TheSkyX Prof and Maxim DL

Discussion in 'General' started by widmerhans, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Dear All
    I'm new here.
    My configuration: Paramount ME II with on axis encoders and TheSkyX Professional (add ons: camera, TPoint).
    Can you tell me the advantage I will get (in comparison to the above configuration) if I would buy Maxim DL Pro suite or so?
    So far I have understood some posts here I always will need TSX as long I have a Paramount mount because Maxim DL isn't able (is not allowed) to steer the Paramount directly.

    What would be the minimal configuration of TSX that would be needed to steer the mount?

    And again - besides of the disadvantage not to be able to circumvent TSX - would there be any advantages for me in using Maxim DL?

    Thanks a lot.

    Best Regards
    Hans
     
  2. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Welcome Hans.
    If you go here:
    https://diffractionlimited.com/product/maxim-dl/
    and scroll down, hit the [DEMO] blue button, and we'll get you a 30-day trial licence.

    Nice setup. Which camera(s) and guider(s) (off axis, or separate guide scope)?

    Our suite includes MaxPoint, which is good for improving the pointing on many mounts. It inserts pointing corrections by offsetting errors in the mount.
    If you had a different mount, then the setup would look like this:
    MaxIm DL Pro (and other programs like Starry Night planetarium)-> MaxPoint pointing corrector -> ASCOM Telescope Mount Driver -> Telescope mount.

    Since you already have TPoint and it is optimized for Paramounts, you don't need MaxPoint.
    You buy MaxIm DL Pro on its own, no need for the full suite.

    Software Bisque has kept the control of their Paramounts a proprietary secret, so no third-party programs control Paramounts directly.
    Instead, Software Bisque allow third-party software to talk to the Paramount via their ASCOM2X Adapter utility program.

    The ASCOM2X adapter ("ASCOM Telescope Driver for The Sky") is the key to this.
    So it goes like this:

    MaxIm DL Pro -> ASCOM Telescope Driver for The Sky -> TheSkyX -> Paramount.
    or with TPoint:
    MaxIm DL Pro -> ASCOM Telescope Driver for The Sky -> TheSkyX -> Tpoint model -> Paramount.

    There's two sides to MaxIm: (1) Image Acquisition, and (2) Image Processing

    (1) Image Acquisition and equipment control
    MaxIm has far more advanced capabilities in these areas:
    - it is open, so it uses open standards like ASCOM
    - it can be scripted, so people can write their own scripts to drive specific functions
    - it works with a fair number of third party programs through its Microsoft COM automation
    -- eg DC3Dreams ACP Expert from @Bob Denny for full robotic operation
    -- e.g. CCDAutoPilot
    -- e.g. FocusMax

    - includes dome control support via ASCOM, no need for the Software Bisque dome control add-on
    - gathers weather data from a Davis Weather Station (no need for a weather add-on)
    - gathers cloud data from a Boltwood Cloud Sensor (or compatible)
    - gathers ASCOM observing conditions from other devices, such as the Unihedron Sky Quality Meter
    - it has Focus and Rotator control
    - it can point the mount at targets including thousands of catalog objects (TSX has more comprehensive data, but for quick locating an object, this is handy)

    - Extensive FITS astronomical data support
    -- e.g. gathering information from all the observatory controls, such as the dome, weather, observing conditions, sky quality, virtually all devices

    - Includes PinPoint LE astrometric plate solving engine

    - extensive image acquisition and processing for probably the largest selection of cameras from many manufacturers through ASCOM or native plug-ins custom-written

    (2) Image Processing
    MaxIm has been the "gold standard" for image processing for many years.
    TSX has nothing in this area.

    It has a ton of capabilities to manage master images, flats, darks, groups, and bulk conversion and macro-driven bulk image procesing.
    There are hundreds of things you can do to an image or set of images with MaxIm.
    It also includes basic photometry capabilities.
    It can also read many image file formats and write quite a few.
    There's a 700+ page manual that details all the things it can do.

