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Orion SkyView EQ Deluxe for astrophotography

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#1 kwits

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:09 PM

Good Day,

I would be interested to hear from anyone that has used their Orion SkyView EQ Deluxe, equatorial mount for astrophotophy. Since the Orion no longer sales the AccuTrack Dual-Axis drive, I have been searching for ways to automate RA and Dec tracking of celestial objects. JIMSMobile does sale a separate stepper motor for both axis but I still need a logic board to accurately interrogate and compensate for the mechanical movements.

Regards,
Keith

#2 Mert

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:30 PM

Hi Keith,

First of all welcome on board, this place is very
nice to ask questions and/or reply to them.

You might be interested in this particular
stepper controller.
It is cheap and can be controlled directly via USB
from your PC.
I hope to setup an electric focusser with it in the
future but I think it could do the trick
for you!

#3 kwits

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:08 AM

Thank you very much for your post and idea for a stepper motor controller. I noticed that you recommended the Stepper Bee + instead of its smaller equivalent. Is there a reason?

Regards,
Keith

#4 Mert

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 12:18 PM

Hi Keith,

No specific reason, just thought that with a little bit
more power available directly from the driver board,
you only need to add some power-supply and done.
The smaller version looks great as well, very likely
in short I'll get one to see what I can build with
it.
Most of these nice gadgets are quit hard to get here
where I live. :tonofbricks:

#5 kwits

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:26 PM

Mert,

Here is a reply from a question that I posted PC-Control, the UK company that sales the Stepper Bee +.

Hello Keith,
I don't have any specific feedback about the pro's and cons of using the stepper bee + for this type of application but I can tell you that there have been quite a few who have used it as you described. One customer has used it to create a geo-stationary (if thats the right word) system to compensate for the earth's rotation, while others have used it to "go to" specific areas of the sky. Unfortunately I am not an astronomer but the relevant requirements of any such system such as speed , accuracy, resolution etc... seem to be more to do with the choice of stepper motors and how they are geared rather than the steppr bee+. As long as the motors are 4-phase unipolar (and most are) then the stepper bee + should handle them comfortably.

best regards
Fiona

#6 chboss

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 04:49 PM

Hi Keith

An astronomical stepper controller with all features needed for astro photography is the Little Foot project.
It can be set up by a PC tool for any mount.
Either you buy a finished controller or you solder it together by yourself.

Here is the link:
http://littlefoot-vp.rajiva.de/

I am using the bigger Little Foot Elegance which is another step up including Goto directly from the hand controller.

Cheers
Chris

#7 Mert

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 06:11 PM

Hi Keith,

By the reply of the company that sells these controllers
it is clear that it can be done.
Best thing it is cheap and comunicates over USB.

Only software necesary to write is some interface between
EQMOD and the controller, shouldn't be too difficult.

You might as well check this controller, seems to be almost the same.

Best thing if you go for the EQMOD route, everything is
already up and running for many many people!
Check the Y!EQMOD group, you may find that interesting!

Good luck,

#8 kwits

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:05 PM

I learned today that the Dual-axis drive designed for the Celestron CG-4 mount maybe compatible with the Orion SkyView EQ Deluxe.

#9 kwits

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 12:42 AM

Good Day,

I went to the ASPCOM website and learned more about EQMOD, an open source program. Unfortunately, it appears that my equatorial mount (SkyView EQ Deluxe) is not supported. I guess the technology of that era (about 5 years ago) is not compatible. Can you explain why? Is it because this mounting configuration did not support an USB port? Thank you for your post under this discussion thread.

:confused:

#10 Mert

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 03:34 AM

Hi Keith,

There is a new development going on, where non-standard
gear ratios can be configured in the setup.
There are several mounts supported right now because the
correct gear ratio has been taken into account for so
Sidereal is Sidereal and the goto's are precise!
The new version could open up the way for you, it is
still not tested though but looks promising!

USB is just a physical way to connect a PC to something
else, in this case the mount, there are also USB-RS232
converters.

Regards,

#11 kwits

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 12:42 PM

Mert,

Please elaborate more on your experiences with EQMOD and the equatorial mount configuration that you are using. Do you use a stepper controller board to communicate with your dual-axis drives? How does EQMOD interface with this setup? What are your hardware requirements?

