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20 Aug 2017
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TOPIC: The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips

The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 2 weeks ago #16086

After some time, I restarted playing with Ekos and Indi. The previous days, I had the same problems that I had a year ago. When capture a frame no star fields were shown, robofocus crashed all the time, camera crashed...
Setup: SBIG ST8xme camera w. internal CFW8 filterwheel, AZEQ6 eqmod, robofocus.

Today, I removed the whole indi+kstars, reinstalled it from the ppa, and installed the newest KDE plasma from the backports ppa of my kubuntu distro. Finally no more errors and it all seemed to work. It seemed the newest KDE plasma / Kubuntu upgrade did the trick. YES!!!

But I encountered some small issues for Ekos:

1) Focus Module in Ekos: when I choose the filter to focus and then click "capture", it doesn't change the filterwheel. When I use the sequence/capture module, or set the filter manually in Indi, the filter does change. The "Lock"-box in the focus-module is unchecked. This means, if you want to focus for a certain filter in the focus-module, you have to go to the indi-control-panel and select the filter there manually, then go back to the focus-module to focus for this filter. I think, when selecting a filter in the Focus-module, the focussing should change the filter to the filter that is set in the user interface.

It's also not really clear to me how to view the total CCD frame when I click "capture". The software seems to search every time automatically for a star. The total CCD frame appears for a few seconds, then the star is shown. If it runs flawlessly, this is probably handy, but when you work manually step-by-step and try to solve some problems, this is not very handy.

Also maybe a tip: it would be handy to have a running-wheel indicator on the capture-button to show that the image is busy being captured. I've seen this implemented in the Align-module, but not in the Focus-module.

2) Robofocus: I found that under the "settings tab", I have to set the 'Duty Cycle', 'Step delay', 'motorsteps per tick' manually. Even when the correct values were set correctly loaded and set from the loading of the driver! I had 1 time a robofocus that started to jump between values, but when I connect now and set the values manually, it works and robofocus driver seems stable and doesn't have it quirks. Maybe this is a bug, maybe not... Future testing have to make this clear.

3) Is it possible to have an extra button "warm up" button in the indi SBIG driver? Next to the cooler On/Off would be great. I know you can execute it manually in Ekos, but it would be very handy if I could warm up the CCD from the driver in the indi-control-panel.

4) In the Align-module, when the solver doesn't find the location in the first run, it will try to re-run the solver a few times again. Now, when the solver is 1st time run, you can click "Stop" in the solver control. When the solver is started again for a new attempt, then the Solver-control jumps back to the standard settings. The button "stop" is then greyed out, and "capture&solve/load&slew" are active again. This way, it's impssible to stop the solver from Ekos.

Otherwise, it's my impression that the software has improved quite a bit! Nice piece of work! I'll test further to use it on my "production" nights (still in windows).
The following user(s) said Thank You: knro

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Last Edit: by meister.wolf.

The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16091

1. Why don't you check "Lock"? If you do, then it switches to the selected filter. There are instances where the filter wheel changes, and the focus should focus on whatever filter currently set, and other situations where focus should only happen in a specific filter set.
2. Need robo focus debug log to investigate any issues.
3. Cooler off doesn't warm the CCD? That's what "warm up" does, just switches cooler off.
4. Solved in GIT!

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Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16092

Robofocus: I found that under the "settings tab", I have to set the 'Duty Cycle', 'Step delay', 'motorsteps per tick' manually. Even when the correct values were set correctly loaded and set from the loading of the driver! I had 1 time a robofocus that started to jump between values, but when I connect now and set the values manually, it works and robofocus driver seems stable and doesn't have it quirks. Maybe this is a bug, maybe not... Future testing have to make this clear.


You should not have to set these manually with Robofocus. What version is your control box, and have you run the Robofocus calibration routine? I suspect you did not run the routine, or that the routines calibration was lost, thus the firmware didnt know what to set for default values.

It is a very simple procedure to calibrate Robofocus.

