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MI-250 with Gemini..anyone automated it?

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#1 Paul Romero

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:06 AM

Hi there,

With Maxim DL, and a second software package, one can automate imaging. Is anyone doing this with their MI-250/Gemini? How is the 'meridian flip' working? If I go to sleep, will it do the 'flip' and re aquire a target (given a tested/functional autoguiding/software combo).

thanks,

Paul

#2 LLEEGE

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:40 AM

CCDAutopilot should handle everything.

#3 DeanS

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:23 AM

CCD Commander works great and is the least expensive. John Talbot uses it with is MI-250 for for automated imaging. Does everything for him except open and close his roof.
http://myweb.cableon...cane4/index.htm

#4 Paul Romero

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:48 AM

Hi guys,

This is getting my blood flowin! thankyou. I am considering moving over from Images Plus to Maxim DL. The main reasons are: my mount ...unable to hit targets repeatedly withut re alignment, and the fact that MaximDL comes with software to help refine the alignment AND it allows the use of CCDWare products to help with drift alignment. Yeah, I know...its also possible to check my mount's levelness, polar alignment manually etc., and I agree, but once I learn drift alignment (manual type) I think it may be time to 'graduate' to CCD/automated imaging.

clear skies,

Paul

#5 lineman_16735

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:02 PM

In order to plate solve using CCDAutopilot you either need Maxim DL and the full version o pinpoint(not Pinpoint LE), or The Sky 6 Pro and CCDSoft.

#6 Bowmoreman

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:06 PM

Hi guys,

This is getting my blood flowin! thankyou. I am considering moving over from Images Plus to Maxim DL. The main reasons are: my mount ...unable to hit targets repeatedly withut re alignment, and the fact that MaximDL comes with software to help refine the alignment AND it allows the use of CCDWare products to help with drift alignment. Yeah, I know...its also possible to check my mount's levelness, polar alignment manually etc., and I agree, but once I learn drift alignment (manual type) I think it may be time to 'graduate' to CCD/automated imaging.

clear skies,

Paul


Hey Paul, this really gets me to thinking (questioning?)...

I've only had my MI-250 about 10 weeks now... but I have YET to fail to land a single object dead center on my imaging chip...

Are you SURE you are building a good alignment model? Are you using either a high power Illuminated Reticle to center, or using the camera itself (with centering cross hairs)?

Because, I'm just finding the precision, accuracy, and repeatability of EVERYTHING associated with my MI-250 to be a total "quality dream"; way beyond anything I ever got with my old CGE - which was NO slouch...

Makes me think your not really centering when you are building your pointing model?

Just a thought? Also, maybe contact Larry at MI and "ask?"...

clear enough skies

#7 DeanS

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:27 PM

Automation is nice, but it is a huge step technically speaking. If you are just learning the ropes of alignment and imaging then I would wait a while before you jump into the complications associated with automated imaging.

Unless you like to jump in head first to these kinds of things :)

#8 f29pc

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:08 PM

I have got mine fully automated with Maxim Dl, and ACP. I found that with CCD Autopilot the plate solves with the sky6 were unreliable, pinpoint (full vers) and Maxim work flawless. With the combined cost of CCD Autopilot and pinpoint, it is the same as ACP that includes the full version of pinpoint. With ACP I have fully integrated WX, observatory control, and power control also. The MI 250 automates very nicely, but there are a few quirks to get around, get to know the Gemini inside and out so you know how it thinks. PM me if you need help or have any questions.
Paul

#9 Paul Romero

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:51 PM

thanks to both you guys,

On one hand, yes I am interested in avoiding the 'midnight meridian flips' to get an additional 3-4 hours of imaging. On the other hand, after using the mount and observatory for over 1.5 and 3 years respectively, I still have bugs to work out. For instance, the garage door opener seems to randomly 'kick back' in its opening, and this is beyond my thinking ability to figure out. Second, the mount...an older one that I purchased cheaply... has been damaged in shipping..only cosmetically..and has a habit of losing alignment or one of these three things: 1 - not centering stars after alignment when moving to othersides of the meridican 2 - losing alignment completely when under computer control (possible isolation problem (electronic that is)) 3 - rebuilt motors plus layman adjusted gears continue to produce stalled or very slow slews at random. On the other hand, given a sober contination of parts upgrades, a perserverence in keeping the pier level and both polar alignment precision and learning drift alignment techniques, and a little luck...the potential is there.

whew,

Paul

#10 DeanS

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 03:36 PM

You can download a free trial of each software. I had my CCD Commander going to objects, plate solving, expose, next object, etc after just an hour or so. But I don't feel confident enough yet to walk away all night. Oh but I did have to buy the full version of Pin Point.

My hang up now is consistant autofocus, and choosing a good guide star with the correct exposure length. I am close to trying an all nighter and hope by this winter I will get comfortable enough to do it.

Neverless you should go ahead and try it just for fun. Pretty amazing when it works.

