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Autostar II Replacement Solution for the Android community (2+ billion users)

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#1 naji

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 05:59 PM

Been working on an Android App that can replace the AS2 hand controller.

First phase: Use a USB OTG adapter and a USB to serial adapter that you will plug in the HBX port on your LX200 mount.

The app "AutostarII Emulator" replicates the AS2 in functionality with zero advertising nonsense. It has voice functionality where it will report the buttons pressed and will report the text on the 2 line display. You can use any Android phone or tablet as long they support OTG (On The Go) USB adapter. I have a bunch of Samsung Devices that range back to 2011 and they all supported OTG.

Since the phone/tablet does not have a Red Led to turn on/off, I added a button that you can select:
1. RED Screen (Default)
2. Flash (when available)
3. White Screen (if device does not have a flash, mostly for tablets).

When you press and hold the Light Button, the screen will be painted Red or White base on the selection you made, or it will turn on the flash. When you release the hold, the flash will turn off or the screen goes back to normal mode.

First phase is 95% complete and I'm testing/debugging the app insuring all menus are being displayed correctly and matches the original AS2.

Second Phase: Adding a wireless capability. The user will have the choice to connect over OTG (wired) or Bluetooth. Similar to the OTG approach, I will be using the HBX port on the mount, keeping the RS232 ports free to communicate to PC/Mac/Linux.

Will update the post with a Youtube video in the next week or so.

Let me know your thought and interest level.

Cheers.

Attached Thumbnails

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Edited by naji, 01 March 2021 - 06:13 PM.

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#2 Benschop

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 07:01 PM

Nice - Reminds me of the starting version of the HCAnywhere app. It was developed locally, esthetically refined, and eventually big C purchased it.



#3 Foundationer

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 07:51 PM

Ok, I'm in. Please keep us updated!

#4 JohnBear

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 07:58 PM

NICE!  I'll be following this.



#5 FearL0rd

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 10:44 AM

Very nice

#6 FearL0rd

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 10:46 AM

Do you have a beta test list?

#7 naji

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 08:43 PM

Appreciate all the feedback so far. The last 5% will take a while to complete. I'm running a patched version on the mount firmware. After done with current testing, I will still need to load Meade's latest official firmware and test again.

#8 michael8554

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 08:58 AM

Excellent ! Overcomes those intermittent button problems on the Meade handbox.

 

I've been using the "ScopeBoss" WiFi AS II replacement, which runs on iOS devices, it's way better than the original Meade Handbox.

 

A WiFi RS232 Adapter occupies one of the RS232 ports.

 

I had to buy an iPhone 6 to run it.

 

The 4.7" screen is about as small as you can go before the button-size becomes awkward to use, and still fit in a coat pocket.

 

I get the impression that for reliability of connection WiFi would be better than Bluetooth ?

 

Which Android versions ?

 

Which AutoStar II Emulator ?


Edited by michael8554, 03 March 2021 - 09:00 AM.


#9 nitegeezer

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:15 PM

Is this going to use an off the shelf bluetooth adapter or is it a build from scratch unit? Just wondering if there is hardware that could be purchased/assembled to be prepare for this upgrade. I think this is a great project. I have been using the wireless version of the AutostarII which was a product that was very short lived. It works but has issues and I would much prefer a phone based system. Thanks for doing this!!
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#10 Foundationer

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 07:25 PM

Man, I can't stand the suspence! No, really

#11 naji

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 08:53 PM

In software development, the last 5-10% normally takes a good effort and time if you want to put out a quality product.

I know that over OTG it will function as good as a brand new AS2. I can do all the functions with the App, I just need to clean up...

I also started putting in the code for Bluetooth support...

#12 FearL0rd

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:41 PM

does ASII works with ASI #497 Mounts?

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#13 nitegeezer

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:47 PM

Since you are working on the Bluetooth code, I would expect you already have a hardware solution. If you would release that hardware, you would have at least one volunteer to help test your code. If hardware needs to be built, that would delay the help.

#14 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:51 PM

Gday FearLord

does ASII works with ASI #497 Mounts?

No it wont.

Najiis app replaces the ASII handbox, which is basically a dumb button press terminal.

This leaves the 2 rs232 ports free.

There are apps that can give remote handbox abilities to the 497s

but the 497/Audiostar has to be there for it to work.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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#15 naji

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 02:08 PM

Here is a crude video I did this morning. Still work in progress and testing/coding continues but at least you can see it in action.

I'm thinking of using the phone's date/time in the Setup Date n Setup Time section and wondering if there is a use case for not doing so.

https://youtu.be/e30e9IO1ydQ
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#16 nitegeezer

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 05:54 PM

I think everything that uses an ASII keypad also has a GPS. I think I would put that low on the priority list as an optional bell/whistle.

#17 nitegeezer

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 05:57 PM

The demo looks like you are making great progress!!

#18 Foundationer

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 07:10 PM

That looks pretty sweet!! I don't see a problem with using date/time. You could probably use the phones gps as well.

I don't know shinola about coding, so maybe not.



#19 Foundationer

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 08:31 PM

Any progress? Inquiring minds want to know! If it works, I'll paywaytogo.gif



#20 naji

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 01:06 AM

Ok, Guilty as charged. Here is a quick update:

1. I thought I was done with the OTG implementation using the Patched Firmware; until I updated to Meade's 4.2l. Some minor display issues (text gets truncated or characters part of text formatting commands are being displayed) surfaced that are in work.

2. Started working on the Bluetooth implementation which presented a whole new set of challenges. I'm progressing but slowly. I won't bore you with details on this one.

3. Side tracked from above due to my effort to pour foundation and pier for my TI Home Dome Pro. I tore down the dome and in the process of assembling on its new home. I designed the mechanical rotation using 2x Nema 32 Motors and wrote the automation software and ASCOM driver. Will probably require some fine tuning when its complete...

4. I started looking into RS232-Wifi adapter as a third connectivity option or replacement to bluetooth.

5. Once I complete the OTG, I'm thinking of releasing a beta version for testing purposes. I have not decided if I'm going to use the Google App Store to manage distribution or direct.

6. Once I have Bluetooth some what stable. I will post another video, showing the two implementations. I'll aim to improve the quality of focus....

7. All the above might get further delayed due to a potential second shoulder surgery in early May. Getting old is not for....

Edited by naji, 02 April 2021 - 01:18 AM.


#21 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 01:45 AM

Gday Naji

until I updated to Meade's 4.2l.

I dont remember anything in 4.2l that would affect screen display????

They changed a lot of other stuff, but not that, ( that i know of )

Do you have any examples??

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia



#22 naji

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 03:04 AM

Hi Andrew,

You are correct, its in my code and should be an easy fix. I'm glad I loaded 4.2l, it showed some gaps in the code...

Cheers

#23 spames

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 02:40 PM

I want to know also.



#24 naji

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Posted 03 April 2021 - 12:02 PM

Code fixed, and things are looking good for the OTG implementation. 

 

I have to test all menu selections, stuff I have never used myself to look for other opportunities...



#25 naji

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 04:54 PM

Added ability to Increase/decrease font size of the simulated Display ( a min of 12 to max of 24) using a small F left of display, and a big F right of display. 

 

Also, added GPS readings( Alt, Lont, Elevation, and Accuracy). If Accuracy is less than 10m the Accuracy text color goes green.

 

The app will require the following permissions:

1. Camera for use of flash

2. Location (GPS)

3. Write Access to save settings upon closing the app

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