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Celestron Internal WiFi

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#1 CarlGreen

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 08:29 AM

Hi All,

 

Has anyone else had a problem with Celestron internal WiFi constantly disconnecting?

I am trying to connect via Direct WiFi to my Evolution (A new one) so I can use CPWI to control my scope.

When it does eventually connect, as soon as I try to do anything, it loses connection and I have to re power the scope to be able to connect again (Then it does the same thing!!!)

I have managed to connect via Access Point and although it worked reasonably well, I would prefer to use Direct.......Now here is the funny thing....... I took it back to the shop and they connected via Direct without any problems whatsoever! I also connected with my phone in their shop without any problems (I didn't try my Laptop in the shop).

 

The guy suggested to me that it was due to "Interference" from other networks in my house trying to take priority of my phone/laptops WiFi and this made sense to me, as I had never connected to any of the available networks in his shop, that fact that it wasn't "prioritizing" one over another seems logical.

 

So I got home and managed all my known networks to "Forget" except for the Celestron signal....and low and behold.....IT STILL FAILS!!!!!

 

I even went to my neighbors house across the road and it connected fine at theirs! (No signal dropping, steady connection!)

 

I am at a loss as to why I seem to be able to connect other places, but not my house? (I live in a fairly rural area, no Nuclear power station nearby!)

 

Has anyone else had any issues and does anyone know of any remedies.

 

Thanks

 

Carl (Newbie to Astronomy and finding it fascinating! (And Frustrating!!!) :)


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#2 mclewis1

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 10:00 AM

Carl, press the "notify moderator" button and ask the nice folks to move your post to the Celestron Computerized Telescopes forum where you'll get more immediate responses. While there have a look around for similar threads on the Evolution, there has been a lot of discussion about this over the years.


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#3 CarlGreen

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 11:28 AM

Thanks Mark (Have done) laugh.gif


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#4 mclewis1

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 03:19 PM

Oh, and welcome to CN. 


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#5 Noah4x4

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 06:45 PM

Quick history - I bought my Evolution in 2016...

 

First Generation Evolution WiFi was not fit for purpose.

Hence; I bought a second generation SkyPortal dongle. Marginally better, but range poor.

Obtained a third generation device under warranty  - much better - but not perfect.

 

However, Celestron WiFi uses the 2.4 ghz channel. This is prone to interference from 'clutter' in urban locations and interference from USB3. Make sure dongle is well away from USB3 cables. The signal desires a clear line ofcsight and won't pass through obstructions including humans (so don't turn around with tablet in your hand). 

 

Your best bet is visit Mike Swansons Nexstar Resource site that has many tips to improve Celestron WiFi performance. But it has long been troublesome.



#6 CarlGreen

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 02:33 AM

Thanks Noah, I have been to Mikes site and followed his tips/tricks but without any success.

The Mount has Internal WiFi (New, Bought in 2020!) but I do connect the camera via USB3, I cannot route cables away from Dongle as its internal. (maybe its the camera intefering? I don't think it is because it happens if the camera is connected or not)

Oh well, guess I 'll just keep plugging away.

 

Thanks for your input.



#7 Noah4x4

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 08:55 AM

Step one Carl, if you didn't do this already, try downloading the latest CPWI beta from TeamCelestron. CPWI is still work in progress and early versions did have a few bugs and connectivity issues. Not sure how old the public domain version is, but there have been a huge number of incarnations resolving many frustrating issues.

 

However, the fact your SkyPortal external WiFi accessory connects to your neighbour's network, but not in your house/laptop suggests a local problem with either your network and/or laptop. I have had much experience of similar issues, even with a third generation dongle. Frankly, my first generation internal Evolution WiFI and second generation dongle were hopeless!

