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Paramount ME control with iPad/SkySafari/SkyWire

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#1 mmalik

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 05:12 PM

Has anyone used iPad/SkySafari/SkyWire to control Paramount ME? I would like to know how to best do it. I use iPad/SkySafari/SkyWire to control elCapitan and it works great; I simply plug the ‘male’ SkyWire directly to ‘female’ RS-232 connector on elCapitan. I notice Paramount ME has ‘male’ RS-232 connectors on it; do I need a serial an adapter to connect ‘male’ SkyWire to male RS-232 on ME? What drivers do I select in SkySafari? Only option I see is “Bisque Paramount + TheSkyX” under setup in SkySafari; is that the right option? I wonder why SkyX?

If you may have connected iPad/SkySafari/SkyWire to an ME for mount control, I would like to know all the details as to where do you plug the SkyWire to ME (which port exactly since there a multiple pin configurations for serial ports on ME, plus there is a ‘female’ computer connection port on ME), do you use a serial adapter of any sort, which driver/option do you pick in SkySafari, etc. Details please... Thanks in advance!

#2 frolinmod

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 06:31 PM

I don't own SkySafari, but reading the SkySafari documentation online, in order to use SkySafari 3.1 with a Paramount, you configure SkySafari to talk via TCP/IP to TheSkyX running on either a Windows or MAC computer. Therefore you must first have TheSkyX running on said computer and successfully controlling the mount.

To enable TCP/IP connections in TheSkyX, go into "TheSkyX->Tools->TCP Server" and check the "Listening for Connections" checkbox. TheSkyX will then tell you the port number it is listening on. Configure SkySafari to talk to that port.

The Paramount ME's serial port is the female one on the control panel. Only pins 2, 3 and 5 are absolutely required. This is a simple serial connection. As simple as it gets. The ME is not very picky. You can transport the serial stream between the mount and TheSkyX running on a Windows or MAC computer just about any way you want that emulates a serial port and it'll work just fine. USB to Serial, Blutooth serial, Serial over IP, etc all work. So the connection can be wireless and the computer doesn't have to be anywhere near the mount. (With a Windows machine you can also use the ME's USB port instead if you like, but serial is simpler and more flexible.)

#3 mmalik

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 06:48 PM

Therefore you must first have TheSkyX running on said computer and successfully controlling the mount.


Ok, situation is that TheSkyX is already running and controlling ME. I just need to be able to use iPad/SkySafari/SkyWire to control the mount (I should have explained). All the serial ports on ME are 'male', which means I can't connect 'male' SkyWire to any of them directly. There is only one 'female' serial port labeled computer connection. If I plug SkyWire into that, I get an error saying "SkyPro can't make a wireless network connection to the scope". Anyone who may have used the kind of setup I am talking about?

#4 frolinmod

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 06:57 PM

If you are attempting to plug a SkyWire cable directly into the mount and if I correctly understand how SkySafari and SkyWire work, then that will NOT work. SkySafari cannot talk to the mount directly via a SkyWire cable. No third party application can do that. Only TheSkyX can talk to the mount directly. For all third party intents and purposes, TheSkyX IS the mount. All other aplications must go through TheSkyX to control the mount. And as you mentioned above, you already have TheSkyX talking to the mount directly, correct? You do not change that. What you DO is have SkySafari talk to TheSkyX (via TCP/IP). To enable TCP/IP connections in TheSkyX, go into "TheSkyX->Tools->TCP Server" and check the "Listening for Connections" checkbox. TheSkyX will then tell you the port number it is listening on. Configure SkySafari to talk to that port.

If you'd like a wireless connection between the computer running TheSkyX and the mount, this one is just about as good as it gets when all is said and done.

#5 mmalik

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 07:27 PM

To enable TCP/IP connections in TheSkyX, go into "TheSkyX->Tools->TCP Server" and check the "Listening for Connections" checkbox. TheSkyX will then tell you the port number it is listening on. Configure SkySafari to talk to that port.


Thanks; I'll try that and I understand that. My question again is where do I plug the SkyWire? I am not using wireless connection; that was just an error I was referring to. Do I connect SkyWire to port labeled computer connection for it to talk to TCP port of TheSkyX?

#6 jmiele

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 07:46 PM

you need an extension between the male skywire end and the mounts serial plug. it's not made to plug directly in. the skyfi is the same. Joe

#7 frolinmod

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 07:51 PM

If I understand what you're doing and how it works, then it appears you don't use the SkyWire cable at all. You use a TCP/IP (over WiFi) connection from your iPAD to TheSkyX running on the computer. Then TheSkyX talks to the mount normally via however you already have it connected to the mount. No need for the SkyWire cable in this configuration.

#8 frolinmod

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 08:06 PM

You're saying he just needs a gender changer Joe? Does not need to go through TheSkyX?

