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tekkydave

Arduino Ascom focuser Mark2

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On ‎04‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 17:13, celkins said:

An absolute position focused can never go negative - what does it mean to be further in than "all the way in" (i.e. at zero) ?

You really should start fully wound in, and then track out to focus under software control, so that it knows your real position, not just some arbitrary starting point, as would be the case with a "relative position only" focuser...

 

Clear skies,

 Carl

Makes sense now I put my thinking head on.

Only small problem with it is that due to how I have it mounted if I start with focuser racked in, the stepper moves in the wrong way (ie increase steps moves the focuser in and decrease steps moves the focuser out)

Have looked to see if there is a reverse focuser under the AF2 software, but cannot see one.

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I haven't contributed to this discussion before - I've simply built four of these wonderful focusers and enjoyed using them enormously. Until now.

Now, none of them work. Mostly. Oddly, occasionally, driven by BackyardEOS, the one on my Celestron 1100EdgeHD works for about 30 seconds, then bombs and is no longer recognised by the software, even though Win10 recognises the port. If I run an ASCOM diagnostic, it says that I'm trying to run a 32 bit driver on a 64 bit system, but I'm not convinced that's the answer. I should add that I have the same problem with all three Win10 computers I use for astro imaging.

Has anyone else experienced this, or is it just me?

I did connect one focuser up and run the programmer loaded with 'Blink' just to see if it worked. It did, blinking away just fine, so it's not simply the combination of Win10 and Arduino Nano. The obvious conclusion is that some recent update to Win10 clashes with the Focuser code, but I would have though that there'd be a raft of panic posts by now.

Any help would greeted by ecstatic sighs of relief!

Pete

 

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Hi Pete and welcome to SGL, i've built a couple of these but not tried them on Win10, only XP and Win 8.1.

I used the same setup on 32bit and 64bit as far as I can remember.

Do they work using the AAF2 utility ?

Dave

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Ah, should have mentioned that. The AAF2 utility crashes out with a long and obscure error message, lots of mentions of ASCOM problems and more.

This really was an overnight development. All worked fine for ages, then suddenly it didn't. It does feel like some update screwed it, but I don't know what.

As I implied, I'm sure this isn't a hardware problem. But Win10 and ASCOM have updated quite a bit since I built them, and it does seem that the problem lies somewhere in that great morass of code.

I do think you created a very cool and remarkably straightforward project there and I've shown it off to many friends (I'm the Deputy Chair of the Bristol Astronomical Society - translates as gopher/class clown).

I really hope you can work some magic! Again!

Pete

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As you say probably one of Win10s helpful updates, I tend to keep my imaging laptops away from updates once everything is working as I like which is why my obsy is still running on Win XP Pro :grin:

No consolation to you I know.

Don't know if it's any help but you can run the ASCOM profile explorer and diagnostic to see if it highlights any problems.

Dave

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Thanks, Dave. And eek! I don't think I've had a machine running XP since sometime last century. Trouble is, I also use the Astroshack (!!!) machine for processing and most apps won't work right under anything without a 10 at the end of it. I am doomed.

I did try the ASCOM Profile explorer and diagnostic before I posted here, and when it came to look at the focuser it reported that it was trying to run a 32 bit driver on a 64 bit system - contact the manufacturer. That really helped. Trying to run the AAF2 program in XP compatibility mode didn't help either.

Thanks, too, Rich. No, I can't pinpoint when it happened. I let updates install automatically (lazy, I know). Also my scope is a nice and stable platform. I usually run it with a modded Canon 650d and a flip mirror. Once focused, I lock the mirror (two mirror locks on the EdgeHD!), and it hold focus really well from day to day. Also lazy, but when you look at it and it looks pin sharp, you don't want to screw with it.

A concern, though, is that if I found the potentially problematic update and removed it, what might then go wrong?

It feels like it's actually something really trivial that's getting in the way - trivial, but not obvious. The fact that you can push 'Blink' onto the Nano means that it's probably not the Arduino programmer. But both Win10 and the ASCOM platform have been updated quite a bit since this came out, and a change in either could be the cause.

