APCC Pro, ASCOM AP Driver, Prism Advanced with an AP Mount -

CCD cameras (CMOS/CCD), DSLRs, telescope mounts, focusers, autoguiders, domes, Roll off roofs, etc..
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dhavalbbhatt
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:58 pm

Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:45 pm

Hello all,
I wanted to take the time and write about how I have gone about integrating Prism (Advanced version) with APCC Pro. First of all, a few things to note:

1) I have a new to me AP1200 mount from Astro-Physics and purchased Prism Advanced version within the past few days (I had been trialing it for about 10 days prior to purchasing it).

2) I have not had the chance to take my imaging system out under clear skies primarily because the weather has been really crappy since having all the pieces of my imaging system.

3) My primary aim with the system is to use it in our remote observatory in West Texas (will be moving the rig there sometime mid-March).

4) All my testing, findings and results are from setting up the system in my house and simulating remote observatory like connections, including web-switch (no weather file for now).

The reasons why I wanted to have this write up are 2-fold:
1) There are some inherent nuances to using APCC Pro, AP Driver and Prism - at least for me (explained further in the write-up) and
2) I wanted people to look at this and see if their findings are different than mine and if I can learn from them (by the same token, I also hope that this write up will help others if they're working with APCC and Prism for the first time).

The inherent nuances, and by extension, the constraints involved in having APCC and Prism work together efficiently, at least as far as remote operations is concerned primarily stem from AP's recommendation that APCC Pro should be fired up on its own, rather than from an ASCOM compliant software (page 48, APCC Pro manual version December 2017). While it is a recommendation (meaning, if you don't follow it, nothing untoward will happen to the mount), there are some sound reasons why APCC Pro should be initiated by itself and not from Prism. The primary reason being, APCC Pro has some really nice features that are not available in the AP Driver. For those that don't know how Prism instantiates a connection to the AP mount - it is by using AP's ASCOM AP Driver - really, that is all that is needed. If you don't have APCC Pro, you can still have the mount function appropriately, however, without some additional functionalities that are inherent to APCC Pro. AP recommends using APCC Pro in remote settings, primarily because of those functions - the most important one being, APCC Pro will know the position of the mount at all times and in case of a power outage can recover from that position. The ASCOM AP Driver does not have that capability and the way that I understand it, neither does Prism.

With that said, the Prism workflow (for Automated Observations, with no dome/roof control) is something like this - 1) Run a script (if intended) 2) Turn on switches (one of the many great features of Prism IMO) 3) Connect all equipment 4) Focus/Guide and 5) Image. The end of session run is pretty similar except in reverse order. This workflow, as you can see, does not allow for automated instantiation of APCC Pro - or at least, not in the order in which it would be meaningful. The real culprit is the "order of operations" in Prism. There is no way to circumvent that process (at least, I don't know if there is). That being the case and at least for me, there will be a couple of manual steps that I will have to perform to get APCC and Prism working the way it is recommended by AP - 1) Turn on the switches (that means that I will not be using one of the more meaningful functions within Prism) and 2) Turn on APCC Pro and auto-connect to the mount and AP Driver. Once I am done with those, I can then fire up Prism and connect all other equipment and start imaging. I will be the first to admit, that is not a big deal - it's just a couple of more clicks - but it is annoying!

With that said, I am asking the community in general and the developers of this program a few things -
1) For the developers: In future releases, will it be possible for the users to control the order of operations? While I don't pretend to understand how the software is written, my guess is that it must be a matter of calling the appropriate objects/functions behind the scenes. The easiest way that this can be done is make the functions available to the users (not the actual code, just the function names) which can then be embedded in a script. I am guessing, if there is a way for me to call the switch function in a script, I would run that and then call APCC program in the same script. That would really solve this issue.

2) For the general community: If anyone knows how to call the switch function in a script, do please let me know.

I am hoping this helps the general community as they work with APCC Pro and Prism and in case you've already gone through such an ordeal, and would like to share, please feel free to add to this.

Thanks,
Dhaval
Hamza Touhami
Site Admin
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat May 20, 2017 6:05 pm
Location: Phoenix,AZ
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Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:15 pm

Excellent write-up Dhaval, thanks for that. As we have discussed over the phone, any changes the developper considers and implements have to work for everyone, this is rather delicate if you consider all the amateur and professional astronomers using this great package.
Hamza Touhami | Site Administrator
Hyperion-Astronomy.com
dhavalbbhatt
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:58 pm

Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:01 am

Hello Hamza,
Thanks for the encouraging words.

Like I mentioned in the post, I don't profess to be a software developer, but I have done some software development in the past and I am hoping that my request is not too terribly difficult to implement. I do get your point about being able to cater to everyone's needs - again, if that means just letting me know what functions (objects) within the software call the switch function for me to execute that through a script, that is all that my needs are for now.

Having said that, I am starting to get a hang on how to make this work for my set up. I still need to get to auto-guiding, and hoping this week will allow me to do that.

Dhaval
Ron
Posts: 78
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:30 pm

Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:30 pm

Where did you end up. I’m just starting to demo the software. I need to figure out guiding with it. But I’m making progress much faster than I did with sgp. I love that it can be busy with things like plate solving that doesn’t freeze up everything else like sgp does. I using apcc pro. I didn’t know about calling apcc from the drivers? Really it won’t save its alingnment? I have only
Spent the day today so I have lots to learn. I just don’t want to spend 450 to learn it’s
Not going to work. I thought sgp was good at first and really it’s not planned out. I’d like that 150 bucks back
Ron
Posts: 78
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:30 pm

Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:43 pm

Ah I did experience the issue. I told APCC to park3 and it went wild. This is from allowing Prism to call APCC?

What I have done is I run POTH HUB. I connect the dome and the mount. (apcc).

I then run prism which is configured to use the poth driver for dome and for mount.

Not sure if this will improve a problem or not. (and it's not automated) unless we write a script. But at this point I don't thin k I'd let the scope wake up, setup and image without being there to start it.
Hamza Touhami
Site Admin
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat May 20, 2017 6:05 pm
Location: Phoenix,AZ
Contact:

Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:09 pm

enabling logging in the POTH driver is a good idea to see what is happening
Hamza Touhami | Site Administrator
Hyperion-Astronomy.com
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