Jump to content


Photo

Suggestions on remote telescope control

  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 23 March 2013 - 06:46 PM

I am setting up my mount to my pc and have a few issues I am not sure I am doing correctly or might there be a better way?

First my equipment list:
HARDWARE
Mount cg-5 advanced series
Telrad finder
Celestron 80mm Guidescope In the mail
Scope for now C11 XLT. Soon maybe AR152 or AR127 for the cg-5 mount
Celestron NexImage 5mp for guiding
Canon T4i for imagining

SOFTWARE
Stellarium
NexRemote having problems?????
BackyardEOS
ASCOM 6 is installed but not sure if configured correctly
PHD guiding is installed but not sure if configured correctly
DSS, Registax, Photoshop, trials of many others


My scope is setup outside about 50 feet from my office inside. I have 2 USB cables, 1 for the mount that connects to a serial adapter outside then to the HC via data cable. USB cable 2 is for the imaging camera. 1 focus hand controller for my JMI Motofocus.


Not sure if this helps but here is the scope setup
http://bufordexchang...t.html#siteprep

Here is the control computer left is camera on iPad to view orientation of scope, middle screen is BYE, far right Stellarium.

Posted Image

My current procedure is:
Inside I start Stellarium, and BackyardEOS
Then go outside and power on the scope and imigining camera in manual bulb Live View mode. Then i do a 2 star align with 4 calibration stars and I get a good alignment.
In side I can slew in Stellarium by selecting an object and press (ctrl 1) and it works as it should and goes to the object. However slowly my Live View in BYE and Stellarium get out of sync and some drifting happens ( I think this may be because I have not drift aligned well yet)
Here is where I start to have problems. I start NexRemote and try to use the direction buttons and it's like the mount alignment is dropped???? And the scope marker in Stellarium starts to drift quickly out of view.

Question: can I do a HC alignment and then switch to the pc NexRemote program? This was answered that I need to use one or the other (HC or NexRemote)
Problem maybe:
I guess I will need to learn the alignment procedures with NexRemote because once aligned I would like to make corrections from inside during imagining. The issue will be that with the C11 the alignment and calibration stars do not usually show up in the FOV so I guess I will need to take the laptop outside and connect to the mount and camera then do the alignment then disconnect the USB cables move the laptop inside and reconnect the laptop????? Will this work or will disconnecting the laptop cause a problem?

Is this outdated or am I reading this incorrectly from wiki
-----------------------------------------------
StellariumScope is a program for MS Windows allowing Stellarium to control a variety of telescopes using the ASCOM drivers. It extends the number of devices that can be controlled by Stellarium and adds commands such as "sync" and "stop".
-----------------------------------------------
I downloaded the stellariumscope program but have not configured it or really tried it out.

It seems like some how I may be making this harder than it should be.


Question: all mount communications from the pc should go through the ASCOM interface layer correct?

Question: What setting in the programs and mount that I am using should I be looking at? Stellarium, NexRemote, PHD, and do I need Stellariumscope?


Question: can I sync in Stellarium to a star that has drifted out of the FOV and how?

I have read the manuals and tested myself however I must be missing something and some of the information I found online was from 2005-07 and I think it may be out dated. The USB cables used are active and I will pull a 3rd for the guide camera (NexImage 5mp)
Is this outdated or am I reading this incorrectly from wiki
-----------------------------------------------
StellariumScope is a program for MS Windows allowing Stellarium to control a variety of telescopes using the ASCOM drivers. It extends the number of devices that can be controlled by Stellarium and adds commands such as "sync" and "stop".
-----------------------------------------------
I downloaded the stellariumscope program but have not configured it or really tried it out.

It seems like some how I may be making this harder than it should be.


Question: What would be good startup and shutdown procedures be in a pier setup? I am temporally setup with scope on tripod for the past few weeks in the same spot with a 365 cover.

#2 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2141
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 23 March 2013 - 07:56 PM

That is a whole-lot of information and questions in one big post!

