Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Has anyone used PRISM to run an AP 1100 GTO from a PC?

  • Please log in to reply
37 replies to this topic

#1 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 21 September 2021 - 08:03 PM

Hello All,

I am starting down the rabbit hole of controlling my AP 1100 GTO with encoders from my PC. I am completely new to this process and have been using the mount keypad up until now (8-10 sessions) with some success. I have downloaded the following off the AP support website:

 

FTDI Driver for USB on GTOCP4 and GTOCP5 .... PC version and the mount has a CP4

JAVA for Utilities and Keypad V5 Download

ASCOM V2 Driver & Platform....downloaded both

 

I have not downloaed the CP4 update as of yet but will.

 

I am planning to connect via ethernet from PC to CP4

 

I had downloaded PRISM Pro (which is ASCOM compliant) from OPT (sigh) ... I was getting various error messages including Windows Vista error message (I use Windows 10) so I uninstalled it and contacted Hyperion today to download directly from them...awaiting reply. I have yet to learn the platform, I did not have a mount to use PRISM with until 2 weeks ago.

 

I'm assuming that with all of the drivers above downloaded and a fresh copy of PRISM downloaded, I will be able to find and link to my mount somehow from inside PRISM and then it will all magically work together.

 

Other than for the cliff-like learning curve does this all seem correct? I'm just trying to get a general understanding of how the process is supposed to work. If this is the hard way to do it I'd love to hear the easy way.

 

Thank you in advance



#2 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,707
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Ellensburg, WA

Posted 22 September 2021 - 07:58 AM

I've never used Prism before, but generally the way it works is that the control software (Prism, in this case) allows you to select an ASCOM mount.  Once you do that, ASCOM itself presents a dialog box that allows you to select the ASCOM driver.  In that list, you will pick the Astro-Physics driver.

 

That should be it.

 

The thing that I don't remember is whether the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver will allow you to use the Ethernet port.  I use APCC, which sits between the ASCOM driver and the mount, and it allows me to configure the TCP/IP properties for he mount.


  • R Botero, HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula and firemachine69 like this

#3 tomb18

tomb18

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 467
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2015

Posted 22 September 2021 - 03:15 PM

You do not want to configure any ASCOM client like Prism to use an IP address if you are using APCC and connect with it to the Ascom V2 driver.  While you can it will then bypass any control that APCC and the point modeling provides.

You will check the box called APCC virtual port not IP address.

Tom



#4 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,707
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Ellensburg, WA

Posted 22 September 2021 - 04:49 PM

While you can it will then bypass any control that APCC and the point modeling provides.

He didn't mention APCC anywhere, so I assume that he's not using it.

 

In any case, Prism should always connect to the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver.

 

What happens between the ASCOM driver and the physical mount, such as APCC, is invisible to Prism (or any ASCOM client).  Since he didn't mention APCC, I'm not going to go into the options there.  I only mentioned it because when the CP4 first came out, the ASCOM driver did not support connecting to the mount via Ethernet.  It required APCC to do that.  I don't remember if that is still true or not.  I do use APCC, so have not looked at the ASCOM driver connection options for many years.


  • HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula likes this

#5 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 22 September 2021 - 10:42 PM

Thank you all for your replies. I'm already learning something new.

I've never used Prism before, but generally the way it works is that the control software (Prism, in this case) allows you to select an ASCOM mount.  Once you do that, ASCOM itself presents a dialog box that allows you to select the ASCOM driver.  In that list, you will pick the Astro-Physics driver.

 

That should be it.

 

The thing that I don't remember is whether the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver will allow you to use the Ethernet port.  I use APCC, which sits between the ASCOM driver and the mount, and it allows me to configure the TCP/IP properties for he mount.

I'm glad I asked this question because it would have never occurred to me that I may have to use a certain connection type. I'll try ethernet first as that is my preferred route. I will post a picture below of an additional piece of hardware that the prior owner included. I will ask a few questions about it in that post as I think it may be related to the issue you mention. I was not sure what it was for.

