|This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the Windows (including the Meade AutoStar Suite), Macintosh, or Palm OS 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: Autostar Suite (Night vision) Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 20:02:05 From: Brett O'bannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have searched your autostar feedback area and I don't think this issue has been addressed. I am in the process of going computer controlled. Very excited. I have been playing with AS in waiting for the #505 cable kit from B&H (best price I found). My concern? The Night Vision option in AS seems great, except for the scroll bars which are very white and bright. Has this issue been addressed? Has anyone tried to solve this problem? I've tried working in the Display Properties environment but can't find anyway to affect the change to the scroll bar I would like. Perhaps it's not going to pose a problem, but they seem to defeat the whole purpose of the red screen NV. Cheers Mike, and as the whole world knows, "our site" is a marvel. b -- Brett R. O'BannonMike here: Some people have placed a red transparency over the screen.
great! Thanks Mike. b
Subject: Planned observing session, Autostar software on computer, ETX-125PE Sent: Monday, October 11, 2010 16:04:42 From: Luke MacMillan (email@example.com) I would like to know if any of the guides on your site can explain how to program an observing session using the supplied software? I have a limited view from my balcony and would like to plan observing sessions for the specific constelations I can see each night through out the year. Thank you. -- Luke MacMillan Calgary, ABMike here: Sorry, no user guide to using AutoStar Suite. You might eant to check out Astroplanner and ScopeDriver (see the Accessory Reviews: Software page); they have an observing planning capability.
Subject: Autostar Suite Remote Access Sent: Monday, October 11, 2010 12:37:24 From: Ted Trostle (firstname.lastname@example.org) Since you have been testing the SKYFI product, I thought you may be interested in what I have been doing. I have been interested in using a WIFI wireless network to remotely control my ETX-125PE and also remotely do some astrophotography. Since I have a wireless network that has about a 200 ft raduis, I thought a laptop running AutoStar Suite at the telescope location could be remotely accessed and controlled across the network. I think I found a way using a virtual network. I downloaded VNC from www.realvnc.com This is a free program for personal use. VNC contains a server which you install in the remote laptop. It also includes the VNC viewer which is installed in the controlling PC located inside where it is warmer. This allows me to see the scope laptop desktop screen and run AutoStar Suite. Following VNC set up and configuring and the Meade scope alignment and AutoStar setup, it looks like I have control. I attached a LPI photo of Jupiter which is badly out of focus and over exposed a bit. It is poor, but I was too excited to not take the shot. I am far from being an expert...I consider myself a entry level novice. Maybe someone has a better solution or doing this a different way. But for what it may be worth.....
Subject: Autostar Suite Protocol Description Sent: Friday, October 1, 2010 14:35:21 From: Rich Collins (email@example.com) Mark, I read your write-up concerning the Autostar Dome Control issue (Mar 2005). I spoke to Meade today and discovered that they will still not reveal the protocol for the Dome Control. This has only now become an issue for me as I have completed building my dome, but I want to attempt control from Autostar. Did you ever go forward with your build of a netscope replacement with Microsoft Visual Basic? If so, are you willing to share your data and application? I could sure use the help. Thanks, Rich
Rich, I did not build an autostar replacement using VB since my astronomy group ended up purchasing a solution (for about $1600!). I have been enjoying building circuits using the ARDUINO family of microcontrollers and I was thinking about attempting to create a dome drive solution. It is difficult to create a true cookie cutter approach, which would be needed since every installation seems to be unique. I would be willing to help you with yours, especially if you have a specific example, it could help focus me on one specific solution and place it in the public domain. My latest ideas are to use two microcontrollers, linked via radios. (The microcontrollers are like $10 and the radio chips are about the same, so the costs really are very reasonable.) One set would ride with the dome to control the shutter while the other is mounted near the telescope, listening in on the telescope position commands (assuming Meade protocols) and moving the dome appropriately. There are several possible solutions to getting power to the moving dome, power rails or solar power/battery. The power rails could also come in a variety of flavors including continuous contacts or contacts only in the HOME position. There are also various options when sensing the dome position including a wheel which counts rotations, or one could count the drive motor rotations, or one could read the position using barcodes or some such appliance. As you can see there are so many possibilities I get stuck at step one ;-) While I could blow the dust off of my VB programming book and make the user interface screens, you need some real hardware to interface with. Drop me a note describing what your dome setup is and we'll take it from there. Mark
Mark, Thanks for the reply. I see now that we are in a "Chicken or Egg" situation. I haven't built any dome devices or controls yet as I wanted first to see what was already available. I like your idea of using the Arduino family, and I also like the ideas used in the LesveDome solution. Perhaps some combination of the two. The only thing I have somewhat decided upon is to use a Garage Door Opener for the Azimuth Drive (chain driven). They're cheap, powerful, easy to find and control. And for the Shutters, I will likely use two Linear Actuators. These are DC animals and I plan to move DC to the upper dome through power rails & contacts riding along the perimeter. When I start installing the drive devices, I will get back in touch and bring you up to date on the progress. I have attached a photo of the Observatory completed to date. Thanks again. Later, Rich
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