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INDI Library v1.9.8 Released (29 Sep 2022)

Bi-monthly INDI Library released with new drivers and bug fixes.

New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

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I don't know about this technical talk, but all I would love is to be able to use autofocus without having to go back in manually and move the focuser back out to the calculated spot - which is ALWAYS better than the final focus point that EKOS chooses. My whole routine has been to run autofocus, then manually move the focuser OUT about 800 points on the ZWO EAF (to prevent mirror tilt), and then back in to the previously calculated focus point. I image at 7,000 ft in central New Mexico, with humidity levels in the single digits. The difference between these two focus points is very noticeable and frustrating that EKOS aways chooses the worse point. At least it is consistent in that regard.

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD and William Optics Star71
ASI 1600MM Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight Litecrawler (C11) and Motorfocus (WOStar71)
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
Nextdome, AAG Cloudwatcher
MacMini
4 months 4 weeks ago #82711

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Replied by Alfred on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Peter, why don't you make use of the "backlash" functionality in the focuser tab? Once activated, you only need to manually set the point of best focus and Ekos will take care of the rest, i.e. move the focuser further out and back in automatically.
4 months 4 weeks ago #82715

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Since f/ratio is known, "Critical focus zone in micron" could be calculated automatically (also with ccd-corrected formulae since we know sensor pixel size too). So only needed parameters are "Microns per motor step" and "Step size (CFZ units)". For "microns per motor step", I think the best approach for non technical users is to provide them with two fields: "maximum focuser travel (mm)" and "maximum steps (for total focuser trave)" and let the code do the division. This suggests the users to measure the max travel and not, to say, the needed steps to travel 1 cm, which is useful to reduce impact of inevitable measure error.

My 10 cents.
Matteo
4 months 4 weeks ago #82716

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Good point. So the focus routine can collect the needed data from the mount (f#) and camera (px size) sections.
254/1450 mm Newton, 130/730 mm APO, 70/336 mm APO, EQ6-R, ZWO EAF focusers, DeepSkyPro 2600c, ASI183MM, RPi4b 8GB, Bullseye 64bit
4 months 4 weeks ago #82719

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Alfred, I have done that, and it takes care of the focuser's backlash. But what I was talking about is the slight primary mirror tilt I get when the focuser moves it outward. I have found that my images suffer from very small tilt when the focuser ends it's movement outward. Fortunately EKOS ends it's movement INWARD, which is great, but it overshoots the ideal calculated spot forcing me to backup and move the focuser outward to the best focuser position. That adds the tilt. So I have to first go outward quite a ways, and then back inward to straighten the primary.

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD and William Optics Star71
ASI 1600MM Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight Litecrawler (C11) and Motorfocus (WOStar71)
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
Nextdome, AAG Cloudwatcher
MacMini
4 months 4 weeks ago #82724

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Replied by Doug S on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Matteo and Bernd, Both of you lost me on your comments about pixel size. Camera pixel size doesn't enter the equation. Microns per motor step is the derived quantity we're trying to find, and that is found by running the focuser some predefined number of counts, and then measuring the drawtube travel. An alternative method would be to know the pitch of the focuser screw thread (a linear distance per revolution) and then factor the counts per revolution of the focus motor. Given that the average Joe observer is going to most easily move the focus motor by some number of counts (say 1000), and then measure the millimeters of focuser drawtube travel, the GUI could allow for those fields and then convert to microns per motor count. The rest is just the formula as given by the critical focus zone web link (which includes f-ratio, aperture size, a user preference for focus tolerance, and an estimate of seeing). See here:

www.goldastro.com/goldfocus/ncfz.php

CS Doug
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
4 months 4 weeks ago #82726

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Replied by Alfred on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Peter,

with backlash activated, the focuser never ends its movement outward. It always moves further out and back in, just like what you do manually. This should prevent your primary mirror from tilting.

If you find focuser position 60212 to be the point of best focus during the first run, just hit the stop button, set 60212 manually (in the "desired absolute focus position" field), hit the "go to an absolute focus position" button and you're fine.

At least this is how it works here. I can hear the motor "overshoot" and "come back in" on out movements.
Last edit: 4 months 3 weeks ago by Alfred.
4 months 3 weeks ago #82732

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Doug, my English is propbably bad. I didn't say pixel size is necessarily part of the equation: given that you can find CFZ equations that take pixel size into consideration when sensors are involved, I only said that, if needed we know pixel size; the whole point was to say that CFZ should be calculated automatically by code, not entered by the user (maybe you already said that and I missed it). If that equation is better than another one, I can't say and I won't debate about it.
About microns per motor step, we agree. Again, I was only saying that user should be encouraged to measure the focuser travel over the highest possible number of steps, to minimize the inevitable measure error.

Matteo
4 months 3 weeks ago #82738

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Replied by Doug S on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Hi Matteo, ok, I understand now why you suggested max steps to reduce the measurement error. We agree that more is better in this regard. I think a tool-tip on the entry field could be useful for explaining that. The fields might be better named "focuser motor steps" and "focus travel (mm)" or similar. Then the alg should calculate microns/step, compare to calculated CFZ (based on the other params), and set the proper step size. CS Doug
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
4 months 3 weeks ago #82743

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Wow, maybe my backfocus amount was too little. I'll try again next night my skies are covered in smoke :(

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD and William Optics Star71
ASI 1600MM Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight Litecrawler (C11) and Motorfocus (WOStar71)
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
Nextdome, AAG Cloudwatcher
MacMini
4 months 3 weeks ago #82746

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Replied by John on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Hi Ron,

Hi Ron, I debugged my ASI EAF through the hokey-cokey to see how it coped with the outward then immediately afterward, inward movement. The code is event driven with a user defined "polling" period (say 500ms). So an outward motion is started and every 500ms the focuser is queried to see what's happening. If the focuser is still moving then the system waits; if the focuser has completed the motion then the system starts the inward motion.

I don't have a Celestron focuser so I can't do the same thing with that. The only things I can suggest are:
1. Make sure you're on the latest version of Indi and the drivers to ensure you have the latest bug fixes.
2. If the Celestron driver works like the ZWO EAF, then there will be a polling period in the Indi tab that you can set. You could try upping the value and see if that fixes your problem.
3. If the above don't work you could raise an issue and hopefully someone with knowledge of the Celestron driver would be able to take a look.

Regards,
John.
4 months 3 weeks ago #82784

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Replied by John on topic New Focus Algorithm in Ekos

Hi Doug, Matteo, Jim and Bernd,

I reached out to Jeff Winter at GoldAstro to see if he would be willing to collaborate. He's currently busy on a project but said he'd get back to me, so I'll let you know how things go. I'm sure you've seen the calculator on the GoldAstro website:
www.goldastro.com/goldfocus/focus_calculator.php

So as we started off discussing, as a way to ensure Step Size is set to a "sensible" value this could have some merit. Don't forget though that we should be able to do better than just "somewhere in the NCFZ" by curve fitting the datapoints.

So for the inexperienced user it should provide some assistance during setup but I'm not sure it provides anything to the experienced user who has spent time working out his/her setup and has arrived at values that suit their equipment. Or am I missing something? What would your workflow be if this feature was available?

TIA

Regards,
John.
4 months 3 weeks ago #82785

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