Date   

Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Woody Schlom
 

Bruce,

 

Interesting comments regarding Vito.  My experience has been the exact opposite (with PT mobile observatory).  Once I’d fully paid him, it was mine – along with all its problems.  Warranty useless.  My club has had much worse experiences with him on two large observatories.  We’ve all had to solve our own problems – at our own expense.

 

Once I had to sick PayPal on him TWICE to get money back I’d paid him – for accessories he never shipped.

 

Fortunately my single column PT pier has performed flawlessly over 4 years.

 

Just a warning.

 

Woody

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Bruce Donzanti
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 9:43 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] How to Raise AP1600 Height

 

Jack,

Are you thinking of getting something like the PT-3 dual pier column that Pier-tech sells?  I know you mentioned Pier-Tech previously but looking for another source as it is expensive.  I must say, if you are looking for this design, the one I got from Pier-Tech, albeit expensive, has worked like a charm for almost 2 years now with my AP1100, C11" and now 80mm piggybacked on top.  Vito is always available and everything is under warranty.  It makes me sleep better at night.

Bruce



 


Re: First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Ray Gralak
 

Wayne,

I can't help you with SkyX Pro crashing but you might want to make sure you have the latest daily update installed.

Also, you may have done this but as it says in the help file:

"TheSkyX Pro Image Link. Note: To use image linking with TheSkyXPro, you must have TheSkyX connected to the mount through the AP V2 ASCOM driver."

Also, there is a secondary configuration for using SkyX as an external plate solver. For plate solving to work this must be a close match to APPM's configuration.

Here are more detailed instructions. I'll put these in the help file for the next APCC Pro build.

In SkyX (see attached screen shots also):
1. Click menu item Tools->Image Link.
2. On the Search tab, make sure Image scale matches the image scale in APPM and that "Known Image scale" is selected.
3. Click the Setup tab.
4. On the setup tab setup an appropriate image scale tolerance. I have been using:
* Search radius: 4 fields of view
* Image scale tolerance: 0.135 arcseconds/pixel
5. Click "Automated Image Link Settings..."
6. In Automated ImageLink Settings make sure:
a) Image scale matches APPM
b) Binning matches APPM
c) Enable "Use all Sky Image Link for automated pointing runs"
7. Click OK and close the Image Link window.

Back in APPM then, using NASA Sky View as the camera you should be able to plate solve using SkyX. To test this:

1. On APPM's run tab, connect to the scope and Nasa SkyView camera.
2. Click the "Plate Solve" button on APPM's run tab. It will get an image from Nasa SkyView and platesolve via SkyX.

If the plate solve fails, check that the image scale and binning match what you configured in SkyX. Also, make sure you are using the latest SkyX daily update. I am using SkyX version 10.5.0 (Build 12304) but there is probably a later version available now.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Wayne Hixson via Groups.Io
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 10:00 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Hi Ray, Decided to use the time last night to try my hand at modeling! Just using a simple 11 point model of my
sky. Spent a great deal of time trying to get plate solving to work. I have a QHY 268C OSC camera and connected
to it from APPM via its ASCOM driver. Using Pinpoint to PS. That would just not work. Even All Sky gave up.
However I could easily plate solve and sync outside APPM via Pinpoint. Tried different bins too. Took a long time
to download the image, and then the camera window turned white for a few seconds before showing the image,
which looked good.

Then I tried using the Sky X as camera with ASCOM - didn't work. It did work better with the QHY native drivers -
this worked, however I'm having trouble with TSX crashing. Finally used old tried and true MaximDL as camera,
with ASCOM and Pinpoint. Voila!! Ran a perfect model first time.

Ray, I think I've figured out how to model with my strange situation. I set the West limits to the East and it created a
model with all east points outside that zone, and a set of West points at the meridian so the scope flips to the east
side for those! I hadn't figured out how to map the points in that West limits zone with the CW up, but I think that's
because I haven't mapped my Eastern meridian limits. So will try to do that today.

I did end up using the model and testing some guiding - seems significantly better depending on where I was in
the sky. I was getting under 0.35" for several minutes at a time, and rarely bumped over 0.5". I'm going to wait for
my MGBox V2 before I try a more complete model.