    I hope that helps.
    Cheers
    Colin
     
  3. Greg Crawford

    Greg Crawford Cyanogen Customer

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    Hans,

    I'm responding as a user, not an expert at Diffraction Limited. I have TheSkyX, but I like to use MaxIm DL to control my camera. There is one particular function of MaxImDL that I really like. That is that you can put all of your calibration frames into one folder, then set MaxImDL to reference this folder when calibrating. It will sort out which bias frames, dark frames, and flat frames to use when calibrating; choosing the right exposure length, binning and temperature from the collection of calibration files which are all in one folder. If you like, you can set it to do "Full Calibration" as the image is downloaded. This is an area where anybody can make a lot of silly mistakes, especially when tired. MaxImDL will do it for you.
     
  4. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Dear Colin

    Many thanks for the answer.

    I actually want to change my traditional restaurant because I am no longer satisfied with the change in service.

    I'm afraid, however, that your answer is like a menu in a new restaurant where you don't find anything straight away that really captivates you.
    And this makes it clear to you that in the traditional restaurant you unintentionally put yourself into a dependency from which it’s obviously not so easy to get out.

    I currently feel the need to emancipate myself from SB.
    But apparently that's not possible if I still need TSX because of the mount.

    So I have only two options:

    1). To hold back my critical attitude towards SB and to play well or
    2). To change the mount too.

    But since I'm maybe too old for both, a third is added
    3). To give up astrophotography entirely. I will certainly find buyers for my equipment. It would have been a good time, but everything has an end.

    However, if I go to point 2). I think then replacing the mount would not be so wrong in my case.

    If I replaced the ME II mount with a 10Micron GM 2000 HPS II Ultraport, I would have the opportunity to become mobile and finally take pictures under dark skies and would not have to do it without on axis encoders like with an MX+ or MyT mount.

    My situation is very special:

    https://astrob.in/wi117j/B/

    https://astrob.in/2cbdwf/B/

    https://astrob.in/bu9z9s/0/

    Then the exclusive use of MaximDL would certainly be a good option and a welcome change.
    Instead of an SB Fusion Box I could also use a Primaluce Eagle3 Pro control unit.
    That would even have the advantage that the service of the main components (Takahashi, 10Micron, Eagle) would be close to where I live in Switzerland (France and Italy, quickly accessible by car).

    Of course I would maybe miss TPoint with ProTrack and LTI a little bit.
    And, I would then probably have to do without my ZWO cameras because they don't appear anywhere at DL (right? too cheap?).

    Thanks again for the answer.

    Best regards
    Hans
     
  5. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    MaxIm can control pretty much any ASCOM compatible camera; I believe ZWO has been improving their ASCOM drivers, and so it would likely work as well as any ZWO camera does.
    Interesting situation you have there.
     
  6. Greg Crawford

    Greg Crawford Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin can correct me if I am wrong, but I think you need to be able to connect to a telescope from MaxImDL in order to:
    1. Have RA and Dec coordinates placed automatically in the FITS header
    2. To have guiding working correctly
     
  7. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Yes on 1. A telescope (or more properly, telescope mount).
    On 2, an ST-4 autoguider port on the mount is necessary. No other connection needed, but it helps.
     
  8. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Greg
    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with the combination TSX-MaximDL. But I think the nice feature of image calibration you mentioned isn't strong enough for me to add MaximDL.
    If you could tell something about the difference between TPoint and PinPoint that would be nice.
    Is my impression right that PinPoint lacks of something similar like ProTrack within TPoint?
    Do you use TPoint with ProTrack instead of PinPoint?
    Otherwise I saw that e.g. John Hayes uses MaximDL and PinPoint with a AP mount (I think this mount can also be divide in two parts for going mobile).
    And I wouldn't be able to say that his pictures would lack the precision LOL.
    Of course he uses ONAG for guiding. I don't guide. I do dithering without guiding. I'm a lazy old person.
    Hans
     
