I've played a little yesterday evening with the skywatcherAltAzMount driver. I've used the AZEQ5, 150/750 scope with a DMK41 and a 50/206 guider with a ASI120mm. Nothing aligned. Capture/solve/slew to target works great with the ASI120@206 in 4/5 iterations, but strangely with DMK41@750 it solves but does not slew at all. I suspect a problem with V4l2 devices as the laptop also has a webcam. Sync is not working, there were 3 sync points that I tried to delete, but then tracking became weird. Looking at the code, Sync is only allowed when the mount is parked. I made some images of Dumbbell @10, 30, 60 and 120 seconds to observe star drift/rotation. A silly question, I wonder if the field rotation axis is always centered with the sensor center, or is actually the scope axis. By the way I also noticed regular jumps as depicted by @Federico. I suspect the Aux encoders which are not disabled on AZEQ, and/or the tracking algorithm which updates its data every minute. Lastly I tested guiding, when calibration succeeds (I suppose RA/Az axis does not move enough at ~50° altitude using standard guiding rates), those jumps disturbed the algorithm too much (added to field rotation as the guide star was selected on an edge of the image). Guiding in AltAz mode is quite silly, however the guide tool shows the drifting graph (see the jump @45s) and almost every points are in the upper right corner (field rotation presumably, I did not make the calculations). I may use that to test Alt/Az tracking, selecting a centered star as guide star.
Thus I've learned a little more, and your posts also help me to understand what were your concerns and what you would need. As I understand it, alignment is not primordial as long as Capture/Solve/Slew is working, guiding is of no use as your setup does not have a guider, and you only really need a smooth tracking. What I have in mind as a first step is to create a new driver out of the existing indi repos, hence astroberry users may compile it without disturbing their installation. I will derive it from indi-eqmod and/or indi-skywatcherAltAzMount and then concentrate on the tracking feature. I'll keep you informed when that will be initiated and when I will need you to perform tests.
@geehalel thank you SO MUCH for your work. Indeed, having a driver available to track correctly to be able to plate solve as a quick sync technique would be amazing. Let me know whenever there is something to test. All my very best and again, thank you. Federico
@geehalel: regarding your question of the field rotation axis: I guess as long as the axis of the mount and the guide scope are parallel, the center of the rotation axis should be the center of the sensor, i.e. the distance between mount axis and guide scope axis is far too small to cause any parallax as the points projected on the sensor are at infinity. Things should become more complicated, once both axes are not (perfectly) aligned: in the extreme case of the guide scope axis being perpendicular to the mount axis, there is no more rotation, only translation. In between there should be a mix between rotation and translation, i.e. the center of rotation is moved away from the center of the sensor. My understanding is, that the deviation introduced by such misalignment is what is coined "cone error". Maybe you find some hints in the logic regarding cone error correction to model this; there should also be some literature where this is being described / worked out.
Does this makes sense ?
on second thought: as long as both axes are not perfectly aligned, the center of rotation moves rapidly away from the center of the sensor: let´s assume we have a 1.5 degree fov with our guide scope. If the alignment error between mount and guide scope axis is more than 0.75 degrees, the center of rotation is already off the sensor. I think you can calculate the center of rotation by calculating the fov of your guide scope / sensor combination and substract the deviation angle of the scope axis and mount axis in degrees. How many pixels this equates to, you can derive from the fov calculation. The direction of the deviation should be the opposite of the axis deviation in relation to the sensor orientation.
This is without guarantee. Just my understanding.
on a third thought: I probably should have rather asked you, what you are aiming at. With my hints above, I was in "equatorial mode". In Alt-Az there is no rotational axis of the rig itself. If you want to derotate the exposures made on an alt-az mount, I think the way to go is by star pattern alignment, i.e. agnostic of any mechanical rotation calculation.
Dear @geehalel, @knro et all,
Here's a picture I did yesterday using Stellarmate with my AZ-GTI working in ALT-AZ, Nikon D5100, and SkyWatcher 127 MAK, just one exposure of 30 seconds:
I used Synscan driver - just launched Synscan Pro app, did a one-star alignment with a star nearby the Orion nebulae, then goto Orion nebulae and alignment using Stellarmate astrometry.
Look how well defined the stars are, given that this is a somewhat long exposure and that it was in ALT-AZ, and that I only have done a one-star alignment.
I think if I repeat and align over 3 or 4 nearby stars before goto Orion, I could probably get even more dot-like stars and definition at even longer exposure times.
