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Questions & Answers/Tips & Tricks => Projects => Topic started by: dtrewren on 13:37:46, 28 March, 2012

Title: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 13:37:46, 28 March, 2012
Hello fellow imagers,

I have been really pleased with the support and feedback received for my focuser project.  Due to the interest and also the increasing cost of the PIC development platform I decided to design a PCB based project kit.  At the moment I have enough boards and bits for fourteen kits of bits.  This is a complete kit including all the electronics, software & enclosures.  The only things not included are the power supply & the bracket to mount the motor enclosure to the scope.

I won't go into lots of detail in this post as I have generated a website and also a PDF document showing how to build the kit and providing tips & suggestions (PDF linked on the website).  There is also information on the cost of the kits on the site.

A fair number of guys have expressed an interest in building the PCB based kit, I'll be in touch very soon to see if there is still interest.  Was hoping to have wrapped everything up this week but due to the clear weather have been out imaging every night ..... soooo tired  :ugly:

So enough waffle here is the website link : http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit/

Would really appreciate feedback so I can improve things should they be misleading or just wrong.

More clear skies !

Cheers,


             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: wasyoungonce on 00:03:26, 29 March, 2012
Hi Dave

Well done, fantastic! :urock:

Mark me for qty 2 controller kits...however...if you have a large inrush of orders then I'd be happy to make my own.......if I can get a replacement PIC I killed! :'(

The layout of your updated page is excellent and concise.  I suspect there may be people who cannot build the PCBs you will be asked..."can you build one for me"?  I guess you have thought of this.

The pin config drawings of the plugs (on pdf)...aka the mini dins and PCB led connectors...are a little confusing, especially the LEDs, ie: which pin is "1".  Do you have the LED pin numbers silk screened on the PCB?  Maybe use pictures of the mini DIN connectors or LED pins from an actual PCB to show orientation.

Oh and I think your price is too conservative considering the time and effort you have put into this.  I'll probably be hated by others for this opinion but as you ....I know the real costs of development to finalisation of these things.

I have to ask...do all English "Walk away, have a cup of tea" when of the precipice of glory?

Well done, now have a rest!

Brendan

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 00:34:59, 29 March, 2012
Hi Brendan,

No rest for the wicked !

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated I will have a look at the points you raised and clarify.

I have thought that maybe people might not want to build up the boards, but the fun is giving it a go.  I think with a little patience and maybe a spot of practice anyone can build a simple board - I was thinking of doing a little soldering video.  I'm not a soldering expert but can solder .... we have a lady at work who's job it is to fix PCB's, proper PCB's - like ten layer boards and tracks soooo small .... that girl can solder !!!!

A few people of said I should charge more for the project.  Maybe, but I was kind of hoping that if it was low price people might just have a crack at it just for fun and then find out that it wasn't all that hard after all.  Once you get into the land of microcontrollers any project becomes more straight forward, software costs nothing but time.

Walking away and having a cup of tea is the cornerstone of engineering ..... :)

The replacement PIC, is that the 40pin part ?  If you have a problem getting one down under I can post one ?

In the shed imaging at the moment, getting a bit tired after four nights in a row ......

Clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: wasyoungonce on 00:53:42, 29 March, 2012
Yes the programmed up PIC18F4450. 

Just noted you listed a different PIC in the kit...although it's listed by Microchip as a revision.

I can get PICs here.......I have still to buy a programmer...maybe I need to get off my slovenly rear end and do so....can you suggest one?  PiCkit3 from fleabay? 

There are varying degrees of skills in the broad community and this can mean some very non-technical people.  That said, most Amateur Astronomy guys (and girls) will have some degree of tenacity.

I'll be home later today and will email you on payments etc, if that's ok, ....after a cuppa of course! ;)

Brendan
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 01:19:18, 29 March, 2012
Hi Brendan,

Yes the micro in the kit is the 18F2550.  This is simply the 28pin variant of the 18F4550.  The 28 pin part, not surprisingly, has less IO ports and I think the SPI bus is missing but other than that it's the same part.  I switched parts to make the PCB more compact.

I have the PICKIT3 programmer which I found excellent.  Mine is a clone from China and was about £18 I seem to remember - very nice little programmer !

As you say I recon most Astrophotographers by the nature of the hobby are capable of building virtually anything.  My little focuser kit should prove a walk in the park  :D

Just the blue flats to go ...... must sleeeeep

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: JohnP on 10:27:29, 10 April, 2012
Hi All,

Thought I'd let you all know that I purchased one of Dave's kits & had the opportunity to put it together over the Easter weekend. The kit arrived & was very nicely packaged - all the individual components are bagged with labels on so even if you don't know resistor colour codes etc. you can't really go wrong. Connectors/ cables are nice quality & I was very impressed with PCB - Nicely designed & laid out & again lots of labels so you can't really go wrong when you are building it. The instructions provided (which are downloaded from Dave's website) make it easy to put together. Only points of caution are that some of the solder points are close together so you have to be careful in places with your soldering iron not to bridge pads but again instructions make you aware of this. It took me say 1 hr to put board together going at a very slow pace & checking/ rechecking joints etc as I went. Mounting the motor in the box housing & encoder in manual control box together with associated cables took another hour or so. Board powered up no problem & 'heart beat' LED immediately started flashing. Quick check with manual control box & hooking up to USB & using USB client software (ASCOM compatible) showed everything worked as expected :-) All I need to do now is mount PCB in box (I guess 1/2 hr max) & then mount motor to scope.

All in all very impressed with kit for the price. Enjoyable to make. I'd say has taken me 3 hours in total. Don't think you could go far wrong if you need an electronic focus unit for the price. Also temperature probe is nice addition.

Great job Dave & thks for your email support.

John.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:36:10, 10 April, 2012
Hi John,

Excellent, a job well done !

Thank you for the feedback on the kit and build experience.  I'll be very interested to hear how you get on with remote focus - assuming you have not remote focused before.  Personally, I found remote focusing made imaging a whole lot more enjoyable.  Prior to fitting SharpSky to my scopes I always had a nagging doubt in my mind as to whether I had really nailed the focus knowing if focus was out my data was not going to be much use.  Once fitted I could spend time getting initial focus spot on and then easily re-check with each filter change - and do it in the warm :)

Again, good work - look forward to hearing of 'first light' !

Clear skies,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Bazzaar on 13:27:07, 10 April, 2012
I'd also like to report a successful build of this excellent kit.
What a sense of satisfaction to see that motor whirr round!  :D
Now to fit it to the scope, hmm, gaffer tape and Meccano?

Barry
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 22:32:49, 14 April, 2012
Hi Barry et al,

Back from holiday at Peppa Pig land ...... I need to get back to work for a rest !

Excellent, very pleased you got everything up and running. Hope you get everything connected to the scope ok.  I found/used a short strip of 2mm aluminium sheet worked really well sourced from that well known auction site.  Drilled to fit the existing focuser mounting points under the scope.  I found it easier to make the bracket, mount the motor housing and then align the motor to mate with the focuser spindle.  Any small misalignment with the focuser drive spindle is soaked up by the beam coupler.

Cheers & clear skies,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: lobo59 on 16:47:29, 16 April, 2012
Hello All,

I too built this kit and want to say thanks again to Dave for designing it and putting it all together. When I opened up the box I was very impressed with the packaging and realized that Dave put a ton of work into it. I also dabble in Amatuer Radio and have put together many similar types of kits and this one was the best I've seen as far as parts supplied (quality) and organization.

The kit went together easily, using Dave's instructions and worked at first power up. It took me about two hours to put it all together, including the enclosure. Next step is to mount it to the scope. I plan on using the same bracket that I made from my first generation SharpSky project.

Thanks again Dave for the kit and especially your support of the project!

Larry

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 06:36:34, 18 April, 2012
Hi Larry,

That's great news :)

Thanks for the positive feedback, very much appreciated !

Cheers & clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 06:38:25, 18 April, 2012
Morning guys,

Quick note : I have added some detail in the SharpSky documentation just to clarify the driver installation procedure and environment requirements.

Clear skies,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: wasyoungonce on 02:42:55, 27 April, 2012
Hi Dave.

I can report that I have built qty 2 kits and they work just like brought one's.   Nice work on getting all this to fit into the case size!  Especially considering that you routed the PCB tracks for the temp sensor to go thru the DB9 and the 3pin DIN and also same with the DB9 motor tracks to their own header!  This is an excellent idea, well done indeed. :thumbup:

I have your Sharpky system running my ML stepper as smooth as can be.  :big_clap:

Still have some cleaning up to do.  I need to spray conformal coat the PCB base's and finalise the cases but over all a very nice package indeed!  Finally I can get my focuser running and who knows...maybe take an image of 2. ;)

Brendan

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 14:36:25, 30 April, 2012
Fantastic good job Brendan !

I have also mounted my temperature sensor on the motor housing enclosure ... seemed like a good place to put the sensor near the actual focuser mechanism but still in free air.

Also very nice that all runs well with your ML stepper, thanks for the information on the ML wiring.

I am also waiting for some clear weather, it's been a bit rough up this end of the planet.

Be very interested to hear future developments and see some images :)

Cheers & clear skies,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 14:41:41, 30 April, 2012
On another note.

For everyone who has built a SharpSky kit I am just about to send out the long lost motor enclosure covers !  Apologies for the excessive delay, had a bit of a nightmare sourcing a simple cover.  I will get them out in the post this week.

Also a few guys are waiting for temperature sensors ..... they finally arrived from China.  The Chinese supplier was so upset at the delay in delivery he's sent me a couple of complimentary sensors in compensation - now that's good customer relations  !

Cheers & clear skies,

           Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: DrRobin on 19:30:29, 15 May, 2012
Hi Dave,

I can't believe I order two 12V motors from China at the end of Jan for my pre-kit SharpSky and they only arrived a week or two back.  I have modified my Quattro focuser to take the new motor and the 12V really gives it a lot of grunt.

Pictures at

www.drrobin.co.uk/Sharpsky/Quattro-Focuser-12V.JPG
www.drrobin.co.uk/Sharpsky/Quattro-Focuser-12V-2.JPG

The links are case sensitive, so best just to use copy and paste.

Now that I have a new focuser for my C11, that will be the next project.

Great project Dave.

Robin

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:44:08, 15 May, 2012
Hi Robin,

Crumbs that is a long wait for a couple of motors - China is a long way but bits should never really take more than three weeks.  The motor look a little different from the one I used, are they they same motors ? If you are using a different motor I'd be interested in a link/specification if you have information to hand.

