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Meade Lx200 Sidereal Tracking

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jackovks Posted: 01-18-2018 12:32 PM

Hello,

I have successfully linked my Meade 12" LX200 telescope with the SkyX software, but I may or may not be having issues with the tracking.  I have aligned my telescope.  I slew to a star, then I click sidereal tracking, which then opens a tracking rate box for that star.  All of this is fine and I hit ok.  The problem (if it is a problem) is that I see no message or update that the telescope is moving.  The star stays in my FOV for about an hour before it drifts off, but I performed a fairly coarse polar alignment.  Is SkyX actually slewing my telescope?  I there a way to check?  Unfortunately no planets and the moon are not up at this time, so I cant track something at a faster rate to see.

 

Kevin

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Posts 27,794
Software Bisque Employee

jackovks:
have successfully linked my Meade 12" LX200 telescope with the SkyX software, but I may or may not be having issues with the tracking.
And:

jackovks:
The star stays in my FOV for about an hour before it drifts off, but I performed a fairly coarse polar alignment.

  • If the star stays in the eyepiece for one hour, the mount is tracking at the sidereal rate.
  • Check the LX 200 hand box to verify the tracking rate. 
  • Slewing and tracking are two different modes of operation. 
    • TheSkyX can slew the telescope to different objects using the Slew To command.
    • The mount tracks at the sidereal rate unless you specifically turn tracking off.

Daniel R. Bisque

Software Bisque, Inc.

862 Brickyard Circle

Golden, Colorado 80403-8058

Office Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday GMT-7:00

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Posts 34

Sorry about the wording.  Wrote something quickly.  I guess what I am worried about now is the non-sidereal tracking.  My goal is to perform lunar observations over a specific evening, so I need to make sure that the telescope is tracking at specific rates, not just sidereal ones. 

Also, when I walk away at the end of the night, I need to make sure the telescope is no longer moving.  I do not plan on shutting down the software or hardware.  So I will click "Stop Tracking", but with no message indicating that the scope has stopped, I am worried that it will still be moving and I will break the scope.  Though I think the software has flags that stop the tracking when an object passes close to the horizon.  Is that accurate?  Is there another way to confirm it has stopped or started?  Maybe the log?

I will check the LX200 handbox tonight.  Thank you for the quick response.

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Posts 34

Update from last night. 

I confirmed that the sidereal tracking is turning on by looking at the communication log.  Sidereal tracking turns on by issuing the start command :TQ#.  This is the default tracker (sidereal).  Also to note, no data is received after this command is issues.  When I stop the telescope, the command :ST0.0# is set and a 1 is received.  ST sets a custom track rate and the value after that is the track rate in Hertz.  So no track rate is set.  Makes sense.  So when a custom slew rate is issued (tracking Jupiter), the command that is issued is :ST2.22#.  So the tracking rate is now 2.2Hz.  

I did not have great results with the custom tracking.  By keeping the sidereal rate on I was able to get at lease some data and kept it in my FOV for 30 minutes or so.   Jupiter flew out of my FOV fairly quickly, as if the tracking was not on at all with the custom tracking rate.   I get a 1 back after the serial command has been issued.  In the Meade Serial Communication guide, the ST command sends back a 0 for invalid and a 2 for valid, so I am not sure what the 1 means?  At this point I want to focus on better polar alignment and T-Point modelling, but I need to confirm that custom tracking is at least doing something.  Any thoughts on this?  Are the custom tracks functioning for Meade Autostar II mounts?

Thanks,

Kevin

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Posts 193

The overall problem may be that you have an Alt-Az mount and not a GEM mount, which would be better for imaging, it that is the goal.

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jackovks:
Also to note, no data is received after this command is issues.
Because the command does not have any response.  In other words, this is normal and expected behavior.

jackovks:
the Meade Serial Communication guide, the ST command sends back a 0 for invalid and a 2 for valid, so I am not sure what the 1 means?
The LX200 command protocol only describes 0 and 2 as valid return values.  You'll need to contact Meade for details.

jackovks:
So when a custom slew rate is issued (tracking Jupiter), the command that is issued is :ST2.22#.  So the tracking rate is now 2.2Hz.
Why are you setting a custom tracking rate for Jupiter?  And, how did you determine this rate?

jackovks:
By keeping the sidereal rate on I was able to get at lease some data and kept it in my FOV for 30 minutes or so. 
Which is to be expected, for a host of reasons.

jackovks:
have successfully linked my Meade 12" LX200 telescope
And:

jackovks:
Are the custom tracks functioning for Meade Autostar II mounts?
According to the LX200 command protocol, custom tracking rates (via the :STdddd.ddddddd# command) are supported by Autostar II-compatible mounts only, the LX200 would not support custom tracking rates.

If you must keep an object centered in an eyepiece for long periods of time, consider writing a custom script that periodically slews to the object.

Daniel R. Bisque

Software Bisque, Inc.