Of course, this opens the door wide-open to shorter exposure astrophotography, I did 10-second exposures, and then the stars were perfect dots.
This speaks volumes about how awesome the AZ-GTI is (especially given its price). This quality might not be enough for professional astrophotography (I think it might, if perfected a little) but it definitely is enough for EAA!
If only the AZ-GTI driver could do the same the Synscan Pro app do, then we would not need that app as an intermediary and we could start even faster: just turn on AZ-GTI, do alignment-sync using astrometry, boom, ready to start working.
Let me know your thoughts,
Only wanted to reiterate my continued interest in this topic...
@geehalel: I guess I owe you an apology regarding my newbee comments concerning the field rotation: I was actually not aware that you are Jean-Luc, the creator of the EQmod driver. If I would have known, I would have spared you these trvialities...
Anyway, I hope you are making progress regarding the Alt-Az driver ?
Once again, the power of AZ-GTI in Alt-Az mode. I just walked out around 11PM in Poitiers, France (urban area, clean sky though), installed the mount on a Gitzmo lightweight photo tripod, launched the Synscan Pro app, did one star alignment to Rigel, connected Stellarmate with Synscan driver, did one Sync with astrometry, then goto M42. Then 100x10sec frames at 800ISO with my D5100 hacked DSLR through a 127" sky-watcher MAK, plus some dark and bias, then stack, boom.
Having a driver that can do this without having to bother about connection issues in the background to the Synscan app would be tremendous!
@geehalel: I finally succeeded in building your modification of the skywatcherAPI into my system (don´t ask why it took so long...). Surprisingly, my mount still refuses to connect. The handshake still seems to fail at or after the "isDCMotor" routine. Here is the output of the logfile:
[2021-01-28T15:15:10.954 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] Toggle Debug Level -- Scope Verbose "
[2021-01-28T15:15:22.107 W. Europe Standard Time INFO ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[INFO] Scan complete. Found 1 port(s). "
[2021-01-28T15:15:26.432 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] ProcessTextProperties - name(DEVICE_PORT) "
[2021-01-28T15:15:27.616 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] ProcessTextProperties - name(DEVICE_PORT) "
[2021-01-28T15:15:34.933 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] Connecting to /dev/ttyUSB0 @ 115200 "
[2021-01-28T15:15:34.985 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] Port FD 3 "
[2021-01-28T15:15:34.997 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] Connection successful, attempting handshake... "
[2021-01-28T15:15:35.008 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[SCOPE] SkywatcherAPIMount::Handshake "
[2021-01-28T15:15:35.019 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[SCOPE] InitMount "
[2021-01-28T15:15:35.030 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[SCOPE] CheckIfDCMotor "
[2021-01-28T15:15:36.948 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[SCOPE] SkywatcherAPIMount::Handshake - Result: 0 "
[2021-01-28T15:15:37.000 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.indi] - Skywatcher Alt-Az : "[DEBUG] Handshake failed. "
[2021-01-28T15:15:37.054 W. Europe Standard Time DEBG ][ org.kde.kstars.ekos] - "Skywatcher Alt-Az" is disconnected.
[2021-01-28T15:15:37.066 W. Europe Standard Time INFO ][ org.kde.kstars.ekos] - "Skywatcher Alt-Az is disconnected."
@Jean-Luc: I got the driver working with my AZ-EQ6, meanwhile. The problem was that my MC board (the one with the built-in USB) has a different mount code. It responds "0x22". Once I changed this in your code, It connected and I can now control my mount with the skywatcher_AltAZ driver. Unfortunately, no live testing yet due to weather restrictions.
I did also "switch on" the guiding by un-commenting the respective lines in the skywatcherAPIMount.cpp. Quite excited to see how well this works. My plan is to have my guide scope set exactly parallel to my primary scope. I will than choose a guiding star as close as possible to the middle of the field. The center of field rotation should than be the guiding star. But I guess astrophotography in AltAz makes only sense at or near the celestial equator or with very large fov (to have low arcsec resolution per pixel). I will test it with my C11&Hyperstar, though. Probably this combination works ok, with reasonably short exposures.
Primarily I wanted to have the AltAz option for visual observation and planetary photography. I am very much looking forward to test this out. Thank you very much for your support !
P.S.: is there any backlash programmed when slewing ? my mount always backtracks a bit after slew commands. Could not see any options, though.