mechanical home capability


Walt Cooney <waltc@...>
 

Hi folks,

I have been a long time admirer of the AP goto mounts but do not have one (yet).
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to a known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.

Is there any workaround for the AP-1200? My name may be coming up on the
notification list someday and that is one of the questions I have before I make
that final decision and send a check.

Thanks for the help,
Walt Cooney


mcmillanjr4221
 

Hi Walt,

I saw this post a few days ago, but hesitated to reply. But, since
no one else has replied yet, I thought I'd offer my experiences.

My AP1200GTO (and LX200 10" OTA) is in the back yard, permanently
mounted on a pier and covered with a tarp when not in use. I have
been using ACP for about 2.5 years now, running remotely and fully
unattended after uncoving the scope, connecting, and powering up all
the components. Startup pointing accuracy is always within a couple
of arcminutes.

I can say that during this time, I've only had 3 instances where the
mount "got lost," requiring me to manually reset the pointing:

1) I changed power sources and the new one proved inadequate. My
screw-up was bad enough to require reloading both the programming and
object data into the keypad.
2) and 3) Power outages. In both cases, the power died, then
restarted within 1 second. Although there was no damage to any
equipment, the mount was confused with respect to where it was
pointing.

So, some conclusions:

1) Probably the most important message in my experience is that if
you plan on running geographically remotely, having a UPS is a
requirement.

2) Startup pointing will be quite accurate from session to session as
long as you are careful to "double-park" (see Roland's messages
regarding this) and manage the startup data carefully (particularly
the time).

3) Since I have access to the mount if pointing happens to get
screwed up, I haven't had to deal with having no "home" position.
However, I think Park position #1 basically gives you what you need.
The few times I have had problems, I just manually put the mount
in "approximately" Park position #1 and restarted the mount from that
position. From there, pointing is close enough to get a PinPoint
plate solve and all is back to normal.

If I were operating geographically remotely, I think I'd consider
using a web cam before installing some kind of position sensors.
This would allow eyeballing Park position #1 if pointing somehow or
another got screwed up.

I can't say enough good things about how well behaved my AP1200GTO is
with respect to unattended operations. Starting pointing is
excellent, guiding/tracking is great no matter where it's pointing,
the predicatibility of the GEM flip is absolutely rock solid, and
commands never get dropped (not so with some other mounts). Based on
my experience with my AP1200GTO, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for
geographically remote operations.

FWIW.

Jim McMillan


--- In ap-gto@..., "Walt Cooney" <waltc@c...> wrote:

Hi folks,

I have been a long time admirer of the AP goto mounts but do not
have one (yet).
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to a
known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.

Is there any workaround for the AP-1200? My name may be coming up
on the
notification list someday and that is one of the questions I have
before I make
that final decision and send a check.

Thanks for the help,
Walt Cooney


Walt Cooney <waltc@...>
 

Thanks for the reply Jim. I have learned that there is (practically) no such
thing as a truly remote completely robotic telescope. Human intervention is
still required at times. Even HST needs occasional servicing missions. Still,
shall we start speculating as to when mechanical home switches will be added to
the AP-1200 line?

Clearest skies,
Walt Cooney

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...]On Behalf Of
mcmillanjr4221
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 12:54 PM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: mechanical home capability


Hi Walt,

I saw this post a few days ago, but hesitated to reply. But, since
no one else has replied yet, I thought I'd offer my experiences.

My AP1200GTO (and LX200 10" OTA) is in the back yard, permanently
mounted on a pier and covered with a tarp when not in use. I have
been using ACP for about 2.5 years now, running remotely and fully
unattended after uncoving the scope, connecting, and powering up all
the components. Startup pointing accuracy is always within a couple
of arcminutes.

I can say that during this time, I've only had 3 instances where the
mount "got lost," requiring me to manually reset the pointing:

1) I changed power sources and the new one proved inadequate. My
screw-up was bad enough to require reloading both the programming and
object data into the keypad.
2) and 3) Power outages. In both cases, the power died, then
restarted within 1 second. Although there was no damage to any
equipment, the mount was confused with respect to where it was
pointing.

So, some conclusions:

1) Probably the most important message in my experience is that if
you plan on running geographically remotely, having a UPS is a
requirement.

2) Startup pointing will be quite accurate from session to session as
long as you are careful to "double-park" (see Roland's messages
regarding this) and manage the startup data carefully (particularly
the time).

