Date   

Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Roland Christen
 

They are shaft dampers with Teflon tips. They should not be tight, but just gently touching. Shaft dampers were commonly used back some 30 years ago to take slack out of shafts that were held by standard ball bearings that were not pre-loaded. The dampers put pressure on the shaft but still allow it to rotate at the sidereal rate. Too much pressure and the shaft will stall the motor.

We recently had an old mount come back where the damper was tightened by a crowbar. It was so tight we could not back it off without using a ton of force. The complaint was that the motors would stall and not track consistently. Yes indeed, that's what happens.

Nowadays mount bearings are preloaded, so no dampers needed.

Rolando

-----Original Message-----
From: Emilio J. Robau, P.E. <ejr@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Tue, Apr 12, 2022 2:55 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

A question for Roland if he is still there relevant to the 900.  What are the knobs that are associated with the axis that seem to be locks but are not really locks. What is their function and how tight do they have to be?

--
Roland Christen
Astro-Physics


Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Emilio J. Robau, P.E.
 

A question for Roland if he is still there relevant to the 900.  What are the knobs that are associated with the axis that seem to be locks but are not really locks. What is their function and how tight do they have to be?


Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Emilio J. Robau, P.E.
 

Steve,

I think you are correct.  I have not tried to guide counter weight up just in case.  I have not tried to run a mile lately, just in case.


Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Roland Christen
 

Make sure the Dec is balanced and it will track well. RA is not as important to get the balance just right.

Roland

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Salvo via groups.io <sws105@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Tue, Apr 12, 2022 2:51 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

I believe Not all of the older mounts needed the DEC upgrade, only those mounts that showed tracking issues. George can certainly further explain if needed.

I have an older AP900GTO no issues, amazing mounts!

Steve


On Apr 12, 2022, at 15:29, George Lutch <glutch@...> wrote:

I am considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO CP3 with hand controller and am in need of advice on what to check on the actual mount prior to purchase. I want to be sure there are no major issues with it.  Any advice would be appreciated.

--
Roland Christen
Astro-Physics


Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Steve Salvo
 

I believe Not all of the older mounts needed the DEC upgrade, only those mounts that showed tracking issues. George can certainly further explain if needed.

I have an older AP900GTO no issues, amazing mounts!

Steve


On Apr 12, 2022, at 15:29, George Lutch <glutch@...> wrote:

I am considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO CP3 with hand controller and am in need of advice on what to check on the actual mount prior to purchase. I want to be sure there are no major issues with it.  Any advice would be appreciated.


Re: Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

Emilio J. Robau, P.E.
 

Greetings George,

I purchased a used 2003 2004 vintage AP900 and after a break in period for me that entailed getting used to it and switching out an older CP2 unit for a used CP3 unit I think I have it performing pretty well.   The main thing to look for after your observe the general condition is the serial number.    AP had an enhancement (or fixed an issue with counterweight up guiding) that was deployed after a certain serial number.   I don't recall the number but will look it up for you and post later.   If you can get a mount with a serial number higher than the magic number you are one step ahead of me.   I love my mount and I picked it up with a whole bunch of stuff and it looked brand spanking new.   It was primarily used by a visual observer so the wear was significantly less than say my 1600 in the observatory which is deployed every single moment in the fall through spring that I can get to collect data all night long.

I think the main thing is the serial number that indicates whether or not it has the dec fix.

I don't think you can go wrong with any AP 900, 1200, 1100, and 1600 mounts.  They are electro mechanical works of art.   

I don't think you have to upgrade the CP3 to CP4 since the CP3 allows you to deploy a model from APCC and you really want that functionality, so you will need to purchase APPC if you don't already have it.   Highly recommended contribution to Ray's artwork in my opinion.

My AP900 points as well as my 1600 which has the CP4 box.   Sometimes I just shake my head and don't believe that NINA does not have to make a correction on a nearby slew or just one correction when slewing across the sky on the plate solves.   Amazing performance.

