This page lists the software packages that will work with my Digital Setting Circles interface. Note that some of these packages require installation of the ASCOM Platform in order to support my interface. Go here to read about and download the ASCOM driver I’ve written for use with my Digital Setting Circles interface.

This list is fairly dated. If you know of newer software packages that work with my interface (for example, someone has mentioned that SkySafari for iOS is compatible), please leave a comment below.

TheSky 5.0

(Special thanks go to The Software Bisque for sending me a copy of TheSky and TheSky Pocket Edition for testing!) You can either configure TheSky to talk to my interface as a Tangent Instruments BBox or you can use the ASCOM platform. To configure it for the BBox, select “Setup…” from the Telescope menu. In the dialog that appears, select “BBox by Tangent Instruments” as the the Control System:

thesky1

Then click the Settings… button to set the encoder resolutions:

thesky2

Enter the COM port to which you connect the interface, and make sure that the Baud Rate is set to 9600. Note that you enter the encoder tics per revolution in two places. Use the same numbers for the Communication Box entries as you do for the Encoders entries. Use TheSky’s interactive help if you don’t  know what to do with the remaining inputs. Then click the Configure BBox button to send the encoder resolutions to the interface. If you have version 2.00 of the firmware in your interface’s microcontroller chip, this only needs to be done once (or whenever the resolutions change).

If you want to use the ASCOM platform with TheSky, you’ll need to download the ASCOM plug-in for TheSky. Once it’s installed, you select it by selecting “Setup…” from the Telescope menu, and then specifying “Telescope API” as the Control System. Then click the “Settings…” button to get to the ASCOM Telescope Chooser.

Once the software is configured for the interface, select Link > Establish from the Telescope menu to begin the alignment process.

TheSky Pocket Edition 1.10

In TheSky PE, select Setup… from the Telescope menu. In the ensuing window, Select BBox for the telescope type, and then tap the Settings… button. Note that you enter the encoder tics per revolution in two places. Use the same numbers for the Communication Box entries as you do for the Encoders entries. The CCW settings need to be checked if your encoder values increase opposite increasing RA or declination (you may have to experiment to determine which settings work for you). Point declination is the declination at which you point the telescope in the first step of the alignment process. Once you’ve finished configuring the software to work with my interface, select “Establish Link…” from the Telescope menu and proceed with the alignment process.

Starry Night Pro 4.0

Starry Night Pro 4 requires the ASCOM platform in order to work with my interface. In addition, Starry Night Pro 4 requires its own ASCOM driver to be installed. However, it’s not clear where to obtain this driver.

When Starry Night Pro 4 is started, you’ll see several tabs along the left side of its window. Click on the Telescope tab, and the tab will expand to a window. In the window, click the Configure… button and the ASCOM Telescope Chooser window will appear. Configure the ASCOM driver as described above. Then click the Connect button to perform the alignment process (also described above).

SkyMap Pro 9

(tested with the trial version) SkyMap Pro 9 requires the ASCOM platform in order to work with my interface. In addition, SkyMap Pro 9 requires its own ASCOM driver to be installed. The ASCOM driver for SkyMap Pro 9 can be found here.

When SkyMap Pro 9 is started, select Configure… from the Telescope menu. The following dialog box will appear:

skymap

Select ASCOM Driver in the list box. Then click the Configure… button and the ASCOM Telescope Chooser window will appear. Configure the ASCOM driver with the appropriate settings. Then choose Open Connection from the Telescope menu to perform the alignment process (also described above).

SkyChart III

(tested with the trial version, release 3.5.1) Select Connect… from the Telescope menu. Then select Tangent Instruments BBox from the list of telescope interfaces. Then enter the COM port and the encoder steps (a negative sign means that the directionality of the encoder needs to be reversed–you may need to experiment here).

skychart

Enter the remaining inputs as appropriate (refer to the SkyChart III online help if needed). Then click OK to begin the alignment process.

MegaStar 5

(tested with the trial version) Choose Select Interface from the Scope menu and select “BBox/Sky Wizard CTI” from the list of interfaces. Then select Comm Setup… from the Scope menu, and specify 9600 baud, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, and no parity for the communications settings. Then select Encoder Setup… from the Scope menu. The following dialog box appears:

megastar

Enter the encoder resolutions and the output ranges. The output ranges should go from negative one half of the encoder resolution to positive one half (but don’t forget that zero is also included in the range. For example, if your encoders have a resolution of 4000 tics, the range should be from -2000 to +1999. For an odd number resolution, say 4001, the range would be from -2000 to +2000. If the encoder directionality needs to be reversed, check the Reverse box (you may need to experiment here). Then click the Send Steps to Box button. For some reason, this returns an error message (“Invalid return from Z command”), but it works anyway.

Next, select Connect… from the Scope menu. You’ll confirm your communications settings, and then Megastar should report that connection was successful. Finally, select Star Alignment… from the Scope menu to perform the alignment process. Consult MegaStar’s online help for more details.

