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Equipment Discussions >> ATM, Optics and DIY Forum

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FoggyEyes
sage


Reged: 06/01/13

Loc: Columbus, Ohio
DIY digital setting circles
      #6027781 - 08/15/13 06:16 PM

Looking for somebody to say this can't be done...

I have a relatively inexpensive GEM with the usual nearly useless setting circles. I'm thinking about building my own digital setting circles using rotary encoders I can get from eBay and an Arduino board to count the pulses.

Connecting the encoders will be tricky - I could use the other end of the shafts that the slow motion cables attach to, but mechanically connecting them to the mount will be tricky.

I'm a programmer so writing software is not an issue.

Be neat if I could pull this off and get it to talk to Stellarium or Cartes du Ciel. If nothing else, it should be a fun challenge.

If it works, it would be a lot cheaper than buying a motorized mount. If it works, I know it pretty much precludes putting clock drive motors on this mount.


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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: FoggyEyes]
      #6027797 - 08/15/13 06:26 PM

google for David Ek digital setting circles . An older project but nothing has changed in the meanwhile.

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rboeAdministrator

*****

Reged: 03/16/02

Loc: Phx, AZ
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: mattflastro]
      #6027828 - 08/15/13 06:54 PM

It can't be done.

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rboeAdministrator

*****

Reged: 03/16/02

Loc: Phx, AZ
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: rboe]
      #6027832 - 08/15/13 06:57 PM

I went the David Ek route. Mixed results due to abuse of the circuit board.

But has you pointed out, attaching the encoders will be tricky. But I want to say I've seen someone do that here. A search may be fruitful. Don't forget to check our archives. We've had to move a boat load of stuff over there recently.


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DAVIDG
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Hockessin, De
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: rboe]
      #6027854 - 08/15/13 07:08 PM

I first built a system back in the earlier 80's using a Conmadore C-64 and then a later version that I still use today using a BASIC STAMP.

- Dave


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FoggyEyes
sage


Reged: 06/01/13

Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: mattflastro]
      #6027946 - 08/15/13 08:10 PM

Quote:

google for David Ek digital setting circles . An older project but nothing has changed in the meanwhile.



That was the inspiration for this project. I was thinking of substituting the Arduino to simplify Ek's way of doing things.

I did some searching on this forum, wasn't aware some posts were archived. I'll do some more digging around.


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Pinbout
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: FoggyEyes]
      #6027974 - 08/15/13 08:29 PM

before he posts it himself

http://www.clearskyobserver.com/index.php/component/content/article/20-telesc...


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StarDusty
sage


Reged: 10/02/07

Loc: Parsippany, NJ
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: FoggyEyes]
      #6027988 - 08/15/13 08:36 PM

I built a Ek clone using a Programmable Integrate Circuit (PIC). I use it on my 16" home made dob.

I was lucky and was given a set of low resolution encoders for free so the whole project did not cost me that much to complete. Plus it was fun. New encoders are relatively expensive.

Initially I used a Palm Pilot and free software Palm Pilot by Doug Braun. Palm Pilots are getting harder and harder to find so I recently upgraded my Ek clone box with blue tooth, so now I use Skysafari on my Driod phone.

The Ek clone box output is picked up on the phone via bluetooth which displays where in the sky my dob is pointed on my phone.

Go here for an article describing my Ek clone project:

http://www.clearskyobserver.com/index.php/20-telescopemaking/17-digital-setti...


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windjammer
member


Reged: 06/02/13

Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: mattflastro]
      #6027993 - 08/15/13 08:38 PM

Hi -

I've just been through this on an EQ2. Project details - mechanicals and arduino s/w is here:

www.astrobling.weebly.com/digital-setting-circles.html

The encoders are homemade. S/w still has some bugs in! But maybe will be of help.

Simon


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StarDusty
sage


Reged: 10/02/07

Loc: Parsippany, NJ
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: StarDusty]
      #6027994 - 08/15/13 08:38 PM

Thanks for thinking of me Danny

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Pinbout
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: StarDusty]
      #6028009 - 08/15/13 08:43 PM

no problem, anything for a local

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Gil V
sage


Reged: 09/09/12

Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: Pinbout]
      #6028141 - 08/15/13 10:10 PM

Here's a link for ya...

http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/h/dholko/dsc.htm


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windjammer
member


Reged: 06/02/13

Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: Gil V]
      #6028601 - 08/16/13 06:12 AM

This is fun - lots of different designs that converged to a similar solution.

Three processors, one for each encoder and one to process the data.

BTW, I found that the arduino was plenty fast enough polling encoder pulses rather than using an interrupt approach. Easier software to write! It manages a 60Khz polling rate on the encoder states, which is fine given the 18k encoder ticks per axis revolution. Code written in C as well, so hardly optimised.

Encoders attached directly to the axes so no problem attaching clock drives where they normally go.

No reason why you couldn't couple a slewing motor to the encoder gearing and make a GOTO if you wanted.

Simon


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Jeff Phinney
super member


Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: CA
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: windjammer]
      #6029003 - 08/16/13 11:50 AM

Quote:

This is fun - lots of different designs that converged to a similar solution.

....