As an aside -- I highly suggest getting away from Robofocus. It is not that precise, and will give you more challenges trying to get precise CFZ focusing than it is worth. If you consider replacing it, I highly suggest the Moonlite High-Res Stepper motor, which has less than 2 micron steps, compared to the almost 8 micron steps of the Robofocus.
The following user(s) said Thank You: knro

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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16096

I completely agree with Bill here. I had Robofocus before and once I tried MoonLite I never looked back. Unless Robofocus step up their game and release something close to the quality of MoonLite, it will be a very hard competition.
The following user(s) said Thank You: rockstarbill

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Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
How to Submit Logs when you have problems?

The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16097

knro wrote: I completely agree with Bill here. I had Robofocus before and once I tried MoonLite I never looked back. Unless Robofocus step up their game and release something close to the quality of MoonLite, it will be a very hard competition.


Completely agree, Jasem.

With slower F Ratio gear, step size becomes less of an issue to care about. The slower the optics, the more tolerance. The problem that people need to see is that telescopes are moving toward being faster and faster in terms of the optics, and Robofocus isn't going to change its game anytime soon. They have way too many government contracts to ever care about us lowly scope nerds. :)

What I really like about Ron at Moonlite is that he makes products for US, the astro imagers. His High-Res stepper motor is better than the Posi Motor from Feathertouch (albeit only by a tiny tiny nearly insignificant amount) but more importantly it does not commandeer your telescope in the way that Robofocus does. Go try to manually focus a Robofocus equipped scope, you will probably need to disassemble the Robofocus entirely. Now, try it on a Moonlite focuser, you turn a knob and disengage the clutch and get to use a super buttery smooth focuser all you want.

Why does that matter to the dude that only images? It probably doesn't. But for those of us that have really nice scopes, like my Takahashi TOA130 -- I like to do visual as well. Anyone would if they had this scope, its a dream to use visually!

Now pair all of that with the fact that Ron wants INDI to be successful. He wants everyone on every platform to love his products and to use them. His Nitecrawler doesn't have INDI drivers yet -- but it is really new, taking off like crazy, and he has already told me he has folks (mostly customers) working on the INDI driver set for the Nitecrawler.

Yeah my chips are not going in the Robofocus bucket. The sooner people get onto the Moonlite platform, the better. B)

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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16098

Really? He told you customers are working on INDI driver set for the Nitecrawler? I communicated with him a few weeks ago asking for the updated set but didn't receive any thus far. If someone else is working on the driver, I'd like to know so there is no duplicate effort.

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Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
How to Submit Logs when you have problems?

The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16103

You would likely have more up to date info on that. :) He just mentioned it was being worked on, and mentioned a customer. Maybe thats you? :)

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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16109

Yeah they actually just replied today and said will send documentation soon, so we'll see!

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Jasem Mutlaq
Support INDI & Ekos; Get StellarMate Astrophotography Gadget.
How to Submit Logs when you have problems?

The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16110

Tell him he should send you a test device ;)

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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16112

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This is great news!

I did not ask Ron about the INDI driver yet, as I am waiting for more info on a NightCrawler prototype that may work for my Celestron OAG and EdgeHD 11. The support Ron has given is amazing. Ron requested pictures of my setup to understand more about the back focus. With luck this new version will fit the back focus for this setup, and I eagerly await the results and will check back in 3 weeks when the prototype is expected.

Perhaps the INDI drivers can be done in 3 weeks :) If so my pocket book will definitely be lighter.

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The new Ekos, some impressions, small issues and tips 7 months 1 week ago #16113

Some small update:

1) Yes, when you check "Lock", the filter DOES change for the focus. sorry, I have said nothing. :blush: :blush:

2) I had a hard crash of Ekos. This happened when I clicked the "capture" button in the capture module. Don't know what happened here. Here is extract of backtrace and log.
[size=2]
GDB backtrace
--------------

