Date   

Re: Balance: what happens at Meridian flip?

Nick Iversen
 

What about dec balance? The manual says to balance camera heavy. I used to achieve counterweight heavy and camera heavy by balancing with the lens cap on. But after a while I figured that the lens cap was too heavy to do this and manual finessing was better.


Re: NINA and APCC, 32 or 64 bit

ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

Use 64 bit unless you have a driver that is only 32 bits.

APCC vs ASCOM V2, TSX 32 bit, Pegasus power drivers, ASI cameras, EFW, optec focusers, Celestron Focusers all work fine for me, and absolve you of memory limitations if you have large format cameras (etc.).

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of michael mccann via groups.io
Sent: Sunday, August 8, 2021 4:12 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] NINA and APCC, 32 or 64 bit

Fast question: I was going to load N.I.NA ver 1.11 but which version 32 or 64 bit?

Cheers
Mike


Re: AP 400 cables needed

 

Larry,

 

Please call our office on Monday. We can provide the cables that you need.

 

Clear Skies,

Marj Christen

Astro-Physics

11250 Forest Hills Road

Machesney Park, IL 61115

Phone: 815-282-1513

www.astro-physics.com

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Lawrence Lopez
Sent: Sunday, August 8, 2021 3:30 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] AP 400 cables needed

 

AP400 GTO:

The GTO Keypad: (GTO-1) has a 15' cable which connects to the GTO control panel.
While the cable is working it is shedding bits of black plastic snow from the sheathing.
Is this field replaceable ?
It does not have a connector on the Keypad.
It has a connector to the GTO Controller (GTOCP2) but it is missing the strain relief.

The Y cable is similarly missing the strain relief for the RA and DEC motors.

It was able to do slews to objects just fine using the Keyboard.
The Sky slewed to objects using a USB to Serial converter.

No optics was mounted at this time.

The biggest problem was finding all the parts to it.
Things got separated over the year.


AP 400 cables needed

Lawrence Lopez
 

AP400 GTO:

The GTO Keypad: (GTO-1) has a 15' cable which connects to the GTO control panel.
While the cable is working it is shedding bits of black plastic snow from the sheathing.
Is this field replaceable ?
It does not have a connector on the Keypad.
It has a connector to the GTO Controller (GTOCP2) but it is missing the strain relief.

The Y cable is similarly missing the strain relief for the RA and DEC motors.

It was able to do slews to objects just fine using the Keyboard.
The Sky slewed to objects using a USB to Serial converter.

No optics was mounted at this time.

The biggest problem was finding all the parts to it.
Things got separated over the year.


NINA and APCC, 32 or 64 bit

michael mccann
 

Fast question: I was going to load N.I.NA ver 1.11 but which version 32 or 64 bit?

Cheers
Mike


Re: Preventing Pier Crashes

Eric Dreher <ericpdreher@...>
 

Even not running APCC, pier crashes are not impossible.

The following happened about two weeks ago.  I was at the scope, setting up RD to observe activities from inside my home, with a NUC atop my rig.  I'm completely portable, so I need to PA every time I'm photographing.

Using SharpCap, I was slewing my scope to the 90 deg move needed when it just kept on going.  The driver emergency stop was completely non-functional and useless as I watched my Mach1 pier crash for the first time.  I jumped up and disconnected the power cable from my CP4 and started from scratch.

The first thing I checked was my cables.  As soon as I touched the CAT5 at the CP4, it literally fell out of the RJ45 connector.  Apparently I hadn't double-checked the physical connection when plugging in the cable earlier, and it had lost connection at the perfect time to start the slew but not allow it to stop when I released the driver "handset"button.

Things happen.  Never say never.  Cable duplicates are a must to have on-hand.  The CAT 5 wasn't defective, but it couldn't gone bad just the same, and with the same results.

Yes, I do have spare motor cables, as well as everything else.


Re: Preventing Pier Crashes

M Hambrick
 

Hi Ray

FYI I was not running APCC when this happened.

Luckily there was no actual pier crash because I was there watching the scope and mount and pressed the stop button on the keypad. Unfortunately I do not recall the exact circumstances or objects, but I am pretty sure that the counterweights were down.

