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

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#26 michael8554

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 10:03 AM

How are you handling Focus ?

 

Does the Focus button set the speed, and the Slew Up / Down buttons alter focus ?

 

On ScopeBoss the Focus button sets the speed, then there's another screen with buttons to the left and right for moving focus, because Up / Down still causes slews.



#27 naji

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:12 PM

Hi Michael,

 

It should behave identical to Meade's Autostar II Paddle.

 

Reticle:

  • Scroll Up: Increase Brightness
  • Scroll Down: Decrease Brightness
  • Slew Up/Down/Left/Right: Slews the mount

 

Focus:

  • Scroll Up: Toggles Up Focus Speed
  • Scroll Down: Toggles Down Focus Speed
  • Slew Up: Activate the focus motor (Voice prompt: Focusing In ) 
  • Slew Down: Activate the focus motor (Voice prompt: Focusing Out ) 
  • Slew Left: Activate the focus motor (Voice prompt: Focusing Out )
  • Slew Right: Activate the focus motor (Voice prompt: Focusing In )

 

I need some one to validate the Voice Prompts since I guessed on the behavior; I replaced the standard motor with a stepper motor and I can not easily test the behavior to adjust the Voice Prompts.

 

Speed:

  • Scroll Up: Increase Rate
  • Scroll Down: Decrease Rate
  • Slew Up/Down/Left/Right: Slews the mount


#28 naji

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Posted 16 April 2021 - 09:20 PM

Added the ability to get the weather for the GPS readings. Once you have GPS readings, you can select the Blue W (weather) to get the following:

Temp, Dew Point, Humidity, Visibility, Wind Direction and Wind Speed.

 

I'm thinking of turning the Dew Point Text Color to green when the Temp is within 5 Degrees from DP and a beep (Any input is appreciated), this way you can turn your Dew Heater on.... (the weather will require an internet connection for your device).

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20210416_190513.jpg


#29 naji

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 09:45 PM

Finalized the weather interface. Added a small "w" to turn off weather, and a big "W" to turn it on.

 

If temp is within 10 degrees of dew point, you will hear a beep and a voice promt advising the same. 

 

If temp is within 5 degrees of dew point, you will hear another beep and a voice prompt advising the same.

 

You will also get an icon (12 in total- 6 for day and 6 for night) and a summary of the weather conditions.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20210418_193210.jpg

Edited by naji, 18 April 2021 - 09:48 PM.


#30 Foundationer

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 06:28 PM

I would be happy to aid in testing any way I can. My weeks are full but weekend evenings are good!



#31 naji

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:33 PM

I'm implementing the feature to enter the Date & Time using the device (cell phone, tablet) date/time.

 

When in "Setup Date":

1. You can enter the date using the numeric keypad, slew buttons and scroll buttons

2. You can click a new button (only visible while in Setup Date/Time) "Apply Device Date", and the code will send the the appropriate keys.

 

 

When in "Setup Time"

1. Similar to Setup date, you can use the same keys

2. You can click the same new button, now labeled "Apply Device Time", and code will send the appropriate keys.

 

Once done with these two features, I will be releasing a Beta OTG version for testing purposes that will have a life span of two months from release date. Im hoping to have it done before shoulder surgery on the 30th. 

 

Things required to run/test the app:

1. Android device with OTG support

2. An OTG dongle or cable. ( Im also looking into getting a Y-splitter OTG cable instead where I can charge the phone and and interface to mount. Have Not sourced one yet). 

3. A USB to RS232 Adapter/Cable

4. A cable with a RJ9 to plug into hbx connector on mount,  and DB9 to interface to USB/RS232. I made this cable. If you have an old land line phone headset cable, you can cut one end and solder the db9 (3 pins, Tx, Rx, Gnd). Let me know if I need to provide the pinouts for this cable.

 

Once the Beta is ready, I'll be emailing the Apk file directly, so just advice here if interested.

 

 

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20210420_203222.jpg


#32 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:40 PM

Gday Naji

Just ensure that the system blocks sending date/time if the mount is already aligned.

( or give a warning that it could badly corrupt the align )

Bad things can happen if you much around with the clocks after aligning or unparking.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia



#33 naji

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 11:21 PM

Good point Andrew,

 

The "Apply Device Date/Time" button will only be visible when the user has gone to the Setup menu and selected Date or Time, and it will not send anything back to mount unless the user has selected to change time/date.

Line 1: Enter Date:

Line 2: 20-Apr-2020

 

Or 

 

Line 1: Enter Time:

Line 2: 08:56:24 PM

 

So, my thought process was, if the user has gone down to this level, they are:

1. Checking that date and time are correct (gps bug, or gps turned off)

2. If not correct, to change them manually or by clicking the button.

 

I will add a voice prompt while at this level to warn the user of the impact...

 

Note: I had made the button visible to show location on screen since I'm running out real estate.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

 

 



#34 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 12:17 AM

Gday Naji

So, my thought process was, if the user has gone down to this level, they are:

In muddy water :-)

 

Most people dont really understand that changing the date/time after aligning can affect things,

so even if they have gone to that screen manually, and detected an error,

if they are already aligned, they may not understand the ramifications of "fixing it".

