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Guiding software can't connect to my CPC1100

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#1 flymanwms

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 04:50 PM

I'm just getting started playing around with autoguiding features using my Celestron CPC1100!

I've tried 3 different guiding softwares including Guidedog and none of them want to connect to my CPC1100 autoguide port. (They do connect to the Meade DSI imager I want to use as the guiding camera ok)

I've loaded the ascom platform and the celestron ascom protocol on my laptop. When I try to connect it allows me to select "Celestron telescopes" and allows me to select 11" CPC. It also allows me to select com5, which is what my Radio Shack USB-to-serial cable is set at and working.
From this cable I'm using a serial-to-phonejack adapter and what I hope is an RJ12 cable [6 pins](both which were included with a Meade DSI imager) which is plugged into the CPC's autoguider port [ST-4 ?].

This setup doesn't seem to work and gives me a "ASCOM communication error", which is the same error I get when it's unplugged altogether ..... any advice?

Thanks in advance,
Scott

#2 mclewis1

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 05:53 PM

Scott, You need to do one of two things ...

1) Get the Celestron Serial HC cable and plug this into the base of the HC. You can then send positioning and guiding commands from various s/w apps through the HC (yes autoguiding works in this setup).

2) If you really want to use the autoguide port get a Shoestring GPUSB adapter and the correct ST4 cable (included with the GPUSB ... your Meade cable will not work) and plug it into the autoguide port on the mount.

The autoguide port does not take commands ... it expects an electrical ground on one of 4 pins (North, South, East, or West) so you require something to create that capability (not simply a USB or serial cable) ... thus the suggestion of the GPUSB adapter. If you had a purpose built autoguiding imager (Orion SSAG for example) that has an ST-4 port then you wouldn't need the GPUSB and could just use the correct ST-4 cable between the autoguider and autoguide port on the mount.

For some more info on the subject have a look at Mike's NexStar site www.nexstarsite.com In addition to discussing software and other capabilities there is a very good diagram that lays out all the connectivity options.


#3 flymanwms

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:49 PM

Good info Mark ..... thanks!

A while back, I had nexremote working through the base of the hand controller. I was leaving the laptop outside in the cold with the telescope and using remote access to control everything inside where it was warm. I don't remember every cable I used, but I did use the Radio Shack serial cable. Was this working setup I had the same as your setup #1 or still something else entirely? I guess what I'm really trying to figure out is if this Celestron Serial HC cable was included with my origin CPC purchase and I just need to look harder to find it or not!

Thanks again!

#4 mclewis1

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:53 PM

Scott, if you had Nexremote working through the HC then you have a serial HC cable around somewhere. It's a short (3-4'), thin with a DB9 on one end and a small RJ22 connector on the other. So yes this is what I mentioned as option #1 in my previous post.

As to whether the cable was included with your CPC, I don't know. Some folks said it does come with some scopes but others didn't get the cable. I know that I bought one for use with my Nexstar GPS scope many years ago but when I bought my CGE mount last year the cable came with it.

#5 flymanwms

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 11:11 PM

OK, I found the cable and nexremote still works with it.

However, when I try to connect using PHD GUIDING using the ASCOM setting, it says "Scope does not support Pulse Guide mode". If I use "on-camera" setting it says it's connected but the guiding adjustments aren't taking effect and the subjects gradually run away.

I didn't get to play with it much because the clouds rolled in. :(

#6 mclewis1

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:16 AM

Scott, I should have asked you this up front but is your CPC mounted on a wedge and have you setup the scope for EQ North orientation vs. Alt Az? If not then you can't autoguide ... you must be using an EQ oriented setup.

#7 b1gred

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:18 AM

Well DOH! Good call Mark, none of the rest of us mentioned that little tidbit!

#8 flymanwms

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 02:51 PM

I've just purchased a Mitty wedge from OPT and it should be here Monday. I was hoping I could practice and learn some things about autoguiding before it got here since I'll probably have my hands full setting up the wedge.

#9 flymanwms

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 05:04 AM

Well, since I can't play around with autoguiding yet I decided to play around with my new Nikon D90. After messing around with every button on it I did get this shot of Jupiter + the four moons (one shot, no stacking). I've seen worse ...... :)

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#10 btieman

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 08:59 PM

OK, I found the cable and nexremote still works with it.

However, when I try to connect using PHD GUIDING using the ASCOM setting, it says "Scope does not support Pulse Guide mode". If I use "on-camera" setting it says it's connected but the guiding adjustments aren't taking effect and the subjects gradually run away.