PS for those of you using the Eagle pier - be sure to tighten down the thumb screws attaching the pier extensions
if you use that to rotate the mount to make large adjustments to your PA azimuth. Moving the scope around
caused me to rotate the mount too without knowing it and I was WAY off the pole when I started :-)


Re: First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Ray Gralak
 

Right that is another option! So the settings in APPM - such as scale and binning - inform SGP and override its
settings?
APPM can send a command for SGPro to take an image with SGPro's camera. Things like binning, full or subframe dimensions, and duration are passed to SGPro. Later, after the image has successfully created, APPM passes the image back to SGPro for plate solving. SGPro doesn't have to know the image was created previously by itself or by another application so APPM needs to send the image scale for that image. This does not override SGPro's image scale setting.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Wayne Hixson via Groups.Io
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 10:22 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Right that is another option! So the settings in APPM - such as scale and binning - inform SGP and override its
settings?


Re: First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Tony Benjamin
 

I believe so…but I do know that if you don’t have the right scale set in APPM the Plate Solve will fail…even if the right image scale is set in SGP.

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Wayne Hixson via Groups.Io
Sent: March 22, 2020 10:22 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

 

Right that is another option! So the settings in APPM  - such as scale and binning - inform SGP and override its settings?


Re: First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Wayne Hixson
 

Right that is another option! So the settings in APPM  - such as scale and binning - inform SGP and override its settings?


Re: First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Tony Benjamin
 

FWIW. I’ve always used plate solve with the camera connected in SGP when using APPM and never a hitch (as long as you have the correct image scale in APPM).

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Wayne Hixson via Groups.Io
Sent: March 22, 2020 10:00 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

 

Hi Ray, Decided to use the time last night to try my hand at modeling! Just using a simple 11 point model of my sky. Spent a great deal of time trying to get plate solving to work. I have a QHY 268C OSC camera and connected to it from APPM via its ASCOM driver. Using Pinpoint to PS. That would just not work. Even All Sky gave up. However I could easily plate solve and sync outside APPM via Pinpoint. Tried different bins too. Took a long time to download the image, and then the camera window turned white for a few seconds before showing the image, which looked good.

Then I tried using the Sky X as camera with ASCOM - didn't work. It did work better with the QHY native drivers - this worked, however I'm having trouble with TSX crashing. Finally used old tried and true MaximDL as camera, with ASCOM and Pinpoint. Voila!! Ran a perfect model first time. 

Ray, I think I've figured out how to model with my strange situation. I set the West limits to the East and it created a model with all east points outside that zone, and a set of West points at the meridian so the scope flips to the east side for those! I hadn't figured out how to map the points in that West limits zone with the CW up, but I think that's because I haven't mapped my Eastern meridian limits. So will try to do that today. 

I did end up using the model and testing some guiding - seems significantly better depending on where I was in the sky. I was getting under 0.35" for several minutes at a time, and rarely bumped over 0.5". I'm going to wait for my MGBox V2 before I try a more complete model.

PS for those of you using the Eagle pier - be sure to tighten down the thumb screws attaching the pier extensions if you use that to rotate the mount to make large adjustments to your PA azimuth. Moving the scope around caused me to rotate the mount too without knowing it and I was WAY off the pole when I started :-)


First Attempts at APPM - Long Story

Wayne Hixson
 

Hi Ray, Decided to use the time last night to try my hand at modeling! Just using a simple 11 point model of my sky. Spent a great deal of time trying to get plate solving to work. I have a QHY 268C OSC camera and connected to it from APPM via its ASCOM driver. Using Pinpoint to PS. That would just not work. Even All Sky gave up. However I could easily plate solve and sync outside APPM via Pinpoint. Tried different bins too. Took a long time to download the image, and then the camera window turned white for a few seconds before showing the image, which looked good.

Then I tried using the Sky X as camera with ASCOM - didn't work. It did work better with the QHY native drivers - this worked, however I'm having trouble with TSX crashing. Finally used old tried and true MaximDL as camera, with ASCOM and Pinpoint. Voila!! Ran a perfect model first time. 

Ray, I think I've figured out how to model with my strange situation. I set the West limits to the East and it created a model with all east points outside that zone, and a set of West points at the meridian so the scope flips to the east side for those! I hadn't figured out how to map the points in that West limits zone with the CW up, but I think that's because I haven't mapped my Eastern meridian limits. So will try to do that today. 

I did end up using the model and testing some guiding - seems significantly better depending on where I was in the sky. I was getting under 0.35" for several minutes at a time, and rarely bumped over 0.5". I'm going to wait for my MGBox V2 before I try a more complete model.

