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LX50 Computer Control

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#1 terry.cx

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:56 AM

I just purchased a Meade LX50 and I'd like to use my computer to point it. I have Starry Nights Pro on the computer. I don't want to re-invent the wheel so if anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. I would like a kit if possible, encoders, mounts, cables. Everything from the 'scope to the computer. I've found individual parts, enough to DIY, but then I'd have to fabricate mounts, cables, etc. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Terry
Just to be clear, I don't want to slew the scope, I want to move the scope and have it's position displayed on the screen.

#2 Skywatchr

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:06 AM

Hi Terry.cx.. The LX50 isn't suitable for computer control since the dec travel, and speed is limited by the tangent arm. And the RA drive, even at 32x, is too slow for slewing. However if you just want to autoguide for photography, I imagine it can be done. But of course you wouldn't need encoders for that.
The computer drive protocols in Starry Night (and others) aren't written for the LX50's drive system. You would need an LX200 Classic or newer drive system.

Jeff

I just purchased a Meade LX50 and I'd like to use my computer to point it. I have Starry Nights Pro on the computer. I don't want to re-invent the wheel so if anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. I would like a kit if possible, encoders, mounts, cables. Everything from the 'scope to the computer. I've found individual parts, enough to DIY, but then I'd have to fabricate mounts, cables, etc. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Terry



#3 terry.cx

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:38 AM

Thanks for the reply. I'm not being clear. I don't want to slew the scope with the computer, I want to use the comp as setting circles. I want to point the scope and have it's position displayed on the screen.
Thanks, Terry

#4 Skywatchr

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 06:17 PM

Oh, well in that case just mounting encoders would be the biggest obstacle. I haven't seen anything lately for the LX50. Since the forks are pretty big at the dec axis, there should be enough room to have the dec encoder enclosed within the fork. The RA would be a little more tricky. I'm sure Meade had a kit at one time for that scope. I guess just put out a "want ad" in the Shop and Swap forum and classifieds area here on CN. You could also check here..
Teletrade Link If you don't see anything in the list, send Don an e-mail.

Thanks for the reply. I'm not being clear. I don't want to slew the scope with the computer, I want to use the comp as setting circles. I want to point the scope and have it's position displayed on the screen.
Thanks, Terry



#5 Skylook123

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 03:07 AM

Terry,

There are several basic classes of DSC kits for non-GOTO. Lumicon Sky Vector, Celestron Skymaster, and JMI NGCMax, among others, use the Tangent system and each has its own unique encoder mounting hardware. I installed the Lumicon Sky Vector on my LX-5 mount back in 1996, and it worked fine. The Tangent type control boxes put out encoder readings that can be read by many computer planetarium programs, but the readings would have to be synched with the program; you have to align the DSCs and the program in separate processes. Two examples of the Tangent system are:

Lumicon Sky Vector

JMI DSC Options

Meade may still make their own after market kit for converting the LX-50 to use DSCs. My Meade experience stopped with the LX-5; I can't find anything on their web site. But at one time they made DSCs for their non-GOTO and dobsonian mounts.

Another alternative is Sky Commander, made by Sky Engineering.

Sky Commander

Sky Engineering only makes the installation hardware for dobs. In your case, it would use the same encoder hardware as the Tangent systems (JMI's NGCMax, Lumicon Sky Vector, etc.), since the encoders don't care who they're talking to. Skycom puts out its data in the form of direct RA/DEC readings, so no "alignment" of the planetarium program is required.

In order to patch the computer and the DSC control box together, an adapter is required for the computer. If the computer has a serial port (RS232 port), it would need an RS232 to RJ11(phone cord) adapter. If it only has USB ports, then an additional USB2Serial adapter would be required. Software Bisque makes the required adapters, depending on which manufacturer's control box you use. You can find a great tutorial and catalog at:

Software Bisque Telescope Interface

#6 snogum

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 03:57 AM

Meade did make DSC, Magellan 1 and Magellan 2, but I do not think they make them anymore. Was a set for sale on the CN clasifieds just last week, still in the box, but I think they are sold.

I have Magellan 1 DSC on my dobs, so they work great.

Working out encoder attachement points will be pretty easy. I ended up visiting a small engineering works for the only fiddly bit of machining.

Clear Skies

#7 snogum

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 04:05 AM

Wildcard Innovations Pty. Ltd have an encoder mounting kit for sale.
http://www.wildcard-...c_describe.html

Of course you will still need to purchase encoders, cables and a DSC computer, then link them to your PC with another cable.

Its not a huge job, but its got a few steps.

Clear Skies

PS I have no business links to above

#8 Skylook123

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 09:21 AM

Good catch, snogum, on the mounting kit.

I once had Magellan on my 10" Meade Starfinder dob, but the mounting hardware in the kit did not quite fit. I ended up replacing it with the JMI NGCMax unit.

#9 snogum

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 09:27 AM

Your Welcome Skylook123. And it has the added bonus of being an Australian Company.

I did say I had no business links, but I am as ozzy as vegemite


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