|C-7 Home Page C-7 News Consignment Library Products & Services Product Lines Order Search C7.com|
Repeatable precision, highly accurate "Go-To" control via Keypad, Computer or Smart Phone
GTO Keypad Operation:
The GTO Keypad provided with each new GTO mount is the user interface for local control of the mount. This is a hand-holdable computer that stores the instruction set of all of the features menus, local control functions and databases of celestial objects that you would routinely need to tour the universe night after night. The red lit vacuum-fluorescent display can operate across a wide temperature range from a low of down to -40 degrees F and C (they are the same in this instance), allowing the most hardy observers to use the keypad on cold winter nights; though we recommend you contact us for advice about operating the mechanics of the mount at temperatures below -20F.
The Keypad of the GTO incorporates a replaceable long-life lithium 'button' battery. The earlier Keypads (up to Serial # 1565GTO) were provided with the CR1632 slip in battery, while later Keypads employ a CR2430 battery with a soldered pigtail that can be ordered from us or adapted by anyone with simple soldering skills. The battery keeps the Keypad's volatile settings from being forgotten. Company Seven recommends replacing the battery every few years or so however, we have some older discontinued Astro-Physics mounts on display in our showroom with the Keypad working just fine for years longer than the recommended battery replacement interval.
As new firmware versions are released in the future, you can upgrade the Keypad directly from any Windows personal computer, or from a MacIntosh running Windows, by downloading the updating applications and instructions from the appropriate section of the factory website - free of charge! Then connect your computer to the upper of the two Serial Ports on the GTOCPx and upgrade the firmware. It is also possible to reload the database stored in the GTOCPx should the replaceable battery within the Keypad become depleted.
The Keypad included with each GTO mount can be set within the menu settings to control any one of the GTO mounts, and is compatible with all versions of the GTO Control Box: GTOCP1, GTOCP2, GTOCP3.
PulseGuide is a stand-alone Microsoft Windows (98, ME, 2000, NT4, XP, Vista and Windows 7) compatible software utility that provides complete remote control of the Astro-Physics Mach1GTO, 900GTO, 1200GTO, 3600GTO, and even the older discontinued 400GTO and 600EGTO mounts. PulseGuide is written by Ray Gralak of Sirius-Imaging, he makes this available free of charge to owners of any Astro-Physics GTO mount. Many, many thanks to Ray for this powerful program.
The PulseGuide software derives its name from its most distinctive feature, pulse guiding, which can improve unguided tracking. Specifically, it can help correct tracking errors caused by polar misalignment and atmospheric refraction. You can also train PulseGuide to track objects moving relative to the stars, such as asteroids, comets, and the moon. In addition to pulse guiding, PulseGuide also has many useful utility features. With just a few exceptions, it supports the entire serial Astro-Physics command protocol allowing full control of your mount through your PC. For more information or for further news about developments and enhancements refer to the factory web site and to Ray Gralak's web site http://www.pulseguide.com.
PulseGuide is compatible with all versions of the GTO Mounts Control Box modules: GTOCP1, GTOCP2, GTOCP3
What Is Ascom?: Most popular third-party planetarium software, CCD imaging and automated guiding control software, and observatory control software take advantage of the universal applicability protocol known as ASCOM. The ASCOM Initiative was pioneered by a loosely-knit group of astronomy software developers and some astronomy device manufacturers who sought to develop a more universal, vendor-independent, plug-and-play control language.
ASCOM is a many-to-many language independent architecture, supported by most astronomy devices that connect to a Microsoft Windows computer. Drivers for the Windows based PC's are available to allow communication with most types of astronomy devices (e.g., Motorized Focusers, Observatory Domes, Telescope Mounts); these employ the Windows OS native component object feature (COM). Virtually all development languages, scripting languages, and scriptable tools allow use of Windows COM objects natively without adapter libraries. How ASCOM differs from traditional astronomy instrument control architectures, the downloads, and other information are available at the ASCOM.org website.
Astro-Physics now offers a company-supported ASCOM V2 driver. This driver provides full mount control for all of the Astro-Physics GTO mounts and acts as a hub allowing multiple client applications to connect through a single serial port without the need for POTH. It has been developed with remote operation in mind and its functions were designed to be highly robust. The driver features a very user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI). Please see this link for more information and to find links to the ASCOM platform and the Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM driver. The ASCOM V2 Driver is compatible with all versions of the GTO Control Box: GTOCP1, GTOCP2, GTOCP3.
Astro-Physics Command Center (APCC) Software:
Ray Gralak, the author of PulseGuide, is currently developing the Astro-Physics Command Center (APCC), which will incorporate all the features of PulseGuide and add many more advanced functions to the control system of your mount. Through the application of virtual serial ports, APCC will act as a hub for a number of other applications that can all communicate with the mount through a single COM port. As of this writing, in late May 2011, APCC is in the second beta testing phase. We anticipate that it will be available later in the Fall of 2011.
There are a number of planetarium programs that can be used to control the Astro-Physics GTO Servo System. In addition, some software designed primarily for camera control and/or observatory control and planning also have limited ability to control your mount. Many of these use the ASCOM interface and will take advantage of the new ASCOM V2 driver mentioned above. Any software that can use the AP V2 ASCOM driver will have extensive mount control capabilities because of the driver's "virtual keypad" features. Other programs employ native drivers that the software designers wrote from our publicly available command set. The list that follows is certainly not exhausive, but contains software with which we have at least a little familiarity.
Resources for Apple MacIntosh Users:
Mobile Smart Devices: We have entered a new age of smart devices that offer amazing functionality at our fingertips without the need for a computer. The offerings include:
SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller and SkyWire from Southern Stars. SkyFi is Southern Stars' patent-pending WiFi-to-Serial adapter that is designed for wireless telescope control. If you have a computer-controlled GoTo telescope then SkyFi can use the WiFi capabilities of your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to point your telescope (via your mount) to any object overhead in the sky.
SkyWire can connect the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch directly to your mount via wired connection. It has an Apple device plug on one end and an RS232 plug on the other.
In 2010, Southern Stars' SkyFi and SkySafari (discussed below) were Macworld Expo 2010 Best of Show winners (both products were marketed by Carina Software at the time of the award). Check this link to see Tim Benedictus demonstrate these products at the Macworld Expo.
SkySafari for iOS from Southern Stars
As of this writing, SkySafari 3 is available in three different versions, two of them offering telescope control. All of these versions are available as iTunes Apps and require use of the SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller or SkyWire, as described above.
The GoTo mount control functions provided by this application are quite basic and most suited to visual astronomy. However, the graphical interface of your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone offers some exciting possibilities to engage kids (young and old) at public star parties, as well as provide an enjoyable, informative evening for amateur astronomers on observing nights. Also, if the weather is cloudy, you can browse through the extensive databases to learn a great deal about the sky and plan your next session. This product is also being offered in a version for the Mac OS X for direct computer control.
Please visit the Southern Stars website for the most updated information on SkySafari, SkyFi and SkyWire or contact our showroom for information and ordering.
The Astro-Physics GTO protocol for the GTOCP3 Control Box is freely available to those who would like to write their own computer program for controlling the mount. Please contact Astro-Physics for further information. Please note, however, that with our substantial investment in both the Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM driver and in APCC, we cannot also provide free technical support to anyone who wants to try their hand at mount control software. We strongly encourage all customers to use the available software options when practical.
Contents Copyright 1994-2011 Company Seven - All Rights Reserved