862 Brickyard Circle

Golden, Colorado 80403-8058

Office Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday GMT-7:00

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Posts 193

At this point I want to focus on better polar alignment and T-Point modelling,

 

You do understand that these are two different things.  PA affects tracking and T-Point (mostly) affects targeting.

The LX200 is an Alt-Az mount and getting it to function like a GEM is a handful.

Is this for visual only or imaging also?

Top 25 Contributor
Posts 1,614

The LX-200 can be installed on a Super Wedge, for polar operation instead of Alt-Az.

The LX200GPS or LX200R has an Autostar II. 

The older LX200 (sometimes called a "classic") does not have a lot of sophisticaton, but can track at the Lunar rate by setting the tracking rate to 57.9Hz (instead of 60.1 Hz sidereal or 60.0 Hz solar rate)

Backyard solar-powered observatory powered by TheSkyX, ACP,  MaxIm DL, SBIG STL-11000 and ST-I, Boltwood Cloud Sensor II. Happy SB customer since the 90's. Astronomer by night, Marketing Director by day at Diffraction Limited / SBIG.

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Posts 2,547

baron555:
The LX200 is an Alt-Az mount and getting it to function like a GEM is a handful.
I think there are some terminology problems here.

  • An LX200 is just a generic two-axis gimbal mount, and is an altaz only if you elect to place the "longitude" axis vertical.
  • If you instead put it on a wedge it becomes an equatorial mount, and the concept of polar alignment applies.
  • In this equatorial configuration, the LX200 is a fork mount.
  • A GEM (German Equatorial Mount) is another kind of equatorial mount, involving a cantilevered declination axis and a counterweight.
  • A fork mount is much easier to use than a GEM because there is no meridian flip issue.

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Posts 34

All,

I have an LX200 ACF GPS model from Meade with AutoStar II.  I have a Wedge X between tripod and the telescope, so the telescope is setup as an equatorial mount, not an Alt-Az.  This is a project for imaging, but I don't need anything too sophisticated.

I will better polar align my scope after I confirm non-sidereal tracking is functioning to some degree.  Just a general confirmation that the scope is slewing at all when non-sidereal track rates are issued is all I need.

The custom tracking that I have performed has been using the SkyX application.  I want to write a custom script, but I would like to confirm that non-sidereal tracking works with the software first.  By software, I mean the link between SkyX and Autostar.  In SkyX, I clicked on Jupiter, then slewed the telescope to its location, and finally I clicked "Set track rate".  I hit confirm and the custom track rate command was issued by the SkyX software to the Autostar II software.  I checked the log (in SkyX application) and the ST2.22 command is issued.  

I don't think the commands are accurate though, as Autostar is not tracking.  It has either set a rate that is so slow that it doesn't look like it is working or the command is bad and Autostar is doing nothing.  Am I doing the planet tracking correctly?  Or is this a glitch in the SkyX software?

Thanks again everyone.

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Posts 44
Software Bisque Employee

Hi Kevin,

 

I looked into our driver for the LX200. As of right now, to my knowledge, we do not support setting tracking rates other than sidereal on Mead mounts. If you want to set lunar or solar rates on the LX200 you will need to do it from the hand paddle.

 

-R.J.

 

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Posts 44
Software Bisque Employee

Also, so answer and clarify. The LX200 in question is on a wedge, and is operating as a Equatorial Fork Mount, and is trying to be used to take lunar images.

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Posts 34

So, with no ability to set tracking rates other than sidereal, my question now is whether or not I can send specific serial commands to the AutoStar II from SkyX software?  When you set the sidereal tracking rate, the :TQ# command is issued.  This does set the sidereal tracking on.  Similarly, there is a :TL# command that sets Lunar tracking rate on.  If my date, time and location are the same between SkyX and AutoStar II, and the telescope is properly aligned, can I slew to the moon and somehow issue this serial command?  Would that not start tracking the moon accurately?

I am fine with doing this from a custom script, but I would like to know whether this is possible or not?  

Thanks,

Kevin

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Posts 34

Sorry to spam this thread.

I found that by turning on "Allow Handbox control" in the Meade tab, that I was able to navigate as if I were controlling the telescope from the hand controller.  Note: checking this option on slows down my machine significantly.  But I think I should be able to toggle this on, change my option that I need (Lunar tracking rate), and then toggle it back off.  I believe, in this way, I should be able to turn lunar tracking on and off.  If anyone has any information about this, please let me know.  I am going to try this out tomorrow and hopefully I can automate this process by scripting something specifically for this.

Kevin

Not Ranked
Posts 34

I figured I would close out this thread in case anyone else stumbles with this.  You can create a custom java script that will send the Meade telescope the lunar tracking rate command, which can be launch directly from the SkyX software.  See java scripting in the SkyX support documents and check out the serial command lists for Meade telescopes.  Thanks to all for the help. 

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