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Re: Satellite tracking with an Orion Sirius mount

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  • skylooktucson
    ... Satellite Tracker can be used for satellite tracking with the latest generation Synta SynTrek/SynScan mounts (Skywatcher HEQ5/EQ6/Orion Sirius/Orion Atlas)
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 8, 2009
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      --- In satellitetracker@yahoogroups.com, "boycebruce75" <boycebruce75@...> wrote:
      >
      > I'm interested in tracking sats with my Orion Sirius GoTo mount - can the Satellite Tracker S/W I downloaded from this site be used to drive my mount? I don't see Orion mounts listed as options when I run the S/W. Thanks.
      >

      Satellite Tracker can be used for satellite tracking with the latest generation Synta SynTrek/SynScan mounts (Skywatcher HEQ5/EQ6/Orion Sirius/Orion Atlas) but only with some complicated efforts.

      First, Satellite Tracker can't be used directly because it does not speak the ASCOM language that is needed for the Synta mounts. So, the LX-200 commands generated by Satellite tracker need to be converted to ASCOM and applied to a set of ASCOM drivers. The source of the conversion capability must be compiled from multiple freeware web sites and installed on the source computer. An adapter is also needed to convert the RS232 serial level voltages down to TTL for mount application. The instructions for enabling the capability are found on the Yahoo! EQMOD Users Group.

      To keep the long, painful discussion short, here's what's needed:

      1. The Freeware utility EQMOD, a powerful collection of capabilities that enable ASCOM-compliant communication with the Synta mounts, downloaded from the Yahoo! EQMOD Users Group or the Sourceforge EQMOD parent site;

      2. An additional utility, EQMODLX, to convert LX-200 commands into ASCOM compliant instructions, also found on the Yahoo! site;

      3. Some way of bypassing the hand controller. This is done one of two ways: by using an adapter (Shoestring is one source, called EQDIR, there are others) to step the voltage down, and a straight serial cable to the mount in place of the hand controller and its cable. You may also need a USB2Serial adapter if your computer does not have a native serial port, or a PC card serial port. The USB2Serial adapters are notoriously unreliable, so the PC card is a better option if you don't have a serial port. HOWEVER, beginning with V3.20 SynScan firmware, the hand controller can be left in place and bypassed by entering the PC Direct Mode. This capability did not really become functional until V3.24, however. With this method, the EQDIR module is not needed and the Synta hand controller can be left in the circuit.

      4. If the decision is to remove the hand controller from the setup and use EQDIR, some sort of joystick or pointing control will be necessary at the eyepiece for slignments and control of the scope. I use a wireless Rumblepad 2.

      5. You will also need to download and install the full ASCOM driver set from the ASCOM site. If you already have an ASCOM driver set from a planetarium program, don't trust it; they are notoriously stale.

      6. You will need some planetarium program to control the scope and which supports ASCOM. This can be freeware such as Cartes du Ciel, or Halo Northern Sky, or paid software like Starry Nights, The Sky, Earth Centered Universe Pro 5.0, etc. Be aware that there seem to be lots of difficulties with some of these; I use ECU and it's been bulletproof, and many folks use Cartes du Ciel without much trouble.

      7. Next download will be HW Virtual Serial Port. You need to establish a comm link internally between the Satellite Tracker system and EQMODLX command converter. Setup instructions are on the Yahoo! EQMOD site.

      As I said, this is the simple explanation. Reality is MUCH tougher to implement, but it can be done. I've been using Satellite Tracker for over three years with my Atlas EQ-G, and once you iron out the 3000 steps it seems to take to get going, it does work well. In my case, I was one of the original beta abusers of EQMOD to iron it out and make it work.

      Just the journey to the Yahoo! EQMOD site alone is worth the trip.

      http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/EQMOD/

      EQMOD is the most awesome set of software for controlling the Synta mounts, or any mounts, you'll find. Incredible tracking, guiding, mosaic building, searching, GOTO precision, everything but making breakfast when you're done with the observing session. Adding EQMODLX for DSI or satellite tracking applications just makes it better. Quoting from the Yahoo! site:

      * Direct Control by any ASCOM compliant planetarium or client application
      * Gotos/Slew at 0.144 resolution (dependent on Mount type)
      * N-Star Alignment model (alignment refinement with up to 1000 stars)
      * Gamepad telescope control.
      * GPS Support
      * Variable Speed Periodic Error Correction (VS-PEC)
      * Spiral Search
      * Definable Park/unpark positions
      * Sidereal, Lunar, Solar & Custom (DEC and RA) tracking rates.
      * Pulseguiding
      * Independent RA and DEC Autoguider speeds
      * Slew Speed from x1 to x800 of sidereal rate
      * English, French, Spanish & Dutch language support
      * EQMosaic, An ASCOM application for the managment of mosaics.
      * EQTour An ASCOM application for Sky Tour planning / navigation.
      * EQMODLX LX200 to ASCOM, useful for satellite tracking.
      * PERECORDER Automated Periodic Error recording program using webcams
      * PECPrep Periodic Error Analysis program.

      And it's all free.

      It's a tough churn through the learning curve, but now if my PC clock is right on and the ephemeris is fresh, I nail satellites easily.

      Good Luck!
      Jim
    • John Mahony
      ... ASCOM consists of the ASCOM platform, and then drivers for different scopes, and also drivers for different scope control programs. You don t need _all_
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 8, 2009
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        ----- Original Message ----

        > From: skylooktucson <skylook123@...>
        >
        > --- In satellitetracker@yahoogroups.com, "boycebruce75"
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > I'm interested in tracking sats with my Orion Sirius GoTo mount - can the
        > Satellite Tracker S/W I downloaded from this site be used to drive my mount?
        > >
        >
        > Satellite Tracker can be used for satellite tracking with the latest generation
        > Synta SynTrek/SynScan mounts (Skywatcher HEQ5/EQ6/Orion Sirius/Orion Atlas) but
        > only with some complicated efforts.
        >
        > First, Satellite Tracker can't be used directly because it does not speak the
        > ASCOM language that is needed for the Synta mounts. So, the LX-200 commands
        > generated by Satellite tracker need to be converted to ASCOM and applied to a
        > set of ASCOM drivers...
        >
        > To keep the long, painful discussion short, here's what's needed:
        >

        >
        > 5. You will also need to download and install the full ASCOM driver set from
        > the ASCOM site.

        ASCOM consists of the ASCOM platform, and then drivers for different scopes, and also drivers for different scope control programs. You don't need _all_ of them.

        -John
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