3) Since I have access to the mount if pointing happens to get
screwed up, I haven't had to deal with having no "home" position.
However, I think Park position #1 basically gives you what you need.
The few times I have had problems, I just manually put the mount
in "approximately" Park position #1 and restarted the mount from that
position. From there, pointing is close enough to get a PinPoint
plate solve and all is back to normal.

If I were operating geographically remotely, I think I'd consider
using a web cam before installing some kind of position sensors.
This would allow eyeballing Park position #1 if pointing somehow or
another got screwed up.

I can't say enough good things about how well behaved my AP1200GTO is
with respect to unattended operations. Starting pointing is
excellent, guiding/tracking is great no matter where it's pointing,
the predicatibility of the GEM flip is absolutely rock solid, and
commands never get dropped (not so with some other mounts). Based on
my experience with my AP1200GTO, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for
geographically remote operations.

FWIW.

Jim McMillan


--- In ap-gto@..., "Walt Cooney" <waltc@c...> wrote:

Hi folks,

I have been a long time admirer of the AP goto mounts but do not
have one (yet).
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to a
known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.

Is there any workaround for the AP-1200? My name may be coming up
on the
notification list someday and that is one of the questions I have
before I make
that final decision and send a check.

Thanks for the help,
Walt Cooney






To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gto
Yahoo! Groups Links


Steve... <s-walters@...>
 

Hi Walt (& Jim),

I've also been contemplating this capability and I think Jim has
given you two good recommendations - UPS and a webcam so you can see
what's happening.

Beyond this, I've considered adding some mercury switches to the dec
and polar axis that are oriented so that they operate when the mount
reaches a particular orientation in one of the "Park" positions. I"d
use Park 1 for this myself but it could be done to any of the other
positions.

Two switches would be pretty simple to add and interface (two bits)
to an existing port on a computer and would give a reasonably
accurate homing capability. You'd just slew the mount until the
closure occured. A script could be written to automate it.

It would be even nicer if this were built into the AP1200. But I'd
still want that webcam so I could tell what was going on. I think
even the Paramount owners do this. Homing without any clue what is
going on would be quite dangerous for the equipment.

My $0.02....

Steve...

www.StarryNights.us


observe_m13
 

UPS sounds like a really good idea. Make it a heavy duty one though.
A webcam is a great idea. Mechano - electrical switches would be great
if built in and accessible from software but one does not really have
to add them if you already have the webcam. Set up teh webcam to be
able to 'see' two easily visible indexing marks, one on the RA and one
on the DEC as well as the complete scope. Watch on the webcam and
'manually' slew the mount. Once the index marks are aligned, reset the
mount. Since it is now in a 'close to' known position, slew to a piece
of sky, take an image and plate solve to fine tune. This is of course
off the cuff since I haven't done it, but over the next several months
I hope to set up something like this. If someone has done something
similar and has had significant problems or has found something
easier, please jump in.

Rick.

--- In ap-gto@..., "Steve..." <s-walters@c...> wrote:

Hi Walt (& Jim),

I've also been contemplating this capability and I think Jim has
given you two good recommendations - UPS and a webcam so you can see
what's happening.

Beyond this, I've considered adding some mercury switches to the dec
and polar axis that are oriented so that they operate when the mount
reaches a particular orientation in one of the "Park" positions. I"d
use Park 1 for this myself but it could be done to any of the other
positions.

Two switches would be pretty simple to add and interface (two bits)
to an existing port on a computer and would give a reasonably
accurate homing capability. You'd just slew the mount until the
closure occured. A script could be written to automate it.

It would be even nicer if this were built into the AP1200. But I'd
still want that webcam so I could tell what was going on. I think
even the Paramount owners do this. Homing without any clue what is
going on would be quite dangerous for the equipment.

My $0.02....

Steve...

www.StarryNights.us


Bob Denny
 

Walt Cooney:
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to a known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.
It's a 2-edged sword. AFAIK (customer inputs to me) you MUST home a
Paramount whenever you cold-start it. On the other hand, you can
simply turn off the power to the AP with it pointing anywhere. As long
as the software (ASCOM driver, PulseGuide) does the "right" thing, it
will power up in place and know where it is. This is a major advantage.

That's not a substitute for a home sensing system as needed if the
mount "gets lost". But given the experiences of my customers who have
APs, the mount very rarely GETS lost (well as long as it's left alone
and manipulated via the HBX or computer).