Maybe break it down into a more-digestible series of questions, starting with the question that is most important to you first.

P.S. I think that your mount is a tad too small for that 11" optical tube.

#3 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 23 March 2013 - 10:06 PM

That is a whole-lot of information and questions in one big post!

Maybe break it down into a more-digestible series of questions, starting with the question that is most important to you first.

P.S. I think that your mount is a tad too small for that 11" optical tube.


I am looking for the best way to control the mount for imaging remotely from a warm room.

The C11 is currently on the CG-5 that only has a telrad. I will be looking at something in the AR127 to AR152 class of refractor and guide with something like PHD.
I understand that the C11 will require a mount that can handle the weight of the C11 plus guide scope cameras,etc.
I am looking for telescope control, guiding and imagining solutions that would work with the CG-5 mount and should work with say a CGEM DX mount as well.
I will think about how to break it down a little more simple, I know my question is a bit broad but it's really about the integration of the control applications.

#4 Lorence

Lorence

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 837
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2008

Posted 24 March 2013 - 01:41 AM

{Post removed by mods}

#5 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:44 AM

Post deleted by gastargazer01

#6 rimcrazy

rimcrazy

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 280
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Overgaard, AZ

Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:41 AM

While I don't have near the same setup as you I am working towards the same kind of solution to the challenge of setting up a remote controlled observatory. You have a good start and actually are doing the same thing that I am doing in that you are setting up a virtual remote observatory before you go to set up the real thing. I too have set up my virtual observatory on my patio.

Posted Image

Because my setup and software are completely different I can't address your specific questions but I can make some recommendations as to some effective problem solving techniques. As an engineer with more gray over my ears than I care to think about, what I always use to tell young engineers when confronted with a large project...

Q. How do you eat an elephant?

A. One bite at a time.

It sounds like you are having a number of issues. Before you start changing too many things at once first get the basics down.

1) Check the mechanics of your mount/telescope. Is is balanced correctly? Is your mount sufficient? I'm not familiar with your mount but Chris E. questioned this and it may be a very good thing to look at right from the start. If you have too much telescope for your mount, sorry to say, but you are screwed right from the start. Everything else you are doing is for naught because mechanically your setup is not stable.

2) Once you've determined you system is mechanically stable, next verify that everything electrically is working correctly. Does all of your software that you intend to use, one at a time, communicate and work as specified? If yes, then start firing all of them up together and see that combined they still work correctly as expected. If one piece of software works correctly by itself but does not when you have other software running you could have driver conflicts, hardware conflicts, etc. You need to resolve these issues before trying to progress further.

3) Google is your friend. I've been busy scanning this board and probably at least a half dozen other boards, not necessarily asking questions but specifically looking at remote controlled observatories and how others have set them up. I have a Astronomy tab on my Firefox browser and under that I have an item Personal Observatories. I'm currently up to 31 and growing on web sites of personal observatories. Not all of these are remote controlled but many of them are. There is a wealth of information out there that people are willing to share. For example:

Michael Cook's Newcastle Observatory has two great pages:

Startup Sequence and Shutdown Sequence

4) Back to your issues at hand. Once you have confirmed you are mechanically stable and electrically stable, then you can proceed to starting to nail other things down.

For me, I've run into a host of problems simply because my system was both mechanically unstable and an electrical disaster. I believe I've solved the mechanical issues and the last of the electrical stability issues I sincerely hope I've killed. Now I'm ready to go forward. My thinking on how I proceed is as follows:

1) Re-verify that all cameras work, mount tracks, everything communicates as expected.
2) Do a baseline alignment and verify I can track, first unguided and then guided. Create a baseline alignment procedure for my setup with my hardware and verify it works consistently.
3) Add parking to my setup. Verify I can align, track, park, re-align, track, etc. You don't have to wait overnight but you need to be able to do this basic function. Once you can at least do these basic steps consistent and without issue you can then move forward.

