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I would PAY to buy my way out of iOptron Commander. Are there options?

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#101 rgsalinger

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 10:58 PM

There's always something new to learn, but I've never seen a laptop with more than 2 actual physical eXtensible USB controllers. I've never seen a laptop with 10 USB ports.

 

Even my super spiffy desktop has only 3 of them. The Lenovo T14 (I looked it up) seems to have only 4 USB ports. 

 

Something's going on with that. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#102 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 07:11 AM

Yes, it's a great machine, either way.

So the rig passed the short cable test.

Today we'll hook up the entire 200-foot run to put it through the long-cable test.

Again, I'm so grateful for the way everybody pitched in to help brainstorm. It means a lot.

 

There's always something new to learn, but I've never seen a laptop with more than 2 actual physical eXtensible USB controllers. I've never seen a laptop with 10 USB ports.

 

Even my super spiffy desktop has only 3 of them. The Lenovo T14 (I looked it up) seems to have only 4 USB ports. 

 

Something's going on with that. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#103 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:18 AM

OK. This morning I strung the 200 feet of CAT7 cable through my house and set up the scope in my home office. (The views aren't great, but it's the best I've had.) Honestly (true confessions), the first 30 minutes seemed dodgy again. The laptop wasn't seeing the mount over the 200-foot span of the ICRON Raven 3104. But then I remembered you guys saying the sequence is important. So I started working on a more strategic sequence and, sure enough, it seems to matter, just as you predicted. I started testing different approaches and sequences and -- here's one that seems to work every time. (I just did it 4 times in a row with no failures, anyway.)

 

Scope-side:

Connect all cables

[power cables all connected to the saddle: primary camera, dew-heater, focus motor, RASA internal fan]

[focus motor USB2 to saddle; primary camera USB3 connected directly to the ICRON Raven, sadly. So far, it doesn't seem to work consistently when connected through the saddle USB ports.]

Power the saddle

Power the mount

Power ICRON Raven 3104 remote (scope-side)

 

Control-room-side:

Power the ICRON Raven 3104 local (control-room-side)

Power up the laptop

Start USBDeview (which is basically the second-coolest thing ever to come out of this thread; the first-coolest is this sequence)

Connect the Raven to the laptop with one single USB3 cable

Start iOptron Commander. (If the initial screen comes up first, click "ok" and let Auto Detection find the proper comm port(s))

Click the checkbox to see the Mount control panel to verify everything is stable. Close the mount control panel.

Start Nina. Power up the camera and focuser. Autofocus. Power down the focuser and camera then close Nina

Start Sharpcap. Connect the primary camera (ASI 2600 MC Pro).

Start Stellarium. Connect Telescope Control plug-in.

Start AstroPlanner. Connect Telescope.

Start PhD2. Connect iGuider (built into the CEM 70G mount). "Show image." Adjust exposure.

Celebrate life. Thank friends at CloudyNights for putting up with me. Enjoy the amazing sites in the Emerald Hills Skies.

---

 

So - I think this might remove the immediate specter of having to buy a new $6000 mount... or switch to INDI... or move to ASI Air or StellarMate. Of course, now I need a clear night in the field to re-test under actual game conditions. But everything points to the fact that this is solved.

 

Thanks again for your help.

 

CloudyNights rocks.

 

Doug


Edited by EmeraldHills, 26 November 2021 - 11:19 AM.

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#104 rgsalinger

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:36 AM

There's one thing that you left out - checking that the GPS has the correct date/time or taking the date/time from your computer. You may have meant that in the checkout step but it's really important to call it out. 

 

I assume that you have some form of digital logger so that you can selectively power things on and off. 

 

Actually, now that you have a working system, it's a wonderful time to explore some of the alternatives. I'd suggest not buying something that locks you into only ZWO cameras and focusers and excludes all sorts of goodies, but the other ideas might make a fun project. 

 

I have to say that a second computer might have been a much cheaper solution, but perhaps I'm just jealous of those nice Icron Rangers.............

 

Rgrds-Ross



#105 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:43 AM

Ross, with the deepest respect, I think I'd just love to get back into a sure rhythm again. Tuesday night, I was at the end of my "mount rope." : ) No data logger or power selector switch at this point. It's still all manual. As for this camera, I think I'll be happy for as long as I can. Lord willing, I still have an observatory going up in February. Gulp.