You can take the cover off of the gear box and take a look at the condition of the gears and the actual lube itself.   Mine was older and caked on.  I purchased the kit and re-applied the lube and it sounds better.  You could take off the box itself and take a look at the main gear as well as the worm, but that is somewhat invasive to someone who already may have the PEC programmed and does not want you messing with it.  

After using my 900 without the through mount routing of wires, I can say that I would be satisfied with a 1200 also.   I like the through mount functionality for the wiring, but have come to learn that it is not that huge of an issue to control the cords,  This is especially true if you purchase a Pegasus power box, which I did and it is definitely one of y favorite gadgets and allows for a very graceful control of the cords.

Finally, I want to add that I power my mount separately from everything else connected to the camera, heater, focuser and so on and so forth.   I have found that the heaters draw some amps and mess up the mount a bit from time to time so I run separate power.  Some will tell you that it is not necessary and their systems work through the power box, but mine does not.

Don't think twice, buy the thing.


Re: How to start imaging with CW up?

Roland Christen
 

I do it all the time with scope under the mount pointing to an object 3 or 4 hours from the zenith toward the east. As long as the scope clears the pier it works very well. I simply set a meridian delay of 3 or 4 hours east so that the scope flips sides when I enter the object in either the keypad or with SkyX. The mount will do a safety slew (which takes 2 slews with a momentary pause in between) and the scope ends up underneath the mount. You want to be there by the mount to make sure that nothing gets snagged and no possibility of collision. You don't want to do this in a remote setup or in an automated setup using 3rd party software. Too much can go wrong.
If you don't want to change the meridian delay, you can also use the command "Flip Sides". However if you do any centering using co-ordinate commands (example MaximDL moves) then the scope will flip back to the original side. Keypad button moves, as well as APCC, SkyX button moves, all work fine.

Rolando

-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Hixson via groups.io <wayneh9026@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Tue, Apr 12, 2022 2:20 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] How to start imaging with CW up?

Still Trying to understand meridian limits and their effect on GO TO s. I’ve mapped east and west meridian limits (which are different). I have a lot of opportunity to start with the scope on east side of pier and eliminate need to do meridian flip. I’ve turned on Enable limits and permit CW up slews on E and W sides. I do not have limit to meridian checked. I had hoped to have initial go to’s within the E limits go with CW up, but my testing doesn’t seem to do this. Can it in fact be done? Thanks

wayne

--
Roland Christen
Astro-Physics


Advice for someone considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO

George Lutch
 

I am considering purchasing a well used AP900GTO CP3 with hand controller and am in need of advice on what to check on the actual mount prior to purchase. I want to be sure there are no major issues with it.  Any advice would be appreciated.


How to start imaging with CW up?

Wayne Hixson
 

Still Trying to understand meridian limits and their effect on GO TO s. I’ve mapped east and west meridian limits (which are different). I have a lot of opportunity to start with the scope on east side of pier and eliminate need to do meridian flip. I’ve turned on Enable limits and permit CW up slews on E and W sides. I do not have limit to meridian checked. I had hoped to have initial go to’s within the E limits go with CW up, but my testing doesn’t seem to do this. Can it in fact be done? Thanks

wayne


Re: Log Files

W Hilmo
 

In my workflow, I keep all log files indefinitely.

I store the output from each session in a ZIP file, including all images taken, logs, etc.  The raw log files can be large, but they compress down to almost nothing.  A single frame from my camera uses much more space than all of the logs from the session.

-Wade

On 4/12/22 5:57 AM, Steve Reilly wrote:

Is there a practical time allotment that we should keep our logs files? It occurs to me that over the years these files could consume a great deal of space on our imaging systems. And if there is that allotment is there a way to do this automatically? Main concern is those remote systems like the NUCs that may likely have fewer hard drives onboard. Between ACP, APCC, MaxIm, Weather Station, FocusMax, and so on the amount of HD space, no matter how cheap it is these days, racks up fast. Any ideas?

 

-Steve

 



Re: Using RAPAS for first time - how do I know it is Polaris?

