Meade DS2000 Support  

Everything you need to motorize your head
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careyer
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Meade DS2000 Support

by careyer » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:55 pm

Support for Meade DS2000 motorized Telescope Head?

Dear Developers

would it be possible to support the "Meade DS2000" motorized Head? This Head in conjunction with the Meade Autostar 497 controller is very popular among time-lapse photographers because of it's smooth movement and its low pricetag.

Please don't missunderstand me: I do not ask for time-lapse functionality in Papywizard but just for supporting the hardware so one can do automated panos with this head.

Let me give you some information about the Meade System:

The head is indirectly controlled via the Autostar 497 controller. The controller itself can be controlled via a Serial-Port connection.

You can find the Meade Serial Command Protocol here:
http://www.meade.com/support/LX200CommandSet.pdf

There is also a customized firmware for the Autostar 497 controller (43gg ver.10) which adds
two important abilities to the Meade system. First it adds simple speed and direction
commands and second it allows these commands to be sent 'on the fly'. You can find any information you need here:

http://openmoco.org/node/25

I'd love to beta test a newly developed driver plugin for the Meade Head for you!
Feel free to contact me about that!

Best regards and keep up the good work!
careyer

P.S: you can see some really nice (time-lapse) work done with the Meade System here:
http://www.hdrtimelapse.com/samples.html

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by fma38 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:30 am

Hello careyer,

I didn't check, but if the Autostar 497 controller has all needed functions, I don't see any reason it could not be supported by Papywizard through a dedicated plugin.

Low-level mandatory functions this controller should implement are:

1) read position
2) start to move an axis in a given direction (optionally, at a given speed)
3) goto a specific position
3) stop (from 2 and 3)

If you can give me example how to use these commands, it would help. Another point to know is how the cmomands are executed: Do they return immediatly, and execute their task in background, allowing more commands to be run in // (for example, start to move yaw axis, then start pitch axis, then, during move, read positions, then stop yaw axis, than stop pitch axis), or is the communication blocked until the command is over (end of goto)?

The Merlin/Orion works on the first model (commands are non blocking; for example, it is possible to read positions during a goto command, and periodically check the status to see if the goto command is over or not).

If you can find these informations, it will help!

PS: I moved your post to a dedicated thread.
Frédéric

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by careyer » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:43 pm

Dear fma38,

thank you for your quick answer. I've been on skiing vacation in the meanwhile... that's why it took me some time to answer....

fma38 wrote:I didn't check, but if the Autostar 497 controller has all needed functions, I don't see any reason it could not be supported by Papywizard through a dedicated plugin.

Low-level mandatory functions this controller should implement are:

1) read position
2) start to move an axis in a given direction (optionally, at a given speed)
3) goto a specific position
4) stop (from 2 and 3)

1) seems to be possible, the Autostar Controller can be queried for it's position and will return it in DD:MM:SS format
2) this is possible... also at a given speed in very very fine steps
3) could not verify this yet - But it seems that one can programm "targets" (usually poistions of stars) and goto a target
4) works as well.

fma38 wrote:If you can give me example how to use these commands, it would help. Another point to know is how the cmomands are executed: Do they return immediatly, and execute their task in background, allowing more commands to be run in // (for example, start to move yaw axis, then start pitch axis, then, during move, read positions, then stop yaw axis, than stop pitch axis), or is the communication blocked until the command is over (end of goto)?

The Merlin/Orion works on the first model (commands are non blocking; for example, it is possible to read positions during a goto command, and periodically check the status to see if the goto command is over or not).
If you can find these informations, it will help!

The commands are obviously non blocking.
You can find a simple example how to controll the head here:
http://openmoco.org/node/25
(see: How does it work?)

On this website you also find a link to the Meade Serial Protocol which lists the needed commands to query the head for it's position and stuff like that

I really hope this head can be supported since it is a cheap and very popular solution.

Greetings!
careyer

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by fma38 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:56 pm

I'm sure we can, but I don't have much time to find the needed commands in the Meade protocol (not really clear!). If you can find them for me, it will help.

Have a look at the code of the PixOrb or the new Panoguy plugins; you will find in the first class what low-level commands we need to implement. If you could find the equivalent ones for the Meade... If the goto command first need to define a target, then go to it, it is not a problem; just send the needed sequence.
Frédéric

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by Paul » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:54 am

but the Mead 2000 has one big disadvantage:

its axes are not in line
e.g. you have to reassemble it to get proper aligned axes
Paul

close, but no cigar ... ... ...

