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Messages - fsr

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Capabilities Question / Re: New AstroEQ Bluetooth modules
« on: July 03, 2017, 19:27:44 »
Hi Andrew,

Unfortunately I didn't get the time to assemble any. Managed to get a load of AstroEQs built, but the Bluetooth modules have many tiny and fiddly parts to solder. I've brought the boards back to the states with me and will try to get some made up if I can find some time.

The Bluetooth would still require EQMOD. SkySafari doesn't talk Synta, so it's not possible to make the two talk without some kind of translation. I've been looking in to making something that can translate between LX200 and Synta, but its not an easy task and given that I spend all day programming stuff at work, I lack the enthusiasm to investigate LX200 when I get home.


In fact, Sky Safary talks Synta, but the hand controller protocol, not the motor controller protocol, which seems to be what AstroEQ uses, right? That means that for it to work you would need to give SS the position the telescope is pointing to, in RA and DEC directly. Not an easy task, if you must support a wide range of mounts, with different ratios, DIY, etc. At least not easy to do with the same microcontroller that is managing the steppers.

The hand controller protocol is this one: http://www.skywatcher.com/download/manual/synscan-pc-command-set/ , but it lacks some important details: a full revolution in RA is 24 hours, or 360 degrees, with 0x1000000 possible values (0 to 0xFFFFFF), but DEC must be in the range of +90 to -90 degrees, so 0x400000 to 0xC00000. Well, in fact uses 4 bytes, not 3, but the last byte must always be 00.

Since i see you're going to make a smart hand controller, that information is probably useful to you, assuming you didn't had it already. You could then put a bluetooth module on the hand controller, in case you're interested.

Sky Safari doesn't really have a lot of options to control a telescope, anyways. It has manual movement at different rates, goto, cancel goto, and has an align option, but for some reason, align for synta is just some kind of "local alignment" (take a look at SS documentation to get an idea). The best part would be that you can see where the telescope is pointing, but SS won't act as a full goto controller, it would only ask a goto hand controller to perform that operations. I suppose it works the same way for any telescope. I hadn't upgraded to the last SS version, however, i'm using SS 4 Plus.


Capabilities Question / Re: astro eq and bluetooth
« on: May 30, 2017, 04:15:12 »
Hi Bob,

Not directly. There was originally planned to be a header for a Bluetooth module, but because of space constraints (trying to keep the trace widths large enough to be DIY friendly) it had to be removed from the design. But even if it was there, I am yet to find any Bluetooth modules that support 5V logic levels (they all seem to be 3.3V).

I have however been planning (and in fact recently finished designing the PCB for) an AstroEQTooth module which would be installed in place of the USB-Serial chip (the module has the same chip on it but in surface mount, so you can still use USB).
I still need to build one to verify it works, and also work out how much the parts/PCB will cost.
It's designed to work with V4.3 and later AstroEQ controllers (ones which have an expansion header on the PCB), but it will be possible to use it will older controllers as well.

I have some time off work over Easter, so will be having another look at this then.


I have used the HC-06 module with an atmega microcontroller in the past (on another project, not AstroEQ), and it's only the input-output signals what limits you to 3.3v. The module can work with a power supply of up to 6v. On top of that, the atmega will recognize a 3.3v input as a high level, so the only problem is the input to the HC-06 module, but that can be solved by simply adding a 3.3v zener from the module input to ground, and a resistor between the output of the atmega and the input of the HC-06 module. I made it work that way, and seems to be ok. I'll attach a screen capture of that part of the schematic, just in case, but it's very simple to make them work.

Bluetooth sounds interesting, as Sky Safari can control a Skywatcher Synscan, and AstroEQ seems to use the same protocol, right? So i suppose that by adding a bluetooth module to AstroEQ, you would only need an android smartphone with this app (or similar app that can control a telescope) to make it work without a computer. I think that the result of this combination would be very powerful. It's wireless, it has GPS, it has a huge object database, with a lot of information for every object, it has a very good screen with a sky chart that you can click, zoom, etc, and command your telescope to GO TO the selected object, or use the directional keys provided by the app. You can also know at any time where your telescope is ponting, all without having a computer with you. Not too bad.

EDIT: since i wrote this, i realized that sky safari uses the synta hand control protocol, not the motor controller protocol, which is what AstroEQ uses.

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