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  1. #1
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    Default Guiding issues

    What is a good way to solve for guiding issues? I've been able to run the calibration script from ACP is while it looks good, it does not guide. X-errors go increase until the star is lost. There are no settings enabled in MAxim (i.e., reverse x, etc.). It's set to do not change. No auto scope dec, pier flip. This is with a Paramount ME that is accurately polar aligned. ACP is connected to The Sky Controlled telescope (pulse guide is enabled). Maxim and all other supporting software is connected via ACP Hub. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    What is your guiding configuration (off-axis vs internal/SBIG vs external, rotator, guide-relays vs ASCOM Direct vs Telescope) etc.
    -- Bob

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    Hi Bob...
    I think my guiding and plate solving issues are related and my questions likely premature. I don't believe the mount was properly sync'd to the sky (nor The SkyX). Given this, neither plate solving nor guiding should be expected to work properly, right? I've synchronized the home position of the Paramount and under darkness can check the accuracy of this with a "regular" plate solve--it should be close. If I have to do an All Sky solve and sync then I can do that as well. After this, I can solve the guiding and solving issues on firm ground.

    My guiding configuration is OAG (with QSI683wsg-8), Lodestar, ASCOM Direct in Maxim, setup for ACP Hub. ACP is set to The Sky Controlled Telescope with Pulse Guide setting checked...just like you described to me a couple of weeks ago. I was able to get guiding working during that previous test, but didn't get it going last night I think due to improper sky synchronization. More to come, good or bad! Thanks.\\

    -Lloyd

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    Hi Bob...
    I managed to fix the pointing / plate solve issues and thought I had everything fixed. I was able to do a couple of 120sec guided exposures. Guiding errors were within expected ranges. However, I ran a plan calling for 16x900s exposures with dithering set to -1. The guide star slowly moves off the frame as if the corrections are not getting through. I also tried with dither set to zero. Additionally I experimented with the guide rate of the Paramount set to 0.5 (default) and 1.0. Nothing seemed to work. I should also mention that I calibrated with the calibration script and it looked good. http://1drv.ms/1ksyVyd This is a link to 2 logs...one that appears to be ok and one that isn't. Thanks for your help.

    -Lloyd

  5. #5
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    This looks like your problem:



    MaxIm will try to guide with no connection to the scope. If you see this error when starting up MaxIm, your guiding will fail. Use the Setup button below and to the right of the "ASCOM Direct" selection to repeatedly show the Chooser and keep at it till you get it to connect. I might suggest you go direct to TheSky Controlled Telescope instead of through ACP'shub. TheSky is also a hub. Maybe that will make a difference (though it should work fine through the ACP hub as well).
    -- Bob

  6. #6
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    Hi Bob,
    My apologies for not being more clear. The image you posted is from an earlier time and documents my initial problems with guiding. The link I provided was intended to point you to the 2 logs saved in the same folder. I will remove the images from the folder as they no longer apply to the situation I'm trying to solve.

    I can add more color to this discussion. Here it is (an email dialog excerpt with my team). This is a lengthy discussion of the current guiding problems and of the overall status of the installation.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I suspect the ongoing issues are down to configuration settings. The super-summary is that ACP ran successfully with all automated functions including solving, focusing, and guiding. Then, inexplicably, it would not guide. I’ve have asked Bob Denny to look at the logs (I provided him a link to them on my Skydrive). That’s the short answer.

    Note that I ran short sessions on both sides of the meridian without issue. Since this worked, the idea was to set up a long ACP run and go to sleep and declare victory. I set up 16x900 unbinned lum frames on M81. The first 15-minute image looked strange from the start in that the guide star was offset from the center of the crosshairs by an amount I assumed was added by the automatic dither setting in ACP (-1 (I did not dither the test frames). See snip below:

    Guiding Screen.JPG

    The first 900 sec image is clearly trailed. The y-errors are increasing. You can see this in the Maxim guiding log. Note that in the guiding log of the shorter exposures the errors did not increase in this manner. There is a material difference between these two instances that is not just because one frame is shorter than the other. I ran and aborted this plan several times, made adjustments to dither, max tolerable guider error, resync’ed and recalibrated. Guiding when off in all subsequent cases. In fact, no other session reached the level of “success” of the first 900 second exposure depicted in the snip below. The guiding went off quickly and did not recover.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    OUTSTANDING QUESTIONS/ISSUES TO FIX (Bob, this is a team discussion of outstanding issues with my responses below each one. Please correct or clarify where needed. My primary question concerns guiding, but this will give you a sense of where we are with respect to getting ACP going with all the supporting "stuff"...)

