Hang on Focuser move

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Brew
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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:57 pm

Hang on Focuser move

Post by Brew » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:05 pm

Newbie here. Trying to run SharpCap with the Test Camera and my Optec focuser. The focuser connects OK, reports the correct position. I tried to move out 500 steps and the system hung; no response from SharpCap or windows anywhere. It appears to be in an infinite loop sucking up all CPU? Cannot access the taskbar, minimize/maximize windows, etc. Teamviewer also hung, so now I am locked out of the observatory computer.

New install today, on Win10 computer. Optec driver is current, used regularly under focusMaxV4.

Didn't crash so I did not get the Crash Report screen.

I don't have an actual camera yet (it is on the way) so I was just getting used to the software using the test cameras.

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admin
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by admin » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:24 pm

Hi,

sorry to hear that this isn't working right. Very odd that everything should stop responding as modern version of Windows makes it incredibly hard to do that, although it could just be the CPU load making teamviewer die.

Having looked at the code, I'm wondering about the way that SharpCap monitors the focuser in the background - basically SharpCap asks the focuser for it's status a couple of times per second so it can update the position if it is moving or it has been adjusted using another application or a handset. Most focusers seem to handle this fine, but I'm wondering if somehow the driver for yours is slow responding to these status requests or has some other oddity that I've not encountered before. If it got stuck in a status request then that could cause the main SharpCap UI to hang when you press the move button, but still shouldn't bring down other applications or use 100% CPU as far as I can see.

Some questions for you to help build a fuller picture:

* which focuser model do you have and which driver version have you used?
* Does the CPU usage in SharpCap seem to go high *before* moving the focuser?
* Can you control the focuser from a handset or similar? In that case connect SharpCap to the focuser and see if the position shown in SharpCap updates when you move the focuser.

cheers,

Robin

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admin
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by admin » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:33 pm

Ah yes, one more thing to test...

try a short move (10/20/50 not 500). Some focusers have a 'max move' length which SharpCap works around by splittling a bigger move up into small steps each less than the limit - I suppose it's possible that somehow that splitting up could be causing problems and if a small move works then maybe that is the cause.

cheers,

Robin

Brew
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by Brew » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:42 pm

More info:

- The focuser is an Optec-TCFS which I have used reliably for a number of years (via FocusMax). I normally use it via ASCOM, looks like you also use ASCOM.

- CPU usage did not seem particularly high or unusual beforehand. I do not actually know that CPU is pegged - nothing responds at all so I can't get to TaskMgr to check performance, kill SharpCap, or anything. Eventually had to cycle power to the computer.

- I had moved the focuser in FM before connecting via SharpCap, to verify that SharpCap saw the correct position. I disconnected from FM and started SharpCap. That worked fine, the correct position was shown.

- I first did a 50 step move, worked fine. I then did a 500 step move, then it hung. The new position was not reported, so I "assume" the problem was during the move.

- I do not believe the Optec has the Max Move by default, although I think it can be configured to do that. I do not have it configured that way.

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turfpit
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by turfpit » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:11 pm

Drivers here https://www.optecinc.com/astronomy/downloads/tcf-s.htm

Several things that stand out to me:
  • The page states "remove old drivers before installing v6 drivers"
  • IMPORTANT: For older TCF-S controller boards, the latest firmware, V2.40, is REQUIRED for full functionality. New firmware PIC chips may be ordered here. The ASCOM platform is REQUIRED for this driver.
  • Many low cost converters using the Prolific chip set will not work with the Optec control software. We suggest that the converter use the FTDI chip set for best compatibility.
Dave

Brew
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by Brew » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:52 am

The optec is up to date for drivers. I have been using it for years with Maxim/FocusMax and ACP, no problems.

I assume the converter referred to would be a USB-to-serial dongle? I use an Edgeport 4-port serial box (communicates via USB) which worked well for years. At the moment the only devices using it are the Optec and a LazyFocus focuser used on a second OTA.

In short, I do not think the Optec is likely to be a problem.

I don't know how reproducible this is; I tried it again today with the QHY 174 camera instead of the test camera, it worked OK. Maybe this is a problem with the camera simulator or something.

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turfpit
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by turfpit » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:13 pm

I have been using it for years with Maxim/FocusMax and ACP, no problems
Used for years under which version(s) of Windows?

Or put another way - has this hardware configuration worked with Maxim/FocusMax & ACP worked successfully on a Windows 10 platform? If so, that could possibly point the issue towards the Sharpcap test camera code.
I assume the converter referred to would be a USB-to-serial dongle?
Correct. FTDI and Prolific have been the major chipsets for the USB to serial converters for a number of years - with success being wildly variable.
tried it again today with the QHY 174 camera instead of the test camera, it worked OK
This must be good news and could possibly point the issue towards the Sharpcap test camera code.

Dave

Brew
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by Brew » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:19 pm

I have been running Maxim/FocusMax/Ascom/Optec/ACP successfully under Windows 10 for about a year or more - since MS "offered" the free upgrade from 8. It continues to work fine currently. The only problem I have is Win10 forcing updates, which tends to wreck ACP and sometimes other settings. I keep trying to turn off updates, but MS forces them in anyway. I have to re-install ACP every time, then re-install my ACP menu customization. I am pretty confident that the Maxim/ASCOM/Optec configuration is pretty stable.

I have had issues with Prolific drivers when running the original Dome software (from Foster Systems). Since then I have written my own Dome driver (for other reasons) and have had no issues. I do not know what my Edgeport is using, but have never had any problems with it in 10 years.

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turfpit
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Re: Hang on Focuser move

Post by turfpit » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:05 pm

Thanks. It looks like the only change to a stable working configuration has been SharpCap and the test camera.

I agree with you about Win 10 updates - the 1803 caused me some pain.

Looking at the Edgeport web site, it looks like they manufacture their hardware well and made a point of being standards compliant.

Hopefully the introduction of the QHY gives you a reliable setup.

Thanks for answering all the questions, I was just trying to build a complete picture.

Dave

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