APCC feature request - Get time from mount


Nick Iversen
 

APCC feature request - Get time from mount.

We can get latitude and longitude from the mount, time is useful too. This is for people who run PCs that are not connected to a network but are connected to a mount that has been initialised with GPS accuracy.

If the mount and the PC have different times then problems like this https://ap-gto.groups.io/g/main/topic/80392492#76045 can occur. I have verified that the problem does not occur if the times are the same.

Regards,
Nick


W Hilmo
 

This would be interesting, as would the ability to set the computer time from a GPS connected to APCC.

I think that the problem is that you need admin rights to set the computer time.

On Sep 26, 2021, at 5:48 PM, Nick Iversen <inoddy@...> wrote:

APCC feature request - Get time from mount.

We can get latitude and longitude from the mount, time is useful too. This is for people who run PCs that are not connected to a network but are connected to a mount that has been initialised with GPS accuracy.

If the mount and the PC have different times then problems like this https://ap-gto.groups.io/g/main/topic/80392492#76045 can occur. I have verified that the problem does not occur if the times are the same.

Regards,
Nick


Ray Gralak
 

Hi Nick,

APCC feature request - Get time from mount.
You can see the mount's time on APCC's Site tab. Is this what you are requesting?

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Nick Iversen
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2021 4:48 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] APCC feature request - Get time from mount

APCC feature request - Get time from mount.

We can get latitude and longitude from the mount, time is useful too. This is for people who run PCs that are
not connected to a network but are connected to a mount that has been initialised with GPS accuracy.

If the mount and the PC have different times then problems like this https://ap-
gto.groups.io/g/main/topic/80392492#76045 can occur. I have verified that the problem does not occur if the
times are the same.

Regards,
Nick


Brent Boshart
 
Edited

Nick, the AP mount (at least my Mach 2) does not get the time from a GPS.   APCC initializes the mount with the computer time. So we would need a GPS connected to the computer to set the computer time first.


Mike Dodd
 

On 9/26/2021 10:09 PM, Brent Boshart wrote:
[Edited Message Follows]

Nick, the AP mount (at least my Mach 2) does not get the time from a
GPS. APCC initializes the mount with the computer time. So we would
need a GPS connected to the computer to set the computer time first.
Or set the computer to set its clock automatically from a network time server.

Recent versions of Windows do this automatically, or you can use a third-party application like Dimension 4 <http://thinkman.com/dimension4/>.

I use Dimension 4 on my observatory PC, and I've never had a problem with my 1200 mount not point accurately.

--- Mike


Brent Boshart
 

Yes, I use a program called NetTime which works great as you specify the frequency of updating.  The original poster was referring to a circumstance where the computer is not connected to a network (internet).


Mike Dodd
 

On 9/26/2021 10:51 PM, Brent Boshart wrote:
...The original poster was referring to a
circumstance where the computer is not connected to a network (internet).
NEVER?

If the PC or laptop can be connected to a network every few days (maybe with a wi-fi dongle), the network time sync software could accurately set it then. Most PC clocks are good enough to maintain fairly accurate time over several days.

Or, as The he said, a GPS dongle would do the job. They're inexpensive.

Worst case: Set the PC clock manually by watching an analog clock on a cell phone, and clicking the PC clock button when the cell clock second hand passes 12.

--- Mike


W Hilmo
 

I think that I understand the user's scenario.

They have initialized the mount from a device with accurate time. In my case, I sometimes initialize my mount from Luminos on my phone which has accurate time.

They then connect the computer to the mount. Having spent most of my working career as a software engineer, I have pretty much zero trust in the real time clock on most computers. If they are continuously connected to the internet and syncing to a time source, then they are pretty good, and they tend to stay pretty accurate while running. When you power them down, though, they lose their time information and have to retrieve it from the real time clock when they boot. Partly because I'm a bit OCD, and partly because I do a daytime polar alignment, I want the most accurate time and location information as accurate as possible. Computer real time clocks can drift a noticeable amount over a few days.

The solution that was requested here is to have either the ASCOM driver or APCC able to get the time from the mount and update the PC's time. I would love a similar feature where APCC can use GPS time to update the computer clock. I already have APCC connected to a GPS receiver, so that it can get location information. And APCC can show me the GPS time - but it cannot update the PC clock. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I believe that this is because updating the PC clock requires administrator privilege, which is not available to APCC unless you "run as administrator", and that is strongly discouraged.

There are workaround for this to be sure. I have multiple, accurate time sources. My watch syncs nightly to a time source. I could just read the time from the watch and enter it manually, for example. What I've chosen to do is to connect a second GPS receiver to my computer. I then have a service that I installed that has sufficient privileges to periodically update the PC time.

It would be convenient for APCC to offer this feature. I could then remove the service, and one of the GPS receivers, from my imaging computer. But I understand why it may not be possible (privileges).

