DirectGuide and the Paramount ME II

So I used to be able to guide on the Paramount ME without the need for an ST-4 guider cable. This is achieved through information being shared about the position of the star to PHD2 and it then sending commands to the relays on the Paramount ME, however I had yet to be able to get this working with the Paramount ME II and using SGPro as the host program.

So for a short period on the evening of 5th August 2019 I ventured out to complete the setup and get the guider working.

As information is key I had spent time re-reading pieces of the Paramount User Manual, The Sky X Manual and the PHD2 Manual, the later having partial information needed to setup, another piece of information was in The Sky X Manual.

So what did I do? Well DirectGuide is a bit like Pulse guiding that is supported on other mounts, however for the Paramount ME II pulse guiding is NOT supported. So you need to configure and setup for Direct Guide, but where?

Looking at the Connect Equipment window in PHD2 you are presented with 3 options, How to connect the camera, how to connect the mount and a 3rd option around how to connect an Aux mount. It is important to understand when to use that 3rd option around Aux mount as that is what can cause confusion when trying to get Direct Guiding to work.

Aux Mount should only be chosen if you are using an ST-4 cable, if you are not then this option should remain set to None. If you inadvertently select ASCOM Telescope Driver for The Sky within this box the mount will not behave correctly. So leave it set to None!

Configuring Camera and Mount ONLY

Camera needs to be set for the camera of choice, for me my trusty Starlight Xpress Lodestar is selected. For the Mount I selected ASCOM Telescope Driver for The Sky. Next you need to configure the Mount by clicking on the spanner and screwdriver icon next to the option.

Under here you can configure The Sky Controller Driver Setup, selecting The Sky version, X Pro for me and various options for the mount itself. The key checkbox is Use DirectGuide. This menu of options is from the ASCOM Chooser and you should select any settings you wish to enable. Mine can be seen below.

ASCOM Chooser for Mount and DirectGuide setting

I quickly configured the Camera also and below are the settings that work well.

SX Lodestar Camera Configuration

On connecting to both the camera and mount, selecting a guide star and calibrating the guider it is apparent that I have configured the setup correctly. All is now well with the guiding and it produces a smooth chart with tonights seeing as can be seen after several dips produced by cloud at the begging of the guider graph.

Smooth guiding after cloud disappears