I'm a bit surprised that this hasn't happened before to someone. Am I the only one running an up-to-date system to drive it? Does this mean that Microsoft have singled me out for pain? (Highly likely - I'm writing this on a Macbook - they can't see me, heh, heh.)

Still hoping for a miracle...

Pete

 

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Sorry you're having issues. It's the Ascom Driver causing the issues I think, not the Arduino code. I have tried creating a driver for 64 bit but can never get it to compile on my Win7 64-bit VM which is all I have to work on. If anyone with the right knowledge to do this can fork the project on SourceForge and recompile for Win10 I would appreciate.

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Mine runs on this OK, maybe a Win 10 thing.

Dave

59146e9930116_Winsystem.PNG.aff7123af08da6fa253485571f6f9404.PNG

 

 

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Hi again, Dave,

I can now clarify a little. If I run ASCOM Diagnostics and treat the AAF2 driver as a 32 bit driver, the diagnostic reports that all is well, pulling in data from the Nano. But back in the real world, I can see no way of telling Windows to accept the driver, and it is rejected with a long ASCOM error message about 32 bit drivers.

From the ASCOM site comes this little gem:

"Running on a 64-bit Windows operating system does not mean all applications and ASCOM drivers are 64-bit. Virtually all astronomy applications run under the 32-bit subsystem, and use 32-bit drivers. They are unaware that they are running on a 64-bit system. This is a technical miracle from Microsoft.........Thus, if your driver is 32-bit, that will probably be sufficient for now and into the near future."

Apparently we are now beyond the near future, and it seems that my problem won't be resolved without a 64 bit driver, and I wouldn't know where to start!

I can't even say when the change occurred, so as to track the Win10 update that screwed it. My main thrust for the past few months has been adapting my scope and imaging gear to be entirely wireless. I can now sit in what I pathetically call my "Astroshack" (far end of the extension alongside the downstairs loo) in the warm, and control every aspect of my scope and camera using a laptop and an iPad. Well, every aspect except the focuser.  Not a cable in sight.

My aim is to let people see what imaging is like at star parties, along with basic processing. I want to encourage more of our members to try by showing them how easy it is. The AAF2 focuser was a perfect part of this, especialy since we have some members who dabble in electronics.

I'll have to cross my fingers that a keen programmer-type chips in and offers to write a 64 bit driver - I don't think there's any way round it.

Ah, well...

Thanks anyway for a great project,

Pete

 

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I use  w10 with aaf2 and get problems but if i use it as poth hub in sgpro no problems,

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I'll look into developing a 64 bit driver. It may take a while as I don't have Win10 environments to develop and test with. I have been developing in Win7 64-bit Virtualbox VMs with Visual Studio 12. It may be that the limitation is with the Ascom environment or development templates.

Please also be mindful that this project is a hobbyist endeavor intended to get people developing their own solutions based upon it. If it was a commercial offering it wouldn't be on SGL for free as I would be selling kits and offering full support. If you are using this in a commercial environment and depend on it in some way then consider using a commercial product instead.

Edited by tekkydave

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It may be something that MS have ditched, they tend to do away with stuff they think nobody uses any more as they seem to think it's not being used as everybody is / should be using the latest stuff.

They add megabytes to the OS and leave out something that took up a few kbs

Adhoc network being a case in point that they left out of Win 10, probably on some feeble security issue excuse :grin:

Dave

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Have you tried a System Restore back to when things were working?  That has worked many times in the past for me but I haven't got Win 10 (except on a mini-PC box which I can't get to work and have put out of the way!).

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I'm surprised MS haven't done away with System Restore, I'm sure some things don't get restored or it comes up with a message that it didn't work.

They don't want you removing their updates :grin:

Dave

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Dave,

I just want to reassure you that I am just an amateur bumbling around in an amateur way. I do appear on local radio and TV and other places to talk about astronomy, but in my position as the Deputy Chairman of the Bristol Astronomical Society. Sadly, I don't get even a penny for it, but it is nice when someone comes up and tells me that they heard me the other day, etc.

The Society is a registered charity (you can look us up) and our stated mission is to inform and educate about astronomy both by regular meetings and by outreach. We meet over forty times a year, and run twenty or so star parties a year.