BTW, I found that the arduino was plenty fast enough polling encoder pulses rather than using an interrupt approach. Easier software to write! It manages a 60Khz polling rate on the encoder states, which is fine given the 18k encoder ticks per axis revolution. Code written in C as well, so hardly optimised.

Encoders attached directly to the axes so no problem attaching clock drives where they normally go.

....

Simon




So would the final product be one that would mean not having to use a PC for coordinate display and using an LCD matrix instead for that purpose. That's what I'd like to see. It's getting old having to drag around a PC every time I want to use my scope.


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windjammer
member


Reged: 06/02/13

Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: Jeff Phinney]
      #6029238 - 08/16/13 01:52 PM

>>using an LCD matrix instead for that purpose

Yes - that's what this project does:

www.astrobling.weebly.com/digital-setting-circles.html

Simon


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Sean Wood
super member


Reged: 04/19/11

Loc: North Carolina
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: windjammer]
      #6029358 - 08/16/13 02:59 PM

I've recently been looking into possibly doing this also but on my lightbridge. What I finally settled on was a combo of using the Skyhub box from HubbleOptics. For ~$135 shipped it gives the ability to connect either via Bluetooth or USB. That'll allow me to use it with either Skysafari on my Android tablet/phone or to my pc using Stellarium or Cartes du Ciel.
As for encoders I was planning on using these capacitive encoders. They are the cheapest I've found and are programmable to several different resolutions via onboard dip switches. Given that they don't have a fixed shaft these may be easier to adapt to what you're wanting.


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Jeff Phinney
super member


Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: CA
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: windjammer]
      #6030005 - 08/16/13 10:23 PM

Quote:


www.astrobling.weebly.com/digital-setting-circles.html




What you have there looks pretty awesome AND flexible.
I already have Dave's Ek DSC interface/s and as I said before, lugging a laptop around simply to read coordinates gets old. Would it be easy to incorporate the Ek interface and have the 3rd CPU doing coordinate conversions, act as a display driver, etc.? Since my encoders will be driven directly from the shafts of each axis, I won't need to worry about compensating for backlash in the mechanical system. Any idea as to what it would take?

Thanks, Jeff


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DAVIDG
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Hockessin, De
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: Jeff Phinney]
      #6030814 - 08/17/13 11:57 AM

A couple of thoughts on digital setting circles system since I have built two from scratch. One used a Commadore C-64 and had the NGC and Messier catalog in the data base and display the cooridinates of were the scope was pointed. It used a two star alignment code. It took a good amount of time to write the code and debug the system. My second system is an interface built around a BASIC STAMP. It is very similar to the Ek DSC box or what JMI sold as their BBOX. It reads the encoder and outputs a ASCII string that has the as format as the NGC-MAX computers use. So any device, App or software package that uses an the NGC-MAX protocall can work with my interface.
If you have used both a direct readout device like an NGC-MAX or SKY Commander and then use a system that displays the night sky, like an App on a smart phone or software on a laptop you'll soon find that being able to see the night sky on the device is big plus. It allows to see what objects are around the one that you are viewing, many of which you many never have observeed befor. Since your using a push to system on your scope it take no time to hunt them down you take a look. The result is that you will have observing more objects.
From a technical stand point, while it is fun to build a direct read out device, it is going to take a fair amount of time while if you built an encoder interface you can take advanatge of the software already written, much of which is free or inexpensive and all the power of the devices they run on.

- Dave


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Jeff Phinney
super member


Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: CA
Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: DAVIDG]
      #6031016 - 08/17/13 01:50 PM

Quote:


From a technical stand point, while it is fun to build a direct read out device, it is going to take a fair amount of time while if you built an encoder interface you can take advanatge of the software already written, much of which is free or inexpensive and all the power of the devices they run on.

- Dave




The point of having a direct read out device that incorporates the use of the Ek encoder interface is to keep the options open of using either a dedicated read out device OR a PC/hand held device. It's quite often in a remote location that I'll simply set on an object and be parked there for a very long time(AP for example). A PC is simply overkill for what's needed and out in the boondocks using a handheld device for anything other is simply worthless.


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windjammer
member


Reged: 06/02/13

Re: DIY digital setting circles new [Re: Jeff Phinney]
      #6031288 - 08/17/13 04:10 PM

Hi Jeff -

I don't know much about Dave Ek's DSC interface I'm afraid. I understand (I think) from some of the links posted here that the DSC interface counts encoder ticks and then transmits the counts on command from the computer.

So far so good. The control CPU s/w in my project could be changed to do this - currently the head-end CPUs repeatedly issue the counts over their 9600 baud serial links without being instructed. The central CPU just has to listen when it wants an encoder position update.

The other issue is what is the format of the data on the serial links: this project expects an encoder count in a specified format - 8 ascii hex digits and delimiter characters.

All easy enough to change - the software C source is available on the site if you want to have a go.

An easier approach if you are not bothered about the EK i/face would be to connect your existing encoders to the head end units: the business end of these expects a 5V signal wiggling up and down representing encoder ticks.

This is pretty much a standard output from most encoders I think. Any idea how many counts per axis rotation your encoders give ? I won't say plug and play, but could be close.

If you are going to make a control and display unit you might as well make the head end units as well - they are actually a lot simpler than the control unit.

Simon


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