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Moonlite and EAF for Meade Schmidt Newt

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#1 Ryan1776

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 11:37 AM

I'm looking to get a Moonlite focuser for my Meade S-Newt. 

 

I've already message and spoke with Ron so I know I need the CR 2" with 2" drawtube. 

 

Here's what I don't know. 

I'd REALLY like to get auto focus setup as I have the ASI Air (1st gen). 
 

I know the ASI Air won't talk to the Moonlite Stepper motor, and doesn't seem to be any near future plans.
So my real only option is the ZWO EAF. 

 

Which brings me to my question.

Has anyone gotten the EAF mounted to a Moonlite newt focuser? 

If I'm going to get and make the EAF work on a Moonlite is it worth getting a dual speed with shaft lock? 

Seems to me that I'll just be bypassing that extra goodness (dual speed and shaft lock) if I use the stepper motor.

 

Of course, in the time being until the EAF comes in stock I'll be using the single speed w/o lock. The lack of the lock would be my biggest issue. 

 

But the price of the dual speed with lock, $125, is just about half way to the EAF new w/remote. 

 

Thoughts, comments? 

 

Thanks.

Ryan 

 


Edited by Ryan1776, 16 July 2020 - 11:21 AM.


#2 Ryan1776

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 07:24 AM

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#3 mark77

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:48 AM

Ryan

 

I have written code that runs on Raspberry-Pi (thats what the ASI-Air is based on) that controls the Moonlite focuser.

 

I have an ASI-Air but I am not using it.  Do you know what protocol the ASI-Air uses to talk to the EAF.  I would like to try to write code to make it so that you can use the Moonlite Stepper with the ASI-Air.

 

Mark



#4 Ryan1776

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:57 AM

Ryan

 

I have written code that runs on Raspberry-Pi (thats what the ASI-Air is based on) that controls the Moonlite focuser.

 

I have an ASI-Air but I am not using it.  Do you know what protocol the ASI-Air uses to talk to the EAF.  I would like to try to write code to make it so that you can use the Moonlite Stepper with the ASI-Air.

 

Mark

I like where you're going with this. And I have no idea. I've only messed with Arduino. And I don't have any powered focuser as of right now. 

I know that the AIR doesn't have auto focus yet, that's on the next release, however, manual focus is operational. 

 

 

That being said, I don't know if the work/money would be worth it. ZWO's EAF is half the price just need to figure out a mounting solution. BUT if you have a Moonlite stepper, it's definitely worth while! 



#5 mark77

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 07:07 AM


That being said, I don't know if the work/money would be worth it. ZWO's EAF is half the price just need to figure out a mounting solution. BUT if you have a Moonlite stepper, it's definitely worth while! 

Understood, While I really like ZWO and have met the owner of ZWO at NEAF, I really like Moonlite.  I have 3 of the NiteCrawlers and I think 8 other focusers.  I have several of the steppers including the latest with built in controller.

 

I live about 2 hours from the Moonlite shop and have been there several times. Ron is a great guy, running a small business making a great product.



#6 Ryan1776

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 07:25 AM

Understood, While I really like ZWO and have met the owner of ZWO at NEAF, I really like Moonlite.  I have 3 of the NiteCrawlers and I think 8 other focusers.  I have several of the steppers including the latest with built in controller.

 

I live about 2 hours from the Moonlite shop and have been there several times. Ron is a great guy, running a small business making a great product.

Oh don't get me wrong, I've talked with Ron just twice via email and have no problems supporting him! Great guy.
His focusers look beautiful! Just waiting to pull the trigger on one once I decide which way to go. 

I love figuring out things and making electronics work together. It's just time consuming, machining a couple mounting holes is faster!

 

Since you have the AIR the image is there on the SD card. The image is 28gig, but you know it's parsed out somewhere but I have not dug into it.  

 

As a side question, why aren't you using the AIR? I'm very very new to this world and I couldn't imagine NOT using this! It has made AP and even just visual so much easier. 

 

 

Is the course adjust knob of the dual speed focuser removable to mount an EAF focuser if I went that way?.

The stepper goes on the same side as the course knob, but you lose the dual speed and shaft lock with the stepper motor, for obvious reasons.

So I'd assume you can just remove the course knob and attach a stepper. 

 

Capture.JPG

 

Just struggling with which way to go. 


Edited by Ryan1776, 20 July 2020 - 07:26 AM.


#7 mark77

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:08 PM

As a side question, why aren't you using the AIR? I'm very very new to this world and I couldn't imagine NOT using this! It has made AP and even just visual so much easier.

I played with the AIR, to me it was very disappointing and slow.  They do not give you the password to get into it.  With apologies to ZWO, it is REAL easy to get into if you know linux.  SO I was able to log into the R-Pi.  The OS is stripped down to nothing. You couldn't even start the graphical interface, it wasnt even installed.

 

The ZWO is a one horse solution.  It works with ZWO cameras and does not even support their older cameras (the ASI120 USB2 version).

As you are seeing, it wont work with any focuser but the ZWO focuser.

 

ASI Air requires that you be in close proximity of the telescope to connect wireleslly from your phone/tablet.  In my opinion and for the work I want to do, phones/tablets just dont cut it, they arent powerful enough.

 

How I got into astronomy in the first place is writing imaging software back in the 90's.  Since April of 2019, I have written almost 80,000 lines of C/C++ code to implement Alpaca on Raspberry-Pi's.  In case you havent heard of Alpaca, it is ASCOM over a network that does not require Windows.  It is a network protocol based on and compatible with ASCOM.  I hate Windows and do not use it unless absolutely required.

 

I have written drivers to support

Cameras: ZWO, ATIK, QHY,  FLIR, TOUPTECH

Filter wheel: ZWO

Focuser: Moonlite, all versions

Rotator: Moonlite NiteCrawler

Dome control: My own dome controller

 

I then wrote my own Alpaca clients to talk to the controllers.

I sit in my basement with multiple screens on my desktop controlling 3 cameras on 3 different scopes all on the same mount simultaneously.

And there is no Windows running anyplace.

The only code that I did not write, besides the Raspberry Pi OS is the Raspberry Pi based, open source telescope control program called TSC and KStars, which is also open source.

I use KStars as my planetary program to talk to TSC to tell the telescope what I want to look at.

 

 

Here is a thread I started if you want to learn more about my AlpacaPi project (Alpaca on Raspberry Pis)

https://www.cloudyni...-pi-and-alpaca/

 

So, while I think the ASI-Air is a good solution and will work very well for many people, it is not at all what I want.

 

Mark



#8 Ryan1776

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 07:08 AM

I played with the AIR, to me it was very disappointing and slow.  They do not give you the password to get into it.  With apologies to ZWO, it is REAL easy to get into if you know linux.  SO I was able to log into the R-Pi.  The OS is stripped down to nothing. You couldn't even start the graphical interface, it wasnt even installed.

 

The ZWO is a one horse solution.  It works with ZWO cameras and does not even support their older cameras (the ASI120 USB2 version).

As you are seeing, it wont work with any focuser but the ZWO focuser.

 

ASI Air requires that you be in close proximity of the telescope to connect wireleslly from your phone/tablet.  In my opinion and for the work I want to do, phones/tablets just dont cut it, they arent powerful enough.

 

How I got into astronomy in the first place is writing imaging software back in the 90's.  Since April of 2019, I have written almost 80,000 lines of C/C++ code to implement Alpaca on Raspberry-Pi's.  In case you havent heard of Alpaca, it is ASCOM over a network that does not require Windows.  It is a network protocol based on and compatible with ASCOM.  I hate Windows and do not use it unless absolutely required.

 

I have written drivers to support

Cameras: ZWO, ATIK, QHY,  FLIR, TOUPTECH

Filter wheel: ZWO

Focuser: Moonlite, all versions

Rotator: Moonlite NiteCrawler

Dome control: My own dome controller

 

I then wrote my own Alpaca clients to talk to the controllers.

I sit in my basement with multiple screens on my desktop controlling 3 cameras on 3 different scopes all on the same mount simultaneously.

And there is no Windows running anyplace.

The only code that I did not write, besides the Raspberry Pi OS is the Raspberry Pi based, open source telescope control program called TSC and KStars, which is also open source.

I use KStars as my planetary program to talk to TSC to tell the telescope what I want to look at.

 

 

Here is a thread I started if you want to learn more about my AlpacaPi project (Alpaca on Raspberry Pis)

https://www.cloudyni...-pi-and-alpaca/

 

So, while I think the ASI-Air is a good solution and will work very well for many people, it is not at all what I want.

 

Mark

 

Hey Mark. WOW. That's very cool! 

I'm not a programmer, I never played one on TV and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but it would seem as though they're not real concerned with people pirating into their software. As you found out. 

A little side story. One of my other hobbies is boating, specifically wakeboarding and wakesurfing, along with ham radio. One of the benefits of a modern boat is being able to monitor your ballast levels. My boat only had hard tank monitoring but when you added extra bags you couldn't monitor those. I designed and built a system to relays, voltage comparitors, latching relays and float levels, that would monitor those levels with the native onboard screens. it does some other things too, such as a pump controller.

I'd like to sell the system as a kit you just install into your boat in a couple hours. 
I thought about patenting it. But here's the thing, am I going to go after someone who tries to copy it? No.I don't have that capital.

I would/will just sell it at a price point that people would rather just buy it than go through the trouble of copying it and making it for themselves. 

I know ZWO is significantly bigger than little ol me, but the idea is the same. At 200 bucks, it's not worth the trouble. 

 

Now for what we're talking about, I agree, they do not offer the function we want. And it doesn't sound as though that'll happen anytime soon either. So I'm all about making it work with the MoonLite stepper.

 

I can see how you can call them a one horse solution. Not in a bad way. You're light years, (haha) ahead of a me and a lot of people. 

But I was able to hook it up to my Orion Atlas, my Canon T7i, used their guide scope and I'm off to the races. For a guy who literally had no idea deep sky photography (like what people can do from their backyard) was possible a year ago, this was incredible. 

So, while I think the ASI-Air is a good solution and will work very well for many people, it is not at all what I want.

Exactly!!! 

 

I'm not terribly mad that it won't work with other focusers, BUT they should make a mount to FIT other focsusers if they're only going to support their own stepper motor. At least the big brands. 

 

I do agree the proximity required to the AIR itself is a bit of  bummer. But I can see my scope from my couch, and my WiFi can "see" it from my ham shack. 

My only real complaint, is not of the AIR itself, it's my iPad is older and doesn't like to run it very well. So I use my newer phone which runs fine. But the screen is of course 1/4 size. 

 

80,000 lines is no joke! lol That's impressive. I'll have a read through that link you supplied. I've seen Alpaca mentioned around here, but never dove into what it actually is. 

 

Dome controller! That's awesome!! :D 

 

 

Two nights ago I imaged the Firework galaxy. My first half of my images were nice, but then the focus looks like it ran out. I hadn't had that happen before. So maybe my lock wasn't tight enough. I don't know. But that bummed me out. OR maybe, it was the massive temperature shift through the night. I have a Schmidt-Newt. I understand that's something that happens. 

Or maybe the collimation went out due to the weight of my DSLR as the scope moved around. Also possible. 

 

Even still, I don't know which way to go with a focuser. The auto focus option IS coming in the next release. So it's probably close enough that I can wait, and I don't mind tapping a few holes to mount the ZWO stepper. But I don't know which way to go in the meantime. I DO want to get this upgrade in the chain. Just seems like a waste of money to buy a dual speed with lock when my hope is to change to auto focus. 

 

Maybe you can shed some light on how the auto focus works. Will it continually focus at intervals throughout the night? Like dithering? Every 10 images, refocus. 

 

Thanks for the info and your background knowledge! 

Very cool!

Ryan 



#9 mark77

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 07:45 AM

Ryan

 

I too am a Ham, grew up with it, thats how I ended up with a computer engineering degree. Have you ever heard of APRS in Packet Radio?  I wrote WinAPRS and MacAPRS.  Its almost 400,000 lines of code across 10 years.

 

I think you have the auto focus right.  I have never used auto focus, I will have to look into writing it one of these days.

 

Mark



#10 Ryan1776

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 08:08 AM

Ryan

 

I too am a Ham, grew up with it, thats how I ended up with a computer engineering degree. Have you ever heard of APRS in Packet Radio?  I wrote WinAPRS and MacAPRS.  Its almost 400,000 lines of code across 10 years.

 

I think you have the auto focus right.  I have never used auto focus, I will have to look into writing it one of these days.

 

Mark

OH no way! My dad, WD8ORY got my started in it. Then Scouts, made Eagle, pushed me more. Now I have my own ham shack and all!  N8SAN. 

Shack.jpg

 

Seems very common that operators end up in technical fields, doesn't it. grin.gif

 

I've messed around with APRS a while back. I used it on my Yaesu VX-8DR, but I don't have the GPS receiver on it. So It was only at home. Now I forgot how to use it. shocked.gif confused1.gif 
I also have an Icom ID-51A Plus, which has GPS but doesn't natively do APRS. lol.gif

 

That's really cool you wrote all that for APRS too. You're a busy guy! 

 

I'm really into HF. But my ultimate goal is EME. I'm ready to put up my two M2 2M9SSB yagis with elevation rotor and work the moon!waytogo.gif

This has been my goals since I first heard about it 10 years ago. 

 

Auto focus. OK. I have to say. I wish I had time to just be under the stars. But I don't. I have a 2.5 yr old, wifey, career, boat, ham, all these things that take up time. 

If I could set up the scope within 5-7° of North and be able to do everything from inside when it gets dark that would be amazing. Polar align, focus, GOTO, image the whole thing. 

I know to some that's a foreign idea.




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