Astronomy Software – Astronomy Log http://www.astronomylog.co.uk My images and view of the Nights Sky Wed, 30 May 2018 13:10:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Windows 10 Install on Observatory PC http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/windows-10-install-on-observatory-pc/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/windows-10-install-on-observatory-pc/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:19:46 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=27341 After upgrading my laptops and the home PC I didn’t think I would upgrade the observatory PC for a while yet, as I was expecting problems with drivers etc. But last night I decided to just go ahead and upgrade my observatory PC which was running Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro. My observatory

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After upgrading my laptops and the home PC I didn’t think I would upgrade the observatory PC for a while yet, as I was expecting problems with drivers etc. But last night I decided to just go ahead and upgrade my observatory PC which was running Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro.

My observatory PC has gone through a couple of internal changes since it was installed. It’s now an Intel i3 CPU with 4GB RAM and an SSD drive. I also seem to have gone through all the Windows OS’s in the last few years as well.

The observatory PC began with Windows XP Pro, then I upgraded to Vista Business, then Windows 7 Pro and now Windows 10 Pro. Why Pro you ask? Well so I can connect to it through Remote Desktop Connection.

Anyway, I chose the upgrade option, it downloaded the software, and then installed it OK. After making sure I turned off sending lots of free private data to Microsoft I was ready to test it all.

My dual monitor set up still worked OK, Windows 10 still saw my ZWO 120MM-S camera, the Ethernet still worked. Great! The only problem was with the Prolific USB drivers (I knew these were going to be trouble!).

I have 4 of the Serial to USB cables on my observatory PC. The 1st connects the EQ8 mount through the Hitec Astro EQDIR cable and the other 3 are for my 3 Lakeside Focusers, which connect to 3 telescopes.

Unfortunately I did not document exactly what I did to get them all working, I just did get them working. I began with 3 of them in Device Manager showing exclamation marks against them. I know that I did right click on all the drivers and uninstall all of them including the device drivers and tried the Hitec Astro Windows 8/10 EQDIR driver (EQDIR installation instructions) and the 64bit USB to Serial Prolific drivers that I mentioned in my other post.

After re-booting a few times and letting Windows find the drivers and do whatever it wanted after installing the above drivers it all seemed to work out fine. I then just needed to re-map the COM ports to the correct numbers that I like, otherwise I find Windows always seems to change the COM port numbers around. This can be done by right clicking on the COM port in the Device Manager and then choosing ‘Advanced’ where you can change the COM port number being used. It is always recommended to then re-boot after changing the COM port numbers.

So far Windows 10 seems fine, everything works (except for AmCap, which I never really use anyway). EQMOD connected OK so did all the Lakeside focusers. I did not have my Starlight Xpress USB filter wheel connected, nor my Atik 460EX connected – but I am sure they will be fine. The main headache always seems to be these Prolific USB to Serial drivers.

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Windows and Prolific Serial to USB Adapter http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/windows-and-profilic-serial-to-usb-adapter/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/windows-and-profilic-serial-to-usb-adapter/#respond Tue, 11 Aug 2015 08:44:03 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=27337 Are you having problems with Windows 8 or Windows 10 and your older (maybe not official) Prolific Serial to USB Adapter on your observatory PC? Well you are not alone, and now after reading this article: http://www.ifamilysoftware.com/news37.html I am a bit worried about upgrading the observatory PC from Windows 7 to the free upgrade of

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Are you having problems with Windows 8 or Windows 10 and your older (maybe not official) Prolific Serial to USB Adapter on your observatory PC?

Well you are not alone, and now after reading this article:

http://www.ifamilysoftware.com/news37.html

I am a bit worried about upgrading the observatory PC from Windows 7 to the free upgrade of Windows 10.

But at least in the article they do say that at least one driver version does still work on Windows 10 and that is v3.3.2.102

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FocusMax Downloads http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-downloads/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-downloads/#respond Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:13:17 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=27135 Over the years I have kept a few copies of Focusmax on my computer. So because Focusmax is not free anymore and v3 is no longer supported I decided to put them available for download onto this blog. Focusmax Downloads – a few old v3 files

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Over the years I have kept a few copies of Focusmax on my computer. So because Focusmax is not free anymore and v3 is no longer supported I decided to put them available for download onto this blog.

