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Control Your Mount with Sky Safari in Windows Using AlpacaScope

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#1 EmeraldHills

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 07:05 AM

Here's a first pass at a "how-to" video. Deep gratitude to Cey. He dug deep into AlpacaScope and helped me figure this out.

 

https://youtu.be/ob-QNnaOlYs

 

Deep gratitude to SynFinatic for making this whole Alpacascope thing possible!


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#2 Bob Denny

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 09:37 AM

Yes thank you @synfinatic! And also a shout-out to the volunteers, mainly Peter Simpson and Daniel Van Noord, of the ASCOM Initiative. Their vision, skill, and hard work have made the Alpaca idea come to fruition as a standard. FYI my role is sort of like a steam locomotive fireman, I stoke the fire and keep the steam pressure up. The other guys drive the train and keep her running.

If you want to learn more about all of this have a look at the About Alpaca and ASCOM chapter of the ASCOM web site.


Edited by Bob Denny, 13 September 2021 - 09:39 AM.

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#3 Cey42

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Posted 14 September 2021 - 02:30 PM

Would like to hear feedback after your first imaging session using AlpacaScope. I am curious to know if you run into any new issues or if just works now.


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#4 EmeraldHills

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Posted 14 September 2021 - 05:04 PM

Thanks Cey. I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I'm on the road until Monday - so it will likely be Monday and beyond. Can't wait though. It'll also be my first night with a new scope and mount, too. : ) Fun stuff.

 

Would like to hear feedback after your first imaging session using AlpacaScope. I am curious to know if you run into any new issues or if just works now.


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#5 synfinatic

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 02:51 AM

Great video Doug!  Looks like you're making real progress!


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#6 EmeraldHills

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 06:18 AM

We are all so grateful for your work, SynFinatic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll have to admit - figuring out that IP address issue had left me in the dust. : ) So glad it's working now. 


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#7 synfinatic

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 03:46 AM

So just a FYI:

 

The explanation of the IP address you give is inaccurate.  You can't use the output of AlpacaScope to know which Server IP address to use in ASCOM Remote.  You've put the cart before the horse so to speak.

 

By default, AlpacaScope will try to auto-discover ASCOM Remote (that's the check box next to "Auto Discover ASCOM Remote).  Per the docs "localhost" or "+" should be selected in ASCOM Remote.  Then AlpacaScope will find it.  But if AlpacaScope can't find it, then you won't see the IP address in the AlpacaScope output because it couldn't figure it out.


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#8 EmeraldHills

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 07:29 PM

I'm sure you're right, Sinfinatic. After all, it's your creation. So it must have been a coincidence that Cey told me to look in my error messages for the IP address -- and I did -- and when I put that IP address into ASCOM remote, it worked. Must have just been a coincidence in this case.


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#9 Ambart3561

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 04:15 PM

Here's a first pass at a "how-to" video. Deep gratitude to Cey. He dug deep into AlpacaScope and helped me figure this out.

 

https://youtu.be/ob-QNnaOlYs

 

Deep gratitude to SynFinatic for making this whole Alpacascope thing possible!

I only recently became aware of AlpacaScope. Once again Doug, I seem to be following your path as I struggle to cobble together an EAA system. I have working WiFi Scope<>Computer(s) communications but it has weak links that sometimes fail for no apparent reason. Today, I was trying to fix one glitch and ran across this post. I will definitely be looking into this and will take a break to watch your video, now. Thanks!



#10 roelb

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 05:23 PM

Installed as per your instructive video and all worked fine.

Interesting that I now can use SkySafari 6 Pro along other software talking to the mount.

Up to now, I used Stellarium as my primary planetarium program and with SkySafari more obscure objects may be found.

Note: re. the IP address: I also had to note it from within AlpacaScope and to input it into the server configuration tab.

(for me it was a "obscure" address: 192.168.63.4)

Thanks for this thread.