 

You do not want to configure any ASCOM client like Prism to use an IP address if you are using APCC and connect with it to the Ascom V2 driver.  While you can it will then bypass any control that APCC and the point modeling provides.

You will check the box called APCC virtual port not IP address.

Tom

For now I am not using APCC. I had already purchased PRISM based on the recommendation of a sales person I talked to when I first started this adventure. I have been able to learn much since then but am still very new. It seems as though APCC is a bit complicated, cumbersome, and still has issues being sorted out? I just get that impression from the posts that I read. For right now all I'll be using this control software for is PC controlled GOTO function. I just want to learn how to do that first and I will go from there. I'm not guiding yet, I'm manually focusing and I'm imaging with a DSLR. The idea was to keep it as simple as possible at first in order to lower the angle of the learning curve.
 

 

He didn't mention APCC anywhere, so I assume that he's not using it.

 

In any case, Prism should always connect to the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver.

 

What happens between the ASCOM driver and the physical mount, such as APCC, is invisible to Prism (or any ASCOM client).  Since he didn't mention APCC, I'm not going to go into the options there.  I only mentioned it because when the CP4 first came out, the ASCOM driver did not support connecting to the mount via Ethernet.  It required APCC to do that.  I don't remember if that is still true or not.  I do use APCC, so have not looked at the ASCOM driver connection options for many years.

That's correct. No APCC for now. I may try Stellarium as well just to get a feel for how these programs work. I already own Stellarium and PRISM so I'll start there. Do you like APCC? 



#6 Bobo666

Bobo666

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 179
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2020
  • Loc: S.W. Australia

Posted 23 September 2021 - 01:10 AM

Thank you all for your replies. I'm already learning something new.

It seems as though APCC is a bit complicated, cumbersome, and still has issues being sorted out? I just get that impression from the posts that I read.  

There was a recent major update to APCC which like any new s/w update always causes lots of questions and a few issues but I think most are all sorted out now. But generally, APCC is probably the most problem free piece of s/w I have ever used.

 

As a relatively new APCC user myself it is true there is a reasonable learning curve involved as you would expect, but it really is an almost mandatory piece of software for GTO mounts. My suggestion fwiw would be to get to know it inside out asap.


Edited by Bobo666, 23 September 2021 - 10:43 AM.


#7 555aaa

555aaa

    Vendor (Xerxes Scientific)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 2,207
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2016
  • Loc: Ellensburg, WA, USA

Posted 23 September 2021 - 08:31 AM

I have used PRISM. It has a modeler built in but it will not output variable rate tracking commands to ASCOM mounts, only to the Alcor Nova mount.

Edited by 555aaa, 23 September 2021 - 10:34 AM.


#8 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 12:56 PM

There was a recent major update to APCC which like any new s/w update always causes lots of questions and a few issues but I think most are all sorted out now. But generally, APCC is probably the most problem free piece of s/w I have ever used.

 

As a relatively new APCC user myself it is true there is a reasonable learning curve involved as you would expect, but it really is an almost mandatory piece of software for GTO mounts. My suggestion fwiw would be to get to know it inside out asap.

I think I will look into getting APCC

 

I have used PRISM. It has a modeler built in but it will not output variable rate tracking commands to ASCOM mounts, only to the Alcor Nova mount.

 

Thank you this is helpful



#9 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,707
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Ellensburg, WA

Posted 23 September 2021 - 01:51 PM

I think I will look into getting APCC

Take a look at APCC Pro, since it supports pointing and tracking models.  If you are doing deep sky imaging, this is well worth the cost.

 

I would suggest, however, that you go ahead and get your system working with just Prism and the ASCOM driver first.  There is no reason that this won't work.  Once you have that configuration sorted and are comfortable with it, then introduce APCC Pro.  Introducing APCC Pro will not affect how Prism interacts with it at all.


  • psandelle likes this

#10 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 02:01 PM

Take a look at APCC Pro, since it supports pointing and tracking models.  If you are doing deep sky imaging, this is well worth the cost.

