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INDI Library v2.0.0 Released (01 Feb 2023)

Bi-monthly release with major changes to INDI properties and client API in addition to new drivers and improvements.

Celestron AVX mount and Starsense

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Actually I also own Starsense and use it with the AVX. It comes with its own hand controller, with additional features to control the Starsense camera to use built in plate solving for mount alignment. To my understanding, even though operation of the Starsense hand controller is different form the standard Nexstar+ controller, it appears to support the full serial command set of the current Nexstar+ controllers and hence should work flawless with libindi. However, since Celestron considers Starsense as its own (rather new) product, the firmware reports something like 1.x as version.

Unfortunately, up to now I had no time looking into details, but a brief test some time ago with a patched indi driver that starsense should work with indi. At that time there where some (reported) bugs in the Starsense firmware which caused problems when parking the mount, but to my knowledge this should be fixed meanwhile by a new Starsense firmware. Probably one of the challenges for the indi driver would be to distinguish between the Nexstar and the Starsense hand controller when reporting the firmware version to prevent the driver from thinking that it talks to an old Nexstar controller.

Even if my time is rather limited currently, if there is something I can do to support your activities, please let me know.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jasem Mutlaq, Christopher Coomber
Last edit: 5 years 7 months ago by Georg Schmidt.
5 years 7 months ago #17153

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Please share the patch. How to distinguish then between Nexstar and Starsense? from firmware information?
Jasem Mutlaq
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5 years 7 months ago #17154

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most likely it is not worth sharing the patch, since I simply and crudely disabled version checking for testing. This is obviously not the way how to do it officially.

The question how to distinguish between Nexstar and Starsense is a really good one. Since I did not see an obvious way to distinguish between an old Nexstar version and Starsense when I did my tests, I did not continue with these activities.
5 years 7 months ago #17160

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meanwhile I posted a question at Team Celestron regarding how to distinguish the Starsense hand controller and old Nexstar controllers. Let's see what will be the result.
Last edit: 5 years 7 months ago by Georg Schmidt.
5 years 7 months ago #17170

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Dear all,

meanwhile I got a response from Team Celestron and have been able to create an experimental patch to unlock newer features of the celestrongsps driver, when a Starsense controller is attached instead of a newer Nexstar controller. Since older versions of the Starsense controller include a nasty bug when syncing, the patch requires Starsense firmware 1.18 or newer in order to unlock full functionality. If you have an older firmware on your Starsense controller, please update to the latest version.

Unfortunately, due to time an weather restrictions, I have been only able to do some dry tests with the modified driver. Since parking and unparking the mount completely screwed up the mount causing the OTA (if it would have been mounted) pointing towards the ground, I decided to disable parking for safety reasons if a Starsense controller is detected. Please note that the patch does nothing else than enabling the full feature set of the celestrongps driver (except from parking/unparking). It does not add any new Starsense specific functionality.

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: On the first glance all other features seemed to work fine, but if you want to test the patch, please note that you do it completely at your own risk. I am not responsible for any side effects or damages caused by the patch.

@bsfstreef: If you want to test the modified driver, simply apply the patch agains the git version of libindi and recompile.
Last edit: 5 years 7 months ago by Georg Schmidt.
5 years 7 months ago #17314
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Thanks for the work geo! Maybe it sounds silly.... But I dont know how to apply the patch agains the git version of libindi and recompile.
5 years 7 months ago #17336

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Ah, no problem, this does not sound silly at all. Regardless of the fact that libindi is very well designed and compiles rather well, the whole process is all but trivial for people who do not work with C++ on a regular basis.

First of all, you should follow the instructions in Jasem's forum post "HOWTO: Building latest libindi & Ekos", paragraph 3, "Building INDI from Source
". If you use Raspbian on your PI, the described steps should work without problems (at least they did for me). As a first test, I would recommend to compile the sources without the Starsense patch, just to make sure that the toolchain and the whole compilation process works flawlessly. For this purpose, simply type "sudo make" rather than "sudo make install" for this purpose.

If compilation works well, as a next step, you can apply the Starsense patch. To do this, enter the libindi directory created when downloading the sources via git, copy the patch to the same directory, and then type

patch -p1 <celestrongps_starsense.diff.txt

You should get then the following three messages:

patching file libindi/drivers/telescope/celestrondriver.cpp
patching file libindi/drivers/telescope/celestrondriver.h
patching file libindi/drivers/telescope/celestrongps.cpp

After this, you are ready to recompile the modified sources. To do this, and in the same step install the modified indi drivers use the command "sudo make install" this time.

