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ASCOM connection over WiFi to an Evolution mount (from Sharpcap)?

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#1 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 07:00 PM

I have an Evolution 8" that I've controlled over WiFi from my tablet using SkySafari. However, I'd like to use Sharpcap's plate solving for centering the object which requires Sharpcap talking ASCOM to the mount (note: I mean the general plate solving, not the built-in feature that aids with polar alignment and I've already installed ASPS).

 

 

I have the latest ASCOM version installed and the "Celestron Telescope and Focuser (6.1.6944)" driver (which I used for the focuser). I connected to the scope's wifi and then configured Sharpcap's hardware settings to try to connect to a mount of type "Celestron Telescope Driver". However, I got an error, "ASCOM.DriverException: CheckDotNetExceptions ASCOM.Celestron.Telescope ConnectedSet System.Exception: Connect failed, no port defined and no Celestron scope detected"

 

After some googling I suspect ASCOM over WiFi is not supported by the driver but am not 100% sure. I'd appreciate any confirmation/rejection of this hypothesis.

 

Thank you.



#2 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 10:12 PM

Hi,

 

The built-in WiFi on an Evolution (and AstroFi) mount as well as the SkyPortal WiFi module is connected to what we commonly refer to as the AUX bus.  The only external software that can work on the AUX bus are:

- CPWI

- NexRemote (not compatible with the Evolution mount)

- SkyPortal Android/iOS app

- SkySafari Android/iOS app

 

The common denominator in all cases is that the external software entirely replaces the hand control and the alignment routine and overall control of the scope occurs in the external software.

 

Other software, like ASCOM and anything that uses it to communicate, has no path to pass commands to the hand control.  And, they won't know how to directly communicate with the motor control section inside the mount.

 

So, it still boils down to my previous answer on this:  there is no way to do what you want short of my suggestion about getting a new adapter to connect to the bottom of the hand control and switching connection between SkySafari and ASCOM/SharpCap.

 

I don't doubt that leaves you with some additional questions, so fire away :-)

 

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


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#3 donstim

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 11:35 PM

Hi,

 

I asked the same question a few days ago.  You can see the thread here: https://www.cloudyni...ri-6-alignment/.  That's where Mike's previous answer appears.  

 

Mike, I am just now investigating CPWI.  Based on what you said above, the same issue would exist with using CPWI as with using SkySafari.  If the alignment is done with either of these pieces of software rather than with the hand controller, the ASCOM controller never gets the alignment information/pointing model to control the mount  That means that SharpCap's plate solving feature, which uses the ASCOM controller, cannot be used.  In order to use SharpCap's plate solving feature, the alignment must be done through the hand controller.

 

Also Mike, I think I found another piece of PC software that may allow SkySafari use for GoTos without needing a new adapter to connect to the hand controller.  WiFI Scope from Main Sequence Software appears to allow use of a WiFi connection between SkySafari and the PC, then to the mount through the ASCOM controller to issue GoTos.  My understanding is that the initial alignment must still be done through the hand controller for this to work, similar to how you described using an additional adapter.

Don


Edited by donstim, 19 May 2019 - 11:37 PM.


#4 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 01:01 AM

Hi,

 

I asked the same question a few days ago.  You can see the thread here: https://www.cloudyni...ri-6-alignment/.  That's where Mike's previous answer appears.  

 

Mike, I am just now investigating CPWI.  Based on what you said above, the same issue would exist with using CPWI as with using SkySafari.  If the alignment is done with either of these pieces of software rather than with the hand controller, the ASCOM controller never gets the alignment information/pointing model to control the mount  That means that SharpCap's plate solving feature, which uses the ASCOM controller, cannot be used.  In order to use SharpCap's plate solving feature, the alignment must be done through the hand controller.

 

Also Mike, I think I found another piece of PC software that may allow SkySafari use for GoTos without needing a new adapter to connect to the hand controller.  WiFI Scope from Main Sequence Software appears to allow use of a WiFi connection between SkySafari and the PC, then to the mount through the ASCOM controller to issue GoTos.  My understanding is that the initial alignment must still be done through the hand controller for this to work, similar to how you described using an additional adapter.

Don

Hi Don,

 

 

The last time I looked at it, WiFi Scope requires you align the scope with the hand control and then you connect your PC to the bottom of the hand control.  Then, SkySafari can connect to the your PC and you can direct GoTos via SkySafari.  You are correct that it would allow you to use ASCOM to connect both WiFi Scope and SharpCap to the mount via a connection to the bottom of the hand control from the PC without a new wireless adapter.

