My STF-8300M and the dreaded Camera Error 8 bug......

Discussion in 'STF Series CCD Cameras' started by Chris Anderson, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    I'm owned by an STF-8300M CCD camera I purchased new in Jan/2012. I say owned, because that's how I feel! I need help. I know this has been addressed before, but I wanted to air my dirty laundry and plead for options.... I don't think there is really a resolution to this problem.

    As far as I know, all my drivers are up to date. They're dated 5-27-16 and the rest 01-27-15.
    The firmware is current at 2.53 and 2.22.

    All software I use the camera system on, CCDOps, CCDSoft, or MaxIm DL 6.13 are up to date and all exhibit the same issue: Camera Error (8). This, I am convinced, is a camera bug. And, yes, I'm using a USB hub....

    The camera works fine with a standard (up to, say, 15') USB cable. It HATES any style of "powered" or repeater cables. I had a bunch of those in the past, and had all manner of issues that I assumed were caused by the extender cables. So, this week, I completely re cabled everything. I also suspected my cheap USB hub might be an issue, so I invested in a StarTech 7 port powered hub and a 24v power supply to go with it.

    Swapped all my cables this week with 24 karat gold plated, magnetically choked 6' versions. I run the StarTech hub at the scope, and run a 15' cable from there to my computer across the dome room. And that barely reaches.

    I'm only running USB 2.0 ports, because neither my STF-8300M nor the ST-iC will even look at a 3.0 port. I should say that I really NEED a USB hub. I only have one USB 2.0 port on my computer, so even if I could run multiple 20+ foot cables, I'd have nowhere to plug them in. And my scope is about 9 feet off the floor, so I need long cables--or a hub. Whether I run a 15' cable from the hub or a 6" cable, nothing works, so it isn't my cable lengths.

    My dual camera system works fine unless I cross the dreaded 60ish second exposure time limit. That's when the STF-8300M tosses out the Camera Error (8). Shorter exposures appear to be no problem. Entire FocusMax routines, no problem. But try and take a longer image, the camera fails.

    Naturally, with straight USB cables, everything works. But I can't really work that way. I was hoping the Startech hub would solve the issue, but it did not. I hate to buy a $1500 laptop with more USB ports, and even if I did they'd likely not be 2.0, which won't help any as (as stated above) the cameras hate USB 3.0 ports.

    Another option I am toying with is the purchase of a Icron USB extender that is bridged via CAT5e+ cable. I am hoping to get one of these so I can do all my imaging from inside the house, but may need it even if I want to sit in the dome and do anything! But if a hub won't work, I have no guarantees this $375 option will work. I see some $100 fiber optic USB cables, too, but don't know if that is an option.

    I am just getting back into imaging. I bought all this stuff after a family catastrophe, and just haven't had the wherewithal to use it, until now. But the staggering problems I'm having is proving to be insurmountable. I am hoping there is a simple setting I have missed, but so far I don't see it. Someone mentioned tuning the throughput of the camera, but for the life of me I can't find a way to do this, or even the link I think I read it at.

    And it seems to me that something as nice at a $2500 CCD camera that is not compatible with something as seemingly simple and necessary as a common USB hub is, well, like drinking Belgian beer in the wrong glass!

    What causes this and is there a reliable fix?

    Thanks for taking the time to read. I'm getting really discouraged, and I still have to learn FocusMax and Digital Dome Works. Egadz, what can go wrong there?!?

    Chris Anderson

    ADDENDUM: My Asus laptop is running Win10...but I was having these issues with the old Win7 64 IIRC....
     

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    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  2. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Chris, that was quite a story, and sounds like you've done a lot of things to try to troubleshoot.
    What OS are you running? e.g. Windows 7 64bit ?
    Have you disabled Selective Suspend (aka power management should not allow windows to power off USB devices)?
     
  3. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin...

