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Cartes du Ciel and the CPC/GPS

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#1 rmollise

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:15 PM

One of the best choices for the Celestron user who want to send her/his scope on go-tos from a PC is the excellent freeware program Cartes du Ciel. Unfortunately for beginners and the computer-phobic (like your old Uncle Rod), CdC does not use onboard telescope drivers, but instead uses the ASCOM scope interface program to provide scope control. Once installed, this system is very robust and works very well, both with the hand controller and with Nexremote.

How you do it:

1. Download and install Cartes du Ciel from http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/
This post assumes you're using the "old" version 2.76c rather than the v3.0 beta. 3.0 is almost there, but 2.76 is probably a better choice when you're first gettin' goin.

VERY IMPORTANT! Be sure to also download "ASCOM Plugin 1.2" from the Cartes download page. This is a zip file. Use Winzip or similar to unzip it into the Ciel directory (which you'll find under the Program Files directory) that CdC creates when you install the program.

2. Now, you'll need to get the ASCOM program. Go to:

http://ascom-standards.org/

Download the program, which is called "Ascom Platform 4.1." Install it on the PC. At this time, the most current ASCOM Celestron drivers are included in the 4.1 package, so you don' have to download nuttin else. ;-)

3. Time to do the hardware thang. If your laptop does not have a "real" serial port, you'll need either a serial PCMCIA card or a USB - serial adapter. The PCMCIA card is the way to go if you will be using Nexremote, but if you just want to hook CdC to the scope, the USB-serial cable is fine.

4. You'll need a cable to connect scope to PC, of course. There are plenty available for sale, or you can make your own if you are handy by following the directions at:

http://www.nexstarsite.com/

Be sure you get the correct cable: PC/programming cable if you want to use Nexremote, and a Nexstar serial cable if you just want to run with CdC. Plug the cable into your serial port or adapter, and into the (POWERED DOWN) scope's handcontroller (the recepatcle is on the back of the HC at the bottom). Fire up the PC, fire up the scope, and do your alignment as per normal.

5. Moment of truth a-comin. Start CdC. Go to the "scope" menu on the top menu bar and click "Select Scope Interface." Click "Ascom." Now, the configuration panel should appear. Click "select." If you've installed ASCOM and the CdC driver correctly, you'll get a little window called the "scope chooser." If not, go back and check your work.

6. Use the pulldown on the chooser to select "Celestron telescopes." Then, click "configure."

7. Select your scope type via the pulldown and fill in the other info on the config window as appropriate, including the proper number for your com port.

BUT UNCLE ROD, BUT UNCLE ROD, I GOT NO DERNED IDEA WHAT MY COM PORT IS! That's easy enough to remedy, skeezix. Open Control Panel from the Windows Start button menu and click the "System" icon in the Control Panel window. When you are there, click the "hardware" tab and click "device manager." You'll get a tree/list of stuff. Find "Ports Com and LPT" and click the plus sign. That done, all your ports and their numbers will be displayed. Note the com port number, go back to the ASCOM config menu, and use the pulldown to enter the correct number into its place.

8. When everything's filled out, click OK on the config window. You should still have the Interface window on the screen. At the bottom, you'll note a button that says "connect" next to a red "light." Mash that button. It should turn the light green, which will mean yer scope and 'puter is talkin. You may get a gull-derned warning sayin' something about time. What the program wants is to put CdC into its real time mode if it's not there already. Just say yes.

9. You may then want to go back to the scope interface menu and select "track scope position." This will indicate the current scope position with a bullseye and will change the display to follow the scope as required.

10. How do you go-to your go-tos? You can click "go-to selected object" from the Telescope menu (just be sure you've got an object selected), or you can mash the little go-to icon on the toolbar, or you can right click on an object and hit the go-to (object or cursor position) selection on the right click menu.

All this sounds a little complicated, but it really ain't.

If all this ain't clear as mud, well just ask me...I'm a-listenin'...
  • pgs/sdg and AZ_J3 like this

#2 b1gred

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:16 PM

You are THE MAN, Rod.

Thanks!

#3 lowgear

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:16 PM

That's what I need, step by step instructions. Thanks very much for the effort on behalf of others.

Rod B.

#4 snogum

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:23 PM

I have just got this style of scope control going last week.
As Rod said it is not as hard as it might look. And its huge to watch your slews being projected onto a chart of the night sky.

#5 Larry F

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 09:17 PM

As I said in the other thread, I was willing to post the info, but I think my description would have been drier and much less...how shall we say it?...vernacular than Uncle Rod's. :graduate: Thanks, Rod.

#6 Michael Nugent

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:00 PM

Excellent information! Instructions look pretty thorough, enough so that I have to give this I try with my setup. Thanks Rod! :bow:

Clear skies,

Mike

#7 Paul McC

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:40 PM

Exactly my recommendation since buying my CPC back in '06- best program, best price, best scopes!

