Satellite Tracker

Equipment Discussions - You must be registered to Post! => Mount Discussions => Topic started by: Szabolcs Nagy on February 07, 2018, 06:17:56 AM

Title: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: Szabolcs Nagy on February 07, 2018, 06:17:56 AM
Hi everyone,

Just joined the group and looking forward finding some answers to my question :)
I have been imaging the International Space station for a few years now. As I do not possess any good quality mount that is able to track it, had no choice but to develop the skill to manually follow ISS.
About 2 years ago I found this website and this amazing software. Sadly I the Skywatcher Allview mount I have is not supported at all. Actually Skywatcher as a brand is not supported at all only Meade and Celestron mounts are.
As far as I know Celestron and Skywatcher are owned by the same owner, although I'm not too technical I don't see why the big difference between support and not support one or the other.
I am also sure that this topic is on and off every now and then, and people want to know more about any support to skywatcher mounts.
I would beg for the developers of this amazing software to please please please make a support for at least alt-azimuth mounts or give a guidance how to use these mounts for the right purpose, which is tracking the International Space Station.
I am nearly sure that they would be capable of doing the job.

I have tried my own experiments after googling the subject. It did not end well funnily, I attached a very weak phone power cable to the mount to the wrong port and it fried the motherboard which seems just weird. Weird because there is no instruction in the manual what not to do at all. Anyway I do not want to fry my motherboard again obviously, but in the same time I would like to achieve some kind of result with my existing mount. Sadly I don't have thousands of pounds to buy very very expensive mounts. Also I'm already doing a manual tracking and I achieved really good results so worst case scenario I'm going to stick with what I have already.

Could you please update me with the issue and possibly insuring me that there will be a version which might be compatible with skywatcher mounts? I already acknowledged that there must be a good reason why skywatcher is not supported at all or at least just the the most serious mounts like the eq6 etc.

Thanks very much!
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: John Eccles on February 07, 2018, 10:14:59 AM
When you have questions like this you should become familiar with a document that captured all of the messages on the previous Yahoo Group Satellite Tracker. There are 8088 messages in the document called SatelliteTrackerMessage1thru8088.pdf located in the Archived Group Messages at Reply #3 under "Software Repository, Archived Messages, Pictures, and Software Utilities" section of this forum. This file contains all of the activity to include questions and answers similar to the question you have asked. In that document if you do a search for Skywatcher there are 37 hits. One of those hits is message #4732 which describes how you can get Satellite Tracker to work with Skywatcher mounts (although the Allview mount is not mentioned directly). What you would need to do is compare the message specification the Allview mount uses versus the message specification of the mounts mentioned in Reply #4732. At this point I do not know the direct answer since I would have to analyze the code and also get the Allview mount message specification. Right now I am tied up with another project and do not have the time to spend doing that. I do not have the Allview message specification available to me. If you do locate the Allview message specification I would appreciate if you would post it as a reply to your question for others to see and use. I hope this helps you get to use your mount with Satellite Tracker.
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: Szabolcs Nagy on March 06, 2018, 09:19:13 AM
Hi folks,

The good news is that Skywatcher offered their help to resolve the problem. An engineer - Frank Liu will help us, he offered his help, I have his email address so if anyone wants to get involved, let me know.
Here is the reply I recieved a few weeks ago:

"We ran your message by a Sky-Watcher engineer and got the following positive reply

The Engineer's name is Mr Frank Liu and is in CC to this email should you wish to make contact with him directly

Kind regards,

We are glad to help on this project.

Currently, we do not have a good document for the motor control's communication inferface, but we do have a sample code to demonstrate how to control the motor via the hand control port. Szabolcs can find the source code here.

If Szabolcs has any question on the protocol, we are gald to provide direct support for him or the development team. You may forward my contact information to them to discuss technical issues directly.

We recommend to develop the application based on the AZGTi mount, because the motor controller provide better accuracy for middle to high speed slewing. We might upgrade the motor controller in the AllView to the one that is used in the AZGTi mount in the future.

The motor controller in the AZGTi mount supports both wired serial connection or Wi-Fi connection. And the SynScan Wi-Fi dongle has the potential to support Celestron's mount too. It might also work with Meade's mounts that use UART interface.
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: John Eccles on March 08, 2018, 03:40:48 PM
If you do locate the Allview message specification I would appreciate if you would post it as a reply to your question here for others to see and use. I hope this helps you get to use your mount with Satellite Tracker.

