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About morayskies

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  1. Hi All Has anybody else had this problem? I use a single, ageing laptop (HP620 8Gb RAM) running Windows 7 Pro 64bit to control my imaging setup using the following software; Cartes du Ciel and EQMOD to control EQ5 Pro mount via EQDIRECT cable connected via powered USB Hub BackyardEOS to capture images from Canon 450D via same USB powered hub PHD2 for guiding using GP-CAM 130C and EQMOD pulse guiding What confuses me is that some evenings everything works absolutely fine. Another evening, using exactly the same hardware, software and even connections (ie I always plug the leads into the same ports) the system will be working fine but then suddenly fail. The failure affects EQMOD indicating a timeout or port not available issue and the Canon 450D also 'locks' requiring a restart of the camera and BackyardEOS. I have run USBTree during such a failure and it is showing that the EQDIRECT cable (ie serial converter) is still connected to COM4 (which is correct) and the Canon 450D is also still connected. I basically have to ensure that all the software is closed and any associated services also stopped. Of course, the scope is now pointing away from its home position so I have to move it manually back to 'home' before starting again. My thoughts are that there could be a number of issues; 1. Use of a USB hub 2. A dodgy EQDIRECT cable 3. USB cables too long (ie about 5m) 4. Windows is turning off a connection (I have set the power management for each USB port to 'off') 5. Canon 450D somehow 'freezing' When using this laptop, I turn off the Wifi and Anti Virus and Automatic Updates are also off. It just baffles me that sometimes this system works flawlessly for hours and yet other nights it keeps failing. Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks for looking.
  2. Had 3 or so hours of success last night. 'Scope tracked well, tracking and guiding didn't fail at all and only had to stop when camera battery died. First attempt at M42 with this setup :-) Well pleased. m42_120s_50percent.tif
  3. Hi Ian Must apologise. I have found the "Mount Limits" check box to be ticked and, since unticking, seems to be tracking OK. In the words of Homer Simpson - "Doh!"
  4. Not that I am aware of. I didn't set anything to do with 'limits' in EQMOD on either laptop.
  5. **Update** I have taken PHD and CdC out of the equation by connecting to the mount via the EQASCOM Toolbox. With PHD and CdC not running and the gamepad turned off the mount tracked for about 10 minutes before the Sidereal Tracking 'switched off' again. Without doing anything to the setup, I tried slewing the 'scope using the direction arrows in EQMOD and these worked fine so the mount is still communicating with the laptop and EQMOD. It seems to me that the problem could be with EQMOD or could it be Windows 7 :-(
  6. Hi All I have been using my 'best' laptop with Windows 8.1 to control an EQ5 Pro mount via a USB/Serial converter with a lead directly to the hand controller set to PC Direct Mode. On the same laptop I have installed PHD2 for guiding and BackyardEOS for image capture and a gampepad for ease of 'tweaking' the telescope pointing. I have also installed Cartes du Ciel (CdC) to find and slew to targets. This system has worked flawlessly (other than 'idiot induced' problems) for a number of months now. I was lucky enough to be given another, slightly older, laptop to use so I thought the 'best' laptop could stay in the office and the older laptop could now become the astro imaging laptop. As far as I can see, I have everything configured the same and, on first trials in daylight, everything seemed to be working OK. Could connect to the mount OK, control via gampad OK, PHD2 connected OK etc etc. First 'imaging in anger' night seemed to going well until I noticed that the star trails suddenly appeared to be streaked after successfully capturing a few previous images. PHD2 was still connected but the guide star was way off target (the little green square in PHD) and appeared to be drifting as I watched. CdC (the planetarium software I use) was still connected but the rectangle indicating the camera's field of view was also drifting off target. On looking at the EQMOD window I noticed that tracking was 'off'. "Another idiot induced problem?" I thought. Selected Sidereal Tracking in EQMOD and I heard the motors of the mount start 'whirring' again. Selected target in CdC and slewed the 'scope back to the target. Selected guide star again in PHD and guiding started OK (I could hear the motor 'tones' changing as they received correction signals from PHD. Back on track - so I thought! After a short while, the problem occurred again - Sidereal tracking was shown as being turned off in EQMOD. These are only differences between the successful setup and the rogue version; Working System 2.4ghz processor, Windows 8.1 Failing system 2.2ghz processor, Windows 7 Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions as to what could be causing this problem would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Richard
  7. Thanks for these pointer Ian - I will take a look at the links you have posted. Cheers Richard
  8. Hi All To date I have been using DSS to stack and (dare I say it) to also perform some image processing. The final, resultant TIFF file has been further processed using such applications as PaintShop Pro, GIMP or even Windows Photo Gallery. I have read that DSS is good for stacking but, ideally, should not be used for any processing. I have downloaded a trial version of StarTools but am having a few issues getting to grips with it or getting any results that are anywhere near as good as those so far obtained with just DSS, PSP etc. I appreciate that learning how to use StarTools will involve a steep curve (I was, in a previous life, a Microsoft Office Specialist Master Trainer so have first hand experience of the difficulties of mastering new software!) but it's starting off on the right foot that is throwing me, namely; I understand that no processing should be performed in DSS, so, what stacking settings/options should be set here? Does anyone know of a definitive list of the best options to use? StarTools likes the FITS image format. Do I use the Autosave FITS file DSS can produce or do I use the "Save picture to file...." option in DSS? If the latter, which option 16/32bit, integer/rational, apply adjustments/do not apply adjustments to saved image? I have asked a lot of questions here and any advice/guidance will be greatly appreciated so thanks for taking the time to read and, if you do, replying to my post. Once I know I am on the right track with a starting image for StarTools, I feel I will have a fighting chance of learning how to use StarTools itself, however, I am sure that will be another story altogether.......
