Simply horrendous seeing conditions tonight with the full moon and high humidity. However I can report success! With the AUX driver using my home-built USB to AUX interface to the 6SE mount and no HC I was able to autoguide using the ST-4 cable and the On-Camera connection. Autoguding with the NexStar driver and the NexStar+ HC seems to be a bit better than using the AUX driver and ST-4 cable, but not having to deal with the intitial alignment on the NexStar+ HC is worth a lot. Alignment on the AUX driver was a little rocky tonight, but I attribute that to being able to barely see the stars at all with the moon washing out everything and condensation dripping from every piece of equipment including me. I'm looking forward to a better seeing night to really test out the AUX driver set-up.

To review my process for setting up: Without EKOS connected, I use the NexStar+ HC to set the OTA to home position. Then I do a polar alignment with the Polemaster that I have attached to the the pier of the 6SE mount, I also use the HC for this polar alignment. Once the polar alignment is done, I turn off the mount power, detach the HC and attach the USB to AUX adapter. After turning on the power I start EKOS and align with Capture and Solve. Then I go to the target of interest and start autoguiding with the ST-4 connection.

One thing that I have learned is that the presence of the HC at the same time as the AUX driver can cause problems. It may be fine to use the HC connected to the Pi witht he HC's USB port but I haven't been able to avoid difficulties with this configuration. My recommendation is to build a USB to AUX adapter or use the Wifi dongle and to air-gap the HC from the AUX driver.

Mike

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Gene,
Ah, that makes total sense. I'm not ready to give up on the AUX driver just yet as it is very convenient and avoids all the pesky conflicts with HCs in the NexStar driver. I'm going to try using an ST-4 cable and see if that works, retro I know. PHD2 sets up properly in the daylight and now I just have to make the rain go away.

Mike

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I had enough clear skies tonight to try the NexStar driver with the Nexstar+ HC attached to the RPi with the USB connector. The autoguiding did work as I expected. The alignment is a bit dodgy since I had to fool the HC with a fake one star alignment. I didn't have enough cloudless time to work through the alignment issues. However, I think this shows that the SE mounts cannot accept the guide commands directly and need some sort of translation in the HC or in driver software specifically for the SE mounts. I would really like to see the AUX driver modified for the SE, but that's just my desire not to have to buy a new mount!

Mike

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Sorry, my previous note was about guiding with the NexStar driver through the NexStar+ HC. It is confusing with all the permutations I have done.

But to answer your question: Following your instructions, when I use the Celestron AUX driver either through the NexStar+ HC, with the hardwired serial interface, or the Wifi adapter, autoguiding with PHD2 does not work when attempting to guide through the mount. The mount refuses to budge during calibration and seemingly is not receiving the pulse commands as manual guiding does nothing either. Nothing is displayed on the PHD2 window at the bottom where you would normally expect the guiding pulses to be decoded (e.g. an arrow, direction and duration in ms). Well not completely nothing. When manual guiding, the decoded pulse are intermittently and very briefly displayed.

It is different when using the NexStar driver with the NexStar+ HC. In this case autoguiding through the mount appears to work as expected. My conclusion is that the NexStar+ HC takes guide pulse commands from the Pi and translates them into motor movement commands of an equivalent duration. I'm not sure this will work in practice because of the odd way I have to fool the HC into doing the initial fake alignment. I will try on the next good night.

Mike

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So I connected the RPi to the 6SE mount through the NexStar+ HC USB port. My Fake One star Align isn't all that simple since the +HC forces me to do a Fake Three Star alignment first. After that fails, I can do a Fake One Star alignment. But the upshot is that the autoguiding works through the mount in this configuration. You can do PHD2 guiding through the 6SE mount if you get by the alignment nonsense on the HC. Clearly the driver is translating the PHD2 pulse guiding commands into something the motor driver understands with the HC as an intermediary.

