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Thread: New Autoguider - First Testing!

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    Default New Autoguider - First Testing!



    Hi Everyone!

    I received my new mmag the other day and that evening hooked up the camera and mount (ascom) to phd2 just to test connections. All connected perfectly and I was happy with that.
    The next day I set the mount up outside and lowered the agin to focus on some far away trees. Not the best image, but success again.
    I went ahead and set up the extra focal extenders and camera with balance the rig with the added autoguider weight.
    That evening my base goal was just to set up outside and see some guide stars and get used to setup and focusing. I know, very small steps.
    Well, success with stars! They were clear and crisp in PHD2 (ver 2.6.5) after tuning the focus.
    So far, so good. I had to try out guiding in PHD2. Quickly calibrated the mount and targeted M42. Started looping. Nice stars in the camera view window with 1 second exposures.
    Mistake #1. I did not use the auto selected guide star. I picked a much brighter one. Next time, I will use autoselect.
    Clicked the green guide icon. PHD calibrated just like I had read it would. No issues. On to guiding.
    I wish that I would have caught some screen shots. I was in my initial testing mode and did not.
    Conditions:
    1. Scope was slightly East heavy in RA, but quite a bit nose heavy in DEC since I had balanced with the dslr and only the diagonal with eyepiece was installed.
    2. Quick polar alignment with the polar scope only.
    3. M42 was on the celestial equator at less than 25 degrees altitude.
    4. Cables were dangling.
    5. Mount connected to the PC through the HC (ascom).

    But I saw was what looked like a good DEC guiding at about 0.5 rms error and the RA was 1 to 2 pixels rms error. The total rms error ranged from 1.8 to 2.5 Px sometimes getting higher, but settling down. Occasionally, RA would get sometimes screwy and spike to 4” on the graph, but PHD would finally get it under control after several corrections.

    I know that I had some pretty undesirable conditions in my scope/ mount setup, but I just wanted to feel things out. I never did attach the dslr.

    I only ‘guided’ for about 20 to 30 minutes, but during this time, I was changing every setting I could to try to settle down the RA. I know, I probably should have left defaults and let it run for awhile untouched.

    I tell you what though, watching PhD control the amount is really awesome. This is really cool stuff!

    Anyway, I know that I need better balance and PA, but after reading a good bit on the Internet, the AVX amount seems to have frequent issues controlling RA.
    Some people set the aggression for RA up to 80, and some people say it’s inherent to the AVX to have RA issues, so let it run as long as the stars look good and do not worry much about the rms error.

    Does anyone here have any thoughts on this?

    A couple of questions that I have and have not found in the documentation are:

    PEC is probably some of my issues. Do I Pec train with the PHD algorithm , or PEC train the mount with the HC?

    Should I remove mount backlash settings and let PHD calibrate the backlash?

    Thanks for tolerating my baby steps and please let me know if you have any suggestions.
    Suggestions especially related to the AVX mount and PHDwould be great too!

    Have a fine day all. Rain here!

    BTW, I plan to use the mmag with the ED102 (714 mm) and the AVX Mount.

    Thanks,
    Jim
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    Scopes: Explore Scientific ED102 Triplet APO, Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT.
    Mounts: Celestron AVX with Orion MM Autoguider, SLT; Binoculars: Bushnell 10X50;
    Camera: Nikon D3300 and D5300(unmodded), Astrophotography Tool, PHD2, SharpCap v3.2, StarTools, PE14
    Dog: Jack
    Astro Photos https://flickr.com/photos/157183480@N07/sets/72157707681236785

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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    you should post your guide logs, screenshots of your settings etc so people here can check them and help with your questions.
    PHD2 log path in widows
    C:\Users\username\Documents\PHD2
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Hi geethq,

    I do not have any screen shots, but below are links to the guide logs. As I said above, I know that the mount was not set up right and I monkeyed around with the settings a bunch. I need to correctly drift align and balance the mount/scope, then see what issues I have.

    My main questions were:
    I saw a lot of comments on the internet concerning AVX issues with RA and was curious if this is what folks here experienced also. Is it somewhat normal to have a 1-3 px RA rms error with an AVX? Is 1-2 px RA rms error that bad?
    I was also curious if I should clear the backlash settings in the mount and let PHD calibrate for that.
    Concerning PPEC. Should I select the ppec algorithm in the brain, or set up pec at the HC.

    Those are my concerns right now. As I said, I really need to get things right to start troubleshooting. Just had a few questions.

    Thanks a bunch for your help!

