Question on Interfaces to OnStep


tomofreno2000
 

I've been using the OnStep App through Bluetooth for a couple years now, but I continue to be plagued around 40% of the time with glitches ("App has stopped working") and also experience communication delays.  Most of the time if I just wait these resolve themselves - I think this is some communication issue with Bluetooth.  Does wifi with the wemos work more reliably than Bluetooth?  Are there still delays using it?

There is also the impact on night vision using the OnStep App due to the white pop-up Options window, as well as when switching between the App and SkySafari (shows bright tablet Home screen in between).  The SHC would eliminate that and presumably the delay/communications issues, but adds a cord to get in the way, an extra thing to carry/use (still need the tablet for SF), and as I recall as limited memory for catalogs.  The last would require switching scope control to SF to find objects not in the SHC catalogs.

So I wonder what interface visual observers prefer/use and why?


Keith Trivett
 

I use the WiFi and it works perfect with android phone. You can get an app called night filter that you can set a red filter and it's the equivalent of having red film over your screen. It's available on android .


On Tue, 20 Apr 2021, 18:37 tomofreno2000 via groups.io, <tomofreno2000=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I've been using the OnStep App through Bluetooth for a couple years now, but I continue to be plagued around 40% of the time with glitches ("App has stopped working") and also experience communication delays.  Most of the time if I just wait these resolve themselves - I think this is some communication issue with Bluetooth.  Does wifi with the wemos work more reliably than Bluetooth?  Are there still delays using it?

There is also the impact on night vision using the OnStep App due to the white pop-up Options window, as well as when switching between the App and SkySafari (shows bright tablet Home screen in between).  The SHC would eliminate that and presumably the delay/communications issues, but adds a cord to get in the way, an extra thing to carry/use (still need the tablet for SF), and as I recall as limited memory for catalogs.  The last would require switching scope control to SF to find objects not in the SHC catalogs.

So I wonder what interface visual observers prefer/use and why?


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 01:37 PM, tomofreno2000 wrote:
Does wifi with the wemos work more reliably than Bluetooth?  Are there still delays using it?
You are not the only one to report reliability and lag issues with Bluetooth.

Yes, using WiFi is consistently reliable.

The SHC would eliminate that and presumably the delay/communications issues, but adds a cord to get in the way, an extra thing to carry/use (still need the tablet for SF), and as I recall as limited memory for catalogs.  The last would require switching scope control to SF to find objects not in the SHC catalogs.
The limitation is in the Teensy 3.2 SHC.

On the other hand, the ESP32 based SHC is not limited in any way. It has a comprehensive catalog of objects, even Caldwell, Collinder, double stars, carbon stars, ...etc.

For the above reasons, I would like the documentation to recommend against Bluetooth and Teensy SHC. The issue is that users see the features listed and think that it is equivalent to the alternative (WiFi, ESP32 SHC), and go about building their kit, only to find the limitations later.
And for that same reason, other things should be removed from the documentation too, or have a big warning next to them (TMC2208, TMC2209, DRV8825 ...etc). The code will still support all of them for existing users, but there is no reason new users should go down the path of less optimal options.


John Petterson
 

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 01:49 PM, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
The limitation is in the Teensy 3.2 SHC.

Khalid,

Since the Teensy 4.0 is a usable replacement (I had to add some voltage level shifters, but I have working Teensy 4.0 SHCs, does that limitation really exist with this one?  1984k flash, and 1024k memory....  What do I need to do to use this expanded capability?

Send me your address (private email), I will send you a PC board for this if you need one.

John


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

The Teensy 4.0 is still constrained in storage compared to the ESP32 SHC.

Look at the catalogs that are included for the ESP32 vs. the Teensy 4.0.

https://github.com/hjd1964/OnStep/blob/beta/addons/SmartHandController/CatalogConfig.h

The NGC and IC catalogs are subsets. The ESP32 has more objects for these two.

So while the Teensy 4.0 is better than the 3.2, the ESP32 is still the best.


Howard Dutton
 

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 12:31 PM, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
The Teensy 4.0 is still constrained in storage compared to the ESP32 SHC.

