Connecting ASIAIR Pro to a CP4 - Mach1


Lee Decovnick
 

Hi all,

This is my first post, though I’ve been a long time Mach 1 (CP3) owner and I just bought a second used Mach 1 (CP4) for my wife. We shoot astrophotography two weeks a year on the Modoc Plateau, 50 miles east of Mt. Shasta.

The ASI Air Pro mount interfaces is pretty basic, which is fine as she moves up from shooting the Milky Way with a DSLR into using the ASI CMOS cameras.
So far I have had tried Ethernet and USB and Wi-Fi to talk to the ASI Air Pro, nothing. I can see the GTO WiFi network ,but no handshake with the ASI. But I loaded the FIDI driver and at 9600 baud, the RS232 serial port does connect, but drops out often.

I’m running the ASIAIR Pro App on a Windows 10 machine ( larger screen) - rather than an iPad - using Blue Stacks emulation..a pretty nifty set up. I do not have APCC loaded on my Window machine, do I need to do so?

Am I aiming for a bridge too far? I’m accustomed to simply shooting astrophotography just using my hand controller for the GOTO’s and I have no tracking problems with 2-3 minutes subs without PremPro. I polar align in the field with a RAPAS. Easy-peasy.

Suggestions and comments welcome.

Lee
Walnut Creek,Ca


Kevin Cook
 

Hi Lee - I was always "old school" with my Mach 1 (CP3), using the RAPAS to polar align, the hand controller to find targets, and then a variety of software programs to manage the image capture.  Some of us are slow to catch on to new technology, but the ASIAIR Pro is getting me there.  I am successful getting it to talk to the mount, control slews to targets, do the plate solving, etc.  For me, since my mount does not have integral wi-fi, I simply do a wired connection from the mount's RS232 port into one of the ASIAIR's USB's ports.  That has been a reliable connection method for me.  I then have the ASIAIR communicating wirelessly to my Samsung 10-inch Android tablet.  My only real remaining frustration with this setup is with the guiding - the simplified version of PhD on the ASIAIR does not have many means of fine-tuning your guiding, and I am pretty sure I did better using the real PhD2 with a laptop.  But with moderate focal lengths (AP130 f/6 and shorter), the ASIAIR guiding has been good enough.    Kevin (Tucson AZ)


Kenneth Tan
 

Best to use  the usb 2 cable from the gtocp4 to the usb port of the asi air pro. The wifi of the ASI air pro (Rasberrypi4) is weak and directional. They do sell a wifi repeater that works well. 
If you are using the serial to USB converter, this can be rather fussy. Has to be a FTDI chip. 
I use an iPad and it works fine.

Kenneth

On Wed, 5 May 2021 at 22:29, Lee Decovnick <ursa@...> wrote:
Hi all,

This is my first post, though I’ve been a long time Mach 1 (CP3) owner and I just bought a second used Mach 1 (CP4) for my wife. We shoot astrophotography two weeks a year on the Modoc Plateau, 50 miles east of Mt. Shasta.

The ASI Air Pro mount interfaces is pretty basic, which is fine as she moves up from shooting the Milky Way with a DSLR into using the ASI CMOS cameras.
So far I have had tried Ethernet and USB and Wi-Fi to talk to the ASI Air Pro, nothing.  I can see the GTO WiFi network ,but no handshake with the ASI.  But I loaded the FIDI driver and at 9600 baud, the RS232 serial port does connect, but drops out often.

I’m running the ASIAIR Pro App on a Windows 10 machine ( larger screen) - rather than an iPad - using Blue Stacks emulation..a pretty nifty set up. I do not have APCC loaded on my Window machine, do I need to do so?

Am I aiming for a bridge too far? I’m accustomed to simply shooting  astrophotography just using my hand controller for the GOTO’s and I have no tracking problems with 2-3 minutes subs without PremPro. I polar align in the field with a RAPAS. Easy-peasy.

Suggestions and comments welcome.

Lee
Walnut Creek,Ca





Kenneth Tan
 

You can testflight the latest asi air pro firmware with phd multi star guiding. Just installed mine. Yet to try it though 🤣

Kenneth

On Thu, 6 May 2021 at 02:03, Kevin Cook <kvc3509@...> wrote:
Hi Lee - I was always "old school" with my Mach 1 (CP3), using the RAPAS to polar align, the hand controller to find targets, and then a variety of software programs to manage the image capture.  Some of us are slow to catch on to new technology, but the ASIAIR Pro is getting me there.  I am successful getting it to talk to the mount, control slews to targets, do the plate solving, etc.  For me, since my mount does not have integral wi-fi, I simply do a wired connection from the mount's RS232 port into one of the ASIAIR's USB's ports.  That has been a reliable connection method for me.  I then have the ASIAIR communicating wirelessly to my Samsung 10-inch Android tablet.  My only real remaining frustration with this setup is with the guiding - the simplified version of PhD on the ASIAIR does not have many means of fine-tuning your guiding, and I am pretty sure I did better using the real PhD2 with a laptop.  But with moderate focal lengths (AP130 f/6 and shorter), the ASIAIR guiding has been good enough.    Kevin (Tucson AZ)


Arvind
 

I have successfully used the CP4 with ASIAIR Pro a few nights in the past, and have gone through polar alignment, GoTo, guiding, etc without any issues.

