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ASTAP Installation and Use


Bill.Richards
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I have the Premium version of BYE and would like to start using ASTAP for plate solving and syncing the mount.  I have ASTAP installed on my laptop and have successfully solved a couple images using the ASTAP UI, so I know it's working.  But I cannot find any instructions for how to configure BYE to use ASTAP or to do a plate solve from within BYE.  I did select ASTAP as the Plate SOlver in the Advanced Mode window, but I don't know what do do next.

Can someone please point me in the right direction?

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Try this...

  1. Make sure you have your telescope connected in BYE
  2. Make sure your camera is connected BYE.
  3. Enter the RA/DEC of the target you're imaging (same place where you selected ASTAP)
  4. Click solve center.

Please make sure you download and install 3.2.1.RC3.  I added more login and fixed a bug.

Regards,

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Where do I find 3.2.1.RC3?

Can't BYE get the RA/DEC values from the image?

I had both my camera and telescope connected but couldn't find the "Solve" button anywhere.  Did I overlook it or does it not display unless some specific steps are followed?

Is there a User Manual that describes all of this?

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I downloaded the RC and tried it out tonight, but cannot get plate solving with ASTAP to work.  For starters, I don't see a "solve" button anywhere.

I started with something very simple - right after doing polar alignment, I took a snapshot of the Polaris region where the mount was still pointing.  I entered the RA and DEC values into the fields just in case, but that doesn't help.  In the "Acquire RA/DEC from source" field, if I select "Displayed Image [via PlateSolve]" and then click on the unmarked arrow next to that field, then it launches ASTAP and something runs, but it just terminates with two honks and no indication of what went wrong.

What am I missing?

It sure would be nice if there was a user's manual.

ScreenShot.jpg

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There is no direct "solve" button in BYE. 

The plate solve is part of the center workflow.  You need to click the center button.  The center workflow will...

  1. slew to your RA/DEC coordinates
  2. take a picture
  3. solve the image
  4. sync the telescope
  5. start again at step #1 if number of 'attempt' and/or 'pixel distance' parameter are not met. 
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...also...

I see you have the acquire RA/DEC from displayed image (via platesolve) selected.  In this mode (and only if the displayed image was acquired by BYE/BYN) the right arrow to the right of this selection will trigger the image solve process for the sole purpose of finding the true RA/DEC coordinates and once the image is solved these coordinates will be updated on screen / image plan.

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3 hours ago, admin said:

There is no direct "solve" button in BYE. 

OK.  I was trying to follow your instructions in your post above where you wrote for step #4, "Click solve."

I was starting to make progress last night but then some clouds moved in and terminated my session.  Before that happened, I did manage to get one plate-solve to work while pointing at Vega.  I still don't know why the plate solve didn't work while pointing at Polaris, unless the image was too overexposed.  It would be nice if there was some feedback other than just two honks so the user can correct whatever the problem is.

After slewing to Vega, I entered "Vega" into the Target Name field and the RA/DEC coordinates form Stellarium.  Then I clicked on the right arrow button and it looked like BYE did a plate solve because it changed the RA/DEC coordinates as shown in the first attachment, which is consistent with what you described above.  I did not understand what the Slew or Center buttons did so I decided to experiment and see what happened.  I don't remember which one I pressed, but it moved the mount farther away from Vega, not closer.  Then the clouds moved in and that was the end of that.

If the marine layer cooperates, I'll try again tonight.  Based on what you wrote above, it sounds like what I need to do is enter my target coordinates and click on the Center button and everything should be auto-magic.  Is that correct?

Can you describe the Slew workflow as well?  Is this only useful AFTER the mount has been centered and synced?

ScreenShot2.jpg

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50 minutes ago, Bill.Richards said:

After slewing to Vega, I entered "Vega" into the Target Name field and the RA/DEC coordinates form Stellarium.  Then I clicked on the right arrow button and it looked like BYE did a plate solve because it changed the RA/DEC coordinates as shown in the first attachment, which is consistent with what you described above.  I did not understand what the Slew or Center buttons did so I decided to experiment and see what happened.  I don't remember which one I pressed, but it moved the mount farther away from Vega, not closer.  Then the clouds moved in and that was the end of that.

 

That is your mistake.  If you entered the RA/DEC manually then you should NOT select "acquire RA/DEC from displayed image (via platesolve)"... you did this manually.

Instead, click "center" and BYE will follow the workflow I describe in my previous post.

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1 hour ago, admin said:

That is your mistake.  If you entered the RA/DEC manually then you should NOT select "acquire RA/DEC from displayed image (via platesolve)"... you did this manually.

Instead, click "center" and BYE will follow the workflow I describe in my previous post.

Cool - I'll try this next time I have clear skies.

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On 10/21/2020 at 9:41 AM, admin said:

That is your mistake.  If you entered the RA/DEC manually then you should NOT select "acquire RA/DEC from displayed image (via platesolve)"... you did this manually.

Instead, click "center" and BYE will follow the workflow I describe in my previous post.

We finally got some clear skies last night so I set everything up in my yard and ran some more tests.  I followed your procedure using Vega as a target.  It took an image, plate-solved it. moved the mount slightly, took another image, and Vega was dead-center in the frame.  Awesome!

However, it did not sync the mount.  I tried 3 more targets and when the mount slewed to them, it was off center by roughly the same distance each time.  I executed the "Center" workflow on each of those targets (Deneb, M31, and Jupiter) before moving to the next target, but the mount never got the corrections from BYE.

In the first screenshot, you can see Jupiter centered exactly in the crosshairs (you can even see its 4 moons).  But in the 2nd screenshot of Stellarium, you can see that the mount does not think it is pointing at Jupiter.  What do I need to do in order to sync the mount?

BYE Screenshot.jpg

Stellarium Screenshot.jpg

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It's not a BYE setting.  Basically the sync command is sent to the ASCOM driver... and in turn it needs to be configured so that it interpret the sync command as an ALIGN command.  Each ASCOM driver is different so you need to look for it on that side.

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37 minutes ago, admin said:

It's not a BYE setting.  Basically the sync command is sent to the ASCOM driver... and in turn it needs to be configured so that it interpret the sync command as an ALIGN command.  Each ASCOM driver is different so you need to look for it on that side.

I just hooked up my laptop to my mount and launched the iOptron ASCOM driver.  I walked through every menu item and configuration setting - there is nothing about SYNC ALIGN or SYNC APPEND anywhere.

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2 minutes ago, astroman133 said:

Bill,

Synching does not change the pointing model. It only says "here is where you are actually pointing". When you slew to a different target, you need to platesolve to that target, as well, to have it centered.

Hmmm...  But if you tell the mount, "here is where you are actually pointing", wouldn't that correct the pointing error for future targets?

I watched a fellow astrophotographer use NINA a couple weeks ago to do this.  Once it plate-solved and synced the mount, every future target he slewed to was dead center.  He said that he uses NINA's plate-solving feature and that makes the whole 3-star alignment process unnecessary.  I'm trying to achieve the same thing with BYE.  If that's not possible, I guess I'll have to switch over to NINA (which is free) and write off my investment in BYE, which would be disappointing to say the least.

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I looked up some info on the iOptron ASCOM driver.  According to this PDF, it seems like the driver does provide a command to sync, if I'm interpreting the information correctly:

Command: “:CM#”

Response: “1”

This command calibrates mount (Synchronize). In equatorial mounts, the most recently defined right ascension and declination become the commanded right ascension and declination respectively. In Alt-Azi mounts, the most recently defined altitude and azimuth become the commanded altitude and azimuth. This command assumes that the mount has been manually positioned on the proper pier side for the calibration object. This command is ignored if slewing is in progress. This command should be used for initial calibration

 

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5 minutes ago, Bill.Richards said:

I looked up some info on the iOptron ASCOM driver.  According to this PDF, it seems like the driver does provide a command to sync, if I'm interpreting the information correctly:

Command: “:CM#”

Response: “1”

This command calibrates mount (Synchronize). In equatorial mounts, the most recently defined right ascension and declination become the commanded right ascension and declination respectively. In Alt-Azi mounts, the most recently defined altitude and azimuth become the commanded altitude and azimuth. This command assumes that the mount has been manually positioned on the proper pier side for the calibration object. This command is ignored if slewing is in progress. This command should be used for initial calibration

 

That is not the ASCOM driver, this is iOptron® Mount RS-232 command interface.

BYE connects to the mount using ASCOM and BYE invokes the SYNC command in ASCOM.  I would assume that the ASCOM driver would in turn issue the CM1 command to the mount.  

Alternatively you can start the ASCOM diagnostic and confirm that the ASCOM driver is in fact getting the sync command from BYE.

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48 minutes ago, Bill.Richards said:

I watched a fellow astrophotographer use NINA a couple weeks ago to do this.  Once it plate-solved and synced the mount, every future target he slewed to was dead center.  He said that he uses NINA's plate-solving feature and that makes the whole 3-star alignment process unnecessary.  I'm trying to achieve the same thing with BYE.  If that's not possible, I guess I'll have to switch over to NINA (which is free) and write off my investment in BYE, which would be disappointing to say the least.

Does he have an iOptron mount?  If not his mount ASCOM driver is probably sending the correct command.

I have a 10Micron mount the mount does indeed get the sync command through the 10u ASCOM driver.

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6 minutes ago, admin said:

That is not the ASCOM driver, this is iOptron® Mount RS-232 command interface.

BYE connects to the mount using ASCOM and BYE invokes the SYNC command in ASCOM.  I would assume that the ASCOM driver would in turn issue the CM1 command to the mount.  

Alternatively you can start the ASCOM diagnostic and confirm that the ASCOM driver is in fact getting the sync command from BYE.

Apologies for the misdirection, then.  I guess I'll have to ask iOptron about this since the information doesn't appear to be publicly available.

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2 hours ago, Bill.Richards said:

Hmmm...  But if you tell the mount, "here is where you are actually pointing", wouldn't that correct the pointing error for future targets?

I watched a fellow astrophotographer use NINA a couple weeks ago to do this.  Once it plate-solved and synced the mount, every future target he slewed to was dead center.  He said that he uses NINA's plate-solving feature and that makes the whole 3-star alignment process unnecessary.  I'm trying to achieve the same thing with BYE.  If that's not possible, I guess I'll have to switch over to NINA (which is free) and write off my investment in BYE, which would be disappointing to say the least.

What you observed is Correct.  This IS what the ASCOM or MOUNT SYNC Command is all about.  It causes the Mount to adjust it's Pointing Model based on the Current Location at the Instant of the SYNC.

Now, realize that this will have little to no Positive Impact on the Accuracy of future Slews to OTHER Targets (unless they are in the same Immediate Area of the SYNC'd Location).  It may actually throw off the Slew Precision to Targets a large distance away.

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13 minutes ago, Bill.Richards said:

OK, so it sounds like I still need to do the 3-star alignment regardless.

However, I just got confirmation that an owner of a CEM60 mount is able to use the iOptron Commander to perform a sync, so the ASCOM driver must support that feature.  It's unclear why it doesn't work with BYE.

Absolutely, without a model the does not even know north from south or east from west.  

Send me the log file and I should be able to confirm that BYE does send the sync command and that no error is returned from the ASCOM driver.

 

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Thanks for the log file.... from the looks of it the sync command works fine.

From the log file, you have your mount setup as JNOW epoch.  ASTAP solves in J2000.  Can you set your mount to J2000 and try again.  I wonder if the issue is in the J2000 / JNOW coordinate transformation.  

 

2020-10-26 18:51:41,858 [5] INFO  - PlateSolve (attempt #2)
2020-10-26 18:51:41,858 [10] INFO  - Loading image with GdJpgImageProvider: C:\Users\BillR\Pictures\BackyardTEMP\Download\PLATESOLVE_ra(18.62726)_dec(38.80362)_20201026-18h51m41s851ms.JPG
2020-10-26 18:51:42,210 [10] INFO  - GdPicture PLATESOLVE_ra(18.62726)_dec(38.80362)_20201026-18h51m41s851ms.JPG
2020-10-26 18:51:42,370 [10] INFO  - Image resized to : Width 3896 Height 2596 Factor 1.60246533127889
2020-10-26 18:51:51,247 [8] DEBUG - Solved coordinates (J2000):
2020-10-26 18:51:51,247 [8] DEBUG - +-- RA : 18h 36m 58s  :::  18.61619154
2020-10-26 18:51:51,247 [8] DEBUG - +-- DEC: +38° 47' 03" :::  38.78416616
2020-10-26 18:51:51,270 [8] DEBUG - Solved coordinates (JNOW):
2020-10-26 18:51:51,270 [8] DEBUG - +-- RA : 18h 37m 39s  :::  18.62742305
2020-10-26 18:51:51,270 [8] DEBUG - +-- DEC: +38° 48' 24" :::  38.80664423

2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - Telescope current coordinates: (JNOW):
2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - +-- RA : 18h 37m 38s  :::  18.62725556
2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - +-- DEC: +38° 48' 13" :::  38.80362222
2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - Syncing to coordinates: (JNOW):
2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - +-- RA : 18h 37m 39s  :::  18.62742305
2020-10-26 18:51:51,293 [8] DEBUG - +-- DEC: +38° 48' 24" :::  38.80664423
2020-10-26 18:51:51,823 [8] INFO  - Syncing Telescope completed.
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - Telescope properties after sync.
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - Telescope iOptron CEM60/40,GEM45,iEQ45Pro/30Pro,CEM25,SmartEQ Pro+,AZ Mount Pro,Cube II Mount current properties.
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- Epoch                : JNOW
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- RightAscension       : 18.62742305 : 18h37m39s
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- Declination          : 38.80664423 : 38°48'24"

2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- Altitude             : 67.25156345 : 67°15'06"
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- Azimuth              : 292.67353505 : 292°40'25"
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- SiteLongitude        : -117.211388888889
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- SiteLatitude         : 32.9477777777778
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- SiteElevation        : 0
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- IsParked             : False
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- IsHome               : False
2020-10-26 18:51:51,825 [8] INFO  - +--- IsTracking           : True
2020-10-26 18:51:51,826 [8] INFO  - +--- CanSlew              : True
2020-10-26 18:51:51,826 [8] INFO  - +--- CanSync              : True
2020-10-26 18:51:51,829 [8] INFO  - PlateSolve completed after 2 attempts:
2020-10-26 18:51:51,832 [8] INFO  - *-- RA    diff: 9.045 arcsec.
2020-10-26 18:51:51,835 [8] INFO  - *-- DEC   diff: 10.879 arcsec.
2020-10-26 18:51:51,837 [8] INFO  - *-- ANGLE diff: 12.963 arcsec = 2.3 pixels.

 

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There could be a problem with the J2000 to JNow coordinate transforms in the ASCOM Platform version 6.5. This is fixed in SP1 which has not yet been released.

The symptoms are that if you perform multiple transformations with the same Transform instance, the calculated values are not recalculated so you get the same transformed coordinates as were calculated from the first transformation. If you are interested in a workaround....just create a new Transform object for each transformation.

 

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