Still not managed to get out and complete the polar alignment in the observatory – the weather has been it’s usual August pants! More cloud and rain than you could shake a stick at for the last few weeks, and the coming week shows a partial potential for Sunday 6th.
So, in the meantime I have been trying to set up my AAG Cloudwatcher – with limited success. The device monitors cloud coverage, rain, brightness and with an optional anemometer, the windspeed, and determines if the conditions are safe or unsafe. It has a relay built-in so (for example) unsafe conditions could cause the observatory roof to close and park the mount etc.
The limited success is down to the USB-Serial connection on the observatory computer. I have a Lindy cable which has a Prolific ship-set in it, but despite all attempts, the device does not respond to the software. I tested this with an older computer that has a built-in serial port and the device responds perfectly, so it’s definitely an issue with the cable, or the driver. I have tried updating the driver and also reverting to an older version (126.96.36.199) but no joy.
I am still testing, but I am sure I had this working before I installed the device to it’s final location – hope my memory is not playing tricks on me – but hopefully it will be a simple solution to use a different USB to Serial cable.
Steve Richards from The Chanctonbury Observatory made an observation that it could be the voltage swing difference between a USB cable and a ‘real’ serial port. Rigging up a test harness is easy enough – but I think I’d need an oscilloscope to measure the waves. Could be a fun thing to do…!
As all imagers know, the quality of the data is paramount – the better the data, the less you have to do to it! So it strikes me as sensible to use a tool that tells me things like:
- Ideal exposure time
- Skyglow readings
- Gain and read-noise
Then I can adjust the imaging train, or camera settings, to get the best possible data.
I’ll keep a record of how this goes and will update accordingly