Continuing Alignment

I ran another alignment run of 45 points. The Polar Alignment indicates that the Az is excellent, the Alt is “good enough”.

Weird thing in the data – I don’t know if I just didn’t notice it last time, but a bunch of the points are wacky looking. The RA is 12 hours off, and the Dec is really off – 150, 160 degrees.? Seems to work OK, though.

Did another run of 67 points. Again, Polar alignment indicates

Northern Hemisphere Polar Alignment Report
Important information:
ME is the vertical misalignment of the polar axis of an equatorial mount.
MA is the misalignment of the polar axis of an equatorial mount to the left or right of the true pole.
The altitude report shows the adjustments necessary to align with the refracted pole, not the true pole.
************* Azimuth ************
Recommendation: Azimuth alignment is excellent. No additional adjustments are necessary.
Supporting information
MA = -28.2 arcseconds (-0.5 minutes) Sigma = 35.2198 – Adjust Confidence-Low.

************* Altitude ************
Recommendation: Altitude alignment is good enough. No additional adjustments are necessary.
Supporting information
ME = -13.4 arcseconds (-0.2 arcminutes) Sigma = 19.9514 – Adjust Confidence-Low

The graph shows 135 Arcsec error, again spread in the E-W direction

135 arcsec basic model with 61 points

Supermodel now gives 15 arcsec

15 arcsec error after full model

Now, run a test pointing accuracy using AAG with 20 points. Generates a csv file (AAGTpointCheck.csv), I’m not sure how to interpret this. I would have expected some type of graph in AAG. I think the next step might be to run the ACP script to check pointing.

First, need to check PEC.

Well, this is a mess. I managed to get my Serial number from Bisque to enable the camera Addon. Now, it looks like I want to connect to the Maxim Camera – but this gives an error, missing driver 217. Reading around, it looks like I need to install X2 Camera plugin for Ascom. Did that, still doesn’t work. Maybe these plugins need Ascom platform 6? I am still running platform 5.1. Sigh – it looks like I get to update all of the ascom stuff. Unclear what drivers work with platform 6, or even whether these X2 plugins even need platform 6. The Ascom pages don’t spell out what is needed at all:(

Checking tracking – 2 minute exposure looks OK. 3 minute is bad. Re-ran 2 minute, this time it looks a little trailed. Looks like we need to get the PEC done, at least.

Tried using CCDInspector to adjust collimation. Didn’t work at all – I can’t tell which screw does what. Eventually defocused and did a standard manual collimation.

Spent some time trying to get ACP to plate solve using the Xsi/Edge combo. No luck. Once, I got the SkySolve utility to solve; seems like the address is slightly off? The scale looks like 0.76 arcs/pixelwhen binned 2; 0.376 or so when bin1. The FL looks like 2850 mm. Got an image link to work, gave the .76 scale. In general, the Pinpoint and Maxim plate solves do not work. I wonder why the AAG Pinpoint solves worked every time?!

Another weird thing: In ACP, run FindBrightStar. Works OK, plate solve fails, script ends. Scope is still connect in ACP, tracking. Re-run FindBrightStar, this time it crashes when it slews to the Mag6 star; crashes on Wait for Slew. ACP then disconnects from the telescope. When I reconnect ACP, SkyX then has to go find Home again.I didn’t write down the error msg, it should be in the log (Oops – apparently there is no log from FindBrightStar? Can’t find a log).


Start Alignment of MX

Finally, some clear sky!

Bad news – suddenly the SBig won’t connect. Updated drivers, played with it awhile – doesn’t seem to be picking up the drivers when powered up, although it does do the filter wheel spin. Will have to call support tomorrow:(

Ran several iterations of TPoint. using the Edge and the Xsi.Got better at positioning. However, some  of it I did wrong – I didn’t understand I should be doing a Full run rather than a Recalibration.

On the good side, running AAG worked like a dream. It plate solves routinely with 20 sec exposures.  So, I ran a couple of 50 point runs. I am getting RMS errors of about 120 arcseconds. The Azimuth now looks good (no correction recommended). I will do another run to see how the Alt is – I moved it 4 Arcseconds. If that looks good, I will need? to do one of these big runs people seem to report, like 300 points.

Interesting – I ran the Supermodel on the last 50 point run, and it suddenly reports 7.7 arcseconds of error? Apparently the basic model doesn’t do all the fancy stuff to correct the position. Also, the manual makes a big deal out of the time it takes to calculate the Supermodel – it only took 11 seconds for my 50 points. Maybe when I do a Big model (300 points?) it will take a lot longer. I will have to check and see whether it really points this well.

Supermodel for my 50 points corrected from 120 arcs to 7.7 arcs!

I also did some Vcurve runs. The Xsi clearly needs different parameters for FocusMax; the target HFDs seem to be 10-15 instead of the usual 3-5 I get with the SBig. Also, when doing the focus exposures (1 or 2 seconds) the HFD fluctuates quite a bit (+/- 4 or 5 HFD units). Hopefully the focusing will work OK. Also: the focusing is doing the cycle of make the focus box too small, expand focus box, get a point, make it too small again.  I may have to keep playing with these parameters to get consistent focus.

Next ToDo:

– Another 50 point run to check alignment.

– If OK, Big Model with 300 points.

– Start programming PEC.

– Learn about ProTrack. Try some 2 and 5 minute exposures, see how they do without guiding. See how ProTrack helps (or not?).

Things to do during daylight:

– figure Atl/Az for the roof and trees to the west. Now that things are aligned OK, I can do this.

– paint over the dew zapper LEDs – they are very bright.

– Call SBig and see if they can help with the camera, or whether I need to send it in.


Moved the TED into the BigDome warm room. Hopefully it will function better there.

Updated Firefox to 9, Teamviewer to 7.


First attempt with MX

Last Monday, Leo delivered the cut-down pier. This allows the MX to successfully park so the roof can open/close. I immediately ran down and installed the mount, OTAs, cables, etc.

Now I wait for some clear time to align the mount.

Today (Friday) the forecast was for 3-4 hours of clear time in the early evening. I ran down to the observatory and started.

Hmm, ACP won’t connect to the MX. It wants to connect via Sky6, not SkyX. OK, I will deal with that later.

I managed to do the Quick Align procedure using Jupiter. I also managed to get the Edge and Tak lined up (with Telrad) so they point to the same spot. Defined a good park position.

This all took about 35 minutes – at this point, the Fates intervened and the clouds rolled in.

Paramount Progress

I put a 25 pound weight with the other counterweights, and now I can get the system to balance. I ordered the counterweight extension shaft, hopefully that will allow the 2 weights alone to balance things.

Can now connect from theSkyX. Played with moving it around, etc. It is cloudy, of course, so I can’t sync or start getting polar aligned.

Problem:  to close the roof, the park position needs to be with the OTA below the counterweights. The Paramount/TSX does not like this. I can set that park position, but when I park it realizes this is a bad position and puts the OTA on the other side of the mount, above the counterweights. This is too high – roof cannot clear.

I contacted Leo to get the pier cut off. It looks like if I remove 6 inches, this will give me some room. 10 inches willl allow the home position to clear, but it lowers the mount quite a bit. In the end, he took the pier back to the shop to remove about 7 1/2″ from the pier. It may be a few days before I can get the pier back.


Serial numbers found

Aha – finally found the serial numbers. They were in an envelope under the styrofoam of the Big Box. I had even looked under the foam of the Accessory box, even though it seemed silly to do so. Had not looked under the Big Box.

Registered the software. Don’t know how I use the MultiCopy serial.

Tried to register the serials at Bisque, and got a message “Serial has already been registered”. ?

Paramount is Here!

The MX showed up today, and I am off to the observatory to install it.

OK, here we go with issues:

1) The plate I had made to receive the mount on my pier doesn’t fit. I hd specified within 0.0001 inches tolerance; the bolt holes are about 1/16 inch off.

To get it to work, I put in 1/4-20 screws. Oops, I don’t have washers. Off to the store for washers. The mount now looks nice and level on the bubble mount. The bottom washers barely fit – they are up against the pier collar.

2) rotated the Versa plate. Odd that you can only use 4 of the bolts to remount it. Unclear what I am supposed to do with the wiring – I just ran it outside the head to the instrument panel. They provide a bunch of wrenches, but not one of a size to fit the Varsa plate.

3) No serial numbers? The manual says the serial numbers for the software are on the packing slip. No numbers are on the slip. There is a serial for the mount itself on the outside of the main box. Maybe that is supposed to get the numbers from the Bisque site or something?

Called OPT, they say call Bisque. Bisque is closed:(

4) through the mount cabling – you have to be kidding. I think one might be able to run raw wires through there, but all my cables have connectors on them. There is no way a connector is going through that tiny area. Looks like my wires will hang off the mount like they always have off the G11.

5) This is a problem – it turns out the two counterweights, all the way down the shaft, do not counterbalance my OTA. I have an 11″ Edge and 2 small refractors, with ST2000XM, Canon EOS, and Starfish cameras. These apparently weigh too much – I will need to either a) figure out how to add more weights, b) but a $250 counterweight, or c) buy the shaft extension $150. Irritating, and is going to hold off doing anything until I can get the extra weight on there.