1. Equatorial Controller - PicGoto.
PicGoto is a system designed for the control of Equatorial Mounts and recently Alt-Azimutals mounts too . This is based on accurate, configurable, step by step control of the speed and movement to position, in Right Ascension and Declination, of any equatorial mount equipped with stepper motors. Fully configurable for different motor step sizes and gear reductions.
The circuit activates the motors in micro step (10-20 micro steps per step) which results in a greater smoothness and precision when compared to traditional controllers of average steps. Optionally also it can control the speed up and down ramp with suitable motors.
The PicGoto controller connects to a personal computer or laptop/portable, through the Serial Port. The software provided is compatible with the standard Protocol known as LX200. It can be used with companion programs from Planetarium and Goto or Guidance for the capture of images.
COM driver is available for ASCOM compatible software.
It can be powered by Direct Current (DC battery, transformer) from 7 ~ 15 V. The voltage will depend on the motor power and the slew speed that we want, with a limit imposed by the gear reduction stages of the mount, of course.
PicGoto comes prepared to directly connect to a standard motorized EQ5 mount but is also adaptable to other systems of motors and mounts: Vixen, EQ6, Cardboard and to homemade adaptations of motors, single it is even necessary to change the connectors of the motors.
PicGoto Server communicates directly with Cartes du Ciel and Astrosnap. All other software (with port redirection) adaption is practicaly total if that program directly supports LX200 or the ASCOM protocol (The Sky, Skymap, Desktop Universe, Astroart).
It supports tracking guidance, with USB WebCams or Camcorders, if a capture device is used.
The control program implements a network server. The mount can be operated from a seperate computer (other than the Control computer) on a network or through the Internet.
2. Connection of the Controller.
The connection is simple.
1. Connect the DB9 to any Serial Port available on the PC.
2. Connect the RJ45 cables directly to the motors of the mount.
3. The control circuit box has a female pin for the DC power feed. The polarity is Inner/Positive - Outer/Earth. A Regulated Transformer of 6-12V and of at least 1.2 Amps of Current is recommended.
3. Configuration and Use.
3.1. Installation of PicGoto Server.
The program installs when executing the Setup.exe file contained in the CD that accompanies PicGoto.
If we are going to use Cartes du Ciel to control the mount we must install this program before PicGoto Server. This software is available free at the following URL:
For capture of images and guiding, AstroSnap is recommended:
PicGoto Server will install by default in: C:\Program Files\PicGoto. We can modify the directory of installation to one of our choice. Also a desktop icon will be added for easy access to the program.
3.2. Control and Coordinates.
3.2.1. KeyPad Panel.
The KeyPad panel contains the buttons for movement and selection of manual speed for the mount. The buttons marked with N, S, E, W and NE, NW, SE, SW move the mount in the corresponding direction: North, South, East... Northeast, Northwest etc.
Slew, Find, Center, Guide indicate what speed is selected and is the speed which the telescope will move when we press the direction buttons. The value of these speeds can be fixed for the configuration of the mount as is explained further on in this Manual.
The program will respond to any installed Joystick controller or of the Standard type (Gameport), wireless USB or any of this type. We can manually center, move or change the selected speed - while we watch at the eyepiece, or use the finder. All without having to look at the screen of the PC.
Accel selects the speed change or progressive slowdown, highly recommended for mounts with low reduction and high slew speed, for most other mounts this is not necessary.
EAST indicates to the program if we have the mount in this direction or West, basically sets the direction of movement in DEC but maintaining the coherence with the direction of the mount for the software. It is important that this setting is done correctly to make automatic searches (GOTO) and Guiding. This setting indicates use in the Northern or Southern Hemispheres.
3.2.2. Control Panel
For monitoring the position of the mount, we selected to the eyelash Control.
If connected the PicGoto Controller this did not warn with the Device message not to us connected.
In the Position panel we see in a green color, the present coordinates of mount in Right ascension and Declination, any movement that we make with the GamePad, the direction buttons or with a GOTO is reflected instantaneously in the coordinates.
The squares with values of coordinates in red color are for manual introduction by keying in the values of the coordinate synchronization or destination.
Sync. Syncronizing the mount. Manually we point the telescope at a bright star, introduce the star coordinates and press Sync.
GOTO initiates the movements to the selected coordinates. The mount will go to the object at the selected speed. The next software version will include routines for autoalignment with two stars as opposed to one to obtain greater precision and decreasing incorrect polar alignment.
If we used a program of compatible planetarium, we will be able to conduct all this operations of synchronization and GOTO simply clicked with the mouse on the object in CDS (this is explained later in the Manual).
Adjust and the corresponding square serves to fix the speed adjustment fine.
Focus: If we have installed the focusing motor, these buttons control its position.
3.2.3. LOG Panel
PicGoto Server communicates with other programs using a TCP connection. In this view we can see all commands and responses that also take place to indicate to us if the program has established a connection with another program.
In the image we can see traffic between Cartes du Ciel and the program. This is very useful to detect any kind of problem.
3.3. Configuration of Mount and Selection of Speeds.
3.3.1. Mount Panel.
PicGoto Server comes configured for a standard EQ5 mount with motors, if we wished to configure for a different mount it will be necessary to know following the parameters:
1 number of teeth of the primary gear
2 Relation of the reducing gear
3 Number of motor steps.
In the example is the configuration of mount EQ5 (VIXEN, cg5 or similar). In this case the values are equal for both 144 teeth on each primary gear, reducing 120:1 and motor of 48 steps, as we worked to 10 micro steps the value to put is of 480
After introducing the values we pressed:
Save to store the configuration in the PC (it will be necessary to modify the values again if we used another mount or we changed a mechanical part of the mount).
