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Ekos Stellar Solver failed: 1st question, would small focal length difference do this?

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#1 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 06:24 PM

Real quick question.

 

Yesterday I was unable to get the Ekos Stellar Solver to work.  It actually only worked once for me out of the 3 times I tried this.

 

Someone suggested that focal length could do this.

 

My telescope has a focal length of 360.  Ekos is reporting this as 367.

 

I am not sure whether I should change this in my main settings or not.

 

Would a variation that small cause a failure in the Ekos Polar Alignment routine.

 

I'm hoping to give it another try tonight and I'm really wondering whether this might have a bearing on the failure.



#2 dx_ron

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:24 PM

Did you actually check the f/l field in the Align tab screen after a failure? I found that Ekos would occasionally put some weird incorrect value into the field. Manually entering the correct value fixed plate solving. This was back when I was using a dslr and often swapping back and forth between the Align module using the main scope / camera vs the guidescope / camera. I don't think it has happened since I moved to the 183C and stopped using the guide system for any plate-solving.



#3 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:55 PM

Did you actually check the f/l field in the Align tab screen after a failure? I found that Ekos would occasionally put some weird incorrect value into the field. Manually entering the correct value fixed plate solving. This was back when I was using a dslr and often swapping back and forth between the Align module using the main scope / camera vs the guidescope / camera. I don't think it has happened since I moved to the 183C and stopped using the guide system for any plate-solving.

Ron, the value was in yellow with 360(367) shown.

 

This number might be realistic but I don't know how that even could be calculated.  The focal ratio also was shown as 6.0(6.1).  These are what Ekos believes is the effective focal parameters.  Just want to see whether making changes might make sense towards actually getting a good solve.

 

In doing a plate solve of my target the 360 focal length didn't appear to be a problem.

 

If I get stumped tonight I will get a snapshot of the error message.  All I recall was that it failed after 3 tries.

 

I do get strange things that happen when I switch between guide camera and DSLR in the different Ekos tabs, but I can vouch that the suggested F/L value in polar alignment is at least in the realm of being correct.



#4 dx_ron

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 08:52 PM

Oh, wait - I was misremembering. Check the field for Field of View (if you don't know the correct value, astronomy.tools should get you there)



#5 fewayne

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 08:57 PM

I just had it fail and noticed that in the options, the profile was set to Small Stars instead of Default. Default made it go zoom.



#6 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 09:29 PM

Tonight I was surprised that the polar alignment routine actually worked.  However this evening for whatever the reason the lag between refresh snapshots was super long, the star movement after azimuth adjustments was unpredictable (even if I waited the half minute between the 1 second snapshots) and I actually made the polar alignment error worse than I started.  Oh well, it's still within a degree so I'll pick it up and get it right when I hopefully get less lag.

 

The good thing was that this actually worked even though the focal length showed 367 again.  Perhaps I should adjust this in the Ekos setup to 367???

 

My setup was set to small scale.  I do have a small scope.  I'm not sure how Default might change things.



#7 Deesk06

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 07:25 AM

Those are close enough that it should work(Focal length etc.). Be sure that you have the correct sensor size input as well. Any chance you can screenshot your settings and send them over to me? I will take a look at the. I use it on the regular. Yes set it to default and report back.


Edited by Deesk06, 10 May 2021 - 07:27 AM.

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#8 DubbelDerp

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 09:18 AM

The only times I've had it fail is if Kstars thinks the scope is pointed too far away from the actual target it is trying to solve. For example, I start out in the park position and manually slew the scope to a target, Kstars still thinks I'm pointing at Polaris and the plate solve will fail. In this case, right click on the target in the planetarium view and sync the scope to the new position, and the plate solve should then work.

 

Not sure if this is the same issue you are having, but it might be something to check next time you're having problems in the field.


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#9 acommonsoul

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 09:21 AM

For a while I couldn't get Ekos to solve my shots. I ended up reflashing the program and then it worked great. Never had an issue with it again. I just switched to Stellarmate OS and it worked great the first time as well.



