Please forgive me for my rather long essay, i have quite an interesting story to tell, and i also need some technical advice.
I am quite new to AstroPhotography, in fact i have only got some really quite nice moon shots, but i want to get into DSO, which is what i bought the scope for in the first place.
And i know before i hear you all shouting at me on the internet, that you can't do it with my setup. Well just to let you know I have done it. Well Sort of. So here is my story. and i would love some input please.
The first project change i made to the scope was to build an electronic focuser, which consisted of a 12v high torque motor, encased and mounted onto the focusing head, with a hand held power unit to focus in. This works very effectively, taking about 90 seconds to focus from one all the way in, to all the way out. Giving great control on adjusting focus very very slowly.
As you all know, and i soon found out that the speed of rotation moves any object out of FOV in next to no time, which is ok for short exposures, but anything over a second is really not usable. So i read a few ideas online and started to go about building my own motorised mount.
So with my Mac and having a Powered USB Hub connected to a FTDI usb card, connected to an Arduino Uno, connected to a Motor Driver, connected to two high torque motors, all encased and mounted to the tripod being controlled by Lin_Guider, running on Raspian OS on Oracle Virtualbox on my Mac, I managed to get it working. The guide scope was a cheap £5 scope and a £5 web-cam attached to it, and it did quite a good job enabling me to take 10 min subs and longer.
So i wanted to improve the Scope and guiding camera, so went for a SVBony SV105 camera, and a 50mm guiding scope. This improved things somewhat, but the issue i had with lin_guider and SV105 is that i couldn't control the brightness, contrast or any other settings in Lin_Guider, and i think its because its a UVC device. And with the SV105 having as smaller FOV than the web-cam it was harder to get a guide star close too anything of interest. I worked out that it could track stars with a magnitude of 3.0 - 3.5.
I noticed that i was having a problem connecting 4 devices to the computer via the USB hub, so i decided to purchase a Mac-Mini to act as the controlling computer, with it having 4 USB ports, this would overcome the issues i was having with the hub. Again from Ebay at £50 thought it was a bargain, but the Mac OSX version was the problem, i couldn't run AstroDSLR software or pretty much any other software. Even Virtual Box was slow. So i bit the bullet and partitioned the drive, and installed Linux on the Mac-Mini as a Dual Boot, installing Lin-Guider, again this worked very well, even better now that the devices were on their own USB ports. But i still couldn't control the brightness and contrast. Even though using the SV105 i could control the Brightness on other Apps. So i started hunting around for other Linux based software that i could use.
This is where i came across KStars & Indi, Indi is amazing giving the ability to integrate hardware into pretty much any Astronomy software, how cool is that. The Brightness and Contrast and other controls all available and i now have more control over the guide scope, I am waiting for a clear night now to see if i can see fainter objects with the SVBony,
I am aware that KStars has LinGuider built in, and you can also use PHD or Lin_Guider, but trying the Lin_guider option causes KStars to crash when you click on Connect, and i can only find the Download for PHD2 not the original PHD, which is needed to support UVC cameras.
So i am stuck with the internal Guider in KStars / EKOS. so to develop my project further i need some help.
I want to control the Arduino in KStars / EKOS providing the control to the motors. I have played around with the Firmata sketches, and i can get Indi to connect to the Arduino, but i am struggling to get INDI to control the output pins.
And how will KStars / EKOS know which pin to trigger which motor ? These are all answers i have not found out yet.
Do i have to write my own Indi Driver ? and if so how do i go about it ?
I have tons more questions, and before going out spending any more on my project i really want to get it running reliably.
I am also thinking about replacing the SVBony with a more expensive more sensitive guiding camera, and maybe a CCD for the main imaging camera.
So please, all comments are welcome.
And many thanks for ready my essay.
If anyone wants diagrams or photo's of my solution then please feel free to contact me.