SaveEEPROM if we wished to also record it in the PicGoto Controller (necessary for the use of the guiding control and programs. The configuration will remain although we maintain the setting between one session and the next).
3.3.2. Misc Panel
It serves to monitor the yield of Microcontroller and some parameters of low level:
1 Service load of uP.
2 Virtual gross values of encoder.
3 Brightness of the LED of the circuit.
Button +Speed - Speed varies the sidereal speed of way but pronounced, it can be useful in case of a very deficient alignment. It is not stored.
3.3.3. Panel Conf.
Serial Settings selects to the port series where it will physically connect the PicGoto Controller and the speed of 19200 transmission that must be of bps.
In the section Host Server it is possible to be formed direction IP and the Port where PicGoto Server will accept connections. If the machine is not in network the specified values they are those that appear in 127,0,0,1 image and port 10001.
Direction IP is selected must be assigned logically to the machine.
3.4. Control By means of de Cartes Du Ciel.
Du Ciel is possible to use the Cartes program to govern the mount using protocol LX200. The steps to make for the configuration are
1.We took PicGoto Server.
2. We executed Cartes du Ciel.
3. We selected to the Telescope_Selection menu Interphase Telescopio_Lxnet
4. We run the Control Panel LX200 pressing on the Button Sight.
5. We selected to the Server Eyelash El value of remote Host will be 127,0,0,1 Remote Port 10001 (such values that we have in panel Host de PicGoto).
6. We selected the eyelash Port Config.
7. In Serial Port Select TCP1.
8. Click the Button Save Setting to keep the configuration.
9. We selected the Coordinates eyelash.
10. We pressed indicating the Connect button, el changed of red green.
We can verify that the communication has settled down selecting in PicGoto Server the Log panel and to observe if exists I deal.
Cartes du Ciel always begins the connection in way low precision, can be changed in the Configuration_Display panel Precision marking High. Also in this panel the refreshment interval can be selected, that is the period in milliseconds between each request of coordinates. He is not advisable to lower it to but of 300ms since it loads but the PC a value of 1000 ms is but that sufficient. Once formed and saved the configuration, whenever we take the single PC we must carry out pasos1,2,4,10 and the selection of precision. From already we can here operate like with any compatible mount LX200. Or with the controls of CDC (Cartes Du Ciel)o PicGoto Server and of course with the GamePad.
For synchronization, GOTO, to show of form continued the position of the telescope on the letter... the comfortable form but to work is to hide the Control Panel of CDC and to use bellboys Sight To show To synchronize Sign To go to of CDC and the controls of PicGoto Server. The best reference is the CDC aid and to play a little....
3.5. Homing with WebCam and AstroSnap
The PicGoto controller can communicate directly with AstroSnap to make autoguide using a WebCam. For it PicGoto Server does not have to be executing itself simultaneously. The best form to work is to use PicGoto the ,al location to close the program the continuous telescope the guidance independently and we can already control it by means of with AstroSnap for the trim and the homing one. We can connect and disconnect by software to be able to use the benefits of one or another program to our convenience. The configuration for the connection acquires knowledge in the following capture:
It is arrived at the previous window selecting Options of the main menu of AstroSnap. Mount LX200 must be selected like type of interphase, port selected series must be the same one to which we have connected the PicGoto Controller.
Once formed we pressed OK in this window of I engage in a dialog and we selected Telescope in the main menu. The GoTo functions are inhibit. Not therefore the functions of movement and speed of the mount.
If we have I modulate optional of approach control we can focus the image from the control manually or let work to the routine of Autofocus of the program In order to dominate to the techniques and tricks for a correct guidance it is recommended to read the aid of AstroSnap.
4. Other Programs.
Com/tcp is possible to use almost any program of compatible commercial astronomy LX200 using redirector software of ports. It has been proven with The Sky, Skymap, StarryNight, AstroArt, Desktop Universe, as well as with ASCOM.
The next version of PicGoto for Windows NT/2000/XP will directly support the redirection nevertheless for Windows 98 will be necessary the Redirector. Also this anticipated native support ASCOM.
5, Commercial mounts
PicGoto proven with the following models Motorized Mounts:
Equatorial Platform The 25,4 Newtons F6
Proven optical tubes: Custom Newton 25,4 cm f/6 15 kg Custom Newton 25,4 cm f/5 14 kg Orion Newton 20 cm f/6 Orion Maksutow 5? f/10 Celestron 11? Celestron 9,25? Synta Maksutow 90 Alstar Refractor 80 f/15
CCD with long planetary exhibition and. Audine CCD Toucam Pro.
Not to invest the feeding polarity. The circuit of control this protect power could be damaged the protection diodes if a period prolonged without the connected motors stays not to connect and to disconnect cables of the motors with the ignited circuit. Not to wet under any circumstance the circuit controller. Although the nominal maximum voltage is of 32V is recommended not to exceed 12V of feeding. Not to surround the box of circuit with plastics or fabrics the box this designed for the car refrigeration by convection. To store in dry place . Not to clean with spray or sprayers, aggressive, single a clean cloth and slightly dampened.
7. Minim. Hardware & Software
Compatible Computer PC Pentium Processor 100MHz 8Mb. Operating systems Windows 95/98/Me or NT/2000/XP. Port Series RS232. (or adapter USB series) Recommended USB or GamePort for GamePad.