I guess I need to know what that AP V2 setting is for. 
Thanks again, 
Bob




Re: PEC

Roland Christen
 

You can turn PE correction on with keypad or the driver. Whatever the last one sent the command, that's the one that will function for the imaging session. If you are always starting with the AP driver, then set it to on and forget about any setting in the keypad.

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: imager1940@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 8:05 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] PEC



Thank you Roland, 
Last 2 questions: What PEC setting would I use in the AP V2 driver (on or off) since I'm using my keypad (set for external control) to record the PEC? I guess I need to know what that AP V2 setting is for. 
Thanks again, 
Bob



Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

Joe Zeglinski
 

Hi Rodd,
 
    I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned this potential cause, but I had the same problem as you have, a couple of years ago. Kept losing a centered target from my STL-11000 FOV ... after any meridian flip. As per your comment, it took quite some time, and a lot of persistence, very slowly jogging the scope, to get the target into the frame again – it was way off, even after a perfect centering on the previous side of the pier.
 
    That was until I realized, after a VERY long period of “denial”, that the entire problem was scope “Parallax Error”. After all, I told myself, I have an excellent top class AP mount, and an extremely expensive scope RC-14.5”, so it couldn’t possibly be due to a “mechanical problem”. I spent a large amount of time and effort using PemPro to get the  polar alignment very near perfect, thinking PA was to blame, and yet I lost the CdC target immediately after any meridian flip, no matter which side of the pier I started my tests from. It was frustrating, even with a target star right at Dec = 0 and less than about 15 minutes east/west of the PM as the initial framing point for the tests. It gets worse at higher DEC’s toward Zenith.
 
    Once I calculated an approximate required shim thickness and slipped it under the appropriate  end of the OTA’s cradle, the problem was solved quite to my satisfaction, and indeed ultimate relief.
 
    Definitely, read the section on Parallax correction in your AP mount’s User Guide. One of your saddle ring’s “riser” may need to be shimmed to nullify the (possible) Parallax Error.
 
Good luck,
Joe Z.
 


Re: PEC

Astrobob
 

Thank you Roland, 
Last 2 questions: What PEC setting would I use in the AP V2 driver (on or off) since I'm using my keypad (set for external control) to record the PEC? I guess I need to know what that AP V2 setting is for. 
Thanks again, 
Bob


Re: PEC

Roland Christen
 

Best guide rate is always 1x sidereal.

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: imager1940@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 7:49 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] PEC



And how about suggestions pertaining to the following:

I have a 2010 AP1200+GTO-CP3+Key Pad (Set for external control)+AP V2 driver.
I used the keypad to do a PEC run but in the AP V2 setup you get a choice of turning the PEC on or off. What is the purpose of that? Also, My telescope has a 2200mm focal length. What is the best guide rate? 

Thanks,
Bob



Re: PEC

Astrobob
 

And how about suggestions pertaining to the following:

I have a 2010 AP1200+GTO-CP3+Key Pad (Set for external control)+AP V2 driver.
I used the keypad to do a PEC run but in the AP V2 setup you get a choice of turning the PEC on or off. What is the purpose of that? Also, My telescope has a 2200mm focal length. What is the best guide rate? 

Thanks,
Bob


Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

Charles Thompson
 

I have been in this hobby for less than a year and agree with David. I tried Astro Photography Tool (APT) first but quickly switched to SGP because it was easier to get support for. It did take me a couple nights to get everything configured but I have gained MUCH more data over the same time than without it. I am new and can be collecting data in less than 5 minutes after polar alignment. Before SGP it could easily take me an hour to do exactly what you are describing. If you ever need help with SGP there are many of us out there that would be happy to help.

Thanks,
Charles


Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

rodddryfoos@...
 

To change to SGP and auto focus would require at least a night for me to learn--and probably more.  I do not have internet at the scope (except on my cell phone) and getting advise at 2:00 am is not likely.  I get maybe 2 nights a month to image due to weather and Moon issues.  To use it up learning something new, when the old way works, is a tough sell.  If I had mnore clear nights I would be more willing to experiment.  


Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

tgibson10@...
 

It is client / server whether or not they run on the same machine. I believe the Client GUI/ KStars/Ekos can run on Windows/Macintosh/Linux. The server INDI drivers themselves run
on Linux and Macintosh but not Windows. The drivers are easy to work with, I copied an existing driver and modified to open/close a rolloff roof. The GUI to control it just appeared on the client side without having to do any user interface programming. 


Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

David
 

Rodd,

If you use a computer, it should never take more than a couple minutes.  You need to check out some program like Sequence Generator Pro.  Its what I use when mobile imaging, and its so simple.  I simply align with the RAPAS, which takes about 1minute, get the scope roughly in focus to start, and then I simply point the scope somewhere in the eastern sky and click “Solve and Sync”.  This shoots a short length image, typically a couple seconds, and automatically plate solves the image, and syncs the position to the mount.  Done.  Thats it, its that simple.  Now pointing works great all across the sky.  

Also, you can do your framing ahead of time in SGP with the framing and mosaic wizard that sets up the sequence with exact coordinates.  When starting imaging, you simply set it up to plate solve the initial position and it moves the mount until the framing and positioning is perfect and away it goes.  It should never take an hour to find a star to focus on.  Not to mention, if you also have an electronic focuser, SGP (and many other programs) will do an automated focus run for you and put your setup in perfect focus automatically.  I used to struggle a little as well, but plate solving and an automated focus routine is the best thing for speeding this up.  

David



On May 2, 2019, at 3:58 PM, rodddryfoos@... [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...> wrote:

Thanks Rolando.  No--I use a computer.  Right now I use CdC as a planetarium platform--seems to work ok.  I haven't learned how to plate solve.  I frame manually--kind of a pain but it works.  I don't mind that as much as hunting for a star that is out of the FOV--because you don't know in which direction to look--so it can be frustrating.  Learning new things is hard due to the very limited clear sky time I get--losing imaging time trying to learn something drives me crazy--so I muddle through to get the data.  Its really at the beginning and after a flip--fortunately with broadband I can generally focus in the FOV--I zoom way in and choose a bright star (most stars in field are not very bright--so its a relative term)  and use a B-Mask.  The mount is still guiding so framing is not lost.  

Rodd



Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

Jeff
 

Sorry, it took a while for me to get back to this. The remote telescope network that my university has joined has chosen the INDI platform for their remote telescope operation. For a number of reasons, the universities and companies involved made this decision because of the need to support a wide variety of equipment from a wide variety of manufacturers.

We at the Illinois Institute of Technology have been coding safety controls for the remote telescopes for the past year now. As was mentioned, earlier it is a complex problem to adequately move telescopes safely remotely, especially when not designed into the scopes control.

We really hope to see AP support the INDI protocol as one of our scopes is currently on an AP mount. We will be working hard on incorporating that scope into the network beginning in the Fall Semester.

While only 12 people might want open source software now (not sure that is really an accurate number as it is based on vocal posters on a web forum), it is often wise to consider where the future is going. Open source software is not going away. The more open a protocol, the more things that others can do to improve capability.

We tend to expose 40 students a semester to our astronomy equipment, most of whom are not in our astronomy program. They just have an interest in astronomy. That is a lot of potential future customers who will learn astronomy on products that better fit within the use case of universities which does involve easily modifiable software.

Jeff


Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

rodddryfoos@...
 

Thanks Rolando.  No--I use a computer.  Right now I use CdC as a planetarium platform--seems to work ok.  I haven't learned how to plate solve.  I frame manually--kind of a pain but it works.  I don't mind that as much as hunting for a star that is out of the FOV--because you don't know in which direction to look--so it can be frustrating.  Learning new things is hard due to the very limited clear sky time I get--losing imaging time trying to learn something drives me crazy--so I muddle through to get the data.  Its really at the beginning and after a flip--fortunately with broadband I can generally focus in the FOV--I zoom way in and choose a bright star (most stars in field are not very bright--so its a relative term)  and use a B-Mask.  The mount is still guiding so framing is not lost.  
Rodd


Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

Thomas Swann
 

Actually, I'm going to say the Windows INDI branch is "under development".  The INDI website says it's in progress, but the windows branch on github hasn't been updated in ages. 

t

On 5/2/2019 7:32 PM, Thomas Swann thomas@... [ap-gto] wrote:
 

Ekos is available for Windows.
INDI Windows support is under development.


On 5/2/2019 7:11 PM, chris1011@... [ap-gto] wrote:
 

Thanks for your input. It appears that Kstars is also available for Windows. Is the rest of the suite also Windows compatible?

