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MLPT for external programs


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#1 lukepower

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 06:18 AM

Hi guys,

Im bringing back an old topic. Right now I am running a total of three ddm mounts remotely in Europe and Namibia, and we need more automation. Sequence is working nice, but its no match if compared to ACP. Regrettably, there is no easy and safe way to make MLPT runs with Sequence for external use.

I mean, say you/ACP or whatever want to image a target for two hours. I would need either a scriptable interface, or command line ( like "sequence.exe -mlpt 120") to be called from my scripts. In ACP there is a suitable hook so nothing to change or pay there. For ASA it would be an easy task ( maybe 5 minutes of coding). I would be willing to pay something for it if that helps.

Lukas

Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#2 lukepower

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 04:23 PM

Alright gentelmen,

 

I am sort of hard headed when I want to get to something. I was able to compile an AutoIt-script, which basically does the following:

  • Brings Sequencer to focus
  • Hits the "MLPT" button
  • Sets the duration to 120 minutes (now for the test its fine)
  • Hits the start button
  • waits till the "Send to Autoslew" button is enabled, then clicks it

This should do the trick. Please note that I have attached a 32 bit and 64 bit version - on my 64 bit windows just the 64bit version works. If anybody has a chance to test it, they're welcome. I'll add the variant where you pass the duration as an argument later.

 

Download: https://www.dropbox....al32uneXya?dl=0


Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#3 maxmirot

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 06:31 PM

Good work

We need something that will eventually  work with CCDAP and CCDcommander too

 

Max



#4 Jay

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 06:47 AM

Good work

We need something that will eventually  work with CCDAP and CCDcommander too

 

Max 

 

 

That would be great !



#5 lukepower

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 07:00 AM

Hi Max, Jay,

 

that's something that the developers of CCDAP/CCD Commander would have to do. Basically calling the MLPT routine right before starting the images. In ACP you can do it yourself, for CCDAP I don't know, maybe there is a way of doing it.

 

The alternative would be the SuperFit-Autoslew model. I tried yesterday and actually got 5 Minute unguided (and non-MLPT) round stars at 3550mm focal... No idea if it actually works over the whole sky, that's something to try.


Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#6 Jay

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 07:04 AM

Hi Max, Jay,

 

that's something that the developers of CCDAP/CCD Commander would have to do. Basically calling the MLPT routine right before starting the images. In ACP you can do it yourself, for CCDAP I don't know, maybe there is a way of doing it.

 

The alternative would be the SuperFit-Autoslew model. I tried yesterday and actually got 5 Minute unguided (and non-MLPT) round stars at 3550mm focal... No idea if it actually works over the whole sky, that's something to try.

 

Thanks Lukas...



#7 Asa_graph

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 09:58 AM

 

 

Alright gentelmen,

 

I am sort of hard headed when I want to get to something. I was able to compile an AutoIt-script, which basically does the following:

  • Brings Sequencer to focus
  • Hits the "MLPT" button
  • Sets the duration to 120 minutes (now for the test its fine)
  • Hits the start button
  • waits till the "Send to Autoslew" button is enabled, then clicks it

This should do the trick. Please note that I have attached a 32 bit and 64 bit version - on my 64 bit windows just the 64bit version works. If anybody has a chance to test it, they're welcome. I'll add the variant where you pass the duration as an argument later.

 

Download: https://www.dropbox....al32uneXya?dl=0

Hello Lukepower,

can you send me the download link to my mail   sternwarte@t-online.de  thanks, Knut



#8 maxmirot

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 08:54 PM

This working with ACP now?

 

Max



#9 lukepower

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 11:42 AM

not really. Or at least, I don't know. Knut got the executables I created to test it, maybe it is working. It is truly only a hack, and after a few tests it seems to work reasonabily well. But who knows for sure... :)


Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#10 maxmirot

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 05:03 PM

Too bad I don't have ACP to test.

I find the MLPT makes a big difference with my system. I running 100% unguided with Sequence up to 20min. I have not tried 30min.

 

I own CCDautopilot it runs scripts.

Should I try a run? The link with code has gone bad.

 

Thanks

 

Max



#11 maxmirot

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 05:12 PM

Looks too limited to be useful right now. Let me know if you want to more. Not my top priority but eventually I would like to useMLPT+ ACP with Scheduler.

 

It would need more work to share coordinates between ACP or Autopilot.

I also some devices can't be shared such as a camera. So I would need connect and disconnect the device in Sequence and ACP/CCDAP.

Max



#12 Jay

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 06:44 PM

I've been testing Sequence Generator Pro for a while now. It's simply a wonderful software and very reasonable priced. I can do everything else with it but MLPT. I've also used Autopilot and MaxPilote and they are very good programs as well. And what I've heard, ACP can do things many other programs can't.

 

It's very difficult to understand why we're a forced to use a very limited software package with one of the most high tech mounts on the market. At the same time many astroprograms are developing fast (SGP, ACP, Autopilot, MaxPilote etc) and we're stuck with a program that is quite old fashion, not very user friendly and obviously the development of it hasn't been a high priority with ASA.

 

So ASA, please make the Autoslew and Sequence...and especially MLPT to communicate with other external programs !!!

