Enough Already


Larry Denmark <kldenmark@...>
 

In order to be fair to both companies, I am passing on the following
information (with my own comments at the end). I promised to keep the source
of the information confidential, but I should tell you that it did not come
from Software Bisque (at least not directly).
______________

Three years ago - or more now - Tom Bisque visited Astro-Physics and, at
Roland's request, told them everything that they would need to do in order
to be supported by TheSky. Any information that they needed beyond that
gained from Tom's visit could have been had for the cost and time of a phone
call and couple of emails. AP chose not to follow through (wrote their own
protocol in spite of having the necessary information to do otherwise) and
now the current situation exists.

The continuation of the this situation is due both to the policy of SB in
regard to writing support for product and a continued lack of co-operation
from AP with SB. It is currently the policy of SB not to develop support
for a product that SB does not have in house or is not able to get in house.
The problems involved in trying to write support for products which can not
be tested as the support is written is a recipe for a technical support
nightmare and ultimately having to do the same job twice. Or more. This
has been the policy of SB for Meade, DFM, Celestron and other manufacturers
who did not first come to SB to inquire as to how to proceed in order to
make their products (still in development) compatible with a *currently*
existing software package. To date SB has, through no fault of their own,
been unable to secure a mount from AP.

Given these facts, I continue to be baffled as to why Software Bisque takes
the heat for a situation that it did not create (indeed made a genuine
effort to avoid) and does not seek to continue.
___________

I have no wish to be unfair to either company. But to tell you the truth, I
can sum up my feelings this way: 1) a pox on both their houses! 2) I am the
customer! Period! Do not make me the brunt of conflicting company
policies. 3) I am not interested in the reasons why two companies cannot
co-operate to satisfy the needs of their mutual customers... when I happen
to be one of those customers.

Good grief! I'm a physician. Can you imagine me giving my patient a sorry
list of excuses to explain why I could not co-operate with another physician
to save the functional use of an injured limb?

We have, in this situation, two of the best companies, run by some of the
most brilliant and talented engineers in this country, and I for one do not
want to listen to whining from either one of them.

HEY FOLKS, LISTEN UP! THERE ARE CUSTOMERS OUT HERE AND WE ARE REALLY
GETTING TICKED OFF!

Larry Denmark
kldenmark@att.net
http://home.att.net/~kldenmark/towardinfinity


Ray Gralak <ray@...>
 

HEY FOLKS, LISTEN UP! THERE ARE CUSTOMERS OUT HERE AND WE ARE REALLY
GETTING TICKED OFF!
While this may be true, let's give AP and SB a chance to resolve this. At least SB gave
a response. Let's hope that AP and SB can cooperate and get the job done...

Since it is unlikely that AP will send SB a mount, I offer to be a beta tester of the software -
of course in addition to Charles. Beta tester's are the conduit through which many releases
are tested so this should be an acceptable alternative to having inhouse "hardware".

Any other TheSky and AP GTO owners out there willing to be a beta tester?

-Ray Gralak


Richard Seavey <seavey@...>
 

Hi Ray,
Several times over the past year I offered my help in testing any software drivers that might solve the compatibility problem. I spent many, many hours trying get both companies to work out a solution, but was not successful. To their credit, the Bisque's did produce a partial solution for me (I can now move the scope in 1-15 arc sec steps with TheSky by using a special file they provided), but a complete solution was not forth coming. I finally gave up and have been waiting for another vendor to provide a solution. So again I will offer to help test any software so that the Bisque products will work correctly with AP mounts.

Regards,
Richard

Since it is unlikely that AP will send SB a mount, I offer to be a beta tester of the software -
of course in addition to Charles. Beta tester's are the conduit through which many releases
are tested so this should be an acceptable alternative to having inhouse "hardware".

Any other TheSky and AP GTO owners out there willing to be a beta tester?