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: tgibson10@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 1:50 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?



I do not know how many Astro-Physics / INDI users there are. I am a Astro-Physics customer, relatively new to the field. I chose the Mach1 as my first mount, because people said, for imaging, put most of your money into a quality mount. For software, based on recommendations on Astro-Physics's web site I selected APCC and used that to test and learn. When it came to actually doing some imaging, after looking around I selected the most flexible and capable all in one solution which is Kstars/Ekos/INDI even though that meant setting aside Windows, APCC and some individual packages. I was allowed to do that because of the existence of Mike's Astro Physics experimental mount driver. I have been using it for about a year now with generally good results. I enjoy using both the mount and the software.

From what has been stated cooperation appears to have been agreed upon and only minor if any additional relevant information is available. Perhaps a common understanding can be achieved and things concluded through private focused communication.
 
Tom





Re: GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs

Roland Christen
 

A lot of people use a plate solve which gets you to the exact spot you want very quickly.
One other way is to do a quick model with APCC Pro and that will allow you to find and center objects very accurately on your first slew.
One question, are you using the keypad to go to a star or object? Right now the keypad RA/Dec does not send high resolution data to the mount. We are working on a new database with sub-arc sec data, which will be available for download soon.

Rolando



-----Original Message-----
From: rodddryfoos@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 2:34 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] GOTO accuracy for stars vs DSOs



Greetings, I use a Mach 1GTO with several scopes ranging from 4-5" refractors to an 11" Edge.  regardless of the scope I use, I find my initial GOTO to be off.  I use the RAPA scope and routinely take 30min subs with round stars and decent FWHM values (with all scopes), so PA seems pretty good.  With the FSQ 106-especially at F3, GOTO accuracy is irrelevant as the FOV is so big, the initial star (focus) is somewhere in the FOV--not so the TOA 130 at F7.7 and especially not the C11Edge.  I find myself having to hunt for the first focus star--sometimes for 45min to an hour.  Its frustrating.  Once I have it, and tell the planetarium program it's centered--subsequent moves are pretty good.  But I invariably run into the same difficulty after a meridian flip--I have to hunt for the star (or target).  A guidescope helps with the TOA 130, as I can use it as a photographic finder that has a wide FOV--so the star is typically in or very close to the guidescope  FOV.  But with the c11Edge--a guidescope is not preferable.  

Any suggestions?
Thanks Rodd



Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

Thomas Swann
 

Ekos is available for Windows.
INDI Windows support is under development.


On 5/2/2019 7:11 PM, chris1011@... [ap-gto] wrote:
 

Thanks for your input. It appears that Kstars is also available for Windows. Is the rest of the suite also Windows compatible?

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: tgibson10@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 1:50 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?



I do not know how many Astro-Physics / INDI users there are. I am a Astro-Physics customer, relatively new to the field. I chose the Mach1 as my first mount, because people said, for imaging, put most of your money into a quality mount. For software, based on recommendations on Astro-Physics's web site I selected APCC and used that to test and learn. When it came to actually doing some imaging, after looking around I selected the most flexible and capable all in one solution which is Kstars/Ekos/INDI even though that meant setting aside Windows, APCC and some individual packages. I was allowed to do that because of the existence of Mike's Astro Physics experimental mount driver. I have been using it for about a year now with generally good results. I enjoy using both the mount and the software.

From what has been stated cooperation appears to have been agreed upon and only minor if any additional relevant information is available. Perhaps a common understanding can be achieved and things concluded through private focused communication.
 
Tom




Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

Roland Christen
 

Thanks for your input. It appears that Kstars is also available for Windows. Is the rest of the suite also Windows compatible?

Roland



-----Original Message-----
From: tgibson10@... [ap-gto]
To: ap-gto
Sent: Thu, May 2, 2019 1:50 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?



I do not know how many Astro-Physics / INDI users there are. I am a Astro-Physics customer, relatively new to the field. I chose the Mach1 as my first mount, because people said, for imaging, put most of your money into a quality mount. For software, based on recommendations on Astro-Physics's web site I selected APCC and used that to test and learn. When it came to actually doing some imaging, after looking around I selected the most flexible and capable all in one solution which is Kstars/Ekos/INDI even though that meant setting aside Windows, APCC and some individual packages. I was allowed to do that because of the existence of Mike's Astro Physics experimental mount driver. I have been using it for about a year now with generally good results. I enjoy using both the mount and the software.