    I am running a Win10 updated version of Win7 64. I'll add that to the post. Never have heard of Selective Suspend, but as far as I can tell, nothing is really going to sleep on me...I'll sure look into this! CG
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  4. rpineau

    rpineau Standard User

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    I have the exact same problem but on OS X.
    What I can say is that with a HUB, over-expose a frame and you get the error 8, if there is very limited saturated pixel you won't get the error 8.
    If you use a direct connection you never get the error.
    Supports "blame" the hubs saying they are not up to spec .... As of today I have tried with 6 different brand of HUB and always can reproduce the result above.
    I've done some embedded USB development and this sounds like a bulk write issue (bulk read from the computer) on one of the endpoint as you can still control the camera but any download fails with the error 8.
    To me this is not an OS issue as it behave the same on Windows and OS X (and I'm sure I could reproduce it on Linux) and looks like a firmware issue.
    I too have to run more than 1 cable to the mount just because of this... can you say "the whole evening was lost because of cable snag and what not as I can run 1 single cable"... :(
    Rodolphe
     
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  5. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    My completely uneducated assessment is the same. Has to be firmware related. I can't really comment on overexposed frames, because it seemed to happen to me even when I was taking test frames with the lens cap on. More time related. And I don't think it's hubs causing it, because I've used two that are pretty high end. Especially the StarTech. I need a fix, or maybe a new camera with Ethernet or something? CG
     
  6. rpineau

    rpineau Standard User

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    I also tested with 2 different StarTech (4 and 7 ports), IOGear, Sabrent, Plugable and Anker. Same result on all of them (Startech and IOGear seem to be the same besides the brand, so they probably use the same chipset inside).
    Regarding the overexposed frame, it might not be the only trigger, but with that and hub this is 100% reproducible so they should be able to test, reproduce, debug, fix... aka the usual dev cycle when there is an issue.
     
  7. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    "Be careful Mr. President. I think he is drunk". Is it because of this I'm thinking about a new STT-8300M Camera w/ Self-Guiding Filter Wheel Package? CG
     
  8. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Here are two critical things regarding Windows power management that will prevent device disconnections.
    You need to disable Selective Suspend in the advanced power management settings, and you need to prevent windows from turning off USB hubs and any devices with power management that are on that bus (e.g. things like USB to Serial adapters, Startech or other vendors hubs, etc). Do this for each device.
    It won't be obvious when Windows powers down a device, but you will get a timeout error or other bizarre behaviour. There is NO notification that windows has done it to you.
    There may be additional causes (like firmware problems), but making these changes will eliminate one potential source of disconnects.
    Attached are screenshots of where to find the settings - Power plans, and Device manager.

    selectivesuspend.png usbnoturnoff.png
     
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  9. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin:

    I have done as you suggested. I set the power management for Power4Gear, in which nothing sleeps. The only USB with "allow windows to turn off this device" was root hub xHCL. I unchecked that box.

    At first I was hopeful, as I was able to do a lens-capped 200 second image. But as soon as I took the cap off, and tried again, it error 8'd me while downloading the dark frame. I though this unusual, as it has always waited till it was downloading the light frame. I just placed the scope cap back on and did a 200 second light frame exposure. That downloaded fine. Took the cap back off, 200 second light, and that one tosses the error 8. So, as Rodolphe eluded to above, it does seem to be dependent on saturation.

    I just did a 200 second light frame with my ST-iC, and it works fine.

    Does support monitor these forums? Is this a call to tech support?

    Thanks for the help...

    Chris
     
  10. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    What is Power4Gear ? Some ASUS utility? I usually get rid of stuff like that and deal with the OS native support. That said, it was worth a shot.
    Diffraction / SBIG guys do monitor this stuff - hopefully they catch this one.
     
  11. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    I think (assume) Power4Gear is a native Win10 power resource choice. It's just a setting in Windows that doesn't ever hibernate anything. CG
     
  12. Tim

    Tim Staff Member

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    The issue here is we are not able to reproduce this. We have tried various hubs we have (Orico, and Dynex), and both work. We have tried long exposures, and short...still works. We have the latest firmware installed and are using MaxIm DL v6.13 and we can't seem to reproduce the error 8 if we wanted to.

    Can you send your MaxIm DL settings folder?