 

Jay


Edited by Jay, 07 January 2017 - 06:45 PM.


#13 maxmirot

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 07:35 PM

I agree. Sequence is very limited.

Software development and amateur clients need are not very important to ASA.

You are lucky if someone from ASA reads a post. They tell us they don't follow what is said here too.

We don't even have documentation on many of the advanced features in Autoslew.   So software flexibility is not going happen.

(You  are lucky if some can answer a question or get a bug fixed in 30 days by email).

I loved the features in SGP but stopped using it because of it does not have MLPT.

 

However, on the flip side my unguided performance is excellent when I use Sequence.


Max



#14 Jay

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 09:07 AM

Max,

 

Yes the (only) problem with the SGP is that it's quite a hassle using MLPT, and MLPT is a must when doing unguided imaging.

 

The other problem is that Sequence forces us to use Maxim DL and Pinpoint when doing MLPT (and plate solving). With SGP you can do very reliable plate solving with Plate Solve 2 (included) and UCAC3 catalog (free). So ASA makes all mount user buy very expensive software package even there are other (cheaper and better) alternatives available.

 

Jay 


Edited by Jay, 08 January 2017 - 09:10 AM.


#15 lukepower

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 09:20 AM

Well guys, this topic flames up about twice a year. I have been in touch with Philipp Keller about this but there was not much interest in doing it, so I tried it myself.

The main problem is that the connection that most of the software packages offer (i.e. ACP, CCD Autopilot and so on) is quite limited. The main issue is the meridian flip: How should we behave if a meridian flip will occour during a run?

We could detect it and then shorten the MLPT run accordingly, in the hope that the automation package will flip afterwards and request a new MLPT run. If this would be ok then my hacked version could do the trick. The other issue is that the interfaces that Sequence uses to send MLPT data to Autoslew may change with every new version, and being undocumented it could be a challenge to keep it working.

 

This all said, I uploaded the latest version to my Dropbox here: https://www.dropbox....gq9xznPPla?dl=0

 

It may work and it might not work. Right now when you execute it will basically execute the same stuff Sequence would do when you start an MLPT run:

  1. Connect everything
  2. Start an MLPT run for 50 minutes
  3. Send it to Autoslew
  4. Quit

So, basically one could simply invoke the "mlpt.exe" in the script field before the actual imaging will happen. Let me know any problems you find. As it has been tested only on my computer running Win10, who knows  ;) . Any bugs or requests please PM me.


Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#16 Jay

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 11:00 AM

Thanks a lot Lukas,

 

I'll try my best,however my knowledge with scripts etc. is very limited. It took me quite a while even to make the observatory roof close when AAG sent the "unsafe" signal :) 

 

I'm not using the automated meridian flip with MLPT at the moment simply because I'm not using Sequence for imaging. Sequence is really terrible when setting targets needing framing and/or when doing mosaics. So I have applied MLPT "manually" before and after the meridian flip.

 

Jay 



#17 lukepower

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 12:48 PM

Jay,

in theory, it's enough to let the mlpt.exe be run before every imaging run. In CCD AutoPilot there is even a particular setting for this:

Attached File  Screenshot_1.jpg   74.21KB   1 downloads

It has been added a while ago by the CCDWare coder explicitely for ASA mounts, but no software followed from ASA side...

Anyway, insert the path to the mlpt.exe and you should be set.

 

 


Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL


#18 Jay

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 02:24 PM

Lukas,

 

That's exactly what we would need with all external programs. However, I'd like to have it working with SGP for couple of reasons... 

 

. Haven't been using AutoPilot for a long time. Last couple of years MaxPilote has been my favorite. However, may have to go back to AutoPilot if this doesn't work other wise.  

- SGP multistar focus system is easy to operate and seems to function well with MLPT during refocusing.

- I really like SGP and would like to start using it

 

Maybe I'll check if SGP could do something like what AutoPilot has done

 

Jay 


Edited by Jay, 08 January 2017 - 03:23 PM.


#19 maxmirot

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 03:30 PM

I would love to use SGP but also own CCDAP.    .

We could ask the SGP folks to help but it may low on the priority list.

CCDAP(John Smith) and Bob Denny( ACP) would likely jump right in.

 

The real issue will ASA spend any time on this? Beta software editions has been dead for sometime now.

 

I don't know how to get ASA's attention.

I am sure the dealers are telling them software support and documentation is big issue with their customers.

They just start selling more of the competition as a result.

 

Max



#20 lukepower

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 06:57 PM

Well,

in ACP there is a UserAction system that could be used to run that app before each imaging set.

 

In SGP I don't know, but basically one would need a way to execute a command/executable or script right before the actual imaging happens (thus, after positioning and AutoFocus, but before the exposure of the single frames). Maybe there is already a function which is available...

 

As for ASA; I dunno. I know a few of them personally and asked them to inquire Philipp about this feature, to no avail... I mean, honestly, why would I bother to reverse engineer their routines to build n alternative MLPT tool  <_<


Edited by lukepower, 08 January 2017 - 06:58 PM.

Lukas Demetz
------------
www.skygemsobservatories.com
Astro Dolomites Observatory, Skygems Network
Santa Cristina Valgardena, Italy
20" Cassegrain-Newton on ASA DDM85XL





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