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Xanthomaniac

Sky Safari Pro 4 on Macbook Pro to Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro

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G'day y'all, 

 

I am trying to connect Sky Safari Pro 4.4  to a Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro mount by 1. direct USB connection from Macbook Pro 13 retina (late 2013).

 

My equipment comprises...

Seeing with: Skywatcher Quattro CF 200mm reflector; Orion 80mm f4 Short Tube; Swarovski CL Companion 8 x 30

Mounted upon: Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro; guided by: Synscan, Orion StarSeek WiFi or EQmac, Sky Safari 5 pro; stabilized with: Orion Starshoot Autoguider/PHD2

Capturing with: Canon 1D-X, Canon 5D mk III; through: T-ring adapter on scope or EF 600mm f4L +1.4x(800mm)/2.0x (1200mm) ext.

 

Laptop and Operating system:

Macbook Pro 13inch Retina Late 2013

Mac OSX El Capitan 10.11.15

 

Software:

EQMac version 2.0.0 beta 3

PHD2 version 2.6.1

Sky Safari Pro 4 for OSX version 4.4

 

SynScan EQ computer: Version 03.28

 

Wiring:

Macbook Pro: 2 x USB ports connected as follows 

USB port 1: Orion StarShoot Autoguider (SSAG) with Orion supplied USB cable; 

USB port 2: Direct connection to Skywatcher SynScan DB9 RS232 port on NEQ6 Pro with purchased Shoestring USB2EQ' cable 

Orion SSAG auto guider connected to auto guider port on NEQ6 Pro.

 

Results:

EQMac appears to connect to and operate the mount correctly.

PHD2 reports a successful connection. Guiding was not tested as this was done during daylight.

Sky Safari 4 Pro does not connect. 

Note: I previously have tried to use Sky Safari Pro 4 on an iPad to the mount through an Orion StarSeek WiFi module connected to the mount’s SynScan hand controller. I was able to slew the mount using the soft buttons on the Sky Safari scope control display but the displayed position of the scope icon moved in the opposite direction. I disconnected the WiFi module and dispensed with the iPad method.

 

I've attached a number of MBP  screenshots below referenced as follows:

EQMac settings (connected successfully): Image 1 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.44.16.png

PHD2 (connected successfully): Image 2 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.47.04.png

Sky Safari (not connecting): Image 3 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.55.13.png

Choices for Scope Type are: Images 4 and 5 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.48.34.pngScreenshot 2016-05-29 21.48.55.png

Choices for Mount Type are: Image 6 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.49.12.png

Choices for 'Connection' are: Image 7 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.49.26.png

The error that appears when connecting is: Image 8 of 8 attached

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.55.13.png

Any assistance in choosing the correct settings for Sky Safari Pro for both the direct connection to the Macbook pro as well as some help with the iPad-to-Orion Starseek WiFi setup would be greatly appreciated.

 

Apologies for the monster-sized screenshots

 

Pete

 

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.47.54.png

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.47.54.png

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Presume you have nothing else connected to the mount when trying to get SkySafari to connect? 2x pieces of software can't use the same USB device simultaneously...

EDIT: Above statement is valid, and partially cause of problems, but read-on!

Edited by Marci

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[EDIT: read next post too before trying anything!]

And that SkySafari error is for incoming connections: untick 'accept remote connections on...' as that's what is causing that particular error, then see if it connects to and can control the mount succesfully. 

Once that's established, you can retick, then vary the port number to see if that's the cause (port already in use), and try your actual LAN IP address rather than local loop back IP address. 

Running netstat -l -n from command line / terminal will show you tcp ports already in use, which you should therefore avoid as the SkySafari remote control port.

Edited by Marci

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A screenshot of the stellarium tab in eqmac would be useful... this is probably what's consuming port 4030. If so, run EQmac, then in SkySafari set connection to wifi/Ethernet, with IP as 127.0.0.1 and port 4030. SkySafari then connects to EQMac's stellarium socket, and EQMac acts as middleman between SkySafari and the scope (this solving 2x devices trying to access same USB device).

now, retick remote connections in SkySafari. Remember, port 4030 in use by eqmac, so set it to 4032 in SkySafari.

in SkySafari on iPad, connect to the IP of the MacBook on port 4032. You can now remote control SkySafari on MacBook from the iPad. SS on MacBook forwards commands to eqmac which forwards them on to the scope via USB direct connection.

EDIT: See further down - I made an incorrect assumption about content of EQMac's Stellarium tab...

Edited by Marci

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Thanks very much for your reply Marci,

Here is the screenshot of the EQMac Stellarium tab...

Screenshot 2016-05-30 20.09.26.png

Apologies for the size.

I'll implement all you have suggested and report on my experiences.

Cheers,

Pete.

 

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(Am just installing EQMac now to experiment rather than guessing on what it's doing...)

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OK - got it... wrong way round!

