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Hi all -

This post announces the release of QPPA2 which is a program that helps you perform a quick and precise Polar Alignment.  It works in conjunction with BackyardEOS and BackyardNikon.  My apologies to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, because, QPPA2 only works for those who can see Polaris.

With the help of my son, QPPA2 is now an all-in-one program that no longer requires the use of Excel.  It also automatically enters data into the program so that you no longer need to manually enter the star X,Y coordinates.

Polar alignment using QPPA2 should only take about 5 minutes.  Accuracy appears to be 1 arc min or less.

Two links are provided below.  The first link is to a YouTube video tutorial showing how to use QPPA2.  The second link is to the QPPA2 installation program which is located in DropBox.

The program is free for all to use.  Hope it works as well for you as it does for me.

Please let me know if you have and questions/problems and I'll be glad to help if I can.

It might be necessary to copy and paste the links below into your browser.

YouTube Link:

 

QPPA2 Installation Program Link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1za9jg1mwj1t9ax/AAAAmcw4ZYZgtVUh5D2rcV21a?dl=0

PS:  A big thanks to my son Mike who integrated his cursor program and my calculations together into one easy to use program.

Steve King

 

 

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Hello Steve

I just watched the You Tube Video and downloaded the QPPA2.

I am under the weather for the moment, both healthwise and weatherwise,  but as soon as I get over this cold and have clear skies I will run the program.  I will let you know how it works for me.  I have no doubts that it will work.  I have recommend the original QPPA to a friend who was passing through town today on his way to a family Christmas gathering.

Thanks to you and Mike for putting this together.

Ron

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On 12/21/2016 at 9:20 PM, Ron Hillstromb said:

Hello Steve

I just watched the You Tube Video and downloaded the QPPA2.

I am under the weather for the moment, both healthwise and weatherwise,  but as soon as I get over this cold and have clear skies I will run the program.  I will let you know how it works for me.  I have no doubts that it will work.  I have recommend the original QPPA to a friend who was passing through town today on his way to a family Christmas gathering.

Thanks to you and Mike for putting this together.

Ron

Hi Ron - Hope you feel better soon.  My wife has been battling Bronchitis for about a month, so, we can relate to you being under the weather.

Thanks for sharing your experience with QPPA with your friend.  I'm sure you will like QPPA2 a lot better as it is easier and quicker, and, no longer requires the spreadsheet.  The ability to update the star coordinates will ensure accuracy in the future too.

Clear skies and good health - Steve

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Hello there I have watched the video regarding how to use the above software and I think it will help me no end but I have a couple of questions due to the fact that I am computer illiterate, how do I start the RA drive on my AVX mount and if I move the scope as suggested in the video, Polaris will not be anywhere near the screen let alone in the centre. Do I need to do anything every time I move the scope from left to right to centre? The video is very good but it assumes everyone is competent on computers. I am using my iPad to ask these questions but BackyardEOS premier is on my Toughbook

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On 12/27/2016 at 7:02 AM, melvin said:

Hello there I have watched the video regarding how to use the above software and I think it will help me no end but I have a couple of questions due to the fact that I am computer illiterate, how do I start the RA drive on my AVX mount and if I move the scope as suggested in the video, Polaris will not be anywhere near the screen let alone in the centre. Do I need to do anything every time I move the scope from left to right to centre? The video is very good but it assumes everyone is competent on computers. I am using my iPad to ask these questions but BackyardEOS premier is on my Toughbook

Hi Melvin and thanks for the interest.  I'll try to answer your two questions:

I'm not familiar with the AVX mount, so, I looked up the manual online.  Your hand controller menu has a GoTo RA Dec choice.  On my hand controller, when I choose this option it shows me the current values for RA and Dec, and, I just press Enter and the mount starts the RA drive.  If yours hand controller doesn't show the current values for RA and Dec, your menu also has a Get RA-Dec choice.  You could choose this option, write down the current RA and Dec coordinates, and then enter them into the GoTo RA Dec option and then press Enter.  This should start your RA drive.

You can actually perform the calibration without starting the RA drive.  Having the RA drive started minimizes the drifting of the stars while you are taking the time to rotate the telescope about the RA axis and take the Preview images, thus, providing a slightly better polar alignment accuracy.

Your concern about Polaris leaving the FOV shouldn't be a problem.  The rotations you make for the Polar Alignment are about the RA axis NOT the Dec axis.  If your telescope is in the Zero or Start position, then Polaris should be in the FOV.  When you rotate the mount about the RA axis (approximately 90 deg to the Right or Left) Polaris should stay in the FOV but, the entire image will rotate clockwise or counterclockwise approximately 90 deg to the Right or Left.

Hope this helps.  Please let me know if this isn't clear.