#8 b1gred

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:45 PM

Rod, et al,

It WORKS!!!!

FINALLY :woohoo:

I've tried at least 5 times and gave up, I don't know what for sure was different but this time, following Rod's instructions to the letter, it worked!

NOT ONLY did it work with CdC, it also worked with StarryNights Pro for the first time.

I honestly don't know why it wasn't working before, perhaps it was the installation of the Ascom drivers, perhaps it was uninstalling and reinstalling the Keyspan USB/Serial adapter. Perhaps it was plugging it all in and turning on the scope LAST, I don't really know, but IT WORKED!

Thanks Rod, and everyone else who tried to help me in the past! :bow: :bow: :bow:

#9 Larry F

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 10:02 PM

Rod, I was so happy for Randy that I was at Borders today at Columbus Circle in NYC and bought a copy of "The Urban Astronomer's Guide." I seemed to be one of the few on the checkout line not holding a copy of Harry Potter.

#10 b1gred

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 10:21 PM

I think I'm going to go grab a copy also...

#11 Larry F

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 07:57 AM

That's 2 copies. 100 million more and he'll make as much money as JK Rowling!

#12 rmollise

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 11:53 AM

Yeah...sigh...maybe the next one (after The New SCT Book) oughta be _The Joys of Deep Sky Observing from Hogwart's Astronomy Tower_.

;-)

#13 rmollise

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 11:53 AM

Hi:

I hope you pointed out to them the error of their ways.

:-)

#14 Larry F

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 12:52 PM

If the tower is near me, it won't help...3rd mag skies are a rare gift 15 miles north of Times Square. At least Randy's got some dark skies on the Front Range.

About Harry Potter: 750 pages and all anyone really wants to know is what happens on page 749!

#15 snogum

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 06:43 PM

Harry who????

#16 AviddayM

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 12:27 AM

CdC rocks, especially when used in conjunction with Steve Tuma's "Deep Sky". DS is an astro-planner full of goodies. It works so well with CdC that you would think they are one program. I've tried other planetariums and while they are real pretty I found that rather than pay extra for something that provides a realistic night scene on a computer (nothing wrong with that if that's what you're into) I'd rather have a highly functional and powerful program that will help plan and provide all the data I need to get out and "goto" and observe or image.

Rod, I noticed that Skyview moved their Website and CdC will no longer download their plates. Does the Beta 3.vs address this. If not, how can I download from Skyview?

Thanks

#17 rmollise

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 06:50 AM

"Not yet." I believe the only thing v3.0 can retrieve at the moment is DSS plates, and this has only been added recently. What you might want to do is get on the Sky Charts Discussion Yahoogroup and bring this to Patrick's attention.

#18 Qkslvr

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 10:41 AM

Just an FYI, I have noticed some of my goto from CdC are not up to par compared to the hand controller goto's.

I think it's because my computer system clock isn't the same as the scopes, and CdC uses the system time to orient RA, and the controller uses HC time to orient RA.

#19 b1gred

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 11:05 AM

Can't the computer get the time from the scope? If not it's pretty easy to reset the computer time...

#20 Qkslvr

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 02:20 PM

Can't the computer get the time from the scope? If not it's pretty easy to reset the computer time...


If it was designed to maybe, But I don't think it is.

The point is if you don't realize they are not the same time, you might wonder why it doesn't center objects from CdC goto's, and it will from the hand controller.

#21 rmollise

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 03:15 PM

I'm not sure I've ever heard of or seen this problem before. But if it is a problem, why not just set the PC's time to the scope's GPS time? I have all my PCs set to update their time from a time server, so they are generally right on, anyway.

#22 Paul McC

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 08:32 PM

My go-to accuracy is the same with CdC as with the HC.

One of the best reasons to use CdC is it's use of the Sync command (same as the Sync command on the HC)- makes dim galaxy hopping and identifying really fun in the Virgo Cluster!!! One note- you can Sync to new objects one after the other, but as far as I know, the only way to Unsync is to use the Unsync command on the HC. This is important if you're moving a huge distance to view another part of the sky- Unsync will restore pointing alignment to the night's settings.

I also like CdC for it's incredibly accurate plotting of asteroids and comets- something lacking in the HC.

Using CdC to control your CPC/GPS opens a whole new world- enjoy! (And kudos for the CdC team releasing it for free!!!)

Clear Skies,
Paul

#23 mclewis1

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 09:20 PM

Uh oh ... Paul has found something else he really likes. Better prepare for another 400+ posts. :grin:

Seriously I couldn't agree more with his post. There must be something about owning C11s that leads to similar thinking. ;) For me no single item has opened up more interesting observing than CdC, and all for free ... amazing.

#24 b1gred

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 11:01 PM

I can't wait to get out and do more observing in the computer-controlling-scope mode...

#25 snogum

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 11:05 PM

Arrr Now I have to buy a laptop and a Bluetooth dongle and a Bluestar.


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