Use the USB port from ASIAIR Pro <-> CP4.

I don't know if the laptop/iPad makes any difference since the software is eventually running on the raspberry pi. The client software is purely for display.


On Wed, May 5, 2021 at 7:29 AM Lee Decovnick <ursa@...> wrote:
Hi all,

This is my first post, though I’ve been a long time Mach 1 (CP3) owner and I just bought a second used Mach 1 (CP4) for my wife. We shoot astrophotography two weeks a year on the Modoc Plateau, 50 miles east of Mt. Shasta.

The ASI Air Pro mount interfaces is pretty basic, which is fine as she moves up from shooting the Milky Way with a DSLR into using the ASI CMOS cameras.
So far I have had tried Ethernet and USB and Wi-Fi to talk to the ASI Air Pro, nothing.  I can see the GTO WiFi network ,but no handshake with the ASI.  But I loaded the FIDI driver and at 9600 baud, the RS232 serial port does connect, but drops out often.

I’m running the ASIAIR Pro App on a Windows 10 machine ( larger screen) - rather than an iPad - using Blue Stacks emulation..a pretty nifty set up. I do not have APCC loaded on my Window machine, do I need to do so?

Am I aiming for a bridge too far? I’m accustomed to simply shooting  astrophotography just using my hand controller for the GOTO’s and I have no tracking problems with 2-3 minutes subs without PremPro. I polar align in the field with a RAPAS. Easy-peasy.

Suggestions and comments welcome.

Lee
Walnut Creek,Ca





Lee Decovnick
 

Ok, thanks .I'll work on the USB to ASI AIR Pro connection. I'll check to  see If I have  an honest to goodness FIDI chip cable. I have an iPad, which I could use in place of the Windows emulation.


Lee Decovnick
 

Could you expalin the sequence of setting that up with the ASI.  PhD2 is an old friend.


Kenneth Tan
 

I use the default settings for the embedded phD in the asi air pro for guiding. There are fewer settings but it usually works Without tinkering.

On Fri, 7 May 2021 at 00:53, Lee Decovnick <ursa@...> wrote:
Could you expalin the sequence of setting that up with the ASI.  PhD2 is an old friend.


Lee Decovnick
 

Hi all,

Real progress and some more questions using the ASI AIR PRO. First the good news,  I used a FIDI USB cable and it connected the USB port to the ASI Air Pro first time. Now I can also use my iPad and my Win 10 Blue Stack emulation at the same and the speed is pretty decent. I used the ASI AIR Pro app to plate solve the Polar Alignment on the Mach 1  ... a nice peice of software. Dec took one minute to get to 02",  but when I tightened the RA lever there was significant shift.  got it on the sixth attempt.  

These CMOS cameras are really nice, except I ended up adding 2 inches to my focuser tube to come to focus, I guess I could also use a diagonal perhaps less flexion, suggestions welcome.. Oh, I shoot with Stellarvue 115mm f/7  scope. 800mm focal length.

The  first Mach 1 question I have for the group is:   Do folks use the hand controller to set up park and reset the R/A and Dec THEN sync to the ASIAIR Pro? 

How exactly do integrate Sky Safari with the Mach 1 and ASI AIR RPO date loop? 

Thanks again for the positive suggestions....   

Lee


Lee Decovnick
 

Just an update on the ASI AIR Pro and the  Mach 1( CP4) ..The Raspberry Pi software/plate solve in the AAP does a wonderful job of polar alignment .. After two iterations of PA ,I checked it against SharpCap and RAPAS and it was dead- on with both. More importantly I was doing three minutes subs without guiding and saw nice round stars.  The AAP (PhD 2 light) auto guider is just ...um...ok... a bit of patience/ frustration to get the aggressiveness correct and the other setting needed more than bit of tweaking.

So to answer the question I asked above about resetting  to Park...The 'trick" is after you PA, do a long GOTO to the West side of the mount, plate solve, hit sync in AAP and got to park on the AAP. You'll be a bit or a lot off.. open the clutches and manually  move the mount to the Park position of you choice  and tighten the clutches. Do a long GOTO East, plate solve,  and back to Park and open and close the clutches again to get the mark lined up perfectly. I have hit every GOTO right in the middle of the camera's field of view since then.  And even after shutting off the CP4 and AAP, the postitioning/ GOTO was perfect two nights later.