 

I would suggest, however, that you go ahead and get your system working with just Prism and the ASCOM driver first.  There is no reason that this won't work.  Once you have that configuration sorted and are comfortable with it, then introduce APCC Pro.  Introducing APCC Pro will not affect how Prism interacts with it at all.

Great suggestion and this was in the back of my mind, so thank you for confirming that.



#11 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:10 PM

Does anyone know what this would be used for? When you would use it? The prior owner of my mount included it in the sale.

 

thank you

Attached Thumbnails

  • C8392DD8-B2BB-49CF-AA01-F27EFDF134D2.jpeg
  • E8975218-3D56-4AAA-B5D4-8E2AB0704526.jpeg


#12 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 798
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Philadelphia, PA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 06:40 AM

Tom,

 

That is the AP recommended USB to Serial Port converter.  It uses an FTDI driver and will never cause any COM Port problems.  You may have to download the FTDI drivers from the net.  The encoders require 2 Com Ports to operate the free Astro-Physics encoder program from your computer.  If you have a Feather Touch or Optec focus controller, you will need a Com Port for that, say for FocusMax, the Prism Focus software, or when using Maxim DL's focus routine, and depending upon your setup, a Com Port for the THUM (Temp/Humidity Compensation).   You will need to refocus with each filter change.  A significant temperature change also requires refocusing. (once you move beyond DSLR one-shot color).  

APCC Pro can and will set up "virtual" com ports that I found to be worthless.   APPM, the point mapper, will be time-consuming and unnecessary for a portable set-up.  Take your phone or I-Pad observatory program and identify a bright star near the subject that you intend to photograph and RECAL the mount, using the handset, (Hit RECAL then "9") on that star when you have it centered in a reticle eyepiece. Put the DSLR back in, focus it, then select your subject from the Object Menu and "GoTo" it.  It'll be in the camera frame for sure, and the encoders will keep it there steadily and stackably for at least five minutes.

 

You can get more sophisticated with a permanent setup and a computer observatory program, but keep it simple for now.

 

Ken 


Edited by kennyrichmond, 25 September 2021 - 07:08 AM.

  • HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula likes this

#13 Bobo666

Bobo666

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 179
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2020
  • Loc: S.W. Australia

Posted 25 September 2021 - 08:20 AM

Tom,

 

 

APCC Pro can and will set up "virtual" com ports that I found to be worthless.   APPM, the point mapper, will be time-consuming and unnecessary for a portable set-up. 

 

Ken 

Please elaborate on these statements. I'm sure many others like myself would be interested.

 

Thanks



#14 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 798
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Philadelphia, PA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 09:49 AM

"...Please elaborate on these statements. I'm sure many others like myself would be interested."

 

Okay, well...assuming you read the APCC manual (start at pgs. 99-101), you don't need virtual serial ports to connect to SKYX or Pulse Guide.  Just go through Ascom as you did before APCC.  Moreover, the manual says that the highest numbered serial port Pulse Guide will connect to is Com 10.  Virtual Ports start at Com 21, or better yet, Com 31.

 

Point mapping for the purpose of tracking rate calibration is far from perfect.  It may be fun for the stalwarts who obsess over unguided astrophotography, but all of the tinkering in Dec and RA required is seemingly pointless (in my humble estimation) when an on-axis guider achieves the same result with 60 seconds of calibration effort.

 

With DSLRs, Lacerta achieves near guiding perfection and no computer is needed for either guiding or camera control.  At shorter focal lengths, I have seen it guiding on dozens of stars simultaneously at 0.25" RMS on an AP 900 using a #3 controller.

 

Ken


Edited by kennyrichmond, 25 September 2021 - 09:51 AM.

  • HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula likes this

#15 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,380
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 01:11 PM

Tom,

 

The encoders require 2 Com Ports to operate the free Astro-Physics encoder program from your computer.  

 

APCC Pro can and will set up "virtual" com ports that I found to be worthless.   APPM, the point mapper, will be time-consuming and unnecessary for a portable set-up.  

 

The Astro-Physics Encoders in the 1100AE mount do not require 2 free com ports nor an additional program to operate. This (like other things in these two posts of yours) is completely false and misleading.