Focusmax Downloads – a few old v3 files

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Moved from Vista to Windows 7 and added Samsung SSD’s http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/moved-vista-windows-7-added-samsung-ssds/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/moved-vista-windows-7-added-samsung-ssds/#respond Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:38:36 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=27018 Well that was a short life for Vista on my observatory PC. I only upgraded from Windows XP Pro to Vista Business in January, but I wanted to add an SSD (Solid State Drive) to my observatory PC to speed things up, so now was a good time to install Windows 7 Professional. Why Professional?

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Well that was a short life for Vista on my observatory PC. I only upgraded from Windows XP Pro to Vista Business in January, but I wanted to add an SSD (Solid State Drive) to my observatory PC to speed things up, so now was a good time to install Windows 7 Professional.

Why Professional? Well, so I can control the observatory PC from the house using the in-built Remote Desktop Connection software.

I have already installed SSD’s in both my laptops and the speed increase is amazing, no more noisy spinning hard drives for me. The price of  SSD’s has also decreased. I bought a Samsung SSD 240GB for my home desktop PC and a Samsung SSD 120GB version for the observatory PC. They cost (in 2014) £85 for the 240GB and about £50 for the 120GB version.

I have decided to keep the previously used hard drives inside the PC but use them for storage of the images and video when they are being recorded by the telescopes, so leaving the SSD drives with just Windows and my astronomy programs on.

 

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EQ8 EQMOD and EQDIR Cables on Vista http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/eq8-eqmod-eqdir-cables-vista/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/eq8-eqmod-eqdir-cables-vista/#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:51:58 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26971 My new EQ8 mount was delivered the other day and I noticed straightaway the handset port has changed since the EQ6 version which was a 9 pin serial RS232 type connection. The new EQ8 handset connector is a standard Ethernet type connection. So this meant I needed a new EQDIR connection cable. Yes I know,

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My new EQ8 mount was delivered the other day and I noticed straightaway the handset port has changed since the EQ6 version which was a 9 pin serial RS232 type connection.

The new EQ8 handset connector is a standard Ethernet type connection. So this meant I needed a new EQDIR connection cable. Yes I know, I could have taken apart the EQ6 one and made my own cable. But this time I could not be bothered.

So anyway, I bought a HitecAstro EQDIR cable, the newer ones where there is no box of tricks, just a cable. These cables also work with the EQ5 and EQ6-AZ GT.

I started off installing the Prolific USB to Serial drivers, which I got from the HitecAstro support pages, and then I plugged in the cable into the PC and into the EQ8 mount. The cable was recognised by Vista and given a COM port number. Great so far!

I then fired up EQMOD Toolbox and tried to get the toolbox to find the COM port for me. But it could not find the COM port the computer had given the cable. This always worked for me, when on XP. So immediately I thought there was something wrong with the cable, had I bought the wrong one etc.

So I emailed HitecAstro and David Jackson replied nearly straight away, he then offered to phone me back and walk me through the set-up. That’s brilliant customer service. Well once I had provided my phone number to David and he phoned up I had sorted it out.

The problem was that the auto COM port selection just did not seem to work anymore – it must be Vista. I decided to choose my COM port and then just connect to EQMOD – and it worked!

So if the auto searching for the COM port does not find your mount port, then don’t worry straight away. Just select the one it should be and try it out.

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Upgrading the Observatory PC from Windows XP to Windows Vista http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/upgrading-the-observatory-pc-from-windows-xp-to-windows-vista/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/upgrading-the-observatory-pc-from-windows-xp-to-windows-vista/#respond Mon, 13 Jan 2014 14:34:24 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26951 The support for Windows XP is finishing in April 2014. So really it was time to upgrade the observatory PC. I was previously using Windows XP Professional 32bit edition for quite a while in the observatory. I had no real issues with it, and I know a lot of people still use Windows XP on

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The support for Windows XP is finishing in April 2014. So really it was time to upgrade the observatory PC. I was previously using Windows XP Professional 32bit edition for quite a while in the observatory. I had no real issues with it, and I know a lot of people still use Windows XP on their Laptops or Desktop PC’s for running their observatories.