From what has been stated cooperation appears to have been agreed upon and only minor if any additional relevant information is available. Perhaps a common understanding can be achieved and things concluded through private focused communication.
 
Tom



Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

ez
 

Marj,

Thank you for your words of reassurance and offer of future cooperation. Although my last post was long winded, and spirited, I honestly tried to keep it civil. I absolutely love my mount and genuinely have a tremendous deal of respect for what you and your crew at AP and Ray have produced. My operating system of choice makes the full use of the mount compromised and I got excited to possibly see a potential for parity. I was asked, and so I felt it important to share my point of view, but I understand I am in the minority.

Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing where this clearly complex issue takes us. I wish it was as simple as designing a building, then I could actually offer all kinds of specific input.

Ez


Re: INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

 

EZ and others,

 

This is a passionate topic for sure, almost as much as politics or religion.

 

As I mentioned previously, we will review the command list to see what more recent commands would be useful to the INDI community that would not compromise our position.

 

Unfortunately, Howard has been ill this week so we have not been able to review the documentation. Please understand that this will take some time.

 

When I posted the link to the current commands, I made it clear that I had only updated some information on the document, but did NOT add any new commands. I also know that Ray provided a command to Michael privately that he had requested.

 

Please be patient everyone and calm.

 

Clear Skies,

 

Marj Christen

Astro-Physics, Inc

11250 Forest Hills Rd

Machesney Park, IL 61115

Phone: 815-282-1513

Fax: 815-282-9847

www.astro-physics.com

 

From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...]
Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2019 9:49 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] INDI or ASCOM Alpaca?

 

 

Ray, 

 

Thank you for your considered response. I definitely missed the part where you offered to help develop the INDI driver or at least a cross platform one. Wouldn't a closed driver as you propose be in contradiction with open source community and guidelines? I honestly don't not know. If you have started this process I implore you to continue this route.

 

I can not answer for the INDI developers not wanting to give up and use windows, but I am willing to go out a limb and would guess it is because they do not want to use windows. Is there a way to find out how many AP users use windows only for acquisition of data, but do everything else on another platform? 

 

As for not wanting to run windows? I can speak for myself and say that I use the NUC with W10pro because of its low power (consumption) and it allows me a path to use my mount natively. I did not chose to run windows, it was the only choice. I am not alone on this front. The number and length of threads on CN about how to do Astrophotography with a Mac is not inconsequential add the threads about not using windows in general, and the ones that outright say avoid W10 at all costs speaks to the desire to have other options. Being a Mac user since the early 80's, I would obviously prefer the option to run everything on my Mac. Based on your response, that's probably not ever going to happen. Though not perfect, I would and do settle for INDI. I also understand that this is a business and AP and developers like yourself need to make a living (or at least not lose your shirt) and INDI/Linux/Open source challenge the model that has been around for a long time. Apple embraced UNIX a long time ago and frankly as far as I am concerned, that was the best move they ever made. They continue to make a decent amount of money. 

 

I really can't speak for Michael, but what I gathered was that he was not super excited by the recent release of the document because it was implied in this thread that more would be opened and when he compared it to the older release, he couldn't find anything new except the title. I am paraphrasing his comment from the INDI forum, and he did ask the other developers if there was anything he missed in his assessment. It would be great if he was incorrect in his assessment and there actually is plenty new in the release to allow a more robust INDI driver to be developed. 

 

I would never push to abandon the vast majority of the user base, I am only hoping that there is a way to embrace the rest of us. ALPACA doesn't seem to solve this desire. It will still need a device that runs windows and essentially offers a translation layer over the internet (or private network?) from what I gather. It's a software dongle. This really doesn't sound that awesome and actually may make things less reliable. How would I run APCC pro or PEMPro on my mac via ALPACA? As it stands I use microsoft remote desktop on my iMac to control the headless NUC that rides the OTA. This way I can run CCDI, PEMPro, Voyager or NINA or SGP. How would ALPACA be different? I don't think you are proposing to develop a native mac version of PEMPro and SGP developers said absolutely not? If this isn't the case then what is ALPACA really doing that is different than what I do now? Clearly I am not a software developer and I have most likely missed some critical items. Please feel free to educate me if you find the time or inclination.

 

Ez