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Has anyone sucesfully used PHD2 and an EQM-35 Pro ....together....at the same time?


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Hi everyone,

     After a couple of year hiatus from the astroworld (due to foreign work commitments), I've finally gotten my astrostuff out of storage and also bought something more "portable" if I happen to be away from home for so long again. As the title implies I bought a new EQM-35 Pro, I've been really happy with it but I am unable to get it to guide with PHD2... I've pulled what little hair I have left on my head out and am now starting on my Beard...Has anyone gotten this mount to guide sucessfully? I've done everything I know to make it work but it is soooo erratic. I've adjusted the backlash (multiple times), scrapped out the Chinese goop and replaced it with good grease, adjusted the tension on both Axes but it still won't guide worth a d**n. I still have PHD reporting an almost 5 sec backlash in the Dec.Axis...the RA is ..ehhhh...Ok...acceptable...I've tried Hystorisis, Lowpass, PEC...ugghhhh, forget it...I've tried dozens of settings from so many different Websites, Blogs and Videos that my head is spinning...Unfortunatly all of it is for EQ 5 and 6...seems like nobody's tried the 35...If there is anyone out there that's been able to guide with the 35 and PHD2?  Please share your settings with me...I hate to think the mount is unguidable...

 

Overall, I'm quite pleased with it...I do mostly DSLR and Wide fieldish Lens AP. I use between  85mm and 300mm, sometimes a little more with my 1.4x Teleconverter.  I'm able to get (unguided) about 7 to 10 min Subs at 300mm (Single Camera) and up to 20 min at 85mm. With my Dual Rig about 6 to 7 min. at 300mm and about 12 to 15 at 85mm(with a really good PA). So it's pretty good..I guess I'm used to my EQ 6 with the Rowan Mod, top notch German INA Roller Bearings, Vimech Wedge etc...maybe I'm expecting to much... I'd like to be able to push my Dual Rig to about 15 to 20 min. subs if possible. I tend to shoot at or close to the ISO Invarient points of my DSLR's (ISO 200 of the 1000D's and 400 for the 450's) so I try to haul out as many seconds as possible per sub.

 

Anyway, hopefully someone has been able to do it and will share the Secret Code with me... I have my Decoder Ring ready....

 

Have a great day and thanks...

Rick

 

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The PHD2 site has  many links to instructions and fault finding, but few people go there, instead they look at random videos on YouTube.......... https://github.com/OpenPHDGuiding/phd2/wiki/EQASC

I don't know whether the mount has it or not, but if it does turn it off, and in EQMOD. Run the Guiding Assistant in PHD2, that will generate a Backlash setting, or  will suggest One Direction De

Hi Rick Are you using EQMOD or are you ST4 Guiding? What guidecam are you using? Have you switched off Dec Backlash in the mount, as it conflicts with PHD2 ? Does the mount have a

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Hi Rick

Are you using EQMOD or are you ST4 Guiding?

What guidecam are you using?

Have you switched off Dec Backlash in the mount, as it conflicts with PHD2 ?

Does the mount have a low Periodic Error in RA, does it have PEC, have you trained it ?

Post a PHD2 Guidelog that includes a Calibration.

Michael

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Hi Michael,

I'm using EQMOD and a Orion Starshoot as a guide Camera on a 9x50 Guide scope.

I wasn't aware you could turn off Dec. backlash in the mount it's self...Is that a setting somewhere in the Handcontroller (I don't use it because I connect directly) or do you mean the setting in EQMOD?

Generally I'm pleased with the RA Tracking, I haven't trained PEC yet because the Dec. is so uncontrollable that it didn't seem to be worth it untill I had some degree of consistant control over it.

It'll be a few days before I have clear skies again to test it but I'll make a log of the next session.

Thanks for your time,

Rick

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27 minutes ago, RFE3 said:

I wasn't aware you could turn off Dec. backlash in the mount it's self...Is that a setting somewhere in the Handcontroller (I don't use it because I connect directly) or do you mean the setting in EQMOD?

I don't know whether the mount has it or not, but if it does turn it off, and in EQMOD.

Run the Guiding Assistant in PHD2, that will generate a Backlash setting, or  will suggest One Direction Dec Guiding

That compromise for Dec Backlash is to unbalance slightly in Dec so that the mount is only having to push in one direction.