My worry is that our average membership is aging, and we are not good at encouraging younger people to join. My personal feeling is that in the age of the computer, the mobile phone, Skype and Facetime, would-be astronomers need to see that they don't need to freeze their n**s off to see anything. At a star party, I let people look through an eyepiece first then see how much more exciting it can be to do even simple imaging, and that it can be done very cheaply with modern tech. (I push Celestron Sky Portal as a sky atlas because it's free, and can aslo be used for control of C's wifi scopes. One radio presenter downloaded it while the next track was playing then couldn't stop waving it around and looking at it for the rest of the programme!)

I think astronomy should be fun, and I do get a lot of pleasure out of projects like this (mounting the focuser on different scopes is an interesting challenge - I've gone for articulating the motor with spring tensioning for a consistent drive). Curse evil Microsoft for messing with it! And that a curse from a very old Yorkshireman, so they'd better listen!

Sorry, I'll stop ranting...

Pete

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Thanks for the link. Sadly I know what  you mean about dwindling memberships. A movie-making club my father is a lifetime member of is on the brink of winding up as they are unable to attract younger members.

I have sort-of lost interest in astronomy and spend most of my time & money on 3D printers these days. I doubt if the focuser will get any future development or support as I have no personal use for it at the moment.

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Ah, it's the way of the world.

3D printers? Cool! Sadly, my lovely wife has made it plain that a 3D printer would be a gadget too far. Sigh...

However, redtail's mention of a POTH hub got me excited (yes, that's all it takes these days). I ran to my astro laptop and tried it and it ran the AAF2 with no problem.

The secret to my wireless system is a Pipo 8.9" Win10 wedge tablet - tons of connectivity and a 1900x1200 touch screen. I'm currently using it with BackyardEOS, but I see no reason why POTH won't go alongside it and run the focuser.

I'll try it out this weekend (it's the Society meeting tonight, one of my, er, less favourite speakers - can't win 'em all), and if it's fine, it'll be live!

Wheeeeeeeee!

My thanks to you and everybody for help and comments - I should have called by sooner!

Pete

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There are dozens of things you can make for the house with a 3D printer - I even have a pretty blue 3D printed toilet roll holder to match the bathroom colour scheme :D

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my son has bought a 3d printer and as yet he has made loads of parts to upgrade the printer and yet to make something worth while. albeit he has made a dual finderscope bracket for me. all well he is a robotics engineer and this is something for him to play with..... he, well his company makes turbine blades for jet engines. So god help us.... I am amazed how technology has come along. I worked for a company that made raw materials for extruding products lankro chemicals now harcross chemicals how cheap these fun machines are.. now available to the masses

anyway now back on topic,

I will follow this thread from the beginning as I want to do an arduino focuser for my 150pds any quick recommendations on nema motor preferences as I have access to an arduino uno and drv8825 or a nano I have lying around. I currently have a rpi3 (indi) plus astroeq  and now want focuser control. all help greatly appreciated

cheers

andy

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This is all very well, but will someone please tell my wife why a 3D printer is a good idea and where I can stick it so it won't be seen as clutter. Hmm. Could have phrased that better.

Sigh...

Pete

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I can't offer any suggestions as to where to put it without knowing your house but as for appearance, you could make a nice wooden enclosure for it that looks like a cupboard or cabinet if you're any good at carpentry.  Or buy something...

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17 hours ago, tekkydave said:

I have sort-of lost interest in astronomy and spend most of my time & money on 3D printers these days. I doubt if the focuser will get any future development or support as I have no personal use for it at the moment.

Dave, so sorry to hear this.  But I think it's all too true across the board.

While we think of astronomy as a sort of specialised photographer's club, then this will continue to happen.

I wanted to do a master's degree in Astronomy at a local university, but I don't really have the time, or even, if I'm honest, the money.

However, I am building my own personal Master's course from freely available slides off the internet.  Many university lecturers just publish them.  So as it's the subject matter that interests me and not the letters after my name, this is what I'm doing.

Good luck with the 3D printers.  Post brexit, I think we'll all be building micro-engineering shops, just like the micro-breweries of ten years ago competed successfully with the big established names!!!

Regards,

Steve.

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