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Vixen autoguider option

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#1 Kieken

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 04:34 AM

I always thought you need to buy a key from Vixen for 20* or so to be able to use the autoguider. But using Google a few minutes ago I found that since version 1.2 build 29 that the autoguider is free.

Can anyone confirm this?

ALso, can I operate the mount without the Starbook (f.e. from a PC) and autoguide without the Starbook?

#2 skyler

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 09:20 AM

I have an SXD and the autoguider port is on the Starbook. I have not seen anything regarding a hack to the controller input on the mount. It appears to be a DB style connector but it is noted by many that it is not a standard pin DB connector.

I have build 35 and autoguider use is free. I asked the same question too since I read some comments that might suggest that it was still in effect. It is not and the autoguider input settings are set "default" to ST4 type guiding. I am sure it became free on build 29 according to Yahoo members.

Here is a notable site(s) for you.
http://www.smaal.inf...ndex.php/sphinx
http://groups.yahoo....up/Vixen_Sphinx


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#3 skyler

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 09:52 AM

Here is the confirm on the Vixen North America site:

"Free Autoguider Activation

Starting with the release of STAR BOOK firmware Ver.1.2 Build 29, KeyCodes are no longer required for autoguider activation. This new firmware allows for autoguiding with the SBIG-ST series autoguiders and accessing the backlash compensation feature for manually controlling the RA and Dec. drives. See sections below for information on upgrading your STAR BOOK."

http://www.vixenamer...BookUpdates.asp



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#4 Kieken

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 12:46 PM

Ok, another question.

Would the GPUSB from Shoestring Astronomy be a good start? It'll be used with a Logitech Quickcam Zoom. I've Pm'ed mr. Shoestring and he said that it would work with Guidedog (and probably any other freeware guiding software).

Suggestions are welcome.

#5 skyler

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 05:24 PM

I am in the "refining" stage of guiding since the first SXD had issues and I will be receiving a replacement next week.

I use mine with a GPINT and guide with PHD via an LPI or DSI Pro. That connection from the PC through the GPINT goes to the Vixen handbox. I bought a 25' straight thru 6-conductor RJ12 flat phone cable to run from the PC to the Starbook since I don't use a laptop. I think the GPUSB would accomplish the same thing with probably more options/flexibility.

I use PHD set to a WDM camera. I would assume that would work for you too but you should check with Craig Stark.


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#6 motomandk

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 01:17 PM

To Skyler

please note, that the pin-out of the Starbook ST-4 ports is NOT standard ST-4. So a straight through cable wont work.

ST-4:
pin:
1 = NC
2 = ground
3 = +RA (Left)
4 = +DEC (up)
5 = -DEC (down)
6 = -RA (right)

Vixen:
Pin SBIG Type
6 RA+
5 DEC+
4 DEC-
3 RA-
2 Ground
1 Empty

If you allready have a cable, the easiest way is to buy the GPCNV-SS2K converter from Shoestring Astronomy.

/Henrik - Denmark

#7 skyler

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 02:59 PM

Henrik -

Thanks for spotting that incomplete thought. The connection from the end of the GPINT cable that I have is short so I added an 6-pin adapter and connected the straight thru to the the GPINT cable and then to the Starbook.

To keep it clean for others, just use the GPINT cable supplied by Shoestring and that in turn connects to the Starbook. If you need a longer cable, talk to Shoestring, or see the info by Henrik in the prior post, or
talk to someone about an extension cable ;).

Now..., on the other hand, are you saying that my connection will not work???

I have left the jumpers in the stock configuration as Vixen says they are set up for SBIG ST4 compatibility. I had been guiding with it using PHD so I know that this config works.

Just to be clear Henrik, did you use a GPINT or GPUSB with the supplied cable from Shoestring with the default Starbook configuration and it worked or did not work for you??