If everything has worked correctly, you should now have a modified version of the celestrongps driver on your PI.

If the hole process sounds too complicated, maybe you kindly may ask Jasem, whether he could include the patch in his nightly builds. Since the patch is able to detect the Starsense controller and distinguishes between standard Nexstar controllers and Starsense, it should also be safe for all non-Starsense users. At least, I tested it with my AVX Nexstar+ controller and it worked flawlessly.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jasem Mutlaq, Lucian Bumbuc
5 years 7 months ago #17548

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Hi Jasem,

I have both nexstar+ and starsense hand controllers with a celestron avx mount plus a celestron gps module
I use Stelllarmate OS 1.3.0 on a RPI 3 B+.

When I use the original NexStar+ hand controller I can obtain the gps module time/location (by example "Mount UTC offset is 2.00. UTC time is 2018-09-19T17:59:52" ).
Nevertheless I can obtaint this only when the mount is NOT aligned, if it's aligned (quick align) I get never the gps module time/location but the message "Mount does not support retrieval of date and time settings".

When I use the StarSense hand controller I always get "Mount does not support retrieval of date and time settings" and I suppose that's related to the issue of this topic.

A short question: is geo's patch part of the currently release of StellarMate OS?

Thanks in advance,
Lucian
4 years 4 months ago #29653

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The current sources have the command to detect the StarSense HC and a load of checks for it so it looks as if the patch is in.
I may be able to help with things Celestron because I've been developing the ASCOM driver for the Celestron mounts for many years.
Chris
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4 years 4 months ago #29676

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Hi all,

I gathered some logs to better explain what's going on.
The config:
- Celestron Advanded X mount
- NexStar + HC
- StarSense HC
- SkySync GPS module
- StellarMate 1.3.0 OS on a RPI 3 B+
- Kstars:
kstars-bleeding/xenial,now 6:2.9.8+201808180747~ubuntu16.04.1 armhf [installed]
kstars-bleeding-data/xenial,now 6:2.9.8+201808180747~ubuntu16.04.1 all [installed,automatic]
kstars-bleeding-dbg/xenial,now 6:2.9.8+201808180747~ubuntu16.04.1 armhf [installed,automatic]
- libindi:
libindi-data/xenial,now 1.7.4~201808180610~ubuntu16.04.1 all [installed,automatic]
libindi-dev/xenial,now 1.7.4~201808180610~ubuntu16.04.1 armhf [installed]
libindi1/xenial,now 1.7.4~201808180610~ubuntu16.04.1 armhf [installed]
libindicator3-7/xenial,now 12.10.2+16.04.20151208-0ubuntu1 armhf [installed]
libindicator7/xenial,now 12.10.2+16.04.20151208-0ubuntu1 armhf [installed]

1. I've connected the StarSense HC, without align. The INDI control panel output was:
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Device configuration saved.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Saving device configuration...
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Device configuration applied.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Pulse guiding is enabled.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_09:20:38.log
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Loading device configuration...
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [WARNING] Mount does not support retrieval of date and time settings.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Mount is parked.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [WARNING] Mount firmware does not support track mode.
2018-09-21T09:20:39: [INFO] Starsense controller detected.
2018-09-21T09:20:38: [INFO] Mount model: AVX
2018-09-21T09:20:38: [INFO] Controller version: 1.19
2018-09-21T09:20:38: [INFO] Celestron GPS is online.
2018-09-21T09:20:38: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_09:20:38.log
2018-09-21T09:20:38: [INFO] Debug is enabled.

The log is attached as log_starsense.txt

Attachment not found



2. I've connected the NexStar+ HC without align. The INDI control panel output was:
2018-09-21T09:54:01: [INFO] Device configuration saved.
2018-09-21T09:54:01: [INFO] Saving device configuration...
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Device configuration applied.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Pulse guiding is enabled.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_09:54:00.log
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Loading device configuration...
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [WARNING] Mount is NOT aligned. You must align the mount first before you can use it. Disconnect, align the mount, and reconnect again.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Mount UTC offset is 2.00. UTC time is 2018-09-21T10:53:58
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Mount tracking is off.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Mount is parked.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Mount model: GPS Series
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Controller version: 5.29
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Celestron GPS is online.
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_09:54:00.log
2018-09-21T09:54:00: [INFO] Debug is enabled.