Oops. In that case never mind me. I'm just a fountain of misinformation today. :step:

#9 jmiele

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 09:25 PM

Yeah, they come requiring a cable be used (or a gender changer) however not a null modem connector which looks similar.
Joe

#10 mmalik

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 09:40 PM

Thanks Joe; I had the feeling that was the case but wasn't sure (gender changer I mean). Do I still need to do the TCP server config or will gender changer is all that's needed?

Thanks frolinmod!

#11 jmiele

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 09:59 PM

The concept of Sky Safari Pro is it controls the mount with no computer. The mount still thinks its connected to a serial port. As I recall, it works fine for the ME but no go on the MX because of the lack of serial connectivity. Sky Safari Pro does use tcp but just for it to talk to "its" controller on the Wifi version. From there, the mount thinks it's getting serial commands. I use it with Tak's, ME, AP... they all work fine. I use the SkyFi version. I believe the SkyWire works the same.

Keep us up to date with your findings and we'll work through it.

Best, Joe

#12 mmalik

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 04:57 AM

Thanks Joe. What I need is DB9 Female/Female Mini Gender Changer (Coupler) to be exact for SkyWire to connect to ME (Note: Serial coupler is NOT needed for elCapitan, SkyWire connects directly). Thanks for the help; will keep you posted. Regards!

#13 jmiele

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 06:33 AM

Ok, just make sure not to grab a null modem adapter. They look the same but crossover for use in data programming and firmware updating.

Joe

#14 mmalik

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:48 AM

Instead of running to the store, I ordered online; can you confirm if this is the right one.

Link...

#15 jmiele

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 11:03 AM

Yup your good. Joe

#16 mmalik

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 12:42 AM

Still no luck; I got the serial gender changer for SkyWire. I am using TheSkyX 6.0.0.65. There are two serial ports, one labeled "Aux I/O port" and one labeled "Aux Serial 1, 9 line"; which one do I plug SkyWire to? At what point in the startup process I should try connecting with SkySafari; at boot or after I am homed? Do I keep TheSkyX connected or not during SkySafari connection attempt? Your help will be greatly appreciated if someone could list steps in detail and in proper order. Thx

#17 frolinmod

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 06:54 AM

Have you asked Southern Stars this question either via email as they suggest or via their yahoo group? There's a post on their yahoo group that describes how it's done. Take a look.

There isn't a "6.0.0.65" version of TheSkyX. That would be a TheSky6 version. TheSky6 has been obsolete for many years now. I hope you're not still running TheSky6. (Note: The usual cast of old curmudgeons who are still running TheSky6 will likely now chime in with protestations. Pfft!)

If you're running TheSkyX, you should be running at least TheSkyX 10.1.11, build 5929.

Please DO NOT ever plug anything into either the adapter panel port labeled "Aux I/O port" or the instrument panel port labled "Aux I/O port." Please permanently place a port cover over that port on both panels.

The adapter panel port labeled "Aux Serial 1 (9 line)" is a through the mount serial port. It connects through to the port labeled "Aux Serial 1 (9-line)" on the instrument panel at the rear of the Versaplate. It's really just nine dry wires that can be used for just about anything (that is low power, low current).

The adaptor port labeled "Serial to PC" is for mount control. Your computer should already be plugged into either this port or the USB port. Use one or the other, but not both.

You might consider reading the Paramount ME User Guide to learn the functions of each of the ports on the Paramount ME adaptor panel. You can download this document from the Software Bisque website.

#18 mmalik

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 02:30 PM

Thanks so much for clarifying; I'll try "Serial to PC" again, which I had tried to begin with (I was wrongly referring to it as 'female' serial port labeled computer connection in my posts above, sorry for not using the exact term). I think problem occurred since I didn't disconnect the USB port computer/TheSKy6 is connected to. I'll give it a try and let you know. If that works then I really didn't need to go the route of gender changer which was discussed above. Anyway, I think I understand you now, will keep you posted. Thanks for all the help.

#19 frolinmod

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 03:16 PM

I also suggest you re-read this thread from the beginning because I suspect I may be correct and Joe may be incorrect. I suspect he's thinking of a different product. My understanding is that in order to control a Paramount, SkySafari running on your iPad needs to talk to TheSkyX (note, NOT TheSky6) via TCP/IP over WiFi. TheSkyX then does the actual mount control on SkySafari's behalf. That is the procedure that was explained in the Southern Stars mailing list posting (on yahoogroups.com) from earlier this year in any case...

#20 mmalik

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 04:01 PM

My understanding is that in order to control a Paramount, SkySafari running on your iPad needs to talk to TheSkyX (note, NOT TheSky6) via TCP/IP over WiFi. TheSkyX then does the actual mount control on SkySafari's behalf.


If that's the case then it is really convoluted; software controlling software and then mount. Plus I am not setup for Wifi on computer/TheSky6 side neither I am setup for SkyFi on iPad/SkySafari side. All I have is a physical cable (SkyWire) to connect iPad to the mount. I am with you on all this, but it may not be possible the way you envision given the infrastructure I am working with. Regardless, will keep you posted how direct connectivity goes.






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