-Ray Gralak


John J. Kasianowicz <surpher@...>
 

From: Larry Denmark
[snip]
To date SB has, through no fault of their own,
been unable to secure a mount from AP.

SB can't afford to buy an A-P 400GTO mount? Times are really tough! ~8^)


Ray Gralak <ray@...>
 

Hi Richard,

Ever since I started using ":U#" a few months back I have been able to
move my mount in 1-arcsecond increments by pointing and clicking to a
new coordinate on the screen.

By using a serial protocol analyzer I was able to determine that until
TheSky saw that the AP mount was in long format mode (by using the :U#
command) it would only send arc-minute accuracy movement commands. After
the :U# it would send arc-second accuracy commands.

What was it exactly that SB sent you? Perhaps it just invoked ":U#"?
Or maybe it forced TheSky to always send long-format commands, which the
AP mounts accept all the time anyway?

Take care,

-Ray Gralak

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2000 8:02 PM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already


Hi Ray,
Several times over the past year I offered my help in testing any software
drivers that might solve the compatibility problem. I spent many, many
hours trying get both companies to work out a solution, but was not
successful. To their credit, the Bisque's did produce a partial solution
for me (I can now move the scope in 1-15 arc sec steps with TheSky by using
a special file they provided), but a complete solution was not forth
coming. I finally gave up and have been waiting for another vendor to
provide a solution. So again I will offer to help test any software so that
the Bisque products will work correctly with AP mounts.

Regards,
Richard






Since it is unlikely that AP will send SB a mount, I offer to be a beta
tester of the software -
of course in addition to Charles. Beta tester's are the conduit through
which many releases
are tested so this should be an acceptable alternative to having inhouse
"hardware".

Any other TheSky and AP GTO owners out there willing to be a beta tester?

-Ray Gralak

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Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/21/00 7:44:36 PM Central Daylight Time,
kldenmark@worldnet.att.net writes:

<<
Three years ago - or more now - Tom Bisque visited Astro-Physics and, at
Roland's request, told them everything that they would need to do in order
to be supported by TheSky. Any information that they needed beyond that
gained from Tom's visit could have been had for the cost and time of a phone
call and couple of emails. AP chose not to follow through (wrote their own
protocol in spite of having the necessary information to do otherwise) and
now the current situation exists. >>

The visit that is being referred to was at the regional Astronomical League
that was held here in Rockford in 1996. We asked Tom out for dinner and asked
him if he would be interested in a collaboration with AP to develop a
servocontroller for driving the telescope motors, and the subsequent software
to determine meridian swap, provide a data base for the hand controller etc.
He declined the offer. We asked if it would be possible for the Sky software
to do the calculations necessary to do the meridian swap. He said that was
not possible, that the Sky would send only RA and DEC information to the
mount. No other information was given to us at the dinner, it was simply a
meeting between heads of 2 companies to see if we had some common ground.
There was no other meeting with Tom Bisque, and he did not visit our
facility. We did have open tours of AP that week that were attended by
several hundred amateurs.

Around the same time we also explored the possibility of having the
servocontrol done by SBIG. As it turns out, they did develop a control system
using stepper motors, but it came too late for us. This control system was
consequently used in the first versions of the Paramount. By then, we had
already decided to go with servomotors for other reasons.

Since the Meade LX200 was rapidly establishing itself as the best selling
GoTo system, we decided to pursue that avenue. We hired a software designer,
Charles Sinsofski, and a servo control engineer, Mike Hansen, to develop a
full blown servo for telescope control. They studied the available protocols,
including ACL, and decided that indeed, the Meade protocol was the way to go
for communicating between the servo and the outside world. The actual
servocontrol was designed by Mike and myself, and all the communication and
database software was developed by Charles. The mechanics of the mount was
developed by Rob Miller, a mount designer who we had brought over from
England a few years earlier, and who now works for Software Bisque.

