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KevS

Anybody Playing Tonight?

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30 minutes ago, JamesF said:

This genuinely is a problem, I think.  Not just for you, but for most people.  Computers and software are massively complex systems, yet the likes of astro-imagers need to be able to get them to work and debug them when they don't.  You don't expect to have to plug in to the EMU and diagnose the issue if your car starts misfiring on one cylinder or won't change out of "sport" mode, yet you're in the same ballpark.

It's really not easy.

To give Ekos/INDI it's due (and I am not in any way suggesting that you should consider changing to them :) it is very good at telling you what it's doing and what might have gone wrong when the inevitable happens.  Even then though, it does rely on the user understanding what they've been told and misunderstandings are all too easy, especially when words can have more than one meaning and the correct one is not obvious from the context.

James

Unfortunately I'm pretty well locked in to the ASA environment. The software that controls the mount, Autoslew, is pretty good with its own highly sensitive balance tool and PA routine, plus it can either make asky model on its own or take pointing errors from Sequence and construct a configuration that tells you how far your PA is out, and what cone error you have. The problems I'm having are all to do with the Sequence observatory automation control that *should* do everything from automatically constructing a sky model to running a local sky model for your imaging run. It *should* also be able to control your autofocuser, dome, and sequence your exposures, if needed for multiple targets.

It's the sequencing that's driving me crazy with Unhandled Exception Errors. Now I know there can be conflicts and exceptions, but the software should be robust enough to deal with them without crashing, It looks very much Beta, but I shouldn;'t be ina position of software beta tester.

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Are you really sure you want to be locked into the ASA environment?  Using "standard" gear has a lot of advantages.  What is so special about your ASA kit?  My quite considerable experience of buying equipment, both professional and amateur, is that proprietary systems are a real headache.  Spares are expensive and doing anything other than their designed way of working is nigh impossible.

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Using ASCOM compatible equipment means pretty much all the astronomy software supports it and works.  This applies to the KStars/Ekos/INDI software and Raspberry Pi as well and with standard kit it is easier to set up than the Windows collection of software.

I'm not having a go at the ASA system - just really interested in what it does that other stuff doesn't.

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Well, ASA direct drive mounts are rather wonderful, and built like tanks, with no reduction faff there's no backlash or periodic error to worry about, and with high resolution encoders (Incremental on the "entry level" DDM60,absolute on everything else) there's no need to guide, so no "star lost" nonsense. Using the all-sky model and a local model (Called MLPT) for the exposure run (Which takes less time than PHD2 takes to calibrate) I've seen max errors of 0.1" and RMS errors of 0.0" over a 2 hour run. The encoders have a resolution of 0.02" on both axes and update at 100 Hz so wind gusts are corrected before the stars have a chance to bloat.

Sequence can take any ASCOM accessory, eg autofocus, autoguider (Should you not want to use MLPT), dome automation etc, so not *totally* closed.

I just wish "Sequence" was as wonderful and robust as the hardware.

Edited by DaveS
A whole slew of typos
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Sound like a great mount - more of a professional piece of kit than amateur - must have been expensive.  TBH though with the best seeing in the UK of around 2 arc seconds I doubt you can make use of the high precision of this mount.  Personally I've found the EQ8 more than adequate.  I can see that with such a great mount, you would want to make the best of it and, indeed, the supplied software should work satisfactorily.  That would be expected!

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Wel, the "low end" (for ASA) mounts, the DDM 60 and 85 are comparable to the 10micron equivalents in price, but ASA have stopped making them as they're too low end :eek:. ASA are really in the professional observatory market, with whole systems up to the 2 metre class, with "If you have to ask how much" prices, or even no prices, will quote on order!

ASA Products page: https://www.astrosysteme.com/products

Edited by DaveS

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Yes, I looked on the ASA web page and found no prices.  I rather thought "If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it."  I'm sure that would apply to me  - the EQ8 cost an arm and a leg by my standards!!  Do you want to spill the beans and tell us how much you spent on the ASA mount?

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OK, in round figures, the DDM60 Pro was an ex-demo and cost me £6.3k. The list was just short of £7.9k. I have also just taken delivery of the last ever, ex-demo, DDM85 Basic (Basic ASA mount. Yeah, right) that, with an extended counterweight shaft, came in at a touch under £12k. I'm trying not to think of the hole it's put in my bank balance 😭.

But all this is using cash from my house sale for a "Once only forever" ultra-top end system including an OOUK ODK12 and Moravian 16200. Anything else I buy from now on will be fiddly bits.

He says 😆.

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49 minutes ago, Gina said:

Yes, I looked on the ASA web page and found no prices.  I rather thought "If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it."  I'm sure that would apply to me  - the EQ8 cost an arm and a leg by my standards!!  Do you want to spill the beans and tell us how much you spent on the ASA mount?

I found some prices, but suggest sitting down before looking :eek:.

https://www.astrosysteme.com/products/telescopes

The mounts are in a state of flux, the ones on the page are the latest iterations, so unlikely to be any prices yet. Rupert from Astrograph thinks the DDM100 will come in at around the old DDM85 mark, as it's been simplified.

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It simply doesn't apply to me - I'm nowhere near that price band.  Those are huge professional telescopes - in a totally different category!!

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Indeed they are, and don't apply to me either, just showing where their true market is. Those of us who do this for "fun" have only been catered for on sufferance. Just feel lucky to have been able to acquire a couple of their low-end offerings.

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Had a good night last night - shot relentless Ha and OIII subs of the Eastern Veil for 6 hours or so...can't wait to process...the unpredictable weather gets me doing silly things like shooting M31 and M33 with the moon in the sky and then shooting narrowband subs around the new moon...

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Oh and the best bit of the night was waking up at 5am to shoot my flats/pack up my gear and be greeted by...Orion The Hunter himself. Why hello there...

...he brought his friends the Hyades and Pleaides too...

...am I the only one who's heart soars when seeing Orion? I was transfixed for about 10 mins, but then it started getting cold...

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2 minutes ago, eshy76 said:

Oh and the best bit of the night was waking up at 5am to shoot my flats/pack up my gear and be greeted by...Orion The Hunter himself. Why hello there...

...he brought his friends the Hyades and Pleaides too...

...am I the only one who's heart soars when seeing Orion? I was transfixed for about 10 mins, but then it started getting cold...

Three weeks to the autumn equinox...

James

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I'm looking forward to Orion coming into view.  Hopefully I shall have my kit working by then!

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Thinking about what to image too (Phew! back on track, sort of, after getting into mount porn). My 130 with reducer and ASI1600 should do M42 / Running Man (Need to check), while the 80 with ASI183 for the Rosette. If it's up and running by then M1 might be interesting in the ODK12 / G3 16200, or just plain Dagenham (ie beyond Barking) in the Trius 694.

In the meantime, there is still Stephan and Deer to finish, and M33 might be interesting in the ODK.

Come Galaxy Season, and things could get hectic.

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While I wasn't out to play last night, as I was turning in I had a look outside and it was clear. Grabbed my fleece and went out to look, very clear with a nice detailed MW. Was debating whether to open up, even though I would have to wake myself up fully when I saw a bank of cloud coming from the south west, so went back in. Still happy to have had a short eyeball session.

I had a play with the camera earlier, and it looks to be playing ball, maybe a conflict in the connections between Sequence, Maxim and CduC. Did a trial run with Sequence, and as expected it crashed. However, looking at the sequence log file (Which I've only just discovered, D'oh) there looks like a problem with the readout mode, which the 694 doesn't have. May give me a way in.

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Lashing down an blowing a hooligan here; not a snowball's chance. Looking at CO think its in for the week. My fault bought a new guide scope.:clouds2:

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Rain predicted all afternoon here.  I don't think I've seen a single drop.  Clear sky at the moment, too, though it is quite breezy.  The forecast is for it to get cloudy again before astro darkness, but given the failure with the last twelve hours I shan't be taking that for granted.

James

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I was out again briefly last night when there was an unexpected clear slot. Did a quick run of Sequence using some pointers from ASA support. Got yet another, different Exception error.

Trying again tonight. I expect more errors, but now I know how to grab the whole of the error text to notepad.

Will then quickly move on to a real imaging run.

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Good luck with that Dave.  Almost complete cloud coverage here with a small gap around the moon.  I'm not expecting to do any imaging tonight.

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Thanks Gina

Barely daring to keep fingers crossed, but Sequence is working! Did the Focus Star and Synch exposure, then made the MLPT local pointing file, now making the exposures that I set up.

Unfortunately your cloud is heading in  my direction so may have to stop the sequence early, CO now showing orange until later now. Thursday looking better.

Still, cautiously happy that Sequence is working as it should.

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1 hour ago, DaveS said:

I was out again briefly last night when there was an unexpected clear slot. Did a quick run of Sequence using some pointers from ASA support. Got yet another, different Exception error.

Trying again tonight. I expect more errors, but now I know how to grab the whole of the error text to notepad.

Will then quickly move on to a real imaging run.

Good luck Dave, fingers crossed that you make significant and sustainable progress. Clear spells here tonight, but far too windy to image, so I’m giving it a pass tonight.

Geof

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Just been outside and looked at the sky - wall-to-wall solid cloud and windy.  CO doesn't agree with reality but it does forecast rain in the next hour or so which seems quite likely.  I shall not be imaging tonight.

Edited by Gina
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Looking promising up here, rain cleared a while ago, forecast looks for mostly clear, might give it a go

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