Mike

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That's consistent with what I see here. When using PHD2 with the AUX driver, the SE mount does not move or barely so in response to the guiding commands. In addition, the manual guiding does not work and PHD2 appears only to displays the commands intermittently. With the hard-wired serial adapter I do see a series of timeout error messages.

I could guide using PHD2 through the SS HC and the Nexstar driver, but the strange DST issue is preventing me from doing the Quick Align and testing autoguiding again. I can try doing a "Fake One star Align" with the Nexstar+ HC and see where that gets me.

Mike

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Thanks, Jasem. I have read some confusing posts about the 6SE not being able to do guiding through the mount, rather only through the ST-4 cable. Do you know if this is true?

Mike

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The presence of HC does cause problems and eventually hangs the mount when using the Celestron Evolution Wifi driver. I just takes a while to see it. After using the HC to set up the initial scope position and polar alignment I disconnect the HC. I ended up building a computer interface a la John Schnupp to avoid any issues with wifi that might occur. Pointing, alignment and tracking all work fine with this new interface or with the wifi Skyportal dongle without the HC.

Now I'm on to autoguiding using PHD2. When I was using the INDI Nexstar driver, I could autoguide through the mount on my wedge mounted 6SE rather than having to use an ST-4 cable. Can someone confirm that the Celestron Evolution Wifi AUX driver supports PHD2 autoguiding through the mount on the 6SE? I'm having trouble getting it to work with the simulators (it's cloudy) but I don't know where the issue lies, with the guider simulator, or the AUX driver. I can get it to guide when simulating connection via an ST-4 cable, but I would rather do it through the mount. I have upgraded to Stellarmate 1.7.4.

Mike

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Gene, Yes, it seems to be OK! I got a pretty good image of M43 last night and M77 was steady enough to show my son. He was disappointed that he couldn’t see the neutrino flux (just kidding). I misspoke about the clutch. If there is one if must be integrated into the motor assembly. I was just experimenting with the CCD simulator and the guiding simulator. The pointing error is around 30 arcsec with no bias in either axis and the guiding is within 2 arcsec.

I do not observe a conflict between the Nexstar+HC when run in parallel with the wifi dongle (each one plugged into an aux port in an aux port splitter). This is nice because it’s convenient to have the HC for initial positioning and for polar alignment.

I’m looking forward to the next clear night! Thanks for checking in.

Mike

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I able to attach the pinion by tapping a new set screw hole. So my mount is reassembled and seems no worse for wear. I took the opportunity to clean and relube both the RA and DEC drives. The gears all look in fine shape, no excessive wear. No new mount just yet!
Mike

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Gene,
The set screw on the pinion gear for the AZ/RA drive no longer fits the hole and the epoxy holding the gear in fractured allowing the pinion to slip. One two many stalls of the motor I guess. Celestron does not appear to sell these gears separately. The pinion for the ALT/DEC drive seems to be identical and the motor assembly with the gear is available. Note sure I want to pay $159 for a gear that may not come off without damage. Any ideas on sourcing of the pinion? Or are the astronomy gods telling me to buy a new mount?
Mike

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That was a very informative evening. The Celestron Wifi wedge AUX driver performed quite well when the Nexstar+HC was removed and control was done just using the SkyPortal Wifi module. The system was stable and the RA and Dec errors while still on the large side were as low as 160 arcsec for a while. That is until my AZ clutch failed! I conclude I had two issues, the AUX driver is incompatible with the HC and I had a failing clutch and/or gearbox. Now I get to take it apart and see what the damage is. The mount is 16 years old.
Mike

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I believe I have tried it both ways. Sync, then GOTO, Plate solve then GOTO. And no plate solve nor sync, then GOTO. The result seems to be the same. I tried with the Wifi dongle alone inside today, and at least this is stable, no wandering off. I'm about to take my mount outside.
Mike

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Gene,
It never gets close. My recollection is that it is declination that has the very large error (the first number in the table of results from alignment). RA is off too, but not as large an error, about two orders of magnitude worse in declination. I have no backlash compensation on, just letting PHD2 handle that.
Mike

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