ASCOM Telescope Driver for AWR Microstep Drive System

Tags: software, ASCOM, driver, Telescope, ITelescopeV3, AWR, Intelligent Handset, IH2, Microstep Drive System

Robotic, Remote Controlled Observing

Our driver for the AWR drive system was born out of a need to do robotic, remote control astronomy with AWR’s high quality drive system. Good though it is, the AWR system was designed for interactive use and presents a number of challenges for the remote observer. It’s LX-200 protocol emulation is not quite complete enough to work safely in a remote-controlled observatory and users were experiencing issues with the major planetarium and automation programs such as TheSky and ACP.

With that in mind, we set out to create an ASCOM driver to address these issues and, in collaboration with AWR Technology, we think we’ve solved the major ones.

ASCOM Telescope V3 – full implementation

Our driver implements the ASCOM Telescope V3 interface and works with all astronomy programs that can control an ASCOM device (that’s pretty much all of them, including ACP, TheSky, Cartes du Ceil, Sequence Generator Pro, Microsoft World Wide Telescope, MaxIm DL, and many others). Our users include the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and Kingsland Observatory, home of the largest operational optical telescope in the British Isles.

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In addition to all the standard features of an ASCOM Telescope Driver, our driver has many options that make your observing easier and safer.

  • Pre-park slew – we introduced this option for installations that need to avoid an obstruction when moving to the park position. When enabled, this option causes the telescope to move to a ‘safe’ position prior to finally parking or resuming operation.
  • Tracking on/off control – we are able to control tracking so that the mount can be left in a static position.
  • Offset Tracking Control – If your control software has the capability, we fully support offset tracking rates in both right ascension and declination, allowing the telescope to follow non-sidereal objects such as comets, minor planets/asteroids/NEOs.
  • Safety interlock – using a specially wired ‘dongle’ that plugs into the AUX connector, we provide a hardware safety interlock with software override. This feature is essential for any telescope used remotely, as it prevents the mount from moving unless commanded to do so. Without this feature, a power cut at a remote observatory would leave the mount tracking when power returns with the risk of damage from cable-wrap, tracking into the pier or observatory building.
  • Force GUIDE rate after slew – essential for anyone attempting to use self-guided cameras or auto-guiders with relay outputs (i.e. which connect to the CCD port on the Drive Box). A feature of the Drive Box firmware is that it always moves the telescope at the rate configured on the Intelligent Handset. If the last movement was at SLEW speed, then the guider will move the mount at very high speed – probably not what was intended. This feature ensures that the handset is constantly returned to GUIDE speed so that auto guiding works correctly.

Buy Online

With Support and Upgrade Protection SubscriptionWithout Upgrade Protection

Recommended: Select this item to purchase a license and subscribe to support and upgrade protection. This is an immediate payment of £49.99, and a recurring subscription payment of £22.50, inc VAT beginning one year from date of purchase. Select this item for a one-off purchase with no automatic renewal of support and upgrade protection. This is a one-ime charge of £49.99 inc VAT. You may add upgrade protection for £22.50 at any time up to 1 year from the date of original purchase and it will be backdated to the date of purchase. After one year, upgrades and support can be obtained by purchasing a new license purchase at full price. Please contact us for details of these options as we need to process them manually.

All licenses are perpetual - you will never lose access to your software. Your initial purchase includes one year of email support and upgrade protection.

The driver is available only from TiGra Astronomy and costs £49.99 inc. VAT by PayPal. The purchase price entitles the original purchaser to download the driver unlimited times from a password protected location on the web, install and use the driver at one site on any number of computers. It includes free email support and upgrade protection for 1 year and entitles the purchaser to report bugs and request new features/enhancements.

We do our best to turn around all purchases the same day, but we are a small company and sometimes, especially if you order late in the day, we may not get to your order until the following working day. Please allow at least 24 hours from placing your order. If you haven't heard from us in that time, then please contact the help desk email address (see below).

System Requirements

The system requirements listed below are the supported configurations. Other configurations may work, but have not been tested and we do not provide support for them.

  • Windows 7 (x86, x64), Windows Server 2008-2012 (x86; x64); Windows 10 (x86, x64). Windows 10 recommended
  • ASCOM Platform 6.0 or later (http://ascom-standards.org)
  • AWR Intelligent Handset firmware version 1.730 or later is fully supported; 1.729 is the minimum required version with which the driver is known to function, however there are known issues and if support is required we would first ask the user to upgrade to 1.730 or later.
  • Works with the original version of the Intelligent Handset and the newer IH2 version.

Technical Support, Bugs, Feature Requests

For all support, bugs and new feature requests, please create an issue on our public issue tracker at https://bitbucket.org/tigra-astronomy/ascom.awr.telescope/issues

Coming Soon in V7.0

The next release of the driver will be version 7.0 and represents a huge change over the previous version.

  • LocalServer based out-of-process driver means that it can accept multiple simulataneous connections from different programs
  • Serial communications ripped out and completely re-architected using our open source Reactive Communications for ASCOM library
  • Speech narration of operations and slew targets
  • Compatible with the original Intellignet Handset and the newer IH2

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