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How to choose an autofocuser? Running astroberry and worried abour drivers!


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I am putting together my first computerised setup, and after just receiving the CMOS camera for it, and testing mount, camera, filter wheel control etc, I have realized an autofocuser is probably going to be necessary, given that the CMOS over wifi refreshes at about 0.5 frames a second, and my scope has lost focus to delta temperature before!

The skywatcher focuser (https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-focusers/skywatcher-auto-focuser.html)  seems very cheap, and I hear will work over a usb to RJ-9 converter. This would be ideal for my little raspberry pi 4 (astroberry) but I don't know if it has the appropriate drivers to run it! Skywatcher autofocus isn't in the driver list but items like "usbfocus 3" and "astroberry focuser" are listed, with support for stepper motor controllers. I have no idea what focuser to buy or how much money I need to spend!

EDIT: This is for a Skywatcher 130-PDS telescope, with the default 10:1 dual speed focuser

Side note: can some peripherals (auto focus, filter wheel etc) be used via a USB hub? My poor PI is already out of USB ports and I haven't even finished yet!

 

Any help appreciated : (

Edited by pipnina
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Don't know to Skywaycher compatibility, but you can go to the INDI website and check if it's in the list of supported devices.

Most people report no issues with hubs. I had some problems back when I was using a Pi 3 but haven't needed the hub for s long time. 

I use the Waveshare Motor HAT board plugged into my Pi, which directly drives stepper without using a USB port and is most definitely supported by INDI. It also lets you power your Pi with the same voltage and connector that most other astro stuff uses, so that cuts the cable clutter a bit too.

I bodged a mount for the stepper and bought a timing belt and pulley. It simply drives the coarse knob on my Stellarvue.

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16 hours ago, pipnina said:

I am putting together my first computerised setup, and after just receiving the CMOS camera for it, and testing mount, camera, filter wheel control etc, I have realized an autofocuser is probably going to be necessary, given that the CMOS over wifi refreshes at about 0.5 frames a second, and my scope has lost focus to delta temperature before!

The skywatcher focuser (https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-focusers/skywatcher-auto-focuser.html)  seems very cheap, and I hear will work over a usb to RJ-9 converter. This would be ideal for my little raspberry pi 4 (astroberry) but I don't know if it has the appropriate drivers to run it! Skywatcher autofocus isn't in the driver list but items like "usbfocus 3" and "astroberry focuser" are listed, with support for stepper motor controllers. I have no idea what focuser to buy or how much money I need to spend!

EDIT: This is for a Skywatcher 130-PDS telescope, with the default 10:1 dual speed focuser

Side note: can some peripherals (auto focus, filter wheel etc) be used via a USB hub? My poor PI is already out of USB ports and I haven't even finished yet!

 

Any help appreciated : (

I run a home built myfocuserpro2 unit going to stellarmate on a raspberry pi. I connect this along with pretty much everything else to a powered USB hub and it works fine. In fact, this is preferable as device that draw power, get this from the power supply to the hub. It also means the hub is mounted on the telescope with the Rpi attached to the tripod. The only other connection to the Rpi is the USB cable from the mount. 

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I wasn't aware that the skywatcher you link to could be computer controlled. As I recall, you'd at least be soldering wires on to the PCB. Most people use the Hitec Astro DC controller for that purpose.

 

I've used the Skywatcher + Hitec, ZWO EAF, Sesto Senso 2 and Lakeside focusers with astroberry and all work fine.

 

If I was choosing based on price/performance, the ZWO EAF is hard to beat.

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The link you mentioned goes to a DC motor,  badly named as an autofocuser it's more like a remote focuser.

Auto focussing is generally done with stepper motors and a controller. Some of the newer versions have the controller built in to the stepper motor housing such as the ZWO EAF or Deepskydad  others like the Pegasus ones are connected as an accessory to  their controllers. Drivers for these on Linux(Rpi) & Windows available

There are DC controllers that have Rpi drivers too but more limited, in those cases the SKywatcher controller is not used, instead you need a 3rd party controller.

If you are tempted by the ZWO Asiair then their EAF is needed as they don't support others.

The Deepskydad is worth a look though I have not used it myself.  I have moonlite focuser & motor on one scope and Lakeside gear on others.

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I use a ZWO EAF on my Astroberry and it works like a dream. Never had a single niggle with that. I understand your pain on USB ports, I managed to find a powered USB3 amazon basics 10 port hub which runs off 12v. I also run a deepskydad FP1 (motorised flat panel) which is runs no bother on astroberry and just works on ekos. 

I happen to have a SW autofocuser on my dob, and you cannot connect that to a computer, it's just a motor with a couple of buttons for in and out (and a fast/slow switch/knob). Only handy for manual focusing, so a really badly named product that is quite confusing. Its a good enough thing, just not suitable to auto focus using a computer.  The EAF is excellent though. 

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The one you show is a manual control one.. better off with a pegasus, eaf, lakeside or something like that, if you wish to make your own from arduino board and some stepper motors, plenty have and loads of help on the internet

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