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rjc404

Finder Guider EQMod/CdC set up questions

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I've got totally the wrong scope and mount for DSO astrophotography but let's not worry about that as it's all I've got to play with for at least the next year anyway.

I've been dabbling with astrophotography though and have got a small number of DSOs unguided. If there isn't a breeze and I've taken time to polar align properly I've managed to get up to two minutes unguided.

I've recently invested in a Skywatcher 9x50 finderscope and a second hand modded Philips Toucam to see if I can get pulse guiding working.

So here are my questions.

I can successfully control my mount in PC Direct mode through Cartes du Ceil with a serial to USB cable. I can get PHD to recognise my Toucam and get it to focus on stars.

Now here's where I'm getting confused.

I do a three star alignment and sync using CdC and EQ Mod. I have the telescope connected to CdC. 

I then slew in CDC to my imaging target.

Now if I go back into PHD and try to connect the telescope it won't connect as CdC currently has control.

If I then close down CdC and connect the telescope in PHD will it then think the mount is back in the home position and lose all the three star alignment info from CdC? Or does the three star alignment not really matter once I've found my target as I'll be using a guide star for guiding?

This is really a beginners question as I'm trying to get to grips with my finderguider set up.

I just had it in my head that I could do the alignment in CdC then fire up PHD and drive the telescope from there. I didn't realise I couldn't have two aspects of the telescope driver open at once (PHD and CdC).

Thanks for any advice!

Rob

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Hi, You should be able to connect CDC and PHD to Eqmod at the same time, looks like you have a software problem somewhere.

Have you tried connecting to PHD first and then to CDC.

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Maybe a software problem. I'll try re-installing. I tried both ways last night opening PHD first and connecting to the mount (no problem) and then opening CDC and not being able to connect, and vice versa, opening CDC first and being able to connect and then not being able to connect from PHD.

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There is nothing wrong and you won't lose alignment. Only one program can have control of your mount at one time. Simply disconnect from CDC after a basic pointing and finding of your object of interest and connect using PHD and calibrate on a good star. Here's small trick for you. Very slightly defocus your finder/guide scope and PHD can lock onto stars and guide better. 

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Thanks, that makes me feel a bit better if that's how it's meant to work and saves me re-instaling everything. Thankfully there was a fair bit of high cloud about in my area last night so I didn't really miss much in terms of imaging but have hopefully got the set up sorted for a clear night now.

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I've got totally the wrong scope and mount for DSO astrophotography but let's not worry about that as it's all I've got to play with for at least the next year anyway.

I've been dabbling with astrophotography though and have got a small number of DSOs unguided. If there isn't a breeze and I've taken time to polar align properly I've managed to get up to two minutes unguided.

I've recently invested in a Skywatcher 9x50 finderscope and a second hand modded Philips Toucam to see if I can get pulse guiding working.

So here are my questions.

I can successfully control my mount in PC Direct mode through Cartes du Ceil with a serial to USB cable. I can get PHD to recognise my Toucam and get it to focus on stars.

Now here's where I'm getting confused.

I do a three star alignment and sync using CdC and EQ Mod. I have the telescope connected to CdC. 

I then slew in CDC to my imaging target.

Now if I go back into PHD and try to connect the telescope it won't connect as CdC currently has control.

If I then close down CdC and connect the telescope in PHD will it then think the mount is back in the home position and lose all the three star alignment info from CdC? Or does the three star alignment not really matter once I've found my target as I'll be using a guide star for guiding?

This is really a beginners question as I'm trying to get to grips with my finderguider set up.

I just had it in my head that I could do the alignment in CdC then fire up PHD and drive the telescope from there. I didn't realise I couldn't have two aspects of the telescope driver open at once (PHD and CdC).

Thanks for any advice!

Rob

Hi Rob,

As far as I know CdC has no guiding capability, PHD does. I am very interested in how you would resolve your  problem as I have the same interest in slewing the mount using CdC and EQMOD. At the moment I use the handset for alignment and PHD for guiding.

A.G

Edited by lensman57

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Thanks, that makes me feel a bit better if that's how it's meant to work and saves me re-instaling everything.

Sorry but that isn't how it works at all! So long as all your applications are set to use ASCOM, and they all have administer rights, then they all should be able to simultaneously connect to the EQMOD ASCOM driver which acts as a hub allowing them all access to the mount.