    - The mount is installed and polar aligned to within 30" of alt and az.
    True. This was done with the AT at 2000mm FL. Poor polar alignment could explain some of the problems I’ve seen, but I was there when Pempro said we were within 30”. In fact within 15” in AZ. Could it be a problem that the mount was aligned with a different scope? I doubt it. In fact I’d think it is preferable to do with a longer instrument much in the same way it's better to do PEC with a longer instrument: errors are magnified. They are the same errors, you just see them writ large.

    - The Tak is on the mount, with the original optical train as before: scope->takometer--> camera.
    True

    - The motorized focuser works and the original V-curves should still apply
    True. However, the current FM profile only has 2 vcurves. Reliable, precise focus calls for ~12 good curves. This can be done in a couple of hours given that current FM runs are taking anywhere from 50-120 seconds depending on sky conditions and where the star lands on the chip initially.

    - The PC is remotely controllable via TeamViewer
    True. This works well and reliably with negligible lag.

    - The power strip is remotely controllable via direct http access through the VPN.
    True. Can be accessed via VPN or via Teamviewer. I prefer the latter since I don’t have to do the VPN login.

    - The mount doesn't always know where it is
    Solved. The mount was far off sync before last night. Plate solves in Pinpoint, TSX, normal and Allsky work perfectly. The mount should not need to be sync’d again unless it’s moved. The frequent plate solves and pointing updates done by ACP are likely recals that add to it's pointing model which is similar to T-point. Our set up does not use T-point (yet). I'd rather leave this to a later time to reduce complexity.

    - Astrometric plate solving isn't working reliably in TheSkyX
    Solved. Same issue as above. The issues we witnessed with plate solving earlier were with the normal solves. TSX Allsky is working properly. You can sync on the photo in both cases…just remember that if the mount is way off then Allsky will be necessary and the picture will be way off too. You’ll have to hunt for it in TheSky and sync on the photo. Note that ACP does not use TSX for solving. It uses Pinpoint and will do Pinpoint Allsky when needed. Last night’s run solved every plate (at least 20). We’ve used TSX to plate solve to get the mount sync'd and because it’s easy with the GUI with which we are all familiar.

    - Focusmax "acquireStar" is not working
    Acquire star is not necessary for ACP (post from Jim McMillan who is a “Super-Wizard” on the DC-3 forums; I think this is like a Jedi Knight!). ACP chooses the focus star. This is the recommendation of ACP. It’s true that we didn’t see Acquirestar work properly; however, 1) it may be immaterial since ACP doesn’t use it, 2) it may work now that the initial pointing problem is sorted. Would make for an interesting experiment, but right now it’s not part of the imaging acquisition process and not our top priority.

    - ACP... don't know where to start - Lloyd, do you want to weigh in?
    ACP ran test images without issue during last night’s testing once the mount was properly synced (see logs). I ran 2 120 second automated (ACP-driven) runs which worked. The only change made was to sync the mount before the runs. After fixing the synchronization these test sessions ran without issue, but the euphoria was short lived due to guiding problems. I’ve discussed this at length above.

    Besides fixing the core issue with guiding several things remain to be done within ACP and ACP Scheduler before the system is operational including setting up the filter sequence in scheduler, setting up automated flats, adding targets to scheduler and a few other more minor things. These things are easy to do. But first, the core functions need to be bullet-proof: plate-solving (check), autofocus (check), guiding (???).

  7. #7
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    Good heavens... Lots here!!! I can't find any entry in my notes for when I worked with you (probably my error) so I can't remember what we did. I do a lot of this...

    You are at SRO, Sierra Remote? There are a couple of other ACP systems there.

    As for the guiding, I'm going to guess that the calibraion got erased or overwritten. Did we save a Configuration in MaxIm after we got guiding going? If so, save your current configuration(!!) (MaxIm File menu, Configurations) then restore the one we saved. Lacking that, calibrate looking east of the meridian (weights down, normal). Then try guiding. Does it guide (600 sec at least). Then set up a west target and try that. The calibration needs to have good long "legs". If not increase the calibration time till you get long legs.

    Also I noticed this:
    The mount doesn't always know where it is
    Make sure that Sleep on Minimize is turned OFF in TheSky X. This one was solved last year in an unusual way by SB leaving anyone who had had TheSky X installed for "a while" still susceptible to the problem. See this thread on the Software Bisque forum (you need access as a Bisque customer). TheSky X, Tools Menu, Preferences (at the bottom), Advanced section, scroll down and uncheck Sleep on Minimize.

    I also noticed this in your log:
    05:47:31 All-sky plate solving will be attempted when needed
    This means that your TheSky Controlled Telescope driver is not set to disable syncs to protect the TPoint model. Do you use TPOINT? If so, then you need to disable Sync. ACP should have warned you about this when you first connected to TheSky (one of the few places I actually look at the telescope type!).