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#11 EmeraldHills

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:57 PM

Roelb, I'm soooooooooooooo glad it's working for you too. Hats off to synfinatic for making it -- and Cey for helping us figure it out!


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#12 roelb

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 09:17 AM

Yes thanks Synfinatic
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#13 Ambart3561

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 04:09 PM

So just a FYI:

 

The explanation of the IP address you give is inaccurate.  You can't use the output of AlpacaScope to know which Server IP address to use in ASCOM Remote.  You've put the cart before the horse so to speak.

 

By default, AlpacaScope will try to auto-discover ASCOM Remote (that's the check box next to "Auto Discover ASCOM Remote).  Per the docs "localhost" or "+" should be selected in ASCOM Remote.  Then AlpacaScope will find it.  But if AlpacaScope can't find it, then you won't see the IP address in the AlpacaScope output because it couldn't figure it out.

Thank you for AlpacaScope synfanitic!

 

I am also trying to get it running on my astronomy Private LAN (Gateway:x.x.x.1). ASCOM Remote and AlpacaScope are running on the same PC. iPad is connected to the same LAN as PC. IP Address: PC x.x.x.2, iPad x.x.x.3. Nothing else is on the LAN.

 

I followed your instructions to configure ASCOM Remote and AlpacaScope.

ASCOM Remote Server set up: Telescope 0 = Simulator, Configure Server = localhost

AlpacaScope Telescope = NextStar, Mount = EQ North, Auto Discover Alpaca Mount = Checked.

Note: The dropdown for Listen IP includes "WiFi x.x.x.2" [the IP for PC] but not "WiFi x.x.x.3" [the IP for iPad].

 

I get the following message on AlpacaScope Start Services:

Found ASCOM Remote:  127.0.0.1:11111

Connected to telescope 0: Simulator

Ready to accept connections on All-Interfaces/0.0.0.0:4030

 

iPad SkySafari v5: Telescope = Celestron NextStar/Advanced GT, Mount = Equitorial GoTo (German), Auto Discover SkyFi = Checked, Port = 4030.

 

When I try to connect, it fails.

 

Do I need to configure ASCOM Remote to a different IP address?

 

Thank You


Edited by Ambart3561, 22 September 2021 - 04:24 PM.


#14 Cey42

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 06:45 PM

I finally got a chance to try out the AlpacaScope/SkySafari combination in a live session last night. Everything worked great! It is so much nicer staying in SkySafari the entire time and not have to switch to different program to select the object of interest and slew the scope.

 

 

Thank you synfanitic for AlpacaScope!


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#15 EmeraldHills

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Posted 23 September 2021 - 05:24 AM

You are our hero, too, Cey. Thanks again.



#16 synfinatic

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Posted 23 September 2021 - 09:59 AM

Thank you for AlpacaScope synfanitic!

 

I am also trying to get it running on my astronomy Private LAN (Gateway:x.x.x.1). ASCOM Remote and AlpacaScope are running on the same PC. iPad is connected to the same LAN as PC. IP Address: PC x.x.x.2, iPad x.x.x.3. Nothing else is on the LAN.

 

I followed your instructions to configure ASCOM Remote and AlpacaScope.

ASCOM Remote Server set up: Telescope 0 = Simulator, Configure Server = localhost

AlpacaScope Telescope = NextStar, Mount = EQ North, Auto Discover Alpaca Mount = Checked.

Note: The dropdown for Listen IP includes "WiFi x.x.x.2" [the IP for PC] but not "WiFi x.x.x.3" [the IP for iPad].

 

I get the following message on AlpacaScope Start Services:

Found ASCOM Remote:  127.0.0.1:11111

Connected to telescope 0: Simulator

Ready to accept connections on All-Interfaces/0.0.0.0:4030

 

iPad SkySafari v5: Telescope = Celestron NextStar/Advanced GT, Mount = Equitorial GoTo (German), Auto Discover SkyFi = Checked, Port = 4030.

 

When I try to connect, it fails.

 

Do I need to configure ASCOM Remote to a different IP address?