    Can you send a screenshot of the SBIG Driver Checker 64 window and the firmware tab within?

    Can you turn on logging in the SBIG Driver Checker 64 and reproduce the error. Then send us the error log file, and indicate the time the error occurred in the log.
     
  13. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Tim:

    YES! I will do all of this for you. I'll get on it as soon as I can. Thank you! My two hubs have been Plugable and StarTech, FWIW. Which hubs, specifically, which hubs have you had luck with, and I'll buy one. Chris

    PS: As I think I mentioned before, it does not appear to be a MaxIm DL issue, as I experienced failures upon download with CCDOps and CCDSoft. But I will send the MaxIm DL setting folder.....
     
  14. Jan Soldan

    Jan Soldan Cyanogen Customer

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    I am still running very long simultaneous test with STF-8300/FW5-8300 & ST-i cameras. Till now, it takes more then 8 hours and I took over 90.000 STi images (exp. 0.1 sec) including more than 7800 STF images of the same exposure time. I have also shined a bright light to both cameras from time to time to catch an TX timeout error 8 reported by some users, but this never happened.
    Jan
     
  15. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Lucky you! Mine's a $2495.00 brick in its current config... CG
     
  16. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Tim, here are the files you requested, I think. If you need anything else, let me know! CG

    PS: I'll have to message you the debug file. Too big.... How can I get it to you?

     

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  17. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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  18. Jan Soldan

    Jan Soldan Cyanogen Customer

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    Chris,
    I do not believe your camera is brick, maybe just improperly set. Please run CCDOps and check its basic configuration.
    Below are a few steps how to check whether or not your USB offset is properly set.

    1) Run CCDOps and establish link to your STF-8300. You can download CCDOPs from www.sbig.com web page.
    2) First, enable an Advance Menu using Edit->Preferences. Now, you see "CCDOps Preferences" window.
    3) Press small rectangular button on the top line named "Select options you want for CCDOps".
    4) You see "Command Line Option" window. Here check the "Show Advanced Menu" checkbox button, then OK, OK buttons.
    5) You should see an "Advanced" button inside the Menu bar, so open it and select "Camera Configuration".
    6) Attached image named stf_1.jpg shows values from my camera. My Imaging CCD offset is set to 131 ADUs, your value may be different, so check it in the next steps.

    7) Close window from point 6 and open Advanced Menu again, now selecting "Set USB Offset..." option.
    8) An active CCD should be automatically preselected to Imaging for STF cams., so press "Start" button and wait until measurement is done. This usually takes a few seconds.
    9) Check if the value next to "Img CCD Offset" is the same to one shown in step 6. If not, press "Write To EEPROM" to set it inside your camera too.

    I am not saying this will help you, but improper value of Imaging CCD offset may have an influence on camera functions.
    Take Care,
    Jan
     

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  19. rpineau

    rpineau Standard User

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    Assuming this helps, how does someone on OS X do this as the OS X do not have any of these advanced menu.
    We know the error 8 is not due to the OS as we can get the same result/error on both OS.
    My camera has never been connected to any Windows version/box and I do all my imaging on OS X.
    SGIB/Diffraction limited claim to support OS X and still we don't seem to have the proper tool to set the camera params as you described above (not your fault ,plus apparently you're no longer employed by them).
    Also, you use to work on these camera so you have a deeper understanding of them than us. But how are we supposed to know about these 'magic' options regarding the "Img CCD Offset" and what would be a good value (and we are still not sure this is indeed what's causing the issue here).
    This error 8 has been a total plage for STF-8300 users and we keep seeing people complaining about it (including me in other threads). So for everybody's benefits it would be good to figure out why this is happening and how to fix it (and I'm 99% sure that the issue related to pixel saturation which change the readout speed and triggers a timeout on the usb endpoint).
     
  20. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Cyanogen Customer

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    Jan, that did not work either.... I did take what should have been a saturated 200 second image (the resulting image was completely black, but my knowledge of CCDOps is limited), and there was no error. However, same 200 second image in MaxIm DL gave the error code 8... Thanks though! CG

     

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