Saturday, November 23, 2019

#257 - Friday, November 22, 2019 - T-Pointing

I needed to add more points to my T-Point model in TheSkyX, so that was my first goal of the evening.  I went ahead and defined a plot of slew limits using my cell phone's compass and level, but I couldn't get that mapping to show up in T-Point.  But then I figured out that there was another place that I had to do that.  I'll try and do a photo-based one this weekend.

Once I got a rough horizon mapping in for T-Point, I went inside to watch the action from my desktop -- it was about 50 degrees outside, which is really quite warm compared to nighttime winter temperatures in the other places I've lived, but since I haven't properly winter-acclimatized here in California, it felt cold!

During the automated T-Point, several of the points were coming back saying they didn't have enough stars.  I still had my ZWO ASI294MC Pro color camera attached to my refractor, as well as a light pollution filter, so I figured I just needed to bump up my exposure time for this less-sensitive configuration.  I increased it from 10 seconds to 20, but it still wasn't good enough.  So I changed the gain to 300, but then things got kind of hung up in the software, and the calibration run wasn't actually stopping when it said it was.  So I closed down TheSkyX and tried to restart it, but it said another instance was already running.  This meant I had to force-quit it in Task Manager, but then it still said the same thing!  So I rebooted my tablet.  This, of course, led to my wifi driver crapping out again (it's been finnicky in my Surface 3 tablet for a while), so I had to reboot it a second time.  Finally I made it back inside and restarted the calibration run.  It was working now, woot!

A piece of good news from today is that I finally got my Robofocus electronic focuser control box back from Technical Innovations!  They had to replace several parts, so they charged me the full limit of something like $75, but that's still much cheaper than getting a new controller.  They also updated some of the components, and swapped out the red LED for a green one.  I'll have to get that set up tomorrow, and then I can finally take the images for my minion Miqaela's star gift.  It looks like we're going to have some clouds all next week, but next weekend looks promising.

Now that I have two mounts set up, I needed to double up on some other supplies as well.  I got a second Telegizmos 365 cover, as well as a second power box in which to house the power strip and keep it nice and watertight.

In TheSkyX, I reset the horizon definition back to a flat 30 degrees all around, since I wanted the mount to continue to track, even if the target went behind a tree.  That feature I think is more for not letting your rig hit the pier or tripod or other obstacles.  I also wanted Sequence Generator Pro to be able to slew to it, especially since my estimates were on the rough side.  

The next morning, I looked out the window, and it failed to park itself again.  This time, it was facing east instead of west, and all the way back to the hardware limit!  No idea what that is about.  Sequence Generator Pro was showing an error that it failed to meridian flip because it was parked or not tracking.  When I canceled the meridian flip (which it was still trying to do), it immediately crashed.  Since it crashed, I couldn't view the log when I restarted it, darn.  So instead, I looked at what images I managed to get.  The California Nebula completed this time, and one NGC 2174 image took, at 12:35 AM.  But NGC 2174 doesn't transit until 2:11 AM, so there should be more images from up until the failed meridian flip!  I was very confused.

Currently, I have Sequence Generator Pro set to flip 20 minutes after the object its tracking transits.  The California Nebula transitted at 12:03 AM, and the last frame started at 12:28 AM, and then it didn't flip.  So presumably, it slewed to NGC 2174, facing east, so I have no idea what made it stop after that.  NGC 2174 is also pretty far south, which is my clearest horizon -- no trees or anything to run into.  So confused!

So my plan for the next night is to test out the meridian flipping to see exactly what's going on.  Hopefully I can figure it out!

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