If balance is perfect you will find the mount will flop back and forth between the extremes of the backlash.

Michael

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If there is any drift, and there always is , then making dec adjustments one direction only (in the direction that pushes against the drift) should work very well.   Also have the RA  slightly out of true balance, weighted to the east so that the motor is pushing against the gear and properly in contact.

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Once I'd loosened the declination axis I haven't had a problem using PHD2 with my EQM-35.  During the calibration (which I only done the once last September), it did moan about the declination axis having too much backlash but, as the guide log below shows (from my last imaging session in April), the declination axis behaves better than the RA axis.  It usually takes a few minutes from first starting up/repositioning the mount for the declination axis to settle down (so I don't think I would want to employ dithering!)  The mounts periodic error and backlash correction are both turned off, and I don't use EQMOD, PHD2 drives the handset USB port.

2005364350_PHD2LOGVIEWER.thumb.PNG.0b0fd0eb0a723f5750d0a964fd94bbdd.PNG

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2 hours ago, Seelive said:

Once I'd loosened the declination axis I haven't had a problem using PHD2 with my EQM-35.  During the calibration (which I only done the once last September), it did moan about the declination axis having too much backlash but, as the guide log below shows (from my last imaging session in April), the declination axis behaves better than the RA axis.  It usually takes a few minutes from first starting up/repositioning the mount for the declination axis to settle down (so I don't think I would want to employ dithering!)  The mounts periodic error and backlash correction are both turned off, and I don't use EQMOD, PHD2 drives the handset USB port.

2005364350_PHD2LOGVIEWER.thumb.PNG.0b0fd0eb0a723f5750d0a964fd94bbdd.PNG

 

WOW......Well at least I have evidence that it can be done. Running PHD2 through the Handset is an idea I haven't thought of....I'm so used to running everything through EQMOD for so many years It doesn't cross my mind NOT to use it, but the evidence is right there....Do you use the PC Direct Mode or did you put the other Synscan Relay V4, Version 4.2 firmware update in your Handset?

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No, I don't use the PC Direct mode (I think that it is primarily only used when updating the motor controller firmware) nor the Synscan Relay V4, Version 4.2 firmware.

I have a V5 handset running firmware version V4.39.05 (although a later version V4.39.10 was released in December 2019) and all the handset settings are still set to the factory default.  When I first started using the mount I tried controlling it via the guide camera ST-4 port, but I could never seem to be able to get PHD to guide correctly.  The guide camera and handset now both individually connect to the PC via a USB hub and it seems to work fine.

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I don't believe that using EQMOD, or not using EQMOD, will affect how well PHD2 guides.

Unless you have the default EQMOD Guide Rate, which is very low, something like 0.2 of Tracking Rate.

11 hours ago, Seelive said:

During the calibration (which I only done the once last September)

I'm sure you're aware that you can only re-use Calibrations if you have a permanent installation, or if the Guidecam and Guidescope orientation/rotation on the mount is unaltered between sessions.

Michael

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3 hours ago, Seelive said:

No, I don't use the PC Direct mode (I think that it is primarily only used when updating the motor controller firmware) nor the Synscan Relay V4, Version 4.2 firmware.

I have a V5 handset running firmware version V4.39.05 (although a later version V4.39.10 was released in December 2019) and all the handset settings are still set to the factory default.  When I first started using the mount I tried controlling it via the guide camera ST-4 port, but I could never seem to be able to get PHD to guide correctly.  The guide camera and handset now both individually connect to the PC via a USB hub and it seems to work fine.

 I have the same set up only that I updated my firmware V4.30.10.  I did install the Relay software (which is supposely better for connecting to the PC) but it overwrites the normal firmware. So if you wanted to use the Handset normally, you couldn't,  you would have to re-load the normal firmware.  I changed it back to the normal firmware because I thought I might just want to "Grab and Go" with a single camera sometime without Computers and such...So if I'm understanding you correctly, you have your Handset connected to the 35's Control box with the normal J6 (or what ever it's called) cable, then the Handset to the PC using the "Printer Cable" USB Port, you then connect the Guide Camera as normal to the PC. If you're not using PC Direct mode nor the Relay what settings do you use in the Handcontroller? Do you do your normal setup, alignment, and Slew to object with the Hand controller and then leave it alone?  I'm unsure how PHD2 can then connect to the Handcontroller without an open Port (PC Direct or Relay) without Ascom/EQMOD.  Maybe it just works...I've never tried it that way, I'll have to give it a go. How do you connect in PHD2? What options do you use at the Connect Equipment box? 