Earth-Centered Universe

(tested with the trial version) Select “General Settings…” from the “Telescope” menu. Specify “Microguider III and 5, or Ouranos Interface” as the telescope interface type.

ecu1

Then specify the correct port and baud rate (9600) and click OK. Next, select Encoder Settings… from the Telescope menu.

ecu2

Specify the encoder resolutions and whether they need to be reversed (again, some experimentation may be needed), and click OK. Finally, select Enable Telescope Interface from the Telescope menu to begin the alignment process. If necessary, you can change the alignment stars by selecting them in the sky view
and than choosing Select Alignment Stars from the Telescope menu.

Mel Bartels’ scope.exe

(freeware) If you’re using Mel Bartels’ software, you’ll need to modify the config.dat file to make the software work with your encoders. Here is the relevant section of config.dat, with settings appropriate for my interface:

[*** encoder section ***]

EncoderString Ek

EncoderComPort 1

EncoderBaudRate 9600

SerialWriteDelayMs 50

AltEncoderCountsPerRev 4608

AzEncoderCountsPerRev 4389

AltEncoderDir 1

AzEncoderDir 0

EncoderErrorThresholdDeg 0.100000

TrackEncoderErrorThresholdDeg 1.000000

MakeEncoderResetLogFile 1

You can download Mel’s software for free from his web site. There is also plenty of documentation on his site, so consult that if you need more info.

Cartes du Ciel 2.75

(freeware) Cartes du Ciel 2.75 requires the ASCOM platform in order to work with my interface. In addition, Cartes du Ciel requires its own ASCOM driver to be installed. The ASCOM plug-in for Cartes du Ciel is found on the Cartes du Ciel download page. Download and install the ASCOM plug-in (it comes as an installation program–just run it to install).

After you start Cartes du Ciel, choose “Select Interface Type” from the Telescope menu and then click on “ASCOM” on the menu that pops up. Next, select “Configuration Panel…” from the Telescope menu. The Configuration Panel will appear:

cdcpanel

In this window, click the Select button to access the ASCOM Telescope Chooser. Once my interface is selected in the chooser, clicking the Configure button will allow you to configure the driver. Click the Connect button to begin the alignment process.

Hallo Northern Sky 2.2.2

(freeware) ASCOM support is included in the Hallo Northern Sky program as of version 2.1.5. Select “ASCOM Telescope Driver” from the Screen menu (or hit Ctrl-8) and the ASCOM Telescope Chooser will appear. Configure the driver for my interface. When you click the OK button in the Telescope Chooser window, the alignment process will begin.

PalmDSC for Palm OS

(freeware) Doug Braun has written a freeware program for Palm OS that works with my interface. Doug always recommends using the very latest beta version of is software. Consult his web page and documentation for details.

Astromist for Palm OS

(commercial, but with a free version available) Astromist is a planetarium-type program for the Palm that is capable of controlling several different types of telescopes, including my own interface. I haven’t tried this one out yet but it appears to be gaining in popularity. Consult the Astromist web page for documentation and instructions on how to use it.

Digital Setting Circles 2.2

(my own freeware) When you start the Digital Setting Circles program, select Properties… from the File menu. Enter a description of your telescope, the COM port to which your interface is connected, and your encoder resolutions. If you need to reverse the directionality of the RA or az axis, check the box.

dscwin

If you’re not sure whether the RA counts need to be reversed, click the Test… button and follow the instructions. When you have the form completed, click OK. Then select Initialize… from the Scope menu to begin the alignment process. The alignment process is identical to that for my ASCOM driver.

34 thoughts on “Compatible Software

    • Chuck, it might be that the drop-down box isn’t large enough and you have to scroll the list. But regardless, it doesn’t matter–that setting is only there for ASCOM compatibility. It doesn’t get used by my driver, so don’t worry about its value.

      Reply
    • No, not really. There’s supposedly an ASCOM plug-in for Stellarium that would allow you to use my circuit with Stellarium via ASCOM, but nothing beyond that.

      Reply
  1. Dave,

    I’m a little unsure if this is yours or not but here goes –
    In your compatible software section, under Set the Interface properties, there is a screen shot of the Ekbox Properties input box. I need to set the COM port in this box but the drop down list only goes to COM8. I have a bluetooth version of the interface which my Netbook automatically sets to COM9. Is there a way to get them to talk to each other?

    Thanks – Gary

    Reply
    • Gary, it sounds like you’re using the old version of my ASCOM driver. I think this problem would go away if you installed my new driver version instead. There’s a link to it on my home page (http://eksfiles.net/). The old version has the com ports hardcoded in, while the new version gets the list from the operating system.

      Alternatively, it might be possible to change the COM port assignment that’s given to your device, but I don’t know how to do that. Better to switch to the new driver.

      Reply
  2. Hi Dave,
    I am using the B Box from Software Bisque with The Sky and Pocket Sky. They work great. Originially I bought the Oranos box to connect the Palm with Telepoint software, and I could only get it to work with the Palm and not The Sky? There are so many boxes out there, and they all seem to work and set up differetly? Our club needs a box like yours that will set up the same as a B Box and not cost almost $300. I would gladly solder your kit if I didn’t need to be a programmer to set it up! I guess I’m asking, Is your box the same as a B Box?