Thread 1 "kstars" received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x0823ccc5 in FITSData::findCentroid<unsigned short> (this=0xb8540b0, boundary=..., initStdDev=<optimized out>, 
    minEdgeWidth=5) at ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsdata.cpp:1298
1298    ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsdata.cpp: No such file or directory.
(gdb) bt
#0  0x0823ccc5 in FITSData::findCentroid<unsigned short> (this=0xb8540b0, boundary=..., initStdDev=<optimized out>, 
    minEdgeWidth=5) at ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsdata.cpp:1298
#1  0x082441f8 in FITSData::findCentroid (this=<optimized out>, boundary=..., initStdDev=<optimized out>, 
    minEdgeWidth=<optimized out>) at ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsdata.cpp:1168
#2  0x0824431f in FITSData::findStars (this=0xb8540b0, boundary=..., force=false) at ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsdata.cpp:2046
#3  0x0825260c in FITSView::findStars (this=0xad66378, algorithm=ALGORITHM_CENTROID) at ./kstars/fitsviewer/fitsview.cpp:1197
#4  0x082fad89 in Ekos::Focus::setCaptureComplete (this=0xad3a388) at ./kstars/ekos/focus/focus.cpp:1144
#5  0x081c016b in Ekos::Focus::qt_static_metacall (_o=0xad3a388, _c=QMetaObject::InvokeMetaMethod, _id=44, _a=0xbffaef54)
    at ./obj-i686-linux-gnu/kstars/moc_focus.cpp:373
#6  0xb568d66f in QMetaObject::activate(QObject*, int, int, void**) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#7  0xb568dbad in QMetaObject::activate(QObject*, QMetaObject const*, int, void**) ()
   from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#8  0x081a429a in Ekos::DarkLibrary::darkFrameCompleted (this=0xb505db8, _t1=<optimized out>)
    at ./obj-i686-linux-gnu/kstars/moc_darklibrary.cpp:148
#9  0x082995ab in Ekos::DarkLibrary::subtract<unsigned char> (offsetY=<optimized out>, offsetX=<optimized out>, 
    filter=<optimized out>, lightImage=<optimized out>, darkData=<optimized out>, this=<optimized out>)
    at ./kstars/ekos/auxiliary/darklibrary.cpp:258
#10 Ekos::DarkLibrary::subtract (this=0xb505db8, darkData=0xbdc33f0, lightImage=0xad66378, filter=FITS_NONE, offsetX=0, 
    offsetY=0) at ./kstars/ekos/auxiliary/darklibrary.cpp:186
#11 0x0829d1f6 in Ekos::DarkLibrary::newFITS (this=0xb505db8, bp=0xa9e99c98) at ./kstars/ekos/auxiliary/darklibrary.cpp:341
#12 0x081ae056 in Ekos::DarkLibrary::qt_static_metacall (_o=0xb505db8, _c=QMetaObject::InvokeMetaMethod, _id=2, 
    _a=0xbffaf144) at ./obj-i686-linux-gnu/kstars/moc_darklibrary.cpp:85
#13 0xb568d66f in QMetaObject::activate(QObject*, int, int, void**) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#14 0xb568dbad in QMetaObject::activate(QObject*, QMetaObject const*, int, void**) ()
   from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#15 0x081a6dca in ISD::GDInterface::BLOBUpdated (this=0xb32c1c8, _t1=<optimized out>)
    at ./obj-i686-linux-gnu/kstars/moc_indistd.cpp:383
#16 0x0820011f in ISD::CCD::processBLOB (this=<optimized out>, bp=<optimized out>) at ./kstars/indi/indiccd.cpp:1703
#17 0x081f4b45 in INDIListener::processBLOB (this=0xa88b3f0, bp=0xa9e99c98) at ./kstars/indi/indilistener.cpp:374
#18 0x081c082e in INDIListener::qt_static_metacall (_o=0xa88b3f0, _c=QMetaObject::InvokeMetaMethod, _id=18, _a=0xa7cb9588)
    at ./obj-i686-linux-gnu/kstars/moc_indilistener.cpp:182
#19 0xb568a3f0 in QMetaCallEvent::placeMetaCall(QObject*) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#20 0xb568e183 in QObject::event(QEvent*) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#21 0xb613c04a in QApplicationPrivate::notify_helper(QObject*, QEvent*) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libQt5Widgets.so.5
#22 0xb614184c in QApplication::notify(QObject*, QEvent*) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libQt5Widgets.so.5
#23 0xb565d4ad in QCoreApplication::notifyInternal2(QObject*, QEvent*) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#24 0xb566036e in QCoreApplicationPrivate::sendPostedEvents(QObject*, int, QThreadData*) ()
   from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#25 0xb5660877 in QCoreApplication::sendPostedEvents(QObject*, int) () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#26 0xb56b7e03 in ?? () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#27 0xb42ee4d9 in g_main_context_dispatch () from /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libglib-2.0.so.0
#28 0xb42ee779 in ?? () from /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libglib-2.0.so.0
---Type <return> to continue, or q <return> to quit---
#29 0xb42ee844 in g_main_context_iteration () from /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libglib-2.0.so.0
#30 0xb56b81f3 in QEventDispatcherGlib::processEvents(QFlags<QEventLoop::ProcessEventsFlag>) ()
   from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#31 0xb188a521 in ?? () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libQt5XcbQpa.so.5
#32 0xb565adad in QEventLoop::exec(QFlags<QEventLoop::ProcessEventsFlag>) ()
   from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#33 0xb566407f in QCoreApplication::exec() () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Core.so.5
#34 0xb5b417b1 in QGuiApplication::exec() () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/sse2/libQt5Gui.so.5
#35 0xb6138cc4 in QApplication::exec() () from /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libQt5Widgets.so.5
#36 0x08094a60 in main (argc=<optimized out>, argv=<optimized out>) at ./kstars/main.cpp:313
(gdb) 


