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New Gemini II features on the way!

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#1 Hilmi

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 11:46 PM

For those of you not regularly checking the Yahoo Gemini II group, there is a new Gemini II firmware version in the works and it is available as a public beta. The new firmware adds a lot of new features including a mount balance feature there are also a few minor bug fixes. Here is the list of new features:

The HC buttons background will be programmable.
The HC has a new Balance Menu. See Menu--Mount-->Balance
The HC now starts up in the Centering speed.
The Default value for the mount type is now G11.
The HC sets set tracking rate automatically for Sun and Moon.
René started to finalize the Comet Tracking. His comment: I want to have it running perfectly before Comet ISON is in sight:
http://scully.cfa.ha...?d=c&o=CK12S010
Comet Tracking - on hand controller Menu-->Track-->Comet/User Defined


#2 Raginar

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:06 AM

Thanks Hilmi, that was useful :). The balance feature will be neat.

#3 Dan Finnerty

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 06:22 PM

Sounds nice. Mount balance and ISON tracking are both great features in my book.

Any idea how robust the beta is? I will check in with the yahoo G2 group and see what they think, but if a few early adopters have tried it without problems I may give it a whirl.

#4 davebuechler

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:15 PM

Thanks Hilmi for the heads up.
Have they updated the catalogs in this one?

#5 Hilmi

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:36 PM

Catalogs have been updated in the public release more than a month back when they put in the new IC catalog to replace the one with the copy right issue.

I requested to test this public beta release and Tom Hilton gave me the link to access it. The automated firmware installation has not yet been updated to support this release so I had to install it manually via FTP. Due to windows related security reason FTP installation did not work for me so I had to resort to physically removing the SD card to install the new firmware.

After installation, I checked the Gemini II settings without connecting to the mount and the first thing I immediately noticed was that the night theme finaly got some love and now the buttons have a nice 3D look to them. I dug around the menu and found the mount balance feature, and so far so good.

I plan to connect my mount tonight and see how it goes. I won't be testing the mount tracking feature because I haven't got the slightest clue about observing comets and the second being that I live in very light polluted skies so unless that comet is rather bright, I doubt I will be able to see it with an 8" scope.

#6 nemo129

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 07:09 AM

Hilmi,
I would be very interested to hear your opinion on the balancing function once you have had a chance to try it out.

Thanks!

#7 Hilmi

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:38 PM

First test of mount balance feature and i couldn't figure out how to make it work. Admittedly, I only gave it half an hour since it is late and I have to go to work tomorrow. The screen is supposed to show you bar graphs and percentage readings that show how far out of balance you are. I shot of an email to Tom Hilton asking for instructions, I'll keep you posted. Friday/Saturday is our weekend so I should have more time to fiddle with it without fear of being late for work.

#8 Hilmi

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:09 PM

OK figured out why it wont work. The Gemini II unit needs some kind of motor controller firmware for this feature work. This update is separate from the Gemini II and requires either a factory update or you buy specialized hardware (around $50) in order to perform it.

To my understanding, units shipped more recently than mine probably already have this firmware installed from the factory. My unit is a rather early unit dating back to mid 2011.

#9 Raginar

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:38 PM

Hilmi,

That sucks. Do the new 'high speed' motors have it already?

#10 nemo129

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 07:32 PM

Hilmi,
Thanks for doing the leg work on that and sharing your results. I think my mount is about 6 months older than yours so I will have to do the upgrade you mentioned. :crazy: I will have to check in the Yahoo group, but do you know if Losmandy is selling the "specialized hardware" to be able to utilize the balancing function?

Thanks again! :)

#11 Hilmi

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 12:03 AM

Chris,

The new High torque motors are not the issue. Seems that the firmware is actually on board the Gemini II main board.

Kirk,

The part is a micro-controller programmer available in electronics project stores. The one Tom Hilton had recomended was the "PICK it 3" If you live in the US, I don't see doing this your self as worth the effort since it involves building your own adapter cable. You might as well send it directly to Losmandy to get it done professionally since shipping cost inside the US is cheap as compared to international shipping.

#12 orlyandico

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:40 AM

That is the PICKit 3. 50 bucks at SparkFun.

It's a PIC programmer. Probably the motor control firmware must be updated. Seems very DIY. Can't Losmandy ship out a replacement chip that's already programmed? This is what AP did with the S chip - you pay them money, they send you a new chip and instructions on how to install it.

#13 Hilmi

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 04:52 AM

To my knowledge all chips on the Gemini 2 board are soldered on and not installed using sockets. That would result in them being irreplaceable by the typical user.

But you are correct that is exactly what needs to be done. You also need to make a custom male-male 2mm pitch to 2.54mm pitch cable to interface the programer with the Gemini 2. I would advise most users to get this done professionally

#14 mega256

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:45 AM

This balance feature would be a great addition to the
G11 system.We need to look at this more.My G11-G2 is about the same age as Hilmi's(2011) and has the new motor in RA.
The IEq45 has an electronic balance and allows me to use a C11 on that mount with good electronic balance.
about $30 on EB will get a pck3 pgmr.
I have the new test software ...and wanted this feature.

#15 Raginar

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:37 AM

God, there is no way I'm gonna do this.

#16 nemo129

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:12 PM

Hilmi,

Thank you so much for the information. I think the point may be moot for me now as I have just placed my name on the notification list for the Astro-Physics AP1100 and will now likely sell my G11/G2 after I get the new mount. It would have been nice if a simple Gemini 2 firmware update had provided the electronic balance feature as my G11 seems to have a "fat" balance point in RA and despite having some experience in balancing it I always felt is was a best guess activity. Being an engineer, I hate guessing! :crazy:

Thanks again!

#17 Hilmi

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 12:24 AM

Dont forget that some people will already have the mount the motor firmware in place. Only some of us need this complex procedure. Besides, sending the electronics unit to the manufacturer for a feature upgrade isnt such a big deal if you live in the US

#18 orlyandico

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 12:28 AM

Not being able to upgrade motor firmware does seem a bit short-sighted. Heck Celestron can update all their motor control firmware with nothing more than the same serial port you use to control the mount..

#19 Hilmi

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 01:25 AM

True, mistakes do happen. But the trick is to learn from them.

#20 mich_al

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:21 AM

I'm not familiar with Losmandy but wouldn't it be possible to just send the electronics board in for update and not the entire mount?

#21 dawziecat

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:16 AM

I'm not familiar with Losmandy but wouldn't it be possible to just send the electronics board in for update and not the entire mount?


It would be real nice if that wasn't necessary though.

But, yes, one of the many nice things about Gemini 2 and Losmandy mounts are that the electronics are easily detached. Motors too.

So nobody will be sending their "entire mount" anywhere for this.

Still, this requirement is a huge surprise to me . . . and probably a shock to all Gemini 2 owners.

#22 Hilmi

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 11:05 AM

Terry,

This requirement is only for the mount balance feature which was not a planned for feature. The only reason it got added was because I asked for it. Many users won't need this motor firmware update. I suspect all future units will have it pre-installed anyway

#23 Startraffic

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 12:39 PM

Hilmi.
This is indeed good news. Since I have to send my G2 in for repair. My fault, it got wet in my POD when I didn't put it away in the tool box. I'll get the upgrade as well. I've begin the process of replacing my POD with a 10ft Homedome so the Obs will probably be down for the rest of the summer anyway, but when I'm done,
A 10ft automated dome, on a 11ftx12ft deck with my HGM200-G2 on a pier! Hooraw! :jump:

Clear Dark Skies
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