Thanks,
Keith

#12 Mert

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 05:05 PM

Hi Keith,

I did buy an already made EQ6 GOTO mount, which in itself
is quit heavy.
It contains 2 steppers plus their gears and worms on
each axis.
Furthermore, inside the head you have the electronics
controller board which in itself is a stepper controller
plus some intelligent hardware to connect the Handcontroller
and do goto's etc.
EQMOD is a software solution which bypasses the
handcontroller using either a home made TTL-RS232 converter
or a ready made EQDIRECT module.
You can join the Y!EQMOD group and see for yourself, all
software free and very good tools there!
It enables you to connect your mount to a PC and control
it via EQMOD/ASCOM with a planetary software program.
Since Chris is busy developing more options to configure
EQMOD not only to standard mounts but also allowing for
different gear-sets, this opens up a whole new world
for many setup's.

Oh and last but not least, to me it works very good,
and the goto's are also spot on!
Guiding done with pulseguide through ASCOM using
Metaguide, great stuff all together.

I hope that answers more or less what you asked?

#13 rmollise

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 07:40 PM

Good Day,

I went to the ASPCOM website and learned more about EQMOD, an open source program. Unfortunately, it appears that my equatorial mount (SkyView EQ Deluxe) is not supported. I guess the technology of that era (about 5 years ago) is not compatible. Can you explain why? Is it because this mounting configuration did not support an USB port? Thank you for your post under this discussion thread.

:confused:


Why? For EQMOD to work, there must be a motor control board present in the mount. Modern go-to capable Syntas have that. Old dual axis drive Syntas do not. The way EQMOD works is that it runs on your PC as an ASCOM driver and works in conjunction with a planetarium program--Cartes du Ciel, Starry Night, etc. You connect the PC to the mount via a standard serial cable and a small level converter module (you can buy from Shoestring Astronomy). The PC takes the place of the HC, and the combo of EQMOD and a planetarium basically brings more user friendly, more feature laden, and in some ways more accurate mount operation.

Use EQMOD and you will never want to use the SynScan HC again. ;)

#14 kwits

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 02:18 AM

Mert,

I hope you doing well and thank you sincerely for enlightening me on EQMOD. This is what I understand so far:

1. Install the ASCOM Platform software
2. Install the EQMOD driver software
3. Install the VIC driver software
4. Acquire a TTL-RS232 converter cable (TTL-232R)
5. Acquire RA and DEC motor drives for dual-axis operation



Here is my question. How would I interface the cable from my laptop to the motor drives? Would I need a separate cable for each drive? What is the interface at the drive end? Can you share any pictures of your setup?

Best Regards,
Keith

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#15 Mert

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 03:29 AM

Keith,

From what I understand from the Celestron site on these
motors you showed, they are just plain DC motors!
With this you won't have Goto capability without very
good encoders on the axis.
This goes out of the scope of EQMOD!
As I mentioned earlier, at the scope or motor side
of the story, in the EQ6 I have, you find the motor-
controller board that controls both steppers.
So 1 cable goes into the controller board, each motor
receives commands via the serial link and the planatarium
SW as Rod mentioned gives you the capability to point
some object on the screen and activate the corresponding
goto.
In every case, EQMOD uses ringcounters to keep track of
the worm position ( by counting steps ) so it doesn't need
encoders for that purpose.

Regards,

#16 rmollise

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 09:54 AM

Mert,

I hope you doing well and thank you sincerely for enlightening me on EQMOD. This is what I understand so far:

1. Install the ASCOM Platform software
2. Install the EQMOD driver software
3. Install the VIC driver software
4. Acquire a TTL-RS232 converter cable (TTL-232R)
5. Acquire RA and DEC motor drives for dual-axis operation



Here is my question. How would I interface the cable from my laptop to the motor drives? Would I need a separate cable for each drive? What is the interface at the drive end? Can you share any pictures of your setup?

Best Regards,
Keith


Did you read my post? THIS WILL NOT WORK. These dual axis motors are not a go-to system, do not have a motor contol board, and don't provide a serial interface for the mount. You CAN autoguide the mount using these motors with a mod kit from Shoestring Astronomy, though. NO go-to, though.

