My woes with SGP


#1

This is my third night with a paid version of SGP. I am frustrated & regretting this purchase and hope someone can help.

Here is my setup:

  1. Paramount MX
  2. SBIG ST 300M
  3. FW-8300 8 position filter wheel
  4. SBIG STi autoguider
  5. Robofocus on my Tak FS60CB telescope

For the life of me I am unable to connect both the SBIG cameras.

I have tried first connecting the ST8300 through SGP as my main camera + the filter wheel.
Camera + FW, Paramount MX, and Robofocus connect just fine.

After a bit of trial & error, I can also get PS2 to plate solve. [A side question: I can only provide a RA & DEC hint ie starting point. How do I provide a scale hint? In fact I know the exact scale. Is there any way to provide it? ]

The Main Issue is the one described below:

When I try to connect to PHD2, there is no way to specify the STi SBIG camera. I can only select SBIG and when I click on the squiggly arrow, I only get an option to connect to USB, or other ports like Ethernet or LPTx. There is no way to specific connecting to the SBIG STi camera.

So I tried a few experiments

I first connected to PHD2 via control panel & it asks if I want to connect to ST8300 or STi and I can choose STi. I am able to calibrate PHD2 this way & even guide.

I can then connect to the main camera, ie ST8300M through a previously saved sequence.

Here is where it gets frustrating: when I try to run a sequence, it tries to reconnect PHD2 to a camera, and since SGP has already connected to ST8300M, now PHD2 can no longer connect to STi auto guider camera since it reverts back to SBIG generic camera & the squiggly arrow only allows me to connect to USB or LPT port etc. and I have no way to connect to STi.

The sequence aborts & I cannot run a sequence.

Net net, I dont know what to do. I have automation software that does not work in my situation.

Any thoughts of what else I can try?

Is there a work flow where others have used ST8300 and the STi autoguider?

Shailesh Trivedi


#2

I’m pretty certain that other folks have similar equipment and it runs just fine.
Your issue, as you describe it, concerns PHD2, not SGP. Seriously, if you are giving up on a software or hardware problem after three days, perhaps this is not the hobby for you. Half the fun is spending weeks cracking technical issues :wink:

I have the MX but I use QSI / Lodestar. The following suggestions are assuming your two separate SBIG cameras work in the same way:

Ignore SGP for the moment. Open up PHD2 and set up an equipment profile for the camera, movement interface and mount (ASCOM adaptor for TSX). Get this running ok and then save the profile and close PHD2.

Open up SGP. In the equipment profile, under guiding, choose PHD2 and your PHD2 profile. You can also set up all the other devices too in the equipment profile (or control panel, if you are just trying to override settings on a sequence). That should work. The two cameras are entirely separate. I don’t know the STi camera - but if you are using an MX, I would use the direct guide method through the ASCOM driver and ignore ST4.


#3

Hi Buzz

Thanks for your reply. Dont get me wrong. I have been imaging for over 15 years (without automation) and i have spent countless nights under the stars to troubleshoot equipment issues, but this PHD2 thing has me stumped.

I did exactly as you said, but got an interesting message that says PHD2 profile not found. Maybe I am doing something wrong and did not specify a PHD2 profile.

I am able to Direct Guide the MX with PHD2 standalone and I am happy about that.

Will try some more.

Shailesh


#4

Hello

That’s an issue with using the SBIG cameras and SGP. Something about connecting two of the same types of cameras. I get around the issue by selecting * Webcams (LXUSB, parallel, serial, OpenCV, WDM) in PHD, your SGIG ST-i will work just fine with this type of connection.

As far as plate solve issues, I suggest you take a well focused image binned 2x2 and send it to Astrmenty.net and get it solved online. Once it is solved, write down the focal length it calculates and plate scale and go back to your equipment profile and update this in the telescope and camera dialog boxes. be sure to save the profile and set it as your default. This will help speed up plate solves in the future.

I hope this helps.


#5

Hi

This is tremendously helpful. Thank you for your suggestions. I will try the Webcams option as well as the platesolve trick.

Shailesh


#6

First, I assume this is an STF-8300. “ST” does not help since there are both “STF” and “STT” 8300 cameras which are different cameras. I assume it is the STF since with the more sophisticated STT, you would probably not be using an STi, rather the self-guide filter wheel option (most users do).

I have previously used an STi (now sold since it had hardware failure multiple times and needed too many repairs - just not robust). When it was not outright broken, it connected fine. Buzz is correct. With the STi, regardless of how it is mounted (OAG or guidescope), SGP has zero to do with your issue since SGP does not talk to the guide camera at all. PhD does all the communication with the STi and SGP then talks to PhD (and vice-versa). For the same reason, the issues described by one poster with connecting two SBIG cameras in SGP are not the problem since only the main camera talks to SGP in this situation.