Look at the catalogs that are included for the ESP32 vs. the Teensy 4.0.

https://github.com/hjd1964/OnStep/blob/beta/addons/SmartHandController/CatalogConfig.h

The NGC and IC catalogs are subsets. The ESP32 has more objects for these two.

So while the Teensy 4.0 is better than the 3.2, the ESP32 is still the best.
The T4.0 actually has plenty of flash, that's not the problem, I think it takes about 30% of flash for full catalogs on the T4.0.

It's a software issue (due to the design of the T4.0 vs. T3.0 or ESP32) that probably can be addressed to get that other 70%, I just never bothered trying.

ESP32's two biggest advantages are LOW COST and AVAILABILITY.  It's a good tool for the job no arguing it.


tomofreno2000
 

Thank you for the responses. I'll try wifi.   I reviewed the wifi section of the wiki. Looks straight-forward.  Should I get a wemos D1 mini pro and add an external antenna, or is that necessary (I'll generally be within 30 ft of the scope, and the board will be in a plastic box).  I downloaded night filter Keith, that should help!


Dave Schwartz
 

Judging by the activity lately, I think the WeMos D1 mini (non-pro) is the more reliable choice especially if you're going to be a plastic box... no extra protuberances.

And if you decide you do need an external antenna, there's this: https://www.instructables.com/External-Antenna-for-ESP8266/

On 2021-04-20 6:06 p.m., tomofreno2000 via groups.io wrote:
Thank you for the responses. I'll try wifi.   I reviewed the wifi section of the wiki. Looks straight-forward.  Should I get a wemos D1 mini pro and add an external antenna, or is that necessary (I'll generally be within 30 ft of the scope, and the board will be in a plastic box).  I downloaded night filter Keith, that should help!


Ken Hunter
 

Just  a quick question about OnStep...

In the builds I have made, the OnStep has a MCU that offers Bluetooth and Wifi...
The builds recommend that another MCU be used for the Wifi.
Why can't the Wifi be used from the main MCU instead of the Bluetooth?

Ken Hunter


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 04:32 PM, Howard Dutton wrote:
ESP32's two biggest advantages are LOW COST and AVAILABILITY.  It's a good tool for the job no arguing it.
Should the documentation reflect this, and encourage new builds of the SHC to use the ESP32 rather than any Teensy?

Similarly, should the documentation de-emphasize some drivers in favour of the all-around better ones?


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 12:06 AM, Ken Hunter wrote:
In the builds I have made, the OnStep has a MCU that offers Bluetooth and Wifi...
The builds recommend that another MCU be used for the Wifi.
Why can't the Wifi be used from the main MCU instead of the Bluetooth?
Because Bluetooth is only available if your MCU is an ESP32, and nothing else.
For all other MCUs (AVR, STM32, Teensy, ...etc.) there is no built in Bluetooth, and therefore an external MCU required for either Bluetooth or WiFi.
WiFi has another advantage: a built in web interface that the Bluetooth lacks.
While it is technically possible to have a WiFi server run on the second core of an ESP32, that would tie the code to the ESP32 platform, and complicate the code for OnStep overall just for the sake of one platform.

Therefore, an additional MCU is the way to go, and it only costs $5 or so. A trivial cost in return for more maintainable and simpler code.


Ken Hunter
 

Thanks for that Khalid... After using the Bluetooth for a while I came to the conclusion that
it was something I could do without. Had the same issues with Bluetooth headphones. The 
latency  was so bad that I could not get used to watching someone speak then having to
wait for the audio while watching TV and movies.


George Cushing
 

The Teensy was a good platform to design the SHC at the time, but with the availability of the ESP32S there is no reason to build with the Teensy. A single Teensy will run you $27-30. And the entire SHC32 kit is $25.

Esperrif seems to be keeping busy converting its lower priced products to 32 bit, which makes business sense as it is concentrating on the IoT market. Looks like they'll be busy.

