Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | (show all)
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Open Source Mount Control Suite
      #5969013 - 07/13/13 01:26 PM

This came up on a thread in Cats & Casses. I am starting a thread here since it is more on topic, here.

I'm interested in this idea, myself. There isn't really anything especially magical coming up in the drives to make it impossible to figure this out if it were made to be able to talk to the right elements. So, here's a sketch off the top of my head of what it seems we'd want it to do:

Control capabilities:

(1) RA positioning drive
(2) RA Clock drive (there are architectures possible where 1 and 2 are separate)
(3) DEC positioning drive
(4) Telescope focus motor
(5) Dew heater
(6) Other motor 1 (e.g. if a guide scope were on a powered stage or camera rotator)
(7) Other motor 2 (e.g. if a guide scope were on a powered stage or camera rotator)
(8) Other motor 3 (Second focusing element)
(9) Dew heater 2
(10) Data output 1 (for pad or computer)
(11) Dome data output GEM (adjusted for as-built mount geometry, and dome data)
(12) Dome data output FORK (adjusted for as-built mount geometry and dome data)
(13) Roll off Roof coordination (e.g. ROR park function).

Accepted inputs:

(1) Bluetooth control- all data.
(2) WiFi hosting and control for all data.
(3) RA motor encoder.
(4) RA position encoder (several possible arrangements)
(5) DEC motor encoder.
(6) DEC position encoder (several possible arrangements)
(7) Focuser motor encoder
(8) Focuser absolute position encoder
(9) Dome position encoder
(10) Dome shutter open/close indicator
(11) System status serial commands
(12) System start control
(13) System normal shut down control
(14) Event-driven system safe/ emergency shut down control

There is going to be a much longer list to get everything. Something I see as an elephant in the room here is "What hardware does this run on?" The need to get the right control system together appears to have a great need for what a mount/ observatory system hub has to be. I personally see great benefit in this being one device. Ideally, it has these parameters:

(A) rock-solid stability- they just don't crash.
(B) remote-friendly capability- it resets itself to the right state if the power goes out.
(C) Modern data compatibility- I really want to be able to attack the rats' nest of cables.
(D) Mobility capability- it should be able to be really easy to use an built pointing models on the fly- all the good stuff.
(E) Low power requirement- even to the point of being active on a semi-old-school mount with just a clock drive and position encoders.

This doesn't sound at all like a Windows based system to me. I would really like to think something reasonable exists off the shelf which matches this description, though I don't know what that is off the top of my head. I don't know if any of the tablets we have seen up to now could become that device. That's really one for more knowledgeable folks.

Anyway, here's to the start of a thread. My understanding is ASCOM kind of started this way, so it may be possible for a 21st century universal mount and observatory controller to come out of this.

Thoughts?

-Rich



Quote:

We need an open-source telescope. Probably most of the bits already exist.




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5969172 - 07/13/13 03:25 PM

hi Rich,

There is something of this sort - RTS2 - http://www.rts2.org/

This was someone's doctoral dissertation and is now used at several professional telescopes.

On the Linux side there is INDI, which already has drivers for your favorite mount.

Or do you mean an open-source telescope mount firmware?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5969210 - 07/13/13 03:47 PM

There's an argument that we have at least the basis of this in the form of Mel Bartel's scope control system. Open source and using easily available hardware.

Nowadays it may be better replacing the DOS based PC hardware with something like an Arduino and a couple of stepper control boards.

The challenge I see is the mount hardware. This is much more difficult for the average amateur to make - I know, I've tried! The only real source could be defunct commercial mounts.

I'd avoid adding too many bells and whistles at the hardware level, better to have separate modules handling things like focusers and dew heaters and only combine them at the application level.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5969251 - 07/13/13 04:13 PM

I didn't know that SCOPE.EXE was open-source...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5969426 - 07/13/13 06:27 PM

Yes, GPL according to this:
http://www.bbastrodesigns.com/StepperSystem.html#DOWNLOAD

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5970345 - 07/14/13 12:47 PM

I specifically mean firmware and software. The idea I am thinking about is if someone can get basic mechanisms together such as bearings, motors, or something like an aeroquest gearing kit, it seems like it should be possible to make a first rate mount out of it. It should work in mobile mode out in the field, or in a remote observatory. It should be easy to set up and have the right reflexes to look after itself, such as power outage or loss of communications recovery.

It needs to be PC free. It needs to be completely wireless capable for all functions. It needs to be internet aware and secure. We're talking at least as smart as a $50 HP printer.

So, quite literally I'm talking about something you'd put together like Legos. Tell all the blocks what their job is and the obvious way to do it is the default, so it just works. They are looking to arrange themselves, so all you need to figure out is power. If you can arrange for a commercial swivel in your power cable, you're golden. If you power it down, drive 12 hours, and set up again, the system gets its act together on its own and tells you how to correct the polar alignment.

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (07/14/13 12:48 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5970373 - 07/14/13 01:11 PM

Rich, have you any experience in designing or developing this sort of system?

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5970378 - 07/14/13 01:17 PM

Sort of- I've set up things like automated optical benches and things like that. Other people were writing the code, but I had to figure out what it had to do and if it was working.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5970525 - 07/14/13 02:52 PM

It's my impression that you are seriously underestimating the difficulty of what you want. All that auto configuration software is difficult and adding wifi won't help.

I know that HP can do it for a $50 printer but they are making printers in the millions and making their profit on the ink.

The thing to bear in mind is that the complexity cannot be reduced, all that can be done is move it around. You want to move it to the developer rather than the user so the development task is much more complex.

I've seen this at work, where we make microanalysis systems. Managers assume that a simple product that's easy to use will be simple to develop. The converse is true.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5971189 - 07/14/13 09:06 PM

Apparently it is doable - the closest commercial analog I can see is 10Micron - but is it doable by a hobbyist in their spare time...

Reality is "open source" is a "scratch my itch" kind of thing. If a commercial product scratches your itch at a reasonable cost (and in a non-"evil" way) then the motivation to build it yourself diminishes. I can see the desire to DIY as amusement.. but once you try to productize it the amusement rapidly vanishes.

Some similar projects - PICgoto and Soundstepper - they're doing interesting stuff.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5971548 - 07/15/13 01:15 AM

I don't know what I said to imply the project was trivial. Rather, I see a lot of what we use in this hobby becoming inscrutable to the next generation of astronomers. I mean, we literally are at the point of having to use an emulator to run code to cause a USB plug to pretend to be a serial port to run and old DOS program trying to limp along in the 21st century. Getting a new mount to work is asking people to get familiar with COM when this will literally be the only COM device they will ever use.

So, once crossing the bridge to "OK, so I need to figure out a way to get this to be more like a bluetooth keyboard", it's pretty apparent everything else is going to have to be the same.

In a way, moving away from a PC is an attempt to simplify this- I don't know that it's realistic to think linking scopes to a given computer platform is going to help. So, the idea is to modernize the platform. Having it act a little more like a modern device would be nice for us. But for kids coming up, it's like explaining rotary dialing.

It's possible something like Sky Safari might try to grow into this if they had someone to talk to on the other side.

I feel like this is a real necessity. Of course, the fact COM support equipment is disappearing fast may force the mainstream here soon enough.

-Rich

Quote:

It's my impression that you are seriously underestimating the difficulty of what you want. All that auto configuration software is difficult and adding wifi won't help.

I know that HP can do it for a $50 printer but they are making printers in the millions and making their profit on the ink.

The thing to bear in mind is that the complexity cannot be reduced, all that can be done is move it around. You want to move it to the developer rather than the user so the development task is much more complex.

I've seen this at work, where we make microanalysis systems. Managers assume that a simple product that's easy to use will be simple to develop. The converse is true.

