I’ve written a small program called EkBoxTester that you can download to aid in testing your Digital Setting Circles interface board after you’ve constructed it. EkBoxTester requires Microsoft .Net 4.0 to be installed on your computer. EkBoxTester consists of a single executable file (EkBoxTester.exe) that can be run from wherever you want. There is no installer–just download and run it.

The source code for EkBoxTester can be downloaded from here. It was written using Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express Edition–a free but reasonably complete development environment for writing .Net applications in C#. You can use the source code as an example of how to communicate with an EkBox via the serial port.

When you launch EkBoxTester, the following window appears:

EkBox Tester opening screen

It’s pretty simple to use. Before you do anything else, select the COM port to which your interface is connected. Once you do that, you can do any of the following:

  • enter encoder resolutions in the “Az Resolution” and “Alt Resolution” fields and click the “Set Resolutions” button to send those resolutions to the EkBox
  • click the “Get Errors” button to read the number of errors in the EkBox (usually zero)
  • click the “Get Resolutions” button to read and display the encoder resolutions from the EkBox
  • click the “Start Test” button to begin reading and displaying the encoder positions

If you click the “Start Test” button, the EkBox Tester will begin reading and displaying the raw encoder positions coming from the EkBox. The numbers will be displayed in red as you can see below. The numbers will continuously update as you move the encoders until you click the “Stop Test” button. Note that clicking the “Start Test” button doesn’t automatically initialize the encoder resolutions–whatever resolutions are already in the EkBox will be used.

EkBox Tester after the “Start Test” button is clicked

If you don’t have any encoders connected, you’ll still see the red numbers but they will not change (obviously), but this is an indicator that things on the board appear to be working correctly.

Once you’re finished, click the “Stop Test” button, or just exit the program by clicking the red X in the top right corner.

2 thoughts on “Test Software for Digital Setting Circles Project

  1. Hi Dave,

    Just a quick question. If encoders are geared can I use your tester to get the resolutions instead of having to take apart the scope to work out what the gear ratios are?

    Presumably it’s gear ratio times encoder res?

    If not is there a program I can use to obtain the resolutions?

    BTW I’ve completed my EQ platform and your box works fine using Sky Safari :-)


  2. Hey Geoff,

    If the encoders are already mounted on the scope, then the easiest way would be to use the tester program. The way that I would do it is to first aim the telescope at a distant stationary object, centering in the field of view. Then start the tester app, set the encoder resolutions to a really high value (60000, maybe). Once set, note the initial encoder readings. Then slowly rotate the telescope, on only one axis, one complete revolution, finishing with your target object once again centered in the field of view. Note the final encoder reading. The difference between the final and initial reading is your encoder resolution. Repeat for the other telescope axis.

    Hope this helps — let me know how it works.



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