Mike


Re: APPM Basic questions

ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

Joe Zeglinski said:

 

  •     I keep wondering why you haven’t yet printed the actual HELP file. It is very well written and a pleasant read.  You can do that with most help files, as I have done. Prints as a PDF document.

 

  •     I prefer reading printed documents rather than boob-tube screens, unless I am in a hurry and need to enter a search word for faster “specific”  references - much like referencing the Index volume of a set of Encyclopaedias  :-)

 

We are somewhat the opposite.  By far I prefer to read on line, especially since something will trigger a thought, and I can do a text search in seconds rather than paging through … well, pages.

 

In this case my issue was I did not realize the help file was useful.  Most software I get the help file is somewhere from empty to a copy of the manual – if there even is a manual.  All too often it is a “just run it, it will be obvious” attitude.

 

I do have a printer.  Have to print UPS labels on something.  😊

 

  •    But then,  I’m “old school”.  Check into it.

 

I’m old.  And I went to school.  😊

 

Sometimes I even went to class. Though I confess to taking Astronomy 101 as a General Educational Elective (as opposed to say, Art History, in which I might have committed suicide).

 

I really do like reading manuals.  My earliest professional computer work was with DEC VMS, and it had a huge Orange Wall of binders of manuals (yes, paper, but who imagined Kindles then).  Now you get most products with a “quick start guide”, often in bad translations and obsolete by when you get it.

 

Glad to see AP actually HAS manuals.  Well, and Help Files.  Mea Culpa.

 

A big problem I have with manuals is they often are bad at “why”.  They frequently tell you “what”, sometimes “how”, but rarely explain the rationale behind it.  Got to give AP credit – their manuals (and help) come much closer to injecting  “Why” in there (you could always add a bit more, of course).

 

Linwood

 


Re: APPM Basic questions

Joe Zeglinski
 

Hi Linwood,
 
    I keep wondering why you haven’t yet printed the actual HELP file. It is very well written and a pleasant read.  You can do that with most help files, as I have done. Prints as a PDF document.
 
    I prefer reading printed documents rather than boob-tube screens, unless I am in a hurry and need to enter a search word for faster “specific”  references - much like referencing the Index volume of a set of Encyclopaedias  :-)
 
   But then,  I’m “old school”.  Check into it.
 
Joe
 

From: ap@...
Sent: Sunday, August 8, 2021 1:54 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APPM Basic questions
 

Linwood wrote:

 

  • One last question (ok, probably never such a thing)… is there a document that explains more about the meaning of the various model properties.  Or maybe what I am asking is whether any of those values are actionable for a user – if my Tube Flexure quadrupled (for example) with the same gear, does that tell me to DO anything?   Or are these more essentially constants in a very complex curve fit designed to minimize pointing errors, and despite real world derivation may not individually mean anything?

 

So I started reading the APCC help file and found definitions of these values.  I really need a 30 minute delay on emails.  😊

 

READ THE HELP FILES NOT JUST THE MANUALS.  I’ll have that printed large somewhere near my monitor. 

 

Sigh… sorry for the interruptions.

 


Re: PSA- Check your gear mesh! (Older mounts)

Christopher Erickson
 

I design, work on and maintain professional observatories for a living.

Having a periodic maintenance checklist and a thoughtful critical spares inventory is something ALL of the pro's and more experienced amateurs do.

Cables get damaged. Connectors get corroded. Hidden cable defects finally reveal themselves. Motors go bad. Encoders malfunction. Servo controllers malfunction. Software bugs reveal themselves. Having a few spare strategic cables (a very cheap investment) can significantly speed up troubleshooting and end up saving hours, days, weeks or even MONTHS of delays and associated expenses from happening.

One particular professional observatory I first worked on about 10 years ago was off-sky for 2 years. The professional staff of the observatory had struggled with getting things operational with no success. When they finally brought me in, I tracked down five different intermittent cable problems and got them back on sky in three days.

Having a critical spares inventory is a no-brainer.

"My advice is always free and worth every penny!"

-Christopher Erickson
Observatory Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, Hawaii


On Sat, Aug 7, 2021 at 1:37 PM Steven Panish <scpanish@...> wrote:
It's kind of expensive to just keep as a spare, but with price no object, I agree in principle!  But my mount sits in the observatory and never goes anywhere and the cable never gets exposed to light, never (in my experience) snags.  
Steve

On Sat, Aug 7, 2021 at 2:08 PM Chris White <chris.white@...> wrote:
I dont doubt you Chris, but curious what goes wrong with the y cables?


