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Dark Matter

Synscan: Are you happy with it?

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Hi group,

I'd like to do a survey of the Synscan firmware for Skywatcher mounts.

While some uses are happy with the current verison, many are not and I want Synta to know what YOU like or don't like. So.....

1. Are you happy?  not happy?  with the current (or any other version) and why?

2. What would you like to see in the next Skyscan firmware upgrade and why? (give as much reason as you can)

Thanks and cheers,

James

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I prefer the Celstron version as it allows the user to select visible stars and then do a set up.

Synscan does not and the star selection is not in a list that is intuitive. Rather they use the proper star names , which while it is worthy would be better of the constellation and Greek letter are used.

I have both types of mount and I always find it easier to set up the Celestron.

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i'd like it to give an abbreviation of the constellation the suggested alignment stars are in; i recognise most of the star names but on the whole i have no idea where they are, but if it also hinted at the constellation they were in imd know if there were visible to select to align on.

I'd also like it is there was an easy way to find a named star in the database without having to scroll through 200 other star names in the alphabetical list.

James

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Thanks a mil. guys! This is what we're after.

I agree with both of you and what 'Proto Star' said made sense too.

That instead of having to wade through 200 + stars, perhaps a list of constellations that the user can call up and select a DSO within, that befits their geo location and not some Const. below their horizon.

This, along with the present NGC and IC database, would help in a better PAE and PC control too, when using EQMOD and a planetarium or remote scripting program.

I'd like to see two ther items added:

1. Stars used for the 3-star alignment to only show up that will give the most cone error, so one can fine tune the mount's MelAz and MeAlt.

2. Auto Guider system that will not only accept various brands.. SSAG, Lodestar, SBIG, etc..but the guiding algorithms to make it easier to calibrate the AG when using PHD, Astro Art, Starlight Express, MaximDL, ACP etc.

Just my 2 cents worth..

Any more suggestions?

cheers,

James

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2. Auto Guider system that will not only accept various brands.. SSAG, Lodestar, SBIG, etc..but the guiding algorithms to make it easier to calibrate the AG when using PHD, Astro Art, Starlight Express, MaximDL, ACP etc.

Could you explain what you mean by this? I don't really understand what it is you want the synscan to do with respect to autoguiding calibration (or indeed what part it could ever play in an ST-4 guided system).

Chris.

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It would be good to add planets (inc Moon) to the alignment set up, these are usually brighter than stars and may help novices and experienced watchers alike!

Cheers

Ron

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Don't own one but seems odd that no-one has said a reliable USB port and upgrade facility.

I read more problems of upgrades going wrong then anything.

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It should recognise if you're and experienced solar observer and skip the sun message at the beginning lol (ie a switch to switch it off). :)

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It would be good to add planets (inc Moon) to the alignment set up, these are usually brighter than stars and may help novices and experienced watchers alike!

Cheers

Ron

Hi Ron,

Because planets are closer to us than the stars, their movement against the background stars is 'faster' and if we were to align on planets, our GOTO slews would be way out as the stars, are 'fixed' so to speak and we use them to give us an more accurate alignment.

Try this if you don't believe me, but stellar alignment even non stellar objects - nebulae, star clusters galaxies, can also be used in alignment with certain programs, but stars are brighter and closer, so we sue them.

Hope this helps.

James

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Could you explain what you mean by this? I don't really understand what it is you want the synscan to do with respect to autoguiding calibration (or indeed what part it could ever play in an ST-4 guided system).

Chris.

Chris,

It seems there is no algorithms to set and maintain an Autoguider in Synscan for an EQ mount.

Perhaps if we had an menu item that we could call up and page through and Enter our brand - Lodestar, SSAG, SBIG, etc it will make it a lot easier for that guider to be calibrated using PHD, for instance?

Your thoughts?

James

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Hi Ron,

Because planets are closer to us than the stars, their movement against the background stars is 'faster' and if we were to align on planets, our GOTO slews would be way out as the stars, are 'fixed' so to speak and we use them to give us an more accurate alignment.

Try this if you don't believe me, but stellar alignment even non stellar objects - nebulae, star clusters galaxies, can also be used in alignment with certain programs, but stars are brighter and closer, so we use them.

Hope this helps.

James

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I think the most useful thing that can be upgraded is retaining all the latest settings when the power goes off. I know it holds the date and observation location, but it loses the time and everything else. I don't know how many times I have accidently kicked the SW Power Pack and lost the settings, which results in having to reset again.  Last night I thought, now put the power pack right under the mount so you can't knock it - yes no problem.  Then I reached over to check the laptop and the handset came out -  arrrrgh.

:mad:

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I think the most useful thing that can be upgraded is retaining all the latest settings when the power goes off. I know it holds the date and observation location, but it loses the time and everything else. I don't know how many times I have accidently kicked the SW Power Pack and lost the settings, which results in having to reset again.  Last night I thought, now put the power pack right under the mount so you can't knock it - yes no problem.  Then I reached over to check the laptop and the handset came out -  arrrrgh.

:mad:

blumming good point, mate. I'll make sure Synta knows this! as I too, have had the same hassle which is a PITA.

The more feedback we get here, the better our next firmware will be, so guys and gals, let it rip....! 

