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Benefits of using EQMOD...?


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These is real newbie question here - I did contemplate posting it in the beginners se, ctionbut as it IS software related, I decided this was probably the best place... (I hope it hasn't been posted before, but I strongly suspect it has - If that is the case, I apologise...!)

I'm quite happy with my NEQ6 Synscan and pressing the buttons on my handset - It successfully 3-star aligns the scope, it goes to objects I want it to go to, it tracks fine, and (touch wood) it appears to be guiding fine... The only thing I've found recently my mount isn't struck on is "the dreaded meridian flip" (for Olly :)).

I posted a thread about my flip / reframing issues, and EQMOD popped up. I've seen the EQMOD site and looked at the screen (which looks somewhat more complex than my plastic handset!), but can I ask what the actual benefits are of EQMOD? I know many people use it, and those that do say they wouldn't turn back... but why?

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I use EQMOD with my NEQ6 Andy. The handset is cool but the direct connect allows me to align and slew around using Stellarium/Cartes Du Ciel on the PC. You get complete control from the keyboard. I've found polar alignment & star alignment much easier with EQMOD. When you've aligned and are looking at an object you can see the aligment stars your're using and it's help me make better choices for accurate alignment.

From within the EQASCOM control panel you can also set the guider correction rates etc, use a gaming pad to control the mount and lots more. It's all there in one place.

Also once you've setup EQASCOM to control EQMOD you don't need to tell the mount the date/time or Lat/Long any more. It knows how to position the mount for polar alignment etc.

It's a breeze.

Mark

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I have never used the handset, I fired up EQMOD the first day I received my EQ6 (my first ever GEM mount), and it just works.

- Multiple point aligmment, which you can add to as you go along

- Wireless Gamepad mount control, and you really wont understand how useful that is until you try it... i thought it was a pointless feature until I tried it, then cant live without it now!

- Multiple ASCOM clients connecting to it at the same time (like POTH can do)

- Read location and time from NMEA GPS input.

- Multiple park locations

- Variable rate PEC

Am sure there are other things that I find useful about it, but its been so long since I fired the mount up...

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I think EQMOD is a great program....

But there are times when connecting the handcontroller to the laptop, firing up CdC and sync on a nearby star and click and Go...

CdC connected via the Synscan handcontroller can and does work very well, and also with other programs; I use AstroPlanner to list all the objects I need/ want to observe and just press go - and there they are.

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I love using EQMOD with Carte du Ciel. Primarily you can select any star to do an alignment, and just click on anything in CdC to go to it. I never park my scope, primarly because the obsy roof won't close if it's in the park position, but don't need to bother anyway. At the beginning of a session I just roughly align the scope to the park (North) position, then to a single star alignment and away you go. Because my mount is on a pier and accurately aligned, a single star alignment works fine, but I generally do a few synchs every now and then to make it more accurate (well, I am a Virgo with OCD!).

The EQMOD screen is a bit daunting at first, but easy with a bit of practice.

Edited by lukebl
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I never park my scope, primarly because the obsy roof won't close if it's in the park position, but don't need to bother anyway.

Then define a new park position. One of the "benefits" of EQMOD is that you can define up to 10 custom parks in any position.

Chris.

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Then define a new park position. One of the "benefits" of EQMOD is that you can define up to 10 custom parks in any position.

Chris.

I know I could do that, but I've never bothered. It only takes a minute or two to be properly aligned my way. Having said that, I ought to give it a go to be a bit more professional!

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I took the plunge, because the price difference between my Syntrek HEQ5 and the Syncan version was critical. :)

It's a great program - Albeit requiring a "modest" investment re. the learning process. The docs are good too - In a programmer to ex-programmer way. Now I've defined my "modus operandi" (switch on sequence) it works well (connects first time!) with my modest NC10 Netbook. I specifically wanted a star map interface and have come to like CdC too. :iamwithstupid:

I have JUST started exploiting alternative parking positions. I can now, rather easily, "loft" the scope, in the HOME position, with the observatory roof rolled back. I then park "horizontally" with the roof closed - I can even "restore", if need be, with a digital level etc. (Still using a semi-permanent Skywatcher Wheely peer). :)

- Wireless Gamepad mount control, and you really wont understand how useful that is until you try it... i thought it was a pointless feature until I tried it, then cant live without it now!
Having sworn I would never embrace the "games" world [teasing] or it's devil's device (LOL) - Now a convert too... :)

Aside: Steve, What make/type Gamepad do you use? If I could only get mine, with wireless dongle, to work via a USB Hub, my life would be complete! (I always seem to need just ONE more *direct* connector on the NC10! <sigh>) I understand Bluetooth Gamepads also exist. But the "stack" implementation (or something) isn't very good on windows? :)

Edited by Macavity
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I know I could do that, but I've never bothered. It only takes a minute or two to be properly aligned my way. Having said that, I ought to give it a go to be a bit more professional!

Hey, whatever works for you, don't change on my account. I confess I cheekily used your post as an opportunity to plug another potential benefit of EQMOD :)

Chris.

