My interest is in visual only. In a previous incarnation, I owned a CGEM mount and StarSense for my 9 1/4 Celestron. I didn't like the CGEM so well, as it was heavy to carry and set up, noisy, and had a fair amount of backlash. The polar scope was a joke. So I upgraded to a CEM60, which I like much better. It weighs about 60% as much, and runs quietly, smoothly, and with little backlash. GPS is built-in and polar scope easy to use if I can see Polaris.
But I'm getting up in age. Deteriorating vision leaves me sometimes unable to indentify alignment stars in a reasonably short time, and going back to a CGEM II/StarSense would be too much for me to handle alone. I dearly wish a StarSense or equivalent could be used on this mount. Has anyone figured out how to do this? I've heard that using a laptop to control the mount via Ascom and using Astro Tortilla and SharpCap with a small CCD camera can do the same thing. However, I'm not familiar with any of the SW, and would need coaching on how to put things together. Thanks.
Astroart 6 can do the same. I haven't done it but it would go like this if you just want assisted alignment without using Ascom mount control. The basic technique should work with any mount and platesolving package.
You have a small guidescope fitted with a guidecamera (typically a ~1 degree field). The guidescope/camera is centred to the main OTA and the camera is controlled by AA6* or alternately the camera saves to a folder and you load the image into AA6 - you can use the unlimited time free demo version of AA6 for this, BTW.
You start from the home position (normal procedure) and slew to your first alignment star and the CEM60 HC will give an estimated RA/Dec = to the alignment star's RA/Dec.
Take an image with the guidescope.
Ask AA6 to plate solve with the alignment star as the target for the image (AA6's plate solve engine will accept star names). AA6 plate solves and then gives the RA and Dec. You compare the stated HC Ra/Dec to the actual RA/Dec and note the difference:
example: Target RA/Dec = 18h 35min/ 47d 28min and actual RA/Dec = 17h 58m/49d 01min.
Variation = minus 37min/RA and plus 1d 33min Dec
then using the slew buttons on the HC increase the RA by 37min and reduce Dec by 1d 33 min and the target star should be nearly centred. Use a crosshair overlay on the display, centre the star and accept the alignment on the HC, then slew to the next suggested alignment star using the HC.
I know I struggle with initial alignment as well and I just worked out, above, a simple method to assist me!
* You setup the plate solve engine by inputting the camera and guidescope parameters into the settings menu and select a suitably large target area (say 9 x 9 degrees).
Edited by DuncanM, 22 April 2018 - 06:41 PM.