Chris

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Okay, I'm officially confused now :confused: 

To re-install or not re-install or should I just try opening everything as administrator?

If it wasn't so late i'd have another play now but I'll have do it when I get back from work tomorrow.

If I can get the ASCOM driver to run in the background allowing access to both PHD and CDC that would be great.

Thanks for all the responses.

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I did a little experiment before I went to bed using the ASCOM simulator mode. I changed all my settings first so everything runs as administrator. 

I was then able to connect to the mount in CDC and connect to the mount in PHD at the same time.

However, when I slew to a target in CDC the mount coordinates update (see telescope driver on the right in screenshot below) but the other mount connection stays rooted in home position (see telescope driver on the left in screenshot below).

In a perfect world, I'd guess the information on both aspects of the driver should be the same.

If this isn't the case it's not the end of the world. I can still align and find my target in CDC and then start guiding in PHD. It doesn't really matter where PHD thinks my mount is pointing I guess as it will just be concentrating on guiding on my selected star.

post-31280-0-53727100-1386748192_thumb.j

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Your problem is due to the fact you are gerting two instances of EQMOD. If things were working correctly both programs would connect to a single instance. Multiple instances is usually a result of different rights being assigned to the programs. Everything, CDC, PHD, and EQMOD needs to have there exe files set to run as administrator. It may be that a reinstall of the ASCOM platform, EQMOD, phd and CDC using an admistrator level user account will be the easiest way to resolve this.

Chris.

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Hi, sorry to hijack the thread ever so slightly, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Chris for the excellent video tutorials on YouTube covering loads about EQMOD stuff. I watched just one yesterday evening about setting mount limits and I learnt so much in general about how to use eqmod and cartes du ciel. The move to laptop and all this mega-complicated looking software was pretty daunting, but as the fog lifts and it all becomes apparent how to use it, it is a simply stunning suite of tools.

So, rjc404, don't despair, persevere as it really is worth getting it all sussed out.

I have cdc & eqmod running an heq5 mount. I then fire up PHD to guide using a qhy5-II with the st4 cable from camera to mount - it all works brilliantly.

What option do you use in the 'mount' menu of PHD? What camera are you using to guide with? How do you connect for guiding - from camera to mount - via st4 or from the laptop?

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Thanks, a re-install logged into my administrator account is only a few minutes work so I'll give that a try later on when I get home from work and see if that solves it.

For the record, my connections are:

mount to handset

handset to powered USB hub via a serial to USB connection

Philips Toucam to powered USB Hub

USB hub to laptop  via 10m active USB cable

At work at the moment but I select one of the webcam options in PHD (can't remember which one) and it picks up the Philips Toucam from that (no issues with this).

In CDC I select the Telescope control panel and EASCOM EQ mount and check its profile to make sure the right COM port is listed then connect.

In PHD I do the same and it then opens another instance of the driver.

As I said I'll try a re-install and report back tomorrow if that's worked or not.

Thanks for all the advice (and the pointers to the video tutorials which I'll give a whirl when I have a minute)

Rob

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That all looks as though it should work, so perhaps it is just a rights issue. The only area I can see that is different to my set-up is PHD to mount. I select 'on camera' in the 'mount' menu in PHD and have a cable from guide camera to st4 port on the mount. I suppose that is not possible with the Toucam.

Anyway, good luck, I hope you make progress with it this evening and I look forward to hearing that all is working perfectly very soon!

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Success! Thanks for all the advice. I didn't have to re-install I just went through all my .exe files for ASCOM, EQMOD, CDC and PHD and right clicked and opened the properties dialogue box for each of them and set them to run as administrator each time and that seems to have done the trick.

Just had a quick go and opened CDC and connected to the mount and then opened PHD and connected and it didn't open a new instance of the driver. When I slewed in CDC the RA and DEC information updated correctly and was still showing when I went into PHD. I even closed down CDC to check with PHD still open and the RA and DEC info from my slew in CDC still remained in the telescope driver window.

Now, if the fog doesn't roll in I'll get set up properly and find a target to get this equipment tested out.

Cheers

Rob

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And I beet the jinx of new equipment :grin:  Clouds cleared by about 10pm giving time for ample test slews and shots before packing up at midnight.

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Here's the result of my first test run of my finder guider system. Chose a nice easy target, Andromeda to get started.

post-31280-0-31991000-1388941443_thumb.j

About an hour and a quarter's worth of exposures, 6 x 5 minutes subs and the rest made of 3 min and 1 min subs with flats, darks and bias.

