STXL Timeout Errors

Discussion in 'STX and STXL Series Cameras' started by Robert Mueller, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    Sounds good Adam! What about the converse? Main shutter operates during a FW8G exposure? I've watched it happen.
     
  2. Adam Robichaud

    Adam Robichaud Lead Developer Staff Member

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    That should also be covered by the proposed fix.
     
  3. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    Great! I haven't tried a firmware update yet but this one will be worth the risk.
     
  4. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    Notwithstanding the firmware update Adam is working on to fix the erroneous linkage between FW8G and STXL shutters, I thought I'd update on my progress with the intermittent failures I was having (guide exposure freezes with "Exposure complete" message in TSX).

    I don't hear many people talking about RF and/or electrical noise sources inside their observatories and their potential negative effect on USB reliability. So I decided to go over my system with a view to minimise any potential sources of RF and electrical noise. I'm not an electrical engineer so I just did everything I could think of. Below are all the changes I made since the last time I had issues:
    1. I still had one USB hub hiding away in the scope spaghetti (feeding the camera and focuser ... oops) so I removed it. It was there because I could only fit one USB cable through my PME and when I upgraded I needed 2 ports at the OTA. So now I have a dangling USB cable for my focuser to the PC but, so be it, because the camera is now definitely on it's own active and well shielded cable. To be precise: the camera connection is an active 5m USB extension cable from PC through the mount and then a short 1.8m cable from there to the camera
    2. The short USB cable to the camera I was using did not have a ferrite choke on it so I put one on each end.
    3. I had (for a few of years) used two 12V DC to 5V DC step down converters for the powered USB hubs I had been using on the pier and OTA. Without any remaining hubs in use, I removed them completely because they were likely sources of electrical noise if left powered up.
    4. In addition to my main (and pretty good quality) 3-15VDC 40A switch mode power supply (Powertech MP 3090), I was (for years) using a cheap 12A switched mode power supply to power ancillary bits (historically a dew heater and lately the powered USB hubs). I removed it because it was redundant and besides they are known (especially the cheap ones) to introduce unacceptable levels of RF/electrical noise. I now use only the Powertech for everything (with a 54 Amp Hour battery in parallel)
    5. I removed my wireless mouse. Unlikely to make any difference of course, but it wasn't necessary since I use a laptop with a touchpad and I now need to use all its USB ports
    The good news is that I've now had two nights that were completely free of issues despite a lot of fiddling around (calibration, focussing, manual exposures (in TSX) and a number of automated runs (CCDAP)). Typically I'd expect to get at least one failure during all that - per night (usually more). It's impossible to say which of my changes fixed something, but it appears something did (fingers crossed)!

    FWIW - here is my current observatory schematic.

    Marcus
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  5. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Hi Marcus - thanks for sharing that. You've done a nice job handling RF and EMI issues. In place of separate 12V to 5V step down converters, I use a Rigrunner 4004USB, which gives me 4A at +5V, and handy Anderson Powerpoles. I've added Ferrite snapon chokes to the ends of many USB and other cables. The 12V stuff is bypassed at the rigrunner end internally (rig runners have ferrites and small capacitors). I run up to a kW on the ham radio bands, and haven't run into issues, although I don't run the systems simultaneously. I run everything off solar, with 2 x 105Ah marine deep cycle batteries.
     
  6. Steven Mohr

    Steven Mohr Standard User

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    Well. This all seems too familiar. Having my camera now for about 4 years [STXL11002+Selfguide+AOX], and it having 5 return trips to SBIG, I can confirm that this problem has existed for me since new. I've ended up living with the problem until now, because when I wrote directly to SBIG [original owner], the story always ended up it was something other than the camera. Running manually for most of the years, during the night I just rebooted it to get it going again. Nothing of the performance of my STL.

    I have tried both USB and Ethernet connections, but ultimately the failure happens. Furthermore, to clear the fault, if experienced using the USB in TSX, CCDSoft or MAxim, open CCDOps and connect via the Ethernet port. The camera will connect. Disconnect, and reconnect with the USB, and it will work. It would be interesting to see if others can reproduce this. I can do it on my computers and that of a friends PC. The opposite is also true, that if the fault occurs under an Ethernet connection, open Ops and connect via the USB, and its off and running again.

    Having a remote set up in mind, it would be great if an SBIG staff member would fix this once and for all. Its great that fellow customers throw in a hand to help, but this is not fixable other than by a product recall or a significant firmware/ driver release.

    I have saved many driver versions, and revert to older versions that worked better. I hope this thread finally leads to a resolution. It would be about time to say the least.

    Furthermore, the fault is reproducible in CCDOps too:

    upload_2016-4-10_17-6-37.png

    I've got lots and lots of screen captures of this fault.

    Steve Mohr
    Australia
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  7. Terry Robison

    Terry Robison Standard User

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    Gee, having a camera returned 5 times would suggest that there is indeed an issue with this camera. SBIG should take pause, and look at how they treat loyal customers. I know of only three people that own this model of camera, and I realise that this is not a huge sample. But, they have all gone back for repairs multiply times.

    It looks like Steve has purchased one of the early cameras, and it simply has not worked as advertised from the start. Sending a camera back 5 times would indicate that he gone through great efforts and financial cost to simply get his camera performing as it should have been from the start. I know with my company, if we have any issue, we will work with our client to resolve the issue. That certainly would include replacing an item if it didn’t perform as marketed. The relationship with your customers should the most important thing to protect. Having a trusting relationship can only inspire confidence knowing that you are dealing with a company that truly supports their products. These items do carry a significant price. SBIG should do the right thing and replace the camera in this instance. Their attempts at fixing have failed, so replacing the original with a camera that works would seem to be an honest solution.

