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  1. #1

    Default ONAG Related, Purpose of the Optec FocusLock auto-focus radio button

    Hi Bob,
    We met at AIC, I live in Sahuarita (physically in Green Valley almost at the foot of Mt Hopkins). Iím the guy who uses an ONAG-XM (with an AP1200, C-14ED@f11 (!), ST8XME (& Canon 6D), ASI-1600MM) using FocusLock.

    I just started the APC-Expert trial license. After getting reacquainted with MaximDL (having used CCDCommander, TSX and PHD2) and resolving some Windows 10 issues Iím very happy to say last night I was able to acquire a guide star after 2 meridian flips with FocusLock running continuously in the background using the guide star provided by Maxim. This is great!

    PinPoint isnít working but I should figure that out on my own tonight (your All-Sky Solving does plate solve nicely however).

    Question: What is the purpose of the Optec FocusLock auto-focus radio button on ACP Preferences-AutoFocus?
    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
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    Hi Mike!! -- That button is a place-holder. It does nothing at the moment. At the time I released 8.2 I didn't know what I may or may not have to do in the observing logic to accommodate FocusLock. If you are able to do a multiple target run and guide, on both sides of the meridian, hands off, with FocusLock running, then I will be ecstatic!! Let me know how you get on. I assume you have AutoFocus in ACP turned off, right? The idea of not needing to mess with focusing, and also have a big field of view for guiding (no off-axis pin-hole) is like a dream come true, especially for school usage. I want this all-up to work.
    -- Bob

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Bob,
    I did have FocusMax auto-focus in ACP turned ON, really just to see if it would work, remember Iím brand new. I could see FocusLock doing its thing in real-time in its own window so while I donít have any images with AutoFocus OFF Iím pretty confident FocusLock was working. I donít know how FocusLock works exactly, it seems to continuously watch the guide star from Maxim (and PHD2) (from some memory location in the PC?) and communicate astigmatic shape changes to the FocusLynx Controller which in turn sends appropriate signals to the focuser.
    Right now, I only know how to take one image using AcquireImages and a 4-line plan. I will work up to multiple targets and go back and forth on the meridian. I will Disable auto-focus now too.

    You might use that FocusLock radio button to execute a script to open FocusLock, make the camera and focuser connections, and start the process.

    Iíll be able to work faster once I figure out why PinPoint isnít working correctly. I have never used it before. When trying a manual solve the Analyze-PinPoint Astrometry-Process button is grayed out for all catalogs except USNO B1 (net). When running ACP sometimes it works but mostly, I get the error, Failed to solve plate possibly due to input plate scale being too far off. In 8 logs last night I donít see a pattern as to why it sometimes works. I think I need to get it working manually first and then see how it does with ACP running. I do have a very small field of view however 12X8 arcmin so there are seldom many stars to use. Last night I used 45sec exposures but Iím going to increase that to 60 seconds. I do usually Bin 2X2 but did not last night. I did download USNO A2 and I know someone nearby who has B1 on a USB drive.
    Iíll keep you posted.
    Thanks,
    Mike

  4. #4
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    Wow that's a small field. On a 12x8 minute field, you must use the USNO A2.0 Catalog. It’s the only one (apart from the monster Gaia catalog not yet supported by PinPoint) that has enough star density.

    Get a bit more time on this then I’ll join you for a look at things and we can do a multi-target run. I can look at the plate solving. It should be just plain automatic.

    See Downloading and Using PinPoint Reference Catalogs (Updated May 2018) for info on getting USNO A2.0.
    -- Bob

  5. #5

    Default ACP controlled plated solving, No matching stars found. Check your estimated center-

    Hi Bob,
    After 2 nights of additional testing I still have problems. The good news is guiding works as does FocusLock with FocusMax disabled. ACP always finds my odd guide+focus stars and FocusLock does its thing in the background. I have not tried multi target runs yet, however.

    I got PinPoint (PP) working from the Maxim window with UCAC4, USNOB1, and USNOA2. I donít think my small FOV is an issue. All manually executed plate solves work fine with all 3 catalogs.

    I still have never seen an ACP controlled plate solve using the catalogs work, however. (All-Sky does work.) The most common error is ď** No matching stars found. Check your estimated center-point RA/Dec, and your image scaling and quality.Ē I also sometimes get ĒFailed to solve plate, possibly due to input plate scale being too far off.Ē In other applications Iíve seen this with incorrectly specified image scale or RA/DEC bad/missing in the FITS header. In parallel I have been using my manually acquired plate solve images in ImageLink and I get good solves and pointing verification in TheSkyX and with Maxim produced verification images.

    Once I see the ACP plate solve error, I abort the run, immediately manually take an identical exposure and then manually use PP and it solves. ACP executed plate solve exposures always set binning to 4, why is that? As in ď(taking 45 sec. exposure, Luminance filter, binning = 4)Ē.

    I have successfully manually acquired images with binning set at both 1 and 4. PP solutions present a slightly different focal lengths from of 3880 (seems too small) to 3948 (likely) vs 3910 per Celestron. Iíve tried these in Preference>Telescope too. Is there a time out in APC plate solving, from my small FOV with few stars taking too long to automatically solve?

    ACP calculated plate scale moves a bit between 0.41 and 0.47. I typically use 0.45. However, I nominally image binned 2X2.
    The ACP generated 45sec plate solving images vanish. I donít think they are saved so I canít examine their FITS header and try to manually solve them. Any way to save them?

    In Maxim>Observatory>Setup I have Telescope disconnected, though Iíve tired connected too. How is ACP (or PP) getting the RA/Dec info to use in the plate solve? This may be the problem. In TSX Iím using the V2 driver.

