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Old 31-01-2011, 08:53 PM
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Maxim - Guide settings

Pardon my grizzling...

I've moved on to Maxim for controlling my SBIG - works a treat. So I've tried (several times now) to use it fr guiding.

Sometimes - it works fine. At others, it won't calibrate. I can't get it to move the guide star enough. I have tried different backlash settings - 0 through to 0.5. I have set the calibration time up to 50. Still no joy.

Tonight - no go at all on the horsie nor the Tarantula. But it will calibrate - easily! - on Eta Carina. Go figure!

I'm usig a Starshoot autoguider on an Orion short-tube ED80. The mount is an EQ6 running on EQMOD. I'm using the Telescope option for connection - using pulse guiding I believe.

Does anyone have any tips? Its driving me mad - its as if the PC is telling me what to image. Perhaps the beast is possessed!

Pete
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Old 31-01-2011, 08:57 PM
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Pete, save your hair and use the Orion with PHD. I found the same prob with my ST-7 with its internal guide chip. Sometimes it would calibrate and work a treat. Other nights I'd spend hours it seemed trying to get it to work only to swap over to a webcam and a guidescope and PHD.
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Old 31-01-2011, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [1ponders] View Post
Pete, save your hair and use the Orion with PHD. I found the same prob with my ST-7 with its internal guide chip. Sometimes it would calibrate and work a treat. Other nights I'd spend hours it seemed trying to get it to work only to swap over to a webcam and a guidescope and PHD.
Paul - you and me both. I have switched back and forth between Maxim and PHD. PHD is definitely more reliable for me. But when its working, Maxim is so much better.

I am sure there is a moral here somewhere.

Good to hear its not just me

Pete
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Old 31-01-2011, 09:06 PM
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Yeah I don't know what the story is with it, but I found it very frustrating. I have spent literally hours with the Losmandy G11 and the Gemini (didn't have as many probs with the digital drive though but I did have to use a relay box). I've tried different settings, I've adjusted worm/ gear mesh, rotated the camera, selected different stars, you name it I tried it. PHD works. It was a no brainer for me after that
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Old 31-01-2011, 09:19 PM
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Ive just now calibrated on Eta, easy. Eta is close to the sth pole, when you say calibrate "50", what, seconds?. ETA needs some 15-20 seconds cal time, 50 cant be right, too big. Cal shows a red line when it moves (between moves). Do you see the red line?, say 0.5 to 1 inch long on the screen.
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Old 31-01-2011, 09:29 PM
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Ive just now calibrated on Eta, easy. Eta is close to the sth pole, when you say calibrate "50", what, seconds?. ETA needs some 15-20 seconds cal time, 50 cant be right, too big. Cal shows a red line when it moves (between moves). Do you see the red line?, say 0.5 to 1 inch long on the screen.
Fred, cal time is presently set to 40 - I assumed that, like PHD, if the mount doesn't move enough I needed to extend the time available to get sufficient pixels in movement.

Eta happily drew a red line - actually a red L. The other 2 moved not a jot (Tarantula) or less than 5 pixels.

Pete
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Old 31-01-2011, 10:08 PM
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well, a nice red L is all good, assuming the last image shows the guide star in the corner of the L (else huge backlash). The prob is elsewhere. What is yr agressiveness settings?.

Come to think of it, 50 secs cant be right, I have never gone past 20 with an ST80, how long are the red lines?. Is yr guide rate set to 0.5?.

Do the guide star exposures begin and end nicely at the ends of the red lines?.
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Old 31-01-2011, 10:59 PM
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MIght be worth giving this Pinpoint guider calibration plugin a go sometime. That's assuming you have plate solving running ok? Jase pointed it out ages ago, and its faster and more reliable for getting your setting right, not to mention not slewing the mount around if you already have it pointing where you want to start imaging.

Worth a fiddle. There is a setting in Maxim to change guide movements in RA as you get further away from the equator based on your DEC. Might be related to that somehow perhaps?
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Old 31-01-2011, 11:52 PM
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Maxim works for me 100% of the time although I have to muck around with the settings every now and again. As Fred said what have you set your guide correction speed to??? Also are you using the guide port on the back of the camera connected directly to the guide port in the mount or running it through the laptop to EQ mode?

Mark
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:12 AM
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Can you actually see the guide star move on the screen?
My problem with Maxim calibration is that it seems to lock on a noisy pixels of the starshoot cam instead of a real star.
It also seems like the screen stretch setting affects the guide star detection in Maxim, unlike PHD, i could be wrong on this but that's what i observed.
I get around this problem with manual calibration plugin. Or point at a real bright star and adjust the screen stretch so do don't see any noisy pixels in the background.

But if you don't see your guidestar move at all during calibration then it'll be a different problem to mine.
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:53 AM
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I found screwing around with the guide/settings/advanced numbers got it working consistently for me. My problem is those setting are massively different between the eq6 and the tak mounts and I got sick of changing them depending on the mount so I started using PHD again.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassnut View Post
well, a nice red L is all good, assuming the last image shows the guide star in the corner of the L (else huge backlash). The prob is elsewhere. What is yr agressiveness settings?.

Come to think of it, 50 secs cant be right, I have never gone past 20 with an ST80, how long are the red lines?. Is yr guide rate set to 0.5?.

Do the guide star exposures begin and end nicely at the ends of the red lines?.

Here's the thing Fred - when it calibrates, I have a nice red L. When it doesn't, it moves only a few pixels - in x rather than y. Sometimes it won't move at all. I judge this from the x,y co-ordinates after each exposure listed below the "moving telescope" list to the right of the guide screen.

And it does this in the same session in different parts of the sky.

Not sure about the guide rate - will check on the lappy when I get home this evening.

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobF View Post
MIght be worth giving this Pinpoint guider calibration plugin a go sometime. That's assuming you have plate solving running ok? Jase pointed it out ages ago, and its faster and more reliable for getting your setting right, not to mention not slewing the mount around if you already have it pointing where you want to start imaging.

Worth a fiddle. There is a setting in Maxim to change guide movements in RA as you get further away from the equator based on your DEC. Might be related to that somehow perhaps?
Thanks Rob

I am not using Pinpoint - I haven't the required real estate on my hard disk to download any charts. I have been using MPO Canopus to plate solve as I have those charts on the lappy - pity I can't use the same charts.

Will investigate the differential guide rate. My thinking though is that its a calibration setting as when calibrated it guides fine.

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:08 PM
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Maxim works for me 100% of the time although I have to muck around with the settings every now and again. As Fred said what have you set your guide correction speed to??? Also are you using the guide port on the back of the camera connected directly to the guide port in the mount or running it through the laptop to EQ mode?

Mark
I have the ST cable running to the mount but presently have the connection via ASCOM using pulse guiding rather than the guider relays. Pulse guiding is enabled in EQMOD.

Perhaps the mount is confused by the additional cable? I had assumed that if Maxim were set to pulse guiding via ASCOM it would ignore the ST-4 cable.

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zipdrive View Post
Can you actually see the guide star move on the screen?
My problem with Maxim calibration is that it seems to lock on a noisy pixels of the starshoot cam instead of a real star.
It also seems like the screen stretch setting affects the guide star detection in Maxim, unlike PHD, i could be wrong on this but that's what i observed.
I get around this problem with manual calibration plugin. Or point at a real bright star and adjust the screen stretch so do don't see any noisy pixels in the background.

But if you don't see your guidestar move at all during calibration then it'll be a different problem to mine.
Sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes a qualified yes ie it moves, but not enough in x.

I have been manually selecting the guidestar - if there is a v bright star I avoid it.

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:12 PM
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I found screwing around with the guide/settings/advanced numbers got it working consistently for me. My problem is those setting are massively different between the eq6 and the tak mounts and I got sick of changing them depending on the mount so I started using PHD again.
Robin - I fear I may have to take the same path. Luckily I don't have a choice of mounts!

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by pvelez View Post
Here's the thing Fred - when it calibrates, I have a nice red L. When it doesn't, it moves only a few pixels - in x rather than y. Sometimes it won't move at all. I judge this from the x,y co-ordinates after each exposure listed below the "moving telescope" list to the right of the guide screen.

And it does this in the same session in different parts of the sky.

Not sure about the guide rate - will check on the lappy when I get home this evening.

Pete
If the move is too big, and 50secs sounds huge, then the star can go off the screen, or/and it picks up another star in view for the next step (or end of present step)if there are several stars nearby. Also, it can loose the star in a move and pick a hot pixel, which may be right at the beginning of the move and then show a very short red line, or none at all. You should be using the simple dark feature for the guide cam to fix a noisy pic, especially for 2secs or longer guide exposures. If yr guide cam doesnt have a shutter, then DL will ask you to cover the cam for dark taking. If you dont cover for the dark, the dark will be useless and no help.

The screen stretch does not affect cal as far as I know, but cranking stretch up can be handy to see if noise is a problem, but for reliable cal/guiding the star should be bright (without stretching), no noise and no other stars nearby during cal. Cal can be done away from the object on an isolated bright star before guiding on the object, a clean cal star is more important than the guide one.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:17 PM
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Fred

thanks for this. It makes sense that Maxim picks up a noisy pixel.

I do use darks - but it still looks a bit grainy. I might try shorter cal steps and see how that goes

Pete
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvelez View Post
I have the ST cable running to the mount but presently have the connection via ASCOM using pulse guiding rather than the guider relays. Pulse guiding is enabled in EQMOD.

Perhaps the mount is confused by the additional cable? I had assumed that if Maxim were set to pulse guiding via ASCOM it would ignore the ST-4 cable.

Pete
I am not sure why you would want to guide via EQmode. Maxim can indeed handle 2 cables running to the mount with ease and this is actually the best and most reliable way to do it. I use vixen mounts with a starbook so I can either guide via the LAN through the starbook (similar to what you are doing) or via the guider relay. When I have used the LAN alone through the starbook I have had very hit and miss sessions similar to what you have described. What I do now is set the guide tab to use "guider relay" and use the guide ports on the camera and mount. I then connect to the starbook via the telescope tab using an ascom driver. This method has proved 100% sucessful and only causes grief when I stuff up the settings (cal time or backlash etc). The advantage is the controller feeds mount position info back to the program automatically and you only have to calibrate the mount once for the evening even if you intend to shoot several targets. When you get Maxim sorted its pretty hard to beat.

Cheers

Mark
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:55 PM
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Thanks Rob

I am not using Pinpoint - I haven't the required real estate on my hard disk to download any charts. I have been using MPO Canopus to plate solve as I have those charts on the lappy - pity I can't use the same charts.

Will investigate the differential guide rate. My thinking though is that its a calibration setting as when calibrated it guides fine.

Pete

Its worth investing some time to get Pinpoint LE going if you can Pete. Admitedly over 300mg of HD space needed, but once you can plate solve you can right click on your images to fine tune pointing position, do very accurate sync's as well as quick no nonsense guiding cal.

Sorry, I didnt give plug in URL:
http://winfij.homeip.net/maximdl/index.html

If you are doing a manual cal, good idea to pick a brighter star well in toward centre of field of view, then watch it like a hawk to make sure that's what Maxim is using. It often misbehaves for me the moment I look away...
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