GPS Control for Meade LX-200 GPS
Thanks for purchasing the GPS Control program!
This program was developed by and for amateur astronomers to aid in the control and enjoyment of our LX-200 GPS telescopes.
Table of Contents
1. Installation and Setup
There are several methods in which the LX-200 GPS telescope can be connected to a PC. The simplest and most common method is connecting the serial port of the computer directly to the RS-232 port on the telescope base. Meade offers a special cable for this purpose and such cables are offered from other sources and can be home-made as well. This cable can be used to update the firmware in the telescope and to control the telescope as well. For controlling the telescope with the GPS Control program, use the RS-232 on the telescope base nearest to the handbox port. For updating the telescope firmware, always use the RS-232 port closest to the handbox connector port as well. For best results with the GPS Control program and your telescope, always use the latest firmware available.
Many newer notebook computers no longer have a physical serial port installed. In this case, use of a USB to Serial adapter is required. Adapters are available through several manufacturers. In these installations, a virtual serial port is installed when the adapter's drivers are installed. Usually these can be configured by the user to any free Com port number desired. GPS Control can support real and virtual Com ports 1 through 8.
To install the program, put the CD in the CD drive and follow the on screen instructions. If the setup routine doesn't start automatically, click on the 'Setup' icon.
2. Object Menu
Once the telescope to computer connection has been established, power up the telescope and align it as required . Double click on the GPS Control program icon. The program will start and the "handbox" will be displayed. Choose a Com port number by using the scroll keys at the bottom of the controller. Choose the appropriate port and click on the "Enter" button. If the Com port you choose is busy or non-existent, a message will be displayed. Once the correct port is selected, a message will be displayed indicating the Com port is valid and the telescope is connected. When the link between the PC and the scope has been established, the Status message will indicate "Lx-200 Gps Connected". For best results, start the session with the microfocuser in the midway point of its travel.
The control program works just like the Autostar hand controller. Use the scroll keys at the bottom of the control to move through the menus. Press and hold the keys to rapidly move through selections. Click on the "Enter" key to make a selection. Pressing and holding the "Mode" and "Enter" keys will also yield the appropriate response. Clicking any of the "hot" keys (0-9) will bring you directly to the sub menu of that key.
Select one of the object libraries by clicking "Enter" from the "Object" menu. Use the scroll keys to select the desired object library and click "Enter" again. Use the number keys to enter the object number desired. Click "Enter" to select the target and press "Goto" to slew the telescope to the target. Alternatively, you can select a library from one of the "hot" keys (i.e. "3" - Messier). Again, enter the number of the object, click "Enter" and then "Goto". For any of the "Named" objects, simply select the desired object, click "Enter" and then "Goto".
You can slew the telescope directly to known coordinates by clicking "User Object" and selecting "GoTo" from the selections. Click on the number keys to enter the desired R.A. The program will automatically enter the appropriate punctuation. Click "Enter" to continue. Follow the same procedure for entering the Declination, using the scroll arrows to adjust for negative or positive Declination. Click on "Enter" after entering the Declination and the entered coordinates will be displayed. Click "Goto" to slew to the coordinates.
You can save the current telescope position by clicking on "Add" from the "User Object" menu. Select one of the five memory slots and click "Enter". To retrieve a position, click on the "Select" menu option and pick the appropriate memory slot. The retrieved position will be displayed. Click on the "Goto" key to slew to the position. The User Objects are saved to your
hard drive for future use.
After slewing to a target, the display will show the new coordinates for a brief period, followed by the name/number of the object and the truncated coordinates.
Any attempt to slew to an object or coordinates which are below the horizon or beyond user set limits will result in an error message and prevent the telescope from slewing.
3. Setup Menu
The menu options under "Setup" are fairly self-explanatory and follow the Autostar conventions. Select "Reverse UP/DOWN" and " Reverse L/R" to reverse the telescope movement when using the directional arrow keys to move the telescope.
Select the desired tracking rate from the "Tracking Rate" menu. The available options are: Lunar, Sidereal and Custom. Sidereal is the default value.
Toggle the "Smart Drive" on and off by choosing "Dec PEC" and "R.A.PEC" menu options.
The "Goto Slew Rate" option allows the user to adjust the speed of the telescope while slewing. The default rate is "Max".
Use the Dec. and R.A.Backlash setting controls to adjust the corresponding backlash values.
