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Old 11-08-2013, 10:49 PM
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Manav (Yugant)
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PHD not guiding after calibration

Hello - Trying to autoguide my G11 G2 mount with Lodestar camera
and PHD software via ASCOM Gemini driver. During the calibration it looks okay and finishes successfully. But when the guiding starts the star just moves up and exits the green box. I don't get any error messages of such and it seems that there is no visible guiding.

The logfile "PHD_scope_ascom" states permanently:
PulseGuide returned control before completion

Can one please explain, what this means and where I can
look for faults?

Thanks,
Yugant
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File Type: txt PHD_Scope_Ascom.txt (30.0 KB, 12 views)
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:15 AM
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I'd like to know too, as I am getting this happen also.

I'll do a VERY accurate polar alignment, and do the calibration. All looks fine, but it starts drifting off with PHD not even trying to do ANYTHING at all.

The other night, I got PHD to guide PERFECTLY for 3 hours on one target. My polar alignment was bang on. I moved to the next target only a few degrees away, set in the menu to Force Calibrate, and started again. PHD did a ridiculously short calibration before turning green, and then just wouldn't guide. Stopped it, went into the live viewing mode without guiding, and watched the star. NIL movement over 5 minutes (and I did definitely have it in live mode . Hit Force Calibrate again, and same thing - PHD literally pushed the star out of frame!!!

Closed PHD, started from fresh. Same deal.

Closed PHD, ran subs UNGUIDED, and got DECENT almost trailess subs for 5 minutes.

Not sure what is going on in PHD, and I tried all the calibration step changes etc, made it aggressively track etc. No dice.

Since the latest update, PHD has been odd for me. May need to try Starlight Xpress' Lodestar software... but what a headache that program is compared to PHD! Maybe Maxim (OUCH!).

I am going to write to Craig to see if he can suggest anything. Perhaps I'd be better with a SHORTER FL guide scope?
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:36 AM
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hotspur (Chris)
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I've had this same thing happen too,very quick green result after a forced calibration,after moving.It happens less these days,but still does happen.Rather bizzare,sometimes it works and sometimes it goes to noddy land,glad they do not aircraft guiding systems like this.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:48 AM
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Manav (Yugant)
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Did you gents happen to look at the log file?
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:02 AM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Hi Yugant, this looks like an ASCOM issue. Have you tried to connect to the mount without ASCOM like a GPUSB or serial?

The pulse command is sent but then ASCOM thinks the mount is still moving so it's just waiting for feedback.

That's what I can make out from the code in ascom.cpp anyway. Can you move the mount manually via the gemini driver interface?
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:00 AM
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acropolite (Phil)
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I had a few wierd glitches of a similar nature at astrofest, guiding would be fine for quite a while and suddenly the guide star jumps almost out of the box and continues to move (I assume the SSAG was still moving the scope). The guide star finally settles. It's as though PHD suddenly decides to send a bunch of unnecessary guide pulses. Alignment was good and drift without guiding negligible. I did notice that when slewing, the video often had noticeable noise, changing the guide cable to one with twisted pairs rather than flat eliminated most (but not all) of that problem. I think h0ughy had similar guiding problems with his Lodestar and PHD, often I heard Dave cursing his guider in the dark, only to look and find I was experiencing the same issue.

My first thought was a synscan firmware issue, but given that others seem to be having problems maybe it's PHD.

My version of PHD was 1.14.0
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:25 AM
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I have the same version Phil. Will reinstall an older version and retry - I recall NEVER having these issues previously - the change to 1.14 was when I thought my NEQ6 was bad, as NOTHING would guide. Now PHD is doing the same with the EQ5 GOTO kit on my Vixen GPD@, so I think, and considering the responses here, it's a PHD issue.

It seems to me that PHD is sending an unnecessary signal. As I said, not guiding, in Live View with the Lodestar, the star would not move (my Vix is VERY accurate). Guide with PHD, and 70% of the time, the star drifts out of the box within 2 minutes. I had 2 hours on NGC6302 the other night, but when I finished that and slew to M20, PHD just could not guide it - same section of the sky more or less. Then tried to make it track on Fomalhaut just as a trial, and less than a minute it was out. Turn off PHD guiding, and Fomalhaut stayed in the centre of the Lodestar image for 5 minutes without movement.

I am NOT running through ASCOM, so it is not an issue unique to ASCOM driving. It's an issue across the board it would seem.

The REALLY short recalibration is VERY odd. The prior versions would go through a complete 4 or 5 minute recal. Not this one. With the previous versions, I would go inside and make a cuppa and come back
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:12 AM
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I too use PHD and find once the green box and cross pops up and starts 'guiding, the box will follow the star but the green cross doesn't move! so how the hell, can PHD be guiding? Sounds like a mount/camera issue even though it connects. Could it be 1.14.0 has a bug? So I'm going to scrub this version and re-install the original version - 1.7.0 At least that worked.
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:42 AM
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I downloaded EVERY single old version of PHD just to find out which one! I do recall 1.12 worked well, and it is this which I have now installed in replacment of 1.14.

Short answer is, it seems PHD ISN'T guiding SOME times, regardless of how we connect to it. Odd.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:46 PM
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How are you connecting the Lodestar to the Gemini. If you are you using ST4 you need to select "Mount" not "Ascom" in the drop down menu. If you are pulse guiding then you need to select Ascom. Have you tried both?

Do you guys have any backlash in your drives, perhaps PHD isnt clearing the back lash properly.
After calibration stop guiding but loop the image and nudge the scope north and west to take up any backlash then try guiding again, nudge it until you see the star move. Make sure you are east heavy, if you have any back lash and you balance is perfect it could be bouncing the scope every time the gears engage. I've had some similar weird things happen during calibration and nudging the mount works for me. Might not be your issue but worth a try.

Have you guys checked out the pendulum set up for the G11 so that no matter where you are pointing you are always east heavy? Have a look in the file section in the Yahoo group there are a few images of it. I have it on mine and it works really well.


Sandy
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:22 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Hunter View Post
I too use PHD and find once the green box and cross pops up and starts 'guiding, the box will follow the star but the green cross doesn't move! so how the hell, can PHD be guiding? Sounds like a mount/camera issue even though it connects. Could it be 1.14.0 has a bug? So I'm going to scrub this version and re-install the original version - 1.7.0 At least that worked.
I thought the idea of the cross was the initial starting position of the guide and that it wasn't supposed to move when the guiding was underway.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:43 PM
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Correct. The cross doesn't move after you select the star and hit PHD. The square box moves. The whole idea of the cross is to show the initial start position of the star.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:45 PM
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Marc - I'm using the Gemini controller on the laptop and I can move the mount. Even the calibration works! I'm not using the Gemini 2 hand controller its not even plugged in.

Sandy - The Lodestar is connected to the laptop via USB and the I'm using the Ethernet connection to the Gemini 2. In PHD I have selected ASCOM Gemini controller.

I have an annual leave on Thursday (Its my birthday) so I may set this up again in the backyard and try running the whole setup without Ascom Gemini Controller. i.e. Use the autoguide cable provided with lodestar and use the Losmandy handcontroller and see if this work? just hope nothing is wrong with the Gemini 2 box
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:12 PM
Star Hunter
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Mount won't connect to PHD

Quote:
Originally Posted by LewisM View Post
Correct. The cross doesn't move after you select the star and hit PHD. The square box moves. The whole idea of the cross is to show the initial start position of the star.
Phew!... I'm glad you said that mate. I too, was thinking the same.

What my dilemma is trying to get PHD to connect to the mount and in my case, it's a new Losmandy Titan 50.

PHD says its connected to mount but when I try to emulate the RA/Dec buttons in PHD, I don't see any movement of the g/star in PHD even at its shortest exp. nor hear a thing in the motors.

So does one have to actually connect a mount to same PC/laptop so PHD can 'handshake' with the mount? I thought all this was done through the autoguider cable between guider camera and the mount's guider port.

I have tried PHD versions from 1.7.0 to 1.14.0 and still can't get any sense out of PHD not connecting to the mount. I'm currently using 1.12.0 but can upgrade back to 1.14 if need be.

cheers,

JaBar
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Old 13-08-2013, 11:43 AM
celstark (Craig)
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Hey all -- Lewis asked me by e-mail to chime in here. A few bits to note:

-- I use an SX Lodestar myself on a Gemini mount. So, that rig has been tested well. But, I guide via the ST4 port not ASCOM.

-- The bits in that log file saying PulseGuide returned and all the Waiting 50ms bits -- perfectly normal. When I ask ASCOM to PulseGuide for say 500ms, it's allowed to return control to PHD immediately or to return only when the guide was done. If you notice the # of "waiting" bits there ends up being the number of msec intended to send.

-- It seems the issues are limited to those guiding via ASCOM, correct? If anything goes wrong in that code / in the link, PHD is going to have no idea. It'll keep sending commands and, since the mount doesn't actually move, the error builds up like crazy. So, we need to verify that the commands are actually getting out. This may help.

-- I noticed though that the durations in that file got very large. That may-well suggest an alignment issue. In the above-linked PDF, it'll show you how to check your calibration section to make sure you've not got a lot of drift. The log files hold the key to 95% of user woes.

-- The guiding code (I swear!) hasn't changed in ages and there aren't any bits in there like "Pick a random number ... if it's prime, go mess with the guy and make guiding go all crazy!" (If you don't believe me, you can look at all the source code, freely posted online!)

Craig
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Old 13-08-2013, 11:51 AM
celstark (Craig)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Hunter View Post
So does one have to actually connect a mount to same PC/laptop so PHD can 'handshake' with the mount? I thought all this was done through the autoguider cable between guider camera and the mount's guider port.
PHD's code figures the current error in RA and Dec and then tells the "mount" how long to fire the motors. The "mount" is, to PHD, a fire-and-forget device. It can send that message to:

-- The port on the camera (if it exists)
-- ASCOM
-- A GPUSB or other USB->ST4 device
-- A parallel port

Where it sends the message is dictated by your choice in the Mount menu (see here for a walkthrough)

Now, if you send it to the guide port on the camera (the ST4 port) and you've not got a cable going from there plugged into the mount (as you think you're guiding through the serial cable that's also hooked up), you're not exactly going to guide well. Likewise, if your mount hasn't been told to listen to the ST4 port (e.g., a Gemini in "visual mode"), no commands will get through. Or, if you've got an ST4 cable but it's the wrong style (straight vs. reversed). All these, will lead to the motors never going on.

So, trace through where PHD is sending the commands and make sure that things are really setup to let those commands get through. Most of the time, PHD's got no way of knowing if those commands were ever received.

Craig
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Old 13-08-2013, 01:22 PM
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Thanks Craig - having never looked at the log (but having it enabled), where do I pull up the log file?
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Old 16-08-2013, 07:07 PM
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Manav (Yugant)
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Lewis you are a champ!

Craig thanks for info hopefully I'll get to test out using the cable provided with the Lodestar tomorrow night (provided there is no cloud). By the way I purchased Nebulosity recently and am very happy with the decision I made
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Old 17-08-2013, 11:43 PM
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Ok I tried connecting the camera directly to mount and not use the ascom drivers in PHD. The results were slightly better at least the star didn't just walk out of the green box. I still get the star moving in all directions and PHD slowly catching up but its a lot better than what it was before.

I've attached the new results, I can see a lot of errors building up (DEC duration) not sure how to fix that.
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File Type: txt PHD_log_17Aug13.txt (10.7 KB, 11 views)
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