I didn't get to play with it much because the clouds rolled in. :(


OK, I found this thread and I've gotten to this exact point. Scope is set up on a wedge aligned EQ North. But when I connect via ASCOM from PHDguide I get the same error "Scope does not support Pulse Guide mode".

I've been using ASCON off/on for a long time--usually with POTH--and the connection to the scope doesn't seem to be the problem. I can slew the scope through ASCOM just fine.

flymanwms, did you ever get this resolved? Or does anyone else know where to go from here? I'm trying to set up autoguiding with a CPC1100 and a Meade DSI I and PHDguide.

Thanks!

Brian

#11 btieman

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 09:12 PM

See, this is what I love about you people! You are so good at solving problems that just the act of posting the problem solved it for me :)

I was trying to use POTH so that I keep my planitarium software tracking as well. POTH doesn't work. When I switched from POTH to the celestron driver I stopped receiving that error and it looks like it's working!

Mind you, the scope is set up in my family room because it's going to storm bloody blazes tonight, but it is 30' away from me and all the software *thinks* it's doing something--that's half the battle ;)

Thanks all!

Brian

#12 Chris Rowland

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 05:57 AM

I've tried this with POTH and the telescope simulator. If the ASCOM driver reports CanPulseGuide as false PHD shows the error.

This is what I saw:
With no other programs running POTH starts, starts the simulator and this returns the correct value. This happens every time.
If another program is connected to POTH (I used CdC) then POTH and the Simulator are already running. For some reason the simulator is closed and then POTH reports CanPulseGuide as false. You get the error. CdC isn't going to like this either.
If you try to connect to the scope again the simulator is started and CanPulseGuide will report the correct value.
This continues, each time you connect it will alternately start and not start.

My guess is that this is something like POTH sending a disconnect command before it has connected and POTH passing this on to the real driver. Then when POTH gets the CanPulseGuide command it gets an error because the driver isn't running and reports false.

This could take a bit of fixing, it isn't clear where the problem is, it could be that POTH and PHD are interpreting the specification differently.

Chris

#13 btieman

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 06:58 AM

Thanks Chris! Now that I figured out not to use POTH, it's more of an annoyance than a pronlem. Once guiding I shouldn't need the planitarium anyway--it's just convenient to have to recenter or go to a new target, etc...Without POTH, I need to disconnect PHD and reconnect The Sky to do this is all.

Brian

#14 btieman

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 10:08 PM

OK, now that I have dark skies and want to try this, I continually get "Scope does not support Pulse Guide mode". I'm not sure what I'm doing differently. The other day in the family room, it appeared to be guiding the mount--or at least connecting to it. Now, same cables, same computer, but the scope is outside and I can't get past this error.

Maybe the other day was a fluke--or I had something else screwed up? Can anyone confirm for sure that PHD can guide a CPC mount through the hand controller? I can get ASCOM by itself to connect, but not with PHD guide.

Brian

#15 btieman

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:03 PM

Aggrivating...sun's out and now it works fine :foreheadslap: Last night I couldn't get PHDguide to connect tot he scope for nothin in the world--kept complaining about scope not supporting pulse guide mode. Now I can't get it to fail.

Sigh...it seems it only works when I post here that it doesn't. Sorry, but you guys can expect a post for help every clear night from now on ;)

Brian

#16 b1gred

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:15 PM

Sounds like you're experiencing "Murphy's Law" to the Nth degree.

#17 btieman

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 09:29 PM

Aha! Murphy 3 Brian 1--but Brian is getting closer!

Turns out that simply aligning the scope as EQ-North doesn't put it into EQ North "tracking mode". I think it must be a bug in the hand controller. I aligned the scope EQ North and it is tracking like it's wedge mounted, but ASCOM continued to report that the scope was in Alt/Az mode--and thus not capable of guiding. I had to go into the hand controller and set tracking manually to EQ North and now PHD connects fine. Sigh...I was assuming that aligning the scope EQ-North would set this correctly...

Murphy scores pt #3 though. My off-axis guider isn't in and I haven't tried balancing the guidescope on the EQ mount. I put a 100mm lens on my DSI to work out the software kinks. PHD won't calibrate--just not enough focal length I guess.

It should be clear tomorrow as well...and hopefully my off-axis guider will arrive :)

Thanks for your patience all!