The Internet of Things encompassed 10 billion devices in 2018 and is projected to reach 64 billion in 2025 and possibly many trillions by 2040, all monitored in real time. Global Trends 2040: National Intelligence Council

Virus-free. www.avg.com


John Petterson
 

I understand your point for new users, but the Teensy 4.0 is $20.00, not $27-30.  It still ends up being a bit more expensive, but for those of us that have several in use the Teensy 4.0 is 600mhz (almost 2.5x the speed) and has 2 meg of flash ROM.  So there is no real reason to  switch for those of us that already have designs for 3-D printing housings and the experience building them.  The price difference is not that great.,  And hopefully I can figure out how to access the other 500MB of memory to let us turn on the other objects that are being eliminated in the current software builds - it should not be too hard.

John


George Cushing
 

John, not with the $7.95 postage. If I buy 15, then yes, they are about $20, a little over 50 cents each for the postage. 
The math: 15 X $19.95 + $7.95 X1.08 (tax) = 331.67 / 15 = 22.11.

If you've got a way to beat that price let me know.


tomofreno2000
 

I finally received the parts to try out the wemos d1 mini (shipping was delayed for weeks). Installed everything, powered on the OnStep board, and the blue LED on the d1 mini came on.  I entered the OnStep SSID, password, and IP address on my android tablet, and it connected to OnStep.  I then tried to connect using the OnStep app, and it failed to connect. 

I then started SkySafari, went into SF Settings/Scope, entered the 192.168.0.1 IP address. Selected SkyFi Web Page and the OnStep page came up.  I entered the password to change settings and got the page with Wifi, Config, etc. tabs across the top. I selected Wifi and entered the default password in the password field (not sure I needed to, but figured it wouldn't hurt) under Access Point mode and saw it already had OnStep entered as SSID.  I again tried to connect with SF but it failed.

So I cannot connect with either the OnStep app or SF.   I expect I am making a stupid mistake on something simple as usual.  Can anyone please point out what it is?


 

On Sat, May 15, 2021 at 02:53 PM, tomofreno2000 wrote:

So I cannot connect with either the OnStep app or SF.   I expect I am making a stupid mistake on something simple as usual.  Can anyone please point out what it is

Did you enter the port number, 9999, into Sky Safari?  I believe the Android app requires the same entry.


tomofreno2000
 

Thanks Otto! That was it.  I can now connect with SF.  I was reading the "wifi" section of the wiki and completely overlooked the "Connecting" section where it is all clearly spelled out.  The "Or open Sky Safari, the Android App, ASCOM driver and use 192.168.0.1:9999 for an IP connection." in the wifi section didn't make sense to me because I didn't notice the colon, thought it was a period. :^) I had just entered 192.168.0.0 for the IP address, and left the port at the SF default.

I still cannot connect with the OnStep app. It does not respond when I tap "Options" (or anything else on the screen) to access "Connections".  It just says "No connection" and times out (whether I have the OnStep board powered up or not).  I can't figure out how to enter the IP address and port number since the app buttons are inactive until it connects.


Mike Ahner
 

On Sun, May 16, 2021 at 10:32 AM, tomofreno2000 wrote:
I still cannot connect with the OnStep app. It does not respond when I tap "Options" (or anything else on the screen) to access "Connections".  It just says "No connection" and times out (whether I have the OnStep board powered up or not).  I can't figure out how to enter the IP address and port number since the app buttons are inactive until it connects.
After you have connected the Android App to OnStep Wifi, check the IP address assigned to the App on your device. It should be 192.168.0.x, but sometimes when there are connection issues between OnStep and the Wemos, a different "default" address is sent to the App. I think it's 192.168.4.x.
But if it's not 192.168.0.x, just have your wifi device "forget" the connection and then reconnect after the Wemos/OnStep are running. This should bring it up on the correct subnet automatically.

-Mike


tomofreno2000
 

Thanks Mike!  I got it to assign IP address 192.168.0.100 after connecting and forgetting 4 times.  The OnStep App still does not connect though.  I don't see where to change the port.  Don't see anything under WLAN/Settings.

The "Connecting" section of the wiki says "From my App's main screen, press the menu button and select Connection."  I assume that means the 3 dots at upper right of the screen which iirc has a connections sub heading, but it is inactive while the App tries to connect. So are all the other buttons.  It then times out and says connection failed.