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#8 doctordub

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:23 AM

The crossover LAN cable can be used to auto guide the sphinx with phd if you use the ASCOM drivers linked below.

http://ascom-standards.org/
http://enzerink.net/...ascomsphinx.htm

Clear Skies

#9 motomandk

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:05 PM

I have a guide-cam with ST-4 connector - it doesn't work with a straight cable. I made a cable myself using the above mentioned connections (cross-over cable).
As i read the manual for the SXD, you should only change the settings if you use that other 'box' .... i dont have the manual here and dont remember the name :o

You can see the pin-out of the connection on the vixen-optics homepage in the 'download' section.

Perhaps Doug (mr. shoestring) made a special cable for you?!

/Henrik

#10 Bowmoreman

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 03:56 PM

The crossover LAN cable can be used to auto guide the sphinx with phd if you use the ASCOM drivers linked below.

http://ascom-standards.org/
http://enzerink.net/...ascomsphinx.htm

Clear Skies


Hey Jonathan! Thanks for this. Also, I am about to get an STV Deluxe (yippee), and it is my intention to use it to Autoguide my Sphinx...

I *think* I should just be able to connect the crossover cable from the STV to the Starbook, right? Or do I connect the serial output of STV to the Mount directly? Or am I totally muddled???

I'd *rather* not have to go through my laptop, unless I have to...

Anyone doing autoguiding of Sphinx SXW/SXD with an STV? What is the best way? with and without computer?

Clear Skies

#11 skyler

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 01:43 AM

I think I see what the issue is. The + and - connections are of no concern in my situation since the autoguiding software (PHD) adjusts for the inverted condition of up down right and left. Other guide software requires one to make the adjustments by setting the RA +- and Dec +- accordingly.


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#12 motomandk

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 03:08 AM

:) I was just about to give the same explanation - PHD just thinks, that the camera is sitting upside-down!!

About connecting the StarBook to the computer, you either have to use a standard crossover cable, or connect both the computer and the StarBook to a switch or hub.

/Henrik

#13 doctordub

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 08:34 AM

The STV can connect directly to the autoguider port of the SXW or SXD. The crossover cable is used for the LAN port. You may want to consider a DSI $99 a PHD guiding program free, and a Tablet PC for $899:

http://www.bestbuy.c...d=1180743305275

Its easy and small and can service CCD and Digital SLR cameras.

#14 Bowmoreman

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 09:21 AM

The STV can connect directly to the autoguider port of the SXW or SXD. The crossover cable is used for the LAN port. You may want to consider a DSI $99 a PHD guiding program free, and a Tablet PC for $899:

Thanks, Johnathan. I already have a DSI Pro that I'm going to play with, and also have a Dell D600 Laptop to dedicate to astronomy... and will ultimately play around with things like PHD and/or GuideDog, etc... For right now, though, I think I'm going to concentrate on the STV - its cool video capability will also be useful for small outreaches/education efforts, and I like all the other features as well (PEC measurement, etc.)...

Thanks again for clarifying that I go direct from STV to the Sphinx SXW (I presume its via Serial? Going from memory here, not in my obs just now!)

Clear Skies

http://www.bestbuy.c...d=1180743305275

Its easy and small and can service CCD and Digital SLR cameras.



#15 jrcrilly

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 10:57 AM

Thanks again for clarifying that I go direct from STV to the Sphinx SXW (I presume its via Serial?


The Sphinx doesn't have a serial port. It uses Ethernet for communications and a conventional autoguide port for autoguiding (though, as has been mentioned, it can receive some motion control commands via the Ethernet port and can thus be guided that way). The autoguide port is not a communications port; it merely accepts switch closures. That's the port to which an SBIG-compatible guider would be connected.

#16 Bowmoreman

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 01:57 PM

My bad, John... it sure does LOOK like a Serial interface port, though, doesn't it?

Clear Skies!

#17 jrcrilly

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 02:12 PM

it sure does LOOK like a Serial interface port, though, doesn't it?


True enough! This business of using telephone-style connectors for everything creates confusion. On my LXD750 there are telephone-style connectors for the RA cable, the handbox, the autoguider, the two RS-232 ports, and I think maybe one more for something or other.