Ben Koltenbah
 

Your experience is not at all uncommon.  I began my astrophotography obession - I mean hobby - many years ago with a cheap mount long before I discovered Astro-Physics products.  This one had a permanently fixed polar scope along its "bore sight".  I had to crouch down in an awkward position and crane my neck upward to look through it.  I recall my first night trying to align with Polaris, and nothing stayed on track the whole night even after repeating several times.  It was only later that I realized I was polar aligning on Kochab!  That's a sizeable error.

Once I graduated to my first AP mount, I immediately ordered the RAPAS, and my neck has since been saved.

When I set up the mount, particularly in the daytime, I use a compass to roughly place the mount pointing north.  If you do that, don't forgot to account for your magnetic declination.  I am usually able to roughly align so that Polaris is within the RAPAS scope's field of view.  I also look for Polaris at dusk and make sure my mount is roughly aligned with it.

Soon this will be second nature for you.  (No more Kochab!)  Good luck!

Best Regards,
Ben


Log Files

Steve Reilly
 

Is there a practical time allotment that we should keep our logs files? It occurs to me that over the years these files could consume a great deal of space on our imaging systems. And if there is that allotment is there a way to do this automatically? Main concern is those remote systems like the NUCs that may likely have fewer hard drives onboard. Between ACP, APCC, MaxIm, Weather Station, FocusMax, and so on the amount of HD space, no matter how cheap it is these days, racks up fast. Any ideas?

 

-Steve

 


Re: Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

Ray Gralak
 

Mike,

Do you think anything that you have seen might be related to the mount status not updating in MaxIm DL ? This is
really the problem I have been trying to solve. When I saw the other night where the AP V2 driver was not
updating the RA coordinates when the mount was parked I thought that there may be a connection.
The first "suspect" is your computer. Windows 10 is continuously writing to internal log files and gathering/sending telemetry information, so any slow component can exasperate the threading issue that MaximDL appears to have accessing the driver. At a minimum, I recommend you swap out that drive with a SATA SSD.

Plus, your third screenshot, the one that you indicated shows a status difference between APCC and the driver, has separate images taken at different times that you pieced together. The ASCOM driver's screenshot is over a minute and a half earlier than the APCC screenshot. A lot could have happened in that much time. So, in the future, I suggest you line up the applications next to each other and take one screenshot of all of them simultaneously.

-Ray


Re: Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

M Hambrick
 

Hi Ray

Thanks for looking at the log files.

To your question my hard drive is not a SSD.

Do you think anything that you have seen might be related to the mount status not updating in MaxIm DL ? This is really the problem I have been trying to solve. When I saw the other night where the AP V2 driver was not updating the RA coordinates when the mount was parked I thought that there may be a connection.

Mike 

Mike


Re: Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

Ray Gralak
 

Hi Mike,

There seems to be some inconsistency in the logs there is an unpark command from APCC at 19:01:15 but this
event does not appear in the ASCOM log
If you are stating this, then I don't believe you understand how APCC and the driver are related. APCC sends commands directly to the mount, not through the driver. So, when you park or unpark in APCC those commands do not go through the ASCOM driver and thus won't be in the ASCOM driver's log file. However, the driver finds out later about the park status change only by polling the mount through APCC.

The unpark command that I made from the AP V2 Driver was at 19:07:24 This command does not show up in the
APCC log.
That's incorrect. To unpark the mount, the driver sent a ":Q#", which unparks and starts tracking. This command not only shows up in APCC's log, but the driver shortly sees that the mount is unparked and tracking. There is no issue here.

There is also a gap in the ASCOM log from 19:19:47 from 21:33:32 This is probably where I took a break and went
inside for a little while, but again, this gap does not appear in the APCC log
To save disk space, the driver will pause logging after a few minutes when the mount is parked.

You wrote this previously:
When I unparked the mount from APCC (see 3rd screen shot), again AP V2 did not update the to show that
it was tracking again. Again, this was not just for a few seconds, but for several minutes.
To me, it just looks like the driver just didn't update the text in the park status field. I will take a look at that. However, the driver also should indicate that the mount is unparked to ASCOM devices because the driver shows the mount tracking in that screenshot.

BTW, is the drive in your computer an SSD?