    I am using APCC. Does that play in this somehow?
    Sorry, don't see how to attach a log file.
    Any thought?
    Thanks,
    Mike
    Computer: Dell Inspiron 5482, Windows 10 Home, 1909 OS Build 18363.535, i7-8565U@1.80GHz, x64 processor, 16GB
    Astro Software: ACP Build 10, V8.2.2 Maint Rel (60-Day Trial), Maxim 6.2 (30-Day Trial), FM 4.1.0.96, PinPoint GSC/1.1 and USNO A2.0, ASCOM 6.4 SP1, TheSkyX Pro Build 12304, APCC-PRO v1.7.1.5, AP V2 Driver v5.20.09, FocusLynx Commander 3.1.0.0, FocusLock 1.1.1.0
    Astro Hardware: C-14Edge (no reducer!), ONAG-XM, Guide Camera ASI-1600MM, SBIG ST-8XME, Optec Secondary Mirror Fast Focuser System, Dimension 4, connect to equipment with an Icron USB Extender, COM 5 (FocusLynx) and COM 12 (AP1200)

  6. #6
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    Hi Mike --

    If you look in My DOcuments\ACP Astronomy\Logs and folders by date, you'll find the ACP run logs. there. This is how to attach files to posts here. Could you send a few of them for runs with failed plate solves? I am pretty much finished for today, I'll look at them over the weekend or Monday and get back to you. Don't worry we'll get it going. Thanks for your patience.
    -- Bob

  7. #7

    Default ONAG Related, Purpose of the Optec FocusLock auto-focus radio button ?

    Hi Bob,
    I continue to get good results with guiding and focusing using the ONAG and FocusLock running autonomously with FocusMax disabled. Still no multitarget runs yet or multiple images across the meridian. ACP has been so good at finding very faint guide+focus stars that my confidence is high it will ultimately work with complex plans.

    My plate solving issue is resolved. ACP plate solving is working fine. I was connecting ACP>Telescope with the AstroPhysics GTO V2 Mount driver and not the ASCOM Telescope Driver for TheSky. I have a suggestion for you. In your Help File Index>Telescope Mount Specifics, recommend changing ďSoftware Bisque ParamountĒ to ďTheSky Controlled TelescopesĒ, and in Getting Started>Step 4 add a new item: If using a telescope controlled by TheSky review the section on ďTheSky Controlled TelescopesĒ for proper ASCOM driver selection.

    Can you help with the following that is in the hopefully attached log file?
    **CAUTION: Mount tracking cannot be controlled.
    I have looked at the instructions for both the AstroPhysics GTO V2 Mount driver v5.20.09 and ASCOM Telescope Drive for TheSky Version 6.1.5813.27525 and its not apparent to me how to change the configuration(s) to correct this.
    Iím making progress!
    Looks like rainy weather for the next week so my testing will be delayed.
    Happy Holidays!
    Thanks, Mike
    Attached Files Attached Files

  8. #8
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    Hi Mike -- Looks like your work over the weekend produced a step forward! The log looks great with the exception you pointed out. As I read, you have ACP connected through TheSky to reach the AP mount? The restriction is likely coming from TheSky and may be related to the outbound connection from TheSky to the AP. There are a couple of things to check.

    1. Check the setting in TheSky's ASCOM setup as shown below. Someone else reported that this spontaneously turned off if I recall. Unknown why. It says Paramount but that's because people usually use TheSky with ACP only if they have a Paramount (where it is necessary).

    2. You could connect ACP directly to the Astro-Physics telescope via its standard ASCOM interface, and eliminate TheSky. You can use the Astro-Physics Command Center's pointing correction if needed but ACP's plate solving & pointing correction should be able to cope with a few arc-minutes' pointing errors. If needed it might need to do an all-sky solution at the beginning of the night or after a flip (due to your small field of view). Just let it do so and they press on.

    Yes, it looks like bad weather here in the West. Send your Postal address, preferred phone number to my email rdenny@dc3.com. Somehow I lost it.

    -- Bob

  9. #9
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    Mike, thanks for deciding to take the plunge with ACP :-) Is there anything else I need to do or is this "just working"? Have you tested with multiple targets? Are you guiding?
    -- Bob

  10. #10

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    Hi Bob,
    Iíve been thinking about what to do with this thread. I think it should be closed as it has all my early trial comments. ACP is working great with my limited understanding of it. Iíve been getting about 8 hours of 600 second narrow band each night with that moon up there. FocusLock is working fine, guiding is fine, and most importantly ACP always finds a guide star after the meridian flip. I have only done a few multiple target plans and they worked. Since ACP always find the guide star, Iím not sure what multi target plan testing buys me right now. Iím more interested in focusing behavior over many hours through multiple filters. There are no presets. I have not closely examined the images, just Blinks in PI and they all look good. After many meridian flips, all successful, I donít think the flip is an issue. I donít even execute FocusMax anymore. I think I want to get several nights of data, process it, closely examine the focusing, and then maybe report back on a new thread. Yes, itís just working!

    Since I barely understand ACPís scripting process, itís hard to suggest the future use of the FocusLock radio button. FocusLock needs have its Connection Settings prespecified, and then it needs to be executed with its ďConnect AllĒ setting, and then it just runs, processing the guide star data from Maxim (continuously adjusting the focus all night long without the need of moving to a focus star). It can be executed early in the startup. It doesnít do anything until guiding has started. I had been ďprefocusingĒ manually with FocusMax but just stopped doing that. This needs some investigation. At my focal length I do have a lot of forgiveness in focusing. This system needs to be tested on a short refractor which I might do later in the year. Need to learn ACP on this configuration first.
    Thanks,
    Mike

 

 

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