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by etegration » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:29 am

Paul wrote:but the Mead 2000 has one big disadvantage:

its axes are not in line
e.g. you have to reassemble it to get proper aligned axes

yes it is but i believe it can be resolved. The software will be a big part to encourge more use too. The Orion/ Merlin head does not ship to singapore and it's a big turnoff. Dropped them a mail and hope for the best. The Mead 2000 is on it's way to me. Some fun soon i hope.

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by fma38 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:35 pm

If you find the protocol...
Frédéric

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by careyer » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:15 am

Today my Meade DS2000 + Autostar 497 shipped and I must say that this is really a very nice head.
It is made alomst completely of strong metal and surely can hold telescopes of 5 to 10 kilo.

The motors are relatively loud but there is a "Silent slewing" option in the Autostar controller which reduces the sound level a lot. The maximum speed is not very fast though... seems like it turns at a rate of about 3°/sec ....
However the precission is enourmous. It can move that slow that you can't really notice with your eye. That should be awesome for some timelapse uses.

My Serial connection cable is still shipping so I could not perform any tests yet how to controll that thingy via PC. ..

But i could figure out a very interresting feature of the Autostar controller: You can programm user defined guided tours - meaning that you speficy a number of stars/targets and the head will automatically hop from target to target. Seems very much like one can program an automated panorama tour without the need for some additional Computer or handheld controller.

Best regards!
caryeer

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by etegration » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:27 pm

careyer wrote:Today my Meade DS2000 + Autostar 497 shipped and I must say that this is really a very nice head.
It is made alomst completely of strong metal and surely can hold telescopes of 5 to 10 kilo.

The motors are relatively loud but there is a "Silent slewing" option in the Autostar controller which reduces the sound level a lot. The maximum speed is not very fast though... seems like it turns at a rate of about 3°/sec ....
However the precission is enourmous. It can move that slow that you can't really notice with your eye. That should be awesome for some timelapse uses.

My Serial connection cable is still shipping so I could not perform any tests yet how to controll that thingy via PC. ..

But i could figure out a very interresting feature of the Autostar controller: You can programm user defined guided tours - meaning that you speficy a number of stars/targets and the head will automatically hop from target to target. Seems very much like one can program an automated panorama tour without the need for some additional Computer or handheld controller.

Best regards!
caryeer

i've received my DS2000 with the 497 controller. I've done some measurement and ideally, it does not suit 360 panorama photography. L plate to be machine will need to have a base that looks like a "C" in order for this to work. The Orion teletrack http://www.telescope.com/control/accessories/mounts-and-tripods/orion-teletrack-computerized-goto-altazimuth-telescope-mount seems ideal for now...for 360 panography.

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by jake.carvey » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:31 pm

etegration wrote:i've received my DS2000 with the 497 controller. I've done some measurement and ideally, it does not suit 360 panorama photography. L plate to be machine will need to have a base that looks like a "C" in order for this to work. The Orion teletrack http://www.telescope.com/control/accessories/mounts-and-tripods/orion-teletrack-computerized-goto-altazimuth-telescope-mount seems ideal for now...for 360 panography.

That particular item will cost you $100 extra for the GOTO handheld controller - you can get the multi-function mount for much cheaper without it here:

http://www.opticsplanet.net/sky-watcher-multi-function-mount-with-tripod.html

check the faq for other sources as well.

jake

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by careyer » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:52 pm

etegration wrote:i've received my DS2000 with the 497 controller. I've done some measurement and ideally, it does not suit 360 panorama photography. L plate to be machine will need to have a base that looks like a "C" in order for this to work. The Orion teletrack http://www.telescope.com/control/accessories/mounts-and-tripods/orion-teletrack-computerized-goto-altazimuth-telescope-mount seems ideal for now...for 360 panography.

What do you mean with "....does not suit 360 panorama photography. L plate to be machine will need to have a base that looks like a "C" in order for this to work..." Can you explain that a bit more in detail? I've also figured out that the DS2000 mount is not ideal for 360° panography since its X- and Y-Axis are not aligned. If anyone has an idea how to solve that... Any info on this would be very welcome!


Thanks!

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by milapse » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:01 pm

Greetings all! I'm Jay (aka milapse).

Here's the serial protocol for meade #497: http://www.meade.com/support/LX200CommandSet.pdf

In terms of the meade firmware: the custom firmware allows you to send move commands while the head is slewing. The stock firmware does not so you'd have to send a stop before a change of speed or direction

BUT the real stumbling block is the #497 itself. It's proprietary! Thus our move toward open source hardware and controllers (arduino): OPENMOCO.ORG . I'd suggest keeping an eye there for the stepper based pan/tilt unit plans and kits that WILL ALLOW NODAL!

