I've started this thread as a placeholder for discussion questions, hints and tips about the operation of the AllView controller.
In my opinion, it is a very capable controller for panoramic photography and for video photography, and if you get a telescope with a camera mount, it has all that stuff in there. It allows you to take long exposure celestial shots while the software locks the focus in position by steering the telescope and/or camera to compensate for the Earth's rotation. Just for fun I set it up with my camera last night, a 400 mm lens focused on the Milky way. Having calibrated the mount based on two of the brightest stars (their positions were pre-programmed in the controller), it was amazing to see the controller adjust the position just one step at a time, so slow you could barely see the mount moving. But sure enough the latitude displayed on the screen of the controller was changing - 1/60 of a degree at a time (incrementing one second of angle about every half second of time).
I also set the mount up to take my first pano using "Easy Pano" mode. Actually it was just a test run with no real shots taken. I set the Horizontal and Vertical field of view angles up to exactly 90 degrees, which corresponds approximately to a 10mm fisheye lens on my camera, and I asked the mount to take a 360 degree by 180 degree set of images. There were 16 shots in total. It took a zenith shot at (0,+90) then seven shots starting at (330,+30) and progressing -50 degrees azimuth angle at a time down to (30,+30), then it rotated the altitude mount and took the shot at the same azimuth angle again at (30,-30) and then another seven shots progressing +50 degrees at a time until (330,-30) and finally it took a nadir shot at (0,-90). The complete sequence took less than two minutes though I confess I didn't have a stopwatch on at the time. I had the shutter release time set to only 0.5 seconds and the mount stabilization time to just 1 second. So out of the approx. 2 minutes, 32 seconds were spent taking the pictures and 130 seconds were spent rotating the azimuth position through 720 degrees (2 x 360). So I make its rotational speed about 6 degrees per second.
As quick as Jack Robinson
While the controller operates, it displays the current azimuth and altitude angles on the LCD screen. However the screen is replaced by a countdown timer view for the two "stabilisation time" periods. This was very annoying. I badly wanted to read the exact angular positions from the display, and I would have been quite happy to increase the mount stabilization time in order to get a good set of angular readings. But just at the time I wanted to note the angles, the firmware replaced this essential information with the stupid countdown time data which I could do without. My view is that the firmware should be modified to remove the countdown time data which is absolutely useless information, to allow the angles to be read out and noted by the photographer. If the controller kept a "position log" of each shot in an Easy Pano sequence, so that the angles could be recalled later, that would be absolutely brilliant, but it doesn't do that either.
In "astronomy" mode, the controller moves very rapidly to the approximate position of a star, and then goes into "slow step" mode to pinpoint the exact position. However in panoramic photo mode, this "slow step" feature for accurate final position seems to be omitted. The consequence is that sometimes the exact angular position when pictures are taken seems to be two or three degrees in error. It may be that there is no inaccuracy, but because the display was being "blanked" with this countdown timer "feature" just when I wanted to make a note of the angles, the final "exact positions" that I noted above were never in fact readable. However my fear is that there may actually be positioning errors of up to three degrees occurring, and if this is confirmed to be the case, it is a serious problem.
Updating the Firmware
The firmware I was using was ver.03.09.07, which was the version shipped to me from the USA vendor. There is a later version available for download, but until I can get a USB to serial interface adapter, I have no way to connect to my computer ... since computing devices nowadays have USB ports and no serial ports. Maybe the designers of AllView did not realize this when they designed a serial interface as the mechanism for updating the controller firmware? It would have been much more logical and probably cheaper in the electronic design to provide users with a USB connection instead. Anyway, I'm now off to Corfu town center to buy the necessary USB to serial adapater, then will do the same tests again with the latest firmware.
Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"