 

ASCOM can connect to CPWI after CPWI does the alignment so technically, you can stay wireless.  Align the scope with CPWI connected via the Evolution's WiFi.  Then connect ASCOM to CPWI.  Then connect SharpCap and WiFi Scope to ASCOM.  Then connect SkySafari to WiFi Scope.

 

Boy, there are getting to be too many ways to do this :-)

 

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



#5 donstim

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 02:25 AM

Hi Mike,

 

Yes, there seem to be many ways to connect to and move the scope, just not the capability I'm after -- which is to align with either SkySafar or CPWI (i.e., NOT the hand controller), direct the scope with GoTos from either SkySafari or CPWI and be able to plate solve using SharpCap.

 

And for my use, I don't see any advantages to using CPWI over SkySafari.  CPWI doesn't seem to have the capability to limit slew elevations like SkySafari does, which I need for certain camera mountings.  Also, I like the observing lists and ability to record observations directly in SkySafari.  In either case, I would use the hand controller for manual slews, so the non-tactile slew controls on SkySafari don't bother me.  The only advantage I see with CPWI for my use would be a potentially better alignment (sky model), but I have been pretty happy with what I get with SkySafari.  (Which makes plate solving a nice feature to center objects, not a must have to find them.)

 

Thanks,

Don



#6 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 08:35 AM

Thanks Mike,

 

Very clear and helpful as always. I hope one day, in a future mount, we'll have the capability of having external software talk directly to the motor control section of the mount, with the hand control being left as an option for those who prefer it. That's how Skywatcher's AZ-GTi mount works (which I also use).

 

Until then, I'll try CPWI.

 

Hi,

 

The built-in WiFi on an Evolution (and AstroFi) mount as well as the SkyPortal WiFi module is connected to what we commonly refer to as the AUX bus.  The only external software that can work on the AUX bus are:

- CPWI

- NexRemote (not compatible with the Evolution mount)

- SkyPortal Android/iOS app

- SkySafari Android/iOS app

 

The common denominator in all cases is that the external software entirely replaces the hand control and the alignment routine and overall control of the scope occurs in the external software.

 

Other software, like ASCOM and anything that uses it to communicate, has no path to pass commands to the hand control.  And, they won't know how to directly communicate with the motor control section inside the mount.

 

So, it still boils down to my previous answer on this:  there is no way to do what you want short of my suggestion about getting a new adapter to connect to the bottom of the hand control and switching connection between SkySafari and ASCOM/SharpCap.

 

I don't doubt that leaves you with some additional questions, so fire away :-)

 

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



#7 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 10:41 AM

Hi Mike,

 

Two clarifications please: 

  • how does one "connect ASCOM to CPWI"? OK, the latter must be running, but what's the next step (assuming ASCOM and the Celestron Unified Driver are installed)? I presume the third step is to configure Sharpcap's hardware settings to use a mount of type "Celestron Telescope Driver" (which is what I tried initially but without CPWI in the equation) but I'm unclear about what that second step meant, is there any extra configuration required?
  • once I read your answer to Don, it looks like "wifi to the scope" is possible as long as I don't use SkySafari but rather stick to CPWI, which is not much of an issue, I can still browse the sky map separately on the tablet, it's just that the commands will be issued from CPWI/Sharpcap. I'd rather have plate solving than having another wire and the hand controller.

 

EDIT: in the meantime I re-learnt (it had gone completely out of my mind) that the Celestron focuser I have can act as a USB hub and thus the USB connection I have with the focuser can control the mount as well. I did try it indoors and it works fine and it also recognized StarSense as installed. This is good, I don't even need WiFi then. 

 

The one thing that still doesn't work is Sharpcap's connection to the mount. I tried it with and without CPWI running (just in case) but still the same error. 

 

EDIT 2: I managed to connect Sharpcap to the mount, woo-hoo! With CPWI running, I found a new mount ("CPWI") setting in Sharpcap's hardware configuration and with that, Sharpcap was able to connect to the mount. I need to wait for a clear night, now, to check plate solving.

 

The only weird thing is that CPWI keeps the CPU busy at 40% - this would kill my laptop's battery in the field. I'll research and maybe post a different message about this different issue.

 

Many thanks again!

 

[...] ASCOM can connect to CPWI after CPWI does the alignment so technically, you can stay wireless.  Align the scope with CPWI connected via the Evolution's WiFi.  Then connect ASCOM to CPWI.  Then connect SharpCap and WiFi Scope to ASCOM. 

