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Simple APCC Questions

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#1 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 10:08 AM

I've started using an AP1600 with APCC Pro on it. So far so good but I've inherited the configuration from someone I can't question. After two nights I had a few questions. It's quite different now from when I used my Mach1 with just the V2 driver on it. So, I find that I'm wondering about best practices when using it  as follows ----

 

First, I want to set a park position (alt / az) with the mount pointing slightly down (minus alt). This is to control getting dust on the mirror a bit better. When I do that I get an error message that I can't set a park position below the horizon. Am I asking for the impossible or is there a work around or someway to set such a limit by using the move controls?

 

Second, I don't understand mount initialization. With my Mach 1, I set up each night in Park 1. I had the mount set to "Resume from Last Park". If I lost power I could just restart the mount. APCC and the latest chips seem to be doing something I don't understand to avoid the mount ever getting lost. I'd like to see a write up on how to set one up from scratch correctly using Park 4 (if I can solve question 1 above). 

 

Third, do most people run their mounts with the emergency stop button always visible? This seems very odd to me to say the least with such a reliable mount. I know I won't see it once I get unattended operation going but I wonder why it would be set up that way.

 

Fourth. if I build a pointing model in APPM do I automatically get a tracking model. How well do these work to tame issues other that PE? Is PEM necessary given a tracking model? 

 

Any tutorials beyond the very nice help provided in the package would also be appreciated.

 

Rgrds-Ross

 

 



#2 sink45ny

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 10:15 AM

Ross George at george@astro-physics.com is your best bet he will respond quickly and with complete accurate info.

 

howard@astro-physics.com can help also.

 

Both can be reached at 815-282-1513



#3 sink45ny

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 10:43 AM

From my experience, which you must independently confirm,  I can close down APCC when the mount is in a position other than the 4 defined park positions. When restarted APCC wants to restart from the "last-park" position. 

Keep in mind mine has the absolute encoders.



#4 dhaval

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 11:17 AM

Ross, I am with Steve. Call George. He will help with most everything.

 

From what I know - a few things (some according to George) - Park 4 is the recommended position to park the mount when not in use. I am not sure why (I have never been able to fully comprehend it and it may be a question that you can ask George). Having said that, I always park in Park 3. I am not near APCC right now, but I don't believe there is a "custom" park position (maybe there is and I just haven't paid attention to it). I also think that not parking in one of the positions is hazardous - there is the chance that the mount will be lost. Remember what AP recommends when the mount is actually lost -they recommend to put the mount in one of the park positions and then restart from that park position (not restart from last park, although after the mount restarts, APCC will automatically default to using last park). This ensures you are "within" a known position to start operations. 

 

I doubt if there is a write up of what the mount actually does. But, APCC and the chip on the mount are responsible for "knowing" where the mount is. Thus, after the mount is lost, due to whatever reason, and if restarted the right way, the mount will know where it last pointed and pick it up from there. The caveat here is that there cannot be manual movement of the mount after it got lost otherwise it throws things off (meaning the stored pointing position of the mount may no longer match with the where the mount is actually pointing after manually moving it). 

 

I used to be paranoid when I first started using the mount remotely. But I rarely see APCC now, so no, I don't "see" the emergency stop button anymore.

 

I typically use PEM along with the pointing model. It is my understanding (again, don't quote me on this), but the pointing model solves for tracking as well. It works very much like ProTrack that you are so familiar with.

 

CS! 



#5 WadeH237

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 12:14 PM

First off, I agree that contacting Astro-Physics is the best course of action. You could also post to the ap-gto user group and it is likely that Ray Gralak (who wrote APCC and the ASCOM driver) would respond directly.

 

That said, I'll give my brief answers to a few of your questions:

 

1) I've never tried to set a parking position with the scope pointed down (although I have set one with the counterweights up and the scope level to fit in my observatory tent with the C14 mounted).  So I'll leave this one alone.

 

2) Regarding mount initialization, when you use APCC, it initializes the mount.  The initialization includes date, time, site location, etc.  It can also push configuration to the ASCOM driver.  I use the recommended setting of having the mount unpark from last position.  When setting up from scratch from park 4, I assemble the mount and scope in park 3.  Before connecting from the computer, I release the clutches and use a carpenter's level to move the axes to park 4.  Finally, I connect and let APCC initialize the mount and ASCOM driver.  To unpark the mount, I use the ASCOM driver.  Even though I have it configured to unpark from last parked, when you click the "unpark" button in the ASCOM driver, you can opt to unpark from a different position (this does not change the default; it allows for a one-time action that's different from default).  I select park 4 and let the mount unpark.  (If the ASCOM drivers automatically unparks the mount when it connects and tracks for any period of time, you may way to re-park and level the axes again before unparking from park 4.)  That's it.

 

3) I've never had to use the emergency stop button.  If I remember right, it was added back in beta testing for APCC.  There were some bugs in that process where the mount could get lost, and the emergency stop button could prevent a pier collision.  It's still there, but most people should never need it.

 

4) APPM will build a model that can be used for both pointing and tracking.  APCC lets you enable and disable the pointing and tracking models independent of each other (even though they both depend on the same APPM data).  The pointing and tracking model do not do anything to correct for periodic error.  For best results, you should have good PEM curve enabled before building the model and it PEM should always be enabled.

 

I hope that this helps,

-Wade



#6 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 01:01 PM

So, my next assignment is to change out the computer for a new one. My guess is that I need to do the full initialization process over again including setting Park 4 using a level. I'll read the manual about how to do that. It can't be much different from what I used to do with my Mach 1.

 

What's odd about the current configuration is that the mount is set to go to Park 4 when parking in both the driver and the APCC GUI.  Somehow that slew throws an error about being Exceeding the Limits and then stops the mount. Next time I connect, it's "unparked". This seems to hurt nothing as the goto works just fine. I think that it must mean that there is some mismatch between the software components and perhaps the control box. I just cannot figure out what it might be. I really like to be able to go to Park 4 at the end of the night without an error. Park 3 works perfectly. Any insight appreciated. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#7 sink45ny

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 01:21 PM

My AP1600 goes to park 4 without and issue, it has a CP4 and the latest APCC software.

 

All these pieces need to be in place.

 

APCC software - https://www.astro-ph...c/apcc-download

 

ASCOM V2 driver - https://www.gralak.com/apdriver/

 

ASCOM Platform 6.4 SP1  - https://ascom-standards.org/index.htm



#8 WadeH237

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 02:51 PM

So, my next assignment is to change out the computer for a new one. My guess is that I need to do the full initialization process over again including setting Park 4 using a level. I'll read the manual about how to do that. It can't be much different from what I used to do with my Mach 1.

 

What's odd about the current configuration is that the mount is set to go to Park 4 when parking in both the driver and the APCC GUI.  Somehow that slew throws an error about being Exceeding the Limits and then stops the mount. Next time I connect, it's "unparked". This seems to hurt nothing as the goto works just fine. I think that it must mean that there is some mismatch between the software components and perhaps the control box. I just cannot figure out what it might be. I really like to be able to go to Park 4 at the end of the night without an error. Park 3 works perfectly. Any insight appreciated. 

 

Rgrds-Ross

Initialization through APCC and the ASCOM driver, at least in regards to unparking after setting up the mount, should be just like what you do with the hand controller.  You can even set the mount up in park 1 and unpark from there if you want to.

 

The second issue, where it fails to go to park 4 is very likely related to how you actually initialized the mount.  If you don't unpark it from a specific position that matches the physical orientation of the mount, then it might think that it needs to go past a limit to reach park 4.

 

I'll try to boil the steps down to just the important parts.

 

1) Set up mount however you like.  When done, release clutches and position it in park 4.

2) Connect with APCC and initialize the mount.  Date, time and location should be accurate.

3) After ASCOM driver is initialized, click the "unpark" button.  When it prompts you, select to unpark from "park 4".

 

That's about it.

 

Note that if you prefer, you can substitute park 1 for park 4 in each of the steps.  The reason that they deprecated park 1 is that when you unpark from there, it tracks into counterweights up in a few seconds.  If you do a sync at that point, you just turned the mount's idea of the ground upside down.  Park 4 can track for 12 hours before it gets the counterweights upside down.  It doesn't matter so much for initialization, but apparently it caused some confusion (and resulting pier collisions).

 

Also note that I was helping someone with a new-to-them Mach1 last year and observed strange behavior after unparking from reference park 1 in the keypad.  For example, after unparking from park 1, I sent it to park 3 and it went to some unexpected position.  It turned out that the location in the keypad was all zeroes (the owner told me that he set the location up, but I should have verified...)  That's why I suggest that the date, time and location are accurate at initialization time.



#9 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 03:28 PM

I'm inheriting this setup from someone who was in a group remote imaging situation and then left the group.  Apparently the system has been giving them problems for quite a while now. The error message is annoying at this point but when I try to implement ACP it's going to be a big problem if I want to park during cloud delays or between targets. 

 

I have the most ridiculous question in the history of AP mounts. I am too embarrassed to call AP about it, so I'll post here instead. What is the procedure to use a level to get Park 4 just right? I've completely forgotten how I did it when I had my Mach 1 and I can't find the documentation which I think used to be in the manual. Once I have the system in front of me, I'm sure that it will be obvious. I've become so used to homing sensors and completely arbitrary park positions that I've forgotten the entire protocol. (If I ever really got it correct.)

 

The optical train in this thing is so good that I really want to have everything working optimally when I leave the site.

 

Rgrds-Ross



#10 sink45ny

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 04:44 PM

In park 4 the OTA is facing south, counter weights and OTA are level with one another. I just use a small level on a flat surface on each axis. Then I use the SkyX to slew to a know object and do a star sync from the SkyX menu for precise pointing.

 

star sync can be done from the hand controller also.


Edited by sink45ny, 18 June 2019 - 04:50 PM.


#11 WadeH237

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 05:42 PM

The last time I did a large quote here, one of the moderators reminded me that the Cloudy Nights terms of service don't permit long quotes from other sites.  They do permit links to other sites and short summaries.

 

So here is a direct link to Roland's response in the ap-gto group, in case the above quote is moderated.



#12 WadeH237

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 05:53 PM

I have the most ridiculous question in the history of AP mounts. I am too embarrassed to call AP about it, so I'll post here instead. What is the procedure to use a level to get Park 4 just right?

This is far and away not the most ridiculous question that I've seen.  Actually, it's a pretty good question.

 

If you took it directly to the ap-gto user group, I would not be surprised to see Roland answer it in detail so that others would benefit as well.

 

Here's how I do it (assume that clutches are released and that you are in the northern hemisphere):

 

  1. Move RA axis so that the scope is on the east side and parallel to the ground.
  2. Use the level on the counterweight shaft to ensure that it's level.
  3. Tighten the RA clutch.
  4. Move the scope so that it's pointed south and parallel to the ground.
  5. Use the level on the OTA (or on the dovetail) to ensure that it's level.
  6. Tighten the declination clutch.
  7. Unpark the mount from Park 4.
  8. Recalibrate (not sync) on a star.

Note that if you are using software through ASCOM to do step 8, the software will likely not have a "recalibrate" function.  That's fine, though.  By default, the ASCOM driver will translate any sync from your software into a recalibrate.  This can be disabled, but I would never recommend it.

 

Also, it's important that when you recalibrate on a star, that you issue the recalibrate command from the same software that issued the goto command.  In other words, don't do a goto from software and then recalibrate from the keypad (or vice-versa).

 

-Wade


Edited by WadeH237, 19 June 2019 - 01:13 PM.

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#13 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 05:57 PM

Well,  it was nice of someone to save me the "trouble" of joining the group over on Yahoo. Thanks to Wade as well. Now if I just don't forget my level I'll be fine.

Rgrds-Ross


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#14 sink45ny

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 08:55 AM

Wade your post#14 has me scratching my head. Am I reading the AP documentation wrong? When I use park position 4 (northern hemisphere) the OTA is on the east side.

 

https://astro-physic...ons-defined.pdf

 

park4

Edited by sink45ny, 19 June 2019 - 08:56 AM.


#15 rgsalinger

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 08:57 AM

Thanks for all the advice. I've now got a mount that has no problems running. I got guiding down to .2 arc seconds and best of all I was able to park the mount at Park 4. I could never get my level to stay on the counterweights long enough to get it perfectly level. A response on got from AP was that I shouldn't worry too much about it as the first RCAL will fix it. That turned out to be the case and then the pointing model (see above) started working properly. Now my next task is to switch out the old dying computer next week some time but I think I've got a handle now on APCC which came into being just after I sold my old Mach 1.

 

 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#16 rockethead26

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 09:02 AM

Wade your post#14 has me scratching my head. Am I reading the AP documentation wrong? When I use park position 4 (northern hemisphere) the OTA is on the east side.

 

https://astro-physic...ons-defined.pdf

 

Yeah, me too. East side is correct. I'm not sure where the west side confusion comes from.


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#17 sink45ny

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 09:05 AM

Thanks for all the advice. I've now got a mount that has no problems running. I got guiding down to .2 arc seconds and best of all I was able to park the mount at Park 4. I could never get my level to stay on the counterweights long enough to get it perfectly level. A response on got from AP was that I shouldn't worry too much about it as the first RCAL will fix it. That turned out to be the case and then the pointing model (see above) started working properly. Now my next task is to switch out the old dying computer next week some time but I think I've got a handle now on APCC which came into being just after I sold my old Mach 1.

 

 

 

Rgrds-Ross

Good news Ross, keep us posted.



#18 Carl N

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 12:53 PM

Yeah, me too. East side is correct. I'm not sure where the west side confusion comes from.

pl]

Not sure the source, but If you were standing behind the mount pictured, facing north, then the OTA would be to your left which is WEST. That's how I've always done it

Edit: assuming said mount is already roughly polar aligned

Edited by Carl N, 19 June 2019 - 12:57 PM.


#19 WadeH237

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:22 PM

Wade your post#14 has me scratching my head. Am I reading the AP documentation wrong? When I use park position 4 (northern hemisphere) the OTA is on the east side.

 

https://astro-physic...ons-defined.pdf

 

I have no idea why I am making this so difficult.

 

The picture in your post is correct.  In Park 4 (in the northern hemisphere), the scope is on the east side and the counterweights are on the west.  The scope is pointed south.  When the mount is allowed to track at sidereal, starting from Park 4, the counterweights will go down and the scope will go up.

 

I think that I'll just delete post 14...



#20 Ron in Michigan

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:49 AM

Maybe once in 3 months I get this situation I can't easily get out of.  It's a RECAL error?  I try to recal and it says it's to far off.  Last night I totally wasted a RARE clear night. 3.5 hours spent trying to solve it.  Normally I can manually move the mount to park3.  Then I can park at current location.  Then I unpark and say unpark from 3.   (this should realign?) that normally works.  Not real easy since I'm remote. 

 

Last night 3.5 hours trying to get it to work, it would not solve and goto's were jumping all over.  I rebooted everything and same. Finally I powered down and went to be extremely frustrated.

 

SO HOW to solve this error?   I'll show a couple photos to help clarify as I'm really not sure why it is.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • ERROR.JPG
  • recall.JPG
  • rebooted.JPG


#21 Ron in Michigan

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:52 AM

recal to far from where I'm saying it is?  I really don't know what it's problem is - but why won't it allow me to solve/sync.



#22 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:05 PM

George and Howard are sweethearts. Neither of them will ever talk down to you or make you feel stupid. In fact you will feel like you have just talked to a long-lost family member who has been thrilled to find you again!

 

 

This is far and away not the most ridiculous question that I've seen.  Actually, it's a pretty good question.

 

If you took it directly to the ap-gto user group, I would not be surprised to see Roland answer it in detail so that others would benefit as well.

 

Here's how I do it (assume that clutches are released and that you are in the northern hemisphere):

 

  1. Move RA axis so that the scope is on the east side and parallel to the ground.
  2. Use the level on the counterweight shaft to ensure that it's level.
  3. Tighten the RA clutch.
  4. Move the scope so that it's pointed south and parallel to the ground.
  5. Use the level on the OTA (or on the dovetail) to ensure that it's level.
  6. Tighten the declination clutch.
  7. Unpark the mount from Park 4.
  8. Recalibrate (not sync) on a star.

Note that if you are using software through ASCOM to do step 8, the software will likely not have a "recalibrate" function.  That's fine, though.  By default, the ASCOM driver will translate any sync from your software into a recalibrate.  This can be disabled, but I would never recommend it.

 

Also, it's important that when you recalibrate on a star, that you issue the recalibrate command from the same software that issued the goto command.  In other words, don't do a goto from software and then recalibrate from the keypad (or vice-versa).

 

-Wade


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#23 rgsalinger

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 09:10 PM

If  the DEC and RA are both far off and the system has not been moved so the polar alignment is accurate, then somehow the location might be incorrect. If it was just an RA error I would think that it might be a time error in your computer (or does the CP control unit have a clock inside it---- I don't remember). Other than that it would have to be a slipping clutch or an actual fault in the control unit.

Rgrds-Ross



#24 Ron in Michigan

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 12:13 PM

Ray emailed pointing out there is a check box under advanced settings to allow errant syncs. I checked it and hopefully I'll not run into this again. 

Thanks Ray


Oddly before his reply the next morning I powered up and all was fine. (which is why I never mentioned it before).  It comes and it's gone before I can figure out why it happened. 



#25 Ron in Michigan

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 12:41 PM

Thanks Christopher, normally that's similar to what I have done in the past. This time it didn't work.

Normally I tell it to PARK3 (and if need be - I unlock clutches to eliminate any crash). 
I then unlock them and center the two white marks for park3. 
I then tell it to unpark from PARK3. 

Normally this works. (didn't last time).  I think this time it was some sort of software fluke, between sharing apps.  Poth most likely. Though I did reboot and it continued which is what threw me off. 
Normally a reboot, and a manual align and unpark from 3 gets it back on track.  It wouldn't solve either so maybe nina or ascom or poth or what ever had erroneous data for location or something. 

Yes Howard is great but if working with someone else might not be at my beckon call ;-) 


NOW my only problem is with the RASA - my snapcap isn't really an option. I need to park it weights up and face down to ward off dust and park it over a stool with a soft towel to help block dust. 
APCC does not allow weights up custom positions. (there should be a check box to allow it). 

Ray gave me a script to park it face down. (works great) but now I'm trying to get my safety script to call another script which so far I can't do.  Cloud watcher only calls one script.
So frustration on continues because of a 500.00 program that won't allow me to do a simple park position.  And makes me spend hours searching coding sites on how to have a script call a script.
Ray got me past the passing a argument into the park script but I still can't call a script with a script without user intervention.   sigh-

I hate windows when it tells me I don't have authorization to do something  (on my own machines).  Same goes for APCC when it says you're not allowed to save a weights up nose down park position.
So I'm going round in round trying to make a alternate solution that should be a check box in the software.  = (



The sleeping giant. = )    Ray has a script that lets you park anywhere. But the limitation is you can't send it there from APCC that I'm aware of = (    SEE BELOW PHOTO  but so far I've not found a way to trigger it when the system is finished. 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • newpark.JPG

Edited by Ron in Michigan, 11 October 2019 - 01:11 PM.



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