When we developed the communication protocol, we used the Meade for all
functions and added a few of our own to do things that are peculiar to our
mount, such as NS and EW which swap the hand control buttons, and things like
horizon check. None of these things is critical to the proper operation of
planetarium software, but is needed for the hand controller. We did send to
Software Bisque a copy of the protocol, and asked them to establish a window
for AP. The only thing we really asked them to include over and above the
Meade commands is to please add :U# at the beginning so as to invoke the long
format, and thus achieve arc second accuracy. The other function that they
might add is the park command, which is different from the Meade, mainly
because at the time we developed our mount, Meade did not have a park
command. This came later when they introduced the 16" SCT. Our park command
is :RG2#:ME#. The unpark command is :Qe#. It's that simple. In fact, anyone
can park their telescope with these commands by typing it in the terminal
mode in The Sky. In our new version of the chip we will add a new dedicated
park command which will allow the mount to go to a quiescent state with all
motors de-energized, and all co-ordinate and site information stored in the
servo memory. The servo controller will always know where it is in the sky,
even with the power removed.

I'm sorry that this situation is now ocurring, but we have been waiting for
some word from SB that they would like to include us on their window. Asking
for a mount to "play with" is another stone wall. They do not need any
hardware to include a few simple commands, and I will be more than willing to
test any beta version. Just send it to me by Email.

A word on competition. I am a champion of good, fair competiton. It is good
for the amateur and good for the industry. We have seen an explosion of nifty
products that have really advanced this hobby. In the majority of cases, the
manufacturers are genuine friends and do co-operate with each other to the
benefit of both. In some cases, there is an island mentality which can really
stifle innovation.

Roland Christen


Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/21/00 8:05:01 PM Central Daylight Time, ray@gralak.com
writes:

<<
Any other TheSky and AP GTO owners out there willing to be a beta tester?
>>

I am willing to be beta tester.

By the way, each command to the terminal should be separate. To park, type
:RG2#, send, type ME#:, send. If you type them both together, the Sky will
not park correctly.

Roland Christen


Richard Seavey <seavey@...>
 

Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version 5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC. This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/22/00 10:23:20 AM Central Daylight Time,
chris1011@aol.com writes:

<< In fact, anyone
can park their telescope with these commands by typing it in the terminal
mode in The Sky >>

It is now obvious to me that many more things can be done with TheSky than I
previously had known. I did not know until the other dayy, thanks to Ray
Graylak, that this mode even existed. I will be trying out some of our other
commands through this method.

Roland Christen


Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/22/00 12:03:16 PM Central Daylight Time, ray@gralak.com
writes:

<<
So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.
>>

You are correct here. In our next chip upgrade, you will be able to command
the mount to .1 seconds in RA and DEC. Right now, even though The Sky has
data to this precision, it does not send it to the mount, even in the long
format. It would be interesting to see if they would change that in their
software. This level of control may not be necessary, but it is neat to be
able to navigate around the rings of Saturn with button clicks.

Roland Christen


Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/22/00 1:36:19 PM Central Daylight Time,
ztrmann@fidalgo.net writes:

<< If AP won't send a goto mount with a controller to SB I would (with APs
permission) be willing to send one of mine. >>

Go ahead, it's your mount to do with as you wish. Believe me, they don't need
it to add :U# to the beginning string when you link. What we would like them
to do is to add a window : AP Mount, like they did for Meade, Celestron and
their own Paramount. But this is something like telling Microsoft to add
Netscape to their window. This would be an admission to the world that there
is an AP mount and that it is GoTo also! And that it works as advertised. By
not issuing the :U# at the beginning string they can continue telling people
that the Paramount is more accurate. Nice selling point, don't you agree?