4) I plan on having 4 modes that my telescope can be configured. a) Imaging and photometry B) spectroscopy (SA100 & RSpec) c) video (Mallincam) d) Solar. I need to set up the base mechanical configuration of each of these modes and see how they interact with each other an my basic setup. Once they are mechanically understood, documented and verified consistent, I will then proceed to actually using the telescope in each of these modes.

5) Once all of that is done then the real work can begin, which is putting it on it's permanent pier and doing the painstaking task of collecting gobs of data so I can turn an alignment screw 1/8th of a turn etc. ad infinitum.

Not sure this helps but basically get the very simple things done first and in the order of mechanically stable and then electrically stable. Only once you've accomplished that would I move forward towards looking at the more detailed things. That and don't let the know-it-alls get you down. I try to research things very well on the web before I ask a question but that being said, I still end up asking some dumb one's in 20-20 hindsight. That still does not stop me from asking. If you don't react to the inflamed response you give the troll no satisfaction. Take the high road. Silence is golden.

#7 1965healy

1965healy

    The Snarkster

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 8832
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2007
  • Loc: San Antonio, TX

Posted 24 March 2013 - 08:31 AM

Rim crazy, thank you so much for your post. So many of us who want to explore astrophotography and remote control of our equipment are at a loss just how to begin. Your one bite at a time analogy is perfect. It is easy to become frustrated when learning new concepts/techniques and just give up when if we had slowed down and taken smaller steps and a bit more time we might have had those little successes we need to move forward. Some of us grasp things quickly while others need to work thru a new process several times before we get it.
Thanks again for taking the time to break it down for those of us just starting out. Your willingness to share your experience is why so many of us enjoy CN!

#8 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86107
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 24 March 2013 - 09:17 AM

I am setting up my mount to my pc and have a few issues I am not sure I am doing correctly or might there be a better way?

Question:
Question:
Question:
Question:
Question:


Yes there is a better way.

Question: Have you ever heard the expression "Take one step at a time?"

I'm grateful that you didn't ask if there was a worse way. Don't think you would like the answer.


Cloudy Nights is for members to help one another when they have questions; not to discourage them. I can understand that the OP is pressed for time, in order to give his friend a chance to see his observatory project completed. That's a very admirable thing to want to do for a friend that does not have much time left; and he just needs some assistance in making that happen.

#9 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86107
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 24 March 2013 - 09:22 AM

For everyone; in the future, let's keep the basics that CN is built on, in mind:

The Basics:

As the TOS has grown over the years of forum operation, it has been decided it might be helpful to include a short summary of the expectations of the users - an executive summary if you will. Simply put, the following behavior is expected from users:

* Play Nice
* Share
* Be Polite
* Be Honest
* Respect other members & the administrators and moderators who are working to keep this board a useful resource.

Above all, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.



Thanks everyone; now let's get the OP some much needed help. :)

#10 JJK

JJK

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1871
  • Joined: 27 Apr 2008

Posted 24 March 2013 - 12:12 PM

I and a neighbor are currently controlling an Astro-Physics mount, CCD camera, focuser, and guide camera using a computer in the observatory (Mac or PC) and either a PC/Mac/iPad inside my house (via WiFi). The software we use includes MaximDL, PhD, PEMPro, Equinox Pro, Jump (iPad app), Nebulosity, and PhD. I'll likely install a MacMini (w/a flash drive and w/o a monitor) permanently in the observatory to keep the setup simple and compact.

I haven't yet added a camera to monitor the scope's position, or automated the roll-off roof (I likely won't do the latter, because the system is in my backyard and I'd rather be safe than sorry). When we use a Bahtinov focusing mask, that is done with us in the observatory (I likely won't add a computer controlled flip-top mask). When we use focuser controller routines in software (e.g., Equinox Image), then the process can be done remotely.

We also haven't bothered installing complicated control systems to power up and power down all of the components in the observatory. Given the proximity of the observatory to my house, I don't think that's worth the cost and bother. In addition, I prefer to disconnect the hand controller and other things, to minimize the chance of components being damage by lightning.