 

The AP V2 driver and other applications use the Virtual Com ports to connect to APCC (which is connected directly to the mount). There is nothing "worthless" about these virtual com ports at all, and telling people they are is only going to lead to people wondering why they can't seem to connect things up correctly. 

 

APPM can build models using the new Dec Arc feature, that will allow for very precise tracking of an object with very little time invested in doing so. 

 

Okay, well...assuming you read the APCC manual (start at pgs. 99-101), you don't need virtual serial ports to connect to SKYX or Pulse Guide.  Just go through Ascom as you did before APCC.  

 

Point mapping for the purpose of tracking rate calibration is far from perfect.  It may be fun for the stalwarts who obsess over unguided astrophotography, but all of the tinkering in Dec and RA required is seemingly pointless (in my humble estimation) when an on-axis guider achieves the same result with 60 seconds of calibration effort.

 

With DSLRs, Lacerta achieves near guiding perfection and no computer is needed for either guiding or camera control.  At shorter focal lengths, I have seen it guiding on dozens of stars simultaneously at 0.25" RMS on an AP 900 using a #3 controller.

 

Ken

Ken -- the ASCOM driver connects to APCC. It requires the virtual ports to do so. I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding about this and need to stop telling people the wrong things.

 

No tinkering is needed in RA and DEC to use a point mapper. You can even use the hand controller with the Mach 2 (coming soon to CP4 as well) to build a model if you want. 

 

So all of this misleading stuff you have been saying is due to your preference in using Lacerta (in bold in my quote). Great, good for you - but misleading and saying incorrect things about another product is bad form. 


  • mikela and Bobo666 like this

#16 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,380
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 01:51 PM

I think I will look into getting APCC

APCC Pro is free with AP mounts. They should have sent you a free license. 


Edited by rockstarbill, 25 September 2021 - 02:25 PM.

  • HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula likes this

#17 tomb18

tomb18

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 467
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2015

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:02 PM

Also free with non encoder ap1100 mounts.
As to the virtual ports, they can start and be assigned any comport number as long as it is not the same as a physical port.
Tom
  • rockstarbill likes this

#18 MJB87

MJB87

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 3,157
  • Joined: 17 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Talbot County, MD & Washington, DC

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:08 PM

APCC / APMM is very powerful stuff. Yes, there is a learning curve, but I'd say it is about only 20% as much as SG Pro and perhaps 10% of PixInsight. Once you play with it, APCC and APMM are quite intuitive.


  • rockstarbill likes this

#19 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,380
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:26 PM

Also free with non encoder ap1100 mounts.
As to the virtual ports, they can start and be assigned any comport number as long as it is not the same as a physical port.
Tom

Duly noted and updated my post to reflect it is now all mounts. That is pretty cool!



#20 tomb18

tomb18

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 467
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2015

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:54 PM

Actually appm models are useful when you go portable.
It takes maybe 20 minutes to do a small model and you can do that just before it gets dark. It's pretty well plug and play. It then can correct for polar misalignment, cone error and other items which help minimize any autoguiding corrections needed.
Super simple to use
  • rockstarbill, johnsoda, starbuckin and 1 other like this

#21 Dean J.

Dean J.

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 970
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2011
  • Loc: Vista, CA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:57 PM


Point mapping for the purpose of tracking rate calibration is far from perfect.  It may be fun for the stalwarts who obsess over unguided astrophotography, but all of the tinkering in Dec and RA required is seemingly pointless (in my humble estimation) when an on-axis guider achieves the same result with 60 seconds of calibration effort.

 

Hi Ken, 

 

I have been using an encoder equipped Mach2 [that is the only way they come] for more than a year now.  

 

Point mapping using APPM and then having APCC Pro create a tracking rate model for unguided tracking has been phenomenal in my experience.   I set up my mount for every use and thus I create a abbreviated model for each setup which runs in 30 minutes or so. 

 

During the course of a night I will take 90 to 120 unguided 3 or 4 minute exposures, which includes a meridian flip, and 100% show perfectly round stars.  I may occasionally drop a sub-exposure from the processing stack because a cloud went through the frame but I don't recall ever dropping a subexposure from the stack because of malformed stars due to the tracking rate model failing.

