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I just spent three fruitless hours trying to get StarSense to work!

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#1 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:27 AM

I installed a Starsense on my 9.25 with CGX mount. Downloaded the latest firmware in the Starsense HC.  My mount has had the latest firmware installed as well.Yes, I followed the diagram for updating Starsense with two cables and RJ-11 cable from Starsense camera to mount. Set the scope up tonight, plenty of stars were out, nice clear skies. Selected auto align, the HC said it found 100 stars, gets to the end, and the HC reads, "Alignnment Failed your alignment is not precise enough for GoTo".  Tried again, same result. Did a reset of the HC, tried again, same result. I have the GPS accessory on my mount, it is sending the correct time, date, and location. I tried it with the GPS disconnected, entered time, date and location manually, then tried auto align, same result.  I'm out of ideas, you got any???



#2 sg6

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:34 AM

Ideas?

Learn about 6 stars in the present sky, when the list of stars appears choose ones you have learnt and do the alignment manually.


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#3 aa6ww

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:20 AM

I'd suggest read the display the entire time Starsence is operating and see if there are any anomolies during the auto alignment. I have a feeling one of the 4 locations is not working but I really am just guessing.

Is your Starsense mounted solidly and has a clear open view of the sky without the scope getting in the way. 

What is the cable configuration you are using. I plug my GPS Unit into the hand controller jack on my mount, then plug my starsense hand controller into the GPS jack.

Are you using the hand controller or trying to do this wirelessly. Try the handcontroller only if so.

Finally, is your power source enough to drive the mount with starsense?

 

...Ralph



#4 MickTaurus

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:52 AM

Have you calibrated the Starsense camera to the OTA?


Edited by MickTaurus, 09 July 2020 - 03:53 AM.


#5 goldtr8

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 05:51 AM

Are you using auto align?   When I first used the system I have I did not realize that it was pointing to the roof of my house and tree tops and the 100 stars were more like hot pixles.   Anyway once I sorted that out it worked.

 

You might want to try to use the option to manually pick your alignment areas in the sky so that you can confirm nothing is in the way.

 

If you have a laptop and the right cables, you can download CPWI from celestron and try it with this SW for your alignment.    You get more information from this to understand what the camera is seeing.   Helped me debug a lot of stuff.   CPWI is a nice tool but if you are not doing EAA or AP the computer will blow out your night vision.    Note CPWI if you connect thru the hand controller means that it becomes a communication device and it becomes non functional and you do everything with the computer.   Shutting off and restarting the mount restores the HC functions.

 

Finally, the calibration will be needed to aligning the viewing center of the OTA to images captured on the camera.   So first get it to say it successfully aligned, then go slew to a star and get it in the field of view and centered and follow the calibration process.   Once this is done you have to do another alignment.

 

Tell us more about the area you have the system set up in.   I am just assuming that there might be stuff in the way.

 

Also after the loading of the SW updates you might want to perform a factory reset some settings might be wrong that are easily corrected by a reset.   Then make sure you have the source of location and time set to GPS and also be aware that GPS can take up to 15 minutes to lock onto a proper location.



#6 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 07:51 AM

Ideas?

Learn about 6 stars in the present sky, when the list of stars appears choose ones you have learnt and do the alignment manually.

Been doing it that way for many years...Just because I don't have 8000+ posts here like you do doesn't mean I don't know how to align a scope manually...



#7 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 08:01 AM

Are you using auto align?   When I first used the system I have I did not realize that it was pointing to the roof of my house and tree tops and the 100 stars were more like hot pixles.   Anyway once I sorted that out it worked.

 

You might want to try to use the option to manually pick your alignment areas in the sky so that you can confirm nothing is in the way.

 

If you have a laptop and the right cables, you can download CPWI from celestron and try it with this SW for your alignment.    You get more information from this to understand what the camera is seeing.   Helped me debug a lot of stuff.   CPWI is a nice tool but if you are not doing EAA or AP the computer will blow out your night vision.    Note CPWI if you connect thru the hand controller means that it becomes a communication device and it becomes non functional and you do everything with the computer.   Shutting off and restarting the mount restores the HC functions.