#11 tim53

tim53

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9195
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Highland Park, CA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

Interesting. I have a Mac mini that I use to run my nexstar 9.25". I've been thinking of doing something similar with it and a larger Observatory scope someday - only minting the mini ON the telescope a d running the cables from it to the drives and cameras. I think Jeff terry (author of iccd) does this.

Tim

#12 ericsolo

ericsolo

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 27 Dec 2005
  • Loc: Edmonton, AB, Canada

Posted 24 March 2013 - 01:38 PM

Mike

Have you thought about getting a laptop that remains outside connected to the telescope/cameras, and controlling that one with a second computer from inside via Remote Desktop or Teamviewer? If this is an option it would greatly simplify the process of aligning the scope without having to hook up and unhook the computer, and eliminate the long cable runs. I use an old laptop for that purpose.

At first I tried a similar setup as yours, but soon realized that this not going to work very well (for me, at least).
Eric

#13 1965healy

1965healy

    The Snarkster

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 8832
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2007
  • Loc: San Antonio, TX

Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:14 PM

Mike
You are about 2 hours from Deerlick Astronomy Village in Sharon, GA. Google their site. You may be able to make contact with some of the folks there and get some help as well. Many times if you can actually talk to some one via phone or in person, if you make the drive down there, can make more sense.

#14 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:38 PM

I knew when I got the mount and OTA that the mount would only be good for visual with the C11 so this is not a surprise.  I am looking at refractors to do some imagining with that I think the cg5 would work well with, but now I am thinking about just getting a mount that will work well with the C11 for imagining such as the CGEM DX.  This has been in the long term budget and I think stepping up now will alleviate more than just software issues.
My friend John stopped by Friday and we were looking at the site and he said that at least his doctor was not checking the 0-6 month box on his paper work so I had some time (always looking at the positive). This was an inspiration to me to push forward.  He has a construction background and someone I have been speaking with from the beginning of this project.
 
My experiences on CN have all been great and have been invaluable, so thank you all for your input and suggestions.

#15 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:49 PM

I and a neighbor are currently controlling an Astro-Physics mount, CCD camera, focuser, and guide camera using a computer in the observatory (Mac or PC) and either a PC/Mac/iPad inside my house (via WiFi). The software we use includes MaximDL, PhD, PEMPro, Equinox Pro, Jump (iPad app), Nebulosity, and PhD. I'll likely install a MacMini (w/a flash drive and w/o a monitor) permanently in the observatory to keep the setup simple and compact.

I haven't yet added a camera to monitor the scope's position, or automated the roll-off roof (I likely won't do the latter, because the system is in my backyard and I'd rather be safe than sorry). When we use a Bahtinov focusing mask, that is done with us in the observatory (I likely won't add a computer controlled flip-top mask). When we use focuser controller routines in software (e.g., Equinox Image), then the process can be done remotely.

We also haven't bothered installing complicated control systems to power up and power down all of the components in the observatory. Given the proximity of the observatory to my house, I don't think that's worth the cost and bother. In addition, I prefer to disconnect the hand controller and other things, to minimize the chance of components being damage by lightning.

Sounds like we are on a similar page. The obs will be right out front so i am not really concerned with automating every aspect of the setup. We had some bad thunderstorms last night and lightning was hitting all around.

#16 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:04 PM

Rimcrazy
Thank you, your location looks beautiful. Yours Chris's and others have me moving toward upgrading the mount now rather than later. It will delay the pier but will I am sure resolve issues in other areas.
I don't let negativity in, there are more good people that are willing to share there knowledge respectfully such as yourself.

#17 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86107
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:14 PM

My friend John stopped by Friday and we were looking at the site and he said that at least his doctor was not checking the 0-6 month box on his paper work so I had some time (always looking at the positive). This was an inspiration to me to push forward. He has a construction background and someone I have been speaking with from the beginning of this project.



We all wish your friend John, the very best; and also wishing you the best in getting things up & running!