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Mike Dodd
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2021 8:20 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APCC feature request - Get time from mount

On 9/26/2021 10:51 PM, Brent Boshart wrote:
...The original poster was referring to a circumstance where the
computer is not connected to a network (internet).
NEVER?

If the PC or laptop can be connected to a network every few days (maybe with a wi-fi dongle), the network time sync software could accurately set it then. Most PC clocks are good enough to maintain fairly accurate time over several days.

Or, as The he said, a GPS dongle would do the job. They're inexpensive.

Worst case: Set the PC clock manually by watching an analog clock on a cell phone, and clicking the PC clock button when the cell clock second hand passes 12.

--- Mike


Dale Ghent
 

System privileges aside, time synchronization is not as simple as taking a raw NMEA sentence from a GPS or (worse) an undisciplined source, and scribbling whatever it says into the system clock without any further consideration. It's a complex topic and really is best left up to apps that are designed for that task.

Using a mount's CP, via the ASCOM driver and then APCC on top of that and all the serial, OS, and COM glue in between those components, doesn't make me feel like pretending that the mount is a disciplined time source is something that'll be accurate. For one, I don't think the CP even has a hardware RTC (there's no battery to change out in it) or, if it does, if it is temperature compensated.

That said, using the CP as a time source could be considered if a future CP version had some hardware and software additions that allow it to be a proper one instead of a hackish, ad hoc one. A "CP-next" could have:

* It would have a hardware interface (GPIO or RS232/TTL) that can interface with a GPS receiver either built-in or accessory; the antenna location is separate and largely site-specific consideration. Obviously having the antenna down on the CP itself is no good if the thing is sitting under a dome.

* A hardware RTC that is also battery-backed so that it can keep time while unpowered. This would reduce the initialization time of a connected GPS on a cold boot.

* It would run an embedded OS (already exists on the CP4/5) that can operate a time service which properly disciplines its own local clock and run a NTP/SNTP service so that any system that's connected via ethernet or wifi to use it as a stratum 1 time server.

The time service itself would know how to handle GPS initialization and syncing. I would not offer this over a PC's USB/serial connection to the CP simply because the code and mechanisms needed to address complexities of time sync over those many moving parts would need to be introduced; and these are things that the local OS's NTP client would already have built-in. The time service being NTP over the CP's ethernet/wifi would also make it available to any modern OS and system arch; something that could not be done if exposed only by the ASCOM driver or APCC.

But, after all that effort and rigamarole, one could still just have the GPS connected to their PC and a proper app such as NMEAtime2 to discipline the clock. The existing APCC/A-P ASCOM driver options can write the time to the CP during initialization. This is what I do currently and it works *just fine*. The ublox GPS dongle that I use is stuffed into a port on my telescope-mounted USB hub. So I don't really see a compelling advantage for the mount to be a time source as there still needs to be a GPS receiver somewhere in the mix; and right now the best software for GPS-based clock discipline is available for any PC and modern OS (NMEAtime2 on Windows, and any of the menu of NTP daemons/services for *NIX OSes.)

On Sep 27, 2021, at 08:37, W Hilmo <y.groups@hilmo.net> wrote:

I think that I understand the user's scenario.

They have initialized the mount from a device with accurate time. In my case, I sometimes initialize my mount from Luminos on my phone which has accurate time.

They then connect the computer to the mount. Having spent most of my working career as a software engineer, I have pretty much zero trust in the real time clock on most computers. If they are continuously connected to the internet and syncing to a time source, then they are pretty good, and they tend to stay pretty accurate while running. When you power them down, though, they lose their time information and have to retrieve it from the real time clock when they boot. Partly because I'm a bit OCD, and partly because I do a daytime polar alignment, I want the most accurate time and location information as accurate as possible. Computer real time clocks can drift a noticeable amount over a few days.

The solution that was requested here is to have either the ASCOM driver or APCC able to get the time from the mount and update the PC's time. I would love a similar feature where APCC can use GPS time to update the computer clock. I already have APCC connected to a GPS receiver, so that it can get location information. And APCC can show me the GPS time - but it cannot update the PC clock. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I believe that this is because updating the PC clock requires administrator privilege, which is not available to APCC unless you "run as administrator", and that is strongly discouraged.

There are workaround for this to be sure. I have multiple, accurate time sources. My watch syncs nightly to a time source. I could just read the time from the watch and enter it manually, for example. What I've chosen to do is to connect a second GPS receiver to my computer. I then have a service that I installed that has sufficient privileges to periodically update the PC time.

It would be convenient for APCC to offer this feature. I could then remove the service, and one of the GPS receivers, from my imaging computer. But I understand why it may not be possible (privileges).

-----Original Message-----
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Mike Dodd
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2021 8:20 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APCC feature request - Get time from mount

On 9/26/2021 10:51 PM, Brent Boshart wrote:
...The original poster was referring to a circumstance where the
computer is not connected to a network (internet).
NEVER?