Roland Christen


Roland Christen
 

In a message dated 7/22/00 1:55:39 PM Central Daylight Time,
ztrmann@fidalgo.net writes:

<<
Errr.... Your welcome. <g>
Herb
>>

I understand fully where you're coming from Herb. You want to solve this mess
by offering to be the middle man. Thanks, it is appreciated, but it is not
needed. To give you another example of stonewalling by SB, consider this.
When we asked them for the protocol for the Paramount, so we could write a
driver for Digital Sky Voice, they refused (for whatever reason) to give us
that information. We finally did an end run around them and asked SBIG
directly, and they sent us the protocol without muss or fuss. Charles
developed a driver for the Paramount, and guess what? He never asked them to
send him a mount so he could play with it. He gave the beta version to
someone who had the mount to try out. It worked out fine. The protocol is, by
the way, NOT ACL, it is totally different.

In this case, Charles had to write a complete driver right from start, a much
more formidable task than adding a simple command to an already existing and
working piece of software. And he did it without ever seeing any piece of
software.

Roland Christen


Ray Gralak <ray@...>
 

Hi Richard,

Hmmm...

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.

Anyway, after pasting the 30-sec image into TheSky and using the
Image Link feature, TheSky can readjust the field of view template
to the actual field size taken from the frame and also orient
the screen view to the CCD camera.

Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).

But... this CANNOT be accomplished if you do not issue ":U#".
What happens is that when you click and slew to close points
on the screen the mount doesn't move until you pick a point far
enough away... Far enough that the coordinates will change in the
low precision format.

On its screen TheSky shows that the mount should have moved because
it repositioned the frame but the mount didn't really move because
TheSky sent it EXACTLY the same coordinates (because they were rounded
to approximately 1-arcmin accuracy). So my mount would bounce back and
force very frustratingly (but accurately) between two points, never
stopping anywhere etween them!

So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.

BTW I am using 5.00.007.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 4:36 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already




Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using
that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised
when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less
than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by
using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a
LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they
finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an
existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version
5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC.
This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but
did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well
enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking
through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you
explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using
the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down
to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as
the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to
this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program
generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


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Chris Spratt
 

Hi Ray:

You've posted a number of articles to this group on this theme. I hope you will
post a "condensed" version as a file for all to download.

Your efforts are certainly appreciated.

Until "The Sky" is fully useable with my AP mount I won't buy the program.

By the way as for beta testing I assisted Chris Marriott in getting his program
Skymap Pro working with my AP600 GOTO mount. He emailed me drivers and I tried to
see if they worked took a couple or tries but the setup now works.

Brian Warner's MPO Connections will also slew the AP mounts.

Ray Gralak wrote:

Hi Richard,

Hmmm...

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.

Anyway, after pasting the 30-sec image into TheSky and using the
Image Link feature, TheSky can readjust the field of view template
to the actual field size taken from the frame and also orient
the screen view to the CCD camera.

Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).

But... this CANNOT be accomplished if you do not issue ":U#".
What happens is that when you click and slew to close points
on the screen the mount doesn't move until you pick a point far
enough away... Far enough that the coordinates will change in the
low precision format.

On its screen TheSky shows that the mount should have moved because
it repositioned the frame but the mount didn't really move because
TheSky sent it EXACTLY the same coordinates (because they were rounded
to approximately 1-arcmin accuracy). So my mount would bounce back and
force very frustratingly (but accurately) between two points, never
stopping anywhere etween them!

So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.

BTW I am using 5.00.007.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 4:36 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already




Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using
that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised
when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less
than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by
using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a
LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they
finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an
existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version
5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC.
This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but
did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well
enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking
through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you
explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using
the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down
to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as
the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to
this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program
generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


------------------------------------------------------------------------
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http://click.egroups.com/1/6689/7/_/3615/_/964265802/
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sreilly@...
 

