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The birth of the EQ1 autoguider

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  • themos_astro
    I ve always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using this
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 13, 2012
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      I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using this method (Linux users only, for now):

      http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/

      The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic) Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown here:

      http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg

      Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1 controller):

      http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc

      The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):

      http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/ArduinoAstroControl/

      My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.

      An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate guide scope/camera (or a laptop).

      First light will happen on next clear night.

      Themos Tsikas
    • Rick Saunders
      ... Great idea. Assumes that your camera is perfectly parallel to the RA axis. Rick
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 13, 2012
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        On Monday, February 13, 2012 05:37:06 am you wrote:
        > I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first
        > hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using
        > this method (Linux users only, for now):
        >
        > http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/
        >
        > The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic)
        > Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be
        > overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown
        > here:
        >
        > http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg
        >
        > Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here
        > (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the
        > same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1
        > controller):
        >
        > http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc
        >
        > The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have
        > written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his
        > ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):
        >
        > http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/Arduino
        > AstroControl/
        >
        > My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to
        > be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.
        >
        > An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember
        > the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a
        > few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and
        > replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate
        > guide scope/camera (or a laptop).
        >
        > First light will happen on next clear night.
        >
        > Themos Tsikas

        Great idea. Assumes that your camera is perfectly parallel to the RA axis.

        Rick
      • Rick Saunders
        My apologies... Looking at the output etc. you ve taken the non-alignment of the camera into account. Very nice. Rick
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 13, 2012
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          My apologies... Looking at the output etc. you've taken the non-alignment of
          the camera into account. Very nice.

          Rick

          On Monday, February 13, 2012 05:37:06 am you wrote:
          > I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first
          > hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using
          > this method (Linux users only, for now):
          >
          > http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/
          >
          > The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic)
          > Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be
          > overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown
          > here:
          >
          > http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg
          >
          > Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here
          > (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the
          > same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1
          > controller):
          >
          > http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc
          >
          > The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have
          > written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his
          > ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):
          >
          > http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/Arduino
          > AstroControl/
          >
          > My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to
          > be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.
          >
          > An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember
          > the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a
          > few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and
          > replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate
          > guide scope/camera (or a laptop).
          >
          > First light will happen on next clear night.
          >
          > Themos Tsikas
        • themos_astro
          I should credit David Rowe and this article where I first came across the idea. http://www.considine.net/aplanatic/align.htm We added astrometry.net s plate
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 13, 2012
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            I should credit David Rowe and this article where I first came across the idea.

            http://www.considine.net/aplanatic/align.htm

            We added astrometry.net's plate solving to automate the process and not have to type pixel coordinates with frozen fingers.



            --- In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, Rick Saunders <ozzzy@...> wrote:
            >
            > My apologies... Looking at the output etc. you've taken the non-alignment of
            > the camera into account. Very nice.
            >
            > Rick
            >
          • themos_astro
            First light report: Polar alignment fine tuned to about 5 arcminute error. Plot produced by script here:
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 19, 2012
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              First light report:

              Polar alignment fine tuned to about 5 arcminute error. Plot produced by script here:

              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/autoguiding/photos/album/1178560760/pic/663921862/view

              Canon 450D with Zeiss Jena 135mm f/3.5 lens, 8 arcseconds per pixel.

              A progression of exposures at 2, 4, 7, 8 and 11 minutes are shown.

              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/autoguiding/photos/album/1178560760/pic/list

              These are the best results, there were some that showed more trailing at over 5 minutes as I was experimenting with PHD settings. DEC guiding was turned off, Aggressiveness set to 103, Hysteresis to 10, search region to the maximum of 50 pixels and Calibration to 500ms. These seemed to produce reliably good results.

              Verdict: it can produce the goods. Now, I am optics-limited and sensor limited instead of being mount-limited, for short focal length astrophotography.



              --- In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, "themos_astro" <themos.tsikas@...> wrote:

              > First light will happen on next clear night.
              >
              > Themos Tsikas
              >
            • themos_astro
              PHD Log of the session here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ags-dmFqKZThdEN1a1JRNHJBTDlJU3lRZnNjZHNIaUE
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 19, 2012
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                PHD Log of the session here:

                https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ags-dmFqKZThdEN1a1JRNHJBTDlJU3lRZnNjZHNIaUE


                --- In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, "themos_astro" <themos.tsikas@...> wrote:
                >
                > First light report:
              • themos_astro
                discussion of ArduinoAstroContrlol http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/66882-arduinoastrocontrol-homebrew-autoguider-mkii/ --- In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com,
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 9, 2013
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                  discussion of ArduinoAstroContrlol 


                   http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/66882-arduinoastrocontrol-homebrew-autoguider-mkii/



                  --- In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, <autoguiding@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                  I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using this method (Linux users only, for now):

                  http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/

                  The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic) Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown here:

                  http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg

                  Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1 controller):

                  http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc

                  The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):

                  http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/ArduinoAstroControl/

                  My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.

                  An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate guide scope/camera (or a laptop).

                  First light will happen on next clear night.

                  Themos Tsikas
                • t_s_watson
                  Thermos, thank you for your efforts creating and implementing this project. Your results are very impressive. I am very interested and plan to follow your
                  Message 8 of 13 , Oct 19, 2013
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                    Thermos, thank you for your efforts creating and implementing this project. Your results are very impressive.

                     

                    I am very interested and plan to follow your steps, however, I am on Windows 7. Have you went any further on this?

                     

                    Also, I have installed a GPUSB kit on a duel track controller before, so, I have no problem doing the modification, but your link to Guy Webb's description does not seem to be working. Does this modification use a GPUSB to facilitate a usb connection to a computer?