The build looks really good, nice spot of fabrication.  The 12V motors with the gearbox are certainly deceptively powerful and generate loads of torque for their size.

Cheers & thanks for the feedback.  If you need any more parts let me know.

Clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: wasyoungonce on 08:06:50, 16 May, 2012
Hi Dave

finally completed the 2nd Sharpsky kit for David.  I was waiting for some step drills to arrive.  Almost impossible to make nice round holes of ~13mm with a normal drill.  Step drills...no sweat!  I pretty much butchered my 1st case  :duh:...I should be able to get a replacement here.

I put M3 nylon washers between the PCB and 4 case locating lugs so the screws acted on the washers.  Helps spread the load and reduces risk of screws penetrating too far.

Also, have you considered putting the PCB on the case lid...that is to extend out the connectors ~2mm out on the PCB (so they fit flush wit the sides), put the PCB so it's on the lid with tracks facing the top of the lid...so the connector cut-outs can be square in lieu of round. 

Although the temp and hand controller connectors fit with the round cut-outs it would be a lot neater and more positive in connection with the above.

Anyway....food for future thought.  keep up the good work...this systems works a treat! :thumbup:

Brendan

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 12:00:10, 16 May, 2012
Hi Brendan,

Yes indeed those stepped drills are really useful especially for cutting plastic ABS style boxes.  A normal drill will tend to snatch and tear the plastic making nasty hole.  The tapered drill is real nice to use and produces a much cleaner hole in a soft material.  I got a set of three in a pouch off ebay for about ten quid and use them all the time.

I did think about using the lid for mounting the board.  My original enclosure didn't have lid mounted lugs and by time I had said lugs the board was already made.  I have lots of spare boards now so will probably have to stick with the current mounting system.

Pleased everything is working well :) I have been very pleased as so far as knowone seems to have had a problem.  There was one board with a tiny manufacturing defect (apologies Simon) which needed some attention but other than that all is well.

If anyone else is interested in a kit or built/tested board I still have plenty of parts.

Cheers & clear skies,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 12:32:01, 16 May, 2012
(not a problem mate - these things do happen and usually always to me  :duh:  I'm just glad it wasn't my build  :yes:)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: DrRobin on 20:32:48, 16 May, 2012
Hi Dave,

Actually I am been unfair on my far east supplier, they were ordered at the end of the first week in Feb and arrived sometime in April.  I can't quite remember when, as I was on hols for a bit and then away for work a lot.  I suspect the first lot went missing and the supplier eventually just sent two more.  Apart from the long wait they did answer my emails quickly and I got the motors eventually.

The part I bought is as follows


    35BYJ-412B High Quality Stepper Motor 12V (#280775050338)   --    

I can't remember if it is the same part you use, but it's slightly bigger than the 5v version, but otherwise similar.  It works with the same driver board and cables once I swapped the feed from 5v to 12v.

Encouraged by getting the newt focuser to work I started work on my C11 SharpSky project and it is nearly done.  I realise I haven't got a spare beam coupler so made one from some aluminium rod, that's not quite finished yet and I still have the motor to wire up, but will do that at work tomorrow.  I posted pictures of the C11 focuser attached to a Baader Steel Track.

www.drrobin.co.uk/Sharpsky/Photo-c11-sharpsky1.jpg
www.drrobin.co.uk/Sharpsky/Photo-c11-sharpsky2.jpg
www.drrobin.co.uk/Sharpsky/Photo-c11-sharpsky3.jpg

Regards

Robin
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:39:53, 16 May, 2012
Hi Robin,

Interesting motor, thanks for the information - of course I had to order one  :D

Nice find, this motor has impressive pull in torque and appears to be the big brother of the one I used.  It's a bit more expensive but still less that £10 per unit.  Look forward to getting hold of one and giving it a try.  Might prove a useful replacement for anyone having a large focuser payload.

If you need another beam coupler I can send you one as have just received a new batch.

Nice work on the C11, be very interested to hear how you get on with the bigger motor !

Good job & clear skies,

              Dave

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 09:45:19, 17 May, 2012
Looking good Robin..... can I just ask where you got the spacer mounting bolts that attach the bar to the focuser from ?

S.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:48:20, 17 May, 2012
Hi Simon,

Before you buy some spacer posts let me know what length you need, got loads here of all different lengths plastic & metal.  I can post you some save you the hassle.

Clear skies,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Spikey on 15:21:34, 18 May, 2012
I was looking for some spacers as well but not sure about the length. Do I needs a particular type of spacer? Just wondered how it attached to the underside.
Does anyone have a diagram they could share for an aluminium bracket for the SW ED80? I need to make on but haven't started it yet.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 15:46:20, 18 May, 2012
Hi Simon,

Apologies I was supposed to be taking some photos for you to show my bracket - if I had a brain I'd be dangerous :)

For the ED80 you shouldn't need any spacers.  I used a strip of 1.5mm thick aluminium about 25mm wide.  The strip had a slight S-bend to clear the focuser knob and then has the motor box mounted on the end ...... bit difficult to explain this video shows the bracket I made fitted.  The video shows the bracket fitted to an ED80 scope but the focuser shown is the upgraded model not the stock focuser although they are very similar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QB5A8izSL4&list=UUJVgaA5BGZqFoSeMBWfydBw&index=7&feature=plcp

Unfortunately, I no longer have the stock focuser as have recently sold it.  A bracket for the stock focuser would be almost identical to the one show in the video and would not require spacers.

Any questions fire away !

Clear skies,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:37:49, 18 May, 2012
Further to last post ......

Personally I found it simpler to make the bracket and mount the motor enclosure onto the bracket then use the scope focuser spindle to define the point on the motor enclosure where the hole for the motor needs to be.  Drill the motor drive spindle hole in the motor enclosure and finally drill the motor mounting holes.

I think making the aluminium bracket to line the motor up is much more difficult.  My rule of thumb is always start with the harder difficult materials and finish with the soft easy ones :)

Clear skies,

           Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Spikey on 16:40:14, 18 May, 2012
No worries Dave, as you can see I've been super slack and not even built the kit yet. Spending too much time working away !
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:42:39, 18 May, 2012
 :D you could take the kit with you although in the past I have found hotels and B&B's get a bit funny if you start soldering stuff up in the rooms - you said don't smoke, nothing about not soldering !
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 20:25:54, 18 May, 2012
Great, cheers Dave - don't know what size I need but will drop you a line when I get there !

 :thumbup:
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: DrRobin on 22:30:49, 18 May, 2012
Hi,

My C11 SharpSky focuser is finished, but my home made beam coupler proved more problematic than the rest of the kit put together.  I had to make 3 before I got one to work properly, so Dave I would be interested in a proper one, let me know how much and I will send you the cash?

I have to confess to knicking the spacers from work.  Actually I had to add them to an order first as we didn't have the right size.  They are made from aluminium and are threaded all the way through.  I then used threaded rod to screw in to the SW focuser body.  To get the dimensions right I drew the focuser and parts I made in to works 3D CAD, but for the C11 I just measured and cut without drawing it out first. 

The C11 bracket was made from an old aluminium bracket we had at work, it was ideal as it was already painted black.  It's a bit chunk, but actually matches the Steel Track.

If anyone wants to follow either of these designs let me know and I will send you the drawings.  Or Dave if you want to keep a file of designs I can send you them?

Of course it's now cloudy and raining so no chance of actually using either focuser, but if I get time tomorrow I am going to try the C11 on the scope with my camera.  Will let you know how the motor works.

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: DrRobin on 13:31:56, 19 May, 2012
Hi Dave,

I fitted my Steel Track and SharpSky focuser to my C11 today and gave it a quick go, just on the bench.  It works really well, is nice and smooth and can carry a very big load.  I will only be using it with an Atik16 or a Canon 600D but I reckon the motor could carry a lot more.

I also had a try with APT to control SharpSky, works a dream.  I can set it up for long slews and just leave it to it as I normally wind the focuser all the way in after each session, not having an obs.

Just one question, the buttons on APT work the opposite way round, in other words focus in is actually out, is there a way to reverse them in the Ascom driver?

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 12:10:05, 23 May, 2012
Hi DrRobin,

Apologies, I seem to have missed this post !

Very good sounds like everything is working well, always nice when the gear is actually fitted and up and running on the scope.

Interesting APT is the opposite way around, I didn't notice that.  Not a problem, in software all things are possible :)  I will add a checkbox to the driver allowing the button direction from the connected client to be reversed.  The checkbox will persist once set and will not change the direction with regard to temperature compensation.

Will post when I have done the mods.

Clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 20:17:26, 24 May, 2012
Hello Robin et al,

I have released a new version of the SharpSky PC driver V3.5.  The new version has a new checkbox driven feature allowing the user to reverse the motor direction with the respect to input from the client software.  Depending which side of the scope you mount your motor this will determine what direction IN & OUT are when using the focus buttons on APT, MaxIm or whichever client you choose.  The temperature compensation operation has a separate driver based direction selection allowing independent control.

When installed the driver defaults to checkbox unchecked and the operation of the driver is identical to that of the previous version V3.4.  Once the checkbox is checked the motor will operate in reverse.  The checkbox persists and so only needs to be checked once.

To install the new driver just ensure that no client software is open before uninstalling the old driver, this is the case with any Windows based driver.  The new driver can be installed from the SharpSky website or from here :

http://dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky/source/SharpSky%20Setup.exe

I have attached a screenshot just showing the new checkbox.

Cheers & clear skies,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:08:25, 27 May, 2012
Morning,

A few guys have asked if I have any close ups of the assembled SharpSky PCB.  Sure do so have attached and will put in the PDF kit document.

Have fun in the sun  :D

Clear skies,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 20:09:45, 30 June, 2012
Hi Guys,

I have had a few questions regarding temperature compensation so decided to make a short video just showing the SharpSky temperature compensation actually operating in practice and upload the result of the logged data. I hope is clarifies the operation a little

Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-7uyLQSZ4o

The file logged during the demo :
http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky/source/SharpSky_templog.txt

Any questions or comments please fire away.

Clear skies,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Dave_Rose on 18:44:48, 10 July, 2012

I think Dave's SharpSky focuser is brilliant  8)
As mentioned in previous posts, the kit is excellent value, well documented and it's possible to get it
working on the bench in about 3 hours or so, may be quicker if you've had previous electronics experience.
To mount the motor gearbox housing to my scope required a flat plate and a couple of spacers. I had a
couple of holes already tapped in the side of the focuser base from a previous motor focuser which made
coupling the motor to the focuser shaft fairly straight forward.