Ray,

I am more confused now then before. In order to use TheSky linked to the AP
mount, what all is required? Do you need the encoders installed and a BBox (in
this case I have a NGC-Max) or are you linking via one of the serial ports and
reading from the mount's electronics. I would like to be sure that when I get
notified of the opportunity to order my AP900GTO and install my C-11 OTA, that I
have what is necessary to use my version of TheSky which is the the latest. I use
a NGFs with digital readout and a SBIG ST-8 camera. I have already ordered a
second AC/DC power supply rated at 10 amps 13.8 volts and intend to continue
using my current 3.5 amp for the dew heaters. I guess before I get to far ahead
of myself I'd like to make sure when I order I am getting everything I need. I
also have been looking into getting a device to either give me a second serial
port via the USB port or a PCMICA card that provides a second serial port. Any
suggestions would be welcomed.

Steve

Ray Gralak wrote:

Hi Richard,

Hmmm...

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.

Anyway, after pasting the 30-sec image into TheSky and using the
Image Link feature, TheSky can readjust the field of view template
to the actual field size taken from the frame and also orient
the screen view to the CCD camera.

Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).

But... this CANNOT be accomplished if you do not issue ":U#".
What happens is that when you click and slew to close points
on the screen the mount doesn't move until you pick a point far
enough away... Far enough that the coordinates will change in the
low precision format.

On its screen TheSky shows that the mount should have moved because
it repositioned the frame but the mount didn't really move because
TheSky sent it EXACTLY the same coordinates (because they were rounded
to approximately 1-arcmin accuracy). So my mount would bounce back and
force very frustratingly (but accurately) between two points, never
stopping anywhere etween them!

So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.

BTW I am using 5.00.007.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 4:36 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already




Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using
that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised
when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less
than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by
using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a
LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they
finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an
existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version
5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC.
This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but
did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well
enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking
through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you
explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using
the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down
to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as
the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to
this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program
generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


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Ray Gralak <ray@...>
 

Hi Steve,

Assuming you will be using a GTO mount all you need is a single "straight
through" male-female DB9 serial cable to connect from your desktop PC
(or notebook) to the mount. You can find this type of cable at any
computer supply store. The GTO mounts have their own encoding system
which is far more accurate than the typical optical encoders (e.g 4000 step)
that are sometimes used on mounts.

So, the short answer is no you don't need anything extra. You shouldn't need
a second serial port with the equipment you mentioned. But if you ever
do, the one to get for a notebook is the Ruggedized serial I/O card from
Socket Communications (http://www.socketcom.com/).

One other point... in my previous email I stated my procedure for orienting
TheSky with the position of my CCD camera. I want to add that you don't need
to go through all that to roughly match the eyepiece or CCD field to TheSky.
Just manually rotate TheSky's view with ALT-(Keypad-PLUS) and ALT-(Keypad-MINUS).
Depending on how many mirrors in your optical path you also may need to flip
the view with the menu option, View->Mirror Image.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: sreilly@cstone.net [mailto:sreilly@cstone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 10:44 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already


Ray,

I am more confused now then before. In order to use TheSky linked to the AP
mount, what all is required? Do you need the encoders installed and a BBox (in
this case I have a NGC-Max) or are you linking via one of the serial ports and
reading from the mount's electronics. I would like to be sure that when I get
notified of the opportunity to order my AP900GTO and install my C-11 OTA, that I
have what is necessary to use my version of TheSky which is the the latest. I use
a NGFs with digital readout and a SBIG ST-8 camera. I have already ordered a
second AC/DC power supply rated at 10 amps 13.8 volts and intend to continue
using my current 3.5 amp for the dew heaters. I guess before I get to far ahead
of myself I'd like to make sure when I order I am getting everything I need. I
also have been looking into getting a device to either give me a second serial
port via the USB port or a PCMICA card that provides a second serial port. Any
suggestions would be welcomed.

Steve

Ray Gralak wrote:

Hi Richard,

Hmmm...

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.

Anyway, after pasting the 30-sec image into TheSky and using the
Image Link feature, TheSky can readjust the field of view template
to the actual field size taken from the frame and also orient
the screen view to the CCD camera.

Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).

But... this CANNOT be accomplished if you do not issue ":U#".
What happens is that when you click and slew to close points
on the screen the mount doesn't move until you pick a point far
enough away... Far enough that the coordinates will change in the
low precision format.