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1 hour ago, michael8554 said:

I don't believe that using EQMOD, or not using EQMOD, will affect how well PHD2 guides.

Unless you have the default EQMOD Guide Rate, which is very low, something like 0.2 of Tracking Rate.

I'm sure you're aware that you can only re-use Calibrations if you have a permanent installation, or if the Guidecam and Guidescope orientation/rotation on the mount is unaltered between sessions.

Michael

My guide scope has a fixed orientation on the mount and I align marks on the guide scope and guide camera so that the set-up is virtually identical between sessions (PHD2 is tolerant to minor misalignment).

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You need to install the ASCOM driver for the SynScan hand controller from the SkyWatcher web site (https://skywatcher.com/download/software/ascom-driver/) to allow PHD2 to control the mount when the hand controller is used.  You don't need to change any setting on the hand controller itself.  Once the driver is installed, PHD2 will connect to your handset in the same way it connects to the guide camera.  You can control the mount either using the handset or an ASCOM compatible planetarium software package (I use C2A).

With regard to the connections, the SynScan control box cable plugs into the left hand RJ45 socket and the PC is connected via the USB type B socket on the right.  The guide camera connects directly with the PC.

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1 hour ago, Seelive said:

You need to install the ASCOM driver for the SynScan hand controller from the SkyWatcher web site (https://skywatcher.com/download/software/ascom-driver/) to allow PHD2 to control the mount when the hand controller is used.  You don't need to change any setting on the hand controller itself.  Once the driver is installed, PHD2 will connect to your handset in the same way it connects to the guide camera.  You can control the mount either using the handset or an ASCOM compatible planetarium software package (I use C2A).

With regard to the connections, the SynScan control box cable plugs into the left hand RJ45 socket and the PC is connected via the USB type B socket on the right.  The guide camera connects directly with the PC.

In your PHD2 connections did you select "Sky Watcher Telescope (ASCOM)" as the mount?

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Yes, that's correct.  For some reason on my Windows 10 laptop, I've found that the COM port for the mount keeps changing so if you just click on 'CONNECT' it probably won't see the mount.  Click on the spanner (MOUNT SETUP) first, it will find the mount, and then click 'CONNECT'.

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10 minutes ago, Seelive said:

Yes, that's correct.  For some reason on my Windows 10 laptop, I've found that the COM port for the mount keeps changing so if you just click on 'CONNECT' it probably won't see the mount.  Click on the spanner (MOUNT SETUP) first, it will find the mount, and then click 'CONNECT'.

Ok, I got it to connect...kind of....It'll find the port but when I connect it gives me a driver error about location. It won't automaticly retrieve the location from the Hanset and when I manually put it in it doesn't help. If I push one of the direction buttons (on the PC) it gives the same error. If I push "continue" it will go away but if I push a dierction button it won't stop, even when I disconnect. I have to turn off the power to the mount to stop it....I hate software...

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I hate today's software too!  Bring back DOS, at least I stood a chance of understanding that!.  I've not come across the 'driver error about location' so I would be only guessing at an answer.  When you say the 'direction buttons', are you talking about within PHD2?  I get a small popup screen when PHD starts up that I think is related to C2A but has nothing to do with PHD2.  Normally, I just close it and use the handset to control the mount, but to use it, I had to configure the setting in C2A to get it to run properly.  Without configuring C2A it seemed to try to move the mount at maximum possible slew speed.

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Yeah, I get a little Pop up direction control window with 4 direction buttons and a speed select dropdown menu. Thats from the SkyWatcher software. That's the one that goes crazy. I use Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel both act the same...I can connect to both but I can't Slew...I get the same warning "The ASCOM driver report an error: The type initalizer for ASCOM.SktWatcher.Location threw an exception" This is exactly as it it written. In PHD2 when I press the "Mount Setup button"I get the same message. I can still connect and minimize the little SW window to the Task Bar and try the Manual Guide buttons in PHD but nothing happens. The Handset works fine.