  9. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Greg
    I'm a little bit slow on the uptake.
    You refer to what? To ZWO cameras? To MaximDL in general in speaking with the Paramount and TSX?
    Hans
     
  10. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Colin
    For what? In order that MaximDL can speak to TSX?
    And you mean an additional cable is needed? I think a port alone can't do much.
    This cable goes from the mount port to the camera? PC?
    Sorry.
    Hans
     
  11. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    MaxIm will work with virtually any of hundreds of cameras that are out there.
    You could have any combination of a main camera and a guider camera. e.g. an SBIG and a SX, or two different ZWOs for instance.

    For Guiding:
    ==========
    MaxIm can do guiding adjustments by Software (new way) or by Hardware (old way, reliable but extra setup and cords to get tangled)

    Software:
    MaxIm Guider Settings = AutoGuide via ASCOM Direct. Then set up the SB ASCOM driver for The Sky. This will in turn talk to TSX, which talks to TPoint, and talks to Paramount.

    Hardware:
    MaxIm Guider Settings = AutoGuide via Guider Relays.
    The Guider Relay port on the back of the camera would be connected to the ST-4 port on the Paramount, to send the mount in different directions to correct for guiding errors.

    For Pointing:
    ==========
    If you want MaxIm to know where the telescope is pointing, OR if you want MaxIm to tell the telescope where to point:
    MaxIm Observatory Control Window - Telescope - ASCOM - ASCOM Driver for TheSky. This will talk to TSX which talks to TPoint which talks to the Paramount.
    USB connection to the mount from the computer.
     
  12. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Colin
    Thank you for the detailed answer.
    And - incidentally - I have understood that my Atik 11000, Atik 460EX, ZWO ASI1600MMPRO would not be as reliable as e.g an Aluma 8300 for guiding with its Guide Out that I miss on my cameras (I think).
    Best Regards
    Hans
     
  13. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    OK. I think I have to answer the question by myself.
    I assume that my impression was right, i.e. there is no PinPoint 'ProTrack'.
    Hans
     
  14. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Correct. ProTrack is a Software Bisque invention. It is specific to certain Paramount models, (eg must have MKS5000 controls), and I think it models the gears and sends real-time adjustments to the servo motors as the mount moves, up to several thousand times per minute. It is all proprietary (trade secret) of Software Bisque. Again, this happens between TSX Tpoint and Paramount MEII.
    You might also have a look at the AP1600 series mounts from Astro-Physics. That's what the big boss here owns, and he loves it.
     
  15. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Thanks, Colin
    Oh, sorry, yes I remember the words of P. Wallace: "ProTrack is Paramount only."
    Because? Because there is something like 'ProTrack' during the talking between AP software and AP mount?
    Hans
     
  16. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Because they are extremely well built and don't need ProTrack. You might look at the new Mach2GTO as well.
     
  17. widmerhans

    widmerhans Standard User

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    Colin
    I did. Very interesting. At the first glance it has everything I would need:
    Portability, absolut encoders, accuracy in pointing and tracking, enough weight-bearing capacity (even for my 10" 23 kg OTA). I would buy it right away. It would be the perfect replacement for my ME II (with encoders) - that was twice as expensive! - and the perfect device to make me independent of the SB management.
    But, but, but ..... I'm 70 years old and in this age every year counts. I'm not willing to wait a year or even more for this mount - as great as it may be. It seems AP country is no country for old man. I notified me up at AP for this mount ('Enter your email address to be notified when this item is available to order.' LOL) I assume 'available to order' is a completely different thing from 'available to ship'. I sent an e-mail to Baader Planetarium, too. The answer: 'We don't know when the already ordered mounts are coming, not to mention the ones that have not yet been ordered.'.
    Thanks Colin, nice tip, but it seems it is a useless one at least for me.
    Best Regards
    Hans
     

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