 

Finally, the calibration will be needed to aligning the viewing center of the OTA to images captured on the camera.   So first get it to say it successfully aligned, then go slew to a star and get it in the field of view and centered and follow the calibration process.   Once this is done you have to do another alignment.

 

Tell us more about the area you have the system set up in.   I am just assuming that there might be stuff in the way.

 

Also after the loading of the SW updates you might want to perform a factory reset some settings might be wrong that are easily corrected by a reset.   Then make sure you have the source of location and time set to GPS and also be aware that GPS can take up to 15 minutes to lock onto a proper location.

I've used CWPI for a couple years. The CGX has a USB "B"port that the cable from the laptop plugs into. But last night, I didn't use any of that.  Just the Starsense hand control plugged into the GPS, GPS plugged into Aux port 2, Starsense camera plugged into Aux port 1.

 

The area we set up in last night was unobstructed view from horizon to horizon. No roofs in the way, just sky. I already tried a factory reset, didn't do ****. This is the second time I have tried to get Starsense to work, the first episode was back at the end of June, when I watched it do the same procedure hour after hour, failing to align each time. I opened a ticket with Celestron tech support in June, I haven't heard squat from them.  My wife gifted me this Starsense crap for Father's Day, she thought it would make our astro sessions more enjoyable...yeah, right...
 



#8 Jeff Lee

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 09:46 AM

Is it setup for the correct mount type? I've also done a user custom alignment and I have a very restricted sky. Works well with my SE and my Az-EQ.  



#9 mdbradshaw

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:13 AM

Have you calibrated the Starsense camera to the OTA?

 

 

I've used CWPI for a couple years. The CGX has a USB "B"port that the cable from the laptop plugs into. But last night, I didn't use any of that.  Just the Starsense hand control plugged into the GPS, GPS plugged into Aux port 2, Starsense camera plugged into Aux port 1.

 

The area we set up in last night was unobstructed view from horizon to horizon. No roofs in the way, just sky. I already tried a factory reset, didn't do ****. This is the second time I have tried to get Starsense to work, the first episode was back at the end of June, when I watched it do the same procedure hour after hour, failing to align each time. I opened a ticket with Celestron tech support in June, I haven't heard squat from them.  My wife gifted me this Starsense crap for Father's Day, she thought it would make our astro sessions more enjoyable...yeah, right...
 

So...have you calibrated it?

Have you tried to make it fail?  Leave the lens cap on and see what the screen says each time. 

 

If it's moving around, and then stops and give a result, it's probably working fine.  Either the calibration is way off, or the lens isn't focused  or something and it's reading junk.  If it didn't move around, or didn't stop moving around, or didn't give a response each time it moved, THEN I would expect a software issue.



#10 whizbang

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:22 AM

+1 what Mick asked.

 

There appears to be a considerable calibration process that must be done in advance.



#11 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:49 AM

In the manual, it states calibration is to be done AFTER an auto align is completed.
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#12 MJB87

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:55 AM

I'm not sure how this could be a calibration issue. All the calibration does is to correct for lack of exact collinearity between telescope and camera. It does not affect the ability of the camera to find a solution though platesolving.

 

What comes to mind to me are

1. Camera cap is still on -- don't laugh or be insulted, it happens to most of us at some time

2. The StarSense thinks it is in the wrong hemisphere -- yes, this can happen

3. You have a defective camera or processor.

 

Does StarSense actually report that an alignment reference has been created?  

 

Here is an experiment.  Set up the telescope so it is pointed close to the NCP.  (Use a compass to find true north and elevate the OTA axis to match your latitude.) You can do this in the daytime.  Then, after dark, do a Quick Align. You can leave the camera cover on for this -- it just does an alignment based on time, location and index positions, assuming that you are approximately polar aligned.  Then, with the camera uncovered, point somewhere were you know the camera will see a lot of stars and try to Add an Alignment Ref at that point.  If that works, then we know the camera works and the basic platesolving processing is OK.

 

Marty



#13 Noah4x4

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:59 AM

You are evidently an experienced user, so this doesn't sound like the common user data error frustrations.

 

First check your HC against the (online) Celestron Firmware Update History. Are the version numbers satisfactory?  There could be firmware download corruption (which a HC reset might not resolve. You might need to repeat.

 

Have you used the correct bracket for the CGX (n.b. there are two in the box).

 

Is this a new or used Starsense?

 

If new, and you are 100% sure that assembly is correct and you have ALL user data correctly entered it rather sounds like a failed unit. Contact your retailer for a warranty replacement.

 

If used, the symptoms potentially sound like the SSA camera might be out of focus. People often mistakenly unscrew the camera lens and sadly, that is not user serviceable and focus needs to be factory recalibrated. Note as per the previous post, this remedy differs from calibration with your OTA.

 

If the SSA camera is finding 100 stars, that suggests it is working. But does it find sufficient stars in at least three plate solves? If not, that might suggest obstructions might be an issue.  You can check that by watching the reports your HC offers after each plate solve. Try again at another location. You can resolve by a Starsense manual align, but ensure autoalign is working first.

 

Good luck. I have owed two Starsense. Very frustrating when first purchased as the instructions are terrible. But I have since had four years of perfect success. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 09 July 2020 - 12:01 PM.


#14 mdbradshaw

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 01:06 PM

Take the camera off and set it on a table (still connected via a cord).  Then run an alignment, so that the scope is moving but the camera doesn't.  What does it say?  You're trying to FORCE a failure as quickly as possible.  Does it say "found 3 stars" or "found 100 stars" or what?



#15 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 01:22 PM

Take the camera off and set it on a table (still connected via a cord).  Then run an alignment, so that the scope is moving but the camera doesn't.  What does it say?  You're trying to FORCE a failure as quickly as possible.  Does it say "found 3 stars" or "found 100 stars" or what?

With the lens cap on and StarSense sitting off to the side of the scope, sometimes it finds 13 stars, sometimes 25, most of the time it shows "Too few stars".



#16 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 01:28 PM

Last night, it was going through 4 plate solves before it generated the error message. I made sure it was roughly polar aligned with a compass and latitude set with a digital angle finder on the mount saddle before I even powered the mount. I'm stumped...



#17 Noah4x4

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 02:14 PM

Was it fully dark?

Was it cloudy?

Were there any obstructions?

These characterise "too few stars". 

 

If none of these, I fear your SSA camera lens might be out of focus, which is not a user fix. Suggest you return for replacement under warranty. 



#18 robbieg147

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 02:47 PM

Are you sure your date and location are correct in the HC? this sounds like a location error to me.

 

If your date and location is definitely set correct it could be your polar alignment is too large, needs to be less than 5 degrees.

 

If you are using a conventional compass you need to keep it away from the mount as the metal will throw it way off, if you can see Polaris I recommend the Polemaster. The Polemaster and Sarsense together are so quick and so accurate.


Edited by robbieg147, 09 July 2020 - 02:48 PM.


#19 skaiser

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:47 PM

Hi

 I have a similar setup to what you are trying except no gps.

9.25 SCT, on cgx mount, with starsense

i have to setup my system on my upper story deck to give me any viewing areas. ( too many trees at ground level)

So my usual procedure is to roughly polar align the cgx using a compass and digital inclinometer ( I don’t have a view of Polaris)

then run a custom alignment pattern, using the hand control with starsense .

( I am limited to western view only, mostly from S to almost N)

I use HC on initial alignment since it’s easier to make the polar tweaks outside w HC,

I have had “successful “ initial starsense alignment, even being off 5-10 deg from polar.

it is very tolerant of polar misalignment.

anyway, if you are getting “some” found 100 stars and completed plate solves then it seems likely the starsense is working, else you would never get any found stars or plate solves.

if the starsense fails to solve alignment after a couple find/solves then it sure seems like a setup parameter is not correct.

someting to try.

If you connect to cgx via the USB port with cpwi. Don’t connect the gps

Check to make sure cpwi is using your location./time

after connecting to your mount,And you select starsense manual alignment,  make sure the cgx is homing on its switches.

do the starsense manual alignment, going through 3 or 4 sky locations.

they can be all East/ west, or 360 around, just as long as they are separated reasonably.

baring any glitches, cpwi will give information as it searches, finds, solves at each location.

After 3-4 points you should have a reasonable solution and can quit the alignment.

it should have a solved alignment at this point.

if this is successful, and you can’t get a success with the hand control, then something is not right in HC.

 

After successful Alignment with cpwi you should then do a camera calibration.

then rerun Alignment.

Then do All star polar alignment.

all should be good then.

 

if you run with cpwi and the gps and cannot get alignment, then maybe something not set right in gps or it’s not working right. Sorry, don’t have a gps to relate any information on its use.

 

as mentioned if you run cpwi, starsense manual alignment and get successful then something else is going on with HC and or gps.

take care

steve



#20 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 06:58 PM

I second Don's suggestion to temporarily use CPWI. Its log will provide some insight into what's happening. 



#21 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 08:39 PM

Lots of good suggestions here, I would also suggest the printed manual you received with StarSense is likely the very old (2013) version that leaves out important information.  On this page:

https://www.nexstars...com/Manuals.htm

download the 2017 version of the StarSense manual and check to see.

 

And, many people have been fooled by Celestron Firmware Manager (CFM) into believing their equipment was successfully updated when it was not.  Noah's suggestion to check the version numbers displayed in the hand control menu is a very good one.  In fact, post the version info here so we can help you better.

 

You are frustrated for good reason but I think we will be able to help you get this thing working (or returned for another which does work).

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
https://www.NexStarSite.com



#22 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 08:56 PM

Michael, the version number in the StarSense HC is 01.20.20162, dated June of 2020. I do have the 2017 version of the manual.



#23 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 09:04 PM

Good then.

 

So, on GEM mounts, the StarSense system relies on date, time and location info coupled with a "close" polar alignment (eyeball Polaris through the RA axis).  This helps the hand control to analyze the star fields for a match.  If any of those items or a combination of any of them is too far out from reality, alignment will fail.  

 

After attacking the problem based on that information, if you still cannot get an initial alignment, I would suggest returning your StarSense kit for a replacement.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
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#24 Woody218

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 09:14 PM

Good then.

 

So, on GEM mounts, the StarSense system relies on date, time and location info coupled with a "close" polar alignment (eyeball Polaris through the RA axis).  This helps the hand control to analyze the star fields for a match.  If any of those items or a combination of any of them is too far out from reality, alignment will fail.  

 

After attacking the problem based on that information, if you still cannot get an initial alignment, I would suggest returning your StarSense kit for a replacement.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
https://www.NexStarSite.com

My mount is a CGX, so no polar scope. I always use a compass app on my phone to find true north. It compensates for magnetic variation, so a north indication is true north. I level my tripod to zero-zero before I attach the mount. Like I posted above, I have the GPS accessory on my scope, the time, date and location in the HC was dead-nuts accurate. I hooked up the camera and HC to my mount today, and left the lens cover on the camera. Ran a StarSense autoalign. The HC indicated it was finding stars with the lens cap on the camera! It also displayed "Not Enough Stars", which I would expect.


Edited by Woody218, 09 July 2020 - 09:15 PM.


#25 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 09:24 PM

Sounds like it is defective unless anyone else can think of another subtle issue we've missed up to this point.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
https://www.NexStarSite.com




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