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The skyX Pro

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#26 Peter Argenziano

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 11:17 PM


Uhhh....you can do that in 6 as well: Shift, right-click and drag. ;)


Sure, but in X it's just click and drag, not necessary to use the keyboard which is a nicety in a darkened observatory.

#27 rmollise

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 05:01 PM


Sure, but in X it's just click and drag, not necessary to use the keyboard which is a nicety in a darkened observatory.


Anytime I can click, I can poke. :lol:

#28 Jaxdialation

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 07:31 PM

Rod, I don't know how I want to interpret that.

Well played :)

#29 Peter Argenziano

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 09:55 AM

Ah... that must be a southern thing. :p

#30 Paula E

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 05:45 PM

I haven't had a chance to really test this outdoors yet, but I've spent a fair amount of time configuring and playing with TheSkyX Pro.

The performance of the new version is simply incomparable to TheSky6 - it is SO much more pleasant to use and responsive. Generally speaking it runs between 15-30 fps for me. TheSky6 is generally slide-show like, even on my new PC.

The UI is definitely different, and in most cases it's generally improved in my opinion. (Although there are some things that aren't quite finished yet.)

I've been able to replicate my settings from TheSky6 over so far, although that wasn't totally smooth. The custom horizon file didn't translate over at all - I ended up copying the one from skytools 3 and editing it slightly by hand. It won't (at least as far as I can tell) read and import TheSky6 settings, so I had to re-enter all that stuff by hand. It will apparently read .sdb files from TheSky6, which is fortunate if you have a lot invested in some of those.

I was able to import my TPOINT model from TheSky6, although the model parameters and excluded data points DON'T import, so basically I had to edit the model again. (Not that big of a deal - I didn't have to recapture the data, which would be a BIG DEAL!)

It includes an automated mapper, which may be useful if I can get it to talk to my dome.

The dome setup is pretty broken in the current release (10.1.7). You can't enter negative numbers into the x,y,z offsets for the mount. (oops!) You can't enter a slot width >360. (Obviously this is being checked against an angular measurement, which doesn't make much sense - well maybe it really *is* an angle, although that isn't an especially convenient way to measure it.) You also can't enter a slot height > 90. Which is an angular measurement, but some domes have slots that open past 90 degrees. The setup panel is unitless, which is fine, as long as the units are consistent for dome geometry they don't actually *matter*. The problem though is that sometimes it isn't obvious what are angles and what are linear measurements - that does matter!

In my case the negative offsets I require are really pretty small, so I'm hoping that I can try this out over the weekend.

I was happy to see my telescope included in the setup menu. :)

I'm really anxious to try this out with my scope and dome - the UI for controlling things really looks as LOT nicer and more convenient to use!

#31 Jaxdialation

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 10:02 PM

Scott, have you tried the Mac version? I share your enthusiasm for the ZIPPY performance of SkyX, I am finding that the Mac version is more polished looking, but I haven't measured anything to compare performance.

I'm trying to figure out how to get my Sky6 FOVIs work.

#32 Paula E

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 02:35 AM

Scott, have you tried the Mac version?


Nah, I'm a PC. Probably did something horrible in a prior life, so I've been stuck my whole career working on PC code.

Unfortunately my observatory testing hit a brick wall tonight - my ParamountME refuses to talk to the outside world. It powers up. It responds to the joystick. It will not communicate over serial or USB though. Bummer.

#33 astrotrf

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 08:56 PM

I'm trying to figure out how to get my Sky6 FOVIs work.


It's been my experience that you can get 'em to work *mostly*. But sometimes, the FOVI I select simply *will not* appear on the screen. Often, some combination of deselecting, performing a do-nothing "edit", and then reselecting will work, but not always. Then there is also the problem of the FOVI rotation handles sometimes refusing to appear when you want them to.

All in all, they're just flaky, and I dunno whether it's TheSky or Windows or some library they're using. But it *is* frustrating.

Probably did something horrible in a prior life, so I've been stuck my whole career working on PC code.


Yeah, that's ax-murderer level punishment, for sure, or perhaps being a fan of a certain football team from one of your listed home towns. :grin:

#34 astrotrf

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 09:07 PM

Unfortunately my observatory testing hit a brick wall tonight - my ParamountME refuses to talk to the outside world. It powers up. It responds to the joystick. It will not communicate over serial or USB though. Bummer.


At first, I used my Paramount ME exclusively through the serial interface -- then one day it simply refused to talk to the serial port. I switched to USB and it's worked well there ever since. I haven't gone back to serial to see whether it magically started working again ...

The 12V passthroughs won't pass through, either.

I know that the MEs have some problems with the internal connectors on the adapter board; I'm going to be opening mine up during the monsoon-season shutdown to check things out.

#35 rmollise

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 10:06 AM



Uhhh....you can do that in 6 as well: Shift, right-click and drag. ;)


Sure, but in X it's just click and drag, not necessary to use the keyboard which is a nicety in a darkened observatory.


Actually, I misspoke (poked?)... Too much software, I reckon. TheSky 6 allows you to drag the sky with a simple right click/drag.

#36 jsmiller58

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 10:56 AM

Scott - any report out on your attempts to using TheSkyX Pro after your PC rebuild?

James

#37 Paula E

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:48 AM

Scott - any report out on your attempts to using TheSkyX Pro after your PC rebuild?

James


No, unfortunately whatever killed my PC apparently also killed my mount. My Paramount ME will not communicate with the PC either by USB or by serial port. (The Paramount has both.) It's looking like I need to replace the main circuit board in the mount, the MKS4000 board. This may involve unmounting the scope, which is a big job as you know.