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Another vote for EQMOD. Although I guess its best suited for home setups, or obsrvatories, where power and a PC is available. If your're a portable person then I suppose just working with the handset is an advantage with the battery power drain. Having said that, I use EQMOD (with MaxinDL) at home even though I have to setup and tear down every session. Once switched on I can do the whole setup (unpark, alignment, focus, exposure sequence, etc) from my 'warm room' (the conservatory!).

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Cheers guys - I think I probably expected a fair bit of support for EQMOD, but it seemed to me that it was mainly in the domain of people who are "static" (have an observatory). It's therefore very interesting to see that this isn't always the case (thanks Blue Astra!). I do have a 100+Ah leisure battery (as yet untested) and a netbook to drive it all, but has anyone had any issues with USB ports contending with each other?

My netbook's fairly basic (2Gb RAM and and Intel Atom N450 processor) and has 2 USB buses with a total of 3 x 2.0 USB ports - In the fairly distant (USB 1.0) past I had contention issues with shared data over a single bus so I currently use one port on one bus for the guidecam and one port on the other bus for the imaging cam, but I've been afraid to use the "spare" USB port in case it interferes with the signal coming over the other one on that bus...

Am I being paranoid? Or could I really get away with using the other port for the FTDI cable and maybe get a hub to potentially use a controller at some time in the future?

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Aside: Steve, What make/type Gamepad do you use? If I could only get mine, with wireless dongle, to work via a USB Hub, my life would be complete!

I use a logitech wireless rumblepad, with the dongle thingy plugged into my USB hub next to my USB GPS.

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I'm sure you'll find that the majority of EQMOD users, like the majority of astronomers, do not have observatories or static mounts. EQMOD is suitable for anyone who regularly uses a laptop/PC running windows as part of their observing/imaging setup.

With regard to USB ports - Is a good idea to keep your camera(s) on dedicated ports but there is no reason why you shouldn't run EQMOD and gamepad etc. off a hub. They are not at all greedy in terms of USB bandwidth or power.

Chris.

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I agree with Chris...the "trick" is to mark each port on the Hub with the camera/ instrument which goes there - then you don't get the " camera not recognised" error.

Also you can buy the 12V to 6V DC convertor (Maplins) which allows you to power the USB hub from the batteries....

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Cheers Chris (all) - A year ago I had no desire at all / whatsoever to be "attached" to a laptop, so started with a DSLR and Synguider - I'm not going to knock that approach at all as I had great fun with it (and it was very simple!) but when I moved to the cooled CCD, that blew my original plan well and truly out the window... which then opened the path to a "normal" guidecam and PHD, so, like it or not, I AM fully attached now anyway, so I guess I shouldn't be so luddite...

I've found an updated FTDI driver, so will try that later (hopefully I'll now be able to "see" the mount). I've also found a link that will hopefully mean I can use Stellarium as the mount driver - The CdC GUI looks way too "techie" for me in comparison and if poss, I'd really rather not change that as well!

If EQMOD (and a Gamepad) isn't that "intensive" after all, then I don't mind splashing out the minimal cash on a small powered hub (and I can temporarily "borrow" one of my daughters XBOX controllers once I've got the fundamentals sorted out)... but I would love to have seen the guy using a Guitar Hero guitar for controlling the mount - Totally awesome...!

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I use (being a BoF) a wireless numerical pad for EQMOD.

It appeals to me - being similar to a "handcontroller" - you can map all the keys to the needed commands.

Only issue I've found it that it needs a clear line of sight back to the dongle on the PC.

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I do like the idea of less cables, but I think I'll try the direct route first... then a controller... and then maybe move onto wireless... It all sounds great fun, and I guess it's something I can play at when the skies are cloudy before deciding if (when) to try and use it in practice...

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Heheh. I seem, for the moment, caught up in this... "distribution of stuff" dilemma. Which computer - "devices", cables... mounts, telescopes (even!), stay in the observatory... which share my balmier (barmier!) indoor environment? :)

I think I might relegate "telescope control" to the observatory and take the "imaging" aspect indoors with me. Am sorely tempted by the notion of Wiimotes, "Guitar Hero" controllers etc. though! :)

Edited by Macavity
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I'm on the setup every night activities, I don't keep a set of align points... never needed to (as yet). I'm normally up and imaging with EQMOD, CdC and PHD in about 40 minutes (from deciding to go out in the first place). I am using an unpowered USB hub on the mount for mount control, guidecam and SLR control (from APT) and have never had any issues. The ports and cables are all marked up though, so if I do pull something out... it's easy to put back (the only device to draw power from USB is the guide camera). I use a wired game controller and the joystick, I find, is so much easier and simpler to use than the keyboard or mouse/trackpad.

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Cheers John - It currently takes me about an hour to set up from scratch, but I'm sure there are some things I can get quicker at... My main problem (at the moment) is that I've introduced too much new stuff in such a relatively short space of time that I have to check, double check and then treble check everything! I'm sure if I can get my setup process quicker, introducing EQMOD may not seem as complicated as it currently appears to be (to me). If I can play with it without "wasting" clear skies first, then that would seem to be the ideal way to go first...

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