Last updated: 13 November 2007
Subject: Autostar software Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2007 01:59:40 From: John Farrant (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hope the relocation is going as planned. All the best for that. Over the past year or so I have tried various telescope control programs but found them all either too complicated in the field or non-functioning. Minisicule Star charts that my 63 year eyes had trouble seeing. Also cables, houses and trees in the way. Objects that couldn't be seen except with Hubble. With most of these software programs I still needed a watch and a torch! As for levelling! Should I really need to mess about with a 10 cent spirit level after spending 1000 English pounds on a ETX125? Enough was enough I thought. So with my Pocketpc and time on my hands I wrote 33 standalone "C" programs that accomplish the following: 1. Select best pair alignment stars using ETX or LX stars within chosen ALT and AZ limits. Thus avoiding those pesky trees etc. 2. Level scope by simply aiming at Polaris and selecting LEVELSCOPE. 3. Send to Autostar correct date and time and start/stop tracking. 4. Retrieve important info from Autostar. 5. Full Bluetooth or cable control. 6. Get Lat, Long and UTC from a GPS Bluetooth device and send this info to Autostar via Bluetooth or RS232 cable. 7. Set Alt and Azimuth object viewing limits. 8. Plot real time scope Alt and Az position. Simply! 9. Show current approx Alt and Az position for planets on Pocketpc. In other words are they up tonight. Calcs are not accurate enough for slewing, but close. 10. Calculate which of the following objects are viewable (within Az and Alt limits!) Messier, Caldwell, Harvest 1 - 5, Best of NGC, Carbon Red, best of SAO Doubles and Bright stars. A drop down list is generated from which you can select an object and slew to it. After Slewing you are giving a choice as to whether you want to log the object. 11. Log file produced in txt form. 12. No star charts with tiny pixel size stars plotted. All drop down readable lists. All of the programs are stand alone and are in "C" source code only. A good knowledge of "C" programming and Astronomical calculations will be required to get the programs running but believe me it's fantastic to just go outside and after pressing three keys on my pocketpc (Level, Send Date/Time, Selected Best Pair) I'm up and running. If I move the scope to a different location I simply change the Az and Alt limits to cope with obstructions etc. Also with Bluetooth - NO cables! Another slight snag with my software is that it only works at my Latitude and Longtitude - 38.75 degrees north, 0 degrees west. But any "C" programmer can soon alter that. If anyone wants to run it on a PocketPC you will need to contact Orbworks for the header etc. This only contains defintions for the Bluetooth control. Also you'll need some sort of compiler to run it either on a PocketPC or Laptop (Visual C I think). All the maths is there so It could be adapted to QuickBasic I suppose. Not sure. Anyway, if anyone is interested I can be contacted at email@example.com. Again, all the best to you and the better half. Take care. Regards, John
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