#10 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 07:11 PM

The only times I've had it fail is if Kstars thinks the scope is pointed too far away from the actual target it is trying to solve. For example, I start out in the park position and manually slew the scope to a target, Kstars still thinks I'm pointing at Polaris and the plate solve will fail. In this case, right click on the target in the planetarium view and sync the scope to the new position, and the plate solve should then work.

 

Not sure if this is the same issue you are having, but it might be something to check next time you're having problems in the field.

I was wondering whether this could be an issue.

 

Even though in one night I got a good Polar alignment I have noticed that the captured image from my DSLR doesn't have Polaris anywhere near the center of the screen???

 

I had no problem with plate solving in the alignment tab, so if this centered things up to get the alignment it certainly would be worth a try.



#11 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 07:16 PM

For a while I couldn't get Ekos to solve my shots. I ended up reflashing the program and then it worked great. Never had an issue with it again. I just switched to Stellarmate OS and it worked great the first time as well.

Yes, occasionally Ekos flat refuses to do something.  I'm learning some of the quirks and I know that other quirks are being worked out in the INDI development.

 

The one night that I tried unguided on the EQ6R Pro mount (with the 1 good polar alignment solve)  the FITS images looked very promising.

 

I do have some ideas shared to me in getting auto guiding up and running.

 

Some night it's going to all come together. smile.gif



#12 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 07:22 PM

Those are close enough that it should work(Focal length etc.). Be sure that you have the correct sensor size input as well. Any chance you can screenshot your settings and send them over to me? I will take a look at the. I use it on the regular. Yes set it to default and report back.

Certainly, tonight I won't have time to set up but I'm hoping for tomorrow.  I can share the alignment screen and any other screen that might be helpful.

 

I did get the Polar align routine to work last evening but for whatever reason the network connection was super sluggish.  I actually made my Polar alignment worse.

 

Hoping for a non below freezing evening to set everything up.



#13 Der_Pit

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 04:49 PM

Hope you get it solved!

A few remarks:  The small focus difference is very unlikely to be the reason for solve failures.  367 vs. 360 is easily in the fitting range.  Nevertheless, you should change the value in your configuration.

Wrong pointing information OTOH has high potential to ruin a solve.  Go to Align->Options->Scale&Position.

Either increase the radius, or disable hinting completely (remove hook on 'Use Position').  It will make solving slower, but if your scale (focal length) is correct it should find any location.

I've so far only used profile 4, Small Scale Solving.  This is with telescopes from 910 down to 135mm FL.



#14 dx_ron

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 05:03 PM

And as I posted earlier, check the Field of View entry. It is supposed to populate that based on the telescope information, but it has somehow switched to incorrect values for me a few times. That also pretty much guarantees failure for plate solving.  You can use astronomy.tools to calculate what should be there. I have taken to keeping a note with the correct values on my phone and it is the first thing I check if I have plate solve problems.



#15 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 07:50 PM

Those are close enough that it should work(Focal length etc.). Be sure that you have the correct sensor size input as well. Any chance you can screenshot your settings and send them over to me? I will take a look at the. I use it on the regular. Yes set it to default and report back.

Tonight I will try to image using the "Default" settings.

 

Alignment Options
 
As far as sensor sizes the below is used for my Nikon.
 
Nikon Image Info
 
In case this should come up for Auto Guiding, below is my ASI ZWO290mini settings.
 
Zwo image info
 
This is how everything shows up in the Alignment tab.
 
Alignment Tab
 
Also, just in case this should come up as it will be important with tracking the plate solved image here is my Guiding tab.
 
Guide Tab
 
And lastly to make sure the Nikon DSLR capture settings interfere with proper capture below is the CCD tab.
 
CCD Tab
 
Let me know if there is anything that I should include to make a proper settings assessment.
 