Anyway, it'll be a little while longer before I have all this resolved. :(

#38 jsmiller58

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 11:52 AM

Ai-yai-yai-yai-yai... I am really sorry to hear about this Scott... Sounds like it might have been one heck of an electrical spike... Hopefully homeowners insurance covers this...

Have you consisdered a power regulator like a Powermax?

James

#39 Paula E

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 12:41 PM

Have you consisdered a power regulator like a Powermax?


I'm using both a UPS and surge supressors on things like the ethernet cables coming into the observatory. There are lots of things in the dome, but only the PC / usb hub / paramount have shown any problems - everything else was fine. It could have been lightning, but the PC was flakey and it's possible that some power related component failed and took out the hub and paramount. (Or maybe the hub failed. Who knows?)

Anyway, I have to get new boards and replace them. I'll probably run some through the mount cabling while I'm at it.

#40 CarolG

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 08:54 PM

So sorry, Scott, to hear about your troubles. I hope you get everything up and running very soon.

#41 Paula E

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 05:49 PM

Bumping this back up - I'm back online and am starting to test stuff out with TheSkyX pro. Yay!

I tried out the camera plugin last night. It definitely understand how to talk to my camera through CCDSoft V5, but although it lists the ST-402 as a directly supported option, that didn't actually work when I tried it. It gave me an error saying no camera was selected.

I intend to try out the dome and ASCOM integration over the next evening or two. To run the paramount with ASCOM programs, you have to use a beta driver for TheSky controlled telescope. Bob Denny just updated this today, so I'll see how it works out.

#42 Paula E

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 01:23 AM

The beta 2 ASCOM TheSkyDriver.dll works reasonably well. I ran into some type of problem where the dome lost track of where the scope was pointing. I'm not sure how to repro this - it only happened once. I also noticed a problem with POTH - it seems to have absolutely no idea what side of the pier the scope is on. (This is possibly a driver issue, but it could be that POTH just does this wrong. I haven't looked at the source for POTH in a while, but last time I did, I noticed that the assumptions in the code with regards to this were questionable.) It works pretty well with the ASCOM dome controller.

ParamountME control is good from within TSX Pro. The scope control addon is actually quite nice. I think it is a good improvement over the menu based system in TS6.

Plate solving seems to be improved over what's available in TS6, although I'm having issues there and haven't thoroughly tested it.

The dome addon is totally broken at the moment. You can use Automadome to control the dome (if you have a dome controller with an automadome driver), but it's impossible to enter negative dome geometry numbers. This means that for some people (including me) it's impossible to specify your dome geometry so that the dome slot will correctly line up with the scope.

#43 Jaxdialation

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 11:06 AM

The only things I need X to do is drive my mount, and do it under the control of either ACP or CCDAP, and provide accurate target information.

It drives my AP1200 just fine, the Guys at DC3 and CCDWare will take up the automation control.

It is interesting how Bisque did -not- work with the automation guys so all of this worked out of the chute.
There are freeware planetarium products out there that can do what X can do at this point (for me).

The ASCOM integration of course is a Bisque legacy.

#44 Paula E

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:50 AM

Having used TSX Pro for a while now, I can say a couple of things.
1. It has a lot of nice new features, although many of them are incomplete at this point. The camera addon and the dome addon come to mind. (Although they have at least fixed the major bug in data entry for the dome geometry so that the addon at least has a chance of being useful.)

2. It still has a LOT of bugs. I've reported around 6 so far, and while many of those have been fairly minor, the fact is it isn't that difficult to trip over stuff that's broken.

#45 Jaxdialation

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 11:28 AM

And how would this compare with for example TheSky6 in terms of code maturity?

#46 Paula E

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 11:39 AM

And how would this compare with for example TheSky6 in terms of code maturity?


TSX is obviously much worse - it is buggy. There are significant improvements to the program, there is no doubt about that. But I'm really not able to successfully use it in my observatory at this point. (I am going to continue to try though.)

#47 Jaxdialation

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:11 PM

That's disappointing.

I did the X upgrade for no particular reason. It looks like it met my expectations :)

Have you thought about running it on a Mac? The video cards are pretty good these days :poke:

#48 Paula E

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:32 PM

Well, they are working on TSX, and fixing stuff all the time. I think in the end it will be a lot nicer than TS6, it's just that there is a LOT of backwards compatibility to deal with, and also they need a lot of help with drivers. (Cameras and domes especially.)

The performance of TSX is way better. The UI is WAY WAY better.

Have you thought about running it on a Mac? The video cards are pretty good these days :poke:


Heh, I've been a windows system hacker for so long that I wouldn't know where to begin on a Mac. There isn't a mac driver for my dome, anyway. At least not yet.

#49 David Pavlich

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:11 PM

And how would this compare with for example TheSky6 in terms of code maturity?


TSX is obviously much worse - it is buggy. There are significant improvements to the program, there is no doubt about that. But I'm really not able to successfully use it in my observatory at this point. (I am going to continue to try though.)


My son and I were just talking about that. There is nothing more frustrating than loading a new program then having to spend time on the phone to get it to work. When someone says that you have to do A then B to get C to work, I'm ready to reach through the phone and impart bodily harm on the person telling me this and the guy/gal that made the decision to "release the software, we'll fix it later". :help:

David

#50 jsmiller58

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:12 PM

I had hoped, with the rather lengthy delay in releasing TSX Pro, that they had at least made it quite usable if not completely free of most significant bugs... It seems that they should have done a meaningful beta program (and if they did a beta program, a bigger one)... (Yes, I know software is hard to get right, and that there are always bugs due to the virtually infinite ways users can use the software - that is why I am a fan of big, lengthy, beta programs for complex software!).

Well, all of this is making me realize that I should not be in a hurry to upgrade to TSX Pro...


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