This is the progress so far. I need to fit the pcb in the case to finish things off.
(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8018/7544023996_d190c795ef_z.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/1parsec/7544023996/)


Motor fitted to the focuser on my 10" f6.3 Newtonian.
(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8281/7544023864_4682b9ecf0_z.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/1parsec/7544023864/)

I'm using CCDsoft 5 for my camera control and have it working the focuser through Dave's ASCOM driver which was great to see.
I should be ready to set up and start test imaging on the next clear night, when ever that'll be!
Cheers,
Dave.

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:53:08, 10 July, 2012
Hi Dave,

Thanks for the really positive feedback !

That's a very nice piece of fabrication and a nice motor mounting solution.  I suspect you won't have an issue mounting the board in the box.  As you say if we ever get another clear night I'll be very interested as to how you find operation when using in anger.

Good job & clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 22:30:02, 11 July, 2012
Hi Guys,

I have been working on the SharpSky client software. Modifications have been made as a result of very positive feedback and comment from Imagers on the excellent Australian site 'IceInSpace'.  Quite a few of our fellow imagers from 'down under' have built up SharpSky focusers and have been giving very helpful feedback on the client software.

I did try and negotiate the exchange of good weather and seeing with our antipodean friends but they were having none of it  :D

Any way, the latest version V1.9 of the client is free for download : www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSkyClient

I have also attached a couple of screen shots.

I have added a few new features :

- Split screens to minimise the screen real estate used by the client
- Added an emergency halt button
- Added colour coding to indicate which filter was last selected
- Added temperature compensation enable checkbox
- Added reference lock checkbox.  When unchecked 'Go' buttons take the focuser to positions which factor
in temperature offset and manual offset changes.  When checked 'Go' buttons take the focuser to offsets
with respect to the reference position and all other input is disregarded.

Any feedback very welcome.

Cheers & clear skies,

           Dave

Forgot to mention, the software is ASCOM compliant and will therefore work with any such focuser.
 
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 00:30:47, 16 July, 2012
Can I just add myself to the now long list of successful implementations of SharpSky.  I'm now one happy bunny !!  Probably th ebest £75 I've ever spent  :urock: :thumbup:

I've had a great day engineering the bracket for my Ikharus (photo's to follow) and finishing up all the wiring so to say I was chuffed when I switched it on, plugged it into the laptop, fired up APT and connected to the focuser all without a hitch would be an understatement... I'm like a kid in a sweetshop !

This really is a belting piece of kit Dave - have some K from me mate !

Now I just need to clear skies to put it through its paces... roll on 2015  :'( >:( :(
 
S.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:16:36, 16 July, 2012
Morning Simon,

Excellent, that's a good start to a Monday morning.  There is something slightly cool about building something for yourself that has a real use and solves a problem.  Obviously astrophotography lends itself to such projects due the amount of time available when not imaging .... especially true at the moment  :D

I am very interested to see photos of the hardware assembly (as I'm sure others are).  The bracket is clearly scope specific but most focusers have a similar form.

Yes the weather :( having just spent three days carp fishing I can confirm it is cloudy and raining  :laugh:

Again, good job !

Cheers & clear skies,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 16:18:59, 18 July, 2012
OK, here's some photo's of the hardware assembly.  I've also just finished the manual controler so it's fully complete and all working nicely now.... bonza  :urock:

We might even get some clear skies in the next week or so which would be great to give it a test drive.  Also, now I'm the proud owner of a fully automated setup gone are the days of standing out in -4 condition... top dog !

S.

PS - I've got a couple of suggestions for Construction Document but I'll email those through when  get a minute to jot them down  :thumbup:
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Woody on 23:38:37, 18 July, 2012
It looks good Simon. 
My package from Dave arrived yesterday so time to start soldering! (or first learn how to!)
Cheers
Jeremy
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:07:00, 19 July, 2012
Hi Guys,

Excellent job on the hardware Simon, as Jeremy says looks really good  :D

I think you could be right, 'apparently' the weather is supposed to be improving next week - jet stream moving North or something like that.

Have a play with the backlash compensation value in the driver as it's value will depend on the actual focuser the motor is driving.  I have my value set to a about 6 steps which to be honest is almost imperceivable.  Did you find the motor was man enough for your focuser and load ?

Looking forward to seeing the results Jeremy, soldering takes a little practice but the PCB is very forgiving being through hole plated.  Use a good quality flux core solder and resist the temptation to re-touch joints.

Good job :)

Clear skies,

                  Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:12:01, 19 July, 2012
Minor point :

I have released for download a V1.10 version of the SharpSky client.  Just a cosmetic change to the focuser buttons ....... should have listened in English class as then I would have known it is a 'Coarse' adjustment and not a 'Course' adjustment.

Muppet .... :)

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 17:17:11, 20 July, 2012
Doh.... (not that I noticed  :laugh:)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:43:46, 20 July, 2012
Took a sharp eyed member to spot that one :)

While I'm here ......

A few guys have asked me whether it's possible to have multiple focusers controlled from the same laptop/PC.  This is so a main scope and guide scope can be independently focused.  This is a bit of a tricky problem and the ASCOM platform doesn't have a simple path to support this (I did ask).  However, I think I have a solution which will work.

The idea is you would have a generic SharpSky focuser which defaults to being a main scope controller and works exactly as the current kit does.  However, if you want to add a second focuser controller you can use a very simple PC software utility (I'm almost done writing) that allows the generic hardware controller to be switched between being a main scope or guide scope controller.   Once switched it appears as a second unique USB device and appears as a second 'SharpSkyGuide' focuser in the ASCOM chooser.  The controller can be switched between main & guide at will using the utility and will power up that way until told otherwise.

The result is you can use a client to connect to either main or guide focuser or use two client programs and control both focusers at the same time completely independently including temperature compensation.

I was wondering how many people might want to have two focusers running together .... anyone ..... anyone  :D

I don't really mind if there is not much of an uptake/interest as it is an interesting problem and was good to do just for the fun & learning process.

If anyone is interested let me know.

Cheers & clear skies,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 16:23:59, 22 July, 2012
Having two (or more) identical scopes/cameras on the same mount is certainly an aspiration of many to make the most of the British weather. That said, when you step down that route, you usually end up with multiple computers.

Or a separate focuser on the OAG to refocus the guide sensor when using different filters in an automated situation.

I came up against the same problem. I took the easy option and just recompiled my ASCOM driver with a different name and GUID - ASCOM & all the client software just thinks it is two completely different focusers.

Less elegant for end users mind you., and I could get away with it because it was virtual COM ports.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Bazzaar on 18:43:32, 22 July, 2012
How come Acompad can have Focuser 1 & 2 ? Is this different to what people want some how?
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 20:55:25, 22 July, 2012
Hi Tom,

When I spoke to the ASCOM guys they essentially said you could either use a 'local server' style of driver or  as you suggest simply compile two completely independent drivers.  I have tried the latter and it works well although does not look as nice from the users point of view.  The problem with the local server is (and I may be wrong) I think it can only support dissimilar driver types, ie focuser & scope.  I don't think a local server can support two drivers of the same type ..... to be investigated.

Because SharpSky uses a USB connection the two focusers have to have independent USB product identification numbers. I prefer the idea of a generic PIC embedded firmware load rather than two unique loads.  So a firmware load that can be configured/switched by the user between main to guide focuser and visa versa using a software utility seems a good plan. 

The investigation continues ........  ;)

Cheers & clear skies,

            Dave 

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:03:42, 22 July, 2012
Hi Barry

I was not aware Ascompad could connect to multiple focusers ...... I knew that MaxDL could.  I will try Ascompad out with SharpSky and see if it can successfully control two independent focusers at the same time.

Thanks for the information !

Clear skies,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 21:09:59, 22 July, 2012
Like I said, my approach worked in my situation, but no, poor users wouldn't like it much. I quite understand having different USB PINs would be a right pain as well.

I thought that whole point of a local server is that you can have multiple client applications connecting to the same single physical device - like POTH lets you connect multiple client apps to the same telescope.

The separate software utility does seem a bit untidy... I thought this sort of situation would work with a local server? You compile a local server focuser driver, and multiple client apps can connect to that local server. The local server is in charge of managing the multiple USB devices? I've never written a local server driver before so I might be barking up the wrong tree.

With a local server it would probably be neater to only use one USB connection and master/slave the second focuser in on the I2C bus... quite an architectural change, obviously.

Quoting from the docs

"The LocalServer template provides a way to allow multiple driver types to use the same hardware
and also allow multiple applications to connect to the same driver." : sounds like what you need?
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 21:14:46, 22 July, 2012
As an additional note, if you do look at local servers, pay close attention to the ASCOM docs about multithreading.

Took a bit of fiddling to make this work on my telescope mount driver... otherwise you get two client requests trying to squeeze down the serial port (or whatever) at the same time with predicatable results.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:24:53, 22 July, 2012
I am going to look into this in more detail once back from holiday.

The local server does sound promising.  I essentially want two client connections both using the focuser API and controlling two independent pieces of hardware.  Everything has to be separate such that temperature compensation can operate without contention.

I think the easiest solution is just to sit down and write a local server and see what come out in the wash.

It will be fun to find out however it works .....
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 21:39:57, 22 July, 2012
I think that is a good approach - I think it will work, but if it doesn't work, you'll learn something anyway.

Is the temp comp done by the driver/api and not onboard within the PIC?
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:49:31, 22 July, 2012
You can read documentation until blue (or rather red) in the face.  I usually find actually sitting down and starting reveals things more quickly and is a lot more fun !

The temperature compensation is performed in the driver.  The PIC simply performs the measurement when instructed by the driver and returns the temperature.  The driver requests temperature autonomously if running compensation or on behalf of the client if requested by the user.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 21:57:12, 22 July, 2012
I agree - I don't get anything done if I didn't experiment a lot.

For something provided for free, the ASCOM documentation is pretty good!

I suppose if you had two focusers, you'd have two temperature probes.. perhaps be nice to average the readings... or possibly do away with one of the probes if running two focusers.

To be honest, I wouldn't get too worked up about running dual focusers on the same computer... I've found if you have dual scopes you almost have to have dual computers.. otherwise it gets very confusing w.r.t filter wheels etc.

However, the local server has merit as it allows multiple apps to connect to even one focuser - a handy trick to have up ones sleeve.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 22:05:57, 22 July, 2012
Yes indeed not only are all things ASCOM of a very high quality but I find the guys are only to happy to answer questions and consider suggestions.

To be honest  you have hit the nail on the head.  Only one or two people have asked about extending the SharpSky project to multiple focuser support.  I want to do it mainly because i'm not entirely sure how it is best done.  Once worked out multiple client support will be a nice thing to have.

More midnight oil is on order !
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 18:11:51, 23 July, 2012
Yes indeed not only are all things ASCOM of a very high quality but I find the guys are only to happy to answer questions and consider suggestions.


It is the .net templates I love the most: Click, click, click and bang, you have  perfectly working driver that compiles. All you have to do is fill in the stubs with references to the functions in your own classes.

Takes a lot of the mystery and time-wasting out of it.

Nice to see another ASCOM programmer on the forum :)

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Woody on 05:02:55, 24 July, 2012
Hello all.
Well after a bit of mucking around (caused by my own stupidity!) my focuser is up and running well on the crayford attached to my Mak 180.

(http://i1137.photobucket.com/albums/n505/Jeremy_Woodham/Untitled-5.jpg)

I didn't end up making the hand controller, I did try but it didn't work (my fault, I can't solder that well and nearly melted the din plug) and besides I don't need it as I use a gamepad with EQMOD.
What a fantastic kit you have made up Dave, if I can put it together then anyone can.
Thanks very much
Jeremy
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:16:41, 24 July, 2012
Hi Jeremy,

An excellent job and thanks for the feedback and photograph of your finished setup.  This is the first time I have seen the kit attached to a Mak and it looks like it fits just fine  :D

Regarding the manual control.  The DIN plugs have proved a little tricky and they are quite fiddly especially if soldering is not your No1 skill or the iron is a little on the big side.  I have sourced some pre-made DIN leads which have a pre-moulded plug on one end and wires at the other for soldering onto the rotary encoder.

We can't have you lacking a manual control so i'll pop a pre-made lead in the post.

Again, good job !!!

Clear skies,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Woody on 10:12:04, 24 July, 2012
Gday Dave
I really appreciate that, thank you very much.  There is nothing wrong with the parts you supplied, I just need some more practice with the iron.  I think also because it was the last thing I did I didn't take enough care. 
I have really enjoyed putting it all together actually.  A good learning experience and a good feeling of accomplishment rather than just buying something of the shelf.
Thanks again mate
Jeremy
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 15:40:19, 06 August, 2012
Hi,
I have just finished the electronics stage, and am now on the motor/focuser joining together stage....
So, I have this beam coupler with a hole in one end that fits the motors shaft, and a teeney-weeny hole in the other end.
My focuser has an 8 mm shaft, so what's the best way of connecting them?
Do I drill out the beam coupler until it fits the focusser shaft, or do I try and find something that goes from 8mm down to 2mm, or do I do something different ?
My focuser is an 8mm shaft with a 4mm tapped hole in the centre.

Regards,
Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:47:00, 06 August, 2012
Hi Paul,

Excellent news on the electronics !

Ah ok, almost everyone is connecting to a Crayford focuser which have a 2.5mm or 3mm shaft. Which focuser type are you hooking up to ?

The two options are :

- I can get you a 5mm to 8mm coupler no problem and swap for the one you have, it will take a couple of weeks to get from China (no extra cash required, just a straight swap)

- You or I drill out the 3mm hole in your current coupler to 8mm

Which ever option you fancy ?

Clear skies,

              Dave

 
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 18:00:23, 06 August, 2012
Hi Paul,

Further to me last post.  I had a word with my friend in China and he has said coupler in stock so ordered a two up.  If you fancy having a go at the drilling go for it.  If you are not happy with the result I will have a suitable coupler soon.

Cheers,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 18:08:42, 06 August, 2012
Dave
There's no need to swap out the coupler, I'm sure I can bodge do something with it. I was just wondering what others had done, and what was the best solution. I didn't realise that the crayford was that different - I have a Vixen 200 Newt with original focuser.
If no one else comes up with a "tried & tesed" solution in the next few days, I'll bite the bullet and take it all into the garage, and give it a good seeing to.

Regards,
Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 18:11:49, 06 August, 2012
No worries Paul,

Like I say, I have ordered up a couple so give it your best shot.  One chap who has built a SharpSky attached it to a Mak where the mirror moves and that had a 15mm shaft - not a problem managed to find a 5mm to 15mm couple, was a real beast :)

Cheers,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 18:35:08, 06 August, 2012
Quote
was a real beast :)
Whatever happened to delicacy & finesse ?  :whistle:

Regards,
Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 09:40:58, 10 August, 2012
OK,
So no-one came up with anything, so I decided to glue a SS 4mm rod into the focuser shaft, and drill out half the coupler to 4mm.
All done, all fits, its a fix!

I made a mounting bracket out of a piece aluminium flat bar I had left from another project. It's all together now, and connected to the lappy.

I start up the SkySharp client and connect, then click on the coarse out - nothing..... I click on the coarse in - nothing..... I plug in the hand controller and turn the knob left - nothing..... right - nothing......

The LED's come on following the respective in's and out's, but no movement.
I disconnected the coupler from the focuser shaft by undoing the allens clamping my 4mm rod. Tried again - everything works !

OK, I know my focuser is a bit stiff, but it's not tight. I thought the 12v motor had a lot of torque ? I realise it's relative, but I thought it would handle this.

I am going to try loosening the focuser a bit, but I remember when I stripped it for a tuning and re-grease, that it wasn't particularly free when nothing was tightened, so I am not very hopeful.
Any help would be seriously agreeable at the moment !!!

Regards,
Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:13:45, 10 August, 2012
Hi Paul,

From your description it does sound like the motor is having trouble moving your focuser.  The motor does develop a lot of torque for it's size due to the 64:1 gear box but obviously there is a limit.  It's a bit difficult to qualify how stiff the focuser is but as a general guide if you can move the spindle with your fingers the motor should be able to drive it.

The other possible problem is alignment.  The beam couple is designed to soak up alignment of ~2-3 degrees if the misalignment is more than that the motor will bind or really struggle.  Try loosening off the bracket just a touch to allow the motor to centre and see if this helps.  Once centred you can nip the bracket back up.

If it turns out the focuser is simply too stiff and the motor really isn't man enough I do have another model of motor that generates significantly more torque.

Could you post a photo to help visualize the issue ?

Let me know how you get on.

Cheers,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 10:42:37, 10 August, 2012
Hi,
Well I can just about turn the shaft with my fingers, and with the SharpSky attached, I cant move it at all (I can with the knob).
I think the focuser has to go, and get a new one. I did look into this about 6 months ago, but I couldn't find a focuser that would fit my fixings - it would mean drilling new holes in the OTA (that's OK, I CAN do it, it just seems a bit radical)
Anyway, here's the Picture:
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 12:08:20, 10 August, 2012
Hi Paul,

Looks a good job on the bracket !

I suspect without a 10:1 fine control and a focuser which is a little tight the motor may be at the edge of it's capabilities.  I have some of the bigger motors arriving in the next days so can send you one for you to try ?  The more powerful motor is physically larger so you might need to remount in another plastic box, so can send you a replacement motor box no problem.

You definitely won't be able to move the focuser with the motor attached due to the gear box.  That was the reason for the manual control in order move the focuser with the advantage of not actually having to physically touch the scope therefore avoiding vibration.

Let me know regarding the motor and I will sort it out.

A solution will be found, no man gets left behind :)

Cheers,

          Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Bazzaar on 12:44:14, 10 August, 2012
Hi guys, I had this issue with my Tal 200k, the rack and pinion focuser on that was just too much for the original motor. My SW 200p Crayford was fine. One thing to try is slacken of the friction on your focuser, the focuser motor will provide a lot of the holding tension now. No need to have the motor carrying the weight of the camera AND pushing against the focuser tension. I bought a bigger motor for my set up, probably the same one you are talking about Dave.

Barry
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: FishMan on 13:16:25, 10 August, 2012
I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a new focuser, but of course, this has it's own issues, so I have opened another thread in >Telescope/Equipment/Accessories, to try and get some help on what to buy.

I will report back with details as & when I get the new focuser fitted...

Regards,
Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 14:11:02, 10 August, 2012
Hi Guys,

This is indeed all true Barry.  The motor will hold a R&P focuser very nicely and therefore the focuser can be slackened off to reduce the friction.  I think we are taking the same motor '35BYJ-412B' it's a more expensive and more difficult to get hold of but is significantly more powerful.

Good news on the new focuser Paul.  Personally I found upgrading my focuser and especially adding remote focusing has had the biggest impact on my imaging fun !  There is nothing more frustrating than taking all the time getting everything aligned, target nicely framed & tracking good to find that focus was not spot on or has drifted over time.  I actually enjoy the focusing process now whereas when it was manual I was never 100% confident I was spot on ..... always a nagging doubt !

Cheers,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:46:15, 26 September, 2012
Hi Guys,

Just a note to let people know I have uploaded a new SharpSky driver V3.7 to the web-site.  I have been working with the guys at Main Sequence Software that produce Sequence Generator Pro (SGP).  SGP uses quite a bit of multi threading that has caused issues with hardware drivers in the past.  SharpSky encountered an issue specifically when using Windows 7 64 bit and was picked up by an Australian chap.  Anyhow, I have made a couple of small modifications to the driver to made it more thread safe and the issue is now resolved.

Cheers & clear skies,

      Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 18:49:24, 27 September, 2012
Multi-threaded client applications: The bane of ASCOM driver authors! :)

I ended up writing a little test client program that creates multiple threads , all of which hammer the ASCOM driver with random commands
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:50:45, 27 September, 2012
Hi Tom,

The behaviour was a little unexpected from the client but luckily not too difficult to protect against.  Weird thing was the problem only reared it ugly head when everything was running under a W7 64bit environment, totally happy when 32bit.

The test program is a very good idea.  I did have a simple test harness to exercise the driver API and thought it was pushing all the buttons but I was obviously wrong.  I'm still not entirely convinced the client was doing the right thing but as ASCOM puts no constraints on ordering or sequencing of commands I suppose anything goes ? 

Anyway after a soak test all appears solid now :)

Cheers,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 14:51:13, 03 January, 2013
Good afternoon everyone & a happy new year !

I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely weather (sarcasm is the lowest form of wit  :D)

I have been making a few SharpSky kit software modifications that I wanted to share.  Most of the modifications have
been made as a result of issues picked up by Sequence Generator Pro users mainly in Australia.  However, I have made
some improvements to USB reliability.  Also there is a new driver feature that allow you to pre-set the displayed position
value to anything you want.  One or two Aussie users have also asked for the maximum focuser excursion and maximum
single excursion size to be increased - I have increased from 50,000 to 150,000.

