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cjdawson

Software for setting the date time and location

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Hi everyone.

 

Many years ago, I wrote a piece of software called AstroGPS.  It's purpose, was to ready the input from a Garmin e-trex, to get accurate date, time and location data.  then upload that info into my telescope.  It was never ment to be a big hit as it was written specifically to perform the update on a #497 Autostar.    After using the software for a few years, I wondered off in a different direction and well kinda stopped using it.     Fast forward to today.

 

In my current incarnation of my scope, it's the same one just all the accessories have been adjusted.   I find myself once again looking at the problem that I had all those years ago.  What's the problem?   When setting up for a session, I want to make sure that the scope knows "where on earth" (bad joke intended) it is.

 

I've started tinking with some code and think that it's going to be easy enough to come up with a solution to the problem.  As I'm playing with Windows 10 these days rather than Windows XP, there's been some advanced made in the tech that will make life easier.

 

The first instance of the program that I'm going to write.   Is going to work like this....

 

1. Use the Location Services API in windows 10 to get a reading for location.

I've done a test with a u-blox USB GPS and found that it can be installed as a "sensor" in device manager, so there's no need to mess with com ports and the like.

 

2. This time rather than connecting directly to the scope using the serial port, I'm going to use Ascom to connect to the scope instead.

This means that I don't have to be limited to only working with the #497 Autostar.    It can be made to work for any goto based scope.

 

The program will also be able to make use of the GPS time stamp to set the clock on the computer to the correct local time.

One immediate feature that I know that some people will want is to be able to connect a GPS via a Serial port rather than have to use Windows Location Services as there could be privacy concerns related.

 

Before I get too involved in the creating the application, I thought it might be a good idea to ask if what features would make you interested in using something like this?

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Or you could just plug it into a Pi Zero W and use GPSD to distribute GPS - works great with Linux but cant remember if Windows (any) has access to GPSD.

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1 hour ago, stash_old said:

Or you could just plug it into a Pi Zero W and use GPSD to distribute GPS - works great with Linux but cant remember if Windows (any) has access to GPSD.

Plug what into a Pi Zero W?      I think there's a load of context missing that would be needed for this to make sense.

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What's the difference between what you are proposing and starGPS?

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Cleetus said:

What's the difference between what you are proposing and starGPS?

StarGPS is a hardware device that plugs into the mount and adds GPS support, but you have to patch the firmware of the Autostar to their special version.

 

What AscomGPS is going to is allow you to use a GPS on any goto scope that has site information.  You won't need a special flavour of GPS specifically for the mount, and it won't be limited to the Autostar.  It'll work with Synscan and others too.

Actually from one of my trials yesterday, I found out that I don't even need a GPS at all to get a location as IP based Geo location was enough to get a good enough Location.

 

Oh, and the StarGPS costs $130 ish.   What I'm planning won't cost anything.

Edited by cjdawson
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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, cjdawson said:

Plug what into a Pi Zero W?      I think there's a load of context missing that would be needed for this to make sense.

Any USB GPS device - e.g. u-blox USB GPS which works very well . Just pointing out that you dont need windows to produce a GPSD service and GPSD (a Linux Daemon) on Linux has been around for decades.

You can even pick it up on Windows(or any other OS ) via Node-Red / MQTT (IOT approach) (https://www.npmjs.com/package/node-red-contrib-gpsd) so you could produce something in a matter of hours(or less). Plus using Alpaca Ascom you can produce/interface with any Ascom driven device that accesses the GPS property - No need to reinvent the wheel. ?

Handy if you have more than one device OR ,as with most USB GPS devices ,they need to be outside and have been running for a while to get a fix - so could be left permanently running in an Obsys as the Pi Zero (w) uses very little power when compared to a Laptop/Desktop etc.

Edited by stash_old
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2 hours ago, stash_old said:

Any USB GPS device - e.g. u-blox USB GPS which works very well . Just pointing out that you dont need windows to produce a GPSD service and GPSD (a Linux Daemon) on Linux has been around for decades.

You can even pick it up on Windows(or any other OS ) via Node-Red / MQTT (IOT approach) (https://www.npmjs.com/package/node-red-contrib-gpsd) so you could produce something in a matter of hours(or less). Plus using Alpaca Ascom you can produce/interface with any Ascom driven device that accesses the GPS property - No need to reinvent the wheel. ?

Handy if you have more than one device OR ,as with most USB GPS devices ,they need to be outside and have been running for a while to get a fix - so could be left permanently running in an Obsys as the Pi Zero (w) uses very little power when compared to a Laptop/Desktop etc.