    Also:
    I don't believe the mount was properly sync'd to the sky (nor The SkyX). Given this, neither plate solving nor guiding should be expected to work properly, right? I've synchronized the home position of the Paramount and under darkness can check the accuracy of this with a "regular" plate solve--it should be close. If I have to do an All Sky solve and sync then I can do that as well. After this, I can solve the guiding and solving issues on firm ground.
    The Paramount should NEVER have to be sync'd at start up (this is totally separate from ACP). Home it and go. Maybe you don't have a TPOINT model? If not you need to do that. With TkeSky X it is pretty easy. The Paramount never has pointing problems...
    -- Bob

  8. #8
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    PS -- If you can't get it I can get back on with you.
    -- Bob

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    Bob, thanks for the prompt and informative reply. Yes, we're installed at SRO and targeting a "go live" date of 5/1 or earlier. So far we've made progress each day of testing. I think we're very close even with the situations we're trying to work out now (I don't want to use the word "bugs" since it's all about configuration settings and procedure in my opinion). You haven't worked directly on our system (yet), but we did discuss some early set up issues which I think are largely resolved (i.e., fixing driver settings in Maxim and ACP). We've progressed beyond that a bit.

    I will comment on your last point first regarding the Paramount. I believe we have this fixed. The mount has a fixed home position, but the SkyX was not sync'ed properly to the mounts true position in the sky. A plate solve fixed this.

    We are not using TPoint yet and are not too worried about protecting the TPoint model. We will use TPoint after the fundamentals are fixed. Question: Does ACP's Pointing Corrector work in conjunction with TPoint? Or, should we use one or the other?

    Sleep on Minimize is disabled.

    We will re-run the calibration script and will make sure the Cal Time is sufficiently long. I usually use 35-45 seconds on the FSQ at it's native focal length and the QSI683. The legs end up being about 1/4 to 1/3 across the chip.
    Another Question: For purposes of testing I assume it makes sense to do the calibration "manually" in Maxim and test guiding on both sides of the meridian, correct? After calibrating in the East and testing with Maxim only, certain setting will have to be changed in Maxim to guide in the West (I never remember which ones and am especially challenged since my home system is A-P and this is a Paramount...is it Reverse X? Reverse Y?...I know this has be asked and answered in other forums and I'll look for those answers unless you have it on the tip of your fingers...) We'll be sure to save the Maxim configuration.

    How could we coordinate you're logging into our system if we're unsuccessful at fixing things on our own? We will be testing tonight and every clear night until resolved!

    Thanks, Lloyd.

  10. #10
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    Question: Does ACP's Pointing Corrector work in conjunction with TPoint? Or, should we use one or the other?
    Just use TPOINT, and I would advise doing it ASAP. Leave ACP's less capable corrector turned off.

    We will re-run the calibration script and will make sure the Cal Time is sufficiently long.
    Skip that and calibrate in MaxIm separate from ACP. There's no difference as far as MaxIm is concerned, but you will be more hands-on.

    Another Question: For purposes of testing I assume it makes sense to do the calibration "manually" in Maxim and test guiding on both sides of the meridian, correct?
    How are you "getting"a guide star for testing? This can be daunting and time-consuming. See ACP Help, Off-Axis Guiding - Field of View Indicators, How to "Get" a Guide Star the Easy Way (below). Use this process to get a guide star on the sensor. Then calibrate looking east and test guiding SEPARATE FROM ACP, again looking east. Now run the plan you used for the "How to Get..." process only this time let it run for the full 600 sec. Did it guide? If not how is that possible when it DID guide in MaxIm and ACP just started up the guider. If you cannot get past this (and forget about the west!!) don't go further or you will further drive yourself crazy. It just HAS to guide in the east both manually in MaxIm and with an ACP plan... first!

    After calibrating in the East and testing with Maxim only, certain setting will have to be changed in Maxim to guide in the West (I never remember which ones and am especially challenged since my home system is A-P and this is a Paramount...is it Reverse X? Reverse Y?...I know this has be asked and answered in other forums and I'll look for those answers unless you have it on the tip of your fingers...) We'll be sure to save the Maxim configuration.
    With ACP you don't touch them. It will handle it. You cannot see what ACP is doing, the changes aren't reflected in the MaxIm checkboxes, so don't even look. Once you have it going in the east, make another plan like described in How to "Get" a Guide Star above only for a place well out in the west. Run it. It should "just guide". If not then something is wrong with the pulse guiding and I will have to analyze what is going on by logging into your system.
    -- Bob

 

 

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