Logs:
----------
==> log_09-36-14.txt <==
2017-04-11T09:36:26.416 - WARN - "Object named NGC 78 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:26.488 - WARN - "Object named NGC 6050A not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:27.878 - WARN - "Object named NGC 4666 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:28.526 - WARN - "Object named NGC 7318 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:28.816 - WARN - "Object named NGC 7839 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:29.013 - WARN - "Object named NGC 7840 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:29.249 - WARN - "Object named IC 1127 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:29.542 - WARN - "Object named IC 2497 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:29.775 - WARN - "Object named IC 4703 not found"
2017-04-11T09:36:29.992 - WARN - "Object named JupiterComet Shoemaker–Levy 9 Wikipedia page not found"

==> log_21-38-29.txt <==
2017-04-11T21:45:45.543 - DEBG - SBIG CCD :  "Taking 1s exposure on main camera... "
2017-04-11T21:45:50.305 - DEBG - Focus:  "Capturing dark frame..."
2017-04-11T21:45:50.326 - DEBG - SBIG CCD :  "Taking 2s exposure on main camera... "
2017-04-11T21:45:55.213 - DEBG - fits MIN:  927  - fits MAX:  32639  - pixel range:  31712  - bin width  50.9021  bin count  624
2017-04-11T21:45:55.302 - DEBG - FITHistogram: JMIndex  0.999997
2017-04-11T21:45:55.317 - DEBG - Focus:  "Dark frame received."
2017-04-11T21:45:55.338 - DEBG - Focus:  "Dark frame saved to /home/cboy/.local/share/kstars/darks/darkframe_2017-04-11T21-45-55.fits"
2017-04-11T21:45:55.470 - DEBG - Focus:  "Image received."
2017-04-11T21:45:55.473 - DEBG - SNR:  31.3477
2017-04-11T21:45:55.473 - DEBG - The threshold level is  1031.21 (actual  1031.21 )  minimum edge width 5  minimum edge limit  3
[/size]

3) It seems the robofocus is still an issue. Control box is version 3.1. It seems the correct focus jumps up and down around 200 ticks for the same filter, most of the time ending in not focused stars. (I use "gradient", and "polynomial", 0.40% tolerance, 30 ticks step size). Filters are +-85 ticks parfocal. But I mainly observe with my present setup with the V-filter, so I can probably find a workaround for that. I think the "gradient" option is best if you have an optical system that produces a dohnut because of the central obstruction?

Another focuser is not really an option, it's a) expensive and b), robofocus is connected directly to the axis of the built-in focuser of the vmc200l. Like this:

I did have a moonlite years ago. I wasn't impressed by it because it had light leaks and focus shifted when a heavy sbig-camera was attached. I'm not exactly impressed with the robofocus either, but for now, I 'm pretty much stuck with it.

I can borrow another robofocus control-box from a friend soon, I'll test with that one. When I enable the driver info verbose of the robofocus, it doesn't show any errors.

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Last Edit: by meister.wolf.
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