The SharpSky client has also been modified now at V1.13 to support the new features.

So there is now a new driver : V3.12 available for download

Also (and this is the fun bit) there is a new PIC firmware load.  The new driver does put a dependency on the PIC firmware
and therefore both should be upgraded together.

Ok, so here is what you need to do :

1. Download the bootloader PC application from the web-site and also the revised PIC firmware V4.0  (SharpSky.hex). The bootloader section is found at the very end of the web-site and there are instructions on how to re-flash the microprocessor over the USB. It's quite straight forward and only takes a few seconds to actually flash.

(Note: to download the SharpSky.hex file right click on the link on the web-site and then select 'Save Link as ....' and save to somewhere
you can find later .... say C:\)

2. Uninstall the current PC driver being careful to make sure all ASCOM applications are shut down !

3. Download and install the new PC driver V3.12 from the web-site

4. Download the new SharpSky client if you use it V1.13

If you use the new driver with the old firmware things will still work just fine but the driver will warn you that you are using an out of date firmware version and then automatically reduce the maximum step value from 150000 to 30000. It will not warn you again once the reduction has been made.

If there are any problems or questions regarding the PIC re-flashing or driver installation please fire away either on-form or via private message.

Cheers and clear skies,

            Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Eccoskies on 16:38:39, 03 January, 2013
How do i go about ordering one of these kits?

Mark
 ;)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:47:40, 03 January, 2013
Hi Mark,

I will private message you with details to keep the thread technical   :D

Cheers,
 
      Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 22:25:38, 23 January, 2013
Hello fellow imagers,

I thought I would share the efforts of Alex from Bucharest. Alex ordered a SharpSky focuser kit from me at the end of last year and has been busy building & fabricating since. I was particularly impressed with the mechanical design of his telescope bracket. Alex has gone to some considerable effort but I think you will agree the result was worth the time invested.

Good job !

Cheers,

       Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 00:38:16, 24 January, 2013
Dave... am I having a blond moment or is the "sharpsky.hex" not on the website?  I am using :

http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky/ (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky/)

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:35:29, 24 January, 2013
Morning Phil,

No, not a blond moment  :D

The web-site you have linked to is the original site a put together for the pre-kit project which was based around the PIC development card. 

The site you want is : www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit)

If you go to the last section on the bootloader there you will find the illusive HEX file.

Cheers,

          Dave

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 09:54:42, 24 January, 2013
yeah.. I can remember you saying there was a new site, but I couldn't find it (late as it was last night :laugh:)

Nice 1...

btw, I initially had a similar problem to a lakeside focuser ASCOM issue when I removed the Sharpsky ASCOM.... the uninstaller left the .dll in the c:\program files\common files\ascom\focuser directory.... when I had uninstalled the older sharpsky & then installed a newer, the chooser was still showing the old one. After the uninstall, I manually removed the sharpsky.dll (I think it's called that)

Windows 7, 32bit....  just fyi...

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:28:04, 24 January, 2013
Hi Phil,

Yep, this issue with removing drivers happens all the time and is usually caused by the same issue.  If you have a client open that has been connected to the driver it forms a logical dependency, ie the client requires the driver .dll and methods/classes contained to operate.  So if the client is left open or crashes and you try to remove the driver Windows can't remove the .dll because of the client dependency - the Windows uninstall function doesn't exactly make this very clear !

So when you now install the new driver you end up with the old .dll and so effectively the old driver.

Therefore, make sure all clients are shut down cleanly before removing any driver and installing a new one.  If in doubt about the clean part reboot the machine and then uninstall.

Cheers,

            Dave

  
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 11:06:55, 24 January, 2013
.... indeed....  as I now now :laugh:

Thought it may be worth posting here, in case someone else has a similar issue...

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 12:09:03, 24 January, 2013
Hi Phil,

Yes definitely worth point out !

This driver removal issue has happened to so many people (me included) that I can feel an enhancement coming on such that the driver self installer checks from the presence of the .dll and warns you if it is still there - it shouldn't be if the uninstall was successful.

Then you get the option to remove the offending .dll before the new driver install starts.

I'll have a tinker .....

Cheers,

         Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 12:34:53, 24 January, 2013
:thumbup:
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 22:08:02, 24 January, 2013
Hi Dave...

I still cannot get the new V4 stuff to work:

The current hex is V2.1

When I try the SharpSky_BootLoader.exe, it doesn't recognise the PIC in boot mode.

When I connect using the original "USB Bootloader.exe" flash program, it is noticed straight away. If I try to use this to flash the new hex file, it all goes pete-tong.... have to reload the original V2.1

& obviously, the new ASCOM driver works with the 2.1 firmware

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 23:29:50, 24 January, 2013
Hi Phil,

First up, please accept my apologies ..... I had a small senior moment !

I have so got myself aligned with the SharpSky PCB based kit I had completely forgotten that you are one of the old hands that built one of the very first PIC development cards based designs - what was I thinking ?

You were completely correct with your choice of web-site : www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky)   I totally led you up the garden path by pointing you at the _Kit site.

Your early version of the design is running (as you discovered) the MCH version of the bootloader rather than the HID version being run by the later PCB kit version of the project.  I have recompiled version 4.0 of the firmware to be relocated consistently with your bootloader and uploaded to the original (non kit) web-site.  You will see link "SharpSky_4550.hex" for download.

So use your original PC bootloader program that recognises your PIC and flash with the above HEX file.

All being well you should be up and running with the latest firmware :)

Let me know how you get on, again sorry for the misinformation.

Cheers,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 23:43:47, 24 January, 2013
1 word... sweet :clap:

I'll get on with learning the new stuff...

and.. what's with the "old hands" :laugh: 

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 23:58:29, 24 January, 2013
Excellent - so that programmed and worked ok ?

It's not my hands getting old I'm worried about, it's me eyes :(  going to have to get one of those magnifying glass viewers to be able to see the part numbers .... 44 and can't see
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 00:09:21, 25 January, 2013
Yep - worked a charm...

I know what you mean... I've always used my "helping hands" + mag glass.... but it's only last year I finally realised I can no longer read the "small print" on serial numbers.... or even the "what cook times" on some packaging!!!

I've always been short sighted (oy! I mean cannot see things clearly at distance) but this near-stuff is a clear indication of old age .... rats!

Phil

p.s. I'm 47... does that mean I've done well up until now ? :laugh:
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 00:16:27, 25 January, 2013
That's very good news :)

I am also short sighted which used to be kinda useful because I could see very small things really close up, very useful for electronics.  But now can't see things at distance or close up.  Went for varifocal glasses which cost a fortune but still have to take them off to see close up.

Yep the magnifying glass is coming soon !


My tip of the day : if you want you PC to boot fast and run applications fast take out the old mechanical  HDD and fit an SSD.  Just put one in the machine for my new workshop and it's flying !
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 00:18:54, 25 January, 2013
SSD's are super.... but bear in mind they have a limited write lifespan... cue proper backup-recovery scenario!

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 00:34:44, 25 January, 2013
This is true ..... I have dropped in a 128Gb SSD for the OS and other software and put in a 500Gb traditional sata drive for data. Also an old 80Gb drive which is a mirror of the SSD. The boot time from the SSD is sub 20s. Machine is a Dell precision 690 - that will keep the workshop warm!
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: MagicTape on 19:05:33, 07 April, 2013
Thanks to Dave i was able to make a SharpSky focuser for my Feathertouch.  Was a fun project, and i think it turned out well.  It works, so thats what counts!  I made the cases for the motor and pic board out of acrylic plexiglass.  I think its neat to see how things work.

Thanks again,

Brandan

A couple pictures of the finished product...

(http://magictape.startlogic.com/1p.jpg)

(http://magictape.startlogic.com/2p.jpg)

(http://magictape.startlogic.com/3p.jpg)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 19:29:26, 07 April, 2013
Hello Brandan et al,

Excellent stuff, good job !

This is an excellent example of building a SharpSky focuser even in the absence of the PCB.  Brandan has used a PIC development card which can be picked up for around £10.  He has then added the ULN driver chip and I supplied him with a programmed & tested PIC complete with bootloader.  There is considerably less building/soldering required with the development card (compared with the PCB option) as it comes mainly pre-built with a prototyping area on the board for you to add your own parts. Also the development card option allows for a customised enclosure to be constructed as Brandan has demonstrated.

Prototype board build on the original website : www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky)

Cheers & clear skies,

          Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: pscammp on 20:42:12, 08 April, 2013
Hello all,
   Im new here so be gentle.

I'd like to get my hands on one of these 'FULL' kits too, are they still available  ??

If yes, how do i go about making a purchase  ??

Many Thanks

Paul
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 22:11:04, 08 April, 2013
Evening Paul,

If you fancy have a crack at a focuser such as the unit Brandan has fashioned please drop my a private email at the following address : innovate*@*sharpsky*.*net    Please just remove the * in the email, they are only there to help prevent robot scanning, or a private email via the forum.

Cheers,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: swashy on 19:18:54, 14 May, 2013
I bought my SharpSky kit from Dave over 12 months ago, but have only just got around to building it this last weekend, I had looked at all the parts in the box on several occasions, but must admit to feeling like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but finally a wet weekend and nothing much else to do I decided to tackle it.  Luckily the kit was much easier than I was expecting, the instructions were very clear, and although I did have to fire off a few emails to Dave during the process, it was more of a case of confirming things with him, to make sure I didn't screw up

It all went together nicely, despite my limited soldering skills, and in fact it was the physical mounting of the motor to the scope that proved to be the most challenging part of the build.  I have done a couple of small modifications, one of which was to use green and yellow led's to indicate inward and outward travel, just as a visual confirmation of travel direction, and I also fitted a bigger rotary knob for those cold visual observing sessions, when wearing gloves. I may also add a curly extension cord to the manual control for a bit of added flexibility when behind the scope.

The system works perfectly with both the SharpSky client and also through my usual DSLR acquisition software APT, so I'm more than impressed with the kit

I'd like to say a big thanks to Dave for developing and making the kit available, and also for the very helpful email support he has given me - Cheers Dave!

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: swashy on 20:39:13, 21 May, 2013
And the extendable manual focus lead, made from a curly cord from an old meade handpaddle  8)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:09:07, 21 May, 2013
Hi Ade et al,

An excellent job  :thumbup:  looks the business and hopefully going to make your Astro life easier and more enjoyable - remote focusing was the best thing I ever fitted !

You are absolutely right, my experience conversing with guys that have built the kit is that initially the electronics and soldering was a concern but in the end it was the mechanics that proved more of an challenge.  Your bracket looks great and certainly doesn't look like its going anywhere without a fight !

The SharpSky Pro commercial unit is supplied with a custom adjustable bracket to hopefully make life easier. By having the bracket adjustable length wise only a simple plate needs attaching to the scope focuser, the motor and remaining bracket section are added after making the whole fit much more straight forward.

Again a great job !

Clear skies,

                   Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 20:44:08, 23 May, 2013
he he... welcome to the Dark Side, Ade :laugh:

Paul, any chance of a brief write-up about what you have & are into in the "Introductions" board?

Keep it going Dave - super! btw, do you have a count of how many DT focusers are out there ?

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 20:53:19, 23 May, 2013
Hi Phil,

I have a spread sheet with everything on it - well mostly everything :)  the answer is a lot more than I ever imagined - still can't believe how much interest it generates.  I think the kit plus the original prototype design and a handful of the Pro units around 65 units.  There maybe more because quite a few guys have gone off and built gear from scratch just using my software.  Always really nice to see the work and end result when people post up their working result :)

Been a lot of fun :)

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 21:21:00, 23 May, 2013
65! Oooo yes!

see.... I did tell you it would catch on! O ye of little faith!

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 00:18:40, 24 May, 2013
The support has been overwhelming !

The project I initially design for me to solve a problem has turned out to be very rewarding in many non technical ways.  Simply supporting guys to complete the project and then seeing the results has been great.  The momentum behind the project was not to profit but to encourage design, innovation and experimentation with the end result being a tangible and useful bit of kit.  I believe anyone with enough dedication, perseverance and patience to take on Astrophotography as a hobby is equally capable of designing and building virtually anything they need to enhance the field.  I have come across lots of guys that have built the project and then decided to get into PICs or Arduino platforms and then start their own projects - it's like a lot of tech stuff, it looks much harder than it really is.

The great thing today is that everything you need to know is available on-line, given a little patience and time almost any problem can be solved !

Just wish there was more time ......
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 00:59:39, 24 May, 2013
Just wish there was more time ......

Amen to that !!!!
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 23:59:37, 12 June, 2013
Greetings fellow imagers,

I hope people won't object to me posting a link to my updated website promoting the commercial
version of the 'SharpSky Pro' digital focuser and dew mitigation solution.

SharpSky Pro website : www.sharpsky.net (http://www.sharpsky.net)

I have updated the website a little and added some pricing information.  I have no intention of talking
about the vulgar £ via the forum so anyone interested please contact me off-forum via the website
linked above.

However, I would be interested in comments from anyone who has the time to give the website and design
a once over.  The SharpSky Pro unit is not being mass produced somewhere in the East but is hand built
by yours truly.  The design has been complete and stable for some time but I felt it necessary to get my
new workshop up to speed for build & test.

Cheers & clear skies,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: continuum on 09:20:25, 13 June, 2013
Just had a look at your website Dave. Very nicely designed and the focuser/dew heater controller looks very smart indeed.
Good luck with it .
Meanwhile my "Mk 1" continues to operate faultlessly.
Ron
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:14:52, 13 June, 2013
Hi Ron,

Cheers, thanks for the feedback !

I hope people like the look of the design ... the idea was to have something that looked
like the kind of unit you would want to attach to a Paramount  :D

Just wish I had the mount - still the Pro unit looks nice on my HEQ5

Cheers,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 11:31:28, 13 June, 2013
... the idea was to have something that looked like the kind of unit you would want to attach to a Paramount  :D

Red spray paint at the ready Dave :-)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: continuum on 11:35:15, 13 June, 2013
You never know the sales might produce the wherewithall for a Paramount!
Ron
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 13:07:52, 13 June, 2013
Red anodization .... now there's an idea  :D

I'm still mobile, have enough trouble with the old back lugging the HEQ5 around ....
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:25:55, 18 June, 2013
Many thanks to the UKAI guys Simon & Ade for creating and uploading a SharpSky Pro banner at the base of the UKAI screen !

Much appreciated  :big_clap:

Cheers & clear skies,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 17:47:12, 18 June, 2013
You're welcome mate. 

Ade actually did most of the work (he's our Banner Guru)...

We'll can talk about setting up the profit share some other time  ;) :urock:  :laugh:

Good luck !
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 18:37:34, 22 June, 2013
And for good measure a Pro connected to a FSQ85 and running through SkyXPro. Mucho head scratching of how to attach it to the Tak focuser and ended up resorting to a couple of big plastic spacers and some Aralidite. Its there for a while now. Just need to have a good wiring re-tidy and find somewhere to mount the Pro unit up by the scope.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 19:22:39, 22 June, 2013
There is man with a lot of wires :)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 21:36:00, 22 June, 2013
HI Chris,

Excellent stuff, pleased you got the motor mounted.  Hope the adjustable bracket helped, did you
find being able to adjust the length helpful ?

First time I have seen the SharpSky Pro unit mounted on a such high end mount - I think it looks nice
even if it's not bright red .....

Good job, and very nice mount & setup  :D

Cheers,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 22:40:56, 22 June, 2013
Dave

Not sure it would be doable without the adjustable bracket as getting the spacing right so the connecting barrel did not rub on the coarse focus ring took a lot of fiddling with. It all certainly works focussing on a tree in the garden, just want it to clear for a while to test V-Curve autofocus on a star.

Tom

A lot less wiring that there was when I had three scopes running, they will all be tidied up tomorrow as having that lot dangling around messes with my cable feng shui.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 22:50:04, 22 June, 2013
Chris...I see you whimped out & bought the pro version  :tease:

I thought one of the points of a Paramount is the ability of threading oodles of cables through the mount?  I'd get my money back  :laugh:

Glad you have joined the troop of SharpSky owners...  :thumbup:

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 08:29:10, 23 June, 2013
Morning Chris et al,

That is really good news regarding the bracket.  I know it's only a simple feature to be able to adjust the effective bracket length but was really hoping it would make life a great deal easier when it comes to attaching the motor to the scope.  I spent quite a bit of time scratching my head trying to come up with a universal solution but in the end a sliding arrangement seemed the best solution.

That Paramount mount does really look the business - as a matter of interest how heavy it the mount unloaded ?

Cheers,

                   Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 09:17:53, 23 June, 2013
Phil - Wimped out is a little harsh though with little electronic projects I do buy 3 of everything on the basis that I b^%&$er up 2 out of the 3 so buying it made up was an economic solution! I did a full setup strip down clean and grease yesterday. If you look every wire other than the serial cable for the focuser is topside so just a matter of having a tidy up. the focus controller will go topside too when I figure out where to mount it.

Dave - I think the adjustable bracket is the way to go on this though putting it back together in situ was a little testing as the nuts were more than a little hard to get to. I did have to ream out the connecting widget a little as the focus shaft on the Tak is quite large. The plate is stuck to the bottom of the Tak and sits tight onto the Losmandy plate that the Tak is mounted on (I even had to ream out the top of the Losmandy so the screw heads are recessed. Its all very solid and the focus motor happily lifts the OAG/cam/fw with the scope pointing at Zenith.

After a year of ownership I am still very pleased with the MX. All sky pointing to <10 arsecs and post corrected PE of <1 arcsec P-P is pretty incredible to see in practice. The rate of development of TheSkyX is a big bonus. Having electronic focus is another step forward.

Chris

The MX body weighs in at 23Kg without counterweights and bar so manageable. The FSQ85 and kit on its own is just about the lightest payload it will handle as a single 9kg counterweight is right at the top of the shaft. It will happily take 40Kg.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:58:49, 23 June, 2013
Hi Chris,

Cheers for the information on the MX - this year I am really hoping to get a permanent setup and would love a nice mount+.  Don't get me wrong my SW HEQ5 has been fantastic and continues to deliver but I'm a bit payload limited at nothing much more than 10Kg.

Lets hope you get some clear sky and get the opportunity to try out autofocus :)

Cheers,

                 Dave

PS. Thanks for the mount/setup images I will create space on the SharpSky website to display.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 16:19:37, 23 June, 2013
Spaghetti all now neat and tidy!

ps Phil - All wiring now through the mount  ;)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 20:06:01, 23 June, 2013
Now THAT's much better....

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: tomhow on 20:10:12, 23 June, 2013
I think black cable ties would match the black anodising better :)
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 22:21:02, 23 June, 2013
I think black cable ties would match the black anodising better :)

True but I got 5,000 of them off e-bay so will have to use them up first!
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 15:59:14, 18 July, 2013
Afternoon all,

Thought I would share this as the images are really nice !

I guy named Luiz purchased a SharpSky Pro from me.  He is based in Brazil and has just attended the Brazilian Astro meeting at a remote imaging farm site at a place called Alto Paraiso de Goias.

It was first light for the SharpSky Pro gear - he sent me a link to his images - some serious star fields :)

http://www.pbase.com/cosmophoton/brazilian_astrophotography_meeting_2013_6eba (http://www.pbase.com/cosmophoton/brazilian_astrophotography_meeting_2013_6eba)

Wish I had a sky a fraction of the clarity !

Cheers,

               Dave

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 08:12:00, 08 August, 2013
Dave

First evening outside for months but I am pleased to report that the focuser works just fine and dandy with SkyX and after a little fiddling with the @focus parameters pressing a button will now make the mount slew to an appropriate focus star, take test exposures to determine a non saturated exposure and then run a series of V-Curve focus images to determine critical focus before returning to the original target. 2-3 minutes to spot on focus! I have had a couple of Ascom lockouts but I think that is more to do with SkyX/Ascom/Atik not playing all that nicely together. Just need to fine tune a few parameters as 0-100,000 is a bit too much of a range once its near focus but at least it works.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:33:27, 08 August, 2013
Morning Chris,

Excellent news, always nice to hear everything is working well especially with a new piece of software.  I think I will have to come out of my cave and start using autofocus rather than a mask.  Do you have a feel for how the autofocus might perform when using narrow band filters ?

You mentioned Ascom lockouts - out of interest could you elaborate on what happens ?

Cheers & clear skies,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 09:49:55, 08 August, 2013
Thought I would share this as the images are really nice !

I have to say Dave, they look a little out of focus to me  :laugh: :duh: :laugh: :duh: :laugh:

 :rofl:

 :urock: :urock: :urock: :urock:

 :pirate:

(does he have an image of it in action on his kit... great promo material ?)

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:58:56, 08 August, 2013
 :laugh:  not sure if he's manually or autofocusing - I suspect manual.

He didn't send me any images of the kit fitted so I'll see if I can get some.

Cheers,

           Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 10:24:37, 08 August, 2013
Do you have a feel for how the autofocus might perform when using narrow band filters ?

You mentioned Ascom lockouts - out of interest could you elaborate on what happens ?


Dave

Autofocus seemed to work fine and dandy on all filters (RGBHaSO). I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop when I got it to work, I just had to try it. SkyX will adjust each time to get a Goldilocks exposure on the focus star and even slew to another star if needs be. It really is very clever. My Baader filters are pretty parfocal but with the option to now add offsets in SkyX I can now do an Autofocus run on each filter and add them in. I was really expecting a lot more teething problems with @focus but as long as it was somewhere near focus it just works. Re-Running @focus multiple times got a result to within a couple of focus steps so it seems pretty darned accurate too. Hopefully we will soon get some clearer nights to try it in anger but the few 6 minute star field test images I did last night had very good FWHM values. With the FSQ85 being a Petzval design, good focus is pretty critical as field flatness suffers if focus isnt spot on. Now I am near focus I can narrow the range down which should make it much quicker still.

There is a known issue with Atik/Ascom that SkyX seems to show up (SkyX and Ascom is not a match made in heaven). It shows up as a freeze on all Ascom devices followed eventually with a recurring Invalid Handle error needing a restart so quite annoying. Steve Chambers has sent me a Beta dll to try so hopefully that will do the trick. In SkyX when you click on Connect Camera, it automatically connects the Filter Wheel and Focusser. This can also sometime cause a hang so I tend to connect the focuser first, then the Filter Wheel and then the Camera. Seems a lot happier doing it this way.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Nomis Elfactem on 11:22:54, 08 August, 2013
:laugh:  not sure if he's manually or autofocusing - I suspect manual.

lol - funny how things are lost in the written word... I was only stirring mate - focus looks top dog to me !!
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:36:30, 08 August, 2013
 :canadian:  phew that's a relief !

I thought for a moment what is left of my close range eye sight had finally exited stage left  :D

Chris, your report is certainly a strong endorsement for going down the autofocus route.  I was always a bit concerned that autofocus would not be too great for narrow band filters but it sounds like from your experience all works well.  Do you have to perform the V-focus curve run for each imaging session or is the data good over multiple sessions as long as the gear is consistent ?

Thanks for the FB on the ASCOM issues, I suppose I was just checking that SharpSky had not introduced an issue that was not currently present.

Cheers & clear skies,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 12:22:19, 08 August, 2013
Do you have to perform the V-focus curve run for each imaging session or is the data good over multiple sessions as long as the gear is consistent ?

Dave

I am hoping the filter offsets remain consistent (no reason why they should not) but I reckon once I have the settings fine tuned (narrowing the width of the V-Curve so reducing the focuser move step time penalty) the Auto-Focus V-Curve run should take no more that a couple of minutes so no reason not to do it afresh each night. It does seem to be a major step that I wish I had done before.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: psjshep on 12:36:57, 08 August, 2013
Chris,

In Focusmax, a V-curve is run a number of times & FM then averages the results.... assuming you do not change the camera setup (i.e. the weight) and the focuser tension isn't adjusted, then there shouldn't need to be any further Vcurves unless the setup changes.

With the Lakeside focuser on both the 102mm Triplet & on the RC, I have 2 saved configs with their own set of Vcurves. Focusing is therefore a 20 or 30 second job.

Phil
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 13:38:41, 08 August, 2013
Phil

Interesting, I did briefly look at Focus Max but it does not play nicely with the latest iteration of SkyX and the interface is yuk and one more piece of software to be running. @Focus does not work like that. It creates a new V-Curve each time. The number of samples and averaging is definable but there is no way to save out the profiles for subsequent re-use. If Auto-Focus can be done in a couple of minutes reliably and as SkyX automates the Slew/Focus/Slew back its no biggy at all.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 13:45:47, 08 August, 2013
Guys,

I have been looking at the @Focus software and found a nice link showing it in action ...

http://www.bisque.com/products/ccdsoft/version5/%40focus.avi (http://www.bisque.com/products/ccdsoft/version5/%40focus.avi)

Cheers,

                Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 15:51:04, 08 August, 2013
Dave

Thats the old @focus in CCDSoft. Its now built in to SkyX itself (via the Camera Add On) and looks more like this.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:05:22, 08 August, 2013
Hi Chris,

That does looks the business !

Maybe you could shoot a little video to show it in action - be interesting to see it actually performing autofocus ....

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 17:24:42, 08 August, 2013
Dave

I'll see what I can do.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:02:24, 09 August, 2013
Afternoon,

Just a quick note to all those nice people that have got themselves a SharpSky Pro unit.

I have released a new driver V1.14 on the website : www.sharpsky.net (http://www.sharpsky.net)

Just some cosmetic changes such that the setup screen now correctly fits onto a PC screen
with resolution 1024x768 - as have many laptops.

Thank you for the feedback on this point.

Clear skies,

          Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 13:16:47, 10 August, 2013
Dave

Spoke too soon! I keep getting these when I try and adjust focus in The Sky after which the focuser becomes unresponsive. Any ideas?

Chris

See the end of this message for details on invoking
just-in-time (JIT) debugging instead of this dialog box.

************** Exception Text **************
System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.SharpUSB.ExchangeOutputReports(Byte status, Int32 direction, Int32 offset)
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.Focuser.initialise()
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.Focuser.MyinitiaiseHandler(Object sender, EventArgs e)
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.SetupDialogForm.initialiseMyEvent(EventArgs e)
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.SetupDialogForm.cmdOK_Click()
   at ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.SetupDialogForm.cmdOK1_Click(Object sender, EventArgs e)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.OnClick(EventArgs e)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Button.OnClick(EventArgs e)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Button.OnMouseUp(MouseEventArgs mevent)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.WmMouseUp(Message& m, MouseButtons button, Int32 clicks)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.ButtonBase.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Button.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.OnMessage(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.NativeWindow.Callback(IntPtr hWnd, Int32 msg, IntPtr wparam, IntPtr lparam)


************** Loaded Assemblies **************
mscorlib
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5472 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/Microsoft.NET/Framework/v2.0.50727/mscorlib.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.AtikEFW2.FilterWheel
    Assembly Version: 1.1.0.0
    Win32 Version: 1.1.0.0
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Program%20Files%20(x86)/Common%20Files/ASCOM/FilterWheel/ASCOM.AtikEFW2.FilterWheel.DLL
----------------------------------------
System.Xml
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5473 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Xml/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.Xml.dll
----------------------------------------
System
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5467 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.Interfaces
    Assembly Version: 1.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 1.0.0.0
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/ASCOM.Interfaces/1.0.0.0__565de7938946fba7/ASCOM.Interfaces.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Windows.Forms
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5468 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Windows.Forms/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.Windows.Forms.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Drawing
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5467 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Drawing/2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/System.Drawing.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.Exceptions
    Assembly Version: 6.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 6.0.21573.2300
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/ASCOM.Exceptions/6.0.0.0__565de7938946fba7/ASCOM.Exceptions.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Configuration
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5473 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Configuration/2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/System.Configuration.dll
----------------------------------------
opom0dmn
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5467 (Win7SP1GDR.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.Utilities
    Assembly Version: 6.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 6.0.21573.2300
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/ASCOM.Utilities/6.0.0.0__565de7938946fba7/ASCOM.Utilities.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Core
    Assembly Version: 3.5.0.0
    Win32 Version: 3.5.30729.5420 built by: Win7SP1
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Core/3.5.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.Core.dll
----------------------------------------
Microsoft.VisualBasic
    Assembly Version: 8.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 8.0.50727.5420 (Win7SP1.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/Microsoft.VisualBasic/8.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/Microsoft.VisualBasic.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.Focuser
    Assembly Version: 1.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 1.0.0.0
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Program%20Files%20(x86)/Common%20Files/ASCOM/Focuser/ASCOM.SharpSkyPro.Focuser.DLL
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.DeviceInterfaces
    Assembly Version: 6.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 6.0.21573.2300
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/ASCOM.DeviceInterfaces/6.0.0.0__565de7938946fba7/ASCOM.DeviceInterfaces.dll
----------------------------------------
ASCOM.Helper
    Assembly Version: 1.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 1.0.0.0
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_MSIL/ASCOM.Helper/1.0.0.0__565de7938946fba7/ASCOM.Helper.dll
----------------------------------------
CustomMarshalers
    Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
    Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.5420 (Win7SP1.050727-5400)
    CodeBase: file:///C:/Windows/assembly/GAC_32/CustomMarshalers/2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/CustomMarshalers.dll
----------------------------------------

************** JIT Debugging **************
To enable just-in-time (JIT) debugging, the .config file for this
application or computer (machine.config) must have the
jitDebugging value set in the system.windows.forms section.
The application must also be compiled with debugging
enabled.

For example:

<configuration>
    <system.windows.forms jitDebugging="true" />
</configuration>

When JIT debugging is enabled, any unhandled exception
will be sent to the JIT debugger registered on the computer
rather than be handled by this dialog box.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 16:28:55, 10 August, 2013
Dave

Not sure if it help but also this if you try to connect to the focuser via Ascom diagnostics

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:37:23, 12 August, 2013
Hi Chris,

Apologies for not replying to this post - sometimes I get an email, sometimes I don't.

However, I did receive your PM this morning.  Interesting, looks like the USB communications has gone over or been
corrupted by a device on the bus.  When you tried to change a SharpSky parameter and hit ok the driver was unable
to send the update and an exception was thrown.  The exception didn't get handled correctly hence the reconnect
issue.

I will speak to you off forum to resolve the issue and then get back here with a solution or cause.

Cheers,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 10:11:59, 12 August, 2013
Dave

No worries. I dont have email in the obsy so posted here for screen capture and cut and paste. Odd that all seems to work in Maxim (though that does not use Ascom for the camera, there being a native Atik driver) so the focuser is the only Ascom device in Maxim whereas in SkyX the focuser, camera and filter wheel are all Ascom.

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:46:48, 12 August, 2013
Chris,

Unfortunately, no two pieces of client software ever behave in the same way and the dynamics of the interaction are always different.  This is what makes driver development difficult because you are connecting to a third part piece of software no knowing 100% how it is going to behave.

MaxIm has been extensively tested with multiple ASCOM devices attached.  Fear not the bottom of the issue will be found.