Speed Key: Adjust the movement speed of the telescope by selecting the #1 or "Speed" key. The current speed setting will be displayed. Choose a speed setting by selecting 0-9 with the respective key. It is not necessary to click "Enter" after selecting. The default speed is "Guide".
Direction Keys: The "N","E","S" and"W" keys control the directional movement of the telescope as expected. The "W" key also functions as a backspace key when entering data.
Focus Key: Select the motorized focuser speed by choosing the desired speed with the scroll keys. Use the "E" and "W" keys to move the focuser in and out. A graph will display showing the relative postion of the focuser. Ideally, if the program is started when the focuser is in the centered position, the graph will give the user notice of when the travel of the focuser is reaching its limits. This does not hold true when focusing at the "Fine" speed. Here, the display is only giving an arbitrary reading, useful as a fine-tuning reference. Use the "Mode" key to exit the focusing function.
Jystk Key: Use this key to initialize the joystick control function. Use the joystick to move the telescope in any of 8 directions. Each press of the "Fire" button will increase the slew speed incrementally. After the highest speed is reached, the Joystick will then function as a focus control. Move the joystick East or West to adjust the focus. Moving the joystick North or South will change the focuser speed incrementally. A wireless joystick is recommended but not required.
Mode Key: Use the "Mode" key to move up through the menus. Press and hold the "Mode" key for two seconds to retrieve the current telescope position coordinates. Pressing the "Mode" key will also halt the scope while slewing. Press "Enter" to continue the slew.
Enter Key: Use the "Enter" key to execute a displayed menu option. Press and hold the "Enter" key for two seconds to 'Sync' on the current target. An acknowledgement message will display.
Scroll Keys: Use the up and down "Scroll" keys to move through the menu options and lists.
Press and hold keys for more than one second to rapidly move through the menus and lists.
Close Box: Use the "X" button in the upper right corner of the handbox to close the program and stop communication with the telescope. Be sure to close the program before shutting the telescope off.
Save Settings: User assigned values for Backlash, P.E.C and Goto Slew Rate are automatically saved to the user's hard drive when the program is closed. These values are saved in the non-volatile memory of the Autostar also.
? Key: This key will retrieve the current celestial coordinates of the telescope (same as holding down "Mode" key).
1. Telescope connection cannot be made, Status displays "Check Scope"
A. Verify connections between computer and telescope.
B. Verify telescope is powered up and functioning. A connection cannot be established until the Autostar has finished initializing and has obtained a GPS lock (Unless Autostar is configured to obtain a GPS lock after initial start up.)
C. Make sure that the correct Com port has been selected and it is not being used by another program or service.
D. Re-start the telescope and or the computer and try again.
2. Hand Controller image looks blotchy or distorted.
A. Adjust computer display settings to 32-bit or "True Color".
B. Use the correct version of the program for your operating system.
C. Adjust system fonts to normal size.
* Known bugs and issues: Due to a programming limitation, when using any of the "press and hold" functions (i.e. Mode, Enter or Scroll Keys), mouse movement must be kept to a minimum while holding the key down or the function will abort. The Temperature retrieval function may take a moment to display until the telescope has "warmed up".
Tips and Hints:
The telescope will always give command priority to the last input device. If the handbox is used to change a setting, then it will remain at that setting until it is changed from the computer program. The information on the handbox display may not be valid when the telescope is being controlled by the PC.
Gps Control is ideal for remote control of the telescope. It has been tested with serial cables as long as 75 feet, over wired and wireless LAN networks and even coast to coast over the internet! It is a perfect companion for a ccd camera and to work along side most popular planetarium programs.
As a purchaser of GPS Control, you are entitled to free program updates as they are developed. Check www.interactiveastronomy.com for future updates. Your password is on the CD label.
Choose from one of the menu options from the Utilities menu to perform the desired function.
"Park Scope" will park the telescope in the park position previously set by the user, i.e. Custom or Default.
Sleep and Wake scope perform as implied and respond with an appropriate message.
Time, Date and Temperature will retrieve the current values from the telescope at the moment they are displayed. The time and date are the local time settings adjusted for DST. The temperature is the current temperature of the telescope, this function may be inaccurate on Autostar versions below 1.6b.
The site coordinates are the current site's longitude and latitude as returned from the GPS receiver. If a GPS lock has not been obtained, then the current default site coordinates are displayed.
Use the "Beep" function to turn on and off the beep through your computer speaker.
I.A.C and/or its agents will not be held liable for any consequences of use or misuse of this computer software.
Special thanks to Mr.Jim Fisher for support in design, testing and debugging of this program.