#18 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:58 PM

Tim and Eric,
I had not been thinking of having any computer equipment outside but some of that was because of my lack of understanding how the HC and MC work together or don't if you use the ASCOM interface. But you have me thinking that I may need to. My initial thinking that I could use the HC outside for visual and software control from inside for imaging and scope control. My understanding now is that software control has no idea what the HC is doing and any commands sent through the HC serial interface go directly to the MC. Still a bit fuzzy on this but getting clearer I think :)

#19 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 04:12 PM

We all wish your friend John, the very best; and also wishing you the best in getting things up & running!


Thank you Carol

#20 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 9428
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005
  • Loc: In the Primordial Soup

Posted 24 March 2013 - 04:43 PM

I have 2 links that might help. They are a little out of date and newer versions of software are in use (TheSky6 replaced with TheSkyX etc.). The first link is set of slide from a talk I did. The second is how I operate my observatory.

http://www.jatobserv...files/frame.htm

http://www.jatobserv...te_control.html

#21 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 04:44 PM

Mike
You are about 2 hours from Deerlick Astronomy Village in Sharon, GA. Google their site. You may be able to make contact with some of the folks there and get some help as well. Many times if you can actually talk to some one via phone or in person, if you make the drive down there, can make more sense.

Thanks Eric, I will also checkout the NGAO that is in Gainsville Ga about 20 minutes away. I had seen the Deerlick site before but they had nothing on there events calendar but they do have a number for the property manager.

#22 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 24 March 2013 - 05:44 PM

I have 2 links that might help. They are a little out of date and newer versions of software are in use (TheSky6 replaced with TheSkyX etc.). The first link is set of slide from a talk I did. The second is how I operate my observatory.

http://www.jatobserv...files/frame.htm

http://www.jatobserv...te_control.html

Thank you Marcus That is a lot of good information you put together.

#23 stkoepke

stkoepke

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 479
  • Joined: 11 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Abilene, Texas

Posted 24 March 2013 - 08:38 PM

Definitely bookmarking this thread...
This is just what kind of info that I have been wanting to find out for my setup also.

Different scopes here but the mount and the rest is pretty much what I have too. Unfortunately I can't afford to upgrade to a bigger mount yet, so I'll learn the most I can from remote controlling this one and apply that knowledge learned to the next mount.

Thanks for starting this thread Mike!

And thanks to all those who are teaching the rest of us how to do it right. :bow: :bow: :bow:

#24 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2141
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 25 March 2013 - 12:33 AM

NOTE TO ALL:

1. Let's all play nice.

2. It is okay to disagree but not to be disagreeable.

3. Personal attacks and denigration of others are not acceptable. EVER. If you don't have anything positive and productive to say, DON'T POST.

4. RTFM-style answers are NEVER appropriate here.

5. If someone isn't playing nice, DO NOT ENGAGE THEM IN BATTLE. Just click the little slashed-circle icon at the bottom of the offending post that says "Notify Moderator" when you hover your mouse over it. Let the mods deal with the troublemaker.

Everyone should read and be familiar the CN Terms of Service, if you have not done so already. The link is near the top of every page.

http://www.cloudynig...p/Number/233117

Thanks everyone!

We now return you to your regular programming...

#25 gastargazer01

gastargazer01

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Flowery Branch GA

Posted 25 March 2013 - 03:36 AM

JJK, this is the camera that I use to monitor the scope:
D-Link DCS-932L mydlink-Enabled Wireless-N Day/Night Network Camera
It is wired or wireless, has a mic so I can hear the mount and camera shutter when I image. Another nice feature is that if i start an imaging session in my capture sw and I hear some wind i can pause the session until it stops I dont have to be looking at the images as they come in. Real easy to access from anywhere with a browser or iPad/phone app. I do not know if the ir sensor will cause any issue with long exposure, I have not seen any with the short exposures I have been doing. Once you set it up you can unplug the power and plug it in anywhere and it stays on the network.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics