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C11 EdgeHD, Celestron Focus Motor, but iOptron mount - Visual Focus?

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#1 Linwood

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:43 PM

Thinking of getting my feet wet with electronic focusing with my C11.

 

I have the imaging train all set up for a Sony Alpha camera, and suspect one day to replace it and probably much of that train to get filters and the right backfocus.  So I am resisting the idea of introducing a focus mechanism in that train as it would be complicated now (notably the full frame aspects) and probably need to change again later.

 

So I'm thinking of doing this the simple way, with the Celestron Focus Motor, which seems to be inexpensive and despite that gets decent reviews.  And I THINK from what I've read in other threads it will fit with the focal reducer and OAG installed. 

 

Here's my concern -- I have an iOptron not a Celestron mount, so I cannot control it from the hand controller, and doing visual focus with a laptop is going to be a real pain.

 

I should note I almost never observe visually now, but that's during the pandemic -- I would expect later I might have guests, go to star parties, etc. and visual may be more frequent. 

 

It looks like the alternative is, if I plan to observe visually, to remove it.  Which doesn't look really awful but not pretty either.

 

You can't turn anything manually with it attached, right?

 

Are there alternatives? 

 

I see no hint I could make the focus built into the iOptron work with anything but iOptron focus motors (which only work with specific OTA's). 

 

I don't see any way to control it, say, from an Android, now does it have its own hand controller. 

 

Anyone have one, and remove/add it when needed? 

 

 

Linwood

 



#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 11:28 PM

I have the Celestron focus motor for my RASA, like it a lot.  But you're correct that it means using a computer, likely a laptop.  I just don't find that onerous, but I'm 99% imaging.

 

It's not designed to be easily added/removed, I'd say using the laptop would be easier.


Edited by bobzeq25, 26 September 2020 - 11:31 PM.

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#3 Linwood

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 11:32 PM

I have the Celestron focus motor for my RASA, like it a lot.  But you're correct that it means using a computer, likely a laptop.  I just don't find that onerous, but I'm 99% imaging.

 

It's not designed to be easily added/removed, I'd say using the laptop would be easier.

Mostly I wouldn't. 

 

How long would you say it would take to remove it and put the knob back on if you needed to, e.g. if I had people coming over for visual use?   

 

I worry because adults at least might want to re-adjust the focus a bit for their own eyes; using a PC for that would be an issue.



#4 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 11:48 PM

Pegasus astro focus cube v2 with the remote hand paddle.

 

This should sort you out.


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#5 HansD

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 12:20 AM

I have a C11 EdgeHD mounted on a Losmandy G11. I have the Celestron focuser. I use a Raspberry Pi 4 and Astroberry when I’m imaging. So it uses INDI instead of ASCOM. For visual focusing I have the Celestron mount driver running in addition to the Losmandy driver running, along with a joystick driver. The Celestron driver only talks to the focuser and the Losmandy driver only talks to the mount. I use a Nintendo USB game controller at the eyepiece and so the joystick INDI driver sends some commands to each of the Losmandy and Celestron drivers. The buttons on the right side of the game controller focus the Celestron focuser, and the joystick on the left control the four directions on the Losmandy mount.

 

It works really well and is actually simpler than it sounds. Feel free to contact me if you want to know in detail how I set this up.


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#6 KTAZ

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 12:28 AM

I have the CFM on my C9.25 and love it. Dumped the hand controller long ago.

If you use EQMOD, just buy a $20 logitech gamepad and plug it into your USB hub. Set up your buttons for your slew controls. Then run ASCOMPAD and setup your focus buttons.

Whether you are doing AP or visual you can just use the gamepad.
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#7 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 01:03 AM

Mostly I wouldn't. 

 

How long would you say it would take to remove it and put the knob back on if you needed to, e.g. if I had people coming over for visual use?   

 

I worry because adults at least might want to re-adjust the focus a bit for their own eyes; using a PC for that would be an issue.

I've never removed it.  I vaguely remember an 30-60 minutes to put it on?  But I was very careful, and not knowledgeable at that point.


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#8 MikiSJ

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 01:39 AM

I also have a C11 EdgeHD with a Celestron Focus Motor. I also have a Celestron OAG between the C11 - Camera. I also have a CGX but only use the hand controller to find the first star for a mount model.

 

As suggested above, an inexpensive laptop is the way to go. I have a $210 HP laptop solely for my telescope. You don't need much of anything in the way of laptop horsepower so may a good used laptop may make sense for you. (Be careful of stolen laptops)



#9 Linwood

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:43 AM

Pegasus astro focus cube v2 with the remote hand paddle.

 

This should sort you out.

That does look like it solves the problem nicely.  But at twice the price.  As an auto-focuser (forgetting the hand controller for the moment) is it better?  



#10 Linwood

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:45 AM

I also have a C11 EdgeHD with a Celestron Focus Motor. I also have a Celestron OAG between the C11 - Camera. I also have a CGX but only use the hand controller to find the first star for a mount model.

 

As suggested above, an inexpensive laptop is the way to go. I have a $210 HP laptop solely for my telescope. You don't need much of anything in the way of laptop horsepower so may a good used laptop may make sense for you. (Be careful of stolen laptops)

I HAVE a laptop outside when I use the mount, if nothing else to do the polar align, so it's not having one, it's running back and forth -- look, focus, look, focus -- during visual use. Now the idea of a game controller is interesting as others mentioned.  I need to look at that a bit -- not being a gamer that never occurred to me.



#11 KTAZ

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:29 AM

It works extremely well. EQMOD and Ascom both have built in settings for all the buttons.

BUT, I have yet to find a Bluetooth model that would stay connected. Stick with the wired one.

I can sit at my laptop and focus or slew. Or, I can stand at the eyepiece and do the same. Never have to touch the scope.

Send me a PM if you need help.

#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 10:38 AM

That does look like it solves the problem nicely.  But at twice the price.  As an auto-focuser (forgetting the hand controller for the moment) is it better?  

If you want something that could do both visual (either manually or by a control box without a computer) and autofocus reasonably well (and still is cheaper than a Pegasus with the paddle), there's this.

 

http://www.rigelsys....eppermotor.html

 

Note that it's designed to be easily disconnectable for manual focus.  The wifi version ($290) also comes with a manual control button box which needs no PC.  Two options for manual focus, disconnect, or use the control box.

 

I use a Rigel systems stepper for my scopes, other than the C8 RASA.  Have just the one motor and multiple brackets, it moves easily from scope to scope.  I routinely disconnect it (takes 15 seconds) for rough manual focus, then reconnect (15 seconds).

 

The Celestron is better, but it's not a night/day difference.  The Rigel Systems autofocuses fine.  I doubt there's much difference in performance between the Rigel Systems (gear driven) and the Pegasus (belt driven).  I have no clue how easy the Pegasus is to disconnect.  An  advantage of the Celestron is that it's fully enclosed, I presume there are gears inside, don't know.

 

One man operation, I (and others here) have dealt with him personally.  Extremely helpful. 

 

The only reason I didn't recommend it up front is that you asked about the Celestron.


Edited by bobzeq25, 27 September 2020 - 11:14 AM.


#13 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 11:00 AM

That does look like it solves the problem nicely.  But at twice the price.  As an auto-focuser (forgetting the hand controller for the moment) is it better?  

Well it is an electronic focuser that can connect to your computer but better than the Celestron version.

 

This can get very expensive. For example my first focuser was the feather touch shorty crayford focuser that allowed me to lock the mirror (no mirror flop or focus shift) and focus the crayford. Then I bought the motor and controller box for it.  Gets expensive very fast.

 

But the Pegasus option does not require a controller box.  You can connect it via usb to your computer, download the drivers and you can auto focus.  But the hand controller paddle lets you focus standing at the telescope with your eye to an eyepiece.  So it checks boxes for visual and photography.



#14 Linwood

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 01:16 PM

If you want something that could do both visual (either manually or by a control box without a computer) and autofocus reasonably well (and still is cheaper than a Pegasus with the paddle), there's this.

 

http://www.rigelsys....eppermotor.html

 

...

 

The Celestron is better, but it's not a night/day difference.

Interesting.  I had not stumbled across it in my searching.  That is the worst style web site I've seen since ScopeStuff.   Being able to just disconnect and use the knob is a fine solution, as is using a cell phone.  Do you know if it can work in both infrastructure and ad-hoc mode?  Tried their product manual page but couldn't figure out what was what and didn't see?  

 

Why do you find the Celestron better? 

 

I've been trying to picture my usage.  I really doubt I would need manual focus the same night I needed to image.  And I may actually never use manual, I just want to preserve the option.  So if I can remove it periodically and put it back without getting too frustrated I think it would do fine.

 

The Rigil and wifi is appealing, but ... that web site is SOOO bad I worry about their programmer quality.



#15 rigelsys

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 06:24 PM

Interesting.  I had not stumbled across it in my searching.  That is the worst style web site I've seen since ScopeStuff.   Being able to just disconnect and use the knob is a fine solution, as is using a cell phone.  Do you know if it can work in both infrastructure and ad-hoc mode?  Tried their product manual page but couldn't figure out what was what and didn't see?  

 

Why do you find the Celestron better? 

 

I've been trying to picture my usage.  I really doubt I would need manual focus the same night I needed to image.  And I may actually never use manual, I just want to preserve the option.  So if I can remove it periodically and put it back without getting too frustrated I think it would do fine.

 

The Rigil and wifi is appealing, but ... that web site is SOOO bad I worry about their programmer quality.

We're open to suggestions as to how to improve our website.  What is "so bad"?  Do you have any suggestions, bearing in mind we're not Amazon.  As to software, we've had >10 years working with the autofocus software suppliers to work out bugs and have a robust software suite.



#16 Linwood

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 06:37 PM

We're open to suggestions as to how to improve our website.  What is "so bad"?  Do you have any suggestions, bearing in mind we're not Amazon.  As to software, we've had >10 years working with the autofocus software suppliers to work out bugs and have a robust software suite.

Sorry, that was probably not constructive.  I guess the short version is that it's not responsive (in the rearrange on demand sense), it just looks very dated.  But when I went to download documentation, trying to find out whether the WiFi was AP or Infrastructure or both, falling into a directory list of file names (truncated ones at that) left me cluess where to get the right manual for what I wanted to know. 

 

It's probably unfair to judge software and systems quality based on the web site and very subjective; but it is kind of natural.  



#17 rigelsys

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:10 PM

Sorry, that was probably not constructive.  I guess the short version is that it's not responsive (in the rearrange on demand sense), it just looks very dated.  But when I went to download documentation, trying to find out whether the WiFi was AP or Infrastructure or both, falling into a directory list of file names (truncated ones at that) left me cluess where to get the right manual for what I wanted to know. 

 

It's probably unfair to judge software and systems quality based on the web site and very subjective; but it is kind of natural.  

 

Valid comments :-)  On the nSTEP webpage down at the bottom, you'll find a link to the documentation.  

 

http://www.rigelsys....eppermotor.html

 

We also send documentation upon inquiry.   

 

best regards

 

Leon



#18 Linwood

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:22 PM

Got it.  So it will only work as its own AP, it cannot join an existing wifi network and SSID?   Meaning once I connect my PC to it, the PC is no longer on my home network (which I've extended out into the back yard). 

 

Is that correct?  

 

So to stay on wifi I'd need to use USB from the PC to the Rigel system? 



#19 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 01:25 AM

Interesting.  I had not stumbled across it in my searching.  That is the worst style web site I've seen since ScopeStuff.   Being able to just disconnect and use the knob is a fine solution, as is using a cell phone.  Do you know if it can work in both infrastructure and ad-hoc mode?  Tried their product manual page but couldn't figure out what was what and didn't see?  

 

Why do you find the Celestron better? 

 

I've been trying to picture my usage.  I really doubt I would need manual focus the same night I needed to image.  And I may actually never use manual, I just want to preserve the option.  So if I can remove it periodically and put it back without getting too frustrated I think it would do fine.

 

The Rigil and wifi is appealing, but ... that web site is SOOO bad I worry about their programmer quality.

As I said.  One man show.  Probably does the webpage himself.  He does have a software guy he uses for the focuser.

 

The software was a little finicky to set up, it's obviously one guy's work.  You can see the instructions here.

 

http://www.rigelsys....al 04-28-20.pdf

 

Bottom line.  I like his focusers, a number of people have them.  I particularly like his customer service.  Note that he's on CN, and paying attention.  <smile>

 

The Celestron is a very solid piece that fits precisely, and is quite refined.  The software was trivial to install, and is trivial to use.  It shows the benefits of a large company with design engineers, a software team, etc.  But their customer service has a mixed reputation, at best.


Edited by bobzeq25, 28 September 2020 - 01:28 AM.

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#20 rigelsys

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 02:29 PM

Got it.  So it will only work as its own AP, it cannot join an existing wifi network and SSID?   Meaning once I connect my PC to it, the PC is no longer on my home network (which I've extended out into the back yard). 

 

Is that correct?  

 

So to stay on wifi I'd need to use USB from the PC to the Rigel system? 

wifi is short range, intended for manual focusing from phone using our app or web page, not for remote PC control, that's what USB is for :-)



#21 Linwood

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 09:38 PM

I ordered the Celestron, it will be here tomorrow (ensuring clouds for the next two weeks at least, of course). 

 

I have a feeling I will eventually redo everything behind the C11 except maybe the OAG, so investing less here seemed a good thing, especially since people say it worked.  It doesn't look like it is easy to remove/replace for just one night, but then again there's no end in sight for Covid so I will worry about star parties another time.

 

Thanks, Leon.  The rave reviews of support were compelling.  FWIW the only reason I asked about wifi is I have 4 USB ports on my Pegasys box and they were full, but I could have managed. But it was appealing to not have to deal with 5 into 4.  I will say that almost every device that can do AP mode can do infrastructure (one of the ESP's maybe)?  It would also keep people from needing to change their phone's network if they image in their wifi range, generally.   But I suspect it belongs really low on any priority list.  There may be 3 or 4 people who might be interested, total.  smile.gif



#22 rigelsys

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 10:40 PM

I ordered the Celestron, it will be here tomorrow (ensuring clouds for the next two weeks at least, of course). 

 

I have a feeling I will eventually redo everything behind the C11 except maybe the OAG, so investing less here seemed a good thing, especially since people say it worked.  It doesn't look like it is easy to remove/replace for just one night, but then again there's no end in sight for Covid so I will worry about star parties another time.

 

Thanks, Leon.  The rave reviews of support were compelling.  FWIW the only reason I asked about wifi is I have 4 USB ports on my Pegasys box and they were full, but I could have managed. But it was appealing to not have to deal with 5 into 4.  I will say that almost every device that can do AP mode can do infrastructure (one of the ESP's maybe)?  It would also keep people from needing to change their phone's network if they image in their wifi range, generally.   But I suspect it belongs really low on any priority list.  There may be 3 or 4 people who might be interested, total.  smile.gif

We have looked into wifi for connection to autofocus software, but we have seen wifi dropouts which can cause runaways -- if the controller is told to move and never gets a stop it will keep moving.  To preclude that we have a deadman timer in the firmware that if the controller doesn't hear back from the pc in several seconds, it will stop.  The wifi on these ESP's is short range, good enough for focusing manually from a cell phone, which is why we limit it to that :-)

 

best regards



#23 rigelsys

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 10:42 PM

Got it.  So it will only work as its own AP, it cannot join an existing wifi network and SSID?   Meaning once I connect my PC to it, the PC is no longer on my home network (which I've extended out into the back yard). 

 

Is that correct?  

 

So to stay on wifi I'd need to use USB from the PC to the Rigel system? 

It could be made to connect to another wifi network (and access through that) but we haven't gone down that route yet :-)  You can use the web browser on your cell phone.



#24 Linwood

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 10:44 PM

We have looked into wifi for connection to autofocus software, but we have seen wifi dropouts which can cause runaways -- if the controller is told to move and never gets a stop it will keep moving.  To preclude that we have a deadman timer in the firmware that if the controller doesn't hear back from the pc in several seconds, it will stop.  The wifi on these ESP's is short range, good enough for focusing manually from a cell phone, which is why we limit it to that :-)

Understood.  Reliability is really important.  I have ESP8266's all over my house, but then again I know networks and ensure things are setup to work.  Making something reliable for consumers is a whole different matter.  Thanks for the insights.



#25 Jeffmar

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 01:07 PM

Sorry to be off topic, but I went to your portfolio site and really enjoyed seeing your photos. Beautiful work!


Edited by Jeffmar, 29 September 2020 - 01:08 PM.

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