Chris




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
petely
member


Reged: 01/06/11

Loc: England
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5971619 - 07/15/13 02:55 AM

Quote:

It needs to be PC free. It needs to be completely wireless capable for all functions. It needs to be internet aware and secure. We're talking at least as smart as a $50 HP printer.

So, quite literally I'm talking about something you'd put together like Legos.


It all sounds eminently do-able as there's nothing in the list that is particularly hardware intensive. With all the $100 Android boards around: with WiFi, loads of I/O pins, serial connections and USB the Lego brick approach should be possible.

So for a visual observer, what you're proposing seems feasible. It would just be a case of someone with the skills wanting one for themselves and getting down to do it all.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: petely]
      #5971652 - 07/15/13 04:21 AM

Anat has written some Linux code for guiding, etc. already

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5369851/

and also... http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=15723&p=246412

he seems to have gotten quite a ways already.. he can guide via a QHY5 from the RasPi. The nice part - he already does plate solves and can sync the mount with the RA/DEC that's been plate solved. Pretty good... and consider a RasPi is $35.

project web site:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/iastrohub/


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5971658 - 07/15/13 04:33 AM

This is very doable, especially if there is a team of developers rather than one person. The Gemini I and Gemini II mount control system was written by one person and the Gemini II is based on an ARM processor if I am not mistaken. I believe that for such an initiative to truly take off it needs to be backed by a commercial venture, such as for example somebody selling the hardware in a ready to install pack that allows you to install the mount controller on various mounts without having machining skills. Another possibility is if it was adopted officially by one of the mount manufacturers who have good mounts but less than stellar controllers. This would give the initiative the momentum and credibility it needs to really pick up.

Don't forget that open source is fine as long as it doesn't inconvenience the user. Most users are not able to make their own hardware to allow such as system to work.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5971662 - 07/15/13 04:40 AM

There are a bunch of people already who sell 3rd-party mount controllers. Too many, in my opinion.

FS2
Boxdoerfer
Pulsar (on the Gemini G41/G53 mounts)
SiTech
Ursa Minor

and someone has already written Arduino code to emulate a Synscan motor board, so you can use an existing Synscan hand controller to drive your franken-mount.

plus, the NexSXW/NexSXD folks (Maite) have reverse-engineered the Celestron protocol to the point that they can fool a Celestron hand controller into controlling Vixen servo motors. It's just one more step to making a completely generic mount control system, i.e. by providing the motors.

I believe it is also possible albeit expensive to pay Software Bisque to put an MKS-5000 in whatever mount you want, on their web page they have some info on a Byers mount that was converted to MKS-3000 (?) so basically it's a Paramount.

IMHO with such a tiny market and with so many vendors/hobbyists there, I can't see the value of yet another project unless it is head-and-shoulders above the rest.

Everybody can make their own franken-mount controller, but to do it cheaply... and with a good feature set, is hard. Probably impossible.

Where I can see value:

- provide a good motor set and gears; everybody can buy Pittman motors, I'm talking about a Maxon motor, gearhead, and optical encoder. Something of the same class as an AP motor/gearhead.

- because the people who want cheap GoTo will buy a Celestron or a Synscan.

- a very robust controller to manage the motor gearbox.

Basically, something like the AP handset and GTO CP3, but totally generic. SiTech comes closest, but requires a PC.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Geo.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5972811 - 07/15/13 05:59 PM

Quote:

the NexSXW/NexSXD folks (Maite) have reverse-engineered the Celestron protocol to the point that they can fool a Celestron hand controller into controlling Vixen servo motors. It's just one more step to making a completely generic mount control system, i.e. by providing the motors.




Well, Vixen should sign them up and do a deal with Celestron (Synta seems OK selling the system as OEM). I hear the the reason the new StarBook is stepper based is the guy who developed the servo system walked and they felt they couldn't replace him.

As the average smart phone is more powerful than a 5 year old desktop and Celestron and Meade have moved to phone processors in their hand controllers, I'd say the PC is here to stay. Just in a lot smaller package.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite *DELETED* new [Re: Geo.]
      #5973500 - 07/16/13 02:17 AM

Post deleted by orlyandico

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5973724 - 07/16/13 09:06 AM

Anat's iAstroHub software is a pretty complete and open source solution.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/iastrohub/

It runs on the RikoMagic Mk802/Mk808 android set top boxes. These are extremely cheap ($40 for the Mk808, $75 for the Mk802) "computers on a stick" that normally run Android, but iAstroHub requires that they run Linux.

The key weakness of any Linux based solution is very limited drivers for astro gear. INDI library supports LX200 (including Losmandy Gemini), AP GTO, Celestron, and some other controllers.

cccd image capture supports QHY cameras. Apogee and SBIG cameras are supported via XmCCD, which AFAIK doesn't work with iAstrohub at present.

lin_guider for guiding currently works best on the QHY5 with the onboard ST-4 port. GPUSB support is not available at present. I am thinking it should be straightforward to hack lin_guider to support LX200 pulseguide commands.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5974063 - 07/16/13 12:44 PM

I do not disagree with any of this. My main vision is to enable something like your last line- but no PC.

I think Hilmi has a good point about needing a sort of sponsor. If someone were building a truly modular mount system, maybe that's what this gets launched as part of. I know iOptron has built controller/ motor sets to go with old mounts, like old CG-5s and such to turn them into GOTO mounts.

But here I would want it to be something good. Otherwise, why not just get a CGEM and live with whatever it does?

On the other hand, if it were good enough, it could, for example, be a major upgrade above the handpad on the Mach 1 GTO and its siblings with the ability to do a lot of what the AP command suite does, but in a mobile format. Hmmm, I wonder if I ran this concept by them if they'd tell me to buzz off or not. They didn't seem to understand what I was getting at with comments I made before about PC-free options.

The different little processor boxes floating around are definitely interesting to me, especially since so many are designed to be very low power.

-Rich

Quote:

There are a bunch of people already who sell 3rd-party mount controllers. Too many, in my opinion.

FS2
Boxdoerfer
Pulsar (on the Gemini G41/G53 mounts)
SiTech
Ursa Minor

and someone has already written Arduino code to emulate a Synscan motor board, so you can use an existing Synscan hand controller to drive your franken-mount.

plus, the NexSXW/NexSXD folks (Maite) have reverse-engineered the Celestron protocol to the point that they can fool a Celestron hand controller into controlling Vixen servo motors. It's just one more step to making a completely generic mount control system, i.e. by providing the motors.

I believe it is also possible albeit expensive to pay Software Bisque to put an MKS-5000 in whatever mount you want, on their web page they have some info on a Byers mount that was converted to MKS-3000 (?) so basically it's a Paramount.

IMHO with such a tiny market and with so many vendors/hobbyists there, I can't see the value of yet another project unless it is head-and-shoulders above the rest.

Everybody can make their own franken-mount controller, but to do it cheaply... and with a good feature set, is hard. Probably impossible.

Where I can see value:

- provide a good motor set and gears; everybody can buy Pittman motors, I'm talking about a Maxon motor, gearhead, and optical encoder. Something of the same class as an AP motor/gearhead.

- because the people who want cheap GoTo will buy a Celestron or a Synscan.

- a very robust controller to manage the motor gearbox.

Basically, something like the AP handset and GTO CP3, but totally generic. SiTech comes closest, but requires a PC.




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5974337 - 07/16/13 02:47 PM

Rich, as far as I understand, the smarts of the AP GTO controller is in the CP3 control box.

The handset is really just a fancy device for allowing input into the CP3 control box. In theory it should be possible to do everything APCC does, via a device that connects directly to the CP3. I know that the handset jack is really a serial port.