-- Bob


rdcrisp <rdcrisp@...>
 

--- In ap-gto@..., "Bob Denny" <rdenny@...> wrote:

Walt Cooney:
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to
a known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.
It's a 2-edged sword. AFAIK (customer inputs to me) you MUST home a
Paramount whenever you cold-start it. On the other hand, you can
simply turn off the power to the AP with it pointing anywhere. As
long
as the software (ASCOM driver, PulseGuide) does the "right" thing,
it
will power up in place and know where it is. This is a major
advantage.

That's not a substitute for a home sensing system as needed if the
mount "gets lost". But given the experiences of my customers who
have
APs, the mount very rarely GETS lost (well as long as it's left
alone
and manipulated via the HBX or computer).

-- Bob

Perhaps someone can confirm something I was told about the Paramount:
that if you want to control it remotely you are required under some
license terms of Bisque to use only their software to do so.

It didn't make any sense to me to have such a policy as a user, but I
can see why a vendor would try to get away with something like that
if they can. I just don't know if it is true or not.

I have two AP1200GTOs that are serving me very well so I am not
especially interested in a Paramount, but would like to know what
part of that rumor, if any, is true.


Frank S Barnes III
 

Absolutely not true.......



On Thu, 02 Mar 2006 13:30:10 +0000, ap-gto@... wrote:

________________________________________________________________________

Message: 14
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2006 03:47:05 -0000
From: "rdcrisp" <rdcrisp@...>
Subject: Re: mechanical home capability

--- In ap-gto@..., "Bob Denny" <rdenny@...> wrote:

Walt Cooney:
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to
a known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.
It's a 2-edged sword. AFAIK (customer inputs to me) you MUST home a
Paramount whenever you cold-start it. On the other hand, you can
simply turn off the power to the AP with it pointing anywhere. As
long
as the software (ASCOM driver, PulseGuide) does the "right" thing,
it
will power up in place and know where it is. This is a major
advantage.

That's not a substitute for a home sensing system as needed if the
mount "gets lost". But given the experiences of my customers who
have
APs, the mount very rarely GETS lost (well as long as it's left
alone
and manipulated via the HBX or computer).

-- Bob

Perhaps someone can confirm something I was told about the Paramount:
that if you want to control it remotely you are required under some
license terms of Bisque to use only their software to do so.

It didn't make any sense to me to have such a policy as a user, but I
can see why a vendor would try to get away with something like that
if they can. I just don't know if it is true or not.

I have two AP1200GTOs that are serving me very well so I am not
especially interested in a Paramount, but would like to know what
part of that rumor, if any, is true.
Clear Skies ..........

Klaatu Barada Nikto ....

Frank S(Sandy) Barnes III
SBarnes@...
http://www.SkyImager.Com


Bob Denny
 

Richard Crisp wrote:
Perhaps someone can confirm something I was told about the Paramount:
that if you want to control it remotely you are required under some
license terms of Bisque to use only their software to do so.
Since this is a legal question, Software Bisque would be the best
source of the answer. I suggest you ask them.

-- Bob


rdcrisp <rdcrisp@...>
 

--- In ap-gto@..., "Bob Denny" <rdenny@...> wrote:

Richard Crisp wrote:
Perhaps someone can confirm something I was told about the
Paramount:
that if you want to control it remotely you are required under some
license terms of Bisque to use only their software to do so.
Since this is a legal question, Software Bisque would be the best
source of the answer. I suggest you ask them.
Thanks for the answer, Bob. I was hoping you would make a comment about
this.

reading between the lines it smells like there's perhaps something more
to the story than you care to discuss openly. I can appreciate that.

I've been in contact with two folks, one directly and one indirectly,
that should be well plugged into what is going on and the story has
been pretty consistent with what I had asked, except for the first
answer I got in this group which was at odds with what I was previously
told.

