Parallel Port Camera Control


#1

I am probably the only dinosaur still using a parallel port camera! Got a good deal one one last year and really like it. Presently use Maxim DL5 and CCDCommander as a control program. The camera is an SBIG ST-8E with an internal guider chip. If I read the manual right you have three modes for autoguiding, none of which I believe, is compatible with those three modes, at least while the main chip is active. PHD2 is a great program and does a better job of guiding than Maxim. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way of controlling the guider chip with PHD and the Main camera with SGP. It looks to me like everything else can function OK especially if SGP will run the camera at all. Am I missing something in the forum or manual that would let me know what would be possible with a parallel port camera? I also run an AR102 with another newer camera and would like to try out SGP so it would be nice to run the same control software on both scopes.

Paul Temple


#2

So first would be to check if SGP can control your camera. We should be able to work with a Parallel Port SBIG camera. You’d just need to set the correct values in the SBIG settings.

Assuming that works you can use the SGP API Guider (available here: http://www.mainsequencesoftware.com/Releases). And setup info is here: http://www.mainsequencesoftware.com/Content/SGPHelp/SBIGGuiderCCDs.html

Essentially you connect your camera to SGP and PHD2 to the SGP API Guider camera. This allows PHD2 to control the guide chip through SGP (so only one app is technically connected).

If you could report back about the Parallel Port camera I’d also really appreciate it. We’ve had this question come up a number of times but no one has ever seemed to actually test it…

Thanks,
Jared


#3

Thanks! Trying it out on my spare camera right now. Will write it up and post the results for future reference!

Paul

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#4

Camera works but when you connect it to PHD it says missing CameraXsize property. Will keep working on it!

Paul

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#5

Also I downloaded SGP and then got busy and let the trial period lapse so am using Lite. Is that a factor?

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#6

It probably should be an issue, but I don’t think it currently is with how the trial is structured. Just request an extension from the help menu if you need one.

Make sure you connect the camera to SGP first and select the appropriate guide camera from the SGP SBIG settings. Some where along the line “Internal” and “Remote Guide Head” started to mean different things to different SBIG cameras, so give them each a try if you have problems with one.

image

Thanks,
Jared


#7

Tried several settings but had to go cook supper and haven’t gotten back to it.
Had roll back SBIG drivers. I was using a driver checker that was too new so redid that but didn’t help. Will let you know.
Paul

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#8

Success. It helps when you read the directions. Did not start a sequence with the profile. When I did that it worked! Everything else was how it was specified in the program. I have not been able to actually spoof it into autoguiding since I have no way to calibrate the autoguider inside. If there is ever any clear night sky again will bring a further report. Jared thanks for your prompt response and patience.

Paul Temple


#9

You’re at least getting “images” from the auto guider in PHD2 though right?

Glad it’s working!
Jared


#10

Yes, much of the issue was lack of understanding on how Sequence works. Once I got that figured out it connected and I got an image. Unfortunately, rain last night, fog this morning with rain and clouds predicted for the extended forecast. No clue when I can actually test it. Will post a report if it ever clears.

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#11

Update! Discretion is the better part of valor! After fighting with the small internal guiding chip using my old software got to thinking about the situation. My camera does not have the 237 guider chip but the 211 guider chip. When I lived in New Mexico this was seldom an issue except a day or two before, after and during the full moon. Here in Missouri, with light pollution and high humidity it is a problem a lot of the time, especially anytime the moon is out.
This prompted a rethinking of strategy. So I added my homemade 70 mm guide scope onto the Celestron 11" with the ZWO ASI120MM camera as an autoguider. Since I am still not familiar yet with using SGP I did not waste time learning new software ,but used CCDSoft instead, which is the easiest camera driver to use with a larger chip parallel port camera of the older ones out there. This is because you can bin the camera to 9x9 and cut the upload time to a second or two. This is handy for rough focus and alignment. In the last few weeks I have been attempting to get good photometry on Barnard’s star or V2500 Oph. This is a historic star with a large proper motion. So setting up the scope, centering the star and I was ready to go. Since Barnard’s is a bright star I set the camera for 30 second imaging using PHD and the external guidescope. 225 images later (~.8 gigabytes!) the camera took darks and shut down!
If we were still living in New Mexico I probably would not even be thinking of external guiders with a parallel port dual chip camera. Still I will try to test out SGP using this new configuration the next clear night we get.


#12

Just wanted to give an update on the ST-8E camera and SGP. My software extension lapsed again (3 straight weeks of clouds and a trip!) so I still haven’t gotten to try this yet. I did get the internal guider to work like it is supposed to. It took re-balancing the scope and finally getting a good polar align. I am now getting full nights imaging using software. We are back into an extended period of clouds and rain but when it clears have a trial extension and will give it a go! Still playing with an external guider as well.


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