So it should be possible, via a bluetooth dongle attached to the first serial port, to have some sort of super controller using an Android tablet (iOS doesn't allow serial-over-bluetooth, the same reason Sky Safari for iOS cannot connect to a mount over bluetooth).

I mean let's get real.. a CP3 control box is $1000. If an end-user isn't willing to spend that much they're best off with a CGEM. The only issue is... AP won't sell you a CP3 or motors, unless you can prove you have an AP mount. So it's not a viable path for 3rd party mechanicals.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5975434 - 07/17/13 03:31 AM

I went through the last dozen pages of the SCT thread about Meade that spawned this thread...

The reality is it's possible to have an open-source mount control suite today. And for the mechanicals, any will do.

According to Dan Grey, the SiTech can be controlled without a PC. As I mentioned, Sky Safari can do it. None of this is open-source, however.

Incidentally, the Planewave Ascension is now bundled with SiTech. I could have sworn they used AP GTO before. That's a resounding plus vote for SiTech, I reckon..

How about this: the Arduino-based Synscan motor controller that I talked about, is compatible with EQMOD. With these two things, you have a full open-source solution. Requires a PC, however.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5975749 - 07/17/13 10:53 AM

So, what is really driving my thinking is it is possible to independently do the following:

(1) add a drive to a given mount
(2) build a pointing model on-board a mount
(3) Control a mount with a phone or tablet
(4) automatically align a mount
(5) autoguide without a computer
(6) control a camera with a computer
(7) control a few cameras without a computer.


Leaving the PC out is huge in terms of complexity of setup for mobile operation. However, it's also becoming clear every update to windows is a threat to the whole shebang.

So, if a high end mount could be controlled to build a pointing model on the fly in the field without a PC, that's new. If the technique used would allow you to motorize a custom mount and do the same, then that's huge for ATM or for observatories, but even more so, would allow a far easier entry for new mount makers.

What these things don't do at all is present themselves to your mobile device as effortlessly as a Bluetooth keyboard. I feel if we can get mounts to that point, the hobby will be vastly more accessible to modern users. If it were an Arduino project, that definitely sounds like a neat idea to me.

Like you say, there is a lot of stuff around. And you can get a low end mount which makes its own pointing model. Or you can get a high end mount to do it- but only with a PC. and we're still married to Com, and I really am starting to wonder if even the rs-232 converters will be available in 5 years (like the 5.25" drive).

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5975783 - 07/17/13 11:17 AM

Wll above features are actually available with various setups. Its just that nobody does it all. Meade got close and if they had added shutter release control with support for dithering they would have been spot on. But that's not open source

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Raginar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5975959 - 07/17/13 01:03 PM

So... you're basically making the Gemini-2? Maybe Rene would just let you help him out with that instead of reinventing the wheel. Much of what you're requesting is already done and working adequately.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Raginar]
      #5976265 - 07/17/13 04:02 PM

Thing is Rene has spent a good part of his life working on the hardware and software for Gemini 2 so it's extremely unlikely - impossible even - that he would open-source it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5976596 - 07/17/13 06:36 PM

Quote:

What these things don't do at all is present themselves to your mobile device as effortlessly as a Bluetooth keyboard. I feel if we can get mounts to that point, the hobby will be vastly more accessible to modern users. If it were an Arduino project, that definitely sounds like a neat idea to me.



This is the big problem. Getting a good user interface design (which this is essentially) is difficult.

My educated guess is that the functionality is about 20% of the job, the UI is the other 80%.

This is based on what I see at the company I work for where we make microanalysis equipment. Most of our time is spent developing and debugging the user interface.

I'm not sure that an Arduino would have the grunt to do it unless it presented a simple interface and put the UI on the display devices - all of them.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5976784 - 07/17/13 08:34 PM

I'm beginning to think that a Beaglebone Black is a better basis for a mount controller. 1GHz, runs Linux, has a lot of IO ports (much more than the RasPi), and $50.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5976852 - 07/17/13 09:29 PM

Orly, good suggestion! The Beaglebone Black also has 2GB of flash memory and a graphics processor. Pretty nice for such a little inexpensive device, and it looks like the sort of thing to do this.

Raginar: I just don't know the folks involved in Gemini II and if they'd be interested or annoyed. I've tried broaching this subject with Astro Physics, and I'm not sure if I'm not using the right words or what. Those of you who have been reading this thread seem to be right along with the general idea. It's a bit of work, but it's far more future-compatible than anything else i can point to. In a way, it does look like a lot of manufacturers are creeping towards this, but I am sensitive to how each of their approaches seems to be leaving certain pieces out which are an amazing amount of work to add after the fact.

I agree the UI is a very big deal. That has part of me hoping some way could be found to run this via SkySafari or something similar.

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (07/17/13 09:30 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite *DELETED* new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5976932 - 07/17/13 10:33 PM

Post deleted by orlyandico

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5978290 - 07/18/13 04:43 PM

To my immense annoyance, the BeagleBone Black is considered "dual use" technology in Singapore. My order has gotten held up and I had to fill out and sign a compliance statement that I won't use it for nuclear, biological, chemical, or other military use.



Looks like a Digilent uc32 Arduino-compatible, along with the chipkit motor shield, together already have everything you need for complete mount control.

the uc32 is a 32-bit PICMX @ 80MHz, 512k of flash and 32k of RAM, and the motor shield has 4 motor outputs and 2 encoder inputs, enough to drive RA and DEC (assuming they are servos).

the uc32 has enough flash to hold a significant star library, although it obviously isn't powerful enough to plate-solve.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5979551 - 07/19/13 10:30 AM

Huh- I wonder what someone is using it for. Quite a surprise, there. Someone I know at work is a huge fan of the raspberry pi computers. And I suppose I should just be really happy to have escaped the old Motorola 8 bit HC-11s.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite *DELETED* new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5979881 - 07/19/13 02:06 PM

Post deleted by orlyandico

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5980768 - 07/20/13 12:57 AM

Since there are a number of things to control, it seems to me that the basis of any network of devices would be based on the ASCOM model and API. The first problem is ASCOM platform is currently Windows-only, but I think the current developers would provide some support for ports to tablet and phone OSes (Android and iOS). Then apps like SkySafari can flourish in the environment.

(I wonder what the Southern Stars guys would say about having ASCOM on Android and iOS?)

I understand the current ASCOM is .NET or something, so you have to change the api to something else suitable for the other OSes. The protocols on the other side (the driver side) are whatever the devices need, just like they are today. You still have the same physical interfaces (wired or wireless) to choose from.

That gives you a framework on the device controller (mount, focuser, camera, dome, ...) side to work toward.

I think some monolithic soup-to-nuts device would be going the wrong way.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5980823 - 07/20/13 02:34 AM

I don't think porting ASCOM is that easy... if it were the INDI / RTS2 guys would have done it.

My understanding is that ASCOM is too wedded to the Windows ActiveX technology that it really can't be ported to anything else..


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5980897 - 07/20/13 04:56 AM

ASCOM is COM. This was done so that scripting would work. Unfortunately there's no universal scripting language that's platform agnostic.

We would love to make it cross platform but it's difficult to see how. The closest I came up with was a very simple text based interface that could be sent over a wire. It used servers and clients to translate the text messages to something that was compatible with the OS and hardware at each end.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5980905 - 07/20/13 05:13 AM

Chris, I went to the yahoo group where this seemed to be an active topic in 2008, and then died down. I'll sent you a PM, I'd like to discuss.

Lee


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5980947 - 07/20/13 06:56 AM

I just ran into another issue... if one is building an open-source telescope control system, the only choice is Linux.

And there are very little in the way of Linux drivers for most astro equipment. Even worse if you're on ARM Linux.

SBIG etc. do provide Linux drivers - but only for Intel Linux.