On its screen TheSky shows that the mount should have moved because
it repositioned the frame but the mount didn't really move because
TheSky sent it EXACTLY the same coordinates (because they were rounded
to approximately 1-arcmin accuracy). So my mount would bounce back and
force very frustratingly (but accurately) between two points, never
stopping anywhere etween them!

So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.

BTW I am using 5.00.007.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 4:36 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already




Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using
that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised
when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less
than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by
using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a
LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they
finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an
existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version
5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC.
This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but
did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well
enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking
through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you
explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using
the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down
to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as
the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to
this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program
generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


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Ray Gralak <ray@...>
 

Hi Chris,

Thanks!

I'll work on putting something together as an HTML page.

Thanks for the idea.

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris. Spratt [mailto:cspratt@islandnet.com]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 10:43 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already


Hi Ray:

You've posted a number of articles to this group on this theme. I hope you will
post a "condensed" version as a file for all to download.

Your efforts are certainly appreciated.

Until "The Sky" is fully useable with my AP mount I won't buy the program.

By the way as for beta testing I assisted Chris Marriott in getting his program
Skymap Pro working with my AP600 GOTO mount. He emailed me drivers and I tried to
see if they worked took a couple or tries but the setup now works.

Brian Warner's MPO Connections will also slew the AP mounts.

Ray Gralak wrote:

Hi Richard,

Hmmm...

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.

Anyway, after pasting the 30-sec image into TheSky and using the
Image Link feature, TheSky can readjust the field of view template
to the actual field size taken from the frame and also orient
the screen view to the CCD camera.

Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).

But... this CANNOT be accomplished if you do not issue ":U#".
What happens is that when you click and slew to close points
on the screen the mount doesn't move until you pick a point far
enough away... Far enough that the coordinates will change in the
low precision format.

On its screen TheSky shows that the mount should have moved because
it repositioned the frame but the mount didn't really move because
TheSky sent it EXACTLY the same coordinates (because they were rounded
to approximately 1-arcmin accuracy). So my mount would bounce back and
force very frustratingly (but accurately) between two points, never
stopping anywhere etween them!

So, if there is a problem with the NSEW buttons in TheSky it was
NOT a problem with the mount but with TheSky not sending the correct
coordinates in the long format. The mount very, very accurately goes
to the coordinates commanded to it... I am absolutely sure of this.

BTW I am using 5.00.007.

Take care,

-Ray

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Seavey [mailto:seavey@mediaone.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 4:36 AM
To: ap-gto@egroups.com
Subject: RE: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already




Ray,

The "long format mode" was not the problem that I had. I have been using
that mode for about a year with my AP mount. In fact, I was quite surprised
when I recently learned that some AP users did not know of this command!

In my case, even with "long format" invoked, the mount would not move less
than 30 arc sec in RA and 5 arc sec in DEC. These moves were invoked by
using TheSky's "Motion Control" keypad that has the NSEW buttons. After a
LOT of testing on my part, and with help from Software Bisque, they
finally found a partial solution and sent me a new file that replaced an
existing file in TheSky. Using the new file (I don't think it is in version
5.00.007) I can make moves down to 15 arc sec in RA and 1 arc sec in DEC.
This degree of control was marginally adequate for what I was doing, but
did the job. It took MANY months to finally get a solution that worked well
enough for me.

What version of TheSky do you use? Have you verified by actually looking
through your scope, or using a CCD camera that the mount moves as you
explained in your previous post? I do know that if TheSky is set up using
the "simulator" for the scope, the simulated scope does move correctly down
to the 1 arc second level .... but does not do so with the AP mount set as
the scope using TheSky's LX200 driver.

The other issue is the infamous "parking" incompatibility. As a solution to
this, I have recently been using the simple DOS based "Park" program
generously made available by John Menke (of HomeDome fame).