#11 lineman_16735

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 07:13 PM

I too had some hurdles with platesolves with The Sky 6 and CCDSoft at first. After a few settings adjustments I'm happy to say I have not had a platesolve failure in nearly 2 years. I have been fully automated for about the same amount of time but I still get up and watch the meridian flip. The only concern I have is with a cable snag. With a rotator there is only so much I can do to eliminate dangling cables. It would not be a problem if my camera was not so close to the mount. My work around for exposure length for guidestars has been a little log of exposure time and magnitude. For instance a mag 9 star is a 3 second exposure. Also I use CCDNavigator which is a great program to organize and plan your imaging session with CCDAutopilot. I had my G-11 gemini automated at one time and if I recall correctly I think that the mounts modeling feature had to be disable for accurate corrections after a platesolve. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. Oh and in my opinion there is nothing cooler than watching an automated merdian flip and your camera rotating 180° :grin:

#12 DeanS

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 07:16 AM

At WSP last year, Jon Talbot set his CCD Commander to 'come alive' at 4:00 am and point to Omega Centauri which was inbetween some trees at that time according to his calculations. He had long since go to bed but several of us where still up. Anyways the mount woke up, went over and pointed to the gap in the trees and started working. Yep pretty darn cool.

Here is the image http://www.starscape...om/NGC5139.html

#13 Paul Romero

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 10:55 AM

Assuming I get a job, I'm thinking of selling the MI-250 and getting a new one. This makes me feel good, but still the nagging question is: why arent my targets lining up center of field everytime? Bowmerman alludes to the reason, using the higher power eyepieces, keep researching till you find what works. What I find is a certain lack of confidence in my ability to find the solution. Partly because of the cost of isolating the electronics from electrical noise from my computer, and only doing the work needed when the easy path has been blocked.... but also because I have the belief that my MI-250 while much lower in cost, is rougly equal to new..similar design, exquisite materials and build...Gemini. In any case, I've been considering having Larry at MI do an upgrade...the 'refresh' program for 1.6k seems to be a happy median between what I have now and buying new. The base, paint, and alignment parts will be new, but the innards will remain, however, and for another say, _____?, I could purchase a new one. If you were the buyer, what would you think my 8-9 year old MI-250 would sell for?

thanks,

Paul

#14 Paul Romero

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 02:31 PM

Hi group,

Just got off the phone with Larry at Mountain Instruments. His retrofit package includes a breakdown of the mount and replacement if necessary of bearings and gears. In addition, he will check out the Gemini system in a star check. Tomorrow, I will bring it up to him; once he gets the mount, he'll put in last place in the line for the re-build; apparently its a popular upgrade. The price for it runs minimum $1750. Yes, I did check the bank account, and although there is not enough for food, I think this is a priority. LOL

clear skies,

Paul

#15 f29pc

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 03:58 PM

Paul,
Larry is great to work with. I sent mine in for the upgrades back in June, I should be getting it on Monday.
I think it was a smart move to get it to Larry, that will eliminate a lot of problems when automating your imaging. Tell Larry I said Hi,
Paul

#16 Bowmoreman

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 04:16 PM

You made the absolute right choice, for several reasons IMHO.

1) When it is fully working (as mine quite apparently obviously is), it really is in AP900 class for all intents and purposes:
a) My Error while guiding is around .2" or less (per realtime measurement by my STV) - both axis
b) My goto's are dead on, within 30-40 pixels of the center of my QHY8 APSC sized chip - each/ever time
c) It just freaking WORKS, in every particular.

2) you already HAVE one, $1750 +/- is "cheap" add on to gain that level of performance, better looks, higher capacity, AND to restore yours (if in fact it needs restoring) to that level of performance it's capable of delivering.

I can say that the more care I take on my alignment model, the better and better my goto's became.

Now, note, that is "dead center on chip" at 800mm Focal Length... When my C11 gets here afer hyperstar conversion, my focal length will be 2800... so that MAY affect things (or may not)... we will see.

Again, IMHO - Right Decision!

clear enough skies

#17 Paul Romero

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 10:00 PM

Paul,

I emailed Larry and gave him your regards. I met up with him on Friday afternoon, and I delivered my mount. He went through EVERYTHING to be done with me; it was very interesting. I must say, however, that my star alignment problems were the main reason why I sent it in, but as we were discussing the work to be done, I mentioned the problem, and he told me it was most likely due to my secondary encoders interferring with the primary encoders on the motors. SECONDARY ENCODERS??? All this time, (2 years almost), I had hooked up the encoders built into my early model go-to MI-250 mount to the Gemini, along with the motors. This made two complete sets of encoders..2xRA and 2xDEC on this particular mount..feeding information to Gemini. The built in encoders had to be disconnected ...but, I never got the memo. Now, Larry will completely remove the encoders built into the mount itself, so they dont interfere anymore. It kinda blind sided me to learn that what was such a basic thing to do in my mind (hook up all the wiring to the encoders) was actually causing the mount to malfunction. The newer MI-250s dont have the encoders.

clear skies,

Paul

#18 Paul Romero

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:25 PM

Hi,

All, I received a call from Larry; apparently, my mount received an initial review (even so its last in line to be upgraded), and three items were broken in it. The two blocks holding the worm gear to the frame were very loose...hence my 'motor stalled' problems with the Gemini. Even so I had previously tightened the allen screws on the worm, these blocks are beneath the whole assembly, and they cannot be tightened that way. Second, he found that the RA gear had been totally trashed in sections. Third, the RA large main bearing was in need of replacement. Although, its best not to speculate what caused these problems, Larry did say he looked up my mount, and he found that I'm AT LEAST the 4th owner. I got this one a bit cheap; you get what you pay for. I'm glad I had this work done!

clear skies,

Paul






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