I think you are completely missing the point of the program.

 

Let me explain "MY" problem in detail.

 

1. Telescope Meade LX-90 EMC with Autostar #497 running firmware 43G.

2. Laptop running Windows 10 Pro with Ascom installed.    Intention is to use PHD2, SGPro and SharpCap.

 

The problem, I have a ublox gps receiver.   At the moment, there is nothing in place to get the data from the GPS receiver to the scope.   Inserting extra things like a Pi Zero, won't change that,   my laptop still needs to get the current date time, to be accutare.   I still need to set the Lat/Long for the scope.

 

The program that I'm writing is to take the information from my GPS and inject it into Ascom. As far as I'm aware, there isn't a program like that.

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I don't know the mount, but if you have EQMod - Ascom installed, the Ascom configuration under "Site Information, GPS" can query the u-blox receiver & store\save the data. It's what I use & works well....

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21 hours ago, cjdawson said:

I think you are completely missing the point of the program.

 

Let me explain "MY" problem in detail.

 

1. Telescope Meade LX-90 EMC with Autostar #497 running firmware 43G.

2. Laptop running Windows 10 Pro with Ascom installed.    Intention is to use PHD2, SGPro and SharpCap.

 

The problem, I have a ublox gps receiver.   At the moment, there is nothing in place to get the data from the GPS receiver to the scope.   Inserting extra things like a Pi Zero, won't change that,   my laptop still needs to get the current date time, to be accutare.   I still need to set the Lat/Long for the scope.

 

The program that I'm writing is to take the information from my GPS and inject it into Ascom. As far as I'm aware, there isn't a program like that.

Ok I have read your "MY" detail again still the same SO LONG as you are already using Ascom Mount Driver to control the Meade nothing I said has changed.

With Ascom(Alpaca) in place on the Laptop and using Ascom Alpaca Remote protocol you can set any property that Ascom uses  REMOTELY (that's where Ascom Alpaca comes in).

Because the Ascom Mount Driver properties are exposed by Alpaca you can set its Time,Lat and Long properties from the PI Zero(w) (or any other device) using REST API.

Therefore anything that can talk RESTAPI (example Node-red but Python and other languages can too) and that can read the GPS data from the Ublox GPS receiver  (so time,lat and long) connected to a PI Zero(for example) can set the Long,Lat and Time on the Windows Laptop Ascom Mount Driver. This would work for ANY Ascom Mount Driver that supports the Ascom protocol correctly.

Before your thread/post was created I had,on another project, already set the Latitude setting on a Ascom Mount Driver,running on Windows 10, from Ubuntu Linux AND Raspbian Linux. Admittedly it was just using the Ascom Mount Simulator.

See Attached pictures showing simple Node-red set up ,Ascom Profile display and Ascom Set up details - GPS-2/3 are showing details after the Node-red flow(on RPI3B in this case) has set the new Site Latitude value.

The above all assumes your Meade mount already uses (or can) a Ascom Mount Driver which supports all the std Ascom mount properties- if not then ignore all ?

It was only just a suggestion so good luck with your project ?

 

gps-3.png

gps-2.png

gps-1.png

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And again, you are introducing another piece of hardware that would need power, network etc.

This is the program that I've written.

AscomGPS.thumb.JPG.bc54bf02e8567d54730c5630d853ee23.JPG

The GPS is plugged into a USB Port on the same computer.   It's a UBlox 7 usb, it's installed into Windows 10 and is a Sensor in the device manager, so I don't need to worry about the NMEA strings.

All I have to do is load the program, choose the mount which is my case is the POTH Hub, then click connect.   Click Connect for the GPS, then click Set location, and hey presto the Telescope will get updated with the information from the GPS.

No need to add GPSD, no need to have a linux device running, no need to have anything that is not directly connected to the mount or computer.

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Finally, after a complete sidetrack of a project as the Meade Driver for my telescope wasn't up to the task and I've now created a new open source ASCOM driver for the Meade telescopes.   Known to work with the Meade LX-90 and has had a successful test on the Meade LX200-GPS. 

 

I can now announce that I've finally got the first test version of AscomGps ready to roll.

Here's the link to the blog post that has the software download link.

http://cjdawson.com/2019/06/22/ascom-gps/

 

It's still a work in progress, but I'm happy to consider this battle station fully operational.    Anyone fancy making a nice Icon for it? :)

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