I'd absolutely love to see papywizard controlling a stepper based system. Check out the openmoco engine. So much more accuracy for the buck and completely modular for loading strength. We think its the best way forward!!

Rock on.

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by Paul » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:21 pm

Hi Jay,

what should be the reason to support a Meade DS2000 which axes aren't in line to get a proper NPP setup?

And what do you mean with "Check out the openmoco engine"?

Panoguy is already adapting PW to support his stepper driven robot.
Paul

close, but no cigar ... ... ...

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by panoguy » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:28 pm

milapse wrote:Greetings all! I'm Jay (aka milapse).

Here's the serial protocol for meade #497: http://www.meade.com/support/LX200CommandSet.pdf

In terms of the meade firmware: the custom firmware allows you to send move commands while the head is slewing. The stock firmware does not so you'd have to send a stop before a change of speed or direction

BUT the real stumbling block is the #497 itself. It's proprietary! Thus our move toward open source hardware and controllers (arduino): OPENMOCO.ORG . I'd suggest keeping an eye there for the stepper based pan/tilt unit plans and kits that WILL ALLOW NODAL!

I'd absolutely love to see papywizard controlling a stepper based system. Check out the openmoco engine. So much more accuracy for the buck and completely modular for loading strength. We think its the best way forward!!

Rock on.

As usual in live, there are pros and cons...
Not a big deal for Papywizard to control a stepper based system. It does already with the Gigapanbot plugin.
The down side of using stepper motors is a large device and you need powerful batteries.
In terms of accuracy, I don't see a real difference, I would claim that the encoder feedback is more accurate than a overloaded stepper drive, where you can't control the absolute position.

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by fma38 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:40 pm

Hello milapse,

I already read the #497 protocol, but I have to admit that I don't understand how to use it. It seems to be astronomic-oriented, and I'm not very familiar with.

Could you provide me some simple examples how to use it? Papywizard needs the following commands:

- start axis in a direction (optionnaly at a given speed)
- stop axis
- goto a precise position
- check if the position is reached
- read the current position
- close the shutter contact

A command should return immediatly. That's why I need a get status command, to periodically check if the position has been reached, and to be able to read the position during the move.

If you can tell me what are the differents Meade orders to use for these commands...

I'm about to release the next stable version (2.2), and I think I will add the Meade support after that, in the next dev. release. But I can start to write the plugin, and you will be able to test from the current release bu putting the plugin in your personnal plugins folder.
Frédéric

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by milapse » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:57 am

To be honest I don't know how you'll interface with the #497...
-no camera fire coordination
-not sure how to track the motion/postion and home

Like you say it's all astronomy geared. Which is why we needed to hack the firmware to make 'timeismotion' work...
Last edited by milapse on Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by shutterdrone » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:25 pm

Agreed with Milapse, I've seen nothing about the meade head that would make it easy to use for pano - it's more of a continuous motion head (for tracking targets). I'm noting that some versions allow you to set targets and go to them. I think that may be the only way that you could achieve this goal. On the 16" and LX200GPS, you can set a target azimuth, but I don't see anything related to the target altitude. Additionally, as Jay pointed out - you still need a way to fire the camera.

!c

Edit: as to those wondering why I removed my previous post, I had realized after posting it that a) the original topic had been about the Meade head, and not OpenMoco (which are completely different beasts), and b) my post not only was resulting in a hijacking of the thread, it also muddied up the waters and would likely have confused many further. The openmoco project is unrelated to the Meade head, except in that in the spirit of opensource motion control, we host Milapse's software for the DS2000. The DS2000 does not provide the capabilities I spoke of in relation to openmoco. I apologize for any confusion my original post had created, and any further confusion caused by my removing of my post!
Last edited by shutterdrone on Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by claudevh » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:59 pm

Hello Frederic,

fma38 wrote:Could you provide me some simple examples how to use it? Papywizard needs the following commands:
- start axis in a direction (optionnaly at a given speed)
- stop axis
- goto a precise position
- check if the position is reached
- read the current position
- close the shutter contact

Herafter the necessary Meade Autostar commands for the Plugin "Milapse":

1) read position:
:GD# get Declination Coordinates = Elevation (Dec = Alt) HH:MM:SS
:GR# get Right Ascension Coordinates = Rotation (RA = Az) HH:MM:SS