PS for those of you using the Eagle pier - be sure to tighten down the thumb screws attaching the pier extensions if you use that to rotate the mount to make large adjustments to your PA azimuth. Moving the scope around caused me to rotate the mount too without knowing it and I was WAY off the pole when I started :-)


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Bruce Donzanti
 

Jack,

Are you thinking of getting something like the PT-3 dual pier column that Pier-tech sells?  I know you mentioned Pier-Tech previously but looking for another source as it is expensive.  I must say, if you are looking for this design, the one I got from Pier-Tech, albeit expensive, has worked like a charm for almost 2 years now with my AP1100, C11" and now 80mm piggybacked on top.  Vito is always available and everything is under warranty.  It makes me sleep better at night.

Bruce



 


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Joe Zeglinski
 

Jack,
 
    I must admit that I have a bit of trepidation that the two pillars might become unsynchronized – one passing by the other pillar height position. Image if it was more than an inch of height difference, causing a dangerous tilt of the mount and scope, in an uncontrolled “lifter runaway” on one side's motor. I would attached a cam’’d micro switch to each one, touching the opposite surface,, each with a (very short)  “Boss Bump” for the switch levers to ride on and  open or close the circuit. If one switch lever slips too far past the other (inner facing) side, it immediately kills the lift power to both, until reset by the user. This emergency override would be in addition to any logic in the TWO lifters controller.
 
    That would be a very inexpensive and simple safety override precaution. But, I would feel more confident with a powerful, single lift pillar, in such case.
 
Joe Z.


Re: Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Dominique Durand
 
Edited

Hi Mikko,
Frankly, nothing simpler on a Mach1 I still have the CP3 and I also had a CP4 with a station made with the keypad. Since I am near the meridian of Geenwich I chose to operate in UT (PC and Keypad) with the correct GPS coordinates from where I am. Either the frame is already parked and it stands out (I chose this option) upon ignition with a polar alignment possibly done with the RAPAS or with the routine polaris +1 star on the keypad if I was not in fixed pose. As I had concerns with the local time at the beginning, the best for me was to operate in UT keypad and PC.In the event of non-prior parking, this seems simple nevertheless. Once the mount is on and oriented to the north compass, we put it in park3 for example, we position the mount (Disengaging the brakes) to be in the park3 position and we apply the brakes. Then we do a goto on an easily identifiable star, we synchronize on the keypad and then we redo a park3 to see where the mount is parked. We turn off then on. unpark is automatic (If provided) and then just choose an object and do goto ... we are on it or we are not far ...If on the keypad the GPS coordinates and the Dates / times are OK this can only work ...
Thank you to Roland and his team A.P. for offering us frames that manage so simply.

Dominique


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Don Anderson
 

Jack
Which model control box and hand controller do you use? Are they universal to all column models? My rig (127mm refractor AP-900 mount) is not that heavy would likely go with a single column. Not sure which one though.
Don


On Mar 22, 2020, at 8:48 AM, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@...> wrote:

Christopher, 

I just checked Ebay and there were several Linak lifting columns and accessories available.  The key is getting a system with hand controller, control box, cables and lifting column.  Also with dual column systems, they have to be synchronized so they work together,  You can do that by running the columns to their lowest position, releasing the down button, and then holding down the down button for a few seconds.  The columns will move downward slightly (about 1/16") and return.  This is how I was told to synchronize them so that they work together.  When the person I sold my original 1000 Newton system to received them, he noted that when fully extended one column was slightly taller than the other.  After running the above sequence twice, the columns had reset and worked perfectly as a pair.

Yours truly,

Jack Huerkamp 


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Don Anderson
 

Thanks Jack
I have a lathe and drill press and could do some work myself. Will look into this further.
Thanks for the link to the Linak site. Will check out their site as well as Ebay. 
Keep safe
Don


On Mar 22, 2020, at 8:39 AM, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@...> wrote:

Don,

I do not know if Linak sells direct to the general public.  Here is a link to their website:

https://www.linak-us.com/products/lifting-columns/

The DL2 is the column that I have been using.

If you have access to a machine shop that can fabricate top and bottom plates for the columns, the completed lifting column setup can be cheaper than a system from Pier-tech.  But if you do not have the resources to fabricate the needed plates, then it is probably best to pay more and get a system from Pier-tech.  My next door neighbor runs a small machine shop and another friend is a welder, so I had access to the resources I neede to make a system once I purchased the lifting columns, control box, hand controller and cables.