If the PC or laptop can be connected to a network every few days (maybe with a wi-fi dongle), the network time sync software could accurately set it then. Most PC clocks are good enough to maintain fairly accurate time over several days.

Or, as The he said, a GPS dongle would do the job. They're inexpensive.

Worst case: Set the PC clock manually by watching an analog clock on a cell phone, and clicking the PC clock button when the cell clock second hand passes 12.

--- Mike













Nick Iversen
 

Ray

I can get the mount's time from the site tab but then I have to manually set the computer to that time - a bit of a pain to do with any accuracy (but good enough for most purposes).

The computer is not connected to the internet so nettime is not an option (although it is installed).

Regards
Nick


 

Nick another option you might consider is a GPS puck for your computer

they are USB-based and can update your date/time/location

I saw a post on another forum, one here is $18 via amazon https://www.amazon.com/Receiver-Antenna-Gmouse-Laptop-Navigation/dp/B073P3Y48Q 

I use a similar puck and software for my computer when there was a discussion here about the precision necessary to track and image ISS


Brian


David Diaz <night.skywatcher@...>
 

How about this device?

I thought it was a highly recommended product for APCC

MGBOX2

—DD


Howard Hedlund
 

The MGBOX2 has its own software app.  I am not positive of this, but I believe that this software cannot run simultaneously with a program like APCC.  However, The MGBOX2 could be used at the start of a session to calibrate the computer system clock.  Then, shut down the MGBOX2 software and start APCC.  APCC will then be getting the same time source that was used for the PC.


Worsel
 

FYI

I have an MGBOX2.  APCC Pro accesses it directly, not through the MGBOX2 app, AND automatically.  See GPS Tab, Connection section. 

Bryan


Konstantin von Poschinger
 

I forgot to mention, that you should use the MGbox V2 ASCOM Local Server!




Konstantin


Konstantin v. Poschinger

Hammerichstr. 5
22605 Hamburg
040/8805747
0171 1983476

Am 06.10.2021 um 17:35 schrieb Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion@...>:

FYI

I have an MGBOX2.  APCC Pro accesses it directly, not through the MGBOX2 app, AND automatically.  See GPS Tab, Connection section. 

Bryan


 

MGBox V2 has ascom drivers for connecting to the device, including GPS

the OP was talking about a need for getting PC time accurate, and while i love my MGBox v2, it's a lot more than a $18 GPS for the PC

On Wed, Oct 6, 2021 at 8:35 AM Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
FYI

I have an MGBOX2.  APCC Pro accesses it directly, not through the MGBOX2 app, AND automatically.  See GPS Tab, Connection section. 

Bryan



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Keith Olsen
 

I also have the MGBOX2 and APPC Pro does show the UTC time from the box.  What I don't know for sure if APPC uses that time to update the computer system clock.  It looks to me like it does because they are both timed exactly when I run APPC Pro.  But I could be wrong about this.


Worsel
 

Besides GPS coords., MGBOX also provides T, P, and RH.  APPC Pro uses this data for adjusting the APPM generated model

Bryan


Andrea Lucchetti
 

MGBOX is a cool little piece of hardware.
The only issue for me is a tendency to "steal" USB ports (COM ports).
I need to remember to add it at the end otherwise I run into issues with APCC.
Probably it is my fault in setting some of the parameters.
Andrea

Il giorno mer 6 ott 2021 alle ore 18:08 Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion=yahoo.com@groups.io> ha scritto:
Besides GPS coords., MGBOX also provides T, P, and RH.  APPC Pro uses this data for adjusting the APPM generated model

Bryan


Dale Ghent
 

Yes, COM port access is exclusive to one application at a time.

There are systems such as the free com0com and commercial Eltima (which is what APCC uses) that can sit on top of a COM port and replicate it however many times. At least in the com0com case, this works best for apps that only read from the COM port, which is what an app that can read NMEA sentences from a GPS does. So at the expense of some additional latency, a GPS' COM port can be replicated such that APCC and another app can read the NMEA sentences coming off the receiver. I've used this kind of setup with the NMEATime2 app to keep my PC's clock properly sync'd and let APCC read from the GPS at the same time.

On Oct 6, 2021, at 12:33, Andrea Lucchetti <andlucchett@gmail.com> wrote:

MGBOX is a cool little piece of hardware.
The only issue for me is a tendency to "steal" USB ports (COM ports).
I need to remember to add it at the end otherwise I run into issues with APCC.
Probably it is my fault in setting some of the parameters.
Andrea

Il giorno mer 6 ott 2021 alle ore 18:08 Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion=yahoo.com@groups.io> ha scritto:
Besides GPS coords., MGBOX also provides T, P, and RH. APPC Pro uses this data for adjusting the APPM generated model

Bryan