iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by admin » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:25 pm

Hi Howard,

that would be ideal, but at least one mount driver was giving the wrong result from CanMoveAxis :roll: ASCOM is a minefield...

cheers,

Robin

howardgrams
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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by howardgrams » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:01 pm

Hi Robin,

Hold the presses! There is a newer/better iOptron ASCOM driver and it appears to work with the MiniTower mount.

When one goes to the iOptron support webpage and selects ASCOM drivers, and then selects "MiniTower, MiniTower II and MiniTower Pro" it only displays the 2011-vintage ASCOM Driver 2.10 for 8401 Hand Controller that we have been struggling with.

However upon further rummaging around on that website, I discovered ASCOM Driver 2013 V3.11. And reading its documentation I found that it IS supposed to work with MiniTower/MiniTower II/MiniTower Pro/Cube Pro/Cube-A with 8401 hand controller. The note for this 2015-vintage driver also says "Added support for MoveAxis and lots of new features."

The ASCOM Conformance test and both Sharpcap 3.0 and 3.1 alpha appear to be happy with the mount using the 2013 V3.11 driver!

Regards,
Howard

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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by admin » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:45 pm

Hi Howard,

that's good news - sounds like you should be back in action now!

cheers,

Robin

pipshag
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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by pipshag » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:31 pm

howardgrams wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:01 pm
Hold the presses! There is a newer/better iOptron ASCOM driver and it appears to work with the MiniTower mount.
Hello!

I had big troubles getting the iOptron Minitower to work until I found your tip. Big thanks for this.
As a sidenote and possible problem with Sharpcap, have you managed to get the mount working with Platesolving? As long as I don't platesolve and sync any points, the mount works perfectly. As soon as I sync I get weird stuff going on, even overcurrent errors and sometimes the object suddenly moves below the horizon (warning in hand controller). Not blaming Sharpcap for buggy software but does it perhaps send syncs which are incompatible with Alt Az mount?

Regards,
Carl-Christian
### Hardware
Computer: Windows 10 Pro (x64) on a Intel Pentium J2900 with 8GB RAM.
Cameras: QHY5III290 + ASI224MC cameras over USB 3.
Mount: iOptron Minitower + HEQ5 Pro SynScan
Accessories: DIY focuser w/ tempsensor, DIY filterwheel

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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by admin » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:49 pm

Hi Carl-Christian,

I wonder if I should be sending SyncToAltAz when pressing sync on an AltAz mount rather than SyncToCoordinates.

Just written the code for this and it will be in the next alpha (or the first beta) release of 3.1. It will require your ASCOM setup to have the observation site (Lat/Long/Elev) configured correctly so SharpCap can work out the Alt/Az from the solved RA/Dec.

May need a further tweak for J2000/JNOW if the sync is offset a little.

cheers,

Robin

pipshag
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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by pipshag » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:22 pm

admin wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:49 pm
Hi Carl-Christian,

I wonder if I should be sending SyncToAltAz when pressing sync on an AltAz mount rather than SyncToCoordinates.

Just written the code for this and it will be in the next alpha (or the first beta) release of 3.1. It will require your ASCOM setup to have the observation site (Lat/Long/Elev) configured correctly so SharpCap can work out the Alt/Az from the solved RA/Dec.

May need a further tweak for J2000/JNOW if the sync is offset a little.

cheers,

Robin
Thank you, Robin, for the quick reply and code adjustment!
Looking in Sharpcap (3.0.4008.0) I do get Az, Alt, RA and Dec when connected to the mount. ASPS also manages to pull out Lat and Lon from the mount. Are you accepting new additions to the Alpha team?
### Hardware
Computer: Windows 10 Pro (x64) on a Intel Pentium J2900 with 8GB RAM.
Cameras: QHY5III290 + ASI224MC cameras over USB 3.
Mount: iOptron Minitower + HEQ5 Pro SynScan
Accessories: DIY focuser w/ tempsensor, DIY filterwheel

howardgrams
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:59 pm

Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by howardgrams » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:55 pm

Hi Carl-Christian,

I haven't tried it with plate solving - in fact your question prompted me to look it up in the Sharpcap documentation which led me to http://www.astrogb.com/astrogb/All_Sky_ ... olver.html. This looks VERY useful - thanks for that tip.

I haven't been able to play much lately with my new camera or the mount or Sharpcap due to the weather. I have noticed though that if I move the mount with the Sharpcap scope control buttons and then stop, the mount does not stay there, instead it drifts back to where it was pointing before I moved it.

