onsdag 3 augusti 2016

first experiences with INDI on Raspberry Pi

Now that I have invested in a proper mount, I'm also looking into remote (15 meters) operation of it.
I don't want to drag my laptop out into the garden just to have it covered with dew, and I like the size of Raspberry Pi. This, and the fact that PixInsight is moving into the direction of hardware control through the INDI protocol, made me decide to look into the INDI solution, rather than EQMOD.
So, last weekend I erased my Pi memory card and installed Ubuntu Mate. This OS was recommended on the INDI website (indilib.org ).
Now, I have very little experience with linux, and for most of the things I do, I need to follow a tutorial or google my way around. The following is probably not the best way to do it, but these are my experiences.

Installing the OS wasn't much of a problem; download and extract the image. Then use Win32DiskImager to write the OS image onto the memory card.
Started the OS, and managed to connect it to PuTTY, but in the beginning I mainly used the desktop and a terminal window in the desktop.
Installing the INDI library took some time. For some reason I couldn't register or connect to the INDI repository (mutlaqja ppa), and the desktop on several occasions reported an internal error. Finally (don't aks me how) I managed to connect to the repository and install INDI. To get this far took quite a while so I read the OS image back to windows. I figured that if I ever need to go back and reinstall the OS, at least I won't need to do it from scratch.
I managed to get INDI server up and running, and decided to rename the USB port for permanent reference. Some googling gave the answer, and some more tapping away on my keyboard (now I don't use Mate anymore, but am connected through PuTTY and WiFi).
I then connected the mount through Synscan's serial cable and a serial/usb interface.
I managed to connect from PixInsights INDI client, but the program crashed a few times. Again, don't ask me why. I have never been able to crash PixInsight, but during the past few days I managed it twice. (Mind you, I have managed to bring it to it's knees by integrating some 200+ 14 Mpixels drizzled images. But that's a different story.)
It seems that there isn't a "hello world" application that lets you test a partial setup. There isn't even a proper tutorial that covers a complete setup. It takes some googling and looking around the INDI website to get ideas and suggestions for solutions.
Anyway, I also tried connecting through Stellarium, which didn't protest and connected to the server.
Both the PI and Stellarium connections worked fine, as the server kept responding to slew requests. However, the mount didn't budge an arcsecond.
After a long time installing, uninstalling and reinstalling various things and starting and stopping the server, rebooting the RPi, etc, etc, I finally called it a night, not having moved the mount remotely at all.
I dismantled the RPi, cables, and the mount (I'm doing this more or less in the family living room), and just as I was about to disconnect the serial cable, I noticed that neither of the LEDs was lighting or blinking.
It appears that my serial/USB connecter isn't working anymore. So now I'm waiting for the HITECH EQDIR Synscan/USB interface to arrive from Firstlightoptics.
Since everything else worked fine, just plugging in the connector should make the remote setup work. Something tells me though, that it will not work from the start, even with a new cable.

The setup sofar:
RPi 2 with Ubuntu Mate, connected to PuTTY on Windows.
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mutlaqja/ppa (works after a few tries and reboots)
sudo apt-get install indi-full
sudo adduser $USER dialout (so I don't have to be root user to use indi)
create a rules file to rename the mounts usb port, using udevadm
indiserver -m 100 -v indi_eqmod_telescope
several reboots along the way.

To do next:
Make sure that the new connector works (without the Synscan)
Make sure that the setup works (mount connected to RPi without the Synscan inbetween; indisverver controlled by Stellarium on Windows machine)
Make sure that indiserver starts up automatically after booting the RPi.
Find and install a client that lets me control the mount and will replace the Synscan.

To be continued, I guess.

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