-Ray


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of M Hambrick
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2022 7:16 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

Hi Ray

I am running Windows Version 21H1 (OS Build 19043.1586)

Here are the AP Zip files from April 9

Look in the ASCOM log starting at 18:27:31. I do see a couple errors that showed up at18:27:31 but I am not sure
what these are about. I think trhis is when I was connecting the mount to the AP V2 Driver.

I also notice a gap in any ASCOM log activity from 18:27:31 until 18:40:00. I have no idea what that is about. There
is no such gap in the APCC log

I am pretty sure that the park command where all this started was at 18:50:21

There seems to be some inconsistency in the logs there is an unpark command from APCC at 19:01:15 but this
event does not appear in the ASCOM log

The unpark command that I made from the AP V2 Driver was at 19:07:24 This command does not show up in the
APCC log.

I parked the scope again from APCC at 19:16:23. This event shows up in both logs. After this park command, the
AP V2 Driver was matching APCC. After I parked the mount, this time I disconnected the mount from MaxIm.

There is also a gap in the ASCOM log from 19:19:47 from 21:33:32 This is probably where I took a break and went
inside for a little while, but again, this gap does not appear in the APCC log

Let me know if there is anything else you want me to try to get.

If you have any troubleshooting tips that might help to sort this out, please let me know.

Mike


Re: Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

M Hambrick
 

Hi Ray

I am running Windows Version 21H1 (OS Build 19043.1586)

Here are the AP Zip files from April 9

Look in the ASCOM log starting at 18:27:31. I do see a couple errors that showed up at18:27:31 but I am not sure what these are about. I think trhis is when I was connecting the mount to the AP V2 Driver.

I also notice a gap in any ASCOM log activity from 18:27:31 until 18:40:00. I have no idea what that is about. There is no such gap in the APCC log

I am pretty sure that the park command where all this started was at 18:50:21

There seems to be some inconsistency in the logs there is an unpark command from APCC at 19:01:15 but this event does not appear in the ASCOM log

The unpark command that I made from the AP V2 Driver was at 19:07:24 This command does not show up in the APCC log.

I parked the scope again from APCC at 19:16:23. This event shows up in both logs. After this park command, the AP V2 Driver was matching APCC. After I parked the mount, this time I disconnected the mount from MaxIm.

There is also a gap in the ASCOM log from 19:19:47 from 21:33:32 This is probably where I took a break and went inside for a little while, but again, this gap does not appear in the APCC log

Let me know if there is anything else you want me to try to get.

If you have any troubleshooting tips that might help to sort this out, please let me know.

Mike


Re: Using RAPAS for first time - how do I know it is Polaris?

Tom Zepf
 

I have a simple and inexpensive red dot finder on all my scopes. As soon as I see Polaris with the naked eye, I do a crude alignment of the mount using the finder. Takes about 20 seconds and it always gets me close enough for RAPAS or camera based polar alignment to take over. You can take the finder off after your done with it or just leave it on so you can get a feel where those dim pixels in your imaging train are coming from in the night sky.


Re: Do the APCC SGP in YouTube video also apply to NINA #APCC

Wayne Hixson
 

I asked a couple days ago on these settings and Ray replied the NINA box in Advanced Settings is “For Future Use”. So I think the only connection right now us through the Smart Meridian Flip in NINA using the APCC .mlm meridian limits file. I’m not sure at this time that you even need to set any of the APCC Meridian limit boxes. Dale or Ray, please correct me if this is wrong. 


Re: Mount Status in AP V2 ASCOM Driver Does Not Match APCC

M Hambrick
 

Hi Ray

I will answer a couple of your questions now, and then try to gather all of the other requested information (i.e logs) this evening when I get home from work.

#3 In this particular instance the first command I gave the mount after making the initial connections was from APCC to go to Park 2. Note that I have it set up to start tracking when the connection is made.

#4 In addition to the system applications, I will have the following applications running during every observing / imaging session: MaxIm DL Pro, APCC Pro, AP V2 ASCOM Driver, Microsoft Excel (for my observing notes), Snagit 12 (screen capture software), Deep Sky Planner (only for their red screen). I am not sure it makes any difference, but the laptop is connected to my home wireless network even when I am out in the back yard. However, all of the connections to the cameras and mount are via cables. I am using an ethernet cable to connect the CP4 to my laptop and USB cables to connect the cameras. 