Cheers,

           Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 10:05:33, 13 August, 2013
To illustrate the advantage of using Autofocus (at least using my Mk1 eyeballs) I took a couple of images. The first is the CCD Inspector graphic using my best attempt at eyeballing focus. No Bahti Mask or other focus aid other than zooming in on a bright but not saturated star. The second is using @focus to "Autofocus". The actual FWHM values should be taken with a pinch of salt as these are 360 second subs but relative to each other the results are amazing. Strangely the two subs "look" to both be in focus. Perhaps of more relevance is the difference in flatness. The FSQ85 is a Petzval design and the resulting flatness is focus critical. I have often struggled to get perfect corner to corner round stars with the FSQ/383 and it seems that focus plays a large part in this. It does not come much flatter than the second image!
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 10:47:20, 13 August, 2013
Hi Chris,

A really good result  :big_clap:

Focus is very subjective but these results speak for themselves and coupled with your scope design you also get flat !

Very nice,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 11:38:41, 13 August, 2013
Dave

I knew the Petzval design relied on focus for flatness but I did not realise to what extent. Interestingly if you move through focus the curvature goes in the other direction. Wish I'd know that as it would have been a great way of getting perfect focus manually, though a little time consuming!

Chris
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:46:26, 13 August, 2013
Hi Chris,

Just been having a read around the Petzval design as was not too familiar - you learn something new every day !

Yes, in terms of focusing there are many ways to skin a cat.  I'm sure most techniques given enough time will converge
to a similar result.  However, the critical parameter is time - we get so little quality imaging time in the UK I for one don't
want to waste a single photon on focusing or worse still having to throw away data from clear sky due to poor focus  >:(

Cheers,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 08:12:42, 15 August, 2013
Just to update on the compatability irregularities I discovered between one of SkyX/Ascom/Atik/Sharpsky. Dave and I have been busily testing all sorts of combinations (thanks Dave) and it seems that we (well Dave actually) has cracked it.

To summarise SKyX has an Ascom Focuser interface that I used to connect SkyX to Sharpsky. Ascom is also the route to connect an Atik Camera and Filter Wheel. Sharpsky works fine in that route up to the point of carrying out continuous focus images whilst refocusing. At some point one or other device would trip over the other resulting in a crash. Could be 5 seconds or 5 minutes so quite hard to reproduce. I did find a great daylight test for @focus. Zoom in on a hot pixel and say "focus on that". Obviously it wont build a V-Curve and wont converge on focus as a result but it is fun in a computer cruelty kind of way to watch it try.

Dave is probably better at explaining what he has done and obviously it clouded over as soon as he fixed it so still subjct to a real star test but i ran my stress test a dozen times last night and have not seen a crash yet.

Big Karma to Dave for getting it sorted, not easy when carrying out diagnostics by email.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 09:16:06, 15 August, 2013
Morning Chris et al,

Many thanks for the feedback, very pleased everything appears now to be working well.

It's sometimes quite difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen when a driver is operating in the presence of a client control program and other devices/drivers especially when traffic levels are relatively high.  The ASCOM platform essentially defines a set of Application Programming Interfaces or APIs allowing clients to talk to hardware via drivers and visa versa - an excellent system.  However, what the platform does not define is timing or the dynamics of how things might operate or interoperate.  This is generally where things can come unstuck.  I have found that different clients/drivers perform operations in different ways which can be difficult to predict. 

The upshot is drivers generally have to be modified and evolve as issues are discovered - but rather than being a problem this is the great power of the client/driver/ASCOM platform combination.  Clients & hardware can remain unchanged (and unaware of one another) and relatively simple drivers can be altered, distributed and easily installed by the user.

Not much was done to the SharpSky driver in reality , just made it slightly more relaxed in terms of bus timings to allow for heavier traffic.


Cheers & clear skies,

           Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:13:56, 11 May, 2014
Good afternoon guys,

Ok, I have made a few modifications to the SharpSky firmware. To be honest one of these changes should already have been in but somehow slipped through the revision net. I have enhanced the way the temperature probe is being read by the PIC micro to make the read less invasive. The current V4.0 has an issue whereby reading of the temperature sensor interrupts the motor move (this should have been fixed). Also the sensor read was disturbing the operation of the manual control.

THIS IS FOR THE KIT VERSION OF SHARPSKY - NOT THE PRO VERSION.

The new V4.1 firmware load fixes the motor interruption issue and makes the manual control much more responsive.

The new firmware is now available on the SharpSky kit website :
www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit)

Also for those that have built a focuser using a development card and a PIC18F4550 device a new firmware image is available on the original website :
www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky)

Quick reflash instructions :

- Download the PC bootloader from the website
- Download the new firmware load (right click and save as)
- Run the bootloader PC application
- Push the manual control button & while pushed power up SharpSky. The bootloader will see the PIC and respond
- From the bootloader Pick the new firmware HEX file you have saved in the second step.
- Program & verify
- Reset device

Good to go you are now running V4.1 and this will be displayed in the ASCOM setup page for the driver.

Any questions or problems with the reflash please fire at will

Cheers & clear skies,

Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: yami on 17:07:02, 12 October, 2014
Hello Dave,

i was not able to flash the new Hex-File. After flashing Windows XP does not recognize the SharpSky Focuser. "Unkown USB Device"
After removing USB and reconnecting all LEDS on the Developmentboard are on.
After reflashing with the SharpSky_4550.hex file Version 4.0 everything is fine!

Is there a bug in the Version 4.1 SharpSky_4550.hex file??

Need some help.

CS

Joerg from Germany
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 17:36:02, 12 October, 2014
Hello Joerg,

Interesting - I will look into it and get back quickly.

Cheers,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 18:54:21, 12 October, 2014
Hello Joerg,

I have just downloaded the V4.1 HEX file from www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky) and programmed using the HID bootloader.  Everything
worked fine and the controller came up as expected and reported V4.1 via the setup properties window.

Are you programming using the bootloader and if so is the bootloader reporting a successful program ?

Cheers,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: yami on 18:20:55, 13 October, 2014
Hello Dave,

i used the pc_bootloader.zip (usb-bootloader.exe) from www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky) to program. First I read the old Hex from the pic, erase it, load the 4550.hex file and write it with success.

CS

Joerg
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 19:21:28, 13 October, 2014
Hi Joerg,

Ok, I think I know what the problem is .....

Please can you test out my hunch and download a new HEX file from :  www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_4550_MCH.hex (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_4550_MCH.hex)

Flash this HEX file with the PC bootloader application and let me know how you get on.

Many thanks,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: yami on 21:44:54, 13 October, 2014
Hello Dave,

i tried your new file with success. I flashed it to the PIC and after hiting execute buttom my system found a new HID-Device. Using SharpSky Client Ascom displayed me the new Version 4.1.  :big_clap:
Thanks for your help.

What was the problem with my configuration?

Clear Skies

Joerg

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 23:07:14, 13 October, 2014
Hello Joerg,

Very good  !

Sorry about that, it was a oversight on my part .....

SharpSky has had three phases if you like ... first was the prototype board design, then the kit (PCB) based version and finally
the Pro assembled version.

The first version used the Microchip specific MCH bootloader firmware which requires a dedicated Microchip PC driver.  This MCH
bootloader works fine but does require the user to install the dedicated driver and the source code for the PC application to my
knowledge is not available.

For the kit version and Pro version of SharpSky I ditched the Microchip bootloader and switched to a more generic HID based
bootloader both for bootloader firmware and the PC application.

Unfortunately, I accidentally uploaded the HID firmware which is not compatible with the MCH bootloader hence the problem
you encountered.

I have now uploaded the MCH based firmware V4.1 to the SharpSky website and so there should no longer be an issue.

So basically - finger trouble (senior moment) on my part .....

Hope that makes sense ?

Cheers,

              Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: yami on 17:23:15, 14 October, 2014
Hello Dave,

thanks for your info and your outstanding support.

Joerg from Germany
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Dave_Rose on 20:26:14, 12 December, 2014
Hello Dave,
Where can I download the current SharpSky client for the SharpSky kit version of your focuser.
Or will the Pro version of the client work as well.
Thanks,
Dave.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 11:06:38, 13 December, 2014
Hi Dave,

The client is ASCOM compliant and therefore will work with any ASCOM compliant focuser.

You can download from :  www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSkyClient (http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSkyClient)

Cheers,

                  Dave

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Dave_Rose on 14:16:56, 13 December, 2014
Thanks for the quick reply Dave.
Focuser now working with my new laptop.
Cheers, Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:14:45, 13 December, 2014
Excellent news Dave,

Please feedback and let us know how you get on :)

Cheers,

               Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 16:22:24, 13 December, 2014
Further ....

For anyone thinking of giving the simple SharpSky client a go please
be sure to run the download as administrator by right mouse clicking on
the 'SharpSkyClient.exe' and selecting 'Run as administrator'  this needs
to be done so that the client has the privileges required for file creation.

Cheers,

               Dave 
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: Woody on 02:26:16, 10 April, 2015
Hello all
Will the sharpsky kit form control box work with a moonlite Hi res stepper motor or is the pin out different?
Thank you
Jeremy
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 19:05:21, 10 April, 2015
Hello Jeremy,

Yes indeed, SharpSky is compatible with MoonLite focus motors.

I decided early on in the design to make the D-type connection pin compatible.  You may need to
adjust the period per step setting in ASCOM setup window.  I would start at a value of 8ms/step
and then adjust to taste.  If the value is too low the motor may skip steps and if the value is too
large the motor will simply be slow.  You may also need to tweak the backlash value to suit the
MoonLite motor.

Let us/me know how you get on.

Cheers,

             Dave
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: dtrewren on 23:06:31, 16 October, 2015
Evening all,

Been a while since I posted anything on the SharpSky sticky .....

Quite a bit of SharpSky Pro gear heads down under to Australia.  A chap Jeremy based in Ormeau Hills Australia recently
took delivery of a SharpSky pro outfit and has sent me a couple of images showing his motor mounting technique.  He has
mounted  the motor on to a very nice  Baby Q refractor.  Rather than mounting the bracket to the focuser base itself Jeremy
has opted to use the extended ADM dovetail as a mount point.

Nice job I thought !

Cheers,

               Dave

Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: PaulB on 08:47:11, 17 October, 2015
That's a good idea.
When I get my new focuser on Monday. I think I will do that.
Title: Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
Post by: chris.bailey on 09:14:42, 17 October, 2015
It works as long as you never need to rotate the scope in the rings or shift it about for balance! Those four M5 bolts on the base on the focuser are easily replaced with longer ones and with some spacers to get over the projection of the coarse focus knob its not too hard to effect a connection to the scope base itself.

Chris
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