Steve

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On 12/27/2016 at 2:59 PM, guyroch said:

Hi Steve, awesome video on QPPA2.  I have made it a sticky thread.

Perhaps this image may provide a good illustration of what you mean with the RA axis.

attachicon.gifsk-pol2.gif

Regards,

Exactly right Guylain.  

Thanks for the kind words.

Steve

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Melvin,

I have not used Steve's technique nor seen his video. I use different methods for polar alignment. However, you asked about starting the RA drive. I have a Celestron CGEM mount so perhaps, if I understand your question, I can answer it. I am assuming that when you say start the RA drive, you mean to start tracking. Your AVX mount starts tracking automatically once you have completed the star alignment process. You can turn tracking off from the Tracking menu on the hand controller. You simply set the Tracking Mode from EQ North (for a mount that is polar aligned in the northern hemisphere) to None. Change it back to restart tracking. Many telescope control applications provide the ability to turn tracking on or off.

The GoTo RA Dec command provides the ability to slew to directly-entered celestial coordinates. Get RA DEC command is to display the current celestial coordinates. I rarely turn tracking off or directly enter target coordinates so I don't know offhand whether the GoTo RA DEC command starts tracking or leaves the tracking flag in its original state. It is easy enough to test, however. Just set the Tracking Mode to None, enter some coordinates via the GoTo RA DEC command and then go back and examine the Tracking Mode. My gut feeling is that slewing to a set of directly-entered coordinates will not turn tracking on, but that is just a guess.

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On 12/27/2016 at 5:52 PM, astroman133 said:

Melvin,

I have not used Steve's technique nor seen his video. I use different methods for polar alignment. However, you asked about starting the RA drive. I have a Celestron CGEM mount so perhaps, if I understand your question, I can answer it. I am assuming that when you say start the RA drive, you mean to start tracking. Your AVX mount starts tracking automatically once you have completed the star alignment process. You can turn tracking off from the Tracking menu on the hand controller. You simply set the Tracking Mode from EQ North (for a mount that is polar aligned in the northern hemisphere) to None. Change it back to restart tracking. Many telescope control applications provide the ability to turn tracking on or off.

The GoTo RA Dec command provides the ability to slew to directly-entered celestial coordinates. Get RA DEC command is to display the current celestial coordinates. I rarely turn tracking off or directly enter target coordinates so I don't know offhand whether the GoTo RA DEC command starts tracking or leaves the tracking flag in its original state. It is easy enough to test, however. Just set the Tracking Mode to None, enter some coordinates via the GoTo RA DEC command and then go back and examine the Tracking Mode. My gut feeling is that slewing to a set of directly-entered coordinates will not turn tracking on, but that is just a guess.

Thanks for the clarifications Rick.

 

Steve

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Thanks for your replies I am going to download the software and watch the video a few more times, so that everything is better cemented into my brain. Once we have clear skies I will attempt to use the software. I will keep you posted as to how I get on but with the weather here in the UK that may be a few days. Once again thanks.

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On 12/28/2016 at 6:57 AM, melvin said:

Thanks for your replies I am going to download the software and watch the video a few more times, so that everything is better cemented into my brain. Once we have clear skies I will attempt to use the software. I will keep you posted as to how I get on but with the weather here in the UK that may be a few days. Once again thanks.

You're welcome Melvin.

One tip:  Make sure to click on START ALIGNMENT PROCEDURE  before opening the first Preview image.  This will ensure that the cursor window is visible once the image opens full frame.

Clear skies,

Steve

 

On 12/28/2016 at 10:11 AM, darkstar3d said:

I was hoping that you didn't need to see the NCP area for this. :) I have a PoleMaster and love it. But, a site that I go to has no northern view and it takes me a good bit of time to get accurately aligned.

Sorry.  Like PoleMaster, this program relies on seeing the NCP area.

Steve

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Hi I have tried to download the program onto two laptops and both are asking for me to buy winzip at about £32 as I am a pensioner and we have just had xmas I cannot afford it, so I will have to wait a while.

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Hi I have tried to download the program onto two laptops and both are asking for me to buy winzip at about £32 as I am a pensioner and we have just had xmas I cannot afford it, so I will have to wait a while.

There are a couple of FREE alternatives to WinZIP:  Including Windows 10 itself...  I'd suggest that you look to 7-Zip, as it is both one of the Best and Most Commonly Suggested WinZip Alternatives (so popular that WinZip is essentially a Paid 7-Zip Alternative).

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There are a couple of FREE alternatives to WinZIP:  Including Windows 10 itself...  I'd suggest that you look to 7-Zip, as it is both one of the Best and Most Commonly Suggested WinZip Alternatives (so popular that WinZip is essentially a Paid 7-Zip Alternative).