                     

                    Best Regards,

                    Tom



                    ---In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, <themos.tsikas@...> wrote:

                    I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using this method (Linux users only, for now):

                    http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/

                    The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic) Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown here:

                    http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg

                    Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1 controller):

                    http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc

                    The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):

                    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/ArduinoAstroControl/

                    My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.

                    An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate guide scope/camera (or a laptop).

                    First light will happen on next clear night.

                    Themos Tsikas
                  • themos_astro
                    Hello Tom, Windows 7 should not be a problem, this is what I use on my astro laptop. First, let me find Guy Webb s document for you.
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 21, 2013
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                       Hello Tom, 


                      Windows 7 should not be a problem, this is what I use on my astro laptop. 


                      First, let me find Guy Webb's document for you. 


                      http://www.guywebb.co.uk/ArduinoAstroControl/ArduinoAstroControl%201.0.0.zip


                      This modification uses an Arduino and you can either use an Arduino board with integrated USB  or use a "small" (cheaper) Arduino with a USB-to-Serial Converter cable ( I used an Arduino Mini Pro http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/ArduinoProMini with the "FTDI TTL-232R USB - TTL Level Serial Converter Cable" )


                      My ASCOM driver is available here:

                      https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bws-dmFqKZThMmE3N2ZkNTctYjA5NC00MjAwLTllZWQtZDFmYzNkMWZmNWE2/edit?usp=sharing


                      People have some trouble with it, so I include the sources and people can rebuild it on their machine (You need an uptodate Visual Studio C# Express and ASCOM Platform 6 SP3 with the developer stuff installed). 


                      The polar alignment helper script has been running on Windows 7 for a while now, using Cygwin. Luckily, there is a project called Astrotortilla 

                      http://sourceforge.net/projects/astrotortilla/

                      which has done the hard work of packaging the bits of software we need for our polar alignment script (cygwin and astrometry.net, essentially). It is very useful in its own right. Once you have Astrotortilla installed, it should be fairly straightforward to get our script to run in a cygwin command line shell within an X server session. 

                      Themos


                      ---In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, <vorpal_blade@...> wrote:

                      Thermos, thank you for your efforts creating and implementing this project. Your results are very impressive.

                       

                      I am very interested and plan to follow your steps, however, I am on Windows 7. Have you went any further on this?

                       

                      Also, I have installed a GPUSB kit on a duel track controller before, so, I have no problem doing the modification, but your link to Guy Webb's description does not seem to be working. Does this modification use a GPUSB to facilitate a usb connection to a computer?

                       

                      Best Regards,

                      Tom



                      ---In autoguiding@yahoogroups.com, <themos.tsikas@...> wrote:

                      I've always wanted to take my EQ1 equatorial mount to its limits. The first hurdle was finding a good way of polar aligning it. That is now done using this method (Linux users only, for now):

                      http://code.google.com/p/eq-polar-alignment/

                      The second hurdle was the EQ1's "generous" Periodic (and not so periodic) Error. Mine showed about 180 arcseconds peak-to-peak. This hurdle can be overcome provided one is able to hack into the multispeed controller shown here:

                      http://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/954.jpg

                      Guy Webb has provided a nice description of the modification process here (the controller is different in this document but the principle is the same, you just need to solder wires to the bottom two buttons of the EQ1 controller):

                      http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xkrjc

                      The last component you'd need is an ASCOM Telescope driver and I have written one (for Platform 6) using bits of Guy's code from his ArduinoAstroControl driver (needs Platform 5.5, though):

                      http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sgl_observatory_automation/files/ArduinoAstroControl/

                      My driver, which implements pulse guiding, contains just enough smarts to be usable with PHD. Let me know if you want a copy of my driver.

                      An alternative would be to "train" the mount, having the Arduino remember the timing of key presses as one corrects for the tracking error over a few worm periods and then resetting the gears to the start position and replaying the button presses. That would mean no need to use a separate guide scope/camera (or a laptop).

                      First light will happen on next clear night.

                      Themos Tsikas
                    • t_s_watson
                      Hi Thrmos, Thanks for the info so far. I hope you don t mind if I ask some questions, probably several before I have the project up and running. So far I have
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jan 29
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                        Hi Thrmos,


                        Thanks for the info so far. I hope you don't mind if I ask some questions, probably several before I have the project up and running.


                        So far I have been able to get a basic guide camera setup and have yet to work on the controller. So I'd like to give your polar alignment script try to get started.


                        I have Astrotortilla loaded on my laptop but am totally unfamiliar with it or Cygwin. I have read the instructions that came with Astrotortilla but do not understand how to implement your script. Could you give me a basic step by step on how to run the script in a cygwin command line shell within an X server session.


                        Tom 

                      • themos_astro
                        Hello Tom, I am glad to help you out, I think it s best if we can get a real-time chat connection going, are you on the same timezone as me (GMT) and do you
                        Message 11 of 13 , Jan 30
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                          Hello Tom, 


                          I am glad to help you out, I think it's best if we can get a real-time chat connection going, are you on the same timezone as me (GMT) and do you have an account with Google+ or Facebook or Skype?


                          Themos Tsikas



                        • t_s_watson
                          Hey Thermos, Sounds good. I m Eastern US Time Zone and do have a Facebook account. https://www.facebook.com/thomas.watson.9803
                          Message 12 of 13 , Jan 30
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                            Hey Thermos,


                            Sounds good. I'm Eastern US Time Zone and do have a Facebook account.


                            https://www.facebook.com/thomas.watson.9803


                            Send me a message and we line up a chat that works for both of us.


                            Thanks,

                            Tom



                          • t_s_watson
                            Or send me an email if the link is blocked. t_s_watson@yahoo.com mailto:t_s_watson@yahoo.com
                            Message 13 of 13 , Jan 30
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                              Or send me an email if the link is blocked.


                              t_s_watson@...



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