I like my AP mounts just fine and see no reason to use anything else
with the size telescopes I am using today and there is NOT even a hint
of such an issue with the AP mounts. They even document the command set
and seem to *encourage* third party developers to write code to control
them, unlike some of the other guys that apparently want to keep it all
under their exclusive control for whatever reason.


tachyon_john <johns@...>
 

I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that one of the specific
reasons I chose to buy my AP1200 despite encouragement from various
people to get a Paramount, was precisely because AP publishes their
RS232 mount control protocol openly. As a result, I can control my AP
mount from multiple operating systems with a diversity of programs,
and in particular with my own software. I hope that AP will always
provide this type of technical information about their products, and
that they continue follow the "open system" philosophy. The Bisques
also have a fine product, but I personally feel that this sort of
thing should be made available openly as AP and others do, no NDA
required. I'll continue to buy products from vendors that don't lock
me in to a narrow range of software choices, and especially those that
like AP, SBIG, Yankee Robotics, and others, provide the necessary
documentation to write your own software if you like...

John

--- In ap-gto@..., "rdcrisp" <rdcrisp@...> wrote:

--- In ap-gto@..., "Bob Denny" <rdenny@> wrote:

Richard Crisp wrote:
Perhaps someone can confirm something I was told about the
Paramount:
that if you want to control it remotely you are required under some
license terms of Bisque to use only their software to do so.
Since this is a legal question, Software Bisque would be the best
source of the answer. I suggest you ask them.
Thanks for the answer, Bob. I was hoping you would make a comment about
this.

reading between the lines it smells like there's perhaps something more
to the story than you care to discuss openly. I can appreciate that.

I've been in contact with two folks, one directly and one indirectly,
that should be well plugged into what is going on and the story has
been pretty consistent with what I had asked, except for the first
answer I got in this group which was at odds with what I was previously
told.

I like my AP mounts just fine and see no reason to use anything else
with the size telescopes I am using today and there is NOT even a hint
of such an issue with the AP mounts. They even document the command set
and seem to *encourage* third party developers to write code to control
them, unlike some of the other guys that apparently want to keep it all
under their exclusive control for whatever reason.


Dr. David Toth
 

At 09:18 PM 3/1/2006, Bob Denny wrote:
Walt Cooney:
One advantage the Paramount has over the AP-1200 for true robotic
operation is
the mechanical home switches that allow the system to be sent to a known
position even after it gets lost for whatever reason.
It's a 2-edged sword. AFAIK (customer inputs to me) you MUST home a
Paramount whenever you cold-start it. On the other hand, you can
simply turn off the power to the AP with it pointing anywhere. As long
as the software (ASCOM driver, PulseGuide) does the "right" thing, it
will power up in place and know where it is. This is a major advantage.

That's not a substitute for a home sensing system as needed if the
mount "gets lost". But given the experiences of my customers who have
APs, the mount very rarely GETS lost (well as long as it's left alone
and manipulated via the HBX or computer).
Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS - if you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it would be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
The advantage of the ME is that it can home to recover from the power loss. Fortunately, a power loss is rare, but I've had it happen in Chile ... an ugly thing to have happen at a remote site unless you have a work-around.

Dave


Dr. David Toth
 

At 10:48 PM 3/2/2006, rdcrisp wrote:


Thanks for the answer, Bob. I was hoping you would make a comment about
this.

reading between the lines it smells like there's perhaps something more
to the story than you care to discuss openly. I can appreciate that.

I've been in contact with two folks, one directly and one indirectly,
that should be well plugged into what is going on and the story has
been pretty consistent with what I had asked, except for the first
answer I got in this group which was at odds with what I was previously
told.
For your personal use, you can use whatever you want to control a telescope. For example, you could connect with pcAnywhere remotely.
To run a paramount, you need to run TheSky6 by default.

Where the rub lies is if you want to permit others to use your scope for monetary gain - in that case, I believe that you need to contact them re their policy as Bob suggests.

But the simple answer re your use of your telescope is that I believe that you can use what you want to control things.


Dave


Joseph Dunning <josephdunning@...>
 

How would the AP mount lose position if the power went out? That
wouldn't be any different than turning it off.

Joseph Dunning

http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-josephdunningastronomy



.


Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS - if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
The advantage of the ME is that it can home to recover from the power
loss. Fortunately, a power loss is rare, but I've had it happen in
Chile ... an ugly thing to have happen at a remote site unless you
have a work-around.

Dave


Ray Gralak <rgr@...>
 

Hi Dave,

Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS - if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it
would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
Not sure if you are talking about a Paramount or AP here but if it is
an AP then a power loss will not cause the mount to lose position. The
AP senses that there is an imminent power failure and saves the
current position before the residual current held in capacitors
dissipates.

When power comes back the mount knows where it is and just needs to be
kickstarted with some information (time, date, etc.). The kick
starting does not need to happen immediately.

