USING POPULAR SOFTWARE WITH YOUR ASTRO-PHYSICS GTO MOUNT
The way the system is configured, the servo control box is the center of the electronics. It receives information from outside sources to allow it to move to specific parts of the sky. One of these outside sources is the keypad, which is really a small hand held- planetarium program, as well as a set of buttons that allows you to "steer" the scope in 4 directions. The other outside sources can be connected to the two COM ports on the servo control box, and could be planetarium programs such as TheSky, the voice control program DigitalSky Voice, scripted programs that use planetarium software for slewing, or custom software using the AP protocol to control the mount. All these sources are separate from each other, although they can be configured to talk to each other in limited ways.
When you initialize the mount with the keypad, either with Autostart on or by manual entry, you can send the mount to a known object, such as M57, and the keypad sends the RA and Dec co-ordinates of that object to the servo. It does not send any information about that object, such as the name or magnitude, to the servo, only RA and Dec numbers. When you link a second planetarium program, such as TheSky, to the servo drive, you will see the cursor move to the co-ordinates of M57 on the screen. The program does this by polling the servodrive (at intervals, often defined by the user). At each poll command, the servo sends only the RA and Dec co-ordinates every time it is asked for current position. TheSky then interprets these numbers and places the cursor on M57.
When a program such as TheSky is used to slew the mount to a new object, for instance M27, the servo will receive from the computer the RA and Dec co-ordinates that correspond to M27. However, the information about these co-ordinates is not sent, so the servo has no idea that it is M27 that you are now on. All that the mount knows is the co-ordinates RA and Dec. The keypad will also not know that you are now on M27 because it does not receive this information from the original signal. The signal only contained RA and Dec, not M27. As far as the keypad knows, it is on M57. You can set up the keypad to follow the motion from The Sky (or any other program) by placing it in the digital circle mode (press NEXT button when you are in Objects menu), but it will not automatically look up these co-ordinates and match it to a known object in its database. (You can do a search function but this is a laborious process). If you use the keypad to Recal on this new object from The Sky, it will do a calibration on the old object, and the servo will now have the wrong co-ordinates in its memory.
Recal (button #9) on the keypad is strictly a function that recalibrates the position of the last object in the keypad memory to the current position of the servo. It is used for centering an object that you slewed to with the keypad. If you wish to calibrate on a new object that you slewed to using TheSky, you can do that with either the Keypad "Sync" routine, or with the Sync routine in TheSky. You cannot do it with the keypad Recal button.
To sum up: The mount servo has the information of current position from any source in its memory. The keypad can be placed in "digital circle" mode to follow commands from outside sources. The keypad cannot be used to Rcal from an outside slew command. The keypad can be used to Sync on an object from an outside slew command if that object is in the Keypad database.
DigitalSky Voice from Astro-Physics by Charles SinsofskyDigitalSky Voice is provided with all GTO mounts. It provides full support of all mount functions including high-precision pointing accuracy, three park positions, focus control, reticle adjustment, slewing and button speed control, object centering, horizon checking and setting the telescope slewing restriction zone. It has most of the functions of your keypad controller and many more. Simply select Astro-Physics GTO mounts from the list of popular go-to mounts that are supported.
DSV is a terrific tool for planning your observing sessions. Create your own tour of objects to observe tonight or create a tour on the fly with the search function. Guide your scope through an entire observing session without even touching your computer keyboard or ruining your night vision. Wondering what you should observe next? Simply ask "what’s up?" DigitalSky will suggest some fascinating objects to view according to an upper magnitude limit that you set. Complete information is contained in our dedicated DigitalSky Voice web siteFebruary 23, 2011">www.digitalskyvoice.com.
DigitalSky Voice can be used alone or in conjunction with several other planetarium programs on just one COM port by utilizing the link bridge feature (PDF document).
Earth Centered Universe (ECU) by David Lane of Nova Astronomics
The Earth Centered Universe (ECU) V3.2 is a Planetarium and Telescope Control Program for Amateur Astronomers. ECU has been popular with many users since its introduction in 1992. Use the program to slew your Astro-Physics GTO mount (among others) or use it to learn your way around the sky on those cloudy nights. Features of ECU are described on the Nova Astronomics web site at http://www.nova-astro.com. Functions include: A free 30-day downloadable demo copy is available so that you can evaluate the program before you make your purchase.
The link bridge feature with DigitalSky Voice is not available at this time.
MegaStar 5 by Emil Bonanno
MegaStar 5 Sky Atlas for Windows, published and distributed by Willman-Bell, Inc, now offers telescope control for Astro-Physics GTO mounts. Functions include: slewing to target object or coordinates, syncing on object, moving with directional controls at 4 possible rates (guide, center, find and slew), selecting tracking rate (sidereal, lunar and solar) and focusing control.
The link bridge feature with DigitalSky Voice is not available at this time.
SkyMap Pro 8 by Chris Marriot
Using the Astro-Physics GTO telescope driver in SkyMap Pro 8, the scope’s position will be displayed constantly on the star chart as a flashing "cross-hair". To slew the telescope to any object, the user simply locates the desired object on the star chart, clicks the right mouse button over the object, and selects "Slew to <object>" from the resulting "pop-up" menu. No additional functions are available. See http://www.skymap.com for more information. The telescope control is fully functional in the free evaluation version of SkyMap Pro which can be downloaded from the SkyMap web site; this allows you to fully evaluate the program before buying it.
The link bridge feature with SkyMap Pro 8 (and also version 7) and DigitalSky Voice is not available at this time.
If you have the earlier versions SkyMap Pro 5 and 6, you can use DigitalSky Voice and SkyMap Pro 5 or 6 together on one COM port by utilizing the link bridge feature of DigitalSky Voice. By doing this, you can take advantage of the three park positions, focus control, reticle adjustment, slewing and button speed control, object centering, and setting the telescope slewing restriction zone features of DigitalSky Voice. You can direct your telescope with DSV tours via voice commands and display SkyMap Pro on your computer screen - at the same time. Two powerful observing tools used together. This union would allow SkyMap Pro to be used remotely. Please refer to the Link Bridge Feature (PDF document) for additional information.
TheSky from Software Bisque
TheSky is a very popular planetarium program used alone or as part of the software suite that includes TPoint, Orchestrate and CCDSoft.
Version 5.00.014 Windows (or later versions) Update
09-10-01 Software Bisque recently announced version 5.00.014 Windows update which includes an improved driver for the Astro-Physics GTO mount. If you already own version 5 of TheSky, you can download the current upgrade from the support section of the Software Bisque website. This is a significant improvement to the driver and we urge you to update your software.
TheSky Version 5.00.014 Windows Update - AP Driver Features (also applies to later versions)
Using TheSky with Your GTO Mount. This
document is in PDF format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher.
Print it as an addendum to your GTO Control Box instruction manual.
Download the FREE Acrobat Reader.
Using DigitalSky Voice and TheSky together
You can use DigitalSky Voice and TheSky together on one COM port by utilizing the link bridge feature of DigitalSky Voice (PDF document). This will allow you to set the three parking positions, slewing and button speed control, object centering, and the telescope slewing restriction zone features of DigitalSky Voice. You can direct your telescope with DSV tours via voice commands and display TheSky on your computer screen - at the same time.
If you updated TheSky to the new 5.00.014 (or later version), you will have to install the new TeleAPI.dll file per the instructions in DigitalSky Voice Link Bridge Feature (PDF document).
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This page was last modified: April 29, 2004
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