I cannot say why your STi does not get along with PhD but that is clearly a question for Andy and company over on the PhD forum - they are super helpful.

Also, FYI, I am also using a Paramount (ME) and directguide, as Buzz said, is the way to go.


#7

Yeah, SGP is not the most user friendly, and while documentation is lengthy it’s a bit confusing to read. You might also want to check out this site, especially “the first week of SGP” article. Everyone wants to jump in a start imaging ASAP but with SGP it takes a bit to navigate through all the features. Over the years ‘they’ keep adding more features and it gets a bit tricky.

http://www.alexastro.com/Alex%20Home%20Page/Articles/Articlesindex.html

Alex is a founding contributor of the Astro Imaging Channel. Check out their YouTube channel for some good videos about SGP. They are on most Sunday night’s around 9pm EDT. There actual website is a bit tricky to get to. Here is the link https://www.testing.theastroimagingchannel.com/


#8

CCDMan,

No I really mean ST 8300M this is circa 2011 before STF was conceived.

Shailesh


#9

Thank you for the link and details wglowgowski.

Shailesh


#10

When you are in PHD2 and you select your hardware and guiding parameters, you can export it as a profile (.phd). Next, import it into PHD2, so its name comes up, otherwise you just get ‘my equipment’. In SGP, when you select PHD2 as your guiding program, in the settings box next to it there is a dialog for the install parth and PHD2 Equipment Profile. Select your profile there.


#11

There are also some video’s here.
http://www.digitalastrophotography.co.uk/Astrophotography/Setup_Videos.html

SGP has to be one of the easiest sophisticated packages out there.

Just proves you cannot please all the people, all the time…


#12

Okay, I’m out of here! Never again will I post. I NEVER SAID THAT I WAS NOT PLEASE YOU !!!


#13

Fairly certain that was taken out of context. I believe buzz was trying to illustrate that it is a fine line to walk between keeping things simple and having a feature rich capture application. I don’t believe that was aimed at you.

Thanks,
Jared


#14

Buzz

Wow, I learned something new today (PHD2 export & then re-import). Thank you very much for this tip. This may be the issue. i will check it out.

Shailesh


#15

My point was that this is a no win. Customers keep asking for more and more features and complain when they are politely declined but also complain when SGP as a whole becomes increasingly more difficult to use as a result of more features being added. Not personal. Just a statement of fact, drawn from the forum posts.


#16

In any astrophotography set up one is integrating several sub-systems (hardware and software) to work as a whole. You can save a lot of time and meet less frustration if you work on each piece individually. The equipment profile manager has several tabs. Think of each of these as a single system. One by one get the filter wheel working, get the camera working, get the focuser, the flat box etc. working. When each sub system is working, hand SGP complete the complete system.

In this case (as others have pointed out) I would look at getting PHD (outside of SGP) working with your guide camera and mount before calling PHD from within SGP. All the best.

Ajay


#17

I used the STF-8300M and the STi together for a couple of years. It was very frustrating getting them to connect properly with Maxim and pHD2. I always had to connect one or the other’s USB cables while the other was disconnected and the order always varied. Very frustrating. I finally threw in the towel and get the Lodestar - so totally worked first time and every time. Had nothing to do the SGPro.

Jan


#18

@Andy
Andy - the logic around changing and saving profiles in PHD2 has struck me as slightly odd on previous occasions. It seems that if you export a PHD2 profile, it does not appear as a profile in SGP setup unless you first then import the profile within PHD2. An alternative logic would say that all the exported profiles would be accessible without having to be first loaded back in?


#19

Shailesh,

Perhaps things have changed, but several years ago I was imaging with an ST8300 and an STi for guiding. At that time, you had to connect the STi prior to connecting the main camera. Otherwise the STi wasn’t available to select. My workflow then (and still today) as a nomadic astrophotographer was to get PHD2 running and calibrated near its ideal location, then connect the main camera after…

Maybe this no longer applies or you have already tried it. If so, my apologies for jumping in.

Best regards,
Craig


#20

@buzz Profile Export/Import is for saving and loading a PHD2 equipment profile to a file so you can, for example, transfer a profile to another computer. Export saves profile settings to a .PHD file; Import loads a .PHD file into PHD2. These functions are unrelated to what profiles are visible to SGP – all profiles are visible to SGP whenever SGP asks PHD2.


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