Thanks for the help.  I'm using Windows 10, so, I never saw any request for WinZip when downloading the program.  I have used 7-Zip in the past and it worked well.

 

Steve

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On 12/28/2016 at 4:03 PM, melvin said:

Hi I have tried to download the program onto two laptops and both are asking for me to buy winzip at about £32 as I am a pensioner and we have just had xmas I cannot afford it, so I will have to wait a while.

Hey Melvin, I'm a pensioner too.  Welcome to the club.

Looks like 3Sigell has the answer for you and it won't cost you anything!  

Steve

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 I'm using Windows 10, so, I never saw any request for WinZip when downloading the program.

Win10 has built-in support for basic ZIP Files, so wouldn't need to report an Unknown File Format.  (One of the few immediate wins with Win10...)

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Hello everyone, there is definitely something strange going on here, I tried to download onto my HP Pavillion laptop that has windows 7 on it, no luck, so I downloaded 7-zip, shut everything down and started again, but I could not get past the Winzip screen that is asking me to buy it as my trial period has run out. I really do not want to purchase it just to download one thing. I also thought about loading Windows 10 but as my wife uses the laptop, can you imagine the earache I'd get!!! Anyway I decided to try loading qppa2 onto my Toughbook CF 19, and guess what,even though that also has Windows 7 and is a much older machine, the program loaded almost immediately. It has been foggy here all morning but now it has cleared and we are left with a few wispy clouds so I may be able to try things out tonight.

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It sounds like the 1st Laptop (one shared with Wife) has already had WinZip Installed on it (Trial not Paid version).  Thus whenever Windows sees a ".zip" extension, it fires up WinZip and then WinZip takes over and asks you to "Buy Full Version when Trial is Over".  You can do that, but you've stated that isn't in your Budget.  So, you can simply Uninstall WinZip (Open Windows Control Panel / Programs / Uninstall and find WinZip in the List) - or you can leave WinZip as-is on your machine and Install 7-Zip in-front/on-top of it.  

In either case, after you've Installed 7-Zip: 1) Start 7-Zip from it's Desktop Icon; 2) On the 7-Zip Menu select Tools, then Options; 3) In the System Tab, put Checks on 7z, arj, bz2, bzip, gz, gzip, lha, lhz, rar, tar, xar, and zip; 4) then Apply and OK.

Now, go back to the QPPA2.ZIP file and Double-click.  You should get the 7-ZIP menu, and be on your way toward installing QPPA2.

 

Note:  You could have also simply done "Select All" in the 7-Zip / Tools / Options / System / File Extension List, but a few of the Options will overwrite defaults that Win7/Win10 expect to apply elsewhere.

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On 12/30/2016 at 9:10 AM, melvin said:

Hello everyone, there is definitely something strange going on here, I tried to download onto my HP Pavillion laptop that has windows 7 on it, no luck, so I downloaded 7-zip, shut everything down and started again, but I could not get past the Winzip screen that is asking me to buy it as my trial period has run out. I really do not want to purchase it just to download one thing. I also thought about loading Windows 10 but as my wife uses the laptop, can you imagine the earache I'd get!!! Anyway I decided to try loading qppa2 onto my Toughbook CF 19, and guess what,even though that also has Windows 7 and is a much older machine, the program loaded almost immediately. It has been foggy here all morning but now it has cleared and we are left with a few wispy clouds so I may be able to try things out tonight.

Melvin - Congratulations on your persistence and success.  You have certainly had to get past many hurdles to get QPPA2 downloaded!  After all your struggles, using QPPA2 should be the easiest part of this journey.  Well done.

Steve

 

On 12/30/2016 at 9:53 AM, s3igell said:

It sounds like the 1st Laptop (one shared with Wife) has already had WinZip Installed on it (Trial not Paid version).  Thus whenever Windows sees a ".zip" extension, it fires up WinZip and then WinZip takes over and asks you to "Buy Full Version when Trial is Over".  You can do that, but you've stated that isn't in your Budget.  So, you can simply Uninstall WinZip (Open Windows Control Panel / Programs / Uninstall and find WinZip in the List) - or you can leave WinZip as-is on your machine and Install 7-Zip in-front/on-top of it.  

In either case, after you've Installed 7-Zip: 1) Start 7-Zip from it's Desktop Icon; 2) On the 7-Zip Menu select Tools, then Options; 3) In the System Tab, put Checks on 7z, arj, bz2, bzip, gz, gzip, lha, lhz, rar, tar, xar, and zip; 4) then Apply and OK.

Now, go back to the QPPA2.ZIP file and Double-click.  You should get the 7-ZIP menu, and be on your way toward installing QPPA2.