I had a spare copy of Windows Vista Business 64bit lying around, so I decided to use that, instead of paying £50 or more for a copy of Windows 7. Come to think of it, it would have been a lot more as I would ideally have wanted the Business edition of Windows 7 which can be quite pricey (as I like to remotely control the observatory PC from in the house by using Remote Desktop Connection and that’s only available if your Windows PC is the Business or Professional editions).

My main worry when upgrading was drivers, and especially 64bit drivers! I went for a clean install of Vista and after it was complete I was amazed to see that the internet was already connected (so the ethernet driver had been installed for me) and the sound was working (so sound driver installed OK), and it had installed the driver for my USB Hub PCI Card. As I use about 8-10 USB ports on my observatory PC.

A great surprise and my biggest worry was my old NVidia graphics card which runs 2 monitors, but once Vista started to do it’s hundreds of extra updates – which took it to  service pack 2, the graphics card was recognised and the driver came from Microsoft and everything worked.

So that was the basic drivers, now came the main astronomy software, namely:

ASCOM 6 Sp3EQMOD
FocusMax
QHY5 software
Atik drivers
Maxim DL
Lakeside Focuser drivers
Starlight Xpress filter wheel drivers
Imaging Source ICapture and Drivers

Before the install I had backed up my FocusMax settings, Maxim Configurations and my EQMOD settings (as my EQ6 mount was still parked).

I had no problems installing any of the software on Vista 64bit, and once the main software was installed I overwrote the default settings files with my own backed up ones.

The only problem I ran into was with the classic USB to Serial adaptor software drivers, as I have 3 of these. 1 for EQMOD, and 2 for the Lakeside Focusers. There are so many different USB to Serial adaptors. I bought mine from eBay. I kept the original CD driver disks, but there are usually newer drivers if you know where to look and make sure you get the correct driver – as there seem to be hundreds of different ones.

Then it was a matter of checking which adaptor was set to which COM port and then telling EQMOD and the Lakside ASCOM software which COM ports these were. I then fired up Maxim and checked all the connections worked to the cameras (QHY5 and Atik 314L+), filter wheel and EQMOD.

Early days yet, as there is no real test like actually opening the observatory roof up and doing some observing or imaging to really test the software and Vista 64bit.

I am glad I left the PC in the observatory whilst doing the upgrade, as it meant I did not need to unplug any of the many cables in the back of the PC. Plus as it was a Professional version of Windows I could go into the house and use Remote Desktop Connection to remotely install and test the software without sitting in the observatory.

Now I shall stick to Windows Vista until they drop support for that, which hopefully will be a while yet. Then I suppose I shall be installing Windows 7 Business 64bit.

BTW my PC specifications are: Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz CPU, 3GB RAM and 500GB SATA Hard Drive.

 

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Control your Observatory PC from your iPhone http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/control-your-observatory-pc-from-your-iphone/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/control-your-observatory-pc-from-your-iphone/#respond Fri, 01 Nov 2013 20:49:52 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26881 Since I wrote the post on controlling your observatory PC remotely (and I had the letter about this published in Astronomy Now). I have now discovered that you can now control your Windows based observatory PC from your iPhone, iPad or Android device – whether it’s a phone or a tablet device. Why and How

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Since I wrote the post on controlling your observatory PC remotely (and I had the letter about this published in Astronomy Now).

I have now discovered that you can now control your Windows based observatory PC from your iPhone, iPad or Android device – whether it’s a phone or a tablet device.

Why and How can I do it? Well you can do it as Microsoft have released a Remote Desktop app.

Just make sure your observatory PC is running a Pro, Business or Ultimate version of Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8.

I have tried the app out on my Nexus 7″ Android tablet, and it works really well, even though the PC desktop does look quite small on a 7″ tablet. I think controlling your PC via a smartphone sized screen would be a bit too small.

You can download the apps on Google Play and from Apple AppStore. Search for ‘Windows Remote Desktop App’

Have a play and see what you think. Tell us how you get on.

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FocusMax now behaving itself again http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-now-behaving-itself-again/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-now-behaving-itself-again/#respond Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:13:43 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26630 After FocusMax not working as it should after I installed ASCOM v6 and the latest FocusMax version, FocusMax v3.4.0 now works perfectly tonight. All I did was remove ASCOM v6 and put v5 on, then tried lots of different FocusMax versions – still no joy. I then decided it could not be ASCOM, so put

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After FocusMax not working as it should after I installed ASCOM v6 and the latest FocusMax version, FocusMax v3.4.0 now works perfectly tonight.

All I did was remove ASCOM v6 and put v5 on, then tried lots of different FocusMax versions – still no joy. I then decided it could not be ASCOM, so put v6 back on again. I then re-installed FocusMax v3.4.0 and now its fine tonight, although it did not work the other day. My PC must have a mind of its own or the pixies have been working overtime in the observatory at night.

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FocusMax not behaving http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-not-behaving/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/focusmax-not-behaving/#respond Thu, 27 Oct 2011 20:00:18 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26620 After the easy upgrade to ASCOM v6 and the install of the latest FocusMax it now turns out that it does not work anymore. The thing is now I don’t have a copy of ASCOM 5.5 anymore and I can’t fine a copy online either. I do have ASCOM v5.0 as that may be worth

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After the easy upgrade to ASCOM v6 and the install of the latest FocusMax it now turns out that it does not work anymore.

The thing is now I don’t have a copy of ASCOM 5.5 anymore and I can’t fine a copy online either. I do have ASCOM v5.0 as that may be worth a try.

The thing is all I did was upgrade ASCOM and install the latest FocusMax and now FM won’t create a V-curve when setting up the ‘First Light Wizard’. I can’t even get it to work by using the ASCOM simulator. I think I need to get back to the Yahoo FocusMax Group and ask them a few more questions.

I have been thinking about just using the in-built focus functionality in Maxim DL, as it seems similar. The worse thing is you cannot try to fix it and test it all out unless it’s a clear night, but you don’t want to be messing about trying to fix things – you want to be imaging or observing.

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ASCOM Version 6 Upgrade http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/ascom-version-6-upgrade/ http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/astronomy-software/ascom-version-6-upgrade/#respond Sun, 16 Oct 2011 14:46:43 +0000 http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/?p=26603 I thought about it for a while, but finally decided to upgrade from ASCOM v5.5 to ASCOM v6 as I wanted to use the latest version of FocusMax and that only runs on ASCOM v6. The upgrade is painless, go to the ASCOM website and install the v6 software straight over the top of v5,

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I thought about it for a while, but finally decided to upgrade from ASCOM v5.5 to ASCOM v6 as I wanted to use the latest version of FocusMax and that only runs on ASCOM v6.

The upgrade is painless, go to the ASCOM website and install the v6 software straight over the top of v5, no need to un-install your old ASCOM software as the new v6 installer takes care of it.

I then checked my Starlight Xpress USB filter wheel, Atik 314L+ camera and Maxim DL, and everything seemed ok. It was not until a clear night arrived I then found a problem. Maxim would not connect to the HiTech Astro DC Motor Focus controller.

So I looked on the HiTech Astro site but they said all their drivers had been tested on ASCOM v6. I then noticed that the HiTech Astro DC Focuser required .Net Framework v4 and I only had .NET v2 installed. So I downloaded that from Microsoft then waited for the install and then waited again whilst it found more updates. I then re-booted the PC and found I could still not connect to the focuser in Maxim or through the Hitech Astro program. I then decided to un-install the Hitech Astro program and re-install it, still no good.

My final try was to use the ASCOM v6 diagnostics program that comes with ASCOM. It runs through all your attached devices and checks them.

About 30 seconds later it then said “There is something wrong with your HiTech focuser software do you want to fix it?” Of course I clicked yes, and it fixed it! Brilliant.

So if you are ever in a fix with something not working in ASCOM, it is worth running the ASCOM Diagonstics program.

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