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wornish

PHD2 make your own stars

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I am having lots of issues getting PHD2.6.2 to calibrate and guide reliably. So I hope this might be useful to others trying to get similar combination  to work.

I am running PHD2.6.2 on my laptop with Windows 10 and the camera is the Toupcam GCMOS01200MB guide cam from FLO.

The camera works fine with no issues using Sharpcap when the camera selected as the GCMOS01200MB and I can focus and see stars fine and record short avi's of the moon etc.

But Guiding is not so easy. 

I have so far only been able to get calibration to work once out of 5 nights trying. I have come to the conclusion that PHD2 needs a really clear star field to work with this camera slightest cloud cover and you have issues.

So today I thought I would create my own stars by using some battery powered christmas tree led lights attached to a tree trunk at the end of my garden and then I would be able to sort the issues in the warm indoors.

Finally, after a lot of permutations, I managed to get it to calibrate and begin tracking I found these settings to work using the on camera ST4 port connected direct to the az-eq6 guide port and the camera USB port connected to the laptop.

These are the only phd2 settings I could get to work

Connected devices                       Camera : Toupcam Astro

                                                   Mount:  Toupcam ST4  (Ascom)

Also if the windows laptop has been using ASCOM before then again PHD2 doesn't like it so I needed to restart windows before it would connect properly.

I know some people have used the Windows WDM option for the camera and this does work as a camera connection  but then the mount: "on camera" setting will just not connect so its no good for guiding.

Will give these settings another go next clear night to see if this has finally cracked it.

Does anyone use any other settings successfully?  

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I'm surprised it works. To calibrate, PHD2 needs to move the mount west then east. To move east, the mount normally just lets the earth's rotation take over. But if you are guiding on a stationary target that does not work. Am I missing something?

Do you have a guide log from a failed calibration on a real star? 

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Hi. Try: lose the st4 cable, install eqmod and connect the Toupcam using usb only with wdm. Choose eq5/6 as the mount. It's best to test only on real stars I found. HTH.

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12 hours ago, kens said:

I'm surprised it works. To calibrate, PHD2 needs to move the mount west then east. To move east, the mount normally just lets the earth's rotation take over. But if you are guiding on a stationary target that does not work. Am I missing something?

Do you have a guide log from a failed calibration on a real star? 

I wondered why it didn't move East that explains it.   It was windy so the slight movement might be enough for it to work.  It actually started to do backlash nudges after trying to move east then went on to do North and South moves and then finally calibrated and started guiding.  The trend line was perfect as you would expect seen as how nothing is moving.  I don't have any logs of the failed real star calibrations but will give it another go next time.

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11 hours ago, alacant said:

Hi. Try: lose the st4 cable, install eqmod and connect the Toupcam using usb only with wdm. Choose eq5/6 as the mount. It's best to test only on real stars I found. HTH.

I did try that as well yesterday and it does work.  So are you saying on camera ST4 port guiding is problematic?

My only issue is that its yet another cable and USB port.  So my laptop will be maxed out with all three ports being used.  toupcam camera, mount and then dslr for taking the actual pics.

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6 minutes ago, wornish said:

ST4 port guiding is problematic?

Hi. No, it works, but has disadvantages. For example, each target you plan on imaging must be calibrated separately; a pain. With direct-non-st4 guiding you calibrate once and then forget about it. You can also do stuff like PEC. The number usb ports is the same but you no longer need the st4 cable. Fewer cables is always a good move when it's cold, dark and you're trying to work out why it's not working:) EQMOD maybe a good move all around. It's easy to install and setup, especially with an eq6. HTH and good luck.  

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