Jack Huerkamp


Re: Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Ray Gralak
 

Hi Mikko,

Well it seems that "park from the last position" was the cure and yesterday evening the Mount slewed were it was
supposed to and plate solved the first image in seconds as before this whole episode started. I would still like to
understand what has changed and why suddenly unpark from #3 is not working anymore. Does the success of
unparking from the last position tell us anything? Meanwhile when smarter people than I are pondering this, I
want to thank everyone who participated to this conversation and proposed different things to try or consider.
After you recal/sync the mount via a platesolve and return to one of the park positions it can appear to be in the wrong position under certain conditions such as:

* The pier/tripod is not perpendicular to the earth's center.
* The mount is not "perfectly" polar aligned
* The optical axis is not aligned with the mount's mechanical axis.

So thinking the mount was in the wrong position one might be tempted to "fix" the mount be loosening the clutches and putting the mount back in the "correct" position then unparking from that park position. Doing that will actually cause the mount to be in the wrong position.

By just resuming from last parked position the mount should be exactly where it left off when last park. In fact both the AP V2 driver and APCC should warn you that it will set "unpark to last position" when you try to unpark from one of the park positions. That's to prevent people from making a mistake and accidentally unparking from the wrong park position. You should always use "unpark from last park position" if you have not moved/declutched the mount/scope since the last time you parked it. Of course if you are setting up the mount in a new location, or declutched and manually moved the scope to a new park position, it is appropriate to unpark from one of the park positions to start off.

BTW, this implies the mount is not a Mach 2. Since the Mach 2 always knows it's RA/Dec mechanical orientation you can only "unpark from last park position". :-)

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Mikko Viljamaa
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 5:36 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Well it seems that "park from the last position" was the cure and yesterday evening the Mount slewed were it was
supposed to and plate solved the first image in seconds as before this whole episode started. I would still like to
understand what has changed and why suddenly unpark from #3 is not working anymore. Does the success of
unparking from the last position tell us anything? Meanwhile when smarter people than I are pondering this, I
want to thank everyone who participated to this conversation and proposed different things to try or consider.


Thanks,

Mikko


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Jack Huerkamp
 

Christopher, 

I just checked Ebay and there were several Linak lifting columns and accessories available.  The key is getting a system with hand controller, control box, cables and lifting column.  Also with dual column systems, they have to be synchronized so they work together,  You can do that by running the columns to their lowest position, releasing the down button, and then holding down the down button for a few seconds.  The columns will move downward slightly (about 1/16") and return.  This is how I was told to synchronize them so that they work together.  When the person I sold my original 1000 Newton system to received them, he noted that when fully extended one column was slightly taller than the other.  After running the above sequence twice, the columns had reset and worked perfectly as a pair.

Yours truly,

Jack Huerkamp 


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Jack Huerkamp
 

Don,

I do not know if Linak sells direct to the general public.  Here is a link to their website:

https://www.linak-us.com/products/lifting-columns/

The DL2 is the column that I have been using.

If you have access to a machine shop that can fabricate top and bottom plates for the columns, the completed lifting column setup can be cheaper than a system from Pier-tech.  But if you do not have the resources to fabricate the needed plates, then it is probably best to pay more and get a system from Pier-tech.  My next door neighbor runs a small machine shop and another friend is a welder, so I had access to the resources I neede to make a system once I purchased the lifting columns, control box, hand controller and cables.

Jack Huerkamp


Re: USNO A2.0 Catalog Source?

Frank Widmann
 

I tried to download from the website, but I think they are shut down. You can do it from the DC-3 Dreams web site. It is not as bad as they make it out to be.

Frank


Re: Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Mikko Viljamaa
 

Well it seems that "park from the last position" was the cure and yesterday evening the Mount slewed were it was supposed to and plate solved the first image in seconds as before this whole episode started. I would still like to understand what has changed and why suddenly unpark from #3 is not working anymore. Does the success of unparking from the last position tell us anything? Meanwhile when smarter people than I are pondering this, I want to thank everyone who participated to this conversation and proposed different things to try or consider.


Thanks,

Mikko


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Don Anderson
 

Thanks for the tip Chris
Keep safe from Covid2

Don Anderson


On Saturday, March 21, 2020, 08:33:37 p.m. MDT, Christopher Erickson <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:


I have seen a fair number of Linak re-sellers on eBay.