    Lonnie Robinson

    Reply
    • Lonnie, if you tell TheSky that it’s connected to a BBox but connect my box instead, it’ll work fine. I’ve tested this with TheSky version 5 but not any newer version.

      Dave

      Reply
  3. any prospects for android compatibility with the new line of tablets coming out it would be something nice and lightweight to use for this purpose. It would have to be adapted for usb connectivity though.

    Reply
  4. I’m using an old SKY Wizard3 w/Sky Safari. Tied to Questar with JMI hardware. Thinking of building this since its smaller and the software on the iPhone works very well.

    Reply
  5. What is the protocol that your box uses to communicate? I see mention of “Q” code in hyperterminal. What other commands can be issued through hyperterminal?

    Reply
  6. I downloaded StellariumScope (freeware) today and used it to update Stellarium after installing. Stellarium now works with your digital setting circles. Ran StellariumScope, connected to scope, started Stellarium and scope showed connected. Scope circle indicator moves as expected. Looking forward to trying outside at night!

    Reply
  7. When I go to select my Port I only get ports 1-8 to choose from and my bluetooth is connected to port 14. I read what you said about having the wrong driver but I apparently can’t find the correct one. Can you provide a link to the driver that picks up the ports from the system please. Ibelieve the version I have is 1.1

    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Dave,
    Thanks for the great project. I built it a couple of years ago, but not used it much.
    Trying to get back in to the hobby I have an old OLD, laptop dedicated to Cartes du Ciel, ver. 2.76.

    This machine runs Win 98, (I know it’s 2011, but the laptop serves one purpose only). I can not mate my laptop to your DSC due to the ASCOM need for MS Net 3.5.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Matt,

      I think Cartes du Ciel has a non-ASCOM native driver that works with Tangent-compatible interfaces (BBox, NGC-MAX, etc.). I know that Carte du Ciel 3.2 has this, and you may be able to run that on your old notebook. My interface will emulate BBox, NGC-MAX, Microguider, etc. Some of these interfaces don’t have a command to set encoder resolutions on the board, so you might have to run my DSCWin software to set the encoder resolutions. Once you’ve set them, they’re stored in EEPROM and will be remembered until they are set to something else.

      Hope this helps –

      Dave

      Reply
      • Thanks much!
        I will play with this over the weekend and post my results. Worst case I will use my normal laptop and a serial to USB converter, but it would be nice to keep my old laptop useful.
        THANKS!

        Reply
        • Gave up on the old laptop. Bought a $3 USB to Serial cable and every works like a charm on my netbook. THANKS for the help.

          Reply
  9. Hi Folks!
    SkySafari on Android (even ICS!) works great with Dave’s software and my BTDSC (Bluetooth DSC) unit.

    Thanks!

    Craig

    Reply
  10. Hi Dave, i have been trying to connect my AAM dsc to the Sky 6.o but i keep getting a connection error

    i use my AAM in manual mode fine and it finds the objects o.k i’d like to connect them to my laptop!!

    can you assist me
    Ray

    Reply
    • Hi Ray,

      You’re trying to use my ASCOM driver with your AAM, right? I haven’t used TheSky 6, but I have TheSky 5 and I imagine they’re similar.

      First thing I’d do is make sure that the AAM is communicating with your PC. You can set up a terminal program like Hyperterminal on your laptop to talk to the AAM directly through the serial port. Set up Hyperterminal to talk directly to the serial port using 9600 baud, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, and no flow control. Then make sure your AAM is powered up and connect to the computer, and type a “Q” (capital q without the quotes), and see if the AAM responds with a couple of numbers (something like +11111 +11111, where the 1’s could be any digit). If the AAM responds, then it’s communicating okay.

      If that works, fire up TheSky and configure the ASCOM driver according to the instruction on my web site. The most important thing at this stage is to make sure you specify the right COM port in the driver setup.

      Does your laptop have a built-in serial port, or are you using a USB-serial converter cable? Is it running Windows XP? If it’s running Windows Vista or Windows 7, it won’t have Hyperterminal on it but you can copy it from a Windows XP computer, or you can grab it from a Windows XP install CD (I can tell you how if needed).

      Another option if you want to try it is to use TheSky’s built-in telescope driver for NGC-MAX. It should work the same as the AAM. If you go that route you don’t need to use my ASCOM driver at all.

      One other thought–I had to manually install ASCOM support as an add-on to TheSky 5. Not sure if that’s needed for TheSky 6.

      Hope this helps.

      Dave

      Reply
  11. Dave forgive me if this was asked before

    i want to use your Digital Setting Circles with a laptop as a push to system with my dob
    what program if any would move the curser or pointer as i moved the scope

    ie: move the curser with the scope to saturn and she will be in view in the scope?

    Thanks
    Dave B

    Reply

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