Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse - quick and unprocessed

I have to do some processing and will write up more about the amazing experience that was this solar eclipse. But here are some of my favorite photos:
Our camp at OSP during totality

The Diamond Ring

The corona during totality

Baily's Beads


Friday, July 28, 2017

Weird APCC failure

Wanted to take more data for Sharpless-86, but ran into weird issues:
  1. Polar Alignment worked
  2. Started SGPro Sequence
When SGPro tried to center the object, APCC complained that the correction to be made is too large. Tried again. Same result. Then I tried to do just a "Solve and Sync", first I noticed that SGPro failed over to Blind Solve and then I got the same error again.

I then tried to do an Image Link in TSX. And ran into the same issue. Only a All-Sky link worked ...

Restarted the scope, restarted the computer - same result.

At some point I noticed that when a slew command was issued, the scope started slewing but the position in TSX did not update (it just sat at the Park 3 position). I tried a couple of things.

When I disabled APCC (i.e. connected the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver directly to the serial port of the mount) everything worked!!!

I have absolutely no idea what happened.

First, I didn't think too much about it and that I could just use the mount without APCC.

... but then I remembered that I wanted to use Horizons for the solar eclipse to make sure that the sun stays centered... and for that I'll need APCC. So, I still have to figure that one out...

---

After I posted to the ap-gto mailing list, Ray Gralak replied and a) asked what versions of APCC and the ASCOM driver I'm using, and b) recommended to update both to the latest versions.

I realized that I updated APCC recently but not the ASCOM driver. After doing that, everything seems to work. Yei!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

How to solar charge Li-Ion batteries

So, I bought two Li-Ion batteries for the field. They are definitively smaller and much lighter. I used them last night for my scopes. Everything worked great. Then I charged them with me 100W solar panels during the (very sunny) day. In the evening I tried to use them again, but both gave up very quickly.

Did some research and found out that they need special charge controllers as their charge profile is different. After lots of research I bought new charge controller from Morningstar. In about a week will I find out if and how much of a difference that makes...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mauna Kea Observatories

My personal highlight of our Hawaii vacation was a summit tour of Manua Kea to watch the sunset. Initially, I had SO many ideas for photos and videos to take. But I ended up taking a few and then setting the camera into auto mode to take images for a sunset timelapse ...
... and then just taking it all in!!!

First, the timelapse:


And then some of the amazing photos that can't capture the moment.
The Subaru telescope (left) and Keck I and Keck II.

My friend Patrick in front of UH88

The CHFT

Taking Photos

Me and Patrick
Star gazing under the Milky Way on our way back down

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blew my MyT electronics board and NUC...

The disconnects of my MyT mount were (apparently) related to the 12V->48V converter that I used. When I wanted to check it out further, the converter shorted and took the MyT control board and the NUC down ... SH###!!!

So, I need fuses (as Richard always told me) and I need them such that everything works from home and in the field. This lead to this project to create a setup that I can use at home and almost exactly the same way in the field.

Eclipse MegaMovie

I love what seemingly random projects we sometimes do!!!

In this case it's Eclipse MegaMovie 2017 - a lot of info about the upcoming eclipse including simulator how the eclipse will look from arbitrary locations.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

PDF focuser weirdness

Suddenly my (fairly new) FLI PDF focuser acted up:
  1.  I move the focuser to 2500
  2. Then I move it to 2501 (using the FLIFocuser app to make sure that this isn't a problem with some other software) - I can see that it moves first to 2506 and then back to 2501 (I guess it has a 5 step built-in backlash compensation?)
  3. Then I move it to 2502But now it only moves it to 2496 !!!!
    It somehow didn't execute the +1 step from me or +5 step from the first part of the backlash compensation. But only the -5 backlash compensation.
And it happens A LOT! I tried all three speeds (Slow, Medium, Fast) or I tried other step sizes - always the same.

Asked Richard, Richard, Jim and John and also sent an email to FLI...