( and there is no easy way via the hbx to see if you are aligned )

 

Andrew Johansen Meklbourne Australia



#35 naji

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 02:51 AM

<p>Hi Andrew,,</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>I trust your judgment... you have been supporting the LX200 user base (present company included) for a long time and I'm sure you have seen it all.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>What should the message be?</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>

#36 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 03:09 AM

Gday Naji

Basically, if a user wants to use the date or time entry screens to edit something

they should be warned that if they are already aligned

they should not use the screen.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia



#37 naji

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Posted 05 June 2021 - 12:59 PM

I did a a simple write up for the App that describes the basic functionality and installation and setup. It also provides the cable requirements and pinouts for the OTG implementation that I will be releasing in Beta next week. 

 

If interested in testing the App and providing feedback, please send me an email to autostariiemulator@gmail.com. You will receive the installation apk file next week upon release.

Attached Files


Edited by naji, 05 June 2021 - 04:18 PM.


#38 naji

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Posted 10 June 2021 - 08:20 PM

Beta is available today, so if  interested in testing the App and providing feedback, please send an email to autostariiemulator@gmail.com. You will receive a link back to google drive to download.

 

Due to file size, email was not a viable option.

 

Cheers 



#39 bradh23

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:54 PM

I am very much interested in this app. My Autostar II has the problem with the backlight going out on the LCD display, sometimes completely. It seems to be temperature sensitive. I've thought about opening it up and looking for a bad solder joint to fix but I'm afraid I could end up making it even worse and without something to replace it I would then be in trouble.

 

I'd love to beta test this app but I need scrape together the hardware first. Looks like I already have the OTG adapter (one came with my Galaxy S9 phone.) Ditto on the USB to RS232 cable (one came with my LX850). So I just need to build the homemade cable. (edit - removed the part where I asked if I could use an ordinary phone cable, but that's RJ11 so I realize now it won't work.) So I just need to get me an RJ9 handset cable. They are cheap enough on Amazon.

 

While searching Amazon I noticed they also sell an RJ9 to USB cable for Celestron NexStar handboxes. I don't suppose that would work for this setup would it? If it did it would bypass the need for the USB to RS232 cable and the RS232 end on the RJ9.

 

Oh, and I assume your emulator will work with an LX850 mount? Any scope controlled by an Autostar II right?

 

Brad.


Edited by bradh23, 18 June 2021 - 04:55 PM.


#40 naji

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 08:08 PM

Hi Brad,

 

1. Yes you can use any phone cable, just be aware that the plug is a handset one (smaller than regular one) that will fit in the hbx port.

2. Yes, I've seen the cables you mentioned, and they probably will not work without some level of modification. If demand is there we probably can get something done similar to those mentioned but for the LX200GPS.

3. I can not speak to the LX850. I leave that question to our resident experts... But if LX850 uses the same ASII handset, then it should work.

 

I'm working on Beta 2. I re-wrote how I'm reading the serial port and my first initial impression, is favorable as compared to Beta 1. I also stripped out all the bells n whistles and just focused on controlling the mount. Once we prove we have a solid performing solution, I will add the other features. I'm also trying to get bluetooth working too....



#41 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 08:23 PM

Gday Naji

I can not speak to the LX850. I leave that question to our resident experts.

The LX200/600/850 all use the same ASII Hbx protocols

ie sends simple keydown/keyup events to the mount

and then gets commands back from the mount.

The GPS "shutup" commands apply to all units as well.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

 

PS, just for info, there is another thread running re a user who found a drop in LCD replacement

for about $5 per unit plus shipping.

https://www.cloudyni...3#entry11157069

A second user has now done this refit and reports it works no problems.

Whilst his replacement was also in a 497, the LCDs size and drive circuits appear identical

between the 497 and ASII, so might be a way to get the real Hbx running as a backup


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#42 bradh23

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 08:52 PM

I'm working on Beta 2. I re-wrote how I'm reading the serial port and my first initial impression, is favorable as compared to Beta 1. I also stripped out all the bells n whistles and just focused on controlling the mount. Once we prove we have a solid performing solution, I will add the other features. I'm also trying to get bluetooth working too....

I've ordered the parts to make the homemade cable. Could take a week or two to arrive, then another few days to assemble. I would be happy to test beta 2 on the LX850.

 

Andrew - thanks for the tip. I noticed the post mentions trying to reseat the display connector. I may give that a try to see if it helps. Even if that fixes things I still like the idea of controlling the scope with my phone and ultimately wirelessly.



#43 bradh23

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Posted 26 June 2021 - 10:12 PM

I've ordered the parts to make the homemade cable. Could take a week or two to arrive, then another few days to assemble. I would be happy to test beta 2 on the LX850.

 

I received the parts and finished building the homemade cable. I've sent the email and will test the beta when I receive it. Looking forward to it! Looks like its going to be cloudy here the next few nights but that won't stop me being able to try out some of the Autostar II functionality.



#44 naji

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Posted 26 June 2021 - 11:01 PM

Hi folks,

 

I just released Beta 2, which is a stripped version of the original. No bells and whistles, just focused on controlling the mount. I sent the link to all the Beta 1 testers.

