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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Default Autofocus and Focusmax

    Hi Bob,

    We don't understand something in the ACP focus system. We have installed Focusmax and when we use it autonomously, everything works perfectly. For example, our students point the telescope in a direction of a stars field (not too bright of course) and click on "Focus" button of Focusmax: everything goes perfectly.

    Now we want to focus automatically in ACP. Unfortunately the system fails every time: it tries to find a bright star and it can not (see log attached which is just an example, messages are always the same). Do you have an idea of the bad feature?

    More generally, can we just ask to ACP to focus on the field where telescope points (with a 50 cm, we has enough flux in general)?

    I took the opportunity to ask a more general question: we launch automatically Focusmax. Unfortunately CCD software (Maxim for us) is never defined (we must click on the button every time) and the focuser is never connected automatically. We have done many tests, without success.

    I suspect that my questions are basic, but hey, we must find a good solution and throws me to ask!

    Cheers,
    Stéphane
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Autofocus and Focusmax

    First, you have the star magnitude set for 4-7 (presumably in FilterInfo), or and you are using the UCAC4 catalog. This catalog has no bright stars, and in the area you are looking none! Per the recommendations in ACP help, for automation the USNO A2.0 or for wider fields the GSC/1.1 should be used.

    In general there will not be a suitable focus star in the field. You can either have ACP choose one or use the smarter FocusMax AcquireStar feature.

    I don't understand your last question, I am sorry. I think you are saying that the settings for MaxIm imaging and for connecting the focuser automatically are not "sticking"? I don't know why that might be happening. Perhaps you can ask on the FocusMax forum or in our FocusMax section here. I haven't had that problem.
    -- Bob

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thank you very much for your fast response. However it is yet not very clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Denny View Post
    First, you have the star magnitude set for 4-7 (presumably in FilterInfo), or and you are using the UCAC4 catalog. This catalog has no bright stars, and in the area you are looking none! Per the recommendations in ACP help, for automation the USNO A2.0 or for wider fields the GSC/1.1 should be used.

    In general there will not be a suitable focus star in the field. You can either have ACP choose one or use the smarter FocusMax AcquireStar feature.
    When I checked the Focusmax logfile, it is said that it used USNO:
    21:09:01 ** Starting AcquireStar Sequence **
    21:09:02 FocusMax Version: 3.7.0.86
    21:09:02 System: DefaultSystem
    21:09:03 Camera: FLI
    21:09:03 Catalog: USNO-A2.0

    I have no reference to UCAC. Where have you seen it? In Focusmax, USNO is defined (Acquirestar section) as the default catalog. In any case, is-it possible to ask to ACP a simple focus where telescope is observing (as we do by clicking on the Focus button)? It would be the best option for us.


    I don't understand your last question, I am sorry. I think you are saying that the settings for MaxIm imaging and for connecting the focuser automatically are not "sticking"? I don't know why that might be happening. Perhaps you can ask on the FocusMax forum or in our FocusMax section here. I haven't had that problem.
    It is exactly the issue. I upgraded to version 3.8 (I will jump to version 4 when full system will be stable), but problem is still alive. Maybe someone knows how to define this parameter directly in the config file?

  4. #4
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    Mesa, AZ
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    Default

    Oh I am sorry. That's what I get for trying to answer on a Saturday evening when not in the office. Of course you are seeing the AcquireStar function of FocusMax. I don't know how it works so I can't say why it was not finding stars. The A2.0 catalog does have the bright stars. Are you saying that clicking the AcquireStar button in FocusMax works, but when ACP calls the AcquireStar function is does not work? I don't know how that could be possible since the call ACP makes is equivalent to clicking the button on FocusMax.

    Possibly you find your own focus star then just press the Focus button on FocusMax? If that is the case, then something in the AcquireStar setup isn't right. In ACP Preferences, AutoFocus, try turning OFF "Use AcquireStar" and make sure that ACP is set to also use the USNO A2.0 catalog (PinPoint tab).
    -- Bob

  5. #5
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    Default

    No worries, the essential is to get there.


    I'll do some testing as soon as the weather improved (bad now) and I'll keep you naturally aware of test results.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
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    Default

    Hi Stephane-

    What version of FMax are you using? I'm using 3.7.0.95. When I tried updating FMax to 3.8.x, I had the same problem: FMax worked ok on it's own but failed with ACP. I tried 4 different versions of 3.8.x.

    Steve Brady is aware of the problem, and I'm going to give 4.x a try and see if the problem has been resolved. If it's not working, I'll try to work with Steve to resolve it, using my system as a test site. But I'm putting this off until later in the lunar cycle (maybe 10 days) to take advantage of the recent improvement in weather.

    If you're using 3.8.x, try dropping back to 3.7x and see if that works. That may get you up and running in the short term, but the best solution will be to figure this out and confirm that the new FMax 4.x is working with ACP.

    Rob
    Rob Capon
    (Self-appointed) "Executive Director"
    Stillhouse Mountain Observatory
    Charlottesville, VA
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  7. #7
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    Aug 2013
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    Default

    Hi Rob,

    I have exactly the same configuration: I used the 3.7.x release and tried to solve the problem by switching to version 3.8. Conclusion is always the same: Focusmax works nicely in standalone. I can try to get back to an earlier version, but does anyone have a version to suggest?

    I will continue testing as soon as the weather becomes acceptable. Of course I am very interested in the results of tests on version 4

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
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    Default

    Stephane-

    Our problem sounds different, because 3.7.0.95 works fine for me with ACP.

    One other thing to try. If you quit all programs and restart your computer, what happens if you start Maxim, connect the camera through ACP and only then start FocusMax? Does that make a difference? Starting FMax last has seemed to make it work more reliably for me, and I've built that sequence into my startup script.

    If that doesn't work you might try installing the 60-day trial of FMax 4, and see if that works. Steve Brady is not supporting 3.x anymore, but I'm sure would want to help you on this with 4.x. He understands how important it is to make sure FMax 4.x works with ACP. If you try it, please let us know if that works.

    Rob

  9. #9
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    Aug 2013
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    Default

    Rob,

    I just did the tests and it does not change much. It is quite unsettling as you imagine. I'll take my chances with Steve Brady. Of course I'll keep you informed of developments.

    Stéphane

  10. #10
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    Default

    Stephane, I still don't know if you are using AcquireStar (selected in ACP, and when testing FocusMax alone, using its AcquireStar button or just hand selecting the focus star and clicking Focus button).
    1. Do a successful FocusMax test
    2. Save the log and attach it to a reply here <-- instructions on how to attach
    3. Take a screen shot (use the simple Windows Snipping Tool) of ACP Preferences, AutoFocus tab
    4. Attach this screen shot to your reply here.
    -- Bob

 

 

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