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Another thing I've suggested to Synta is to have a Digital Readout of Azimuth and Elevation based on the built-in GPS...!! .

This reading is to read either in the HC or on the actual mount.

Whether this can be done remains to be seen, but just imagine how easy it would be to set up the mount day or night..

Your thoughts?

JB

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Chris,

It seems there is no algorithms to set and maintain an Autoguider in Synscan for an EQ mount.

Perhaps if we had an menu item that we could call up and page through and Enter our brand - Lodestar, SSAG, SBIG, etc it will make it a lot easier for that guider to be calibrated using PHD, for instance?

Your thoughts?

James

Hi James,

Sorry, I still don't get it.  You say that a menu item containing a list of guide cameras would make phd calibration a lot easier. Perhaps I could turn this on its head and ask what is it about the current phd calibration process that you find difficult and is the root cause of this difficulty the synscan itself ? 

For guiding all the mount has to do is move at a guide rate when told to do so. The only guiding control parameter required at the synscan/mount level is therefore the guide rate.  Guiding calibration is a higher level automation procedure and should be handled buy the guiding app. Guiding calibration is designed to empirically determine the response of the guiding system and adjust its control accordingly and  I can see no value in changing what is essentially a generic process (PHD's guiding process is the same irrespective of mount type, guide camera or guiding interface) into one requiring proprietary actions specific to a particular mount type.  ... but perhaps I'm totally misunderstanding your intentions?

Chris.

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Hi James,

Sorry, I still don't get it.  You say that a menu item containing a list of guide cameras would make phd calibration a lot easier. Perhaps I could turn this on its head and ask what is it about the current phd calibration process that you find difficult and is the root cause of this difficulty the synscan itself ? 

For guiding all the mount has to do is move at a guide rate when told to do so. The only guiding control parameter required at the synscan/mount level is therefore the guide rate.  Guiding calibration is a higher level automation procedure and should be handled buy the guiding app. Guiding calibration is designed to empirically determine the response of the guiding system and adjust its control accordingly and  I can see no value in changing what is essentially a generic process (PHD's guiding process is the same irrespective of mount type, guide camera or guiding interface) into one requiring proprietary actions specific to a particular mount type.  ... but perhaps I'm totally misunderstanding your intentions?

Chris.

Chris, 

All I know mate, is that Synta are looking into all this, so I don't know what they will come up with.

But I do agree with what you say as I use a Lodestar on my EQ8 and EQ6 Pro and have had no probs with PHD or AstroArt5.

James

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I think one area synta miight look to improve is the level of nexstar protocol support offered by the synscan.

Currently only the goto and position reporting messages are supported. Those folks who want pc based automation but wish to retain the handcontroller as a moumt interface (rather than go the EQMOD route) are consequently not well served. For instance the celestron unified ascom driver has lots of functionality within it (such as pulse guide) that cannot be applied to the synta EQ mounts because their nexstar support is so restricted.

Providing a comprehensive rather than mimimal level of nexstar support would I believe give the mount far greater potential for automation by non windows based platforms where ASCOM is not applicable.

Chris.

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The whole handset concept in my opinion is so dated it needs reworking from the ground up, I really only ever use it if i have an EQdir in the post.

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As long time user of Celestron CG5-GT and a recent user of AZ-EQ6, I want badly the following from Synscan HC:

1) more than one callibration stars for better GOTOs like with Celestron HC (which  2+4 callibration stars) which corrects for many mechanical/human errors

2) a wider selection of known stars for the 2nd and 3rd alignment star like with Celestron HC

3) Precise GOTO function, like Celestron and Syncan Tour have, which selects for you the closest star to the DSO you want to view and asks you to center that for better GOTOs

4) better GOTO accuracy at ~100x magnicifation with an eyepiece like Celestron HC has

5)  a setting for AZ-EQ6 mount in Alt-Az mode to avoid cable tangling

6) more DSOs offered by Tonight Tour.

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Another option, Which the Synscan firmware could be better, I would like to see a comets database on there, Some Goto handsets have this option, But not Synscan why is that?? I know Comet Ison is nearby at the moment, It's annoying trying to manual put co-ordinates from Stellarium!!  :huh:

Edited by PARTY MARTY
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Another option, Which the Synscan firmware could be better, I would like to see a comets database on there, Some Goto handsets have this option, But not Synscan why is that?? I know Comet Ison is nearby at the moment, It's annoying trying to manual put co-ordinates from Stellarium!!  :huh:

I guessing that a lot of people wouldn't want the bother of inputting orbital elements Manually or having to flash the ROM for new comets.

Beyond the scope of a simple firmware upgrade, but in future perhaps there could be the facility to plug a memory card/stick into the handset that you could load comet/asteroid elements on.

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I think people would be happy to flash the handset weekly for new data, I would. It's a pretty easy job once you have a serial-USB adapter (and they could easily address that issue in the next version anyway).

James

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I think people would be happy to flash the handset weekly for new data, I would. It's a pretty easy job once you have a serial-USB adapter (and they could easily address that issue in the next version anyway).

James

I've only done it the once to upgrade my brand new handset to the current version.

It was easy and worked first time but I have read quite a lot of posts from people who it didn't go well for.

I'd be happy to flash the ROM for important new comets. I'm not holding my breath though. Updates would have to be timely to be of much use.

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