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ASTRONOMY SOFTWARE FEEDBACK

Last updated: 25 June 2012

This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the Windows (including the Meade AutoStar Suite), Macintosh, Android, and iOS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.


Subject:	Telescope Software
Sent:	Friday, June 22, 2012 13:56:53
From:	Peter Cranwell (pete@pcranwell.com)
http://stellarium.org/
 
Do you have any knowledge of how this open source software works with
the ETX -125?
 
I didn't see it mentioned on your site.  It's supposed to run under
Windows & Linux.  I have played with it under Ubuntu 11 of Linux but not
the telescope control.
 
Pete Cranwell
Mike here: I wasn't aware that telescope control was now an option with Stellarium. But if it supports the AutoStar #497, you can use it to control the ETX via a #505 serial cable. The program is mentioned on several feedback pages on the ETX Site; search the Site for "stellarium".

And:

I downloaded it to Win7.  I'm playing with it now via a serial port on
my
tower.

It only sends slew commands to the autostar.  I'm not sure if this
enough to
be useful.

Here is a link to the plugins page for the telescope control:
http://www.stellarium.org/wiki/index.php/Telescope_Control_plug-in

I'm not ready to shell out  $249 for StaryNight Pro Plus.  

Thanks

Pete
Mike here: There are other alternatives. Some are mentioned on the Accessory Reviews: Software page and some on the Astronomy Links page.

And:

The program seems to be working for me on Win7.   The price is right.

I have control of the telescope via COM5.    You select an object that you
want to view & then press CTL 1 (scope 1) on the keyboard to issue the slew
command.

The documentation says the software only issues slew commands but the
display makes it appear that the software is extracting location information
from the scope.  I will need to connect to a breakout box & analyze the data
transfer to see what's going on  the scope interface.

I think I will give the software a try when the atmosphere clears up and I
can do some tests.

Thanks for your help.

And an update:

From looking at a USB - Serial adapter, running on Win XP, the program
appears to be constantly polling the scope for its position information.
The Stellarium software is apparently displaying positioning information
from the scope as the scope moves.  It is shown on the display as a target
like circle which eventually comes to rest, circling the desired object, as
the slewing settles in.

I turned off the scope, after slewing to an object and the targeting circle
did not move as the earth rotated.

It looks like a nice program & although it does not have all the bells &
whistles of Stary Night, it gives me what I need to plan an observing
session and for scope control.

Pete


Subject:	RE: RS232 pointing format/software for ETX125 question.
Sent:	Wednesday, June 13, 2012 17:46:05
From:	David Mize (dw_mize1@verizon.net)
Thanks, Guys,

I am going to write my own program.
Where can I get a list of all commands and formats for the telescope? (Cal
with terrestrial objects no night sky)
Do you know what the lock-time for one degree movement in azimuth and
elevation with different rate setting?
I will do test movements for lock-time to see if it is capable before I
waste and additional programming time.

Thanks,

David Mize
Mike here: See "AutoStar Commands" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Meade's command document is here:
http://www.meade.com/support/TelescopeProtocol_2010-10.pdf

The lock-time for a one degree movement will vary wildly, depending upon
whether or not you're *reversing* either motor in performing the motion.

You can test for motion-complete by sending   :D#  commands to the scope.
If the motion has NOT finished, you will get back either a single x7F
character, followed by a "#"
If the motion HAS completed, you will get back only the "#"

have fun
--dick


Subject:	step by step for dummies
Sent:	Monday, June 11, 2012 15:21:19
From:	Margie Franklin (margfran@imaxmail.net)
I am trying to do the autostar update. I guess I need a step by step. I
am just not getting it.
I have the Autostar on my desktop, I can get it to see the com port. The
screen shows the 2 boxes
That say library on the left and Autostar on the right.  I have
everything hooked up right.
I get the downloading percentages showing at the bottom, at the complete
my autostar beepsthen what
Nothing shows in either box, no data shows anywhere.  None of the
literature tells what to do except initialize.  What does that mean
What am I doing wrong.
 
Flummoxed in Idaho
 
Please send me some simple step by step instructions, would appreciate it.
Mike here: First, I'll assume you have a good connection from your computer to your AutoStar. If you are using a USB-serial adapter, be aware that not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. As to a guide to use, see the articles "AutoStar & Your Computer", "How to use the 3.x Updater", and "How to use the Updater: Manipulating Libraries" on the AutoStar Info page.


