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Everything posted by malc-c

  1. I'm wondering if the driver downloaded form the SW website is custom written to work with the synscan app So basically you have the com port on the mount that has the PL2303 com port driver installed on the windows PC. Then you need the "ASCOM compliant driver" which is going to act like EQMOD or GSServer would as being the interface between the planetarium application and the mount. So one possible thing to try to establish communications - Having installed the PL2303 driver I posted, down load EQMOD from here Once installed open up EQASCOM TOOLBOX and under the setup panel ensure EQASCOM is selected in the dropdown box, and click on Driver set up. This will launch the driver - Under mount type chose "SyntaEQ " if not already defaulted to this option Set the baud rate to match the 115200 set in device manager for the port, and set the port number to match that assigned to the mount's com port For now as this is just a test ignore the site info - click OK Place the mount in the default parking position, weights down and scope pointing North With the mount powered on and connected to the PC click the "test connection" button - if all is well this should launch EQMOD and establish communications with the mount. If it keeps timing out and closing / opening over and over again, then click the disconnect button on the Toolbox to close EQMOD. Assuming it connects, in the "slew control" section, change the 1 to 4 in the small drop down boc between the RA and DEC rate sliders. Now click on the NSWE buttons - the longer the click the more the mount should move. Move the mount as if pointing at a random target and click the park to home button - the scope should move both axis to revert the mount back to the default home position. Under whichever planetarium software, or any application that needs to control the mount, when in the option to select the mount just choose EQMOD HEQ5/6 (as this was what EQMOD was originally designed for back in the day). Don't worry about your mount not being listed, EQMOD interrogates the motor board to obtain information from it so it knows the correct gear ratios etc. Naturally this can all be done in the day time - Fingers crossed If you still get issues seeing the com port (even though Device Manager states its working fine) then you might just have to reside yourself to the fact this won't work for some reason, and purchase and use a LYNX FTDI EQDIR cable instead
  2. What messages are you seeing in device manager - does it show the com port is installed correctly with no yellow exclamation marks or messages that the driver isn't installed ? Not saying it will work, but this is the old Prolific 2303 chipset driver form prolific that I use for a USB to serial virtual com port for my serial shutter release on my DSLR. You may need to remove any existing 2303 driver via device manager just so that you know you have a clean installation. PL2303_64bit_Installer.zip One possible issue is that you are having a permissions issue under windows. If the software is being run under a user profile that lacks administrator privileges then it will fail to load the driver. One thing you can do to verify the driver for the chipset used is to google the hardware ID. Here's an example (its using the CH340 chipset found on my Arduino Nano, but the same applies to any hardware)
  3. Given the lack of posts, and ambiguous markings its doubtful that the chip has been identified. Without knowing the functionality of the chip it's impossible to locate an alternative. It could be anything form an op-amp to a microcontroller
  4. Are you using EQMOD for mount control or GSServer (both ASCOM "drivers" ). Is there any option to perform an auto meridian flip ? How certain your polar alignment hasn't changed (mount been accidently nocked ?)
  5. I think they are mount and camera specific. What mount are you using and does it have the SNAP port (as detailed in the manual). If the handset had the multi purpose port then this is normally used for camera that have the old style shutter release port - which I believe is propriety rather than being a 3.5mm jack socket like that on older canon cameras. If you google "synscan shutter release cable" and check out the results form online suppliers such as First Light Optics or Rother Valley Optics (other retailers are available) and see if you can find a match
  6. I thought I covered that Joking apart, there are lots of possibilities
  7. Options for guiding: Autoguider - £280 to £800 (Skywatcher to StarAid) - No need for any laptop or software - totally standalone Basic finder guider - £190 to £220 - Required a computer of some description to run free software to track and command the scope Guidescope / camera - £300 - As above, a computer of some description is needed to run the free software Finder Guider with dedicated astro PC - £500 - products like the ASiair plus Off axis guider - £100 to £250 + camera - Requires some form of computer or dedicated astro PC Off axis guider and illuminated eyepiece - £250 - manual guiding (ie the old fashioned way )
  8. I do think that the forum should have a sticky post on this subject seeing how many times it gets asked and how many times the answers are posted ! In a nutshell: a) - If the Skywatcher mount has a B type USB port then you can use a standard A-B USB cable to connect the mount to the PC. Irrespective of the operating system used on the PC the mount will be seen as a com port. You will need to go into the settings for the com port, which for example in windows is done via Device manager. If the driver is missing then you need to download and install the Prolific driver from the Skywatcher website. Once installed set the BAUD rate to 115200 and save the settings. You should then be able to set your chosen planetarium up to point to that com port as detailed above b) - If the handset has a USB port but the mount does not, then then follow the same procedure as above but with the A-B USB cable connected between the handset and the PC, with the handset plugged into the the RJ socket on the mount. Depending on the version of firmware on the handset you may need to place the handset into "PC-DIRECT " mode to enable pass through of the commands. c) - If the mount has wifi and the PC is running windows then using the above mentioned windows application, connectivity can be wireless d) - Even with built in USB ports, some people have mentioned issues using method a, mainly due to the use of the Prolific chipset in the mount. An alternative is to replace the handset with an FTDI based EQDIR cable between the PC and the port where the handset normally connects. FTDI chipset is natively supported under windows so no need to install drivers, and as they run at the default 9600 Baud, no need to change the settings in Device Manager Hope that helps
  9. I'm not familiar with the mount so a quick google came up with this My only concern with the angled bar is that it takes the centre of gravity for any OTA outside of the central point of the tri-pod. My gut feeling is that if you had a scope up to the quoted 15lbs pointing at the zenith hanging off that angled bar there could be a tendency for the thing to topple over. Its just a feeling, and in practice it may be more stable than it looks.
  10. Can't answer that, but with a lot of sections to choose from maybe it was a simple mistake ? Thing is none of us can predict what upgrade path the OP would take. Whilst I can understand your frustration, and intent to advise the OP on the pitfalls of lower spec machines, we were responding to his request for suggestions based on the current needs and equipment which was None of that equipment requires a threadripper running on a £700 mother board with a £1000 GPU. Granted if the OP has the money, then purchasing such a beast of a machine would be a way of future proofing his needs, should he choose to replace the mount and scope with something that warrants the use of 4K or 8K UHD cameras and be able to live stack the huge amount of data such cameras produce. But This is a very valid point. But how do we know just where we will be in the hobby in 2, or 5 or even 10 years time. My equipment hasn't changed much since I built the observatory 10 years ago. My interest comes and goes depending on other things in my life. But I know a good friend who had pretty much the same level of equipment as me when I first got to know him, but now his rig (and his approach to astronomy) is far more serious, with upwards of £10K of scope and cameras sitting on an EQ8 mount and has had the privilege of many of his images adorning Astronomy Now and other magazines . He's just upgraded his observatory PC to a NUC last year mainly as his old trusty Dell laptop was showing is age, but he got one that suits his current needs and most people can't predict what technology will be available in 5 years time, and if there is some PC currently available that will be future proof enough. I mean you mention windows 11. Microsoft told us that Windows 10 was going to be the last ever OS it would develop, so you would think buying hardware in the past 12 - 18 months would be futureproofing for your needs... only to find, as you did, that the new OS won't run on it (at least not without some hacking of the install routine, but that's a different story). One other thing to consider is budget. Looking at the OP's equipment I get the impression that his budget for a PC is proportional and inline with the amount he spent on his mount and scope. Maybe this is why people recommended a basic no frills "any current pc" will do ?
  11. If the mount tracks better using sidereal then stick with that. At the end of the day it's whatever works best to get the results you want. I don't think I've ever set EQMOD to luna tracking when imaging the moon,
  12. That's often the problem. Sometimes you can get lucky and get stunning crisp and contrasting images with basic equipment, and the next fall below expectations - the quality of the air and how turbulent it is can make all the difference. As others have said, for the money that's a very good image
  13. I remember seeing a DIY system which used high wattage power resistors which were glued to the back of the secondary, with the wires run along the veins of the spider that supported the secondary. I can't remember how well it worked, or if the wires caused any degradation or artefacts in the final image
  14. No expert, but how good was the polar alignment ? To be honest drift whilst using a video camera shouldn't be a problem as you typically stack the individual frames, and the registration of each frame is handled by the stacking software.
  15. There's a balance between safety and inconveniencing others who are there for the same reasons. If its a public spot and there is no official start party then you are under no obligations to turn headlights off when entering any carpark etc. You might want to use the side lights if your night vision is adapted enough, but turning lights off completely whilst driving is technically against the law and can result in an non-endorsable fine of £50. If its an organised event and you can't get there to set up in daylight, then cover any interior lights or footwell lights with red film, or turn them off altogether. Use dim side lights when entering the site or car park, and when setting up use red light torches, which should be turned off once you are up and running as even red light that is intensely bright can be an annoyance.
  16. As the above poster states, you need a Coma Corrector, such as this one £160 is the going rate. These give you focus across the full frame.
  17. My HEQ5 was purchased second hand in 2011 and is still (other than a few rust spots on the weights as it's in an observatory) like new and runs fine. As "noodles" has stated, I've had some lemons when buying new !
  18. No, you can't use a goto system on any mount. The external goto systems such as synscan are designed to be used with specific mounts. For example you can get a Skywatcher EQ3 and EQ5 mounts. They look the same, just one is slightly smaller than the other, and both can be upgraded to a full goto system, but you need to purchase either a synscan unit for an EQ3 or an EQ5 as the internal firmware is different as the gearing of the mounts are different. Also you couldn't take an EQ3 synscan unit and fit it to a Celestron mount, or a mead mount. If you can provide details of the mount you have purchase (make and model) then we can advise if a goto system exists and if so point you in the right direction. The reason we say that, is because some brands of mount are infact the same mount form the main manufacture, so things can on occasion fit.
