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DaveS

DaveS's Obsy Build Thread

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I know only too well how frustrating it is relying on other people!!!  You have my sympathy, Dave.

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I am now giving serious thought to automating both the main obsy and the mini imaging box I'm planning for the little platform.. ASA Sequence is designed for automatic / robotic imaging so has various functions for automating dome / shed opening, uncovering the telescope camera cooldown,  warm-up etc with warning exceptions.

Just a matter of interfacing these with the physical hardware. Unfortunately not being an engineer like @Gina or @JamesF I may have to throw money at the problem by purchasing ready made solutions. This rather grates against my sensibilities, but needs must.

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I might just be able to provide some expertise.

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Thanks Gina. I was going to bed when I saw your post so only had time for a "thanks".

Going to make a list of things that need to be either automated or remote controlled, probably through Sequence, which is designed for obsy automation even if it is a bit clunky. It can use ASCOM drivers, so that may be something to look into.

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Thinking about the things I need to automate / remote control.

 

Roof opening / closing. Sequence can schedule this within an imaging sequence. There are robotic roof opening / closing solutions but are terrifyingly expensive.

Telescope opening / closing. Again Sequence can schedule this, but I'm still looking for the relevant settings / ASCOM drivers.

Camera connection / cool down / warm up. Sequence schedules this and connects through Maxim DL so uses the Maxim camera control.

Autofocuser. Sequence has settings for this, and can use any ASCOM compliant focuser. Thinking of the Prima Luce labs Sesto Senso, mainly for its ease of fixing and that it contains all the driver electronics.

Dew control. This cannot be done through Sequence (I think) but the Hitecastro Mount Hub (Either Pro or Compact) has USB dew control. Plus power distribution.

Emergency stop etc. Sequence has connection for AAG cloudwatcher or other ASCOM compliant weather monitoring solutions. Roff closing needs the solution found above.

 

There may be others to consider.

All this is under Windows / ASCOM, so no Linux / KStars / Ekos / INDI solutions please. I use Cartes du Ciel, and the mount is controlled by the ASA Autoslew software which connects to Sequence.

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Oh, and I looked at the ASCOM developers' pages and it might as well have been written in Sumerian Cuneiform.

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I've struggled with ASCOM in the past!  Getting everything working together was a headache.  Good luck Dave.  Of course, things may have improved since then.  Should be plenty of people who can help though.  ASCOM is an open source thing so plenty of support.

Developing any system to a set of specifications is complicated.  I've worked with many such systems.  You need to be a programmer!

Edited by Gina
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Unfortunately the only coding I did was 35 years ago, and that was only in BBC BASIC, C++ etc is a whole different way of thinking. Mind you I did write a FFT spectrum analysis suite (Capture / analysis / display) in BBC BASIC from a FORTRAN model and the FFT equations.

Given my background I think it's likely I will have to throw money at the problem with buying ready-made solutions. I don't like this mut may be forced down this road.

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20191227_153338.thumb.jpg.784c434aa37c18e9fb0a758bd0a24a36.jpg

Preliminary sketch. Sorry it's not CAD, as I'm finding Sketchup cantankerous and unintuitive, the other CAD packages are worse.

 

 

Edited by DaveS
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Dave, I'm an analogue old fart so your actual drawing on actual paper works for me.

Now, was this standard HB encased in wood or are you a cool cat who uses a mechanical propelling pencil? The world needs to know.

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Haha, the original drawing was with an HB pencil sharpened with a knife, but I thought it wouldn't photograph with sufficient definition, so went over it with ball-pen. Was tricky to get it reasonably square on  my 'phone, which was the only camera I had with the 4;3 ratio I needed. It was actually drawn on some mounting board I had left over from framing some photographs.

Edit: The interior details are still in HB pencil.

Edited by DaveS

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A problem Bill Shakespeare had when deciding which pencil to write his sonnets with, work it out 😂

Dave

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The devil is in the detail. Thanks for clearing up the specifics😉

I visit another forum where certain members get very exited about pencils. There is a thread dedicated to them.

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Not done much today, just put the big vac (Used for dust extraction) over the garage floor to clean up all the sawdust from my cutting, and the bloke who did the new garage doors.

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My back has been causing me problems for a couple of days now (Got an appointment for the 8th) so all I've done is another ye olde analogue drawing of the North Elevation at 1:10, and with more detail.

20200103_122231.thumb.jpg.bfeab1ab703243463a067b92e123b9af.jpg

Don't try to scale from this, as it isn't quite square, but hopefully it'll show enough detail to make my ideas clear. TBH, I think I prefer this to CAD.

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Interesting thread. 

I have to say I'm sceptical of your plans for having sequence control everything. I find it very flimsy, with a nasty habit of crashing. So much so that I don't ever use it. Yes, it means I don't get the benefit of unguided runs, but the asa is doing better than I could ever imagine with my guided setup. 

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34 minutes ago, Datalord said:

Interesting thread. 

I have to say I'm sceptical of your plans for having sequence control everything. I find it very flimsy, with a nasty habit of crashing. So much so that I don't ever use it. Yes, it means I don't get the benefit of unguided runs, but the asa is doing better than I could ever imagine with my guided setup. 

 

Well, I know that Sequence can be (Is) graunchy and long in the tooth (Technically, according to ASA Support, it's still beta :eek:), however since ASA support helped me sort out the Unhandled Exception errors I was getting, (Due to a software bug) the only problems I've had have been elsewhere in the imaging / software chain. I've been able to set up a sequence, go away and watch Sequence start with a focus / synch plate solve, perform the MLPT and start the capture. I've also seen it carry out an entirely automatic meridian flip. re-synch and second MLPT without my intervention. It will also park the 'scope and warm up the camera if asked to.

Yes, there could well be problems ahead when I get a real autofocuser and roof control, but I've seen nothing yet (Famous last words) yet to suggest gotchas. Having examined Sequence I can see the various settings for this.

It is, after all supposedly written (Badly) for professional observatory automation.

Waiting (But not holding my breath) for ASA to release their supposedly platform independent software package.

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Maybe I should give it another go. I would love to be able to just automate all that, especially the focusing and warmup parts. I just had entire nights go to the bin because of random nonsense. 

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Well, you know more (A lot more lol) about IT than I do, so I'm not really in a position to advise. Has Rupert been able to shed light on the problems? I know they have a heap of ASA mounts at E-EyE (He described it as an ASA Farm).

Have you tried the ASA forum? Yes I know it's not very active but they will help if they can, as will ASA support, Wolfgang was very helpful in getting my Sequence problem sorted, even though he was in the middle of commissioning a 1 metre professional 'scope package.

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No, I haven't done either of those. I am pigheaded when it comes to software; I insist on getting through all the problems myself, so I can learn from them. And sometimes I just flip the table and go elsewhere... ☹️

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19 hours ago, Datalord said:

No, I haven't done either of those. I am pigheaded when it comes to software; I insist on getting through all the problems myself, so I can learn from them. And sometimes I just flip the table and go elsewhere... ☹️

OK, I've been giving this some thought. Hence the delay in replying.

As you're remote I'm thinking you have a lot more hardware to automate than I have ATM, but I will likely have a similar amount when my obsy and box are up and running, so I'm hoping you can point up things for me to watch out for.

Has there been a pattern to when Sequence falls over? I know you said it was random, but there must have been *something* causing Sequence to crash. In my case it turned out to be a bug in the Autofocuser routines that crashed if there wasn't *something* connected (Even though the "documentation", for want of a better word, suggested it would run without one). Adding the ASCOM focuser simulator cured the problem. What does the Program Log have to say?

Even before ASA had sorted the focuser problem I had been able to use Sequence to make the big pointing files, an Autopoint file using Autogrid to set up the grid of points for the pointing errors. I could also make MLPTs, though had to stop and do a manual flip if the run crossed the meridian. I don't have to do this now, as Sequence handles it automatically.

I do agree that Sequence can be fragile, no well written software should throw up "Unhandled Exceptions", it should be able to deal with the inevitable exceptions that happen from time to time.

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Well, there might be a pattern. If I recall correctly, the autofocus routine was one of the culprits, which is immensely frustrating since that is the absolute weak point in my setup right now. 

The second problem for me was that APT is simply so easy to use for all the platesolving, plans etc, that it was frustrating to go from that to this "professional" software. Still, with APT I haven't managed to get the autofocus routine to work with any kind of success. 

I have to mention that my focuser works perfectly, as long as I just use it manually. 

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What autofocuser are you using? I haven't got one yet, though I was considering the Sesto Senso as it looks a good all-in-one unit with a relatively simple attachment method. I note in passing that the Sequence autofocuser routine is what caused me all the problems originally.

With Maxim and PinPoint the only times I've had platesolving fail is when I neglected to update the parameters when changing the imaging configuration.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, DaveS said:

What autofocuser are you using? I haven't got one yet, though I was considering the Sesto Senso as it looks a good all-in-one unit with a relatively simple attachment method. I note in passing that the Sequence autofocuser routine is what caused me all the problems originally.

With Maxim and PinPoint the only times I've had platesolving fail is when I neglected to update the parameters when changing the imaging configuration.

I can only give my warmest endorsement of the sesto senso unit.. It just works...

The software that comes with it is also really easy to use to configure the focus speed, calibration, breaking and all those things.

Edited by jjosefsen
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