 

Thank You

No, AlpacaScope is talking to ASCOM Remote correctly.  The issue is that SkySafari can't talk to AlpacaScope for some reason.

 

My best guess is that you have the Windows Firewall running or not granted permissions for AlpacaScope to listen on port 4030.  So double check those settings??   For the latter issue, Windows will generally do a pop-up warning asking if you want to grant permissions to AlpacaScope- but it doesn't always do that.

 

If that doesn't work, you can also try changing the "Listen IP" (3rd option from the top) to the interface with the matching IP of the host (x.x.x.2).

 

Finally, if that doesn't work, you can turn off "auto-discover SkyFi" in SkySafari and manually type in the IP address & Port of your Windows box.

 
 
×
 
 
 

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#17 Ambart3561

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Posted 23 September 2021 - 07:34 PM

 

"My best guess is that you have the Windows Firewall running or not granted permissions for AlpacaScope to listen on port 4030."

 

Thank You synfinatic!!

 

Your first guess was the best guess. When I sorted out firewall settings all worked as expected. I can now connect either my iPad or MacBook Pro to ASCOM Simulator telescope via AlpacaScope NextStar EQ North.

 

I have not been able to get a LX200 AltAz Simulated scope running yet. Wireless connection via AlpacaScope is up and running but SkySafari is not getting data. Will continue to work on that.

 

Much Appreciated.  waytogo.gif


Edited by Ambart3561, 23 September 2021 - 09:24 PM.

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#18 synfinatic

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 02:38 AM

Make sure you set both AlpacaScope and SkySafari to the appropriate LX200 mode per the docs.

 

That said, you can totally use NexStar in AlpacaScope & SkySafari with a LX200 scope.  ASCOM does the necessary translations.


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#19 EmeraldHills

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 06:28 AM

Simulator wasn't consistent for me. Cey told me he hadn't had good luck with it either.

But my EQ6R Pro is. : )


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#20 synfinatic

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 10:07 AM

Simulator wasn't consistent for me. Cey told me he hadn't had good luck with it either.

But my EQ6R Pro is. : )

Huh.  I've had no problems using the Simulator when I was developing AlpacaScope.  Definitely easier than having my mount connected to my computer in the middle of the room.

 

Of course, you can't use the Simulator with your mount.  You should always choose the appropriate Telescope mount type in ASCOM Remote Server for your mount.

 
 
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#21 Ambart3561

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 11:48 AM

 

Huh.  I've had no problems using the Simulator when I was developing AlpacaScope.  Definitely easier than having my mount connected to my computer in the middle of the room.

 

Of course, you can't use the Simulator with your mount.  You should always choose the appropriate Telescope mount type in ASCOM Remote Server for your mount.

 

It is the "Definitely" part I like synfinatic. I'm an 18 year visual observer who knows eyepieces and SkySafari transitioning to a 0.6 year EAA practitioner with about 0.3 years experiential knowledge of equipment and software needed for EAA. I believe Simulator will help me climb the learning curve and I believe it was designed for developers to test their software so it is likely pretty robust. For me it is simply "magic" that I can set AlpacaScope to NextStar/AltAz and SkySafari to LX200/AltAz and it all works. I have not tried that with Simulator yet, but I will today. I think the part I need to sort out is choosing the correct Simulator Setup configuration in ASCOM Remote Telescope 0. I'm not sure if I should make that Setup specific to a mount type or just leave it all checked for a "do everything" virtual mount.

 

When I get to using AlpacaScope with my LX200GPS, is my understanding correct that AlpacaScope replaces the older ASCOM LX200GPS driver?

 

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into AlpacaScope.