  19. To give you some idea, the PC in my observatory is a dinosaur. It's a tower case, based around an E5700 dual core pentium running at 3Ghz. It has a 500GB system drive and a 2Tb data drive and 8GB of old DDR3 ram. It runs windows 10, it connects to my HEQ5 mount via an EQDIR cable and EQMOD / CdC handles the telescope control just fine. I use a Canon d400 as my main DSO imaging camera, controlled via APT. Guiding is performed using a MK1 QHY5 camera and PHD2. - The PC has also been used for planetary work, using Sharpcap to capture the video from a very basic webcam. Processing that video is where the machine struggled, taking 20 minutes to stack an standard HD format video of just a few minutes duration. If a dedicated astro video camera is used and the file sizes are larger. The best thin to do though is as others have suggested. Try your existing laptop with the gear you have and see how it performs. It may do the job, but the time taken may be unbearably slow, or it may fall over and fail completely... you won't know until you try it
  20. Personally, for planetary work where you are capturing video this machine is very borderline, more so as you then need to process the video files to strip and stack the frames and process the end result. But you don't need to spend a fortune on some over priced dedicated "astro" computer. An older generation i5 or i7, with 4 or better still 8gb of ram can be had form e-bay or any computer repair shop that deals in old business machines. I picked up a small compact HP8200 i5, with 500gb drive, 8gb RAM and stacks of USB ports for £60 which included a licenced copy of windows 10. I replaced the mechanical drive for a n SSD for £30 and the machine is very capable. A similar spec machine should be very capable of catering for your needs.
  21. Using an EQDIR cable (not to be confused with a USB to SERIAL) cable is what you need to connect a computer to an EQ6 - Like This I've not used one, but the Asiair is basically a computer so should be no different
  22. If they are both on the same network then just share a drive, either on your computer and create a mapped drive on the mini PC or vice versa. Or if you have a NAS drive just save the files to that and you can then access them form the main PC when the mini PC is off line - That's what I do
  23. It was commented that undertaking a star alignment, regardless of the set up being mobile or fixed in an observatory was old school and now obsolete, but I have to agree with Olly. I've never plate solved other then when using Sharpcap to align the mount. Having alignment points in EQMOD means for me that any goto in the visible area of sky from the observatory results in the target being in the field of view of the camera. My set up is basic - a 400D canon DSLR on the main scope, a QHY5 on the finder and I use CdC to select the target, EQMOD to drive the mount, APT just to run the sequence to take the images, and PHD2 for guiding....but it works, and I can be up and running taking subs within 20 minutes of opening the observatory. When it was set up, ten year ago, this was fairly much the norm. These days, so many applications have evolved to overlap others (NINA / APT etc) and cater for the newer trends that often they introduce just one more step to go wrong, and take longer to debug any issues as often they all now tend to overlap and do the same functions as others.
  24. That's interesting.. But does that still apply with PayPal as they are not actually selling anything, they are acting like a bank, and just processing a transaction. I'm no expert though so you could be correct. Its different when purchasing goods form a retailer who then steer customers to the manufacture after a 12 month warrant period... which is wrong as your contract is with the retailer and their contract is with the distributor (or direct with the manufacture if they are large enough). Paypal do offer a buyer protection scheme Seeing that this case has already gone to court and a judgement made, I would suspect PP would be quite supportive and want to get involved ?
  25. Before Rowan made the belt drive commercially available I messed about modifying my HEQ5 to belt drive over a decade ago. The problem was there were no off the shelf pulleys that could maintain the stock ratio the gearing has so that it could be used with the handset. My experiments with different ratios also highlighted a problem with commercially available pulleys, in that the smaller ones are press fitted in two parts an due to the small diameter would separate. Dave over at Rowan overcame these two issues by CNC's the two pulleys. The smaller one being machined as a one piece pulley, and as far as I know there has never been any reports of this small pulley failing. As others have said, just unscrew the cover plate and check that the belts are intact and the tension wheels are doing their job in keeping the belt engaged. If they are then go back to basics and remove all the connections to the computer, connect the handset and with it set to speed 9 test the mount in all direction by pressing the direction keys on the handset. Provided the handset doesn't display any "no response XXX axis" message, and the mount moves then this would prove there is no fault with the mount and the issue lays with the links between the Computer / mount and the software initiating the slew commands. Now as you use a Linux platform I'm not best to offer advice on how to test, but I would start with confirming the driver (presumably something like a modified EQMOD) can talk to the mount via whatever EQDIER cable you use and then add next level of software control
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