 

You're right: Early on, that GPS reading seemed super-sketchy. I've have to enter the lat/long manually every other time. But since updating the firmware, it's been rock solid. I'll still add that to the checklist, just the same - because you're right: It's crucial. Thanks.

 

I found this ICRON Raven USB extender on ebay for $600. It's still crazy to spend that much for an extender. But wow - it's so amazing.

 

Again, I'm grateful for your help.

 

There's one thing that you left out - checking that the GPS has the correct date/time or taking the date/time from your computer. You may have meant that in the checkout step but it's really important to call it out. 

 

I assume that you have some form of digital logger so that you can selectively power things on and off. 

 

Actually, now that you have a working system, it's a wonderful time to explore some of the alternatives. I'd suggest not buying something that locks you into only ZWO cameras and focusers and excludes all sorts of goodies, but the other ideas might make a fun project. 

 

I have to say that a second computer might have been a much cheaper solution, but perhaps I'm just jealous of those nice Icron Rangers.............

 

Rgrds-Ross



#106 jpengstrom

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:48 AM

Doug, glad to hear you got it working! I know it's frustrating to diagnose these problems that have lots of moving pieces.  Here's hoping things stay stable for you for a long time.


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#107 jpengstrom

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:53 AM

[SNIP]
 

I found this ICRON Raven USB extender on ebay for $600. It's still crazy to spend that much for an extender. But wow - it's so amazing.

 

[SNIP]

Ouch, that's a pricey piece of kit for extending USB.  Any reason you chose to go that route rather than getting a NUC PC that you mount to your scope/mount and then just using ethernet/wifi to connect the NUC to your home network so you can RDP into it from your viewing location?  I believe NUC's can be had for the same (or maybe even less) money.


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#108 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:23 PM

Hi JPEngstrom. (Do we call you JP?) Others have asked that as well. I just prefer to have one machine, one set of files, and one "control room PC." It's just a personal preference. I always update every piece of software prior to a night of observing. I can't imagine trying to keep that straight across yet another machine. Plus, I'm blessed with a work computer that is super fast. For my own part, I can't imagine working with a scope-side computer that is dumbed-down at all. It's just a personal preference. But I love it this way. Thanks for asking!

 

Ouch, that's a pricey piece of kit for extending USB.  Any reason you chose to go that route rather than getting a NUC PC that you mount to your scope/mount and then just using ethernet/wifi to connect the NUC to your home network so you can RDP into it from your viewing location?  I believe NUC's can be had for the same (or maybe even less) money.


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#109 base104

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:16 PM

So I will give you positive testimony.

I've had CEM60 now for over then years and over the years had hardly any trouble.

There have to be a driver for mount and Commander is the ASCOM driver for it.

It depend on what you are doing with any given software. Maxim is massive. The information in the Fitts Header is at least 50 items long, including the object name, and its coordinates. You can load that into VPHOT on the AAVSO website and it does photometry on the file, saving lots of time. The fact that the Ioptron driver won't run in Maxim, or at least I can't get it to work without starting Commander every time I hit the connect button, drives me crazy.

 

If you are just taking pretty pictures, a hand controller, or using an image processing or acquisition program that runs your camera, it is much easier. Why can't the software manufacturers create an imaging window that is as great as Backyard EOS, which is an awesome camera controller for DSLR's.

 

I just want the ASCOM driver. I do not want commander.



#110 rgsalinger

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:53 PM

The only way to access a modern iOptron mount is to use Commander if you are running Windows. I have no trouble doing so. Commander IS the ASCOM driver. You will find it in the ASCOM chooser.

 

I access my CEM120EC2 mount using the SKYX and/or MaximDL and/or NINA by just choosing it in the ASCOM chooser. There's really no configuration necessary, but it's prudent to make sure that the date/time is correct. 

 

Something is wrong with your configuration. One culprit that fits your experience is that you have some software installed with admin rights (elevated privileges). 

 

I don't want to hijack this thread so if you are having trouble with MDL and Commander, send me a PM or start a thread.

 

Rgrds-Ross



#111 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:04 PM

Ross, that's kind of sad (that Commander is the only way to use an iOptron mount). Honestly, I'd prefer the driver-only too.

