Weird lock-up on STL11000

Discussion in 'STF Series CCD Cameras' started by Gregg Ruppel, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    I am using an STL11000M for remote imaging. It has been causing MaximDL v6.11 to lock up (program freezes, Windows7 reports "not responding"). The lock-up occurs at the beginning of an exposure; it may occur with a manually triggered exposure, or one sent from my automation software (CCD Commander). There is no consistent pattern as to when the problem occurs; it may happen during the first exposure of a run, or after hours of successful imaging. When the lock up happens Maxim does not respond, but can be killed by hitting the "x" in the right upper corner. Maxim can then be restarted, but this is where it gets weird; if I try to reconnect the camera, Maxim immediately locks up again. I cannot reconnect to the camera until it is powered off and back on, then everything runs normally until the lock happens again. This sounds like a connection problem with the camera, except that it always happens at the beginning of an exposure. I base this on the fact that it happens with a 5 second plate solve exposure as well as a much longer regular image exposure. The last entry in the Maxim log is always "guider tracking started", "guider tracking stopped" or Maxim 6.11 started nnn.nn exposure..."

    The camera was repaired by SBIG in Dec. 2015 (new analog board, as I recall), and put back into service in Feb. 2016 at a remote observatory. The problem has been happening since then, but unfortunately I am 1300 miles from the camera and cannot check it physically.
     
  2. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Gregg - can you tell us a bit about your setup ? e.g. Windows 7 64 bit? Camera connected directly to XYZ computer with no USB hub and a 6 foot USB2.0 cable, powered by SBIG power supply. Did you use the new version of the SBIG driver checker and install updated drivers? Did you upgrade to MDL 6.13? What else is on the USB bus. That sort of thing.
     
  3. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    Windows 7, 32 bit with camera connected directly to PC with standard USB cable. Powered by a Pyramid PSKX15 10 amp supply with the SBIG field cable (I have to use this because the cable on the standard SBIG PS is not long enough for my pier mounted Newtonian astrograph). Latest dricvers installed via the SBIG driver checker. I am running v6.11. Other connected USB devices include focuser (ASA OK3) and an Arduino based mount watchdog.
     
  4. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Gregg, I have the same camera, although its not in use right now. I may try to do a bench test to compare, as I have not tested it with latest drivers.
     
  5. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin
    Thanks for your help. It's hard to test things remotely, but I have an ST8300C in my backyard observatory and I have tried interrupting the power and disconnecting USB (those seem to be the most likely culprits). I haven't been able to replicate the issue of the camera/software locking up right at the beginning of an exposure. I'm baffled by the consistency of how the lock up happens, but the fact that it occurs at random times.
     
  6. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Are you using the internal guider chip? Have you tried turning on/off the separate threads option?
    Is upgrading to 6.13 an option for you? (BTW if you run ACP, I'd advise holding off due to an installer issue).
     
  7. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    Don't use the internal chip, I use the remote guide head (RGH). I have never had the separate threads activated. I've been waiting to upgrade from 6.11 until the issue with bad pixel maps is resolved (I've asked on this forum but no response yet). I use CCD Commander for automated imaging; the lock ups occur whether CCD Commander initiates the exposure or a Maxim sequence is running. I've tried adding a short delay before each image thinking it might just be a timing issue, but that did not seem to help. From a history perspective, I ran this camera with Maxim 6.11 on an older PC with Win XP for months with no problems. Last December the camera died and was sent back to SBIG for repair; I think what Bill Lynch told me was that he replaced the analog board. When I got the camera back in January it was installed in a remote observatory on a PC running Win7. I noticed the lockup problem while setting up the remote installation, but thought it was just a random problem. The randomness is what has me scratching my head; two nights ago it ran all night (6+ hours) without a problem. Last night it ran for about an hour and a half then froze. Unless I am watching continuously there is no error notification. I have CCD Commander set up to notify me if an error occurs but it ends up just sitting and waiting for Maxim to finish the exposure (which it never does).
     
  8. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Hi Gregg, I just bench tested my STL11000 with a Win 7 64 bit machine and latest drivers and 6.13. I think it is behaving differently than it used to, before the updated drivers. It does not hang for me, but I haven't done enough testing to know for sure.

    For a 1 second light frame, no auto darks or anything, What happens is it says "Exposing Light 0 of 1.000 sec", although it doesn't appear to be doing anything and it looks like MDL is hung. I get the rotating circle thingy.
    Then I wait several seconds, it says downloading, and then the image appears.
    However, what actually happened was the exposure opened the shutter almost immediately for what could have been a second, and then instead of updating the count to 1 of 1.000, it sits there, but what I think it has done is started the process of digitizing then downloading.
    It isn't changing status to tell me it is done exposing.
    I tried it at 30 seconds, and it seemed ok, just a delay with the rotating circle thing.
    When I tried 9 seconds, it counted up to 8 of 9, gave me all but the last part of the blue bar, appeared to hang, and then after a few seconds gave me the image. It never gets to 9 until it is done downloading.
    For 29 seconds, it gets to 29.
    I can't conveniently go back to 6.11.
    Anyway, it has not actually hung, but it looks like it might be.
    So, I can't reproduce what you are seeing. But I still think something isn't quite right.
     
  9. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Just as an experiment, I turned on access camera from separate thread and all works as expected. also turn this on for filter wheel.
     
  10. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin:
    What you are describing is similar to what I see during a normal download. My camera takes about 35 seconds to D/L a full frame unbinned image. During this time, if I click on any of the functions in the camera tab, the Windows bar at the top of the tab says "Camera not responding" (or something to that effect). I think this is normal if the SBIG driver is set to 'High Priority' download in Maxim. As soon as the download completes, control returns. My problem is that the exposure never starts; the process hangs as soon as the take exposure command is sent to the camera.
     
  11. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Hmmm.... have you tried using the old CCDOPS program to check if the camera is behaving itself?
     
  12. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    Colin:
    Haven't found CCDOPS very useful in the past...
     
  13. Colin Haig

    Colin Haig Staff Member

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    Fair enough. In the meantime, I've been running my STL-11000M on the bench with a Win 7 64 machine and MDL 6.13, same updated drivers. It has run for several hours continuously and is working. I will let it bake some more.
     
  14. Gregg Ruppel

    Gregg Ruppel Cyanogen Customer

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    For what it's worth, yesterday I ran the camera taking images by itself but without saving any files. Ran for about 6 hours with no hang ups. Today I am running the same test but with each file being saved; 3 hours so far with no issues. I'll keep trying different combinations of equipment to see if something jumps out as a problem...
     

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