The only camera manufacturer who supports non-Intel Linux is Apogee - the RandomFactory Linux drivers support the Raspberry Pi (!!!!) and I imagine the developer might support BeagleBone if there were enough interest (the Pi code could probably work with a simple re-compilation).

This whole episode has made me even more interested in Apogee cameras.. I'll probably save up for one instead of an SBIG, FLI, or QSI, simply because they are more Linux friendly.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5981027 - 07/20/13 09:04 AM

Quote:

I just ran into another issue... if one is building an open-source telescope control system, the only choice is Linux.




Can you explain what you mean please Orlando.

I'm under the impression that there's lots of options for developing and building software on other platforms, and lots of code available.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
petely
member


Reged: 01/06/11

Loc: England
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5981291 - 07/20/13 11:49 AM

So far as the BeagleBone Black goes, I'd give it a few months.
I received one about a month ago. My initial reaction was utter frustration which has since settled down to disappointment. You need to be aware that a lot of the I/Os are dedicated to the display. Great if you want a "dark" board for a dedicated operation, but not so hot if you want to see its output. It also has a bit of a glitch ATM where if you boot of the internal flash, the O/S can't see the external uSD card. You can boot off the uSD (slower than the flash by about 2x) and see the flash - just not the other way round. So until the suppliers get that sorted, my device is at the back of the queue.
There's always the Olimex A13 OLinuxino-Wifi. That has a touch screen available as a bolt-on (again: using many I/Os), internal flash and built-in Wifi. You can also attach a LiPo to it for true portable use.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5981437 - 07/20/13 01:23 PM

It's really the Windows PC basis of ASCOM which started all of this discussion about a need to move beyond ASCOM if we are to move beyond the PC.

So, bringing up SkySafari is a perfect illustration. Basically, all mount manufacturers are stuck in COM- and dump all the figuring out on the User at the expense of a user experience about as pleasant as the worst the PC era has ever had to offer.

If, for the sake of discussion, we had a version of Sky Safari which was generally product enabled, we would just be migrating the find the magic driver and futz with the peices until they work model onto a tablet, now running either an emulator to run ASCOM drivers, or with rewites of these, all to make a modern device pretend to be what we wanted to get away from in the first place.

Then there would be some sort of hardware dongle with 8 RS-232 plugs on it. Maybe it could be wireless from there. It hardly sounds like it would be very high on the neato scale, and forget about it automatically knowing what to do to help a new user get started.

-Rich

Quote:

Since there are a number of things to control, it seems to me that the basis of any network of devices would be based on the ASCOM model and API. The first problem is ASCOM platform is currently Windows-only, but I think the current developers would provide some support for ports to tablet and phone OSes (Android and iOS). Then apps like SkySafari can flourish in the environment.

(I wonder what the Southern Stars guys would say about having ASCOM on Android and iOS?)

I understand the current ASCOM is .NET or something, so you have to change the api to something else suitable for the other OSes. The protocols on the other side (the driver side) are whatever the devices need, just like they are today. You still have the same physical interfaces (wired or wireless) to choose from.

That gives you a framework on the device controller (mount, focuser, camera, dome, ...) side to work toward.

I think some monolithic soup-to-nuts device would be going the wrong way.




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5981462 - 07/20/13 01:39 PM

Linux would see to be a pretty stable platform to work from. A friend of mine has been trying to do his entire observatory in Linux with frustration due to the limited support for it.

On the other hand, I am really wondering about what could maybe be possible as a new open standard to try to draw to.

So, for example, if we worked on something called AstroLinux, is there at least a generally understandable universal camera controller possible? Thinking out loud, the main control suite would have toggles for all of the features of an SBIG camera ranging to DSLRs, and it would be a command interpreter downstream from this which actually had the real differences for a given camera. It would likely be years, at best, if ever, for many cameras to be picked up. Is there a way to have an extremely dumbed down single channel ASCOM device without breaking what is good here, but making it obvious and as easy as possible for vendors to migrate to this standard for future cameras? I suppose what made ASCOM so heavily adopted was the "Just about everyone has a PC" concept. So, now we are in "Just about everyone has an iOS or Android device" era.

I'm starting to understand why Apple seems to give short shrift to backward compatibility at times.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5981584 - 07/20/13 03:07 PM

Chris, the reason I said only Linux is the choice, is because if you want everything about the software stack to be open-source, then you need an open-source OS as the basis.

There really aren't any other options. Building something open-source on top of Windows leads to the situation with ASCOM right now.

That said, I was wrong about Apogee - Starlight Xpress also provides drivers (or an API) that is generic and will run on any Linux regardless of architecture.

I found this software - http://canburytech.net/GoQat/download.html

it does a very creditable job, includes image capture, autoguiding via the guide port on SX cameras or via LX200... it is fairly complete. It only supports QSI and SX cameras, and QSI will only work on Linux Intel because it requires a library that is Linux Intel only.

As for the BeagleBoard.. yeah not being able to use the SD card as external storage while booting off the eMMC is annoying. But I've gotten over it. And I don't mind the numerous pins used by the LCD - I want to run dark. Having an LCD means you'll be running X. And developing X applications is a royal PITA.

But that said, a Beagleboard with the 7" LCD cape, and running GoQat, controlling an SX autoguider and SX camera, with a Gemini or any other LX200-compatible device, is the open-source holy grail we've been talking about. It even integrates with SAO DS9 and uses SExtractor for object extraction.

And it only uses Gtk2 so does not require massive GUI resources like a Qt-based library would.

Seems I really need to put my money where my mouth is and support SX, since they're the only game in non-Intel Linux land right now... (oh in theory Apogee could be there too)

BTW I tried building the Meade DSI library on the BeagleBone Black. Came to a screeching halt:

1) Angstrom Linux doesn't use usbfs, and usbfs is needed for the fxload shenanigans to upload the Meade firmware on hotplug

2) I don't have firmware for my Meade DSI 1 (I can extract it, but another headache)

Presumably if I use Ubuntu instead of Angstrom, I can get my Meade DSI working. It just seems so much effort for a dead (both product and company-wise) camera. But that said, the BBB is meeting my expectations nicely.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5981603 - 07/20/13 03:16 PM

BTW SkySafari already controls a ton of mounts via RS-232, it even supports dumb encoders like the EkBox.

So yes, it is possible to build a universal mount controller - the brave folks at Southern Stars have done it.

But supporting cameras (as I've discovered) is a whole different ball of wax.

To clarify my earlier statement about "running dark" -

I want to build something that will allow me to image, without a laptop. And without using a DSLR.

That means, the BBB must be able to

1) control my mount pointing
2) auto-guide, include capturing from the AG camera and sending guide pulses
3) capture images and store them to the SD card

all this with a minimal GUI, because I don't want to waste my life writing a GUI. So I'm thinking a bunch of command-line Linux applications, a few push-buttons e.g. "start guiding" "calibrate guider" "capture image" and an SPI or I2C serial display.

This would be tiny, would consume tiny amounts of power (unlike a laptop which requires an inverter to use in the field) and it won't have a glaring screen to ruin everyone's night vision. If I can get this to work with my setup, I'll be happy...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
payner
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/22/07

Loc: Bluegrass Region, Kentucky
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5983110 - 07/21/13 02:29 PM

I downloaded Sky Safari Plus a couple of days ago. It was easy to learn the controls and setting in the app, very pleased. The graphics realized on an iPhone 4 are amazing; I didn't expect that viewing on such a small screen would be so pleasant for this type of program/app.

I had my Vixen NewAtlux mount setup, selected the StarBook/GEM options and selected the "connect wireless" option. The screen returned it could connect, but the mount was not responding. Can anyone suggest a solution for this mount? I also have a CGE mount and someone please tell me if I'm correct that mount requires "Skywire" to operate with the app. Thanks in advance for the help.