Brian

#18 b1gred

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 10:20 PM

Ya, a little "programming glitch". You have to set the "Mode" to EQ-North, even if you do an EQ-north alignment... Bit me in the butt the first time I tried it also.

#19 Psyire

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 10:35 PM

Do you set the 'Mode' to EQ-North before or after doing the alignment?

#20 btieman

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 10:53 PM

I did it after the alignment because I didn't know any better. The setting of the mode doesn't seem to have any real effect on tracking--except setting to OFF does stop tracking. My hand control read back a tracking mode of alt/az *after* I did an EQ-N align and the scope was certainly tracking in eq coords properly. Flipping it to alt/az didn't change how the scope was tracking--that is, it didn't suddenly start moving alt.

It seems the scope knows what mode it's in due to the alignment but "forgets" to update this parameter properly--which PHD cares about.

Brian

#21 Chris Rowland

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 05:54 AM

The earlier scopes (NS11GPS etc.) have to have the tracking mode set in the ASCOM driver setup because there is no command to read the tracking mode from the scope.

The later ones, or those with later HCs, can read the tracking mode from the scope - or at least should - and the value set in the setup should be ignored.

I say should because this is making me wonder if the driver is doing this correctly. I'll have a look but it would help if you can report:
  • The scope type
  • The HC version
  • The ASCOM driver version
  • How the scope is aligned
  • The tracking mode in the ASCOM driver setup
  • If PHD generates a Can't guide error when you connect to the scope.
I would expect that for CPC scopes PHD will allow guiding if the scope is aligned in an equatorial mode but not in AltAz and this would not be affected by how the tracking mode is set in the driver.

Hope this makes sense...

Chris

#22 btieman

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:49 AM

Chris,

I think it's just a glitch in the HC. Here's the info you asked for:

Scope Type: CPC1100
HC version: NXS 4.12
ASCOM: 5.0.14
Scope alignment: auto eq north
ASCOM driver setup: alt/az

I think the tracking mode is the problem. Even at the hand controller, tracking reports alt/az until I manually change it. Then PHD works fine.

Brian

#23 flymanwms

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:08 PM

Sorry about my absence lately .... clouds, rain, moonlight, and work have limited my playtime lately.

My mitty wedge for CPC's came in and installation was a breeze. Now the tripod/wedge/scope is really heavy, though. So far I've practiced with it once. I rough pointed it toward polaris, did an EQ North Auto alignment, did a wedge alignment and put polaris into the middle of my eyepiece, and then did a second EQ North alignment. After that I slewed over to Antares, defocused it to just underneath the total field of view, centered it, and then monitored it for awhile. An hour and a half later it was still there centered in the eyepiece!

Is it really this easy? Where's the drift needed for guiding? Where's the periodic error that is talked about?

Is this normal or am I missing something or was this just beginner's luck?

#24 btieman

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 07:32 PM

Is it really this easy? Where's the drift needed for guiding? Where's the periodic error that is talked about?

Is this normal or am I missing something or was this just beginner's luck?


I had the same experience. I delayed trying to autoguide after I got the wedge (Milburn) because I was led to believe this was going to be hard. And it was a little tricky due to communication issues mentioned above, but once those were solved--voila!

I align by CCD--not by eye. Aligning by CCD, I can align everything to within a few arc seconds. Guiding will help with periodic error by speeding/slowing the scope as necessary. I was able to go with 12 minute exposures my first serious attempt at autoguiding--without a drift alignment. And imaging at ~1800mm focal length.

As you get better at imaging, you get more critical as well. I think I may eventually need to drift align--but for now, just having an EQ mount is tons better!

Brian

#25 flymanwms

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 09:51 PM

Yes, I've been anticipating needing to use the crosshairs in PHD with one of my DSI imagers. However ...

it now seems to me that if a star is so far out of focus that it all but fills up the eyepiece view and then stays there still totally in view for 90+ minutes that guiding and PEC worries would be redundant (that is if I can repeat the setup second time around) for long exposuring! I'm probably too optimistic about this, but hopefully not!

Now another subject:
Is there a chart or recommendations anywhere for ISO settings vs exposure times? Should they decrease with more time, or stay the same as 30-sec takes?

Also, my Nikon D90 has settings for "D-Lighting" ..... what about those?

Lastly, long-exposure NR seems to take twice as long and increases image file size unbelievably (a one-minute exposure takes another minute to process and results in an image around 46mb). Is this worth it for a one-hour exposure even if it takes two hours total to make and gets "who knows how big"?






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