Re: APPM Basic questions

ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

Linwood wrote:

 

  • One last question (ok, probably never such a thing)… is there a document that explains more about the meaning of the various model properties.  Or maybe what I am asking is whether any of those values are actionable for a user – if my Tube Flexure quadrupled (for example) with the same gear, does that tell me to DO anything?   Or are these more essentially constants in a very complex curve fit designed to minimize pointing errors, and despite real world derivation may not individually mean anything?

 

So I started reading the APCC help file and found definitions of these values.  I really need a 30 minute delay on emails.  😊

 

READ THE HELP FILES NOT JUST THE MANUALS.  I’ll have that printed large somewhere near my monitor. 

 

Sigh… sorry for the interruptions.

 


Re: APPM Basic questions

ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

Ray/Linwood Wrote:

 

  • Have you already read the APCC help section for APPM? There's lots of information in there that can get you started.

 

  • I read the manual (twice), but probably not the help file, I take it that’s different than the manual.  Tomorrow...

 

Excellent pointer.  I found all sorts of tidbits in there I had to discover otherwise.  I thought I had prepared by reading the manual (usually the help file is just portions of a manual).  Lesson learned. Read all of APPM, now going back to APCC.

 

Thank you.

 

  • My main question, as related to this night, was I could only model  2/3rds of the sky, and was wondering if using that model was helpful, or pointless.  I’ll hopefully find guidance in the help file tomorrow.  Pulled it all in tonight, it got “clear” but so hazy there was no point in imaging.

 

  • No one can tell you that because every setup is different. However, you can try using the model afterwards to see how it performs.

 

Fair enough.  In reading the help file I also see how you can test a model by running shorter pointing runs to see the accuracy.  Nice.

 

I also compared my small model to an even smaller (due to clouds) and max error was almost double on the cloudy one.  So at least intuitively that makes sense.  (Still pretty small though).

 

One last question (ok, probably never such a thing)… is there a document that explains more about the meaning of the various model properties.  Or maybe what I am asking is whether any of those values are actionable for a user – if my Tube Flexure quadrupled (for example) with the same gear, does that tell me to DO anything?   Or are these more essentially constants in a very complex curve fit designed to minimize pointing errors, and despite real world derivation may not individually mean anything?

 

Linwood

 

PS. If the clouds would abate I would be less interested in theory.  😊   Last night I waited about 3.5 hours and it stayed high hazy clouds, so I pulled everything in early.  But at least I got to practice.  Despite the clouds guiding around 0.3” steadily.  Goto landed the target right in the center (at least to the eye). Darn fine hardware/software!


Re: PSA- Check your gear mesh! (Older mounts)

M Hambrick
 

I set up and take down my 1100 mount every night that I use it. In doing so I found that running the Y-cable outside the mount instead of through it saves several minutes of setup and takedown time. Astro-Physics sells a longer version of the Y-cable for this purpose, but the tradeoff is that even though the cable is longer, it can still get caught on the various knobs and projections when slewing the mount. If this happens the cable can be seriously damaged.

You would be surprised how quickly a cable can get snagged when the mount is slewing at 600 or 1200X. I have learned the hard way to pay close attention to cable management and to keep a finger on the keypad stop button any time I am slewing the mount. In one incident I was slewing the mount and failed to check my camera cables. The main power cable to my camera got caught between one of the DEC axis clutch knobs and gearbox housing and it completely cut through the outer insulation and severed a couple of the individual conductors.


Re: APPM Basic questions

Ray Gralak
 

My main question, as related to this night, was I could only model 2/3rds of the sky, and was wondering if using
that model was helpful, or pointless. I’ll hopefully find guidance in the help file tomorrow. Pulled it all in tonight, it
got “clear” but so hazy there was no point in imaging.
No one can tell you that because every setup is different. However, you can try using the model afterwards to see how it performs.

I do tear down completely. I try to reproduce the same setup by setting the tripod legs into drilled holes, but there’s
always some slop from wheeling it in and out, removing and reinstalling the OTA, etc. I have no faith a prior
model would be valid. Maybe I can do some on consecutive nights and see how they vary.
If you can reproduce the position of everything, especially polar alignment, then the model should be re-usable. Only be actually trying this will you know.