Best,
Randy


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: payner]
      #5983121 - 07/21/13 02:32 PM

best post your query on the southern_stars yahoo group.

the New Atlux is a fairly rare mount, it seems unlikely for people to know how to get it working with SS.

OT does the New Atlux also have the declination jumping of the SXW and SXD? I was thinking of getting one before, but wasn't sure of this issue..

I'm using the Skywire accessory to connect SkySafari (on ipad) to my Mach1.. but i'm going to build a bluetooth-to-RS232 project box so i can wirelessly control the Mach1 from my android phone (SkySafari on ipad doesn't support bluetooth).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5983336 - 07/21/13 05:24 PM

Maybe we are looking at this all wrong. Maybe what we need to build is Astronomy Specific PC hardware. I'm thinking one of those mini desktop PC's that's small enough to mount in a car's dashboard. Only thing is the enclosure is designed to mount onto a tripod leg. It would run windows 8 (since that works with touch screens very well) and a small touch screen would be integrated into the case. Maybe an 8" screen. The USB to serial adapter would be installed inside the case (perhaps several of them to allow multiple serial devices). The PC would semi rugedized using one of the shock proof laptop hard disks, and memory that' held in place with RTV silicon to prevent it popping out of place. Then the entire case would be rubberized to add to the shock resistance. The screen would come with a custom fit clip on red screen (replaceable as a consumable part). The computer case would be supplied with a compact wireless keyboard and mouse (or track pad) The cooling of the PC will be designed such as too not require many opening so as to prevent dust and moisture ingress. Failing that the machine will have filtered air intakes with user serviceable filters. I envisage the machine being moisture proof (water proof is an over kill). Then you can operate your usual software suite for imaging, but with a small compact machine that mounts directly onto your mount and reduces cable clutter by being close to the imaging train. Such a machine can be built from commercially available parts with minimal customization.

If somebody is allergic to windows 8, they could always install Linux on it and work with the free software that is available out there.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5983477 - 07/21/13 07:07 PM

No need to use a shock-mounted hard disk at this point. If you want onboard mass storage capacity then you may as well just go with a solid state drive since they are coming down in price.

Better to use a software solution than a screen cover for the red screen.

A touch-screen control would be best if it were wireless.

10Micron uses a Linux solution that fits in a case that is about 3x6x6 inches which would probably be the type of form factor you are thinking of. Expanding functionality to full Windows 8 would be interesting I suppose.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: EFT]
      #5983495 - 07/21/13 07:16 PM

Here is an off the shelf ruggedized PC about the size of what we could handle:

http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/ultra-mobile-rugged-toughbook-u1-...

I'm still trying to figure out how its port architecture works, though. It looks like it is USB, so there would be the USB-COM trick.

Awesome- that's a $3200 computer!

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (07/21/13 07:19 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Sean Cunneen
Let Me Think
*****

Reged: 08/01/07

Loc: Blue Island Illinois
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5983517 - 07/21/13 07:28 PM

I finished reading this whole thread and I find it very timely. I have a large GEM that I have been building for the past 2 years and now I am looking at moving from a timing motor to something more full featured. I have a couple of servo motors, drivers and a mystery (to me) self contained circuit board put together some years ago by an ATM. After watching a buddy control his AP 900 with his Iphone, I would love to have that functionality in my mount! I have a linux laptop and a win 8 laptop. I am a willing guinea pig for any solutions you guys come up with. I am going to spend the rest of my night googling everything referenced here as I am a builder, not a coder.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Sean Cunneen]
      #5983565 - 07/21/13 08:00 PM

Sean, you're best off buying a SiTech. That is a complete solution that works today, offers a lot of functionality such as mount modeling, etc. And not very expensive either (cheaper than a G11 Gemini 2). If your existing servo motors are suitable you'd only need the control box and handset.

If it's good enough for Planewave...

On the other hand, if you want GoTo and telescope control at the absolute lowest cost.. https://github.com/TCWORLD/AstroEQ

AstroEQ is basically an Arduino implementation of the Synscan protocol. So you would build (or buy) the board, wire up some steppers, and attach a PC with EQMOD or a Synta Synscan handset.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5984024 - 07/22/13 04:17 AM

Orly. Gemini II also designed to be attached to any mount since you can define custom gear ratios.

The toughbook is an overkill. A PC of the specs I describe can be built for less than $1000 if parts are purchased in bulk quantities of 50 or more.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5984046 - 07/22/13 05:34 AM

Hilmi, true, Gemini 2 is also workable. But it's 2X the price of SiTech..

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5984285 - 07/22/13 10:49 AM

The thing which bothers me about the field PC is its the same problem as dragging a little NetBook out. It wants power, care, and feeding, and uses a non-real time OS which randomly introduces surprise incompatibilies and bizarre UI detours with every update. It's going to have the peculiar problem with ports and getting the magic driver talking to the right emulated COM port, so it really isn't progress except making the box it's in a little more field compatible.

Meanwhile, this isn't any progress towards making a standalone system capable of working when COM dongles finally become unavailable in 5-10 years.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5984323 - 07/22/13 11:22 AM

Quote:

Meanwhile, this isn't any progress towards making a standalone system capable of working when COM dongles finally become unavailable in 5-10 years.




Com dongles? What's that? Sounds rude


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5984582 - 07/22/13 02:46 PM

Search on Amazon for mini computers. You can find some that are incredibly small. Then you need to use an open source OS like Linux so that it boots fast and only has the functions you need for your mount. Blue tooth, WiFi, etc. Use an app to connect to the computer and control it. Docking station on the mount to recharge. You could also enable voice control.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
payner
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/22/07

Loc: Bluegrass Region, Kentucky
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5984901 - 07/22/13 06:11 PM

Quote:



OT does the New Atlux also have the declination jumping of the SXW and SXD? I was thinking of getting one before, but wasn't sure of this issue..




I had a Sphinx SXD and really enjoyed the mount, but needed more capacity in a relatively lightweight package. The New Atlux fit the bill in this regard. The SXD had noticeable dec jump, but for visual observation it was solid with keeping an object centered. I don't perceive the dec jump with the New Atlux, but it retains the centering of the SXD.
It appears the New Atlux can be setup to run with Sky Safari, but at considerable effort.

Best,
Randy


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: payner]
      #5985026 - 07/22/13 07:51 PM

Whichwayisnorth - I believe I mentioned early on this thread that iAstroHub by Anat uses one of those mini Android PC's - the Rikomagic Mk802 - to do mount control, plate-solving, autoguiding, and image capture.

Anat is using a QHY5 for guiding and a QHY8L for capture.

I am currently trying to get my QHY8 working on my BeagleBone. The drivers for the QHY series on Linux are all over the place - the CCD software that Anat is using with his QHY8L doesn't officially support the QHY8 (non Pro, non L) but I scrounged the QHYCCD forums and it seems the original QHY8 is supported if you can get the firmware - which is also on the QHYCCD forums.

So I was (again) wrong to assume that only SX and (to a lesser extent) Apogee are Linux-friendly. QHY is as well, although much more hackery is required.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5985467 - 07/23/13 03:12 AM

There's a guy working on Linux drivers for the Atik cameras - and they had one running using a Raspberry Pi at Astrofest this year.

So both non-Intel and Linux.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5985564 - 07/23/13 07:17 AM

The SX and some QHY camera are working on the RasPi..

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5985755 - 07/23/13 10:11 AM

The little rikomagic mk802 IV is definitely a slick little computer. This is closer to what I'd like to see become the backbone for something like this since it doesn't need much power and effectively is a little hub ready for some sort of tablet or smartphone to be the wireless controller.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5985760 - 07/23/13 10:13 AM

And as for COM dongles, they are a bit rude.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5987965 - 07/24/13 03:10 PM

Found out a few things.

