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switching to eq mod and nina


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ive just bought a new laptop and in the process of downloading drivers and software, so ive decided to do away with the handset and ordered a eq direct cable for my mount(Neq6)

ive downloaded the latest version of NINA and ascom platform and also eq mod, astap and its star database for platesolving in nina, drivers for my asi camera and orion starshoot autoguider.

is there anything else i need to let NINA control the mount? ive read i need to install ascom driver for eqmod for my for my skywatcher mount but i cannot for the life of me find it(heat has melted my brain) but on the other hand ive also read that nina has the mount driver built into it? confused.com

also does NINA need planetarium software like stellarium?

new to this way of controlling the mount so sorry for all the questions ive used my handset for years 

Edited by Craig a
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for driving the mount, have a look for EQMod Ascom drivers etc....

Nina doesn't have to use a planetarium software, but its much easier, when you have one around (Stellarium, CDC etc.), as all the software link up with each other as long as you've installed & configured all the relevant drivers etc.... 

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thank you for replying i found this on ascom site

https://ascom-standards.org/Downloads/ScopeDrivers.htm

but the only thing i see on there is Sky-Watcher SynScan Physical Hand Controller and SynScan App (separate drivers)

is this the correct one? as im doing away with the hand controller i just read phsical hand controller i though that didnt seem right, i may be wrong

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looking at that i cannot find a driver the neq6 mount for eq mod, but i did see its supported by eq mod so i dont need a driver as its already built into eqmod?

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If you are using the FTDI cable you should download the FTDI drivers

Even though it should be in NINA I found adding the download made it all work when I recently decided to try out NINA

Download then reboot and it all began to work

I use Stellarium with Nina and it integrates well , you need to choose the planetarium app in setup , and have it on the laptop of course.

 

I had been using APT on another laptop.

 

 

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Edited by fifeskies
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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, fifeskies said:

If you are using the FTDI cable you should download the FTDI drivers

Even though it should be in NINA I found adding the download made it all work when I recently decided to try out NINA

Download then reboot and it all began to work

I use Stellarium with Nina and it integrates well , you need to choose the planetarium app in setup , and have it on the laptop of course.

 

I had been using APT on another laptop.

 

 

Screenshot_20210721-220810_Samsung Internet.jpg

ok thank you for that yes that is the cable i bought from first light optics, where can i find the driver for it?

Edited by Craig a
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I think that a lot of people get confused over what EQMOD is/does because its often called a "driver".  Hopefully the following will help Craig grasp how this all goes together, and assumes the laptop is running Windows.

To connect the telescope to the laptop you need an EQDIR cable.  This is basically a standard USB to TTL Serial cable, but with the wiring changed to suit the connections at the mount.  These EQDIR cables require a driver installed to handle the communications through the chipset used, which these days is typically FTDI.  A suitable EQDIR cable and a link to the driver have been listed above.

You then need to install the ASCOM platform on the laptop.  ASCOM is basically a standard that equipment manufactures, and software developers have adapted so that applications can communicate between themselves and with the hardware that is connected, such as cameras, filter wheels and the telescope itself.   EQMOD is an ASCOM compliant application that handles the movement and positioning.   EQMOD doesn't require any driver itself, you set the application to use the serial port that the computer allocates to the EQDIR cable.  EQMOD then sends and receives instructions and feedback in the form of commands that the motor controller understands.  

The most basic form of control from a laptop is to use a planetarium application.  This makes controlling the telescopes position as simple as right clicking on an object in the application and selecting "slew to target".  The planetarium application sends the positional data to EQMOD as the two are connected via the ASCOM platform.  EQMOD then sends the instructions to the mount using the SW command protocol.  Now NINA and other applications also contain a database of objects and can also send the same positioning data to EQMOD, but most people will use a planetarium application as they can easily see what targets are visible and all show where the telescope is pointing, so it makes life easier.

So now you have the ability to select targets and make the scope slew to them and track them.  That leaves an application to capture the images, and one to ensure the target is tracked correctly.  PHD (and later PHD2) has been the preferred application people use.  It uses the ASCOM platform to communicate with EQMOD and the ASCOM compliant driver for the camera on the guidescope.   Then you have the application to take the images with the main camera.  This too will use the ASCOM platform to share data between other applications and the drivers for the camera or application that communicates with the camera hardware.

So in theory you could have four or five applications running, all taking to each other.  Or you could do away with the planetarium application and use the database in NINA, or APT etc.  Sometimes applications develop over time and incorporate functions that were found in other applications.  For example APT started as a simple application to allow Canon DSLR cameras to be controlled form the PC to automate the process of taking multiple images.  Now it has telescope control, plate solving, focusing aids, and a host of other functions.  