Close everything completely. In this order:

Open SkySafari. Establish direct serial connection to scope. Tick 'Accept Remote Control Connections On'... set IP Address to 127.0.0.1, port to 4045. (SkySafari is now listening on port 4045)

Open EQMac, head to preferences, connection tab. Connection Type: TCP/IP, address 127.0.0.1, Port 4045. EQ Mac now talks to SkySafari on port 4045, and SkySafari forwards communications out to the serial/USB connection.

Fire up PHD2, and set it as you already had it (PHD2 talks to EQMac, which talks to SkySafari, which talks to the scope).

Now on iPad, set up SkySafari to connect to your Macbook's IP Address on port 4045. iPad now talks to SkySafari on Macbook, which passes on to the scope.

 

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OK... Thank you so so much!... I'm in the shed setting up the mount to live test... following your instructions.

Pete.

 

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Screenshot 2016-05-30 20.45.09.png

This is the result... I have guessed what type of scope and mount I'm running... please see my first post. Are my choices correct?

Pete.

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Try Scope Type: Skywatcher SynScan (up 2 in the list from what you're currently on)

Edited by Marci

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Just to confirm, you're going from USB socket  on Macbook to socket on the base of the SynScan handset, yes?

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Opening EQMac and setting connection type to TC/PIP 127.0.0.1:4045 resulted in loss of connection to the scope.

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It will do - until SkySafari can connect successfully to the scope, nothing else will successfully connect via SkySafari.

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No... Using USB2EQ cable direct to Synscan port on scope. EQMac operates correctly and recognises the cable.

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Ah. Different languages. SkySafari talks the HandController's language (LX200-ish protocol) and the hand controller converts that to the scope's language (basically). It doesn't speak the correct language to talk direct to the scope via USB2EQ cable.

In short: you won't be able to use SkySafari with much success that I'm aware of - those that have done so appear to gone via EQMODLX > EQMOD > ASCOM to translate the two languages, but that means running a Windows VM just to handle the ASCOM side of things.

Edited by Marci

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You have an alternative - hook up the StarSeek WiFi to the mount. Disconnect the USB2EQ.

Get SkySafari on Macbook talking to the StarSeek WiFi - set scope type to Skywatcher Synscan, uptick "Allow Remote Connection", then set connection to WiFi/Ethernet, IP address & Port - whatever is needed by the StarSeek Wifi. Over in EQMac, set all that up to do the same - talk direct to the StarSeek WiFi using TCP/IP connection with the Starseek's Wifi details.

From what I'm reading it _looks_ like the StarSeek WiFi can translate ClassicLX200-esque protocols to mount-direct without needing handset in between.

Edited by Marci

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Okay... I'll see if I can contact the Sky Safari people as well as OZDave, who is the creator of EQMac. From what I understand, EQMac was written to be compatible with a number of planetarium softwares, especially Sky Safari. I need to find out what the scope and mount types are that equate to the Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro... I'm pretty certain that the 'Equatorial (German) is the correct type. Maybe there is a driver required. 

For the moment, I've connected Stellarium through EQMac. The reticule appears on the screen and moves when I move the scope manually using EQMac's controls. I have to learn how to choose and slew to objects with Stellarium to see if it will control the mount.

My sincere thanks for all your help, Marci. I'll let you know how I go.

Pete. 

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OK... I've connected the scope as follows:

Macbook Pro USB port 1 of 2 connected directly to Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro mount's DB9 RS232 port (after disconnecting SynScan 3.28 computer).

Started EQMac on computer. Settings as follows

Screenshot 2016-05-29 21.44.16.png

Screenshot 2016-05-30 22.27.45.png

I click on 'Configure Stellarium' button at the bottom of the screen and then open the Stellarium program

I open up the configuration tab and select 'Plugins', then select 'Telescope Control'. I click to place a tick in the 'Load at startup' checkbox.

I click on the 'Configure' button

The following items appear:

Screenshot 2016-05-30 22.32.39.png

The program reports the scope as connected.

This all now operates correctly. Slewing to a number of objects... Canopus then Jupiter then HD99685 (then park using EQMac) and it seems to point in the correct part of the sky. The reticule also points close to the objects requested. Next steps are to see how accurate it is after setting it all up outside on the next clear night. The next six nights are going to be no good. 

I need to find out what settings I need to use for Sky Safari 4.4 and if I need any drivers for the NEQ6 Pro mount.

Anyone out there have any experience with this ?

Cheers.

Pete

 

 

 

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Looks like I'm somewhat late to this party. Hope I can help.

Reading history I think you've been trying things the wrong way round. There is a path you can take to get this to work though.

First put Eqmac in serial port port and have it connect to the mount. Make sure this works. I think you had this working ok. This is how Eqmac was intended to operate.

Next you need to configure sky safari to connect to Eqmac via tcp/wifi. Tell sky safari it is an LX200 mount. Use IP 127.0.0.1 and port 4030.

Sky safari should connect and if you configure the other telescope settings, should display the mount location and track it. Furthermore you should be able to control things through sky safari and point and click on stars to slew to them.