1) the Rikomagic and its RockChip processor has dubious open-source credentials; the Linux kernels running on the RockChips aren't sync'ed with the mainline, and RockChip does not comply with the GPL. Hence from a true open-source standpoint the Rikomagic boxes are verboten.

2) a Korean company called HardKernel sells this - http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php

$89 including shipping. It uses the same Exynos processor in my wife's Galaxy Note 2. Which is quite a beefy processor, 1.6GHz quad core. The Odroid U2 comes with a heat sink for a case, and you can buy it with a fan. Reports are that running all four cores full blast will crash it, unless you add the fan.

3) CubieBoard2 has dual Cortex-A7 CPUs and is in the $60 range.

All of these options are more powerful than the BeagleBoard or RasPi. I still lean on the BeagleBoard because it is truly open-source (including the hardware design and PCB layout).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5988291 - 07/24/13 06:49 PM

i missed this thread.

for a couple of months i have been idly thinking about a variant of this. i had not considered mount control at all, since, well, all the mounts i own have their own controllers.

but what i was interested in was a small computer to replace my laptop. if the computer were small enough, it could sit on the OTA where my focuser controller and usb hub sits. if it were powerful enough, it could run lin_guider (or PhD now that it's open source), be a wifi client and do what wifiscope does. perhaps also it could replace the focuser controller, be a USB-serial dongle for the mount, and fuse and distribute 12V/5V as well.

with the client wifi, you could just control the mount with something like skysafari - outsource that to the iPhone or iPad or whatever, and don't reinvent that wheel.

to this end i ordered a raspberry pi and a beaglebone black.

i think the beaglebone is a better choice due to it's slightly less janky power situation (the pi pulls power from a usb port, the polyfuses sometimes have high impedance, and the board suffers brown-outs).

i had been thinking that a custom cape for the beaglebone that had a bunch of serial ports, a bunch of USB ports, an input for a temperature diode, and a focuser controller would be something good to design.

i have experience designing digital boards, but i've always used my employer's tools (schematic capture, board layout/gerber generation) and employer's contacts for PCB fab and assembly. i really have no idea how to get that stuff done at home for cheap - seats for stuff like cadence or mentor are hugely expensive. however, due to all the "maker" type hardware design activity that's been going on, there must be free or low cost cad software that people can use.

anyway i got busy with something else and never started working on this. it sounds like it might be useful.

but the software situation kind of scares me. most "stuff" has ascom drivers, and ascom is never going to get ported to ARM/linux. INDI exists but it seems like about 5 people really use it. maybe it's a chicken and egg problem - if the cape existed, perhaps people would get interested.

also as noted above, camera control is also a big problem. since i have the STT, i can write a perl script or something that drives the http interface on the STT. but anyone who has a USB-based camera with no linux-compatible drivers is SOL here. not to mention that a linux-compatible driver is very likely to be an x86 binary rather than source that can be compiled for ARM. that right there probably disqualifies these little "smartphone" style boards, which is too bad because they have small footprints and really good performance/watt numbers.

i spent some time trying to figure out the focuser control stuff, and as far as i can tell, these things have some kind of PIC in them that accepts ascii commands, and translates it to PWM on a set of 4 analog pins. i assume the USB-based ones simply have a USB-serial chip tacked on. in order for that portion of the board to be useful, it would have to emulate robofocus, moonlite and any other protocols that people use, and that seemed to me probably a difficult task of reverse engineering. this, just to preserve compatibility with existing software if you decided you did not want to use this board "natively" with it's own software, but as a sort of super-USB port for your telescope rig.

so anyway, i feel like this could be designed, but the user base would probably be really small.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5988438 - 07/24/13 08:32 PM

hmm, i just looked at rts2. seems promising. does that use indi or is it its own thing?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5988526 - 07/24/13 09:32 PM

Gday All

Been reading this thread with interest, but have noted with much mirth that all the current discussion is evolving about "platform" to run on.
In the last few days, it has been pointed out that "this is better than that", but in 3 years ( or maybe even 3 months :-) ) will these options just be another "com dongle"?
ie surely the initial discussion should be around the specifications an "open mount" controller needs to satisfy, ie like an ASCOM interface, but for the low level motor driving etc, not the planetarium to scope.
Until that is really done properly, the rest is just moot.
Thoughts??

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5988642 - 07/24/13 10:36 PM

Quote:

Whichwayisnorth - I believe I mentioned early on this thread that iAstroHub by Anat uses one of those mini Android PC's - the Rikomagic Mk802 - to do mount control, plate-solving, autoguiding, and image capture.

Anat is using a QHY5 for guiding and a QHY8L for capture.

I am currently trying to get my QHY8 working on my BeagleBone. The drivers for the QHY series on Linux are all over the place - the CCD software that Anat is using with his QHY8L doesn't officially support the QHY8 (non Pro, non L) but I scrounged the QHYCCD forums and it seems the original QHY8 is supported if you can get the firmware - which is also on the QHYCCD forums.

So I was (again) wrong to assume that only SX and (to a lesser extent) Apogee are Linux-friendly. QHY is as well, although much more hackery is required.





That is what I get for just skimming the thread.

I favorited this thread to see where it goes. Looks interesting.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5988656 - 07/24/13 10:43 PM

I always like this kind of stuff too. I'm always looking for something that can be put together as a product people can use. I even have two great big mounts (MC500GE from the former AstroDream Tech) that would probably benefit from some kind of new generic controller so that they remain useful when unsupported since they have great mechanics. I'm sure something like the SiTech would do just fine, but if the electronic gurus here can come up with something I would love to try it out (if I don't sell the things first).

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5988660 - 07/24/13 10:46 PM

Me, I am boggled by all the complexity that goes into things like INDI.

Why not just a simple program that grabs one frame from your camera of choice, and writes the file out to a FITS?

Then another program that can send guide commands to a mount.

And another that can order the mount to go to a specific RA/DEC, or sync the mount to a specific RA/DEC.

With these three applications (which I hope are command-line, no GUI) you can guide, capture, and plate-solve.

So long as these commands were consistent (and hide the hardware-specific stuff behind them) then anybody could script anything using nothing more than UNIX shell scripts.

OpenCV is another very useful piece of software that can be integrated. The CCD library for QHY cameras that's floating around has some sample code that uses OpenCV to take the data from the camera. But why stop there? OpenCV can also do things like do filtering, find the convex hull, etc. All very useful when you're plate-solving or guiding.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5988710 - 07/24/13 11:24 PM

well i have read the spec for indi and it's all very nice protocol design. i think like any project once you start thinking about how to do something very generic that encompasses all kinds of disparate hardware, you end up with something like ASCOM or INDI.

but i do agree that you could "go back to basics" and forget about nice protocols to talk to all these devices and just do as you suggest with a shell script.

the SBIG HTTP interface is pretty clean. it could easily be driven from any language that supports libcurl. it would be nice if more cameras went that way.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5988943 - 07/25/13 02:44 AM

Hmm. Is this HTTP interface available on the STF? Or only the STT?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5988981 - 07/25/13 04:08 AM

STT & STX range only to my knowledge

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MisterBill
super member


Reged: 09/18/10

Loc: Geezerville aka S.FL, MILE 264
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5993308 - 07/27/13 05:00 PM

I don't think Rikomagic will connect to SkyFi.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5993468 - 07/27/13 06:59 PM

OzAndrew,

Gday! Now, unfortunately I must do what I can to suck your mirth away.

The discussion has gone where you are talking, and the following points seem to be the hinge for this:

(A) ASCOM is windows based, and therefore linked to that platform's fortunes. That's not good.

