Stellarium Scope Control

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Stellarium Scope Control

Postby Dion » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:28 pm

There are three ways to connect Stellarium to your mount to enable telescope control from within Stellarium. The first method I don't want to cover as it's a PITA to be honest and numerous people, including myself have struggled with it, that being, just vanilla connection to scope mount without any intermediate software, it's supposed to work, it does for some, but there are a lot of people for whom it just wont play.

The second two methods are dead easy, they both involve a very similar setup, so, i'll describe the hardware config first.

1) Connection through a Synscan hand controller.

If you have a synscan mount, with controller, on your handset, at the side of where the lead plugs in to your mount, there is another socket, this is used for both updating the firmware in your handset AND connection to a laptop for control, you can even use the lead supplied with synscan controller to do it.

I believe this is only applicable to synscan V3 and above handsets. The handset has the ability to replace an EQMOD interface, so it's just lead from handset and into PC.

2) If you prefer to keep things neater and not work through your handset, or you don't have V3 or above, then you need an EQMOD interface, these can be bought on the net but if you can work a soldering iron it's far simpler to make one, all you need are two items.

Firstly, you need a USB TTL serial 5V cable. DO NOT confuse this with what is commonly known as a USB to serial cable. The TTL cable is available in two formats, 3V and 5V, the 3v will NOT work, you need the 5V and it looks like this :-

The other thing you need is just a length of network cable with the plugs on the end, cut one of the plugs off and splice it to the TTL cable, then plug this into your hand controller socket on the mount (NEQ6 uses a different plug, NEQ6 uses a DB9 plug for controller NOT an RJ45 (network type plug))

The pinouts are available all over the net.

That's the hardware side covered, next, the software.

You will need 4 pieces of software in total, all free.

Stellarium (speaks for itself)
Stellariumscope (a small plugin for stellarium, a google will find it)
EQASCOM (the EQMOD software, again a google will find it)
Ascom Platform + v5 update (this is basically a driver, ascom is a bit like directx for astronomy gear)

Simply install all the software above, none of it is difficult, none of it is user unfriendly, the ascom platform is basically invisible, it's just s driver) Launch stellariumscope first, it's as simple as inputting your co-ordinates and giving your telescope a name.

To be honest, the pieces of software are so intuitive, it's hard to write a tutorial. You will be asked to point to a telescope driver (an ascom window will pop up and you just selct your scope)

There's a checkbox on stellarium scope that says "connect to scope" when you click it, it will launch eqmod, from this point you will see various controls like NSWE and clicking them will move your scope, this can be used to just check you're connected.

In stellariumscope there is another button to start stellarium, so click it, and stellarium will start. In stellarium, the first time you do this you may have to go into the plugins section in config and enable telescope control, tick the box for the plugin to start with stellarium in future. You may now have to close stellarium and start it again to enable the plugin.

Now, on the bottom of stellarium, you 'should' see a little button with a picture of a scope. Click the button and from the requester select "add" (you need to add a scope to stellarium) Point it to your scope and then highlight your scope and select 'connect' . It should now say "connected".

That's basically it to get control, if you click an object in stellarium and then press <Ctrl> +1 the scope will move to that object.

You will however have to do an alignment in EQMOD, as i said, EQMOD is very intuitive and doesn't need much in the form of a tutorial, just like with a controler you can do a 1, 2, 3 or more star alignment and then you're good to go. You can even plug in a game controller or joystick and use it to slew your scope.

A lot more info is available here on EQMOD

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