 

Here is a youtube link: https://youtu.be/YzUS5AiIvBk


Edited by naji, 26 June 2021 - 11:02 PM.


#45 naji

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 09:05 AM

If you have a Bluetooth to Serial adapter, you can also test the Bluetooth implementation. Again, you must connect the HBX port with the appropriate cable that matches the HBX port and your Bluetooth to RS232 adapter.

 

I was not satisfied with the performance of my specific adapter which I had for about ten years now. So, you might have better luck than me. The OTG and Bluetooth implementations send the exact commands to mount...

 

You need to configure the adapter to 9600 baud and turn off echo mode. If the mount starts moving when connecting, then the adapter was not configured correctly. You must turn off the mount and re-configure the BT adapter. 

 

Steps for Bluetooth:

Be close to your mount to be able to cycle power off if need be, we do not want to damage your equipment...

1. Configure Bluetooth adapter per above

2. Pair Bluetooth adapter to phone/tablet

3. Click the BT button in the App.

4. You will be presented with a list of all your Bluetooth devices that have been paired

5. Select the Bluetooth to RS232

6. Turn on the mount

 

I have ordered an RS232 to Wifi adapter which should arrive in a week or so. Will keep you updated on that front...

Attached Thumbnails

  • Screenshot_20210627-063112.jpg


#46 bradh23

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 09:36 AM

If you have a Bluetooth to Serial adapter, you can also test the Bluetooth implementation. Again, you must connect the HBX port with the appropriate cable that matches the HBX port and your Bluetooth to RS232 adapter.

 

I was not satisfied with the performance of my specific adapter which I had for about ten years now. So, you might have better luck than me. The OTG and Bluetooth implementations send the exact commands to mount...

 

You need to configure the adapter to 9600 baud and turn off echo mode. If the mount starts moving when connecting, then the adapter was not configured correctly. You must turn off the mount and re-configure the BT adapter. 

 

Steps for Bluetooth:

Be close to your mount to be able to cycle power off if need be, we do not want to damage your equipment...

1. Configure Bluetooth adapter per above

2. Pair Bluetooth adapter to phone/tablet

3. Click the BT button in the App.

4. You will be presented with a list of all your Bluetooth devices that have been paired

5. Select the Bluetooth to RS232

6. Turn on the mount

 

I have ordered an RS232 to Wifi adapter which should arrive in a week or so. Will keep you updated on that front...

 

I don't have a Bluetooth to serial adapter. Is it worth me getting one or will you be focusing more on the Wifi interface?



#47 naji

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 12:06 PM

Hi Brad,

 

If you have a USB to Serial adapter, then I recommend that you test the OTG interface. That has been a more robust interface, and that was the interface in the second youtube video. 

 

If you don't have either, then you should wait until I get feedback from the other folks that are wanting to test the OTG interface.

 

I will be focusing my attention to the wifi to rs232 once I get it; and I might buy another Bluetooth to RS232 adapter to see if I can get the Bluetooth to function correctly... In theory, it should have worked since when I tested the output of the adapter, I was getting the correct commands out, but when connected to the mount, the Rx was receiving and displaying correctly, but Tx was not working...



#48 bradh23

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 04:03 PM

Eureka! I've got my homemade cable working and AS2E connects to and controls the LX850 mount!

 

It didn't work the first time however. I was actually writing a long response here about how I couldn't get the cable working. Then I reviewed everything I did and the instructions provided by naji again very carefully and came to the conclusion that I had swapped the GND and 12V wires. When I fixed that, everything worked.

 

What confused me was the RJ9 diagram with pins 1,2,3,4 where pin 1 is 12V and pin 4 is GND. I was looking at that diagram thinking that represented the end I cut off and wired to the DB9 when I should have looked at it as the end that plugs into mount's HBX connector. Now I understand why TX and RX are reversed at the end connecting to the DB9. I also needed to reverse the GND and 12V connections too. Its confusing because the RJ9 connectors themselves are reversed - hold both ends side by side pointing in the same orientation and the colored wires are mirror images of each other.

 

So far I've been able to initialize the drive, align on home, take a GPS reading, slew in all 4 directions and park. I did notice some issues with text scrolling when I pressed the help button. It scrolled fine at first but then after a bit all the letters jumbled up at the start of Line 2 and it became unreadable. I'll do more testing when I get a chance. No more time to play today.

 

Attached some pics of the cable wiring and of AS2E connecting to the LX850

 

20210627 161907
Album: AS2E Setup
4 images
0 comments

 



#49 naji

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 04:27 PM

Hi Brad,

 

Good to read that you were successful, at least the second time. So, I have to improve the cable instructions. 

I'll check the help feature to see if I can replicate the issue you mentioned on my side.

 

Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming...



#50 naji

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 10:48 AM

One user advised that at high scrolling text speed he got display corruption and a blinking effect.

 

I'll look into the blinking effect of scrolling text, but keep the scrolling text speed (Scroll Down button to reduce speed) to a moderate value.

 


Edited by naji, 28 June 2021 - 01:01 PM.



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