-Ray


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of ap@...
Sent: Saturday, August 7, 2021 9:55 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APPM Basic questions

Ray wrote:



* Have you already read the APCC help section for APPM? There's lots of information in there that can get
you started.



I read the manual (twice), but probably not the help file, I take it that’s different than the manual. Tomorrow...



My main question, as related to this night, was I could only model 2/3rds of the sky, and was wondering if using
that model was helpful, or pointless. I’ll hopefully find guidance in the help file tomorrow. Pulled it all in tonight, it
got “clear” but so hazy there was no point in imaging.



* If you don’t tear down or significantly change your setup, you can usually use the same model for many
nights. However, if the model starts to become inaccurate, then you may need to redo it. For example, if the polar
alignment changes because of mount settling, or the temperature change is significant enough to measurably
change equipment flexure.



I do tear down completely. I try to reproduce the same setup by setting the tripod legs into drilled holes, but there’s
always some slop from wheeling it in and out, removing and reinstalling the OTA, etc. I have no faith a prior
model would be valid. Maybe I can do some on consecutive nights and see how they vary.



* BTW, if it is just shifting polar alignment causing an issue, you might try tweaking polar alignment outside of
APCC (e.g. via PEMPro, SharpCap, PHD2, polar alignment scope, etc.). Then do a RECAL in APPM, and the
model should work well again.



I do a polar alignment first thing, either Sharpcap or NINA (they do agree).



Thanks for the response.



Linwood




Re: Automation software sent Rcal while parking...mount stopped.

Tom Blahovici
 

I have aborted many image acquisitions by clicking on the abort button in the on the fly section. Granted a plate solve may continue but I highly doubt that the plate solve is the process that does the recal. For example if you use the skyx for a plate solve you must manually select the recal in the skyx if Voyager is not running. If you look at the Voyager log you should be able to find out exactly what is happening.
Tom


Re: Automation software sent Rcal while parking...mount stopped.

Russ Durkee
 

This was running as a dragscript.  I did contact Leo to ask how this would be handled and he stated the camera driver does not accept an abort request when it is taking an image.  But I wonder why it does not at least abort the plate solve and recal.  It does not work for me to have voyager not do recals as I need that for pointing at moving asteroids all through the night.  The action that was underway in voyager was an image and sync operation. Why it did not abort the platesolve and sync I do not know.  I think it was Voyager that noticed the error but I am still not sure what caused the mount to abort the park.

Regards,

Russ


Re: APPM Basic questions

ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

Ray wrote:

 

  • Have you already read the APCC help section for APPM? There's lots of information in there that can get you started.

 

I read the manual (twice), but probably not the help file, I take it that’s different than the manual.  Tomorrow...

 

My main question, as related to this night, was I could only model 2/3rds of the sky, and was wondering if using that model was helpful, or pointless.  I’ll hopefully find guidance in the help file tomorrow.  Pulled it all in tonight, it got “clear” but so hazy there was no point in imaging.

 

  • If you don’t tear down or significantly change your setup, you can usually use the same model for many nights. However, if the model starts to become inaccurate, then you may need to redo it. For example, if the polar alignment changes because of mount settling, or the temperature change is significant enough to measurably change equipment flexure.

 

I do tear down completely.  I try to reproduce the same setup by setting the tripod legs into drilled holes, but there’s always some slop from wheeling it in and out, removing and reinstalling the OTA, etc.   I have no faith a prior model would be valid.  Maybe I can do some on consecutive nights and see how they vary.

 

  • BTW, if it is just shifting polar alignment causing an issue, you might try tweaking polar alignment outside of APCC (e.g. via PEMPro, SharpCap, PHD2, polar alignment scope, etc.). Then do a RECAL in APPM, and the model should work well again.

 

I do a polar alignment first thing, either Sharpcap or NINA (they do agree).

 

Thanks for the response.

 

Linwood

 


Re: APPM Basic questions

Ray Gralak
 

Hi Linwood,

Have you already read the APCC help section for APPM? There's lots of information in there that can get you started.

If you don’t tear down or significantly change your setup, you can usually use the same model for many nights. However, if the model starts to become inaccurate, then you may need to redo it. For example, if the polar alignment changes because of mount settling, or the temperature change is significant enough to measurably change equipment flexure.

BTW, if it is just shifting polar alignment causing an issue, you might try tweaking polar alignment outside of APCC (e.g. via PEMPro, SharpCap, PHD2, polar alignment scope, etc.). Then do a RECAL in APPM, and the model should work well again.

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of ap@...
Sent: Saturday, August 7, 2021 6:29 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] APPM Basic questions

Could someone give me a sanity check.

I image with a tear down and set up nightly. I do it from fixed pavers that gives me a fairly good polar alignment
but not precise (tonight I was unusually close about 6' off in each direction once assembled). I then do a polar
alignment with other software to get it good.

Last time out I built a model. I think I'm not supposed to do that when not in a permanent setup, right? And
unliked tPoint there's no "recalibrate" model run, you build from scratch. So if I cannot (or do not want) to build a
model tonight, I should turn off the model corrections, right? (If they don't default to off).

Now tonight it's partly cloudy. I'm building a model but I think probably 1/3 or more of the sky I will get failures. It's
still running.

Let's assume I have a good polar alignment and have done a plate solve and recal from another program
(probably a sync that became a recal).

At what point is it better to use the model as opposed to dispose of it entirely, if clouds are the issue (i.e. and I am
not going to get a better one)? Am I better with nothing, or pretty much anything I can get?

OK... while writing this it finished. 12 failed, 28 good solves, most of the failures in the SE. So... I'm going to load it
just because, but... should I? How good or bad (relative to how much of the sky) is needed before the model does
more good than harm? Or is the answer it ALWAYS does more good than harm to pointing and tracking
accuracy?

Linwood

PS. I image, I guide, I realize that the model is less relevant to me, but I'm trying to learn good practices for using it,
who knows, might do some unguided imaging at some point.


Re: Automation software sent Rcal while parking...mount stopped.

Ray Gralak
 

Russ,

There are safeguards in the AP V2 driver and APCC that prevent RECALs at inappropriate times, but it sounds like the ASCOM client application (Volager) may have stopped tracking in the middle of the park operation. Unchecking "prevent errant recalls" would not have helped.

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Russ Durkee
Sent: Saturday, August 7, 2021 5:27 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] Automation software sent Rcal while parking...mount stopped.

All,
Running APCC on an AP1600 with CP4. While running Voyager last night I observed something interesting. I
was testing my shutdown procedure for cloudy weather to verify it works properly. So the weather station sees
clouds and my software (Voyager) notices and issues a park command. But it happens when an image is being
plate solved. As the mount is parking the plate is solved and the software sends what I assume is an Rcal to the
mount. The mount reports the Rcal is too far from the reported position. The mount stops and parks in
position...half way from where it was and its intended park position. If I issue another park command manually at
that point the mount parks fine.

These sort of things are always hard to diagnose as

So... I would think once the mount gets a park command it would no longer accept Rcals. Is this what is
happening? Is there a setting I missed in either the driver or APCC to prevent this? For example, if I uncheck
prevent errant ReCals will i create more problems for myself or will the mount park correctly.? I assume if I do
uncheck "prevent errant ReCals" the next time the mount starts it may be lost.

Thanks for your help!

Regards,

Russ



Re: Preventing Pier Crashes

Ray Gralak
 

Mike,

Was the pier collision you mention in a counterweight-down, or counterweight-up position? If it was counterweight-down, do you recall the circumstances?

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of M Hambrick
Sent: Saturday, August 7, 2021 12:53 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Preventing Pier Crashes

Hi Alex

I am not yet using APCC to control my mount, but I will relate the behavior that I have observed on my 1100 GTO
(Non-AE) with the Keypad controller. When I first got the mount I set up safe zone limits for my particular imaging
train. In doing so I mistakenly thought that this would prevent any pier crashes during slewing, but this is not the
case. The safe zone limits will only prevent you from selecting a catalog object to go to that is outside the safe
zone. If you select an object that is inside the safe zone, the mount will slew to it according to the slewing
instructions that are programmed into the keypad, and depending on the geometry of your imaging train, you can
get a pier crash.

Mike

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