 


Edited by RazvanUnderStars, 20 May 2019 - 03:24 PM.


#8 donstim

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 07:08 PM

Mike and RazVanUnderStars,

 

I need to revise the position I took in my previous post.  As Mike stated, you can indeed go entirely wireless, not have to align with the hand controller, issue GoTos with SkySafari, and use SharpCap for plate solving.  I see that RazVanUnderStars ran the same trials that I did and found out how to get everything talking to one another.  I just added the WiFiScope and SkySafari steps outlined by Mike since I would like to use the observing features in SkySafari.

 

I can set up slew limits (or anything else that would normally be done in the SkySafari telescope settings) through the hand controller.

 

I was also initially confused by the step "connect ASCOM to CPWI" in Mike directions.  I finally concluded that this is essentially done automatically by CPWI.  All I needed to do was: 

1. Turn on the scope

2  Start CPWI and align with CPWI while connected to the Evolution's WiFi.  The hand controller can be used to slew the scope to the alignment stars.

3. Start SharpCap and connect to the mount via "CPWI" in the SharpCap hardware settings for the mount.

4. Start WiFiScope and connect it to CPWI as the mount.

5. Start SkySafari and connect it to WiFiScope

 

I can then select and goto objects using either SkySafari or CPWI and plate solve using SharpCap.


Edited by donstim, 20 May 2019 - 10:52 PM.

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#9 sandconp

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 08:47 PM

I was looking for a wireless solution because there was a major bug in Sky Safari this winter where I could not use it with my internal WiFi on my Evolution Mount for a few months. So my only option was to use the hand control or use the SkyFi 3 device from Simulation
Curriculum. This allowed me to use my laptop with software like Stellarium with my laptop without needing a cable from my laptop to the hand control. Granted I still would need to perform the alignment with the hand control but could use the Ascom drivers to nudge my mount within Stellarium. I am still trying to figure out if CPWI is right for me and also have Sharpcap Pro. The many options are starting to get confusing.

#10 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 09:06 PM

Razvan - Don has it laid out in post #8.  

 

Don - thanks for providing the solution in more detail.  On additional note - I do think that slew limits are a setting right in CPWI and should be set there for safety of your equipment.

 

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



#11 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 09:07 PM

The many options are starting to get confusing.

I'll agree there - sometimes I overlook a solution right under my nose due to missing one piece of the puzzle.



#12 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 09:33 PM

Thanks Don and Mike. 

 

I'll try steps 4 & 5 as well --  the setup starts to feel like a data center (<software-joke> I know it's gone too far if one day I read "Manage your astro equipment with Kubernetes" </software-joke>).

 

I also started a different thread about CPWI's high CPU usage - here I suspect nothing much can be done except for throttling the CPU and waiting for a fix. 

 

 

Clear skies to all.


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#13 donstim

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 11:08 PM

Don - thanks for providing the solution in more detail.  On additional note - I do think that slew limits are a setting right in CPWI and should be set there for safety of your equipment.

Hi Mike,

 

That's one setting I don't see in CPWI.  And I just tried it out and CPWI and SkySafari GoTos slews were not limited by the slew limit set in the hand controller.  I think this is a definite issue.  I will have to pay attention to the altitudes of objects I am seeking to slew to.

 

Sandconp -- If you don't mind CPWI and SharpCap Pro, you can use those wirelessly without the need for either SkyFi 3 or needing to align with the hand control.

 

For anyone looking to use WiFi Scope with SkySafari in the manner described, be sure to follow the setup instructions in the manual for WiFi Scope.  One thing that wasn't clear to me was that I had to set the IP Addresses in both WiFi Scope and SkySafari to the same thing.  (I just used what was already in WiFi Scope as the default and entered that into SkySafari.  Be sure to set the telescope type to Meade LX-200 Classic even though we have the superiorwink.gif Celestron scopes.  Then make sure the connection type is set to WiFi rather than Bluetooth.

 

Don

Edited to add additional info about using WiFi Scope with SkySafari


Edited by donstim, 20 May 2019 - 11:14 PM.


#14 sandconp

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 12:09 AM

Donstim:


At the time I got the SkyFi 3, CPWI was still being developed and I had never heard of it until I stumbled across it on a forum. I wanted to be able to use other software besides Sky Safari or Sky Portal because it had a serious flaw in it during alignment and calibration which made it unusable for months. I started to use Stellarium on my PC and I liked it and I wanted a wireless solution from my laptop without using a usb cable from my laptop to the hand control and Sky Fi 3 gave me that option. By the time I started using CPWI I was a Beta tester and it had a lot of issues which is to be expected so I lost my patience with it. Some of the bugs in CPWI Beta were specifically related to using the internal WiFi on the Evolution mount and I wanted an alternative solution. It was all about bad timing with Sky Portal or Sky Safari and the software bug. I hope to try the production version of CPWI soon to see if all of the issues have been resolved.