    Jim

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uZ...BBSNaCg5B02ah7
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=164..._v0eg7AyVQAnCQ
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    Scopes: Explore Scientific ED102 Triplet APO, Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT.
    Mounts: Celestron AVX with Orion MM Autoguider, SLT; Binoculars: Bushnell 10X50;
    Camera: Nikon D3300 and D5300(unmodded), Astrophotography Tool, PHD2, SharpCap v3.2, StarTools, PE14
    Dog: Jack
    Astro Photos https://flickr.com/photos/157183480@N07/sets/72157707681236785

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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    As you've realised, you should not mess around with the settings unless you really know what you are doing. Instead, you should run the Guiding Assistant and accept its recommendations. You should also read the Best Practices guide accessible from https://openphdguiding.org/getting-help/
    The sorts of recommendations you will get are:
    Use exposures of 2 to 4 seconds. 1 second is too short.
    Guide in one direction only to avoid backlash. Or use PHD2 backlash compensation. Disable any backlash compensation in the mount or they will conflict. PHD2 uses an adaptive algorithm.

    Personally I would not worry about PEC at this stage. If autoguiding is working as it should then PEC should be largely unnecessary.

    Analysing your log shows that your PA error is around 15 arcmin. That is quite high. Use the PHD2 PA tools to get it down to 5 arcmin or better. Polar Drift Alignment (PDA) is the simplest. There's a tutorial linked frm https://openphdguiding.org/polar-ali...deo-tutorials/

    You can fine tune with either Static Polar Alignmetn (SPA) or the classic drift alignment.

    Your RA Axis is quite "spikey" which neither PHD2 nor PEC can counter. They only work on slow movements. You should check the gear mesh on both axes. A damping grease might help too.
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the helpful info.

    If I get clear skies tomorrow night, it will set up and run through drift align to get pa better. I will the balance slightly East and nose heavy.
    I ordered some super lube today and will relube the gears in the mount. When you mention to check the gear mesh, do you mean adjust the gears closer to minimize slack (same slack that causes backlash)? Or, do you mean check for grit or insufficient lube?

    I really appreciate the help Ken.

    Thanks,
    Jim
    Scopes: Explore Scientific ED102 Triplet APO, Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT.
    Mounts: Celestron AVX with Orion MM Autoguider, SLT; Binoculars: Bushnell 10X50;
    Camera: Nikon D3300 and D5300(unmodded), Astrophotography Tool, PHD2, SharpCap v3.2, StarTools, PE14
    Dog: Jack
    Astro Photos https://flickr.com/photos/157183480@N07/sets/72157707681236785

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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Hi Jim,

    Here is what I've encountered with my AVX mount and autoguiding.

    For a typical 180 second image, my dec error is almost always under .85 and usually under .60 as/pix. The RA, on the other hand, is way, way worse. Sometimes it is totally out to lunch! I typically get errors exceeding 1.0 as/pix. Sometimes as high as 2.2 as/pix with a guiding graph that looks like a giant sawtooth. My guiding scale is 2.68 as/pix and my imaging scale is 1.85 as/pix so, with RA errors that large, I get EGGS!

    I know that it is time to dismantle the mount and investigate why the RA error is so large and then make the necessary adjustments. My understanding is that this behavior is pretty typical for the AVX.

    Let me know how well your mount performs and if you need to do surgery, I have several bookmarked web pages that show how to do the adjustment.

    Cheers,
    JT
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Quote Originally Posted by Juno16 View Post
    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the helpful info.

    If I get clear skies tomorrow night, it will set up and run through drift align to get pa better. I will the balance slightly East and nose heavy.
    I ordered some super lube today and will relube the gears in the mount. When you mention to check the gear mesh, do you mean adjust the gears closer to minimize slack (same slack that causes backlash)? Or, do you mean check for grit or insufficient lube?

    I really appreciate the help Ken.

    Thanks,
    Jim
    All the above but in particular, adjust them to minimize slack.
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Hi JT,

    I cracked up when I read your response! I know, it’s really not funny though. I did read a lot on the internet about these types of RA issues with the avx unfortunately.
    So, even with balance and good PA, I might still see high RA rms error. Your images look great though!
    Maybe I will have less impact at 714 mm?
    Before I tear into the mount at all, I will get a good PHD run with goog balance and good pa.
    I have no problem getting into the mount though if need be. I will let you know. The links would be great to stash if you would not mind sharing.
    Thanks for your helpful response!

    Jim
    Scopes: Explore Scientific ED102 Triplet APO, Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT.
    Mounts: Celestron AVX with Orion MM Autoguider, SLT; Binoculars: Bushnell 10X50;
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Did you set your backlash compensation? I usually set it to 22, all 4. Then again if you preload East heavy it may not matter.
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    Default Re: New Autoguider - First Testing!

    Quote Originally Posted by CamelHat View Post
    Did you set your backlash compensation? I usually set it to 22, all 4. Then again if you preload East heavy it may not matter.
    i though you need to clear all those settings when guiding and let PHD to calculate and compensate them.
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