Give this setup a shot and let me know how you go. This setup works for me and I think maybe is described in the Eqmac site in documentation. Been a while since I looked though so I could be mistaken.

Regards

David

 

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Indeed, Dave... Welcome! Thanks for joining in. We've been having a ball with this! I've just come up from the shed to have some dinner, so I'll be back down there to test this all out in a couple of hours to test it.

There are a couple of choices as to the scope type under the LX200's... Classic and GPS. I expect the choice will be Classic.

Now... if we're talking an LX200, does this mean that the mount type would be an alt-az goto ? I tested Sky Safari with the Orion Wifi unit... My settings were: Scope: Synscan controller and mount German equatorial. This combination seemed to work.

I'll post my results here.

Cheers,

Pete

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Yes, LX200 Classic should be fine. The type of mount should still be set to German Equatorial though.

Basically what we are doing is this:

EQMac controls the actual mount directly via the shoestring cable using the native Skywatcher serial protocol.

EQMac presents an LX200 protocol emulation layer via the TCP/WIFI interface so that other software (such as Sky Safari) can connect and learn positioning or exert control. It listens on TCP port 4030 for incoming connections. As an aside, this is totally separate from the Stellarium support, which uses a different set of ports. However, I don't recommend anyone use the Stellarium integration, as frankly it's a bit rubbish. The Stellarium protocol just isn't very good, unlike the actual Stellarium product itself which is pretty nice. I prefer Sky Safari myself though. 

So....by telling Sky Safari to connect to port 4030, and that it has to control a German EQ LX200, Sky Safari will send LX200 protocol commands via the network to EQMac. EQMac will receive those in its emulation layer, and translate them into native commands. If you go down the route of telling Sky Safari that its an Alt-Az mount, it's going to get horribly confused because positioning an Alt-Az mount is mathematically different than positioning an EQ mount. Not to mention that EQMac will be expecting Equatorial coordinates for positioning.

Anyway, I hope that clarifies what this setup is doing and why it should work. Looking forward to hearing your results.

David

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G'day Dave,

Ok... Looks like its working now... except for my last test, slew to a star out near the celestial equator to see how the software tracks the object... selected star is Altair and starting position was the park position. Results are as shown in the Sky Safari screenshot attached. Looking at the mount, it is physically pointing to where indicated (just above and a bit to the left of SCP.

Screenshot 2016-05-31 23.26.54.png

The scope stopped there, but the scope control window showed 'stop' indicating that it hadn't 'finished'. I selected a new target (Atria) to which it went without error; then Altair, which the mount now slewed to, albeit somewhat off centre and the scope control panel still showed 'stop' indicating that it had not yet completed its track to the target.

Screenshot 2016-05-31 23.37.58.png

It sat there for about 3 or 4 minutes, making 'small noises' as if it were tracking, but then the noises stopped. After a further 3 minutes, Sky Safari reported that it had lost the connection. I 'reconnected' Sky Safari but the mount remained silent. I clicked 'GoTo' and the mount sprang to life, slewing to Altair, displayed 'GoTo' indicating that it had completed its track and began tracking the star as it should.

Do any of the adjustments within either EQMac or Sky Safari need to be changed?... is the fast slew rate too fast?

Thank you most sincerely, Dave, for your help.

Looks like I'm out in the cold now, to learn how to drift align!

Best regards,

Pete.

PS... How do I polar align with EQMac?... since we don't have Polaris down here (lol)

OooRoo!

Edited by Xanthomaniac

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Great, glad that you got it working.

You will find that the slews will be off target until you perform a Star Alignment (with EQMac, not the handset). Just like if you use the handset by itself. As for why it stopped short of your target that time, I guess that's maybe a bug of some sort somewhere. If it repeats itself, let me know and I can try to track it down some time.

To do a star alignment, you slew to a star, centre it accurately in your eyepiece, then you tell EQMac to Sync. There is a Star Alignment window in EQMac that will show you all the stars you have synced so far. It is important to execute the Sync from the same place that you issued the Slew. So if you slewed using Sky Safari, you should also use Sky Safari to send the Sync command. On the other hand, if you used the built-in mini-map in EQMac to slew, there is a Sync button there you can use once you are centered. I tend to use this latter method myself and I generally Sync one star near my intended target since I only really do astrophotography and not visual stuff. You can however, Sync multiple stars all over the sky and EQMac will use those to move accurately to your slew targets. Or at least that is the theory.... I'll be interested to hear if that works for you.

Regards,

David

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Thanks Dave, for your further comments, please note that I was editing the last post when you answered, so you may have to refresh to see the remainder.

I have been 'watching' the mount tracking the star and every so often (three times total so far, recovered by pressing 'GoTo' to re-select the star), the tracking just stops. In one instance, the display showed a point below the horizon as it stopped.

I'm going to head back inside now, and revisit this tomorrow.

Thanks again,

Pete.

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