If I try to use the little SW direction control it pops up an "Unhandled exception error" stating the same as above...I've reinstalled the SW Driver several times and read in the Help that it should automaticly retreive the location data from handsets with software above v4.38 and I have v4.39.10...

What a nightmare...I really appreciate you time and help with this.

 

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I appreciate that it's a real pain when things go wrong, and I'm certainly no expert in this field, perhaps someone who is (and I'm sure there are plenty on this site who are) can help you further.  I suppose I was lucky, I installed everything and it all seemed to work first time.  I would suggest that, for the time being, you just ignore the pop-up window and close each time it appears until the more important issues are sorted.  With the weather as it has been here and the light nights, I've not used my set-up for a few weeks.  If I get the chance, I'll set it up tomorrow to see what I actually get.  I'm still a little confused over your comment '... and try the Manual Guide buttons in PHD but nothing happens';  PHD won't do anything until it has selected a star from the guide camera image to guide with.

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1 hour ago, Seelive said:

  I'm still a little confused over your comment '... and try the Manual Guide buttons in PHD but nothing happens';  PHD won't do anything until it has selected a star from the guide camera image to guide with.

Yes, you're right...In my frustration I forgot that also....but it still won't guide from either of my Planetarium progs...Only the Handset. Yeah, I need a good night here also to see if it works at all...Monday...maybe....hopefully.

This is the first Handset I've ever had, I bought my EQ6 about 6 years ago without the SynScan and went directly to EQDir Cables and EQMOD. It's also a learning curve for me as well.

thanks,

Rick

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I'm sure a lot of people would say go down the EQMOD route and forget the handset, but as I said, my current set up works for me and does what I want, so I don't see the point in adding another layer of complexity even though I perhaps should (I would probably still be using windows 98 if I could!).

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1 hour ago, Seelive said:

I'm sure a lot of people would say go down the EQMOD route and forget the handset, but as I said, my current set up works for me and does what I want, so I don't see the point in adding another layer of complexity even though I perhaps should (I would probably still be using windows 98 if I could!).

I know what ya mean Brother....

I have no problems with my normal EQMOD and EQ6 and not really any problems with the 35 except the Dec. Axis when Guiding.  I agree your guiding graph looks great and if I can get something as good with one layer less it's a win....

Rick

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Well...I thought I found the problem but it also didn't wotk...I found a post on the Web last night where someone was going into detail about the different ways of connecting from the mount to the PC with and without the hand controller. . He said it was very important in the setup of the ASCOM Telescope Driver that the location data  be the same as in the Planetarium Software. Mine wasn't exactly the same so I thought "Bingo" it was giving a "Location" error. I made sure the location data was exactly the same in the Hand Controller, Cartes du Ciel and in the Driver setup...but it still didn't work. Still the same Location error then I try to slew or move the mount. I read several times from different sources including SW that the location data shoul be automaticly retrieved from the Hand Controller from v4.39 and above. I have a feeling there's something not quite right in comms between the HC and the Driver.

Hopefully someone with a better understanding of Software will chime in.

many thanks,

Rick

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  • 1 month later...

Hello,

I know this thread is a bit old but I was hoping you could explain your setup a bit more, I am running the Sky watcher EQ-35 Pro myself here and I am trying to use PHD2 with the mount along with ZWO ASI. Reading over your thread a few times now, if I understand right you have your guide scope directly connected to your PC then the hand tool PC port plugged into the PC as well? I think this is where I am making my mistake and was trying to connect the ASI guide cam to the hand tool. 

 

Cheers

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The camera connects to one PC USB port and the hand controller to another (or if you're short on PC USB ports you can use a USB hub). If you have the newer hand controller version with the USB socket then the PC can be plugged directly into it.  If it has the older RS232 interface then you will need to get a USB to RS232 converter (unless your PC has a RS232 port). In both cases you will need to download and install the ASCOM driver from the Skywatcher website https://skywatcher.com/download/software/ascom-driver/ before PHD2 will talk to it.

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