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

On Sat, Mar 21, 2020, 2:52 PM Don Anderson via Groups.Io <jockey_ca=yahoo.ca@groups.io> wrote:
Thank Jack
I have been thinking about these as a pier option for a couple of years now. I know that they are sold by Pier-tech. I was thinking they would be cheaper direct from Linak. Will Linak sell direct?
Don 


On Mar 21, 2020, at 7:11 AM, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@...> wrote:

Don,

Those are Linak DL270CA00500655 lifting columns.  I purchased two of them along with the control box, power cord, handset and motor cables directly from Linak back in September of 2019.  When I purchased my original 1000 Newton column system, I was the Chief of Engineering for a public utility in New Orleans and we had a complete machine shop, welding shop and electrical fabrication shop and utilized these skilled trades to keep our 100 plus year old drainage and puming systems operational.  Because of my connection to a manufacturing company, Linak agreed to sell the original system to me.  And when I desired to upgrade the system to one with more thrust, Linak agreed to do so under my existing account.

Linak makes these columns with three different thrust levels - 1000 Newton (225#), 1500 Newton (337.5#) and 2500 Newton (562.5#).  If I had known how much load I would ultimately place on the lifting columns, I would have purchased the 2500 Newton units.  The difference in cost was minimal.

Yours truly,

Jack Huerkamp


Re: Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Ray Gralak
 

The LST / RA difference is off about 2 minutes, is this an issue?
Park 3 is on purpose not exactly at the celestial pole, but close. So, that's okay.

Did a slew and sure thing, the mount returned to park 3 nicely. I then did the same exercise a dozen times and the
worst Dec miss was maybe a quarter of an inch - which I have seen before and I'm not worried about.
It seems like unparking from last parked position has solved the problem, correct? It's always safer to unpark from the last parked position than to unpark from one of the park positions.

-Ray Gralak
Author of APCC (Astro-Physics Command Center): https://www.astro-physics.com/apcc-pro
Author of PEMPro V3: https://www.ccdware.com
Author of Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM Driver: https://www.siriusimaging.com/apdriver


-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Mikko Viljamaa
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2020 7:56 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Mach1 Unable to Find Home Position Suddenly

Thanks Ray & Rolando,

So as long as I have had the Mount, about two years now I have never used park from the last position - this
without any issue. I did go out and tried both; unpark from 3 and park back to 3 results the Dec axes to miss its
mark about an inch. I then manually swung the Dec to match the mark and chose to unpark from the last position.
Did a slew and sure thing, the mount returned to park 3 nicely. I then did the same exercise a dozen times and the
worst Dec miss was maybe a quarter of an inch - which I have seen before and I'm not worried about. I might have
a narrow window tonight to see how things go in real life and if the mount points where expected and Platesolve
finds the target immediately,

The LST / RA difference is off about 2 minutes, is this an issue?




- Mikko


Re: How to Raise AP1600 Height

Christopher Erickson
 

I have seen a fair number of Linak re-sellers on eBay.


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

On Sat, Mar 21, 2020, 2:52 PM Don Anderson via Groups.Io <jockey_ca=yahoo.ca@groups.io> wrote:
Thank Jack
I have been thinking about these as a pier option for a couple of years now. I know that they are sold by Pier-tech. I was thinking they would be cheaper direct from Linak. Will Linak sell direct?
Don 


On Mar 21, 2020, at 7:11 AM, Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@...> wrote:

Don,

Those are Linak DL270CA00500655 lifting columns.  I purchased two of them along with the control box, power cord, handset and motor cables directly from Linak back in September of 2019.  When I purchased my original 1000 Newton column system, I was the Chief of Engineering for a public utility in New Orleans and we had a complete machine shop, welding shop and electrical fabrication shop and utilized these skilled trades to keep our 100 plus year old drainage and puming systems operational.  Because of my connection to a manufacturing company, Linak agreed to sell the original system to me.  And when I desired to upgrade the system to one with more thrust, Linak agreed to do so under my existing account.

Linak makes these columns with three different thrust levels - 1000 Newton (225#), 1500 Newton (337.5#) and 2500 Newton (562.5#).  If I had known how much load I would ultimately place on the lifting columns, I would have purchased the 2500 Newton units.  The difference in cost was minimal.

Yours truly,

Jack Huerkamp

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