 
There is one more thing that I should clear up which could of added confusion to this thread.  I just figured out that the stellar solver includes both Polar Alignment and Plate Solving.  Where I was tangled up with was with my Polar Alignment (it failed even though I have got it to work), even though the Plate Solving seemed to work just fine.
 
Tonight I will try to correct the Polar Alignment error I introduced the last time I was out.
 
The next hurdle likely will be Auto Guiding if I can get past the Polar Alignment and Plate solve tonight.  However I do have a little better idea of what to do this time around.
 
I'll certainly share how the "Default" settings work tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Paul in Northern Michigan, 11 May 2021 - 07:52 PM.


#16 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 07:54 PM

And as I posted earlier, check the Field of View entry. It is supposed to populate that based on the telescope information, but it has somehow switched to incorrect values for me a few times. That also pretty much guarantees failure for plate solving.  You can use astronomy.tools to calculate what should be there. I have taken to keeping a note with the correct values on my phone and it is the first thing I check if I have plate solve problems.

Thank you, I will check into the Field of view setting if my plate solve does fail.

 

Lots of settings!  Lots of things to potentially fail.


Edited by Paul in Northern Michigan, 11 May 2021 - 07:55 PM.


#17 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 08:23 PM

I thought I was covering every failure contingency.

 

I'm running into a new one.  For some reason Ekos is not allowing me to take any images.

 

Failed Flats capture
 
This is what shows up in the INDI Control Panel under the Nikon DSLR.
 
Error message

 

I did get 7 flats before the failure.

 

The download latency was terrible.

 
Looks like tonight will be in the L column again.  confused1.gif

Edited by Paul in Northern Michigan, 11 May 2021 - 08:35 PM.


#18 Deesk06

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Posted 12 May 2021 - 06:49 AM

 

I thought I was covering every failure contingency.

 

I'm running into a new one.  For some reason Ekos is not allowing me to take any images.

 

 
 
This is what shows up in the INDI Control Panel under the Nikon DSLR.
 
 

 

I did get 7 flats before the failure.

 

The download latency was terrible.

 
Looks like tonight will be in the L column again.  confused1.gif

 

Paul, I am going to advise that you head over to the indilib forums https://indilib.org/forum.html . Post your error message there. One suggestion I am going to make is to have everything connected before powering Ekos on. If you can, download TV onto your Pi and I would not mind TV'ing in to check out some of your other settings. Are you using an ff/fr at all? It seems like you are native in the plate solving tab. Also, try using a longer exposure like 2.5 seconds. 

 

Another question, where does it show your telescope pointing in Kstars? Are the date/time/location set correctly?


Edited by Deesk06, 12 May 2021 - 06:52 AM.


#19 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 05:31 AM

Last evening I am happy to say that at last I got everything up and running well except for the auto focus.

 

This was the 1st evening that I got the auto guider to work, even though I couldn't understand it.

 

My stall to a stand still the last couple of nights likely was due to my micro sd card being full.

 

I did try asking the INDI forum about the issue I had and after discovering the issue I found that I couldn't empty my trash bin to free this up, but I didn't hear back.  I did an online search for emptying the trash can using a sudo script.

 

sudo rm -rf ~/.local/share/Trash/*, which removed all but one image that I placed in the trash bin.

 

After this I was able to capture images once again.

 

Next I ran into the same issue which I started this post about, I could not get a good polar alignment in the Stellar Solver.

 

I initially set the options profile to Default but this did not work.

 

I was able to try plate solving for Polaris and then once again I tried the Polar Alignment routine and it worked.

 

Even though this did work I tried another approach.  I cleared the plate solve GoTo and went back to Park with the mount.  I then tried by itself the option profile set at large and after a couple attempts with capturing the 1st image the polar align routine worked well with the large setting.

 

Lastly I was able to set up auto guiding, and it proved to be easy this time around.  I'm anxious to see the difference with and without auto guiding.

 

That's where I'm at for now.