-Ray


mcmillanjr4221
 

Hi Joe,

If it's a normal power outage, there's no problem. But, if the
outage is more like a flicker or surge, the mount can get confused.
It's happened to me a couple of times.

Jim McMillan


--- In ap-gto@..., "Joseph Dunning" <josephdunning@...>
wrote:

How would the AP mount lose position if the power went out? That
wouldn't be any different than turning it off.

Joseph Dunning

http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-josephdunningastronomy



.

Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS -
if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it
would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
The advantage of the ME is that it can home to recover from the
power
loss. Fortunately, a power loss is rare, but I've had it happen
in
Chile ... an ugly thing to have happen at a remote site unless
you
have a work-around.

Dave


Ajai Sehgal
 

As a matter of fact to PARK and AP GTO mount all you need to do is pull the
power. It is now parked. When you start it up again you are good to go.

Ajai

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...] On Behalf Of
Ray Gralak
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 8:25 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] Re: mechanical home capability

Hi Dave,

Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS - if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it
would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
Not sure if you are talking about a Paramount or AP here but if it is
an AP then a power loss will not cause the mount to lose position. The
AP senses that there is an imminent power failure and saves the
current position before the residual current held in capacitors
dissipates.

When power comes back the mount knows where it is and just needs to be
kickstarted with some information (time, date, etc.). The kick
starting does not need to happen immediately.

-Ray



To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gto
Yahoo! Groups Links


Dr. David Toth
 

At 11:25 AM 3/4/2006, Ray Gralak wrote:
Hi Dave,

Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS - if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it
would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
Not sure if you are talking about a Paramount or AP here but if it is
an AP then a power loss will not cause the mount to lose position. The
AP senses that there is an imminent power failure and saves the
current position before the residual current held in capacitors
dissipates.

When power comes back the mount knows where it is and just needs to be
kickstarted with some information (time, date, etc.). The kick
starting does not need to happen immediately.
I stand corrected ... I thought others had said (in the past) that if you powered off in a position that was not previously set (like park) that there could be ambiguity.

Thanks,
Dave


Walt Cooney <waltc@...>
 

Are digital setting circles of any help to a lost mount or do they just come
back confused as well since they are just differential measurers?

Thanks,
Walt Cooney

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...]On Behalf Of
mcmillanjr4221
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 10:26 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: mechanical home capability


Hi Joe,

If it's a normal power outage, there's no problem. But, if the
outage is more like a flicker or surge, the mount can get confused.
It's happened to me a couple of times.

Jim McMillan


--- In ap-gto@..., "Joseph Dunning" <josephdunning@...>
wrote:

How would the AP mount lose position if the power went out? That
wouldn't be any different than turning it off.

Joseph Dunning

http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-josephdunningastronomy



.

Bob: I'd add that it'd be a good idea to run the mount on a UPS -
if
you LOSE power, and don't have a way to home the mount, then it
would
be lost. The UPS might obviate that.
The advantage of the ME is that it can home to recover from the
power
loss. Fortunately, a power loss is rare, but I've had it happen
in
Chile ... an ugly thing to have happen at a remote site unless
you
have a work-around.

Dave






To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gto
Yahoo! Groups Links


rdcrisp <rdcrisp@...>
 

--- In ap-gto@..., "David B. Toth" <ve3gyq@...> wrote:

At 10:48 PM 3/2/2006, rdcrisp wrote:


Thanks for the answer, Bob. I was hoping you would make a comment
about
this.

reading between the lines it smells like there's perhaps something
more
to the story than you care to discuss openly. I can appreciate
that.

I've been in contact with two folks, one directly and one
indirectly,
that should be well plugged into what is going on and the story has
been pretty consistent with what I had asked, except for the first
answer I got in this group which was at odds with what I was
previously
told.
For your personal use, you can use whatever you want to control a
telescope. For example, you could connect with pcAnywhere remotely.
To run a paramount, you need to run TheSky6 by default.

Where the rub lies is if you want to permit others to use your
scope
for monetary gain - in that case, I believe that you need to
contact
them re their policy as Bob suggests.

either that or just say NO and buy Astro-Physics.

That's what I have done.

Silly me, I'd have thought that if I bought something that I could
jolly well do what I wanted with it, including using it to make money
if that was what I wanted to do. Apparently not so when dealing with
certain Colorado based companies run by the Chowder brothers.