#5 I am running Windows 10, I will have to get the specific details about the latest Windows upgrade when I get home.

#6 My laptop is an ASUS Model Q552U Notebook PC. I purchased it in December, 2015. It has an Intel Core I7 processor. It has 12GB RAM and 940 GB of disc storage. The hard disk still has over 600 GB of available storage. Typically, with all of the applications listed above running the CPU usage averages about 20%, but it will spike up during certain events (like image downloads). Note that in this particular session I was monitoring the laptop memory usage throughout the process of starting up all of the programs and while downloading a couple images in case there was a memory overload going on. At no time did the memory usage exceed about 4.5 GB, an there were no spikes that I could see.

With one exception, all power to the system is coming from two Powerwerx 25 Amp variable voltage power supplies; The mount and one of the cameras coming from one power supply, and the dew heaters and laptop power are running off of the other. My guide camera is an old SBIG ST2000-XM with a multiple voltage power supply. For this camera I use the OEM power supply plugged into a 120 VAC power strip. The negative terminals of both power supplies are jumpered together so that they share a common ground, and the pier is grounded.

Mike


Re: Windows timezone settings

Christopher Erickson
 

Every situation is different and generally I would never be using a phone to control a serious imaging or research scope setup. For me, using a phone would imply I was doing something casual,  like visual outreach.

But even then, I don't believe that using UT on a mount with a phone will be a problem. I believe that Sky Safari, for example, uses UT internally, regardless of what local time it displays to the user. I suspect that all GOTO mounts do as well.

I think that just about all time problems come from all of the geopolitically motivated, goofy, irregular,  shifting, time zones and daylight savings rules around the world. At least here in Hawaii we don't do DST.

Between Local Time, Local Sidereal Time, Universal Time, Time Zone, Daylight Savings Time, Local Mean Time, etc. It's no wonder that every single professional observatory I have ever worked in, on, or with, uses UT as their standard time reference.

Alaska, due to its massive size, used to span 5 time zones. Over half of Alaskans live in and around Anchorage but the state capital is in Juneau, which was two time zones over. This caused a lot of problems for state government, due to rigid, union-controlled, start, finish, lunch and coffee break schedules. State offices in Anchorage and Juneau could only talk to each other for three and a half broken-up hours a day. So they consolidated into two time zones, strictly for the convenience of state government worker unions. Solar Noon in summertime Anchorage happens about 2:30 in the afternoon. These kinds of stories exist all over the world.

All professional astronomers and engineers use UT.

-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   


On Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 1:55 AM Horia <ATM@...> wrote:

Hi Christopher,

 

yes, one certainly can do that but is it necessary?

 

I have all my computers setup for the local time zone and never had a problem with my mounts due to that. Not with Astro-Physics mounts and not with Skywatcher or iOptron mounts.

 

Would I be using my smartphone to control a mount, and would I have to set the smartphone to UT, that would be the moment I would decide to change the mount. The same applies for a tablet.

 

Kind regards,

Horia

 

 

Von: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> Im Auftrag von Christopher Erickson
Gesendet: Montag, 11. April 2022 11:25
An: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Betreff: Re: [ap-gto] Windows timezone settings

 

I set all of my mounts and astro computers to UT and never change them.

 

Not sarcasm.


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

 

On Sun, Apr 10, 2022, 9:45 PM Horia <ATM@...> wrote:

Sarcasm?

 

 

Von: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> Im Auftrag von fernandorivera3 via groups.io
Gesendet: Sonntag, 10. April 2022 16:02
An: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Betreff: Re: [ap-gto] Windows timezone settings

 

Set all of your devices <smartphone, tablet, computer, mount, etc> to Universal Time aka UT & not have to deal with different time zones or daylight savings time vs standard time, either. 

"Set it & forget it"- no more headaches going back & forth with changes in the settings. 

Fernando

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