#22 synfinatic

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 12:50 PM

It is the "Definitely" part I like synfinatic. I'm an 18 year visual observer who knows eyepieces and SkySafari transitioning to a 0.6 year EAA practitioner with about 0.3 years experiential knowledge of equipment and software needed for EAA. I believe Simulator will help me climb the learning curve and I believe it was designed for developers to test their software so it is likely pretty robust. For me it is simply "magic" that I can set AlpacaScope to NextStar/AltAz and SkySafari to LX200/AltAz and it all works. I have not tried that with Simulator yet, but I will today. I think the part I need to sort out is choosing the correct Simulator Setup configuration in ASCOM Remote Telescope 0. I'm not sure if I should make that Setup specific to a mount type or just leave it all checked for a "do everything" virtual mount.

 

When I get to using AlpacaScope with my LX200GPS, is my understanding correct that AlpacaScope replaces the older ASCOM LX200GPS driver?

 

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into AlpacaScope.

 

The simulator just pretends to be a telescope mount.  I don't know if it is emulating a GEM or Alt/Az because frankly it doesn't matter either way from an AlpacaScope or SkySafari perspective for the most part.

 

But AlpacaScope does not replace the older ASCOM LX200GPS driver.  AlpacaScope is just a bridge between SkySafari and (typically) ASCOM via ASCOM Remote.  ASCOM Remote requires your scope to be configured in ASCOM and thus use your LX200GPS driver.

 

For example, when I use my Celestron Evolution 8" EdgeHD, I go through the ASCOM CWPI driver.


Edited by synfinatic, 24 September 2021 - 12:50 PM.

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#23 Bob Denny

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Posted 25 September 2021 - 04:02 PM

@Ambart3561 Another way to explain this:

(1) Virtually all mounts that plug into a Windows machine (including the LX200GPS) have ASCOM/COM drivers that speak the specific language of the mount, and on the other side present a universal interface/protocol to apps on WIndows so they don’t have to include separate code for each unique mount. Apps all see the same ASCOM functions for all mounts.

(2) ASCOM Remote is a brainless app that converts between the Windows ASCOM calls and the identical Alpaca calls. It just creates a universal Alpaca interface for the mount’s already existing universal ASCOM COM Windows interface. Peter Simpson’s magic adapter box :-)

(3) AlpacaScope is another adapter. It creates what looks like a SkyFi talking to a real Celestron or Meade etc., and out the other side it talks universal Alpaca which is a network protocol so can come from and go to anywhere (like the SkySafari iPad).

So the net effect is SkySafari thinks it’s talking through a SkyFi to a real Celestron etc. But actually it is AlpacaScope not a SkyFi. The Celestron serial gibberish is converted by AlpacaScope to Alpaca and gets sent to ASCOM Remote (on the Windows system) where it is translated again into the universal Windows ASCOM COM, and then into the ASCOM Driver (e.g CPWI) where it is converted (back) into Celestron-unique gibberish … and thus SkySafari is controlling a Celestron plugged into a Windows machine. How cool is that???

But wait there’s more. AlpacaScope can emulate a SkyFi hooked to an LX200. Then SkySafari can be set up for SkyFi->LX200. Then AlpacaScope->Alpaca->ASCOM Remote->CPWI->Celestron scope. By going through ASCOM’s universal protocol, the chain of modules converts an LX200 into a Celestron. Wow!!

Bravo to @synfinatic to see his way through this and create AlpacaScope.

Obligatory statement: Alpaca does not depend on Windows in any way

Edited by Bob Denny, 25 September 2021 - 04:08 PM.

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#24 bmcclana

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Posted 02 October 2021 - 10:33 AM

I had been struggling with wifiscope for awhile and had stopped trying recently.

 

I setup the ASCOM remote server and alpacascope in about 15 min and was up and running.  Used it last night and it was Soooo much better than wifiscope ever was.  auto detected the ‘skyfi’, Stable connection, fast updates, reconnected correctly every time I switched apps.

 

I have been toying with the idea of doing more with ASCOM remote to have a lightweight computer at the scope and have my laptop running sharpcap to stack process and adjust locally instead of over RDP.

 

This gives me hope.


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#25 EmeraldHills

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Posted 02 October 2021 - 11:58 AM

BmcClana - Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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