Also shot these at ISO 1600 instead of ISO 800. Probably flawed logic but I though as my scope is F8 I should try something to compensate.

I think the image is a bit less noisy than the other unguided attempt I've got in my gallery (though that was ISO800). Hopefully will get better at this as I get used to setting it all up!

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Here's the result of my first test run of my finder guider system. Chose a nice easy target, Andromeda to get started.

attachicon.gifm31 1600 i.jpg

About an hour and a quarter's worth of exposures, 6 x 5 minutes subs and the rest made of 3 min and 1 min subs with flats, darks and bias.

Also shot these at ISO 1600 instead of ISO 800. Probably flawed logic but I though as my scope is F8 I should try something to compensate.

I think the image is a bit less noisy than the other unguided attempt I've got in my gallery (though that was ISO800). Hopefully will get better at this as I get used to setting it all up!

Lovely image, much more detail there that could be extracted. I too am contemplating the use of CdC  and EQMOD with an EQ dir USB cable and bypassing the hand set all together, how did you get the PHD to guide? At the moment I am using GPUSB connected to the mount.

Regards,

A.G

Edited by lensman57

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Cheers (and you're right there probably is more that I could get out of stretching the original TIF file in Photoshop if I have time to go back).

Not sure this is what you want to know but guiding wise my set up is as follows:

Philips Toucam webcam as the guide cam in the back of a 9x50 finder which then plugs into a powered USB hub clipped to the bottom of my mount.

The mount is connected to the Skwatcher handset and then from the handset I've got a serial to USB cable running to the USB hub. My DSLR is also connected via USB cable to the hub.

Everything from the hub then runs through an 10m active USB cable to a warmer utility room by my back door where I keep the laptop when I'm doing this.

The handset is set to PCDIRECT mode in the Utility function menu.

Can then go into CDC and start aligning and syncing (must point out the laptop stays outside with me until everything is aligned and focused)

When I've got my target set up I just go into PHD and select the Philips Toucam as a windows web cam (can't remember what the exact option is but think it sounds like that) and then connect the mount, find a guide star and run through calibration and start guiding.

(I did have to play with the setting a bit on PHD to get my mount guiding though as calibration kept failing initially in RA then DEC but have sorted those now).

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Cheers (and you're right there probably is more that I could get out of stretching the original TIF file in Photoshop if I have time to go back).

Not sure this is what you want to know but guiding wise my set up is as follows:

Philips Toucam webcam as the guide cam in the back of a 9x50 finder which then plugs into a powered USB hub clipped to the bottom of my mount.

The mount is connected to the Skwatcher handset and then from the handset I've got a serial to USB cable running to the USB hub. My DSLR is also connected via USB cable to the hub.

Everything from the hub then runs through an 10m active USB cable to a warmer utility room by my back door where I keep the laptop when I'm doing this.

The handset is set to PCDIRECT mode in the Utility function menu.

Can then go into CDC and start aligning and syncing (must point out the laptop stays outside with me until everything is aligned and focused)

When I've got my target set up I just go into PHD and select the Philips Toucam as a windows web cam (can't remember what the exact option is but think it sounds like that) and then connect the mount, find a guide star and run through calibration and start guiding.

(I did have to play with the setting a bit on PHD to get my mount guiding though as calibration kept failing initially in RA then DEC but have sorted those now).

Many thanks for the detailed reply, I'd have to look into getting an active USB hub as i am running out of USB ports on my lap top.  Do you choose ascom for the mount option in PHD?

Regards,

A.G

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Yes, in PHD it's the EQMOD ASCOM EQ5/6 option when you click on the connect to telescope button

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Brilliant, well done Rob. Excellent pin sharp stars in your M31.

Worth checking out Alignmaster - really simple little program that makes polar alignment very easy.

Good luck AG, it's so well worth sussing guiding out. Many more levels of frustration to deal with, but when it works, it makes a huuuuuuge difference!

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Cheers I'll give Alignmaster a try as it's shareware and a freedownload to start with.

Do you really need an illuminated eyepiece to get it bang on though (as is recommended on its web page)? I might have to invest in one if you do.

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I use Drift Align in BackyardEOS, which displays live view from the camera and has a reticle overlay so you can perfectly centre the stars. Works a treat!

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