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#20 Deesk06

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 07:03 AM

Last evening I am happy to say that at last I got everything up and running well except for the auto focus.

 

This was the 1st evening that I got the auto guider to work, even though I couldn't understand it.

 

My stall to a stand still the last couple of nights likely was due to my micro sd card being full.

 

I did try asking the INDI forum about the issue I had and after discovering the issue I found that I couldn't empty my trash bin to free this up, but I didn't hear back.  I did an online search for emptying the trash can using a sudo script.

 

sudo rm -rf ~/.local/share/Trash/*, which removed all but one image that I placed in the trash bin.

 

After this I was able to capture images once again.

 

Next I ran into the same issue which I started this post about, I could not get a good polar alignment in the Stellar Solver.

 

I initially set the options profile to Default but this did not work.

 

I was able to try plate solving for Polaris and then once again I tried the Polar Alignment routine and it worked.

 

Even though this did work I tried another approach.  I cleared the plate solve GoTo and went back to Park with the mount.  I then tried by itself the option profile set at large and after a couple attempts with capturing the 1st image the polar align routine worked well with the large setting.

 

Lastly I was able to set up auto guiding, and it proved to be easy this time around.  I'm anxious to see the difference with and without auto guiding.

 

That's where I'm at for now.

Glad to hear you are getting the hang of it. I am being as nice as possible when I say this. Usually when ekos is not working it is user error. I know this because I ran into SO many problems when I first started and they were all my own fault, not the system! As you learn it better and start to get used to it you will get better at it. I am also still open to doing a team viewer session to look at your settings if you want me to. There are very specific setting you can se to help AF but I cannot think of them off the top of my head. 



#21 sigo24

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 07:09 AM

Congrats Paul, way to hang in there! Last night I also successfully did a meridian flip + dither with my similar setup on M64.



#22 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 08:01 AM

Glad to hear you are getting the hang of it. I am being as nice as possible when I say this. Usually when ekos is not working it is user error. I know this because I ran into SO many problems when I first started and they were all my own fault, not the system! As you learn it better and start to get used to it you will get better at it. I am also still open to doing a team viewer session to look at your settings if you want me to. There are very specific setting you can se to help AF but I cannot think of them off the top of my head. 

Hey, as long as people aren't overly critical I have no problem when it is pointed out that the fault is my own end.

 

As with filling the micro SD card I really had no idea that I was even close to being there.  When I typed in the error message from the DSLR and did a search I found a person on the INDI forum who didn't find any help that discovered what his own issue was and shared it with others.  Without his sharing of his bad experience who knows how long I might have been searching.  Most certainly I wouldn't have had my 1st opportunity to auto guide a couple nights ago.

 

Ekos is a lot like the CAD system that I use at work. (Pro Engineer)  It isn't very intuitive, yet it is very powerful in what it can do.  Once you understand the pattern your intuition can expand.  I now have got most of the basic Ekos functions to work, but it took a long time to get there.  I can already appreciate the power of what it can do.  I did some imaging of Bode's Galaxy.  What in the past wasted an entire evening when located manually could be almost instantly located.

 

I most certainly would be appreciative of someone reviewing my Ekos settings.  If you would like to do a Team Viewer session we could strike up a conversation over PM in setting up a time and I could let you know some of the settings I am struggling with.

 

Thank you.


Edited by Paul in Northern Michigan, 14 May 2021 - 08:01 AM.


#23 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 08:10 AM

Congrats Paul, way to hang in there! Last night I also successfully did a meridian flip + dither with my similar setup on M64.

Thank you for sharing the piece of advice on the sequence necessary to get auto guiding to work properly. (From the Mac thread)  Like I mentioned above Ekos isn't entirely intuitive and my 1st attempt.  Once this was set up it continued without disruptions.  I have auto guided a couple nights now but haven't yet looked at the image results.

 

Last evening I also tried dithering for the 1st time.  It said that it was working properly so this is another trial I can review to see how effective it works once I start looking at the images.




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