Edited by sandconp, 21 May 2019 - 12:15 AM.


#15 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 12:58 AM

Hi Mike,

 

That's one setting I don't see in CPWI.  And I just tried it out and CPWI and SkySafari GoTos slews were not limited by the slew limit set in the hand controller.  I think this is a definite issue.  I will have to pay attention to the altitudes of objects I am seeking to slew to.

 

<snip>

 

Don

 

Hi Don,

 

Correct, slew limit settings in the hand control are only in effect if the alignment was performed with the hand control.

 

We're still waiting for one of the folks more familiar with CPWI to chime in :-)

 

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



#16 butterbelly

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 11:52 AM

Hi Mike,

 

Two clarifications please: 

  • how does one "connect ASCOM to CPWI"? OK, the latter must be running, but what's the next step (assuming ASCOM and the Celestron Unified Driver are installed)? I presume the third step is to configure Sharpcap's hardware settings to use a mount of type "Celestron Telescope Driver" (which is what I tried initially but without CPWI in the equation) but I'm unclear about what that second step meant, is there any extra configuration required?
  • once I read your answer to Don, it looks like "wifi to the scope" is possible as long as I don't use SkySafari but rather stick to CPWI, which is not much of an issue, I can still browse the sky map separately on the tablet, it's just that the commands will be issued from CPWI/Sharpcap. I'd rather have plate solving than having another wire and the hand controller.

 

EDIT: in the meantime I re-learnt (it had gone completely out of my mind) that the Celestron focuser I have can act as a USB hub and thus the USB connection I have with the focuser can control the mount as well. I did try it indoors and it works fine and it also recognized StarSense as installed. This is good, I don't even need WiFi then. 

 

The one thing that still doesn't work is Sharpcap's connection to the mount. I tried it with and without CPWI running (just in case) but still the same error. 

 

EDIT 2: I managed to connect Sharpcap to the mount, woo-hoo! With CPWI running, I found a new mount ("CPWI") setting in Sharpcap's hardware configuration and with that, Sharpcap was able to connect to the mount. I need to wait for a clear night, now, to check plate solving.

 

The only weird thing is that CPWI keeps the CPU busy at 40% - this would kill my laptop's battery in the field. I'll research and maybe post a different message about this different issue.

 

Many thanks again!

re Edit 2  - I'm also interested in this type set up I have Celestron Evolution 925 on a wedge with Starsense and am using CPWI for alignment with no problem - I have 2 HCs connected one for connection to PC and one to physically move the mount at scope when I need.

 

I also would like to use Sharpcap as well for plate solving - I use it successfully with my imaging rig 

When I try to connect to CPWI form sharpcap mount chooser and select properties I get an error the gist is

 

Check Driver: cannot create object type of progid:Ascom.CPWI.Telescope

 

 

I installed latest Celestron Unified driver from Ascom and CPWI is latest version - any ideas why - cos I'm so close to getting set up I would like

 

many Thanks

Keith Butterworth 



#17 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 07:26 PM

Hi Keith,

 

Make sure that you start CPWI first, then SharpCap and that in SharpCap Settings/Hardware/Mount = "CPWI" not something else (and in particular not Celestron Telescope Driver).

 

Also have a look in Documents\ASCOM and Documents\Celestron\CPWI\Logs (use full path as applicable to your Windows version) for logs that may provide some insight. 

 

In my case, I haven't used the HC at all, it's not even connected as I use CPWI directly to the mount (there are a few options to do it: over WiFi or, if you have the Celestron focuser, it's also a USB hub so the USB cable runs from your computer to the focuser than the short AUX cable between the focuser and the mount connects the latter).

 

If we don't sort it out here, you can join TeamCelestron.com and once you're given access, you can interact directly with the team behind CPWI (and also to test beta versions of future CPWI releases). 



#18 sandconp

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 08:05 PM

I have used both CPWI and the Celestron Telescope driver successfully with Sharpcap. Sharcap uses the ASCOM drivers to communicate that way I can nudge the scope directly from Sharpcap without having to use the hand control. I have a cable connected from my PC to the bottom of the hand control.

Edited by sandconp, 15 August 2019 - 08:06 PM.



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