Yes, I'll check date, time, and location. Thanks for the reminder.

Configuration-wise, maybe you saw the notes above - it seems like things are working again. Uninstalling and reinstalling ASCOM might have been the ticket - then activating things in the right sequence.. So maybe there's nothing wrong with my configuration now? But thanks for your willingness to consider a PM. I think I'm alive again!

 

Doug



#112 Tapio

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:16 PM

I repeat Ross (and myself) - Commander IS the ASCOM driver.

 

But I guess if it would work everyone would be happy.

Every device, wheter it is camera, graphics card, sound card, needs a driver.

Sometimes they are problematic and in some software/hardware combination they don't work.

And usually it's the manufacturer who makes the driver.

 

As an anecdote I have to tell that I own Starlight Xpress camera and when I needed ASCOM driver for it I was really suspicious when I found that it was made by third party (Dad Dog Development ?!).


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#113 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:18 PM

Hi Tapio. Yes, I think I'm starting to understand. I'm not sure I like it any more - but at least it's working now. So I don't 'hate' it any more. : ) haha Thanks.

 

At least it wasn't written by Dad Dog Development.

 

I repeat Ross (and myself) - Commander IS the ASCOM driver.

 

But I guess if it would work everyone would be happy.

Every device, wheter it is camera, graphics card, sound card, needs a driver.

Sometimes they are problematic and in some software/hardware combination they don't work.

And usually it's the manufacturer who makes the driver.

 

As an anecdote I have to tell that I own Starlight Xpress camera and when I needed ASCOM driver for it I was really suspicious when I found that it was made by third party (Dad Dog Development ?!).



#114 jpengstrom

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:21 PM

Hi JPEngstrom. (Do we call you JP?) Others have asked that as well. I just prefer to have one machine, one set of files, and one "control room PC." It's just a personal preference. I always update every piece of software prior to a night of observing. I can't imagine trying to keep that straight across yet another machine. Plus, I'm blessed with a work computer that is super fast. For my own part, I can't imagine working with a scope-side computer that is dumbed-down at all. It's just a personal preference. But I love it this way. Thanks for asking!

Yep, call me JP, I’ve been called much worse so JP is good. lol.gif

I completely understand only wanting 1 machine to have to maintain. It can be a real pain to have to keep up with the updates on multiple machines.  


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#115 rgsalinger

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:31 PM

Unless you only own one laptop computer and have limited funds using a dedicated second computer is a really good idea. My imaging systems are really reliable and a big part of the reason is that I don't tinker with the computers. About once a year (sometimes twice) I update everything to stay reasonably current. They have only the software that they need for astronomy installed on them. I have a dedicated laptop for portable use and dedicated cheap headless computers in the observatory systems. 

 

As far as Windows updates are concerned, I always boot the imaging computers as early as possible in the evening, long before I start a run. That way any updates that have to be processed are all finished long before twilight has ended. I use WIN10Pro and I've set up my updates not to process between 6PM and 6AM so my runs never get disturbed. I've never once (and I get to use my systems about 100 nights a year) had an update interfere with an imaging run by following those simple rules. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#116 EmeraldHills

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:33 PM

Ross, that sounds like a great way to live!

 

Unless you only own one laptop computer and have limited funds using a dedicated second computer is a really good idea. My imaging systems are really reliable and a big part of the reason is that I don't tinker with the computers. About once a year (sometimes twice) I update everything to stay reasonably current. They have only the software that they need for astronomy installed on them. I have a dedicated laptop for portable use and dedicated cheap headless computers in the observatory systems. 

 

As far as Windows updates are concerned, I always boot the imaging computers as early as possible in the evening, long before I start a run. That way any updates that have to be processed are all finished long before twilight has ended. I use WIN10Pro and I've set up my updates not to process between 6PM and 6AM so my runs never get disturbed. I've never once (and I get to use my systems about 100 nights a year) had an update interfere with an imaging run by following those simple rules. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#117 Michael Covington

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Posted 27 November 2021 - 08:38 AM

I, too, use a separate, older laptop for imaging and autoguiding.

It runs current (fully updated) Windows 10.  But I often use the "Pause updates for 7 days" option, after first deliberately updating everything before starting a run.


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