2) start to move an axis in a given direction (optionally, at a given speed):
2.1 set a given speed as current spped:
:RS# Used to set the motor rate to Slew rate (Fastest).
:RM# Used to set the motor rate to Find rate (Second Fastest).
:RC# Used to set the motor rate to Centering rate (Second Slowest).
:RG# Used to set the motor rate to Guide rate (Slowest).
2.1 in a given direction:
:Mn# Move Telescope North at current slew rate
:Ms# Move Telescope South at current slew rate
:Mw# Move Telescope West at current slew rate
:Me# Move Telescope East at current slew rate

3) stop axis:
:Q# stop all motors
:Qn# stop North displacement
:Qs# stop South displacement
:Qw# stop West displacement
:Qe# stop East displacement

4) goto a precise position
4.1 Set this Declination Coordinates (DEC)
:SdHH:MM:SS# HH:MM:SS
4.2 Set this Right Ascention coordinates(RA)
:SrHH:MM:SS# HH:MM:SS
4.3 Slew to the predefined coordinates
:MA#
4.4 Check the current position (see point 1.)

For the shutter release, the Milapse has no built-in system !
So I will try to find a solution ...

Remarks:
- The link, between the Milapse (AKA DS 2000) and the PC, SHOULD pass trough the "Autostar pad" who also include the motors driver function. (later the OpenMoco project can change the way of working by replacing the Autostar, this project as also "direct" connections with the replacement of the motor-board of the Merlin ;))
- Generally the connection with the PC is a wired connection with RS232 protocol (not TTL !), it can also be "wireless" via a RS232-Bluetooth converter module like the Tronisoft or the Aircable.

I agree with all the remarks concerning the usage of the Milapse for spherical Pano's who isn't well adapted (NPP), but for Gigapix the Milapse will be OK and I fully support all our friends "Timelapser's" who want also be able to do some gigapix panos and combine them with timelapse techniques ... :P
:cool: Claude :cool:
Merlin + Papywizard on Windows 7 & Nokia 770 § N810 & Acer (Netbook) + PanoramaApp Androïd + Deltawave PapyMerlin BT + Autopano
Spherical Pano (180 x 360) with Canon 40D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom & Pôle Pano with Canon 5D MK2 and shaved Tokina 10-17 3.5-4.5 AF DX Fisheye
Gigapixel photography with Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 F 2.8 EX DG APO HSM

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by fma38 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:06 pm

Thanks, Claude. A few more questions:

- what is the terminator char? Should I send something after the #, like CR or LF?
- what does the head answer when sending a command? Should I wait for the NACK char? Is it always sended, even for the get position command (after the position)?
- how are errors handled by the head (unknown command or wrong param)?
Frédéric

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by claudevh » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:14 pm

Hello Fréderic,
- what is the terminator char? Should I send something after the #, like CR or LF?

Really I don't know ... when I have made my trials after the commands I have send a CR !
- what does the head answer when sending a command? Should I wait for the NACK char? Is it always sended, even for the get position command (after the position)?
- how are errors handled by the head (unknown command or wrong param)?

A possible response to any command is ASCII NAK (0x15). Should the telescope control chain be busy and unable to accept an process the command, a NAK will be sent within 10 msec of the receipt of the ‘#’ terminating the command. In this event, the controller should wait a reasonable interval and retry the command.

More specifically for the commands we need ...

:GD# return: Declination
:GR# return: Right Ascension

:RS# Returns: Nothing
:RM# Returns: Nothing
:RC# Returns: Nothing
:RG# Returns: Nothing

:Mn# Returns: Nothing
:Ms# Returns: Nothing
:Mw# Returns: Nothing
:Me# Returns: Nothing

:Q# Returns: Nothing
:Qn# Returns: Nothing
:Qs# Returns: Nothing
:Qw# Returns: Nothing
:Qe# Returns: Nothing

:SdHH:MM:SS# Returns: 0 – Invalid
1 - Valid
:SrHH:MM:SS# Returns: 0 – Invalid
1 - Valid
:MA# Returns: 0 - No fault
1 – Fault

That's all what I know at this moment as I am myselve actually discovering this Milapse head ... ;)
:cool: Claude :cool:
Merlin + Papywizard on Windows 7 & Nokia 770 § N810 & Acer (Netbook) + PanoramaApp Androïd + Deltawave PapyMerlin BT + Autopano
Spherical Pano (180 x 360) with Canon 40D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom & Pôle Pano with Canon 5D MK2 and shaved Tokina 10-17 3.5-4.5 AF DX Fisheye
Gigapixel photography with Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 F 2.8 EX DG APO HSM


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