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Sky-Watcher AZ GTi WiFi Controlled for EAA

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#1 davidparks

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:48 PM

While the new Sky-Watcher AZ GTI mount can be used in many ways, and for different purposes, I wanted to share how I’ve configured it for EAA.

 

Sky-Watcher AZ GTi      Product Manual

 

All manner of small refractors, maks, and newts (and DSLRs) could be used with this Alt-Az GoTo Mount, but I’ve chosen to primarily use it with the ZWO ASI294MC Pro connected via L-bracket dovetail, utilizing M42 screw mounted lens’ (50mm, 200mm, 500mm, 1000mm)

 

The mount is controlled via WiFi (however you could use a SynScan hand controller, not included) using the free SynScan Pro app for iOS and Android.  Connecting via WiFi is easy via direct or access point mode, and alignment is quick using one of various routines (1-Star, Brightest Star, North-Level, 3-Star).  Tracking rates include Sidereal, Lunar, and Solar.  Time/Date/Location are provided by your mobile device.  Selecting and GoTo-ing to any of the 10,000+ objects is as simple as scrolling a list, and centering any object can be added to the mounts alignment model for improved accuracy.  Loosening both axis clutches and manually moving the position will not require re-alignment, a very nice feature of the dual-encoders.

 

I use Sharpcap to capture and stack the images acquired with the ASI294, and thankfully, Skywatcher also provides the SynScan Pro app for PC, along with ASCOM drivers.  All I need do is power on the mount (8-AA batteries, external battery pack, or AC adapter), connect USB3 cable from camera to Surface Pro, and connect the Surface Pro’s wifi to the mount.  Alignment and GoTo are accomplished via the SynScan PC app (no mobile device needed), while Sharpcap provides all its wonderful utility, including plate solving.  It’s been hassle free without any connection interruptions or glitches whatsoever.

 

However… I often add SkySafari 6 Pro running on the iPad into the mix…. Connect the iPad to the same wifi as the PC and GTi, configure SkySafari for the mount type, using the IP Address of the PC running SynScan, and UDP port 11880.  Everything stays in sync, whether using SkySafari, SynScan PC, PlateSolve, or… incredibly… because of the dual encoders, manually moving/pointing the scope, automatically updates SkySafari in real time!

 

Sky-Watcher AZ GTi, ZWO ASI294MC Pro, 200mm f/4

 
SynScan Pro running on PC
 
Sharpcap showing ASCOM connection with the mount
 
[shared media=gallery:images:60911]
 
IP Address of PC connected to AZ GTi WiFi
 
SkySafari configured to connect to SynScan PC
 
SkySafari
 
SkySafari issued GoTo, updating SynScan real time

 


Edited by davidparks, 16 April 2018 - 09:08 PM.

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#2 davidparks

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:58 PM

Manufacturer's specification:

Controller: Free SynScan App for iOS and Android mobile device or Synscan Hand Controller (available separately)
SynScan App Database: Total 10,000+ Objects. Deep Sky Objects: 10759, including Messier, NGC, IC, Caldwell Catalogues, Named DSOs, Named Stars: 305, Double Stars: 55, Solar system objects: 7 planets, Sun , Moon. (Unlimited objects when working with a 3rd party planetarium software).
SynScan App Alignment Method:  Brightest Star Alignment, North-Level Alignment
SynScan App's Other Features:  Tonight's Best Sky Tour, Point and Go with a mobile device, Identification of Celestial Objects, Remote control over Internet, User defined objects, Pointing Accuracy Enhancement (PAE)
Pointing Accuracy: Up to 10 arc-minute (RMS)
Resolution: 2073600 Counts/Rev., 0.625 arc-second
Resolution of Aux. R.A./Dec. Axis Encoders: 1068 Counts/Rev., approx. 20 arc-minutes
Tracking Technology: Freedom-Find™ Dual-Encoder
Tracking Rates: Sidereal, Lunar, Solar, Alignment-Free Solar Tracking
Slewing Speeds: 0.5X, 1.0x, 8.0x, 16x, 32x, 64x, 128x, 400x, 800x
Tracking Mode: Dual Axis Tracking
Motor: DC Servo Motor, Gear Ratio 6480
Payload Capacity: 5kg
Saddle: Accepts 45mm Sky-Watcher/Vixen type dovetail
Interface: SynScan Hand Control Port, DSLR Shutter Release Port (optional cables available separately), Built-in Wi-Fi Module
Connectivity:  ASCOM platform for Windows PC, Mobile planetarium App for iOS and Android ( SkySafari Plus/Pro, more are coming).
Network Protocol: UDP, Port 11880
Tripod/Mount Fitting: 3/8" Screw Fitting
Tripod: Adjustable Aluminium with Accessory Tray
Height of Tripod/Mount (excl. OTA): 80.5cm - 152cm
Mount Head Weight: 1.3kg
Total Weight with Tripod: 3.9kg
Power Requirement: 8 AA Size Batteries (not supplied) or External Power Supply (DC 7.5~14V, 0.75A) Tip Positive.


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#3 nm1213

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:51 AM

David, very interesting write-up.  Have you tested how well the mount tracks over time?  Will the objects remain in view after an hour or two?  Also, for EAA, how long are your exposures?

 

Thanks!

 

N.



#4 davidparks

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 07:57 AM

The longest I've tracked a single target has been 20 minutes, and while the target stayed well centered, the view did exhibit the expected field rotation.  We are experiencing winter snow/rain storms AGAIN (after a brief few days of 60-70degree weather), but next time I'm out and can track for an extended period, I'll grab a screenshot of the drift chart.  My 'feeling' is that an hour or more should be no problem for Sharpcap to align and stack short exposures.  Another great thing about this kit is how quick and easy it is to get setup and productive.

 

With the 200mm and 500mm lens, I find that 4-6 second exposures work well, and then adjusting the gain to produce a good looking histogram.


Edited by davidparks, 17 April 2018 - 07:59 AM.

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#5 StarCurious

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 10:07 PM

QUOTE


 

However… I often add SkySafari 6 Pro running on the iPad into the mix…. Connect the iPad to the same wifi as the PC and GTi, configure SkySafari for the mount type, using the IP Address of the PC running SynScan, and UDP port 11880.  Everything stays in sync, whether using SkySafari, SynScan PC, PlateSolve, or… incredibly… because of the dual encoders, manually moving/pointing the scope, automatically updates SkySafari in real time!

 

END QUOTE

 

Did SkySafari recognize the PC as SkyFi with the IP Address of the PC and UDP Port 11880?

 

If yes, then it might work with a different mount e.g. Celestron NexStar connected to PC via Celestron ASCOM driver.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience.



#6 davidparks

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 08:53 AM

SkySafari, in this configuration, doesn't recognize the PC so much as it thinks it is connected to a "SkyWatcher SynScan" type telescope, at a specific IP and UDP Port.  The IP being that of the PC running the SynScan application.  In effect, SkySafari and the SynScan application are connected.  You can do the same setup with SynScan running on iOS by connecting SkySafari (on a second iOS device) to the IP of the first iOS device running SynScan.

 

The SynScan application (mobile or PC) listens on UDP Port 11880 for control commands using the SynScan protocol.  Well, actually not just "listens" but communicates both ways, as it will update SkySafari real time, even when manually pointing the mount with clutches disengaged.

 

In theory, this might work for Celestron's Nexstar, using the NexRemote software, if it also has the ability to "listen" to a specific port, with SkySafari using the Celestron protocol (skyportal, skyfi, I forget what its called).  Of course, without duel-encoders, the dis-engaged Nexstar mount will not update NexRemote/SkySafari.

 

Bear in mind that the way I have SkySafari configured for SW AZ GTi mount connected "daisy chain" like through the SynScan app is I believe a temporary "work around" solution, until such time as SkyWatcher and SkySafari are made to work directly together  (advertised as 'coming soon').  So, this type of "daisy chain" connection may be sub-optimal for Nexstar, as it already has the ability to connect direct with SkySafari.  However, if it works, there may be some practical application.

 

Hope this helps!


Edited by davidparks, 18 April 2018 - 09:11 AM.

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#7 davidparks

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 10:16 PM

New lens and first light:  Opteka 500mm f/6.3 HD Telephoto Mirror Lens
All captures are using the ZWO ASI294MC Pro
The third shot of Luna utilizes the 2x Converter pushing the lens to 1000mm
 
 
First look was at 4:30pm, daylight  cool.gif
Snapshot 0.00396 second, 100 gain
 
Snapshot 0.00396 second, 100 gain
 
Snapshot 0.031664 second, 0 gain
 
M92 - 12s 450g 10f = 120s
 
M101 - 12s 500g 25f = 300s
 
Eye’s Galaxies(Markarian’s Chain) 6s 500g 20f = 120s
 

M51 - 12s 500g 15f = 180s

 

Edited by davidparks, 21 April 2018 - 10:19 PM.

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#8 cmooney91

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 06:42 AM

Awesome!

 

Iv'e always been curious about those mirror lenses. 



#9 davidparks

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 02:41 PM

I don't think the mirror lens gives the sharpest image, but for a quick grab n go EAA setup, I do like the results, and I love the compact form.

I find the more conventional 500mm telephoto lens gives sharper images, but is a much longer piece of equipment  (balancing and packing in a bag for travel)



#10 davidparks

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 07:38 PM

Update:  The latest firmware update for the mount adds EQ mode!  Not only will this eliminate field rotation, but hopefully allow for longer exposures, and deeper stacks!

 


Edited by davidparks, 26 April 2018 - 10:15 PM.

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#11 CityObserver

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 03:25 AM

That’s quite exciting!

 

I would very much like to know how much longer you can expose for with the wedge and how easy your polar alignment is.

 

I’m tempted to get a wedge myself...



#12 Muleskinner115

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 09:20 AM

What is the process for updates of the firmware?  What cables are used?  Is it easy or will it cause problems if you make a mistake and have to start over?

Tim


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#13 davidparks

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 12:12 PM

@Muleskinner115:  Firmware update process couldn't be easier (with a Windows PC) waytogo.gif

       Download Motor Controller Firmware Loader - WiFi, Version 1.69

       Download AZGTi Mount, Right Arm, AZ/EQ Dual Mode

 

Connect PC to the AZGTi via it's wireless.  The Windows Loader program is a simple UI that will report the current firmware on the mount, and allow you to browse for the firmware file you wish to load.  Quick and easy with no cables needed.

 

Incidentally, you can also grab the Windows SynScan Pro App, and the ASCOM Driver for SynScan App



#14 shirva

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 12:16 PM

Hi David,im going along similar route as yourself ,,nice to see some else doing it.
I've had the az gti since launch in UK and it's a good bit of kit and like yourself I'm fitting a zwo camera,, I've opted for the zwo asi 178mc with the starvis sensor,, I'm going to try and fit canon fd lenses to it,, had to send it back as it quit on me bit new one on route so hopefully can test it with fd lenses.
Was interesting to see you implemented the wedge into your set up,, nice,,
I bought the Star adventurer kit about a fortnight ago, so good to know I can do more with the az gti.
Davy
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#15 Muleskinner115

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 04:24 PM

Thanks for the info on updating via wireless. That is a nice feature. 

Tim



#16 davidparks

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 07:22 AM

There is a link over in another thread for a YouTube video that shows the firmware update process.  (Near the end of the video). https://www.cloudyni...ount/?p=8543010



#17 Ken Cotter

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 05:09 PM

I was glad to see what you are doing with this mount.  I have a couple mallincam and would love a lighter weight setup.  I don't usually do more than 30 second exposures so do you think I would need to use it in EQ mode?

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

 

Ken C



#18 davidparks

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 09:02 PM

I believe it would depend on the focal length of your lens/scope.  Shorter focal lengths would be more successful.  I’m pretty sure I can do a 30second exposure on Alt/Az with a 200mm lens.  Possibly 500mm, but I’d have to test that.  I believe 15seconds is the most i’ve done with the 500mm lens in Alt/Az.



#19 Ken Cotter

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 09:15 AM

I'd be trying it out with a C102 f/5.  If it doesn't work I guess I can always get the wedge.

 

Ken C 



#20 davidparks

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:11 PM

10 second exposure using the ZWO ASI224MC with a AWB OneSky (5” Reflector) on the SkyWatcher AZ GTi mount in Alt/Az mode.  Stacked for 5 minutes. (350 gain)
 
I couldn’t get 30 second exporsures to stack.  The image looked fine in terms of star trails, but i just couldn’t get the stacking parameters working for me, so i think it could be done with a little more patience and a little less tequila...waytogo.gif   More than 30 seconds with this scope would be pushing it too far i think.
 
I’m excited to receive the new William Optics Zenithstar 73 this coming Wednesday...  (i cancelled an order for the WO Z61 in favor of the 73 and guidscope combo).
 

Edited by davidparks, 04 May 2018 - 11:19 PM.

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#21 Mark Brickley

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 01:36 AM

Hi David

this looks really interesting. How are you polar aligning the Mount when you use it in eq mode. It strikes me this could have huge potential for a travel mount.

 

Thanks

mark 



#22 davidparks

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 07:46 AM

I agree that this will make an excellent, full featured travel mount.  Small and light, and yet able to handle enough weight to be matched with a wide variety of travel equipment.  It should easily be able to go in a carry-on bag for flight.  The exception being the tripod legs.  I’m sure you can get a different tripod, one that is shorter when collapsed, yet still sturdy enough for your needs.  The SkyWatcher tripod legs are probably too long for carry-on.

 

I’m excited to be taking delivery this Wednesday on a new WO Zenithstar 73 that I will match with this mount.  I love that I can run the whole rig, including PHD2 guiding (50mm guidescope), Sharpcap (Polar Align, Platesolve, Stacking), and SynScan (GoTo) using just one USB3 cable on travel PC (Surface Pro).

 

As indicated above, I use Sharpcap for Polar Alignment.  I find the SkyWatcher Latitude base very simple to use, and accurate enough for my needs.

 

246m9mo.jpg


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#23 Muleskinner115

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 03:38 PM

What guide scope will you use with the WO 73?  How about the guide camera?  I watched a video on using sharpcap for polar aligning and it seemed ok. Will the AZ GTI have good enough gotos and tracking to work with the WO73?  When you get it all together, please post some pictures. I love your experiments.

Thanks

Tim


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#24 davidparks

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 04:01 PM

I’ll be using the new WO 50mm Guidescope, with the ZWO ASI290MM Mini.

 

I have every confidence in the mount handling the WO73, Flattener, ASI294, Guidescope and ASI290MM.  It has thus far handled everything up to it’s weight limit, which I will be under, with GoTo/Tracking accuracy well within my expectations.

It’s even handled 4 lbs over limit keeping the same accuracy, although I would not recommend this.

 

Bad weather aside, I’ll post photos of the rig, and the first light results waytogo.gif


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#25 Muleskinner115

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:12 PM

To do the EAA routine correctly, what accessories did you get with the WO73?  I see you talk about the flattener.

Is it necessary for EAA?

Tim




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