#18 doctordub

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 12:24 PM

John,
Excellent music and images! :bow:

#19 jrcrilly

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 12:28 PM

John,
Excellent music and images! :bow:


Thanks! :o

#20 Bowmoreman

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 03:35 PM

The STV can connect directly to the autoguider port of the SXW or SXD. The crossover cable is used for the LAN port. You may want to consider a DSI $99 a PHD guiding program free, and a Tablet PC for $899:

http://www.bestbuy.c...d=1180743305275

Its easy and small and can service CCD and Digital SLR cameras.


OK, I just got my STV today, and want to try it out tonight. But...

The "SBIG Type" pinouts (per Vixen Sphinx docs) are:

#6 - RA+
#5 - DEC+
#4 - DEC-
#3 - RA-
#2 - Gnd
#1 not used

And, in the STV documentation, they are:

#1 RA+
#2 DEC+
#3 DEC-
#4 RA-
#5 GND/Common
#6 No Connect

Looks to me like I can't just plug/play, cause everything is mixed around-right???

Or can I just use the special cable that came with my STV (and my ST237A for that matter) - i.e. does THAT cable automagically mix things back so they are correct?

I don't want to short anything out here!

Thanks in advance and clear skies

#21 jrcrilly

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 02:24 PM

The "SBIG Type" pinouts (per Vixen Sphinx docs) are:

#6 - RA+
#5 - DEC+
#4 - DEC-
#3 - RA-
#2 - Gnd
#1 not used

And, in the STV documentation, they are:

#1 RA+
#2 DEC+
#3 DEC-
#4 RA-
#5 GND/Common
#6 No Connect

Looks to me like I can't just plug/play, cause everything is mixed around-right???

Or can I just use the special cable that came with my STV (and my ST237A for that matter) - i.e. does THAT cable automagically mix things back so they are correct?


The cable SBIG supplies has pin 1 of one end connected to pin 6 of the other - so the pin assignments in the SBIG chart above is correct for only the camera end. At the equipment end they agree.

#22 Bowmoreman

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 10:36 PM

Thanks John... you are absolutely right

I got out two nights ago (last night was dedicated to watching the RedSox - priorities doncha know!)

And successfully connected the STV to the Vixen Sphinx... got it Calibrated, and autoguiding...

rudimentary only... wasn't doing any actual imaging whilst autoguiding because I can't get the camera (ST237A) connected to my WO66 - won't reach focus (I've got another thread on THAT!)...

but the STV works fine connection wise, and movement wise...

Now I have to play with things like backlash comp, better balancing, and perfecting my polar alignment (i'll use the STV for that)...

One thing for sure, it is a LOT easier focusing with an STV in "near realtime"...

Those of you with Vixen Sphinx's: the STV (and therefore I would presume any SBIG) will guide it just fine!

clear skies

#23 jrcrilly

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 10:55 PM

If you allready have a cable, the easiest way is to buy the GPCNV-SS2K converter from Shoestring Astronomy.

/Henrik - Denmark


Oops - I just noticed this. Watch out; the SS2K is the only controller I've ever used that had an RJ11 connector wired differently from the SBIG standard. The converter you mention will work with an SS2K but not with anything else, including newer Vixen controllers. The newer models follow the SBIG standard.

#24 Rat8bug

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 04:23 PM

The crossover LAN cable can be used to auto guide the sphinx with phd if you use the ASCOM drivers linked below.

http://ascom-standards.org/
http://enzerink.net/...ascomsphinx.htm

Clear Skies


Hey Jonathan! Thanks for this. Also, I am about to get an STV Deluxe (yippee), and it is my intention to use it to Autoguide my Sphinx...

I *think* I should just be able to connect the crossover cable from the STV to the Starbook, right? Or do I connect the serial output of STV to the Mount directly? Or am I totally muddled???

I'd *rather* not have to go through my laptop, unless I have to...

Anyone doing autoguiding of Sphinx SXW/SXD with an STV? What is the best way? with and without computer?

Clear Skies


I use the STV Deluxe with my Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000. Works great. I had to redo one end of the included RJ-11 cable to fit the Vixen SS2K pin-outs. I used the cable description in this link:

http://www.astrosurf...es/ss2k_stv.htm

http://www.barrie-ta.../wotriplet.html

Ciao....Barry


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