Subject:	ASU - Edit Tours does nothing
Sent:	Monday, June 11, 2012 00:39:20
From:	ynagaya@bigpond.com (ynagaya@bigpond.com)
I'm using ASU Version 5.9.3.
Can see 12 Tours (eg Virgo Galaxies, Cetus, Puppis, etc.).
Right click one of then and can see options Edit, Delete, New.
Click on 'Edit', Autostar Update Object Editor dialogue box comes up,
click on 'OK', nothing happens.
Shouldn't I be able to modify the tour file ? or this is to just modify
the tour name :<
 
Regards,
 
Masayoshi Nagaya
Mike here: I don't use ASU. I'll let Dick Seymour respond. Over to you, Dick.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Masayoshi's guess is correct: you cannot edit the *content* of a Tour in ASU.
It is only capable of loading and deleting them.
For actually changing their *content*, you're expected to use a text
editor on the .mtf files externally from the ASU environment.
You can change the order they're presented as a list
(i.e. whether or not you're offered "Messier Marathon" before or after "Tonight's Best")

Andrew Johansen's free MyScope application provides additional syntax
checking and "views" of Tour data (under the "Lists" tab):
http://members.optusnet.com.au/johansea

have fun
--dick

And:

Thanks for a prompt reply.
I understand. Could I ask one more question please.
Where can I find .mtf files ? I search all directories under Program
Files/Meade but can't find any. Is it all combined and stored in .aud
file ?
 
Best Regards,
Masa

And:

Ah...

(a) for the Tours already in the Audiostar/Autostar, Andrew's app can
extract them and create the files.

(b) there are a number of Tours available on Mike's site (and elsewhere
on the web)

(c) there are some at Meade's site, indexed from this page:
http://www.meade.com/support/autotours.html

When i loaded them on my PC, i told Windows to open them with Notepad if i clicked on them.

have fun
--dick


Subject:	RS232 pointing format/software for ETX125 question.
Sent:	Sunday, June 10, 2012 09:10:35
From:	David Mize (dw_mize1@verizon.net)
I have live data from at airplane tracking system with range, elevation,
and azimuth position data of the aircraft from a gsp location.
 
Does anyone you know of have software to input tracking information to
the telescope via RS232 for such a application?
 
This would verify that the tracking data is accurate.
 
I have tracked the ISS with data supplied by NASA with my scope but it
is time and location dependent and it is orbital information.
 
Thanks,
 
David Mize
Mike here: Perhaps Dick Seymour knows. Over to you, Dick.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I'm a little unclear on what you're seeking.

Are you trying for *predictive* tracking (i.e. point where it WILL be in a minute)
or (almost) merely point where it is *now*?

I do not know of such software, but it must exist (every missile launch
would use it, for example).

If you wish to write your own software, you are facing a few (surmountable) hurdles:
(a) it takes some time for the telescope to move to a commanded position.
So if you were to give it the Azimuth and Elevation of "now", it would
be a number of seconds "behind" once it finally got there.
The commands for that are:
:SaDD*MM#      (Set Altitude/Elevation)
:SzDDD*MM#      (Set Azimuth)
:MA#             (GoTo Alt/Az target.  Motors stop at end of slew)

(b) another method would be to send *speed* commands from the current location.
In this case, you would (perhaps manually?) point at the target, and
then send a series of commands to control the speeds of the axes.  This
is how Brent Boshart's SatelliteTracker works (on capable scopes), and
it's how the Autostar itself does its own built-in satellite tracking.
Meade did not provide the appropriate commands to the 497 Autostar, but
Andrew Johansen managed to create a Patch which adds this feature.  The
commands are the same as understood by the LX200gps:   ":RAdd.ddd#" and
":REddd.ddd#" (for "Rate of Azimuth" and "Rate of Elevation"... with
"dd.ddd" being degrees per second.
After changing a speed, you have to also send a :Md# command, with "d"
being the direction of the slew (n,s,e,w ... which really means "up,
down, left (CCW), right (CW)"
The RA/RE patch is included in our standard v43Eg patch kit, available
through Mike's site's Autostar Info page.

For predictive software, the best/only thing i can suggest is digging
through Google, Bing and Wolfram's Alpha search/knowledge systems.

good luck
--dick


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