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INDI Library v1.9.4 Released (17 Jan 2022)

Bimonthly Stable INDI Library release introduces new drivers and fixes for existing ones. Some highlights:

Autoguiding with Star Adventurer

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Hi!

So, Ive been doing astrophotography with my DSLR and a Star Adventurer for a bit now, and I would like to upgrade to an autoguider setup.
I was thinking about a ZWO ASI120MC-S with a 30mm f4 scope.

Now, my question is: Would this setup work? I have read bad things about connecting the Star Adventurer with Ekos, but I also see a lot of people guiding with the Star Adventurer.

This is my final question before I can order an autoguider setup with confidence :)

Thanks!
1 year 5 months ago #58673

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I was able to get it running, after awhile.

Setup wise, you're going to be running an ST4 cable from your guider to the Star Adventurer as it has no goto control.

The first thing I did was set up a profile with 'Telescope Simulator' for a mount. I use a QHY 5-II-L as a guide camera, so I set QHYCCD as the Guider. I also have a QHY 294C for an imaging camera, so CCD got set to QHYCCD as well.

Once you've loaded the profile, head over first to the Mount Module.

Why, you might ask, given that it's a simulated mount? Because on mine it happened to be set to Auto Park at 1:00 in the morning, and when that happens any guiding underway gets shut down. So turn that off and turn off any meridian flipping too. Also make sure it's UnParked and Tracking is On.

For Alignment, you can use your guide camera+guide scope, or, if you have an imaging camera that is INDI-compatible, you can use that too. Start the process in the KStars sky window by selecting the object and telling the Telescope Simulator to go to it. Meanwhile, in the real world, move your Star Adventurer to that area of the sky. Once the Telescope Simulator is on the target and you've moved the SA, go to the Alignment Module and set the Solver Action to Sync. Having made sure you've got the right combination of scope and CCD, you can then carry out a 'Capture & Solve'. It'll then tell you how far off you are, and back in the sky window it will show you how far out you are. Then readjust the SA, repeat the Alignment, and so on.

Now move on to the Guider Module. This is where I ended up wasting a great deal of time. The first thing to do here is to make sure the Guider is set to the correct device and then make sure 'Via' is set to the guide camera and not 'Telescope Simulator'... this is because you're using an ST-4 cable to issue commands to the mount. Next, since the Star Adventurer has no declination motor, *OBVIOUSLY* it can't control declination. So one would think that simply unchecking 'DEC' under Directions would suffice. No, sadly... every time I told it to start guiding it would attempt to start drifting Dec after RA in the calibration and eventually fail. So what you also have to do is go to 'Options' in the lower righthand corner and uncheck "Two Axis" on the Calibration Pane. After that it will calibrate on RA only and start guiding.

Prior to Aligning, you could probably do an Ekos polar alignment with a manual slew. I haven't tried it since you can get decently accurate polar alignment for < 400 mm with the SA's own polar finder.
1 year 5 months ago #58677

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Great write-up!
Wouter van Reeven

ASI6200MM and 7 slot 2" filter wheel with a SkyWatcher Esprit 80 ED on a SkyWatcher HEQ5-Pro
ASI1600MM-Pro Cooled and 5 slot 1.25" filter wheel with an 8" TS Ritchey-Chrétien on a SkyWatcher EQ6-R
The following user(s) said Thank You: David James
1 year 5 months ago #58680

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Im amazed by how helpful people are on this forum!
This write-up convinced me to go buy a guider setup! Thanks!
1 year 5 months ago #58697

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I should add that at the Alignment stage you do have to pay attention to what it's calculating its alignment offset from.

On the first go round, since you set your Telescope Simulator to the object of interest (say NGC 7000, the North America Nebula), the Alignment Module will plate solve a distance from that. At this stage you'll move the SA to try to get NGC 7000 in frame but of course the Telescope Simulator is now synced to wherever in the sky the camera had been pointed (I didn't actually explain this explicitly in my initial write-up, but the Telescope Simulator is being used as a virtual stand-in for the Star Adventurer, so you have to try to keep the two synced up).

What seems to happen sometimes is if you're far enough away - maybe you're closer to the star Delta Cygni (towards the Veil Nebula) - the Alignment Module may somehow decide on the next iteration to compare its next plate solved location against the previously plate solved and synced location (i.e. Delta Cygni) rather than your intended target (i.e. NGC 7000). In other words, it now considers Delta Cygni the target. It's not that it's giving the wrong answer in the sky view, just that the reported off-target distance in the Alignment Module can be misleading. So if you were rather far out in your initial aim, it's best to once again tell the Telescope Simulator to head over to NGC 7000 in the KStars sky window while you manually move the SA towards it in the real sky.

I suspect part of the reason it occurs is because in contrast with the usual Slew to Target, the Telescope Simulator doesn't actually slew to the target on a Sync only. If you were to have it set to Slew to Target, it would do its virtual slew to the target and then solve, find it's still where it was before, virtually slew to it again, and so on until you moved the SA manually. So this might be a viable way of aligning if you don't mind it taking many more images than you would.

I've only done this once so far and I couldn't tell you how consistent this behaviour of the Alignment Module resetting its target, but my general advice would be to re-aim the Telescope Simulator to the target any time the target is completely outside of the plate-solved frame.
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1 year 5 months ago #58728

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I have been successfully autoguiding my SA with KStars and PHD2.
Strictly speaking you only need PHD2, but it is better to have KStars and EKOS control the camera so it can at least dither in RA. If you are not interested in dithering, you can simplify to just PHD2 and intervalometer.
Aurneth gave excellent instructions, including disabling Dec for EKOS internal guider. But if you use PHD2 there are 2 places you can do that. First, under the guiding graph, on the far right adjacent to Mx DEC, Change Auto to OFF. The other way is in the Brain>Algorithms> Dec guide mode: OFF.

KStars and EKOS can really help with aligning your target with plate solving.
For locating a target I will set the solver to only Sync. Before running the solver manually set a sync point near where you think the camera is pointed. Use manual sync points whenever you make large movements.

The successful result of the solver if you use your main imaging camera will be shown on the skymap. Use that as a guide for RA, Dec and rotation adjustments.
If it has difficulty solving, try increasing exposure time. Or clear the mount alignment to eliminate your manual sync points.

You can also polar align with your guide scope and the EKOS Polar Align Assistant. Choose manual slew at the beginning, and rotate ~30° for each step.
INDI/KStars on Raspberry Pi 4, 4gb
Raspbian Buster with AstroPi3 script configuration
Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount
Canon 600D Camera
Orion SSAG/ASI120mm @280mm Guide Scope
PHD2
Waveshare Stepper Motor Board - DIY Focuser
Adafruit GPS Module
Generic Bluetooth Joystick.
Startech 7 port powered USB Hub.
1 year 4 months ago #58748

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Is there a reason to use PHD2 and Ekos rather than just Ekos?
I still don't understand how all different tools can work together at the same time...
1 year 4 months ago #58779

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PHD2 has a few tools that Ekos doesn't have. Plus ,any people come from Windows where PHD2 is the de facto guiding standard. I have always only used the Ekos internal guider and have achieved wonderful results that I don't think could have done better with PHD2. On top of that, Hy has been implementing some fabulous additions to the internal guider (based on scientific papers used for PHD2 as well) so IMHO there is even less reason to use PHD2.


Wouter
Wouter van Reeven

ASI6200MM and 7 slot 2" filter wheel with a SkyWatcher Esprit 80 ED on a SkyWatcher HEQ5-Pro
ASI1600MM-Pro Cooled and 5 slot 1.25" filter wheel with an 8" TS Ritchey-Chrétien on a SkyWatcher EQ6-R
1 year 4 months ago #58786

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If I recall the Ekos internal guider is based on a fork from Linguider.

I don't think Linguider has received any development love for quite a while, but the additional work that the Ekos fork has received makes it just as good as PHD2.

While PHD2 / Ekos integration is pretty good, I feel to support as much as possible within Ekos and not have issues should the PHD2 go and make changes to their code not handled by Ekos then you're just better using the Ekos Internal Guider - which is getting a lot of improvement attention from Hy.
__
I blog my progress: www.coochey.net
1 year 4 months ago #58791

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I did not intend to start a debate on internal guider vs PHD2 with or without EKOS. Just giving him the option and how to use it with the Star Adventurer.
INDI/KStars on Raspberry Pi 4, 4gb
Raspbian Buster with AstroPi3 script configuration
Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount
Canon 600D Camera
Orion SSAG/ASI120mm @280mm Guide Scope
PHD2
Waveshare Stepper Motor Board - DIY Focuser
Adafruit GPS Module
Generic Bluetooth Joystick.
Startech 7 port powered USB Hub.
1 year 4 months ago #58833

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I finally received my camera, and it seems to work with Astroberry!

I was wondering about the step where you mention in the 'mount' tab, the tracking should be 'on'. Why is that? Doesn't the Star adventurer track by itself when set to the right tracking speed? Or is the tracking supposed to be turned off, and will Ekos just 'push' the tracker along?
1 year 4 months ago #59628

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The auto-guider will only function while the mount is tracking. And since it is not receiving that status from the mount itself, you need to enable tracking on the mount simulator driver to trick it.
INDI/KStars on Raspberry Pi 4, 4gb
Raspbian Buster with AstroPi3 script configuration
Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount
Canon 600D Camera
Orion SSAG/ASI120mm @280mm Guide Scope
PHD2
Waveshare Stepper Motor Board - DIY Focuser
Adafruit GPS Module
Generic Bluetooth Joystick.
Startech 7 port powered USB Hub.
1 year 4 months ago #59637

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