The log is attached as log_nexstar.txt

Attachment not found



3. I've connected the NexStar+ HC after align. The INDI control panel output was:
2018-09-21T10:04:44: [INFO] Device configuration saved.
2018-09-21T10:04:44: [INFO] Saving device configuration...
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Device configuration applied.
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Pulse guiding is enabled.
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_10:04:42.log
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Loading device configuration...
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [WARNING] Mount does not support retrieval of date and time settings.
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Mount is unparked.
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Mount model: AVX
2018-09-21T10:04:43: [INFO] Controller version: 5.29
2018-09-21T10:04:42: [INFO] Celestron GPS is online.
2018-09-21T10:04:42: [INFO] Session log file /home/stellarmate/.indi/logs/2018-09-21/indi_celestron_gps/indi_celestron_gps_10:04:42.log
2018-09-21T10:04:42: [INFO] Debug is enabled.

The log is attached as log_nexstar_after_align.txt

Attachment not found



On the other hand, I've read on other threads that is possible to connect via minicom to the mount and issue some commands, by example to query the time/location from the gps module. I have a doc (NexStar_AUX_Commands_10.pdf, author Andre Paquette), with comands accepted by Celestron NexStar.
Unfortunately I've have no idea how to issue the commands, if possible please give me some quick instructions. So far I've tried to use minicom on /dev/ ttyUSB1 (/dev/mount) but I'm stuck in the front of the terminal, no output and I have no idea how to send commands, thanks in advance.
4 years 4 months ago #29680

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I'm not sure about minicom, the only way I communicate with the Celestron mount is using the serial port on the base of the HC. Even the USB port appears as a serial port.
It's possible to communicate with a GPS module if you have one by using the commmands in Andre's document and the AUX bus commands, these are sent using the
int CelestronDriver::send_passthrough(int dest, int cmd_id, const char *payload,
int payload_len, char *response, int response_len)
method.
dest is the device id cmd_id is the command and so on. There's an example of using this in the Pulse Guide command.

Personally I wouldn't bother with getting time or location from the GPS, the HC will connect to the GPS and updaate it's internal time and position. Also some mounts, such as the AVX don't have a GPS but do have a RTC. This can be read in a similar manner as the GPS but with a different device id.
I'm not sure why the time and date can't be retrieved when the mount is aligned. I don't hve a problem doing this. There's a recommendation that the time and location are not updated when the mount is aligned because these are used in calculating the local sidereal time and so changing them affects the alignment.
Looking at the logs both the log_starsense and log-nexstar logs are actually using a starsense HC. I can tell this from the controller version and variant.
The low version number seems to cause the driver to use the low precision 'E' command to get the ra and dec rather than the high precision 'e' command. This is fine with the starsense.
The third does use the nexstar HC. Incidentally earlier version of the HC dn't support the 'm' command and these will give a timeout error. Easy to trap and assume it's not Starsense.
I'm not sure how any of the logs are determining if the mount is aligned, there's a command that will do this - 'J', it returns 0 or 1.
Hope this hurried response helps, I'm going to have to get the QT environment set up and start learning how to debug.
Chris
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4 years 4 months ago #29691

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I hadn't even tried connecting my AVX to the Pi, didn't anticipate any issues. BIG mistake.

When I tried it things are really strange. Slews are all over the place, the HC produces slew limit exceeded messages, KStrars doesn't display the correct, or expected, mount position. Errors in the status line at the base of KStars but practically nothing in the log files.
It looks as if the serial communication is very unreliable, what messages I do get seem to show lots of timeout errors.

The identical hardware plugged into my Windows machine works perfectly using my ASCOM driver. Not casting stones, just a data point.

What I've done is:
Start mount and do a Quick Align.
Use EKOS to get a connection to the CelestronGPS driver.
Back to KStars and point to various stars and slew to them. I'm currently using Altair and Vega.
The USB to serial interface is a fairly elderly FTDI, it's been rock solid for years.
Will persist some more tomorrow, maybe I will be able to get more out of the logs.

Chris
4 years 4 months ago #29694

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