Regards,
Richard


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Herb York <ztrmann@...>
 

If AP won't send a goto mount with a controller to SB I would (with APs
permission) be willing to send one of mine.
Herb
www.buytelescopes.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ray Gralak" <ray@gralak.com>
To: <ap-gto@egroups.com>
Cc: "Matthew L. Bisque" <matthew@bisque.com>
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2000 6:05 PM
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already


HEY FOLKS, LISTEN UP! THERE ARE CUSTOMERS OUT HERE AND WE ARE REALLY
GETTING TICKED OFF!
While this may be true, let's give AP and SB a chance to resolve this. At
least SB gave
a response. Let's hope that AP and SB can cooperate and get the job
done...

Since it is unlikely that AP will send SB a mount, I offer to be a beta
tester of the software -
of course in addition to Charles. Beta tester's are the conduit through
which many releases
are tested so this should be an acceptable alternative to having inhouse
"hardware".

Any other TheSky and AP GTO owners out there willing to be a beta tester?

-Ray Gralak


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Herb York <ztrmann@...>
 

----- Original Message -----
From: <chris1011@aol.com>
To: <ap-gto@egroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 11:47 AM
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RE: Enough Already


In a message dated 7/22/00 1:36:19 PM Central Daylight Time,
ztrmann@fidalgo.net writes:

<< If AP won't send a goto mount with a controller to SB I would (with
APs
permission) be willing to send one of mine. >>

Go ahead, it's your mount to do with as you wish. Believe me, they don't
need
it to add :U# to the beginning string when you link. What we would like
them
to do is to add a window : AP Mount, like they did for Meade, Celestron
and
their own Paramount. But this is something like telling Microsoft to add
Netscape to their window. This would be an admission to the world that
there
is an AP mount and that it is GoTo also! And that it works as advertised.
By
not issuing the :U# at the beginning string they can continue telling
people
that the Paramount is more accurate. Nice selling point, don't you agree?

Roland Christen


Errr.... Your welcome. <g>
Herb


Richard Seavey <seavey@...>
 

Ray,

Now I see where you are coming from. We each use TheSky in a different way. I also need the higher pointing precision for CCD imaging, but in my case, I use T-Point to improve the pointing accuracy. With 100 stars mapped, I get a "whole sky" RMS error of about 12 arc seconds. Thus, when I want to point the scope precisely at particular point, it accurately goes there (my CCD has a small field of view). For the 100 star T-Point mapping run, I use a TV camera at prime focus to position each star to be mapped onto a cross hair on a TV display. With the current lower precision produced by TheSky and AP mount combination, it is much more difficult (or impossible) to accurately center each star. Of course, the precision of the T-Point model suffers from the non-precise positioning of each star.

Have you actually measured the minimum move angle for both RA and DEC while in long format mode? I have measured it and it is not 1 arc second, but 15 in RA and 1 in DEC WITH the software patch. It is worse without the patch.

It sounds like many of the incompatibility issues may be resolved in the not too distant future. I was pleased to hear Roland tell his side of the story, and hope that we, the consumers of the excellent AP and SB products, will benefit from the mutual cooperation of these two good companies.

Richard

I don't use the NESW buttons because I don't need to. If I am using a
computer with my mount it is because I'm doing CCD imaging. After
centering a semi bright star and "synching" it with TheSky to the mount,
I take a 30-second full-frame exposure. I then copy that from the
CCD application (usually Maxim) and Paste it into TheSky's screen.

I should add that I'm using an ST-8E so I create a "Field of View"
template that roughly matches the what my CCD camera "sees". This
template includes the position for the second CCD schip, which is
used for guiding.


Now, as long as I am synched closely to the telescope's actual
position I can "point and click" and see *exactly* where guide
stars fall on the small guide chip. It works very well and I
have no doubt that the accuracy 1-arcsecond by the very small
moves I can accomplish (by pointing and clicking).