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  1. #1
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    Oct 2005
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    Default Connection to scope stopped working through ASCOM

    Some recent update has broken connection between ACP and the Mead LX200GPS scope.

    I can connect using the Meade Autostar software, and using The Sky 6 using their built in LX200GPS driver. So the com port is fine.

    I keep getting a time out error. If I try from ACP it give an ACP timeout error, if I try using The Sky API I get an ASCOM serial port helper timeout error.

    Tried updating to ASCOM 5 and the new Meade driver but still no go.

    Couldn't use our 16" scope for our public session tonight because we use ACP to sync the scope and dome, was working last Monday so it's something that happened since then.

    It's Windows XP. Anyone have any ideas? A few hours uninstalling/reinstalling sofware and drivers and it's still acting the same.

    Some improvement, updated to ASCOM 5 again with the latest LX200GPS driver, can get ACP to see the scope as long as auto unpark and auto set time are not checked, get various error messages when those are checked. Guess I'll try updating the firmware on the scope next.

    Updated scope firmware, still no luck. Still get time out errors when the auto time set or auto unpark are checked. Exact message is "Timed out waiting for Received Data", I guess that's coming from the ASCOM driver. I see posts about this from last year but no solutions...
    Last edited by Marty Schultz; Feb 17, 2009 at 21:32.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Figured I'd update this with the solution I came up with.

    Since I couldn't figure out how to increase the timeout in the ASCOM com port helper I wrote a little VB program to sync the scope time with the computer. Once the time on the scope is set ACP connects fine.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Clever! The driver for the Meade scopes (like all drivers) sets its timeouts (via calls to the helper) based on the characteristics of the particular model of scope. ACP has an option to push the date/time and lat/long to the scope at initial connect. If this is on, and the driver's timeout is too short, that will cause the problem. It's not the helper itself, it's the driver. The big question is "what changed?" to cause your setup to start having timeout issues.

    If you're sure the date/time in the scope is good, you could try turning on "Inhibit ACP sending date/time and lat/long to scope" in Preferences, Telescope tab.
    -- Bob

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Denny View Post
    Clever! The driver for the Meade scopes (like all drivers) sets its timeouts (via calls to the helper) based on the characteristics of the particular model of scope. ACP has an option to push the date/time and lat/long to the scope at initial connect. If this is on, and the driver's timeout is too short, that will cause the problem. It's not the helper itself, it's the driver. The big question is "what changed?" to cause your setup to start having timeout issues.

    If you're sure the date/time in the scope is good, you could try turning on "Inhibit ACP sending date/time and lat/long to scope" in Preferences, Telescope tab.
    I spent quite a while searching the code for the driver and couldn't find where it was setting the 5 second timeout (or any timeout), so I assumed that was the default setting for the helper.

    As to what changed? After all this time I think it was slow degradation in the keypad, as the conductive rubber pads aged I think they transferred residue to the metallic pads, causing the computer in the scope to slow down. I had tried various cleaning methods and the pads kept getting worse, had to press hard and long to get some keys to respond. Before buying a new one or buying one of those kits with conductive epoxy I decided to give it one last shot, really scrubbed hard on the rubber with methanol and a stiff dense brush, also used a fiberglass cleaning brush on the metal pads, all that got the keys back to normal response times. And ever since when I use my VB program to set the time the scope responds faster, it was taking 5 to 6 seconds to come back with a "1" to signify it set the time and/or UTC offset, but now it's back to 1 or 2 seconds.

    I left ACP set up to send the date and time, in case someone forgot to set the time first they would get the timeout error instead of trying to use a scope without the proper time set.

    Typing this reminds me I have to remember to see if the old way of setting things is back to normal now.... But may stick with my program so I can monitor how long it takes to respond, as an indicator of the health of the scope...

  5. #5
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    How strange... well at least you're back on the air!
    -- Bob

  6. #6
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    Default

    Quick note, now that the scope is responding faster the normal way of letting the driver connect and set the time works again. But the pointing is hours off in RA, even though the local and sidereal time on the scope read correctly. After running my program to reset the timezone and time the pointing matched up with our current model.

    So the driver is setting something differently. I know there is more than one setting for timezone in the scope, so even thought the local time was displayed correctly it may not have been using the correct zone for pointing?

    This might explain the bad pointing to planets and the moon when using the driver to set the time, previously we had to use the finder to center some planets and always the moon, not so much after I wrote the program to set the time. I remember being surprised I didn't have to adjust after using the paddle to go to the moon but never thought about it again until now.

  7. #7
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    Sounds like yet another incompatible firmware change by Meade?
    -- Bob

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Denny View Post
    Sounds like yet another incompatible firmware change by Meade?
    No, it's always pointed next to the moon and slightly off on the planets when setting the time from the drivers, when we first started 5 years ago, before getting ACP, we would let the GPS set the date and time and it was better back then.

    It was only a problem using the scope to calculate the RA and DEC for them, if I used the slew function in ACP to go to a planet it would be fine.

    There is a new command that's been in the last few firmware updates that sets the date and time all at once, that's what I used in my program, with a separate command to set the UTC offset (crazy meade wants + instead of minus for people west of GMT). This seems to set it up so the computer in the scope knows where the moon and planets are, and is different from what the ASCOM driver sets somehow.

    FYI, the new command is: #:hIyymmddhhmmss#

  9. #9
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    Marty --

    Well, hopefully someone will update the ASCOM driver for Meade... Volunteers seem to be coming out of the woodwork with the Open Source system that the guys have set up for ASCOM. There's a team doing a new Gemini driver, Optec is doing factory-provided drivers for all of their gear - with an in house developer, Astro-Physics is close to having a factory-provided driver, several teams have produced (or are working on) new simulators in .NET, the conformance checker is being constantly updated to catch newly realized pitfalls. There's a shared public subversion repository with most of the ASCOM bits, and a Jira issue tracking system online. After doing most of the work for 10+ years, it's great to see the uptake and enthusiasm out there! I'm pretty much out of that loop now.
    -- Bob

 

 

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