#17 kwits

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 10:54 PM

Good Day,

With Celestron's CELE228, dual-axis stepper motors and its controller interface, is there anyway to leverage the features from EQMOD in support of my equatorial mount type? You mentioned encoders before. I learned recently that there is a tool called Argo Navis made by Wildcard Innovations that has an encoder kit for their auto-find device. Could this encorder for DEC and RA suffice? What do you recommend for my setup?

Regards,
Keith

#18 MtnGoat

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 11:53 AM

Since you're already considering fairly extensive work to get this mount to do what you want, I suggest considering putting a Meade motor system on it.

The modular Meade DC servo motors are ideal for retrofits, since they come complete in an enclosed case and already feature digital control, gearing, and encoders, and are innately autostar compatible. The DH, DS, or LXD 75 motors should work fine assuming you solve any clearance issues when you do the conversion.

this way you spend your time integrating finished modules..esssentially fabricating motor mounts and figuring out shaft couplers, and then you're done.

#19 kwits

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:50 PM

Good Day,

I would consider the Meade option but based upon my research with this company, none of their drives are compatible with my SkyView EQ Deluxe, mount configuration.

What are my minimal prerequisites for EQMOD given my hardware environment? I was told that I could use PC Control's, Stepper Bee+ (http://www.pc-contro...e_plus_info.htm) as a dual-axis controller that I could wire to my DC motors. If this being said, would this configuration make me compatible with EQMOD using a EQDIR connection with this said controller interface?

Regards,
Keith

#20 MtnGoat

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 01:09 PM

here's a close relative of your mount, converted to Meade Drive. I'm going to do the same thing with my Skyview. He's got a lathe and has done some really nice motor mounts...I'm going with angle brackets but the outcome should be the same.

Meade drive

#21 kwits

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 01:30 PM

Your photographs are most impressive and detailed! Unfortunately, I do not have any strong mechanical skills and do not know anyone to help me modify my mount. I come from an electronics and IT background. I always believe there there is a workaround for every problem and I do not usually except, "No" for an answer!

Keith

#22 kwits

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:29 PM

Good Day,

Are you sure that this auto-axis drive package is not compatible with EQMOD using an EQDIR interface cable? If not, what additional hardware is required? Based upon my understanding, EQMOD solves the problem traditionally faced with GEMs with the need of optical encoders. The below drive package comes with a manual controller interface; can this interface be connected through a TTL-RS232 cable for communication with EQMOD under the ASCOM platform?

Celestron Motor Drive Dual Axis Model (CG-4 Mount)

Item# CELE228

This dual axis motor drive, with drive corrector capabilities, is designed for Celestron's CG-4 mounts for tracking in RA and allows movement in DEC. They precisely control the telescope's tracking speed during long, timed exposures of celestial objects, producing the best possible image sharpness. Precision drive correctors are a must for those with a serious interest in astrophotography or CCD imaging. Four speeds are available -- 1x (sidereal), 2x for guiding, 4x, and 8x for centering.

This precision, state-of-the-art DC motor drive operates from 4 D-cell batteries (user supplied). The hand controller module is very compact and fits easily in the palm of your hand. Motors for both axes are included, along with brackets, clutches and hardware.

Regards,
Keith
:question:

#23 kwits

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 10:41 PM

Hello,

You mentioned the idea of retrofitting the Meade product line of motors: DH, DS, LXD75. However, I cannot find any of these motors sold separately from their respective mounts. Do you have a link?

Thank you,
Keith

#24 kwits

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 02:08 AM

Mert,

I believe I am finally beginning to understand one of your statements that the DC motors for DEC and RA dual-axis support from Celestron (#CELE228) will not interface with a stepper controller because they are NOT stepper motors. Is this assumption correct?

Regards,
Keith

#25 MtnGoat

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 04:23 PM

There's one on Ebay right now.

go there and search
"MEADE DS 492 TELESCOPE MOTOR DRIVE GO TO KIT w/ 497"

Telescope warehouse had some DS kits last spring for 60 bucks, no controller. the ebay link above is the works plus the advanced 497 handset.

You'll have to dig around a bit to find motors by themselves, but they are out there. Or haunt Craigslist and snipe a deal on a DS series scope or the Meade 4504 reflector which is where I got my DH motors.






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