I've just completed adding the Hubble Optics / SiTech GoTo system to my Hubble Optics 14" f/4.6 dob. I've encountered a bit of a learning curve on this, but the final product is really beautiful, full-featured and better than any other mount system that I have had experience with (for reasons that I discuss below).
Here is a short video of the drive system in action http://westland-cpa....ho14_motion.mp4. The system is dead quiet when slewing or tracking (as opposed to most GoTo systems which make gear mesh sounds on slewing). Slewing can be made very fast, and everything is fully programmable.
The HO site promises a fast install, but I suspected that this might be over-optimistic, as the HO scopes generally require a bit of adjustment and modification. They are like a Steinway piano; out-of-the box, they need care and attention and a lot of little adjustments, but after that are superb. I had some troubles getting the cable drive system installed, and part of this had to do with placement on the HO14 frame. But once these were worked out, I was sold on the cable system, as it is smooth and exceptionally quiet, as are the servos on both Alt and Az axes.
All of the electronics work right out of the box, and the mounting hardware is precise and sturdy. I'm particularly impressed with the wireless hand controller which operates at 465 MHz (like garage door openers and key fobs ... so no interference from 2.4GHz devices). Computer communication is through Bluetooth (appropriately named for the Viking King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson and abbreviated with his runic crest) and shows up as COM4 on my Surface laptop. Encoder and motor specifications are set up with a configuration utility, ServoConfig1.3, that is available on SiTech's site. ServoConfig lets you set parameters and read and write them to the servo controller hardware.
Getting the computer interface right also involved a learning curve. You can use the SiTech system with planetarium programs that support the ASCOM software ... but ... that covers a lot of ground. Here's what I found.
You really need to be on a Windows computer, because all of the ASCOM software (I believe) is written in Visual Basic (I'm not judging ... really!). There is an ASCOM telescope communication interface from SiTech called SiTechExe (.exe) that HAS TO BE started first. It has a lot of features in a very tiny window. You should master SiTechExe before moving on to any other planetarium software, as planetarium software does not communicate with your GoTo system, rather SiTechExe feeds information from the scope to the planetarium program. All this is non-obvious, seems complicated, but actually works quite well. And you would be hard pressed to find any other GoTo software that provides the sheer number of features, accuracy, and control that SiTechExe does.
This brings me to the planetarium programs. The HO site suggests four programs that work with SiTech's hardware and software:
Earth Centered Universe (ECU)
Cartes du Ciel
Apparently SkySafari 6 (which I like) no longer works with ASCOM (even with the SkyFi hardware). ECU and MegaStar, though supported, seem out-of-date and unattractive to me. TheSky is a pretty expensive subscription option. Cartes du Ciel is free, and has an attractive design, so is the obvious choice of planetarium software.
But I also looked a Starry Night Pro, which is not mentioned on HO's site, but claimed to support ASCOM interface, and has a very attractive, feature rich interface. In fact, once you have SiTechExe up and running, it reliably connects with Starry Night Pro, and is currently my choice for the HO/SiTech GoTo interface. I can use my Surface as a tablet, to track, select and GoTo objects to observe; combined with the handpad (which doesn't interfere with the Bluetooth COM4 port on the Surface) I have a truly optimal wireless interface design.
I plan to do a more in-depth write-up on my experience with installation and learning the HO / SiTech system in a follow up to my write-up on Hubble Optics 14" f/4.6.
But the end result is well worth the time invested in getting this system together. The hardware is 'observatory quality' and the software provides me with more flexibility and control than I could ever get with an 'off-the-rack' GoTo system.
Edited by Chris Westland, 23 January 2021 - 07:32 PM.