The message specification I am looking for should be similar to the message specification (CommandSet.pdf) that I have attached for the Meade LX-200 type mounts.

In addition, in order to make the connections you would need the wiring diagrams for your mount in a document similar to the wiring instructions I have included as an attachment called LX200AppendixF-G.pdf as well.

From these documents we can determine if the Allview mounts emulate the LX200 Command Set or one of the other command sets for the other mounts supported by Satellite Tracker.

Based on the email it seems like they are indicating that we can extract the command set from the code. While that may seem plausible this would take a great deal of time since it is a kind of reverse engineering of the code in order to obtain the Command Set document. One would think that the Command Set Document must exist in order to develop code. So let's see if we can locate the document of the Command Set that they used to develop the code.
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: Szabolcs Nagy on March 25, 2018, 01:21:24 PM
I received an email from the developer (Frank) at Skywatcher. He sent me the document below attached to this message.
I am really not sure if that's what you guys looking for and to be honest I care less and less.

I offered John to contact the developer directly, because you speak the common developer language. I am not a developer, I am a user of these equipment, my area is photography. Being a developer or at least understanding it's language is not something one can learn in a few weeks. But you choose not to have direct contact, instead I'm sending messages back and forth, which I wouldn't mind if there would be any development. But there isn't any to be honest. So I'm sort beginning to of acknowledge that tracking ISS with a lower end Skywatcher mounts simply won't happen anytime soon...
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: John Eccles on March 28, 2018, 05:38:51 PM
I have not been doing anything as far as new development on the Satellite Tracker project as evidenced by the fact that no new versions have been released. My main goal in acquiring the Satellite Tracker project was to keep it alive and add some features to it. However, other things in my life have been taking up most of my time preventing me from paying attention to this project. Right now I am on the move again as my wife has been relocated 150 miles away to another job. So now I have to sell this house and move again. That seems all I do is moving from one house to another. I have about 15 requests ahead of you and you can look at my todo list on the forum. I actually was in the process of implementing ASCOM for Satellite Tracker and I have fully developed and tested it and it is ready to be folded into the software. That is as far as I got. So it is not that I am not interested in speaking to Mr. Liu at Skywatcher, it is just I do not have the time to do that right now.

I also pointed you in a direction where you could implement a strategy developed by other users that might allow you to operate the mount with Satellite Tracker. Please read reply #1 of this thread.

In reviewing the past messages in this thread I was being told that I would have to reverse engineer some code in order to extract the various message formats. That is something that I am not willing to do anyway. I gave you sample documents of what I am looking for and the Skywatcher people can see that and generate their version of the message formats according to the content of the sample documents. The document that you attached is not the appropriate document that I am looking for. I have sent an email to Mr. Liu today providing him the details of what I need and am looking for.
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: Szabolcs Nagy on April 03, 2018, 09:34:46 AM
Hi John,

Thanks for writing. I have tried to make Satellite Tracker work woth Allview mount but I accidentally fried the motherboard ( by simply plugging the cable coming from laptop to the wrong port on the mount head). So experiment was over there for me, not willing to experiment with something I have no clue about.

Of course I don't expect you to abandon you life because my demands :) Sorry to hear your constant agony with moving, hope things are going to improve to your situation. If you were replying to any of my previous emails by saying you don't have the time now, believe me I would understand it. But you didn't reply to me at all.

Anyway I don't want to any pressure on you and I really do appreciate your honesty!

Thanks and I hope Frank will and can do the heavylifting for you (reverse engeneering)!
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: Kilian Hametner on May 17, 2019, 01:06:05 PM
It would be a Milestone if this Software would be ASCOM compatible! Good Luck!
Title: Re: Skywatcher Allview altaz mount support
Post by: John Eccles on May 17, 2019, 03:28:28 PM
I have already implemented ASCOM software as an independent package that I was able to test with the appropriate simulators. All I have to do is now integrate it into the Satellite Tracker code. Since I have been busy with all this moving and relocating that effort has stopped. My goal was to implement ASCOM into Satellite Tracker next. I have even gone as far as purchasing a complete Losmandy Gemini II mount which is still brand new in the box and has never been turned on.