(B) COM is a pain to get happy with itself, anyway.

(C) Raw computing power, modern communications architectures, and robotic elements are finally plentiful and cheap. It would be great to migrate to them.

So, these lead to a really big problem though (and everyone please throw darts if I'm screwing this up):

If we left PC/ASCOM, where should we move to? It needs to have legs, some realistic ability to maintain it, be really portable (the software portable), and well behaved.

If, in comparison, we try to migrate to Windows Mobile or some micro windows box, that approach offers very little since it just repackages the current problem. Maybe if it were set up so some sort of app on a regular PC would semi-automatically configure the mobile box. But, at best, this is a kludge and everyone knows it.

So, the current discussion is more along the lines of where to depart from. Orly's voyage with the arduino on the CGEM encoder is a lesson in starting with something better if you can, so it seems like time well spent.

I think many of us are imagining something sort of like an Astro Physics CP3 box on the mount with a bunch of sockets to talk to lots of stuff. Ideally it would link from the mount to the outside world wirelessly. Whether there might be several of these with specific missions (e.g. one for the mount, one for cameras), well, that would seem to come back to depending on what the device was capable of.

It does seem apparent we should expect to talk to tablets and smartphones and use them as the control display for much of the use. Those of us who have been using SkySafari have seen how that can be pretty neat, and some really basic hardware is all you need to enable the mount to display its position that way, though controlling it outright is more complex.

If you've got suggestions, we are definitely interested. Your LX80 progress definitely showed you have the skills.

-Rich

Quote:

Gday All

Been reading this thread with interest, but have noted with much mirth that all the current discussion is evolving about "platform" to run on.
In the last few days, it has been pointed out that "this is better than that", but in 3 years ( or maybe even 3 months :-) ) will these options just be another "com dongle"?
ie surely the initial discussion should be around the specifications an "open mount" controller needs to satisfy, ie like an ASCOM interface, but for the low level motor driving etc, not the planetarium to scope.
Until that is really done properly, the rest is just moot.
Thoughts??

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia




Edited by Starhawk (07/27/13 07:06 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5993532 - 07/27/13 07:55 PM

Gday Rich

Quote:

Now, unfortunately I must do what I can to suck your mirth away.



Now now

Quote:

ASCOM is windows based, and therefore linked to that platform's fortunes. That's not good.




Fully agree, but i did say "like an ASCOM interface".
The full church of ASCOM is ( IMHO ) way too narrowly focussed on platform and functionality and is controlled by a limited no of people. I surmise this is done ( a bit like Apple ) to ensure it stays stable, but it does create limitations when wanting to do more than simple tasks, and have those tasks availabe as a "std operation" vs a driver specific addition.

I merely wished to point out that its concept of a common interface is a good one, and that interface should be designed first for a mount "controller", before the topic of what hardware or O/S to use gets into too much detail.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5993735 - 07/27/13 10:00 PM

The current ASCOM guy who responded, Chris, expressed willingness, in fact desire, to do a cross-platform version; they just don't know how. Given the use of Windows Common Object Model, I don't doubt they had problems if they really want one version. But the ASCOM client API, extended to include the multi-client add-on (I forget the name) has the functionality needed to offer to client apps; so the solution is to make the same functionality accessible in a cross-platform API.

My preference would be to avoid the device-specific drivers currently used in ASCOM on the PC, and put a standard protocol over the network, and require the devices to have any proprietary translation internal to the device / device control box.

I make the interfaces platform-independent. That means a network, and since remote access and control is interesting to many people, as are standards to developers, you start with an observatory LAN carrying TCP/IP over ethernet running http, ftp, ssh (for your command line interface ), etc as needed, and including WAN of course as an option, from the beginning.

My router and NAS, as almost all of them do, shows one way to confiure devices: you go to an address in your client browser using http, the built in web server throws up a number of config pages, and off you go. The near-real-time protocols need to work another way, but again, over TCP/IP.

My NAS box sends me e-mail when it has a software update it needs me to approve.

The other COM mentioned, RS-232, has nothing to do with Windows, and all to do with the devices to be controlled. Instead of the serial port, each device needs an ethernet port and a TCP/IP stack. The place to do that conversion is at the device, not at the back side of some computer.

WiFi can be a device option, perhaps, if the device is low bandwidth, high latency, and can connect to a standard hosted WiFi network (someone else's), so it can share the bandwidth over the air efficiently; this is an issue specifically at star parties. Southern Skies has run into this issue, and is addressing it (or has done so).

I think I could have a lot of fun developing tiny embedded controllers running a stripped-down version of Firefox OS. Then everything but the hardware is open source, web standards/HTML5, and it's appropriately designed for low-power embedded devices (low-end phones). Firefox OS is built on the Linux kernel and is open source, javascript-oriented (as opposed to Java on Android). I think there's a canned version for Raspberry Pi to play with.

Lee


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5993948 - 07/28/13 12:18 AM

Quote:

The current ASCOM guy who responded, Chris, expressed willingness, in fact desire, to do a cross-platform version; they just don't know how.




A dynamically or statically linked library written in plain old C would do the trick. Most programming/runtime platforms (except JavaScript within a browser, and VBScript) would be able to use such a library. VBScript would require a COM wrapper and JavaScript would require JSON over HTTP and a server process.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Alph]
      #5994067 - 07/28/13 02:30 AM

I am also of the opinion that something like JSON over HTTP is a better choice than yet another XML encapsulation.

That said.. the current state of software development on non-Windows platforms is simply horrific. With ASCOM you have a small group of people controlling the direction, with UNIX you have nobody. A disparate group of people are all writing their own software, in many cases duplicating each other's work...

and much of the existing software only aims to ape the Windows functionality.. including its dependence on a high-resolution screen, mouse, etc. Not very useful for my desire for a headless controller.

What I want is something that was done at UC Berkeley 15+ years ago - http://astro.berkeley.edu/bait/public_html/baitman/protocol/telescope.html

That also said, it seems that the more telescope equipment vendors start exposing their devices via HTTP - such as the SBIG STF/STT - the better. QHY also already has one such model, the IC8300. This does add cost (you're basically putting a small BeagleBone-class processor on every device to handle the TCP/IP and HTTP stuff).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5994169 - 07/28/13 05:32 AM

The fundamental reason ASCOM uses COM is to for the scripting support, otherwise, as Alph says, dlls would do.

We would love to have more people actively involved in developing ASCOM but it's very difficult to get them. We can't even get people to test beta software.

We value stability very highly, maybe too highly, but being backward compatible is probably one of the strengths of ASCOM

Orlando's idea of a series of separate programs all communicating with the mount hardware has the challenge of getting multiple applications to connect to the same serial port at the same time. What you end up with is a single mount-specific process that handles all the mount control and exposes a common interface for other applications or scripts to use. That's all that ASCOM does.

It would be quite easy to map the existing ASCOM specifications to some text based protocol that could go over any connection that supports strings with terminators. My preference is for a CSV format, something like:
send "get,RightAscension\r"
receive "get,RightAscension,15.765\r"
This sort of thing can map directly onto the existing ASCOM protocol.

Each platform could write shims that converted the programming interface of their choice to and from this line protocol.

The discovery and selection of drivers over a network will be a challenge.

It's the state of development and support on non-windows platforms that puts me off getting involved in it.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5994590 - 07/28/13 11:49 AM

Chris - you're right. The fragmented nature of development on non-Windows platforms is a complete

Of course it is unreasonable to expect equipment vendors to support non-Intel platforms; the fact that they support Linux Intel is already a significant concession on their part.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5994663 - 07/28/13 12:33 PM

Quote:

Chris - you're right. The fragmented nature of development on non-Windows platforms is a complete

Of course it is unreasonable to expect equipment vendors to support non-Intel platforms; the fact that they support Linux Intel is already a significant concession on their part.