 

I live in a heavily populated urban area where the 2.4GHz channel is cluttered.  I have neighbours controlling heating, curtains and similar by 2.4Ghz remote control and it seems like the strongest signal prevails. Also, interference between 2.4GHz and USB3 can be a contributory factor. But if it works at a neighbours, these can't be the primary causation (albeit they might contribute).

 

Let's start with the issue of connecting scope to your laptop in Direct mode. Have you tried connecting to your phone using the SkyPortal APP to further test the dongle? Also, if it will connect to other laptops when in close proximity, but not to yours, that might suggest a problem with your laptop WiFI wireless adapter. You can get a replacement 'plug in' USB (dual band) wireless adapter with 802.11ac for about $10 (and disable your old).

 

However, are you sure that your laptop is sufficiently capable? What processor and graphics card does it have? I have found CPWI to be quite graphics and CPU processor hungry.  Adding CPWI to my (fairly modest benchmark) i5 NUC had the effect of increasing graphics and CPU load leading to a noticable slowing down of my stacking software. However, I do have a very data hungry camera and have also embraced 4K UHD display, so my CPU and graphics resources are at a premium. A visit to the TeamCelestron Forum might provide you with more information about CPWI drop outs. But limited computing/wireless adapter power might be a contributory issue (but it is less likely than others).

 

As regards Access Point mode, my guess is that the signal from your router/hub is either insufficient or is out of range. You might need WiFI extenders or MESH type support. But before you buy a load of Wifi extension kit, have you tried with your telescope in the same room adjacent to your router/hub? The Celestron 2.4GHz signal won't easily pass through walls (or even humans as we are 60% water). If that works, we can move onto next steps if this test does suggest that range is the primary problem.

 

Frankly, I had problems even with my 5Ghz channel devices because of limited home network range. I tried a Netgear 8000 extender without much success. Frankly, I only succeeded with WiFi remote control when I got three British Telecom MESH 'WholeHomeWiFi' discs to properly 'mesh' together the signal to embrace my entire house/garden. Had I bought a second Netgear (also Mesh) extender that too might have worked, but these discs are cheaper, around 50% of the Netgear price.  Not sure what you call them in the USA, but I know they are available and generally work with any ISP. However, the SkyPortal device remains limited to 2.4Ghz. So these might still offer only limited benefit. They solved my other challenges, but not with SkyPortal device. Remember, I have tried all three generations, so I am convinced 2.4 GHz is the issue in urban locations. But that is no different to 4G being better than 2G or 3G as regards mobile phone technologies.

 

One deeper rooted problem is that the aerial within the SkyPortal device has a comparitively short range. The range of the early ones was diabolical as they comprised of a strip of soldered ribbon. In the third gerenation it has been fully re-engineered. But I still didn't have much success. What I do now is place a mini-computer at the scope running CPWI and camera software. As the (third generation) SkyPortal dongle is then only two feet away from the computer wireless adapter I now get a reasonably stable connection. I then control that mini-computer from indoors using a second computer over Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop with RemoteFX compression disabled. Might sound like overkill, but it was the only way I could get CPWI to work wirelessly with a SkyPortal dongle. Even so, I still get occasional drop outs and keep a USB/Serial cable handy.

 

In summary, I am afraid that whilst Celestron seem to have sorted out control using SkyPortal or SkySafari APPs, the extra demands of CPWI are proving more challenging. You need very good WiFi integrity, or be in the backwoods of the Yukon where there is no interference. The eye won't miss a occasional dropped frame when streaming a movie, but a scope will suffer from a 'lost packet' of data.

 

Good luck!



#8 CarlGreen

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 11:12 AM

Thanks Noah, I will try as you suggest (Although it might take me a while :) )

I'm not all that computer literate but can work myself around most things (with a little help from Mr Google!)

 

I am currently using a wired solution (On 2 laptops, purely because I don't have enough USB ports on one!!! lol ) and its not too bad, I'm only a few feet away from my scope set up (I'm in the nice warm conservatory and the scope set up is only about 2 meters away out in the cold!, with wires through an open window) - Its not the prettiest set up, but its working!

 

All I need now is some clear nights to start experimenting!

 

Thanks for your help, much appreciated.

 

Carl



#9 CarlGreen

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 08:42 AM

Well kind folks, I still cant get CPWI to connect via wifi to either my laptop or mobile phone! I am at a complete loss as to what could possibly be wrong.

I have tried almost everything to get them to communicate, however, a lot of the time the Celestron wifi doesn't even show up in my available networks list! (On both phone and laptop) and when it does and i try to connect.....get the dreaded "Unable to communicate with the mount" message  - Grrrrrrrrr

 

I have it set up via cable connections at present, but with all those cables lying around its only a matter of time before I'm base over apex with a load of heavy gear falling down on me! (Even with the best cable management I can muster!)

 

This is definitely a tolerance and patience learning hobby :)



#10 Noah4x4

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:18 AM

This sounds like a signal range problem to me. My third generation SkyPortal external WiFi accessory has a reliable range of no more than around three metres. 

 

But have you tried updating your 'WiFi Bridge? That step will automatically update your WiFi device if you update HC and the SkyPortal external WiFi accessory is already plugged into an AUX port. 

 

I do use my 2.4Ghz SkyPortal device, but only to wirelessly to connect to an Intel NUC merely 0.5 Metres distant.  I then use  5 Ghz power boosted WiFi network to reach a second computer indoors which controls the first using Windows Remote Desktop. 



#11 CarlGreen

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:57 AM

Hi Noah, What is a wifi bridge? The wifi on my evolution mount is built in.

 

I have used CFM and updated all it could update,

(Also no more than 6ft away when trying to connect in s straight line, no obstructions )

 

Carl



#12 N2KEN

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 01:29 AM

Hi Carl,

Your situation is a lingering issue with Celestron WiFi. My opinion is that the several iterations of the internal Evolution WiFi and three generations of external Celestron WiFi modules share issues that Celestron has never fully addressed. Partly this is due to the inherent limitations of WiFi and partly due to firmware and physical design constraints.  Noah4x4 has described many of the issues, and I fully agree. This can be a very frustrating situation, and there are many accounts here on CN.  I have a third generation Celestron Skyportal WiFi module and it works with my CPC mount, laptop and CPWI (latest Beta version) without losing connections. However, I do take some precautions based on my experiences with my 1st generation Evolution mount that had finicky WiFi. I no longer have my Evo mount, but I did get it to work reliably via WiFi at short distances of up to six feet.   BTW, the "Network bridge" referred to is part of the circuit inside the WiFi built into the Evolution and external WiFi modules. There is firmware that CFM would update if necessary.  

 

I have a few thoughts to add:

The WiFi issues are mostly radio-related. I agree with Noah4x4 that 2.4GHz is problematic in congested urban areas.  In Direct Connect mode there is no way to change the default channel. If there are neighbors or your home WiFi is on the same channel as your Evo mount there will be competition for the bandwidth on that frequency and possibly lost packets. This is often referred to as "Clutter".  The only way to avoid this congestion is to use WLAN Access Point mode and set your WiFi router to a less used frequency. This is beyond the basic knowledge most casual WiFi users, and as Noah4X4 pointed out, distance from the router will be an issue.    

 

Tiny little crappy circuit-trace antennas . . . and wimpy signal strength.  Think of this like whispering to someone six feet away through a closed door.  The closed door analog is the metal in the body of the scope, the frame of the Evolution mount arm/base and your body.  Now add to the equation that both the WiFi in the Evo and your laptop are partially deaf since the same tiny antennas are used in both ends of the signal.  In addition, the receivers in the laptop and small WiFi modules lack sensitivity, partly to avoid signal overload and partly due to using simple less expensive circuit designs. 

 

Interference from USB3 and Bluetooth also can be a factor. 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth share the same frequencies. Some WiFi receivers do not have adequate selectivity to avoid interference from nearby RF sources on the same or similar frequencies. BT is much better at avoiding interference from WiFi. Although not part of the usual advice in the forum posts I've read, I'd recommend turning off any nearby BT devices. My Evo did not like BT signals.  I'm not sure about later Evo WiFi versions. Some USB3 devices emit RF that can interfere with nearby 2.4GHz WiFi reception, although this is not an issue in your situation.

 

Laptop / Tablet Connection WiFi settings: Android phones, tablets and Windows-based laptops have "Auto Connect" settings for WiFi networks. I recommend turning this OFF for all your other nearby networks you connect to - both 2.4 and 5 GHz. Only leave Auto Connect on for the Evolution WiFi network.  I've had my tablet drop the Evo connection to connect with a stronger WiFi network signal that had "Auto Connect" enabled.  I'm not sure about this type of setting for iPhones. 

 

I haven't recently scanned the forums for other Celestron-related WiFi suggestions. I hope this hasn't rehashed other posts. Hopefully, other will give additional advice.


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#13 Rac19

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 02:22 AM

Noah and I have both had "character building" experiences in this area and I have seen regular  posts from Ken on the subject.

 

I don't really subscribe to the "WiFi clutter" theory. The system should be able to deal with routine WiFi disruptions. It should be fault tolerant, in my opinion at least. I think that Celestron has done some work on fault tolerance, but not enough to accomodate your conditions it seems.

 

Regarding Ken's reference to the the minimal PCB WiFi antenna, I would like to see a decent external antenna on the Evolution mount (not to mentioned an emergency stop button).

 

I have gone in another direction these days, with a mini PC bolted to the mount and connected to it via USB. CPWI connects instantly and robustly. WiFi is used for remote control of the mini PC via RDP, VNC etc. If there are WiFi disruptions (which are not frequent), they don't interrupt CPWI/mount communications, everything keeps working while I re-establish the RDP session. This arrangement means that only supervisory control occurs over WiFi, with direct control being over USB.

EDIT: You probably don't want to rush down the path of a bolt-on mini PC, that's a whole new adventure, not to mention the additional cost. The advice, offered above, as to how to improve the WiFi environment is the key resolving your WiFi issues for now.


Edited by Rac19, 06 April 2020 - 02:56 AM.

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#14 Noah4x4

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 04:13 AM

SUCCESS - but not with Celestron internal WiFI...

 

Having suffered from first (Evolution) and second generation (dongle) Celestron WiFI problems, I seem to now have a stable system including the incoporation of third generation Skyportal Wifi Dongle, but it came after three years of trying.......

 

Please note that I have succeeded over WiFi using a 16 megapixel camera and wirelessly transmitting 4K UHD (near) live screen data indoors to my 4K UHD monitor. I am typically stacking 48Mb+ five second exposures captured on Hyperstar (which is a massive data demand). You do NOT need these levels of computing power if doing single exposure AP, or don't have a double digit megapixel CMOS camera, or don't want to view in a higher resolution than 1920 x 1080 (1080p) . However, my experience is that getting the right levels of computing power is THE key to unlocking so many of the issues that are repeatedly reported in Cloudy Nights......

 

I now have the followiing EAA system architecture.....

 

1 Intel NUC eight generation i7 with 16 GB RAM running CPWI, Sequence Generator Pro (etc) at scope.

 

2.This is managed remotely over WiFi and Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop using a second Intel NUC indoors which is a 7i5 with 8 Gb Ram.

 

3. For two years, ever since I disabled RemoteFX compression in Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop, I have had NO problems using 5 GHz WiFi between (1) and (2) even with lesser computing power, But until recently, I could not integrate my Skyportal dongle. It simply refused to stay connected to my home network. But first, a bit more about computing power....

 

When I instead had a seventh generation i5 with 4GB RAM at the scope, I had all manner of problems. I upgraded to 8Gb RAM, but it still ran slowly. I was not until I upgraded to the 8i7 with 16GB RAM did I see the performance I desired. It also cannot be a coincidence that the upgrade to computer seems to have fixed a host of ancillary issues.

 

4. I was connnecting Scope to (1) using a serial to USB cable. CPWI worked brilliantly. But I was determined to eliminate this messy cable.

 

I wasn't going to let Celesteron WiFi beat me, notably as during winter months of cloud, I had nothing better to occupy my mind.

 

5. Hence, I tried connecting Scope to (1) using Sky Portal dongle in direct mode connected to a second Wireless Adapter. This worked fine as the distance the signal had to travel was merely two feet.

 

However,  if I did have a network problem, it wasn't easy to recover without connecting a monitor to computer (1). The issue being that if the signal to Wireless adapter 1 dropped out it would default connect to the SkyPortal dongle. With both wireless adapters now connected to the dongle, it was impossible to reinstigate Remote Desktop. Remember here that my dongle stubbornly refused to stay connect to my home network in Access Point mode. My network was 802.11ac and extended using an expensive Netgear 8000 Extender. I concluded that the dongle simply didn't have the required aerial, signal strength etc

 

BUT, the big break through....

 

In April 2019, British Telecom launched its WholeHome WiFI MESH disks, which I installed across my house and into my garden in the Autumn. What I didn't know until recently was my brick built house has plasterboard insulation lined with metal foil. It was like a giant Faraday cage! What I hence did was identify an unobstructed (other than by glass) line of sight route from router/hub to scope and my indoor mission control (which is in an outbuilding). I strategically put powered MESH disks no more than 10 metres apart, but not in a straight line, taking account of brick/foil obstructions. The difference between this and my previous Netgear 800 Extender set up was that an additional disk got a sufficiently  strong WiFi signal around a necessary bend/obstruction in the line of sight. Now my SkyPortal dongle stays 100% connected in Access Point mode. I conclude that the issue is the weakness of its aerial, which surely Celestron could easily remedy?

 

So in summary; don't assume your WiFi network is adequate just because other devices work fine. If you want to integrate a SkyPortal dongle into this type of remote controlled arramngement  you need a tight overlapping MESH network. Also, don't underestimate the  computing ooomph that might be required. I repeat, upgrading to an eight generation i7 and 16 GB RAM had a positive all round impact. Frankly, I could have just continued with the cable, but having bought devices like Skyportal dongle,  I like to use them.

 

Hope these thoughts are helpful to others. Here is a photograph of my rig. Note that I connect everything (NUC, Focusser controller) via an ABS box affixed to my tripod leg spreader rod.

 

Scopewith ABS box.JPG


Edited by Noah4x4, 06 April 2020 - 04:27 AM.

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#15 Rac19

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 04:53 AM

4. I was connnecting Scope to (1) using a serial to USB cable. CPWI worked brilliantly. But I was determined to eliminate this messy cable.

 

I wasn't going to let Celesteron WiFi beat me, notably as during winter months of cloud, I had nothing better to occupy my mind.

Hi Noah, this is where the "USB Bridge" functionality of the Celestron Focuser is great. It provides a USB connection from the mini PC (running CPWI etc) onto the Celestron Aux bus from where communication is available to Alt/Az motors, the StarSense camera and (of course) the Focus Motor, no messy HC interface. When I choose to connect via USB (in CPWI), connection to everything is instant and very robust. It actually works if you choose connect via HC, even there is no HC.

 

It is a little odd that the "USB Bridge" seems only to be available in the Celestron Focuser, not much help to anyone using another Focuser. Hopefully,  Celestron will come up with a stand alone USB Bridge one day.



#16 Noah4x4

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 05:58 AM

Yeh, Richard, I am aware of that, and I think the Celestron Focuser kit at under £200 is probably a game changer especially if the WiFi Bridge eliminates the messy HC to PC cable.

 

I had already installed a Feathertouch Microfocuser (£370) and MKIT20-WL focuser controller (£700). To be fair, this is state of the art focussing kit and incredibly precise, but does add another level of puzzles for the unwary developing their personal bespoke 'ideal' AP or EAA rig. Whilst the replacement mechanical microfocusser represents a decent investment, I am less convinced about the MKIT20 motor/controller. For example;

 

1. I bought the additional MKIT-20WL focusser wireless kit (an extra £200), but it's not necessary if using twin computer RDP.

 

All that is necessary is to the run the focusser software on the  scope side computer which is connected to the focusser controller by a 0.5M USB cable. Frankly, I doubt if many folk will ever benefit from the focusser's own wireless remote function as solving each wireless control problem (camera, scope, focusser) by each using a seperate bespoke solution isn't (IMHO) sensible. The holistic, twin computer, RDP approach embracing all devices is far better.

 

2. However, the autofocussing functionality of the MKIT20 is awesome!  But you need seperate software such as Sequence Generator Pro or Maxim DL. I am not sure if Sharpcap offers this?

 

I now run autofocus in Sequence Generator Pro and this is vastly faster and better than using a Bahtinov Mask. However, I then switch to Atik Infinity EAA software which is much simpler for capture and observing. I can easily keep an eye on focus thereafter using Atiks excellent FWHM (reject bad frames) tool. But I wonder, will the Celestron Focuser work with Sequence Generator Pro in like fashion? Does Sharpcap perhaps offer autofocus with the Celestron Focuser? If the Celestron Focuser can deliver autofocus with the right software at its price, then it's a real game changer. 

 

3. I am sure that the MKIT20 auto-temperature focus adjust function is awesome if capturing single exposures of perhaps five hours + where temperature variance is extreme. But it's a waste of money if stacking short exposures over very short integration times notably in the UK where minor temperature variance during any single image isn't likely to trigger a focus change. A cloud or aircraft con-trail is far more troublesome. I tried it, and it didn't seem that accurate. But probably useful if in Death Valley doing long exposure AP.

 

4. I wholly agree that the WiFi Bridge function of the Celestron Focuser is a bonus. I guess this is what any fourth generation of Celestron WiFi should deliver. But will we ever see it as a stand alone device????

 

The more I read about the Celestron Focuser, the more I become convinced that I could have saved £500 with no tangible loss of functionality had I waited for its launch. But I wouldn't now be without autofocus. If the Celestron Focusser works with SG Pro autofocus (or with other like software), then it is truly a game changer at a fantastic value price. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 06 April 2020 - 06:03 AM.


#17 Rac19

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 04:35 PM

Hi Noah, it's a USB Bridge (not a WiFi Bridge). I think that it might emulate the direct USB connection and control of the CGX because it appears in the Windows Device Manager as CGX.

 

If a stand-alone USB Bridge was released I image that it would be small enough to Velcro to the mount and would be powered from the Aux and/or the USB port as with the Focuser. I have always been disappointed by the fact that the Evolution USB port is for power only.

 

I haven't used it for autofocus yet but will probably try it one day. CPWI automatically connects to the Focuser and other applications then connect through CPWI. In fact access to Focuser control can be shared through CPWI.



#18 Noah4x4

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 05:34 PM

Richard, autofocus is just awesome with our type of remote controlled rig. I use the routine in Sequence Generator Pro, but if CPWI and SharpCap can handle it for you it is well worth exploring. I am accurately focussed in under a minute. No messing with Bahtinov Mask.

 

Tonight I carried out scope, affixed camera/Hyperstar, switched on scope and NUC. Completed Starsense Auto-Align from indoors; autofocussed indoors; my first and subsequent GoTos accurate. All 100% indoor control. Resdy in under five minutes. The only thing that refused to work was the cloud dispersal tool (I jest!). 




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