Robin, there is reason to doubt that you can do SyncToAltaz. I've been playing with a program to also work with the mount. Here is the information the Minitower ASCOM driver reports to my program during a debugging session (note that CanSyncAltAz: False):
'{ASCOM.DriverAccess.Telescope}
' AlignmentMode: algAltAz {0}
' Altitude: 68.711111111111109
' ApertureArea: 1
' ApertureDiameter: 1
' AtHome: False
' AtPark: False
' Azimuth: 137.72416666666666
' CanFindHome: False
' CanPark: False
' CanPulseGuide: False
' CanSetDeclinationRate: False
' CanSetGuideRates: False
' CanSetPark: False
' CanSetPierSide: False
' CanSetRightAscensionRate: False
' CanSetTracking: True
' CanSlew: True
' CanSlewAltAz: False
' CanSlewAltAzAsync: False
' CanSlewAsync: True
' CanSync: True
' CanSyncAltAz: False
' CanUnpark: False
' Connected: True
' Declination: 19.43
' DeclinationRate: 0
' Description: "iOptron ASCOM Driver for 2013 and Earlier Mounts"
' DoesRefraction: False
' DriverInfo: "iOptron ASCOM Driver for 2013 and Earlier Mounts V3.11"
' DriverVersion: "3.11"
' EquatorialSystem: equLocalTopocentric {1}
' FocalLength: 1
' GuideRateDeclination: 'objtelescope.GuideRateDeclination' threw an exception of type 'ASCOM.NotImplementedException'
'GuideRateRightAscension: 'objtelescope.GuideRateRightAscension' threw an exception of type 'ASCOM.NotImplementedException'
'InterfaceVersion: 3
' IsPulseGuiding: 'objtelescope.IsPulseGuiding' threw an exception of type 'ASCOM.NotImplementedException'
'Name: "iOptron ASCOM Driver for 2013 and Earlier Mounts"
' RightAscension: 8.34088888888889
' RightAscensionRate: 0
' SideOfPier: 'objtelescope.SideOfPier' threw an exception of type 'ASCOM.NotImplementedException'
'SiderealTime: 7.3412111376412215
' SiteElevation: 0
' SiteLatitude: 36.145833333333336
' SiteLongitude: -80.3155555555556
' SlewSettleTime: 0
' Slewing: False
' SupportedActions: Count = 0

On another subject, the newer iOptron ASCOM Driver for 2013 and Earlier Mounts has the nice feature that multiple programs can talk to it at the same time without the need for the ASCOM hub. I have it cheerfully talking simultaneously to two planetarium programs in addition to Sharpcap and my program.

Regards,
Howard

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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by admin » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:56 pm

Hi Howard,

thanks for that info - I can wrap the code that deals with SyncToAltAz inside a check that the mount claims it 'CanSyncAltAz' which will probably mean it won't run on the minitower.

The fact that the mount drifts back is very weird. Unfortunately I don't have an iOptron mount to play with but I may see if I can find a way to lay my hands on one temporarily for testing - might take a while though.

cheers,

Robin

pipshag
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Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by pipshag » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:48 pm

howardgrams wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:55 pm
I haven't been able to play much lately with my new camera or the mount or Sharpcap due to the weather. I have noticed though that if I move the mount with the Sharpcap scope control buttons and then stop, the mount does not stay there, instead it drifts back to where it was pointing before I moved it.
Thank you for the reply. It seems like the driver is not really intended to be used for steering and platesolves (synchronization) seems buggy. But from when I played around it handled slew to targets like a champ.

####
EDIT: It's stormy outside so I haven't been able to test this with image input but it seems like:

#1 - Changing slew speeds are not affecting speed from inside Sharpcap
#2 - The same problem with only moving to a certain limit before going back is in the iOptron Commander 2013 software
Ergo, not a Sharpcap bug?
###

Bought my Minitower used since I wanted to "step up" - it seems like I really made a costly error. If only I could work out a procedure that would let me align and find my targets I want to view! Just normal 1-star align (or even 2-star) doesn't really get me where I should be and trying to figure it out without platesolve & synchronizing the position makes it difficult. Platesolve in a different program, figure out where the coordinates are in the planetarium app and then slew with the iOptron software? God.
howardgrams wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:55 pm
On another subject, the newer iOptron ASCOM Driver for 2013 and Earlier Mounts has the nice feature that multiple programs can talk to it at the same time without the need for the ASCOM hub. I have it cheerfully talking simultaneously to two planetarium programs in addition to Sharpcap and my program.
It's promising that you're developing software for the mount - may I ask what you envisage with it and what it currently does? If you need someone to look at it and test it, let me know.
### Hardware
Computer: Windows 10 Pro (x64) on a Intel Pentium J2900 with 8GB RAM.
Cameras: QHY5III290 + ASI224MC cameras over USB 3.
Mount: iOptron Minitower + HEQ5 Pro SynScan
Accessories: DIY focuser w/ tempsensor, DIY filterwheel

howardgrams
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:59 pm

Re: iOptron Minitower - Error connecting to ASCOM mount. Object required.

Post by howardgrams » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:25 pm

I've been doing a little more experimenting. Carl-Christian, I definitely confirm your observation that "As soon as I sync I get weird stuff going on, even overcurrent errors and sometimes the object suddenly moves below the horizon (warning in hand controller)". This happens when I drive it with my client software, not Sharpcap, so Sharpcap is not at fault. Tracing the RS232 command traffic between the computer and the mount reveals that a sync to RA/Dec send the commands :Sr# :Sd# and then :CM#, at which point the mount goes off the rails.
This original Minitower and 8401 controller and firmware V090701 seem to be documented by "GOTONOVA RS-232 COMMAND LANGUAGE Version 1.01", while the newer ASCOM 2013 driver seems to be compatible with "iOptron TM Telescope RS-232 Command Language Version 1.4". Syncing in the original command language seems to be done using :CM# or :CMR # that expect a response of "Coordinates matched.#" , whereas syncing in the newer command language is done using :CM# that expects a response of simply "1".
My minitower seems to respond to :CM# with simply "C" which confuses the 2013 ASCOM driver, to say the least.
The newer ASCOM driver also issues a lot of commands that are in the newer command language that are missing in the original command language.

Depending on whether I get some time and ambition later this fall, I may attempt to write a new ASCOM driver for the original minitower command language to try to get around the hopeless bugginess of the original ASCOM driver and this sync problem with the newer ASCOM driver. It's probably hopeless to try to get iOptron to fix this problem with the newer driver used with the original mount.

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