I am not sure what you mean by all that. You can use Eclipse on Windows, Linux, Android and other OSs. Millions of apps for Android and iOS and millions of web applications prove that it is possible to develop without Visual Studio, VB6, and/or .NET. I have a feeling that ASCOM guys are stuck in a time warp. They will have to bite the bullet and learn new techniques or ASCOM will be doomed if it is not already. Look at the latest browser statistics and trends. Microsoft is just one of the players and it is not the most important one anymore.

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5994707 - 07/28/13 12:56 PM

I have encountered http visible hardware before in Newport motion control stages. The controller shows up directly in browsers if you hit its address on the TCP/IP network (they connect to ethernet directly in that case). It transmits an html page which shows all of its parameters in plain text and has boxes for adjusting values manually, which also tell the address for any control program you are using to reach out and touch to get automatic responses, as well as what addresses to ping to get data outputs. Note, since it is a standard page, you can automatically set up the stage if you pay attention to how it's formatted.

Of course, it's deep in proprietary territory, but it serves as a sort of style guide for what may be made to work, here. It does seem to me there needs to be a mechanism to do this at the mount in the near term. There are quite a few drives which are wirelessly enabled these days. And all we are talking about really is having the ability to push and pull data off of something. Perhaps something like that could be a model for doing this.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Alph]
      #5994722 - 07/28/13 01:09 PM

Alph, what I meant is the nature of astronomical drivers and software for amateur astronomy on non-Windows platforms. Not development on non-Windows, that's self-evident.

The astronomy vendors aren't really interested in supporting non-Intel platforms (Windows, Linux, and OS X are all Intel these days). If you've looked through the state of the various open-source projects attempting to support CCDs and mounts, do autoguiding, etc. the support is very patchy and uneven.

I think this is because the astronomy hobby is small enough, and non-Windows is a tiny fraction of that.

I think this thread is wandering all over..

Do we want:

1) open-source platform for existing CCDs, focusers, and mounts, or...

2) an open-source mount firmware?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5994731 - 07/28/13 01:15 PM

I would suggest the full-up computer model is still firmly in place, though it is more because of historical reasons now than the installed base, which was the reason when it came about. ASCOM was obviously the way to go when the only thing most people could be counted on having was a PC. Now that has changed- the mobile stuff is far more common, to the point where deciding on what to do isn't really that obviously a computer answer. Look at what is being done with those little Parrot quad-rotor aircraft- they wirelessly support flight control, two channels of video, and automatic goal recognition onboard, and no computer is in the loop.

http://ardrone2.parrot.com/

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (07/28/13 01:19 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5994870 - 07/28/13 02:40 PM

But the thing is RC aircraft and quad-rotors are far more popular than astronomy.. and the cost of entry is much lower as well. Plus, a lot of equipment such as MEMS gyros and accelerometers, which are very useful for these drones, are dirt-cheap due to their use in smartphones.

I can't see anything (except SkySafari) from the smartphone revolution that directly benefits astronomy...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5995033 - 07/28/13 04:10 PM

I'm using an electronic compass module as an azimuth sensor for a dome.

Meade's LS technology must use level sensors and compasses similar to what's in a smartphone.

And lots of scopes use GPS modules.

The revolution that's just starting with the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone is to some extent driven by the smartphone world demanding vast amounts of computing and graphics processing at a low cost in terms of power and price.

The problem I see is that the smartphone technology has raised exceptions, possibly unrealistically. The cost of development is almost fixed and it makes a big difference if you can spread that cost over millions of phones or thousands of scopes.

Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Alph]
      #5995949 - 07/29/13 03:25 AM

i wonder what software the iTelescope people are using. watching a run play out in the console, it sure looks like unix/linux. maybe they wrote their own stuff...?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5995966 - 07/29/13 04:07 AM

iTelescope = GRAS.

I used their system extensively for my astronomy postgrad work when I couldn't get data myself due to weather.

It is Windows based, and is using TheSkyX. Pretty much a no-brainer considering that they are an all-Software Bisque house.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5996826 - 07/29/13 03:28 PM

interesting, the console sure looked like unix-based stuff. perhaps that's just their scheduler rather than the actual telescope/camera control. i've only used it once or twice.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5997468 - 07/29/13 11:05 PM

The guiding output messages in the web GUI are exactly the same as the guiding output messages in MaximDL - because it is MaximDL. Post-processing of the images after capture is also done with MaximDL.

I believe the scripting is done with VB.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5997591 - 07/30/13 12:15 AM

okay, i believe you, it just had a very unix-y feel. not used to seeing that kind of console output in any windows program. been using unix since bsd 4.2, and basically know zero about windows

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: pfile]
      #5999301 - 07/30/13 11:39 PM

SkySafari is indeed pretty cool. I've been looking at the Astro Devices Nexus and BETI with a mind to use with straight encoders. The lack of a drive makes for low power consumption. Still not a route to what we have been talking, but its in the right direction.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5999330 - 07/31/13 12:04 AM

Skysafari + Nexus is a good solution for those of us with old, non-GoTo, encoder-equipped mounts.

The Skysafari folks have also stated that they can look into a multi-star modeling algorithm instead of the current two-star (for the next version). This would put their pointing algorithm on a par with Argo Navis and improve pointing accuracy.

It does not address the issue of automation though.

I think supporting existing mounts is not a problem, so long as the mount communicates via a well-known protocol over serial or IP.

It's the cameras which are the issue. The good news is I found some old code for the QHY8 and passed it to the developer of CCD - https://sourceforge.net/projects/cccd/ - (who also wrote Lin_Guider).

Since there are so many projects out there scratching various itches, one has to choose one. Anat chose to support CCD, Lin_Guider, INDI, and astrometry.net for his stand-alone controller solution based on an Android mini-PC.

since he spent 3 years working on that (and he has a Ph.D.!) i won't duplicate the work - all I've done is work towards support for my camera in CCD. Eventually other cameras may be supported.. I know if I get another camera I would also work towards having it supported in CCD.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5999814 - 07/31/13 10:31 AM

If the hobby were larger, that approach would get things supported pretty quickly. Then again, another way to approach it is back white this sort of project to make a common camera support cape come into being. So far, that's pretty hard, though things like written out SD cards with images in recognizable formats are immediately recognizable to computers. So, that does make it a little bit of a stupid question- why can't the file generator be so easily dealt with?

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5999831 - 07/31/13 10:41 AM

well you have to write a FITS. which means you need to have a decent processor on the camera. that is definitely the direction (SBIG STT, QHY IC8300) but it will take a while, I guess..

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6002284 - 08/01/13 10:51 PM

Lots of stuff writes RAW formats, and also output a jpeg. The data for alignment and such isn't in the 16 bit signal to noise ratio of 1.1 regime. So, what about trying to do something with that?

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6002968 - 08/02/13 10:39 AM

Intel weighs in with their own BeagleBoard-alike. Made by the same company that makes the BeagleBoard:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Minnowboard-Developer-Raspberry-Pi-Atom-E640...

it costs $200 though

As an aside, I got Astrometry blind plate solving working on my Bone. It takes 43 seconds to solve one 6MP image from the QHY8!!! and 15 seconds to solve a 4x4 binned image.

So building a pointing model with this thing would be... slow. An Odroid U2 is $90 though and has a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9. Certainly more powerful than the $200 single-core Intel board.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
visaman
member


Reged: 09/10/13

Re: Open Source Mount Control Suite new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6158665 - 10/26/13 05:48 AM

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/6158261/page...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | (show all)


Extra information
22 registered and 45 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Dave M, richard7, bilgebay, iceblaze 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 4328

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics