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StarSense Auto align

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#1 rboe

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 10:26 PM

Got a used StarSense here a few weeks back and since I bought it for a star party this weekend I thought I had better learn how to use it. Set it up last night and tried an alignment - it just trundled and trundled. Went on for over a half hour before I gave up.

 

Updated the firmware, charged the battery and tried again tonight. Still no luck. It spins around aquiring images, showing a solving message from time to time but it just keeps spinning around taking images.

 

8" SE

 

Updated firmware, factory defaults (several times).  Location; I've tried the pre-canned city list and GPS coordinates.

 

I did manage to force an alignment failure by using the Auto Guide port vs. the suggested Aux. port (grasping at straws).

 

The problem I'm trying address; the star party has been in the middle of a hotel complex making my usual alignment choice problematic if not impossible. So far, I'm not impressed.

 

Anyone else have a similar problem and find a solution?



#2 Peter B

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 10:58 PM

Any chance it is set for use with a wedge and you are using alt/az mount?



#3 Eaglesoar777

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 11:26 PM

It pretty easy to manually align. Just select manual instead of auto and then slew to 3 areas of sky. However I find 3 is not enough and often have to select “ add a reference alignment “ for total of 5 or 6. You can start slewing once it says solving to make it go alittle faster. I usually get about 100 stars with each area and I’m in a reddish urban area. 



#4 ZL4PLM

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 01:00 AM

you plugged the starsense into the autoguide port?

 

bad idea as the guideport has a very different use and voltages on pins that will be bad for starsense!

 

The main thing I would check is that the starsense HC is set to AZ EL not EQ mount

 

How are you setting time / date? 

 

the HC will show where its at in the process - when you turn it on does it find starsense? 

 

what does it show on the HC when you hit starsense auto alignment - ??

 

Starsense is the best thing since slice bread usually my first slew /ref image /position check takes seconds so something isnt quite right as you suspect.

 

usual things that throw me ..time / date isnt accurate -timezone got messed up and I did break a cable once on it - got caught in a slew!  but the HC should find it on start up 

 

any pics of the HC when you start up /auto align and see if we can help more :)

cheers

 

Simon



#5 Noah4x4

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 02:21 AM

99.99% of Starsense problems are caused by user error. Most often the culprit is <location>  that can only be set via <menu> in a used model. But you say you checked all possibilities. Recheck everything again.

 

If not that, what you have described is characteristic of two possibilities.

 

1.  The sky has too many obstructions (including clouds). Try under clear skies. 

 

2.   The Starsense camera can't focus.

 

As regards (2). The Starsense camera has no user serviceable parts. If the previous owner (or you) unscrewed the lens it requires factory recalibration to restore focus. People have done this having failed to read fitting instructions, and DSLR camera owners have simply assumed it separates from the body like a regular DSLR.. It's normally a fatal problem without returning it to Celestron for repair.

 

But I will still lay money on user data input error. Plugging it into an autoguider port might well have finished it off though.....


Edited by Noah4x4, 07 November 2018 - 02:24 AM.


#6 skaiser

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 09:55 AM

Ron

 IF your Starsense hand control can still "see" the Starsense camera it might still be OK.

If you can still do a sw update / reload on the camera, then that is another good indicator.

Please only plug this into the standard AUX ports, never the Guide port.

 Don't take this the wrong way, but, make sure the lens cover is off the camera.

   After a year of using this,  I still have sessions where I find myself wondering why the align keeps failing , then oops, I left the cap on.....

Per eaglesoar, try doing a manual align, where it will left you move to sky locations for alignment.

 

If you do the above checks , and manual align, and NEVER get any SOLVED, found XX stars, it may be as Noah says in #2.

The lens-focus may be messed up.

I Believe I saw a chat session on the TEAMCelestron Forum, where someone had removed their lens and they gave him advise on how to play with the lens adjustment to get it back in focus. A bit tedious, but better than sending it back to Celestron to have them fix it at some cost.

 

Let us know if you determine anything.



#7 rboe

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 10:36 AM

Checked for Wedge - Nope.

 

Factory defaults so date and time had to be reset - have done that several times so I'm pretty sure that is correct.

 

Lens cap has been off - typically that is an error I make after using something for a spell and become complacent. I do expect to make this error in the future though. :D

 

It seems to see stars; I've seen the "too few stars" once. Typically it finds 11-31 stars. The one time it said it was solving and ticked down the precentages it said it solved. But kept working. I have not disassembled the camera  - unknown about the previous owner.

 

This is in my backyard in north Phoenix. Obstructions galore but the scope seems to avoid them for the most part; it points well above the roof and trees and the skies have been clear (naturally!).

 

When the scope boots up it goes through a checking packages routine, then asks to be aligned. I choose StarSense Auto align. Then it wants to know if you want to use the saved date, time and location. Checking those, after the initial setup shows the correct date and time.

 

If you use the Auto Guide port it "appears" to work fine but after a short time it says it can't find the camera. It was done only once.

 

I'll double check the Updates to make sure things are being seen. Everything appears to be working, just can't make it (or me!) happy.



#8 tmyers

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 11:06 AM

At another CNers urging I inserted a pinless jack into my auto guide and camera ports on my two scopes. to make sure I don't mistakenly install to the wrong port.



#9 skaiser

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 05:26 PM

Ron

 after it boots up and asks for align, scroll down to manual align.

this will then let you jog to 3 different locations in the sky that you choose. 

Make sure each spot has a clear view of sky/stars.

the maximum number of stars it will “find” is 100.

if it finds less than approximately 15 it may fail.

but,,, if it only finds 10-20 stars in a clear ,dark sky area , and does that repeatedly, it may be a focus problem.

check it out and let us know.

good luck



#10 rboe

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 07:56 PM

Thanks, may not get to it tonight, got a thing with the wife and some friends.



#11 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 11:50 PM

Hi Ron,

 

After it "solves" an image, how many stars does it typically say were detected?

 

Did the previous owner report success in using this StarSense setup?

 

I'm also leaning towards the problem being an unfocused StarSense camera. 

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#12 rboe

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 12:22 AM

Didn't pay attention or remember. Will pay attention next time.

 

Ah, didn't think to ask the previous owner - he also seemed to be a very short time owner.

 

When it says it is "acquiring image" it seems to display that for just a few seconds. Two tops. It's very quick. Followed by "sensing" then how many stars it thinks it saw.

Is that normal?



#13 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 12:48 AM

When it says it is "acquiring image" it seems to display that for just a few seconds. Two tops. It's very quick. Followed by "sensing" then how many stars it thinks it saw.

Is that normal?

Yes, that is normal.  It slews to the first location, takes an image and then slews off to another location while it "solves" the image (determines what stars it was looking at and the center coordinates of the image).  It then waits until the image is solved, reports the number of stars detected, takes another image and slews off to the next location while solving the second.  Once it solves the second image, it takes the third image and slews off to a potential fourth location.  If it was able to solve the first three images, it doesn't need the fourth image and it reports success; if any of the first three images failed, it takes a fourth image and continues on the quest until it has successfully solved three images.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#14 rboe

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 10:50 AM

OK, it rarely says it's solving anything. Unless it happens so fast I don't see the display.



#15 rboe

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 07:12 PM

A wee bit of an update in case I can't get back (long out of town weekend) then forget everything.

 

So I connected the scope up to the computer to check to see if it saw the HC and camera - it did not. Tried an update again and the process froze on package 2. Killed the power and then the fun started. Handset failed to boot and gave an error in package 8. Also, the computer could no longer see the HC. I had been using COM5 so I tried COM4 (warning from the OS that COM4 was in use even though it was NOT listed in the device manager). Well COM4 was a bust straight away so I forced it to COM6. In the mean time I had done a reboot just to clear the cache and the machine refused to boot and had to do a recovery.

 

When it rains it pours!

 

Anyway, repair went quickly and smoothly and booting the scope using COM6 proved very fruitful, devices found were the HC and the camera. Ran updates again and those appeared to go smoothly. The scope is in the backyard waiting for the sun to set to see if the success continues. Knock on wood.

 

Earlier I had picked up a Go Box for my ham radio, today I installed a nice LiPO battery in it to run the scope off of. I'll be testing that too. Although it looks like a need to get a nice expensive LiPO charger shortly. sigh....... If I get a chance before the weekend to update this thread I'll do it.

 

Final note: Once the firmware was updated I rebooted the scope, went into the menu system and checked on the status of the camera; and did a reset for good measure. So the HC sees the camera (there was some concern expressed about that earlier in the thread) so other than the out of focus problem that may be there I do seem to have a working camera.



#16 skaiser

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 07:20 PM

Successful reload of sw and hand control and camera reported in startup is good indicator hardware may be ok.

If you align in the manual mode, it will stay at the current location until it reports solved or failed.

see if you can try this and report back.

good luck.


Edited by skaiser, 08 November 2018 - 07:24 PM.


#17 rboe

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 11:22 PM

Auto align just trundles with no joy so I killed it and tried the manual. Sees 9-11 stars or "too few" stars and tries to solve - no solution. I think the out of focus problem is the thing I'm looking at. I'll address that when I get some time. 

 

thanks for the suggestions!



#18 Noah4x4

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 03:42 AM

Auto align just trundles with no joy so I killed it and tried the manual. Sees 9-11 stars or "too few" stars and tries to solve - no solution. I think the out of focus problem is the thing I'm looking at. I'll address that when I get some time. 

 

thanks for the suggestions!

Sadly, its becoming an increasing problem with used Starsense units. It is a similar risk with SkyPortal external WiFi accessories where people are dumping old units with the inferior SkyQLink signal/chip. I would be suspicious of any used Starsense unit as although it has its critics ("too expensive/unnecessary") once they have one most users won't ever be without one. Best you speak with Celestron support. 



#19 tmyers

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 07:09 AM

Very true, I was fortunate and my StarSense, purchased from someone in the classifieds, has worked well. But to be honest I only saved about $60 buying used. Likewise with the Skyportal WiFi, it lasted less than a year. Since it did work till recently I am sure the seller had no clue of its ultimate demise. I think I paid $85 vs $94 on Amazon, and $99 from Celestron. One has to weight the advantage of a slightly reduced price against the fact that they have no warranty with their used purchases.

 

I agree that it is looking much like a focus issue and while it can be fixed, the cost of the repair will likely push the total cost of it to over new.

 

The good news is that the OP will really enjoy it once repairs have been made.



#20 skaiser

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 09:21 PM

Ron

 here is a technique that was suggested by a user on teamCelestron to tune your starsense optics if they have been out of focus. The Celestron moderator agreed to this approach.

one way to set the focus is to set the SSA Camera pointing at the night sky and run an auto align, then, after each failed attempt, turn the focus slightly. Keep doing this until the camera sees stars. Maximise the number of stars and/or find the positions at which the number drops below 100 and set to the mid way position.

It will probably be easier if the camera is not mounted on the scope so it doesn't move and is looking at the same star field each time.

Check the focusing results after  1/8 of a turn increments (45 degrees).

 

Be completely methodical, devise a way to mark what you are doing and take notes so you can resume on subsequent nights.

 

It will take patience to tweak in but you should end up with a functioning starsense.

good luck



#21 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 04:52 AM

Ron

 here is a technique that was suggested by a user on teamCelestron to tune your starsense optics if they have been out of focus. The Celestron moderator agreed to this approach.

one way to set the focus is to set the SSA Camera pointing at the night sky and run an auto align, then, after each failed attempt, turn the focus slightly. Keep doing this until the camera sees stars. Maximise the number of stars and/or find the positions at which the number drops below 100 and set to the mid way position.

It will probably be easier if the camera is not mounted on the scope so it doesn't move and is looking at the same star field each time.

Check the focusing results after  1/8 of a turn increments (45 degrees).

 

Be completely methodical, devise a way to mark what you are doing and take notes so you can resume on subsequent nights.

 

It will take patience to tweak in but you should end up with a functioning starsense.

good luck

Good post, but I think it should have a WARNING.

 

Nobody should attempt this until they have exhausted all other possibilities. 99.99% of Starsense problems are caused by user error or poor skies.

 

If a Starsense camera is out of focus it is typically because (say) a previous user has unwisely  unscrewed the lens. However, if this hasn't occured, a Starsense  camera being out of focus is rare and it cannot be repaired by a user without considerable difficulty as described. There are people in our community that can't resist fiddling and tweaking and here is an example where that is unwise unless an absolute last resort. The Starsense camera has no user serviceable parts and focus is best recalibrated at the factory.  But the trial and error route described MAY work, or if it wasn't necessary and it was routine user error causing the problem it probably WILL destroy your camera.



#22 Lemonhawk

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 11:32 AM

I wonder if one could just use the number of stars as an indication of out of focus?  Typically in my light polluted skies I get 80 to 100, but one night it dropped to 20 to 30 and would not align  - it was a bad night for me as I had left the StarSense lens cap on!  But I can't figure out any other reason for not seeing a lot of stars other than the lens cap or being out of focus, and if out of focus, I don't think you get very many stars ever!



#23 skaiser

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 08:53 AM

Noah

 thank you for posting the warning!

i agree this procedure is a last resort operation.

 

as noted, a good check on the operation of the starsense.

If you have the camera off the scope, in a fixed position, pointing at a clear sky area,with stars.

Run the manual alignment.

If it repeatedly finds only too few stars, but the same number, then it may be time to try adjustments.

 

Something I believe is true. Celestron doesn’t have the equipment in the states to “factory “ adjust the StarsSense.

This is a one time setup at the factory in China.



#24 Rusman

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 11:32 AM

hello everyone!

 

im at my wits end, im having the same issue with brand new Starsense align,

 

so I was having the same issues as above, it says its found close to 100 stars, it travels around finding stars and solving them, after about 4 slews it alignment failed, arrrrrggg the time is correct I checked it dozens of time, 

ok so now I bought a hd wedge, in Starsense I tell it, it has wedge, well now the Starsense says to point it along the meridian, and point it south for northern hem tube to be horizontal , so now it slews up which is fine, but then slews down to the  ground a crashes the scope into the mount, I tried the tube horizontal to the ground, to the wedge, pointed north

still np joy, I have spent over 20hrs over a few nights, still no joy, 

ok so I figure maybe it needs a firmware update, now the real fun happens

I hook up the camera USB port to the Mac, then the Starsense hand controller to the Mac and hook up the 2 rj cable to the mount, hold the menu and Cele icon buttons done and turn the mount on, CFM finds the mount and proceeds to update, after awhile of it updates, it says the update failed,

 

it gets worse, now the mounts wifi and Cele icon are both blinking, when the switch is on, during all this I've had the mount hooked up to the power, when switch is off both leds light up steady

now I've tried the wifi connection to try another update and the com ports com 4, it cannot find the mount anymore

if I just connect the Starsense HC and the camera to the mount, I get an error saying it can't find the camera, I can no longer connect to the mount ever to use the slew buttons, I've written Celestron for help still waiting, I bought the brand new nexstar evolution 9.25" in July, I have yet to have any joy!! I've read the both the mounts and Starsense manuals a dozen times, I've done everything as explained, the book doesn't explain how to do a factory reset, I've pushed the button with switch on and off held the button for 20 or more seconds, with switch on then off again in all combinations I can think of

 

I think the mount is hooped!! the flashing lights do around 7 med flashes then 2 quick flashes then 1 long then back to the 7 or so med flashes,, I did think I smelled an electrical smell in the mount but not a very strong one, if I unplug the power supply from the mount, the mount doesn't turn on at all, the only joy I've had was using the pole master after I got the HD wedge, it works fantastic, im running out of patience, and im not an idiotic 100% sure I've gone thru the process dozens of times step by step through the manuals, any help would be greatly appreciated.



#25 Noah4x4

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 01:13 PM

Hi Rusman,

 

This requires a fairly complex answer. I think your issues are unrelated to the original post as your Starsense was seeing an adequate number of stars. It was simply struggling to reconcile them which usually suggests user error.

 

Check that the scope assembly is correct (is mount arm on correct side?) and all user settings; time; date; zone; DST and location are correct. It's incredibly easy to make user errors. You are also making life far more difficult for yourself by attempting advanced stuff (e.g. like wedge/polar align/polemaster) before mastering a simple Alt-Az alignment with no wedge (with and without Starssense). 

 

First bit of bad news about the advanced stuff. There is no All Star Polar Alignment routine in the SkyPortal or SkySafari APP. You cannot polar align using WiFi/Tablet.

 

Hence, to use the wedge and an All Star Polar Alignment you must use either Starsense HC or Nextstar + HC. But if using Starsense, you must update your firmware if your scopes firmware predates the December 2017 firmware update (as is likely given shipping delays etc). This is to eliminate the Starsense on wedge 'bug'. 

 

I might be wrong and things may have moved on, but I thought CFM required Windows/Java to update a scope (rather than a Mac/IOS)? Are you using some PC emulation mode? I also hope that you have not fried your HC/Scope as I suspect 2RJ is a regular telephone cable that  is wired differently from the correct cable that carries (or converts) the Celestron 'serial to USB' signal as used by the HC? Hopefully, somebody else can further assist you here as I am not familiar with any Mac procedures (but I did write the Windows 10 firmware guidance note pinned at the top of this forum). 

 

Next, wild slews can be a characteristic  of Evolution WiFi issues. Again, I suggest try with the Hand controller to isolate the cause.  I suggest you hence remove the wedge and concentrate on mastering a regular Starsense Auto-Align using the HC. The instructions in the manual are adequate,  along with the alignment tips pinned at the top of this forum.

 

However,  I will hazard a guess that your original problem is nothing more than an incorrect <location> which can now only be set via <menu>;<Time/Location> in the HC (or tablet). Everybody gets caught out by this as they do a dummy run in daylight and make a user error. Then, because Starsense offers only one first chance to input <location> it defaults to California (Celestron HQ). It then can't reconcile that location with what it is seeing from your location. 

 

Unfortunately, you might have exacerbated what might have been a simple problem. I am concerned that you now say that your mount now won't even turn on and you have burnt smells. The factory reset switch is accessed by a ball point pen and sits below the WiFi switch. See page 9 of the Evolution manual. If that doesn't work, you will need to speak with Celestron Support to seek a warranty repair. I do fear your cable might have caused some damage. But let's hope not. 

 

EDIT

 

Found a thread that might assist regarding updating firmware using a MAC, but it's considerably more complicated than using PC/Windows. . https://www.cloudyni...re-with-macos/ 

 

 


Edited by Noah4x4, 12 November 2018 - 01:35 PM.



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