Note:  You could have also simply done "Select All" in the 7-Zip / Tools / Options / System / File Extension List, but a few of the Options will overwrite defaults that Win7/Win10 expect to apply elsewhere.

s3igell - Thank you for taking the time to clearly explain how Melvin can get around the problems he has been encountering.  Some of these same issues may be "run into" by other users.  Your kindness is much appreciated.

Steve

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Steve,

If you are distributing a ZIP file that requires the user to unzip it, perhaps you could turn it into a self-extracting ZIP file. This is distributed as a .EXE file that contains all the software needed to un-zip itself.  All that is needed, if you have WinZip, is to use the Zip2Exe command line tool (you may be able to do the same thing from the WinZip GUI.

Another option is to create a full installation kit. An easy-to-use product is InnoSetup. It is used to distribute the ASCOM Platform and many of the drivers. This is pretty simple if all that is needed is to put a group of files into a user-selected folder, but it can also be made to check for prerequisites or do any registration, as necessary. If you choose this method and run into issues, just PM me and I may be able to help.

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On 12/30/2016 at 0:17 PM, astroman133 said:

Steve,

If you are distributing a ZIP file that requires the user to unzip it, perhaps you could turn it into a self-extracting ZIP file. This is distributed as a .EXE file that contains all the software needed to un-zip itself.  All that is needed, if you have WinZip, is to use the Zip2Exe command line tool (you may be able to do the same thing from the WinZip GUI.

Another option is to create a full installation kit. An easy-to-use product is InnoSetup. It is used to distribute the ASCOM Platform and many of the drivers. This is pretty simple if all that is needed is to put a group of files into a user-selected folder, but it can also be made to check for prerequisites or do any registration, as necessary. If you choose this method and run into issues, just PM me and I may be able to help.

Thanks for the suggestion astroman, I'll pass it along to my son who is the one who might fully understand it.  I do the math and he does the rest.

 

On 12/30/2016 at 0:30 PM, guyroch said:

InnoSetup is what I use to create the BYE/BYN setup files.

Regards.

Thanks for the confirmation.  I'll pass that along to my son.

Steve

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Hello there, just to let you know I deleted Winzip from the laptop that I share with my wife, closed it down over night then fired it up again to try to download QPPA2 and I'm so happy to report it was successful. Thanks to s3igell for making things so clear, I just need a clear sky then I'll test things out. The fog we had here cleared for about an hour then descended again and now it's raining cats and dogs. Once again thanks.

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Hello Steve333 I have just read your last comment about how I'm doing. The message went into the junk box and I have not looked in there for some time. Anyway we have had a couple of clearish nights here in Leicester UK and have had some success using QPPA2 in that after setup tracking has been quite good, though I can only track for a short time as each time after I started the good old clouds rolled in. But I will persevere. Thanks for your post.

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On 3/10/2017 at 6:32 AM, melvin said:

Hello Steve333 I have just read your last comment about how I'm doing. The message went into the junk box and I have not looked in there for some time. Anyway we have had a couple of clearish nights here in Leicester UK and have had some success using QPPA2 in that after setup tracking has been quite good, though I can only track for a short time as each time after I started the good old clouds rolled in. But I will persevere. Thanks for your post.

Thanks for the update Melvin.  Sorry to hear about the continuing cloud problems.  We're having plenty here (Santa Cruz, CA  USA) too.

Glad to hear that the QPPA2 polar alignment seems to be working for you.  I'm continuing to use it for my few opportunities, and, so far it's working well for me too.

Best of success in the future.

Steve

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Just found this very nice thread.

I downloaded and hope to try it as soon as possible.

I usually have very little time and bad UK weather [as many know!] and this application ca be one 'time-saver' and do a very good job.

Thank you for your efforts - it expecially helps those who cannot afford to buy 'everything' but just the necessary tools to have a decent experience.

;p]

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On 8/18/2017 at 6:31 AM, Oright said:

Just found this very nice thread.

I downloaded and hope to try it as soon as possible.

I usually have very little time and bad UK weather [as many know!] and this application ca be one 'time-saver' and do a very good job.

Thank you for your efforts - it expecially helps those who cannot afford to buy 'everything' but just the necessary tools to have a decent experience.

;p]

Hi Oright - You are most welcome.

Glad you found this post. I've been using this successfully now for several months. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes, and, has been accurate every time!  My FOV is about 1.5 deg x 2 deg and it works perfectly. If you have a smaller FOV it might be difficult to keep Polaris in the FOV.  A wider FOV wouldn't be a problem.

Hopefully this will work for you too. It's been very nice to just run through the QPPA2 alignment (to get the Polar Alignment) then do a 1-star alignment to correct for any remaining RA offset. That's it! Just slew to your target and start imaging.

Best of success.

Steve King

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