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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver

1 year 2 months ago
gutaker
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #43743
Hi Mike,

And to be honest I don't consider a mount being light a good measure for an imaging mount - you want stability.

Yeah, I already know that... BUT I have to consider:
  • my spine injury (doctor said I'm not supposed to lift more than 25kg)
  • neighborhood (guys wandering around at night, stealing things)
  • I'm low on budget and can't afford HEQ5, worth in Poland ~1150$ (it's heavy BTW
I'm trying to find the best solution, and I find iEXOS-100 is the way to go, as the guys from espmc-eight reporting successful 10min exposures.

I think that swapping my old, good EQ3-2 SynScan GoTo for iEXOS-100 is the right choice, as my mount isn't capable of guiding anyway.
What do you think?

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1 year 2 months ago
mikefulb
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #43745
I understand the physical side is certainly a big factor.

I only had the mount a couple of nights to check the INDI driver compatibility.

No really experience imaging with it so you'd have to check with owners.

It is a really tiny mount - but if it is all you can move then not much of a choice I suppose.

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11 months 1 week ago
wanthalf
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #47277
Hi,

I finally managed to make my iEXOS100 work with INDI. However, only serial connection seems to work. For UDP, there is probably no reply from the mount and with TCP there possibly is a reply, but with too great delay. It seems to be a problem of the mount, not INDI.

I also have some problems with the alignment synchronization of the mount. I started at a (virtual) polar position of the scope, but slewing it anywhere else just pointed to meaningless directions, such as below the horizon. The geographical location was set both via the INDI control panel and (I suppose) also Kstars. But both Kstars and SkySafari just turned the telescope to wrong positions (I tried North, South, West and East) as if the sky was tilted for the scope. I do not know about the time - it was correct both in SkySafari and KStars, of course, but maybe not in sync with the mount? I parked the scope again and switched the mount back to UDP and tried the original ExploreStars application and it immediately started pointing in correct directions. I switched the mount back to serial and connected to INDI again and now it seems to have kept the right positioning. But what have I done wrong and what should I expect next time? How to make the mount in sync with INDI or reset its position? I always start in polar position of the scope, but it does not seem to be enough.

Thanks for any advice,
Pavel
The following user(s) said Thank You knro

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11 months 1 week ago
knro
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #47284
Perhaps the mounts needs to be aligned first with the HC before it is connected to INDI? All mounts (except for EQMod) require alignment prior to connection.

Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
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11 months 1 week ago
wanthalf
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #47289
Excuse me, what is HC?

According to the driver documentation, it only needs to start in polar position and have location and time set correctly. (In the original vendors application, I only did that and it worked.) The location is being set as I can see from the INDI control panel messages. I cannot see anything about the date and time being set, however. I have no idea how the internal motors are being synchronized to the correct position, but I suppose it is being somehow reset to the polar position when powered on...?

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11 months 1 week ago
knro
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #47317
HC = Hand Controller.

Perhaps turn on debug logging and share the logs?

Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
How to Submit Logs when you have problems?
Add your observatory info

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11 months 2 days ago
wanthalf
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #47607
Well, I found out the synchronization of Astroberry's internal time with the RTC did not work, so maybe that was the problem. Despite of the correct time in the clients (KStars, SkySafari) - they probably did not fix the time settings of the mount(?). I am sorry for beginner issues.

Last night I tested the mount in the field and it worked quite well. After parking it and turning off, it did not work so well any more when I returned and turned it on again. In the middle of the freezing field with the equipment getting quickly covered by freezing dew I had no more will and energy for more experiments late at night, and the conditions were not so much favourable anyway, so I gave up. There is still lot of questions about how the alignment is kept, how is it affected e.g. by SkySafari's own alignment corrections, but that is not a question for this place, I guess. However, I would like to know how the internal alignment of the mount is affected by the INDI driver at least - just reset to the polar position when turned on? Can it be reset or somehow adjusted by the clients afterwards?

BTW, this mount has no hand controller. The only "controller" is the vendor's software application ExploreStars using wireless communication. Unfortunately, switching between the wireless and wired control and back is too complicated to be done in the field without proper tools. And while possible in theory, the wireless control by INDI does not really work - obviously the mount does not cooperate well in this way, despite the promising documentation. Did someone here actually make it work using TCP or UDP connection?

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10 months 2 weeks ago
karlrees
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #48073
Sorry I didn't reply sooner--I don't come to the boards as often as I should. Anyway, about 3 months ago I made a few changes to the PMC8 driver to make it more reliable for TCP connections, and I've been using the EXOS2 PMC8 exclusively over TCP ever since. I have found it very reliable. I'm not sure whether there would be any difference for iEXOS100--I know the firmware is different, but I was under the impression that it's all pretty much the same.

Just to check, you might want to verify that you have the latest version of the driver (0.3). I think it should be in the latest kstars/indi builds.

Perhaps a difference is that I am running in infrastructure mode using my LAN or a hotspot instead of a direct ad-hoc connection to the mount? See espmc-eight.groups.io/g/WikiSubmissions/topic/37662303#8

I used to have lots of problems with the time, but I don't think that had anything to do with the mount, as I don't think recall there being a way for the driver to even tell the mount what time it is. Anyway, I bought a cheap GPS dongle (HiLetgo VK172) and started using the GPSD driver. That seems to have cleared everything up.

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10 months 2 weeks ago
wanthalf
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #48074
Right, I did not find any time setting procedure in the driver source code either. I wonder then why does the mount actually need the GPS coordinates, if it does not care about time and only uses relative coordinates...? I will have another look at the documentation, I am probably missing something.

I only tried TCP connection with the direct association to the mount. More complex connection has no meaning in the middle of the fields (except the Astroberry were used as the AP, of course). Anyway, the only point would be UDP with the possibility to switch between ExploreStars and Astroberry without actually switching the modes, but it would probably not cooperate so well either. So, in the end, wired is probably the best solution anyway.

I have also connected a GPS sensor to the Astroberry, but (obviously) it does not work inside the house when testing the mount. In the field I was quite satisfied with the results of the go-to navigation at first (after I finally managed some decent polar alignment). I was just surprised that it was lost later. But I am not sure that the polar position of the scope was really kept when I parked the scope and disconnected from power. When I got home, I noticed the axes were not exactly in the neutral positions. Maybe the "parked" position wasn't aligned to the NCP anymore - (but why?) - and I probably just did not check when turning the mount on again later...?

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10 months 2 weeks ago
karlrees
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #48077
The mount/PMC8 controller itself doesn't actually know much beyond its rotation (relative to where it started when you powered up), declination (ditto), and each axis' tracking rate. All of the smarts to translate that into where the mount is actually pointing in the sky are in the client. So the PMC8 itself would never see, for instance, the time or GPS. But the client needs to know this so that it can figure out where to tell the PMC8 to move. As far as polar alignment goes, this means that you'll lose all of the data that the client is using to compensate for polar alignment if you cut the power to the Astroberry. So unless you have a good polar alignment physically to start with (e.g. using the polar scope), then yes you'd have to start over again once you restored power to the Astroberry.

What kind of problems were you experiencing when you were working with the wireless connection? Was the mount just not slewing at all, or was it slewing to wrong places?

For what it's worth, I have actually been quite surprised to find that I can switch between ExploreStars and Indi in the field quite nicely if I have a good physical polar alignment and am sure to disconnect the other client first. This is using my Pi as an AP. I'm not sure there's too many reasons to actually switch in the field, though. Now, if both could be connected simultaneously, that might be more interesting.

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10 months 2 weeks ago
wanthalf
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #48078
I think that EXOS2 can communicate by TCP and UDP simultaneously, while iEXOS-100 cannot. I think I have read it somewhere in the discussions.

The problem was that I wasn't able to establish wireless connection between INDI and the mount and there is no surprise: I tried it manually as well and I never got any response from the mount when using UDP, while I got some response (but with a delay too great) when trying TCP. It seemed to be a problem of the mount, but it might as well be something I forgot or wireless interference... no idea.

What is the easiest way to achieve a better polar alignment beyond the physical one in INDI?

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10 months 2 weeks ago
karlrees
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iEXOS100 Mount Tested With PMC8 Driver #48084
There's a software toggle between TCP and UDP on the EXOS2. I've just been using TCP.

With the EXOS2, the driver would receive an unexpected and nonsensical response every now and then while slewing. That threw the driver off, and the driver would timeout. Packet sniffing seemed to indicate that it was coming from the mount, but it never happened using ExploreStars, so we couldn't figure out what the deal was. Anyway, I modified the code to just discard the response and then it worked fine. I wonder if the iEXOS-100 is doing something similar, but at a different time, such as during the initial handshake.

When I need a good physical polar alignment, the only thing I do is use the polar scope along with the PolarisView app on my phone to figure out the appropriate rotation of the alignment guide in the polar scope. I often end up resyncing after the first slew and every now and then after that, but it at least gets me within a few degrees, so my target is typically at least within the field of view of my low-power lenses. I think part of the problem is just that I'm pushing the weight limit. Most of the time, though, I'm plate solving, so I'm not really needing pinpoint accuracy, and I keep my Pi powered and connected throughout the night anyway.

I was reading your first posts more closely, and slewing to the entirely wrong part of the sky sounds like a problem with the time or location. That could happen for a number of reasons, such as a misconfiguration of the mount driver. I ended up having a lot of sporadic problems with slewing to below the horizon and other very wrong positions with an older GPS dongle (circa 2009). I eventually realized that, depending on when the GPS signal was initially acquired, the GPS daemon was returning the right location but the wrong year (more specifically, the Pi wasn't figuring out what the right epoch was). Even though KStars would eventually show the right time, that initial wrong timestamp from the GPS was taking priority somehow. Those problems went away with the new dongle, so I never did figure the problem out exactly. Of course, your problem was probably something completely different and equally random.

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