I posted my first light pic at Lee D. Photos


Kevin Cook
 

Hi Lee - You touched on two of my frustrations in using the ASIAIR PRO with my older Mach 1 mount (CP3).  I agree the guiding using the ASIAIR's PhD-lite is substandard compared to what the mount can do using the full version of PhD2.  I think the ASIAIR's PhD-Lite simply lacks the controls and the guiding assistant to optimize performance with the Mach 1 mount.  I am cautiously optimistic the soon-to-be-released multistar guiding for the ASIAIR will resolve some of our problems.

I have the same problem with the ASIAIR not recognizing the HOME position for my mount (I use Park 3).  After doing the polar alignment routine where the ASIAIR rotates the mount 60 degrees or so, it hardly ever returns to the HOME position when I tell it to do so.  I usually have to loosen the clutches, manually move the mount back to the Park 3 position, then cycle the power to the mount off and then back on.  Even that does not always work.  Sometimes I have better success doing the first GOTO to a target immediately after completing the polar alignment, without attempting to return to HOME first.  I will try your approach the next time I get the mount and scope set up.  

I have another ASIAIR-Mach 1 workaround that is related to the process you outlined about the home position.  I like to start my imaging runs with the target an hour or two east of the meridian and then track through the meridian without having to do a meridian flip.  Unfortunately, the ASIAIR software always wants to position the scope on the "correct" side of the mount (i.e., scope up, counterweights down) even when the target is very close to crossing the meridian and necessitating a meridian flip.  So here is my workaround:
  • Let's assume the target is M51, high in the evening sky this time of year but east of the meridian.  The initial ASIAIR GOTO (refined with plate solving) will place the scope on the west side of the mount, looking east toward the target.
  • Next select that target (say M51) on the AP hand controller.  Do not press GOTO on the hand controller, but instead use the right arrow key (labelled NEXT on the hand controller) to SYNC to that target.  At this point, the mount has not moved from where the ASIAIR positioned it, but the mount now knows it is looking at M51.
  • Using the meridian delay function on the Mach 1, press the RA/DEC/REV key on the AP keypad and using the NEXT arrow key on the keypad, select a meridian "advance" of 2 hours east.  This will allow the Mach 1 to acquire the target up to 2 hours east of the meridian, but with the scope on the east side and lower than the counterweights.
  • Now select the target M51 again on the hand controller and this time press GOTO so the Mach 1 slews to the target with the scope in the desired position.
  • Take a short preview exposure using the ASIAIR and have it plate solve that image.  The scope should be pointing close enough to the target for an easy plate solve.  Once completed, select Go to Target and Sync Mount on the ASIAIR control panel.  Done.  Now the mount starts with the scope positioned how I want it and seamlessly tracks the target through the meridian.  
  • Obviously, a variation of this process allows one to acquire a target earlier in the eastern sky, with the scope "correctly" positioned, and then using the AP keypad to instruct a meridian delay, the mount will track through the meridian, with the scope in the "incorrect" scope down/counterweights up position for another hour or two.
Kevin Cook


On Sun, May 16, 2021 at 8:43 AM Lee Decovnick <ursa@...> wrote:
Just an update on the ASI AIR Pro and the  Mach 1( CP4) ..The Raspberry Pi software/plate solve in the AAP does a wonderful job of polar alignment .. After two iterations of PA ,I checked it against SharpCap and RAPAS and it was dead- on with both. More importantly I was doing three minutes subs without guiding and saw nice round stars.  The AAP (PhD 2 light) auto guider is just ...um...ok... a bit of patience/ frustration to get the aggressiveness correct and the other setting needed more than bit of tweaking.

So to answer the question I asked above about resetting  to Park...The 'trick" is after you PA, do a long GOTO to the West side of the mount, plate solve, hit sync in AAP and got to park on the AAP. You'll be a bit or a lot off.. open the clutches and manually  move the mount to the Park position of you choice  and tighten the clutches. Do a long GOTO East, plate solve,  and back to Park and open and close the clutches again to get the mark lined up perfectly. I have hit every GOTO right in the middle of the camera's field of view since then.  And even after shutting off the CP4 and AAP, the postitioning/ GOTO was perfect two nights later.

I posted my first light pic at Lee D. Photos


Lee Decovnick
 

Hi Kevin.... Excellent post and I'll also try your work around tonight on my CP3 Mach1.

I'm honestly surprised at the number of old school folks who are trying AAP and CMOS cameras for their AP imaging mounts. I've gotten numerous questions on other astro forums.
The size of the CMOS cameras are a definite sea change to the astrophotographer toolkit.

My next step is to decide if I'm going to move up from the CP3 to CP4 for my second mount..If there is a CP4 selling for around $700-800 I will. 

Lee