Let me clarify: I'm in process of decision whether to buy iEXOS-100 and get rid of my EQ3-2 SynScan Goto. I've just bought QHY5L-II-M and QHY miniGuideScope and planning to buy TS71SDQ Quadruplet, the only thing remains is the mount.
For my amateur astrophotography I use INDI server on Ubuntu Server 18.04 on RPi2B+ with WIfi dongle. As a client for INDI server I use macOS 10.15 and Kstars 3.3.6 and like to stick with it, as a macOS-only user (no plans for VM/BootCamp with Wndows).
My hardware setup is: SW 150/750 on EQ3-2 SynScan Goto as EQMod Mount via PC-Direct mode and Canon 700D without IR filter.
I really like the iEXOS-100 mount because of it's light weight (I have to carry my gear IN and OUT everytime coz of robbing neighbourhood) and for belt-driven mechanism.
The thing is: will I be able to use iEXOS-100 the same way I did with EQMod Mount?
The PMC8 driver has not seen much testing and I would consider it maybe beta at best in stability. The EQMOD driver on the other hand is one of the best developed and maintained drivers. I would look at another EQMOD mount if the functionality and stability of EQMOD is important to you.
And to be honest I don't consider a mount being light a good measure for an imaging mount - you want stability.
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.
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...?
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?
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.
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.
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...?
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.