 

My guide scope/guide camera setup has sat on the shelf in the observatory back room for more than a year now collecting dust.

 

Since HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula has an encoder equipped AP1100, I would expect that he would get similar unguided performance.

 

And, it is not a matter of "obsessing over unguided astrophotography".   For me, there is a significant amount of time lost in the overhead of guiding. It would usually take maybe 30 seconds for PHD2 to dither, get back to tracking the guide star, and then settle.  So, when you think about taking 80 subexposures in a night, then that is 40 minutes lost.  I use SGP and have the software do a direct mount dither, or whatever they call it, and then settle for 3 seconds or so.  This takes about 5 or 6 seconds and then I am off on the next subexposure.  So, instead of 80 or 90 subs, I can get another 40 or 45 minutes of exposure time in.  Unguided imaging has really improved my astrophotography experience.

 

IHTH


  • rockstarbill, johnsoda, starbuckin and 2 others like this

#22 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,380
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 02:59 PM

Your quote is false and misleading.  I did not say the encoders "require" com ports, I said the encoder program requires 2 com ports. 

 

Secondly, you do not need APCC Pro to use the Ascom V2 driver.  

 

I'm not getting into this AP defensiveness further.  You like APCC, Great.  You say:  No tinkering is needed in RA and DEC to use a point mapper. You can even use the hand controller with the Mach 2 (coming soon to CP4 as well) to build a model if you want."

 

Go ahead, Set it up for us from the git, in 10 paragraphs or less.

 

That's all for me.  Sheesh!

There is no encoder program on an 1100AE. At all. I never said you needed APCC to use the ASCOM Driver. Please point to where I made that statement. If you DO have APCC and use it, the V2 driver connects to the Virtual COM port and NOT directly to the mount. That is why those comm ports are NOT useless.

 

There are plenty of posts on CN and AP-GTO about how to use APPM to build a model. It certainly does not require 10 paragraphs to explain it to someone. I have been using APCC since 2017, since the very first time I plugged in my AP1100. I have advocated over and over for it, and now that it is free with the new mounts people are getting the number of users actively using APCC has greatly increased. Most of those users have had little trouble building models, especially now that the Dec-Arc models are a thing. They take way less points than All-Sky, and are very effective. Especially for those working on a single target in a night. 



#23 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,380
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 03:05 PM

And, it is not a matter of "obsessing over unguided astrophotography".   For me, there is a significant amount of time lost in the overhead of guiding. It would usually take maybe 30 seconds for PHD2 to dither, get back to tracking the guide star, and then settle.  So, when you think about taking 80 subexposures in a night, then that is 40 minutes lost.  I use SGP and have the software do a direct mount dither, or whatever they call it, and then settle for 3 seconds or so.  This takes about 5 or 6 seconds and then I am off on the next subexposure.  So, instead of 80 or 90 subs, I can get another 40 or 45 minutes of exposure time in.  Unguided imaging has really improved my astrophotography experience.

Reduction in overhead is a great example of why models are useful, why imaging unguided is more than just some OCD action an eager imager takes. 

 

There is another very important reason for it though, and that is the fact that the tracking correction is PROACTIVE. Guiding is a reactionary event to error that has already occurred. With tracking correction on and a good model, the error does not happen in the first place.


  • HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula likes this

#24 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 798
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Philadelphia, PA

Posted 25 September 2021 - 03:07 PM

And BTW, I do not own or use a Lacerta Mgen, but know someone who does.  You didn't see it in my signature. 

 

 

Ken



#25 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021

Posted 25 September 2021 - 04:25 PM

APCC Pro is free with AP mounts. They should have sent you a free license. 

Thanks Bill! If I was told that it may have been information overload at that point so I did not know that until just now. I will be sure to ask for a download; even just paying the $100 for an update is a huge cost savings over a new purchase. I had already bought Prism and Stellarium and so I thought I would just start there and progress to APCC. If APCC is free or minimal cost, that's a different story.


  • rockstarbill likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics