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Old 18-06-2021, 09:36 PM
dizzy2003 (Michael)
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HEQ5-pro randomly stops tracking in eqmod and solution

For at least the last month I've had my HEQ5-Pro suddenly go from sidreal tracking to Not tracking, ruining many a night.
<using pc direct eqmod> edit WRONG TERM. should be EQ direct I have a direct USB to RJ45 via a dongle, no synscan controller in use.

Its kinda random and hard to reproduce, and seemed to only happen at night, and seemed to be associated with bad usb comms (using comms statistics)

It was also coupled with my capture laptop freezing every 30 seconds or so just for a second.


well I tried everything.

Some people solved this by stopping using a usb hub, I had none.

I changed power supply, I changed cables, I bought a new power supply, I tried various combinations of uncooled main camera, I bought new cables, no longer use guide cam, change power extension cables, I tried using a usb hub, I tried different usb ports.

In the end the fix was to untick Enable Mount Limits in eqmod.

This is documented a few places on the internet and one more might help someone else out.

I thought this cant be my problem, eqmod shows when it hits the limit and my limits are setup correctly and work, and also I like having the limits.

But in the end when I tried this solution all my issues went away.

Its weird and nonsensical and a bit worrying running without limits but its better than having endless shots ruined.

Mike.

Last edited by dizzy2003; 19-06-2021 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 18-06-2021, 09:57 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Michael,
Hereís your answer below ( notes from the EQMOD website ) -

Skywatcher Mounts PC Direct or EQ Direct Method of Connection

Skywatcher Mounts PC Direct or EQ Direct

For those beginners with Skywatcher mounts considering advancing from using the handcontroller to controlling the mount from a laptop nearby, hereís some important information from the EQMOD Project group regarding the use of the PC Direct method of connection rather than the recommended method which is EQ Direct ( via the older StellariumScope driver or the newer Ascom driver when using Stellarium as your preferred planetarium for Goto and navigation)

Is PCDIRECT a suitable alternative to using an EQDIRECT?

Although both EQDIRECT and PC-Direct would on the surface appear to do the same job of providing a RS232 interface to the Synta mounts, the means by which this is achieved are quite different.
First of all we need to understand a little about the nature of Synta mount communications. The low level protocol that is used for mount communications is rather basis- it is ASCII based and has no parity checking, message checksum or error correction/detection capability. It is designed for a simple master slave operation and there is no routing information within the protocol structure to support a multi-master environment
An EQDirect device provides a ďhardware onlyĒ interface to the mount that simply converts RS232 transmit and receive signals (-9V to 9V) to TTL signals (0-5V). When EQASCOM is connected to the mount via an EQDIRECT it becomes the sole master device in control of the mounts stepper controllers (slaves). PC -Direct on the other hand is a firmware based solution that requires the synscan to intelligently buffer and route messages from the PC to the mount and from the mount to the PC. Also, because synscan based control is also active when in PC-Direct mode, it has also to be able to route messages between the synscan and mount. As already discussed the low level mount protocol is not designed to handle routing and the complexity of the functionality the SYNSCAN must be providing whilst in PC-Direct mode should not be underestimated.
Unfortunately Synta have yet to publicly document the intended purpose of PC-Direct mode and there has been no guidance issued as to what represents best practice when using it. Certainly there has never been any mention as to its suitability for use in combination with EQASCOM.
When it comes to EQASCOM it is important to understand that the mount control strategy has been designed around the basic premise that EQASCOM is in sole control of the mount and can exercise this control at any time it wishes. This is certainly the case when using an EQDIRECT but when using PC-Direct it is the synscan that ultimately controls access to the mount and there are now two ďmastersĒ, the synscan and EQASCOM, that are capable of commanding the mount. PC-Direct therefore potentially compromises the very basis of EQASCOM mount control.
The susceptibility of the mount communication to undetected corruption, EQASCOM's primary requirement for sole and immediate access to the mount and the lack of insight into the implementation and constraints of PC-Direct mode are the reasons why it is recommended that PC-Direct is only suitable for evaluation purposes only and never for unattended use. The fact that PC-Direct may appear to work with a particular version of EQASCOM is no guarantee that it will continue to do so for any future release of Synscan firmware or EQASCOM software. For those intending to regularly use EQASCOM it really does not make any sense to compromise the reliability and robustness of your set up by choosing PC-Direct in preference to an EQDIRECT
EQ Direct is the developers designed and preferred method of connection using EQMOD ( Eqascom ) to control your Skywatcher mounts

The above is in reference to the existing PC Direct method of connection using your Hand controller and the latest Skywatcher USB adapters which can be plugged into the end of your Synscan handcontroller and then to your laptop with a USB2 cable ( this is an example of the PC Direct Method which is not the preferred method )

Go EQ Direct as itís the recommended method for controlling your mount with EQMOD and your planetarium by the EQMOD developers ( Chris Shillito)
EQMOD and Stellarium telescope control also attached ( if your interested)
Cheers
Martin
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Old 19-06-2021, 12:21 AM
dizzy2003 (Michael)
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I see I have made a mistake in my terms, I have a direct connection from my PC to the HEQ5, theres no synscan controller, I guess the correct term is EQdirect.

Theres 3 things remaining that I havent tested, replace the control board on the HEQ5, replace the usb to rj45 dongle, replace the laptop.

My feeling is that maybe some USB comms is getting corrupted resulting in the computer thinking the RA/Dec is out of range for a tiny fraction of a second, then that gets corrected almost immediately but with the limit check on tracking gets disabled and isnt restarted, so that tiny moment of corruption ruins your whole night.
Disabling the limit check doesnt fix the comms (I assume) but it mitigates the issue.
At this point I'm just happy to be able to image again.
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Old 19-06-2021, 03:43 PM
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mswhin63 (Malcolm)
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Hi Michael, What is the make of the EQDIRECT cable you are using. If it is DIY, do you have more information?
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Old 19-06-2021, 05:16 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizzy2003 View Post
I see I have made a mistake in my terms, I have a direct connection from my PC to the HEQ5, theres no synscan controller, I guess the correct term is EQdirect.

Theres 3 things remaining that I havent tested, replace the control board on the HEQ5, replace the usb to rj45 dongle, replace the laptop.

My feeling is that maybe some USB comms is getting corrupted resulting in the computer thinking the RA/Dec is out of range for a tiny fraction of a second, then that gets corrected almost immediately but with the limit check on tracking gets disabled and isnt restarted, so that tiny moment of corruption ruins your whole night.
Disabling the limit check doesnt fix the comms (I assume) but it mitigates the issue.
At this point I'm just happy to be able to image again.
Michael,
A few more diagnostic things to check -

1/ Unplug your EQDirect cable and plug back in your handcontroller. Slew to a target and track up to the meridian. If no issues at all then it must be your connection from laptop to mount.
2/ When using handcontroller if mounts suddenly stops tracking or slews uncontrollably somewhere else, it could be the handcontrollers firmware or a faulty mount control board
3/ Donít use Wifi dongles to control your mount with EQMOD from your laptop ( They are too unreliable ( refer to my previous post for PC Direct or EQ Direct ) Always use an EQ Direct cable with a FTDI chipset and driver like Shoestring Astronomy ( Not a Prolific chipset like the wifi dongles and other cable connections as they are unreliable ). If EQ Direct with FTDI chipset cable is too short you can add an additional 2m USB2 male / female extension cable to mount ( Refer to my previous attached procedure to control the mount with EQMOD and Stellarium )
4/ Check your Power Management settings in the USB drivers ( Windows ) see attached
5/ Disable Limits in EQMOD

6/ Check settings in EQMOD , especially location , longitude and latitude etc...
Ensure your planetarium has the identical location details , longitude , latitude etc.... as EQMOD
7/ Ensure your mount has a clean reliable 12V power supply with spare capacity
I use a Powertech 12V 7.5amp power adaptor available from Jaycar or Bintel
8/ Ensure your mount is well polar aligned ( ie under an arc minute )
9/ Ensure you mount is set in the Home Position at the start
10/ Ensure your Dec and Ra clutches arenít slipping

There are numerous other things to check but the above are a good start to diagnose the problem

Cheers
Martin
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Ckeck Power Management in USB Drivers.pdf (18.3 KB, 6 views)
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Old 20-06-2021, 01:37 PM
dizzy2003 (Michael)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mswhin63 View Post
Hi Michael, What is the make of the EQDIRECT cable you are using. If it is DIY, do you have more information?
Skywatcher, which I was told yesterday is crap.

https://www.bintel.com.au/product/sk...v=322b26af01d5
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Old 20-06-2021, 01:46 PM
dizzy2003 (Michael)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
Michael,
A few more diagnostic things to check -

1/ Unplug your EQDirect cable and plug back in your handcontroller. Slew to a target and track up to the meridian. If no issues at all then it must be your connection from laptop to mount.
2/ When using handcontroller if mounts suddenly stops tracking or slews uncontrollably somewhere else, it could be the handcontrollers firmware or a faulty mount control board
3/ Donít use Wifi dongles to control your mount with EQMOD from your laptop ( They are too unreliable ( refer to my previous post for PC Direct or EQ Direct ) Always use an EQ Direct cable with a FTDI chipset and driver like Shoestring Astronomy ( Not a Prolific chipset like the wifi dongles and other cable connections as they are unreliable ). If EQ Direct with FTDI chipset cable is too short you can add an additional 2m USB2 male / female extension cable to mount ( Refer to my previous attached procedure to control the mount with EQMOD and Stellarium )
4/ Check your Power Management settings in the USB drivers ( Windows ) see attached
5/ Disable Limits in EQMOD

6/ Check settings in EQMOD , especially location , longitude and latitude etc...
Ensure your planetarium has the identical location details , longitude , latitude etc.... as EQMOD
7/ Ensure your mount has a clean reliable 12V power supply with spare capacity
I use a Powertech 12V 7.5amp power adaptor available from Jaycar or Bintel
8/ Ensure your mount is well polar aligned ( ie under an arc minute )
9/ Ensure you mount is set in the Home Position at the start
10/ Ensure your Dec and Ra clutches arenít slipping

There are numerous other things to check but the above are a good start to diagnose the problem

Cheers
Martin
1. Yeah I should really try that to prove the HEQ5 control board is fine.

3. Yeah apparently my skywatcher dongle doesnt use FTDI which is the better chipset.

4. Previously all ready checked the usb power management

5. Yeah this is the thing that fixed the issue

6. Location etc is all good, and limits actually work correctly which is why I didnt expect option 5 to actually help

7. Yeah tried 3 different power sources going upto 8A and even tried going upto 14V which is recommended for better tracking

8. I use sharpcap and get it under 30 arcseconds

9. Always do, otherwise its a disaster

10. They appear to be fine


My money at this point is on option 3 being the culrpit, have been advised lynx 2m eqmod cable is a good one to buy.
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Old 20-06-2021, 02:16 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizzy2003 View Post
1. Yeah I should really try that to prove the HEQ5 control board is fine.

3. Yeah apparently my skywatcher dongle doesnt use FTDI which is the better chipset.

4. Previously all ready checked the usb power management

5. Yeah this is the thing that fixed the issue

6. Location etc is all good, and limits actually work correctly which is why I didnt expect option 5 to actually help

7. Yeah tried 3 different power sources going upto 8A and even tried going upto 14V which is recommended for better tracking

8. I use sharpcap and get it under 30 arcseconds

9. Always do, otherwise its a disaster

10. They appear to be fine


My money at this point is on option 3 being the culrpit, have been advised lynx 2m eqmod cable is a good one to buy.
Michael,

9 times out of 10 itís the cable , connection and driver thatís the culprit
Recommend you buy the Shoestring cable from Shoestring Astronomy , he worked directly with the EQMOD developers years ago and Iíve had 4 years of seamless operation.Don't know much about the lynx cable , obviously itís a generic copy , the Shoestring cable is the original
The correct FTDI driver for the cable is super important to download and install on your lappy.
Glad to help
Cheers
Martin
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