Apologies if this post was long winded and went over stuff you already know.... but it might also help others who are daunted by what's involved in setting up an imaging rig 

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That’s a great explanation and helps a lot, previously I used nebulosity as camera control and dithering and phd for guiding, but I always found framing the target difficult if it was faint, hence why I wanted to move to Nina as it’s free and has good reviews and also for the plate solving to get the target in the middle of the sensor.

on the driver for the ftdi eq direct cable which one of the 3 from that like do I need or do I need all 3? 
thanks again for your reply’s 

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Downloaded the cable drivers and the eq direct cable should be here today so I can have a mess about in daylight getting everything talking to each other 

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You may find that windows installs the built in FTDI driver automatically, but sometimes it's worth having a backup option.

Trial runs in daytime is the idea.  Place the mount in the correct default home position, pointing north. Connect the EQDIR cable to the mount and power on the mount.  Plug the USB cable into the laptop and windows should detect the new hardware and will possibly install the built in driver.  If not then run the installer for the downloaded driver.  Open up Device Manager and under ports make a note of the new com port number assigned.  Double click it and select properties and it should be defaulted to a Baud rate of 9600, if not set it to 9600.

Download ASCOM platform from here and install it on the laptop.  Then download EQMOD and install

Once installed, under the Start > All programs > EQMOD > EQASCOM  run the toolbox program.  This allows you to set up the parameters for EQMOD to use.  In the middle section, select EQASCM from the drop box and then click the driver setup button.  Under mount type select SyntaEQ if the mount is branded Skywatcher / Orion.  Enter the com port details for the EQDIR cable and set the Baud rate to match the comports 9600 setting.  In the site info box enter the location details and save it (or if you have a GPS device click the GPS button to read the data in).  Lastly under Ascom options ensure the top three boxes are checked.  Click OK to close that window.  Now click the TEST CONNECT button.. If the com port info is correct this will launch EQMOD and talk to the mount.  Next to the NSEW buttons is a speed setting - set this to 4 and then click and hold the NSEW buttons and the mount should move.

You can then go on to install your planetarium program of choice and when that is set up with the same location info and connected to the mount via EQMOD you should be able to select a target (the sun for example) and it should slew to the position where, if fitted, the scope would be pointed at.

One word of caution, when braking down after any session, power the mount down first before disconnecting the EQDIR cable from the mount.  It shouldn't really matter, but the motor boards in these scopes seem quite sensitive.

Apologies if you already knew this... but it may be useful to others who come across this thread and are not so familiar with the process.

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Thank everyone for all info everyone, it’s a big help everything is downloaded just waiting for my cable now should be here Saturday, I’m exited and nervous at the same time as me and computers don’t mix very well, I find it quite confusing but the info you all provided will help me a lot 

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One question for malc-c 

my setup is permanently outside under two covers, one being the telegizmos 365 so when you say power down first and disconnect the eq direct cable do I have to take the cable off the mount everytime even though I’m permanently set up? 

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14 minutes ago, Craig a said:

One question for malc-c 

my setup is permanently outside under two covers, one being the telegizmos 365 so when you say power down first and disconnect the eq direct cable do I have to take the cable off the mount everytime even though I’m permanently set up? 

No.  I was referring to the daytime testing.  If the scope is a permeant set up then just pull out the USB end of the cable out of the laptop.  You can leave the other end as a fixed connection

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I’ve not managed to set everything up yet, busy with work and a baby but I have a question regarding once I power up, coming from the hand controller I used to do a 3 star alignment but now that’s gone do I still need to do that with eq mod or do I just plate solve in Nina  from the start of pressing The unpark in eqmod? Hope you get what im trying to Say 😂

Edited by Craig a
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6 hours ago, Craig a said:

I’ve not managed to set everything up yet, busy with work and a baby but I have a question regarding once I power up, coming from the hand controller I used to do a 3 star alignment but now that’s gone do I still need to do that with eq mod or do I just plate solve in Nina  from the start of pressing The unpark in eqmod? Hope you get what im trying to Say 😂

No need to ever star align again, platesolving will do that for you. Accuracy of the initial go-to is really of trivial importance since you will probably need a couple loops of platesolving/re-slewing to reach the target with reasonable accuracy.

Experiment with how accurate your setup is and set the pointing tolerance with something you think is good enough. Under 1 arcmin is probably a bit nitpicky and will take more slewing and solving to reach.

Of course polar alignment is still important though.

Edited by ONIKKINEN
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