    Terry
     
  8. Steven Mohr

    Steven Mohr Standard User

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    Just to clarify, the 5th instance resulted from the five pin plug failing and the top centre pin retracting into the plug housing, allowing the plug to be inserted 180 degrees to the correct rotation, blowing one of the control boards to the camera. But nevertheless, the reason the camera was being reinstalled was following a full disassembly, and reassembly of the camera, being in search of the reason behind the regular shutter failure [another fault regularly experienced with my camera]. Diffraction Limited sent out FOC bearings to the main imager shutter, outside warranty of the camera. But unfortunately, the new bearings failed to eliminate the shutter fault which continues as an issue in addition to the time out fault covered in this thread.

    Steve
     
  9. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    Hi Adam. Is there an ETA on the firmware udate?
     
  10. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    I spoke too soon. :( I had the same failure during my last session - guider window freezes in TSX at "Exposure completed". It happened during a manual guider exposure after a a number of focus runs. Identical scenario: (i) guider shutter clicks (opens?), (ii) the exposure is taken (iii) there is no second click (guider shutter does not close?) and TSX status remains frozen as "Exposure completed" and everything else freezes requring a TSX restart and camera reconnection. Along with other reports, I'm now completely satisfied this has nothing to do with any USB connections.

    I'm wondering whether the firmware bug causing the camera and guider shutters to always operate in tandem leads to other unforeseen consequences - timing issues or communication conflicts?

    Marcus
     
  11. Rick McAlister

    Rick McAlister Cyanogen Customer

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    I wrote the following note over on the TSX Pro forum to elaborate on a known feature of TSX. It was suggested that this description might apply and should be posted here as well. There is always a possibility. Who knows?

    I've noticed three scenarios where autoguiding appears to freeze as a normal condition (i.e. by design). Autoguiding is suspended while the camera is taking a dark frame, when the camera is taking the dark part of an autodark frame, and while the camera is downloading any frame, including the processing time for displaying that frame. The status line of autoguider at the time of suspension can be either the current guider status at that moment, or just blank. I've never seen autoguiding fail to resume after completion of those events, unless I try to abort either the autoguiding or the camera imaging process that's underway. Note that if the camera download is slow or malfunctions, that autoguiding can not be expected to resume until that error is cleared. That's why it's important to know what the camera status was, if autoguiding does not resume normally.

    - Rick
     
  12. marc4darkskies

    marc4darkskies Standard User

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    Sorry Rick, with respect, this is a non sequitur. You need to read through the entire thread before throwing stuff like this in because it can drag the thread off into distraction. The failure I suffer (clearly stated earlier as autoguider freezing - when autoguiding is NOT underway = camera is NOT exposing or downloading) and the explicit time-out errors others mention happen independently of the camera's apparent operation. I dare say, most of us are experienced imagers and know what normal behaviour of the camera and autoguider is in TSX and other control software.

    Marcus
     
  13. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Rick - thanks for the interesting info. The point about autoguiding not resuming normally in particular.
     
  14. Martin Pugh

    Martin Pugh Cyanogen Customer

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    This is the exact same problem I have had since I installed my STXL/AOX well over a year ago even down to the error generated by CCDAP. Still waiting for a fix.
     
  15. Adam Robichaud

    Adam Robichaud Lead Developer Staff Member

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    Work on the firmware is mostly complete (it's been tested internally) — but we're making a few other changes (to both the firmware and the MaxIm DL plugin) that we hope will further increase stability.
     
  16. Robert Mueller

    Robert Mueller Standard User

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    Thanks Adam...it sounds like Martin has gone through a lot of testing like myself to "rule out" USB ports. Most recently for me I bought a new PC as testing with an alternate computer was suggested by Software Bisque. Limited testing on the new PC still produces Timeout errors.

    Robert Mueller
     
  17. Robert Mueller

    Robert Mueller Standard User

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    Just an FYI about the Timeout errors. I have now had 3 more STXL timeouts over two evenings. One occurred during an autofocus run with FocusMax v4 while the other occurred while running continuous exposures as I was collimating my scope. FocusMax log attached showing the error near the bottom.

    Robert Mueller
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Steven Mohr

    Steven Mohr Standard User

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    Hello Robert,

    I can confirm, that over the last 4 years, this random fault predominantly occurred for me during focusing or platesolve positioning, when the camera shutter is most active. Only recently have I noticed that when the camera is hung at this stage I can access it via the ethernet connection. This seems to rest the USB connection fault in the camera. Following this, the camera again works via usb, and without a power reboot. Can anyone else do this?

    If so, does this mean anything?

    Furthermore Adam, we are only interested in a fix for the firmware so generically the camera functions correctly under any control software and not just Maxim.

    I've been patient for so long, I'm very worried that the only remaining fix may be a full refund. This camera is the right solution for me, other solutions are a compromise. Please do your best to get it right.

    Steve
     
  19. Adam Robichaud

    Adam Robichaud Lead Developer Staff Member

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    We are also issuing a firmware update for the STX(L) model cameras pertaining to shutter control. Getting these cameras working is our highest priority.
     
  20. Richard Asarisi

    Richard Asarisi Cyanogen Customer

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    I have a new 11002 - manufacture date says january 2016. I can confirm the shutter issue exists in mine also, I've had it lock up and become unresponsive when doing an @focus2 run more then once. Any word on when this firmware will be released?
     

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