  9. Thanks for all your replies and advice guys. Since posting I have had a successful imaging evening (including pulse guiding using PHD) by using my previous connecting cable (RJ11) connected to the hand controller and setting the controller option to 'PC Direct'. Not the ideal, but it is at least working. I shall investigate why I cannot use the RJ45 connection in slow time. Clear Skies
  10. This would be a better option, however, I thought I would try saving a few pennies as I already have the USB/Serial adaptor. Guess you 'gets what you pay for' and I may well end up getting one of these from FLO. Ho hum
  11. The USB/serial adaptor works fine when coupled with a Serial/RJ11 cable which plugs into the hand controller in PC Direct mode. All I have done is replace the Serial/RJ11 cale with a Serial/RJ45 cable and plugged this into the SynScan motor control box Hand Controller port. The new cable was off eBay so not expensive and, to be honest, I think it is this that is causing the problem.
  12. Hi All I have recently acquired an EQ5 Pro mount and wish to control it using EQMOD, however, I cannot control the mount with a cable linking directly to the SynScan EQ5 switch box. This does work; USB to Serial converter plugged into Windows 8.1 laptop Cable from Serial converter to SynScan hand controller Hand controller set to 'PC Direct' With the above configuration everything works fine. I have read somewhere that it is advisable to take the hand controller out of circuit all together so, to this end, I have purchased a Serial to RJ45 connector lead. So I have configured the setup like this; USB to serial converter plugged into Windows 8.1 laptop (as 1. above) New cable goes from Serial converter directly to 'Hand Controller' socket on the SynScan EQ5 switch box (SynScan Hand Controller now completely out of circuit) This does not work! With power at the mount turned on when I select 'ASCOM Connect' via the EQASCOM Toolbox, the EQMOD HEQ5/6 window opens with a 'Connect Error: Timeout'. I understand that this error message would indicate that the Port has been found OK but there is no response from the mount. I have double checked the COM port number but it is fine. I have tried a second USB to Serial adaptor I have and it gives me the same result - a 'timeout' error. The only thing I can see that is at fault is the Serial to RJ45 cable between the Serial adaptor and the SynScan unit. This cable is brand new so not likely (although not impossible) to be the cause. Has anybody else had this issue with the EQ5 Pro mount or am I missing something fundamental ? Thanks for looking.
  13. Hi Julian Thanks for this advice. Must admit that, after posting, I did do a little more research and discovered that the EQ5 Pro can be controlled directly from a laptop using an EQDirect cable. I had thought that this direct option was not available for this mount and using the PC Direct option on the handset was the only way to go. I'm guessing from what you say that it is not really necessary to setup any Declination backlash compensation in EQMOD pulse guiding as PHD will cater for any backlash. I was thinking more about using the direction controls in EQMOD independent of the pulse guiding. The handset allows the user to enter a backlash compensation value which is applied when reversing direction (N to S to declination) but I don't think this is available in EQMOD unless, of course, I am missing something. Cheers Richard
  14. Hi All I have recently started using EQMOD to control my EQ5 Pro mount. When I use the mount with the SynScan Hand Controller I have noticed the usual backlash in the Declination axis when reversing the direction from north to south or vice versa. In the SynScan Setup/Backlash/Declination menu option, I find that setting this to 0deg 0' 50" (ie 50 arcseconds) compensates for the backlash when using the hand controller. My questions are these; When using EQMOD and the PC Direct mode setting on the hand controller, is this Declination Backlash compensation still applied? (I suspect not) Does EQMOD have the functionality to apply similar Declination backlash compensation when using the the direction buttons in EQMOD to control the mount? I intend using EQMOD's Pulse Guiding and see that there is a Declination backlash compensation for this feature. Please bear with me whilst I ask another couple of questions; I intend to use PHD2 as the guiding client. I think that PHD2 will 'build in' backlash compensation when it performs its calibration. If this assumption is correct, does this mean I do not need to enter any value into the Backlash compensation in the guiding area of EQMOD? Out of curiosity more than anything else, what on Earth would the value be I should enter in the EQMOD backlash compensation? On the SynScan the backlash compensation is entered as an angular measurement (ie 50 arcsecnds) but in EQMOD guiding it seems to be entered as a time value (ie between 0 and 2000 milliseconds ) Anyway, thanks for looking.
  15. I still have a 6" f8 mirror made by Brunnings. If memory serves it's etched with October 1958. Damn fine mirror nit doing a lot just now though :-)
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