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Digz

Using Stellarium to Control your Mount with a Mac - SOLUTION

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Hopefully this will be useful to others here on the forum. Maybe it could be made a sticky if the mods / other members feel its worth it.

The background - I tried several weeks ago to control my mount through Stellarium with my Macbook Pro. After several hours of not getting anywhere and some serious frustration I posted a question on the Stellarium launchpad which was eventually answered this week. Today I have been able to try the suggestion out, which, was pretty straight forward.


So for reference and for anyone else who wants to know how this is achieved below are the steps taken.

Firstly I am using a generic USB to Serial adapter (brought from Maplins) with a drive downloaded from Prolific (Welcome to Prolific.com) - PL2303 Driver for Mac. This driver seems to be the best one around for controlling USB to Serial adapters. So what do you do?

The first thing to do is to start Stellarium and set up a new telescope connection. This is done by pressing ‘cmd+0’ and then clicking on ‘configure telescopes’.

Click ‘add’ which will take you into the ‘Add New Telescope’ dialogue box. Once in here there are a few settings that need to be sorted out:

1. Under the heading ‘Telescope controlled by:’ click the radio button next to ‘Stellarium, directly through a serial port’;

2. Under the heading ‘Telescope Properties’ give the telescope a name (I chose NEQ6 as this is the make of mount I want to control.) Everything else under this tab can be left as default.

3. Under ‘Device settings’ you then need to tell Stellarium what and where the serial port is. At present the box will display /dev/. To fill in the correct information go need to go to terminal and type cd /dev followed by the return key then type ls this will list all the devices contained on your system. You are looking for something along the lines of cu.usbserial make sure to copy the cu.xxxxxxxxx and not the tty.xxxxxxxxx into Stellarium and paste it after the /dev/ so you will end up with something like /dev/cu.usbserial

4. Under ‘Device model’ choose ‘Celestron NexStar (compatible)’ This will allow control over Sywatcher mounts.

This is as far as you need to go in Stellarium however under ’User interface settings’ you can set some FOV indicators.

Once Stellarium is set up you are ready to connect your mount.

First start up the mount, enter the usual information, long / lat, date, time etc etc and perform your usual polar alignment.

Once done you can then perform your star alignments or connect to Stellarium. In either case, before you connect to Stellarium it is important to note that you do not need to enter ‘PC Direct Mode’ which is rather counter-intuitive but works!

Therefore, when you are ready connect your cable to your Mac and handset and in Stellarium press ‘cmd+0’, it may be necessary to click on ‘configure telescope’ find the scope and click ‘start’. Now in Stellarium you should see a marker with the scope name next to it. If you have just connected after polar alignment then this should have the scope marker next to Polaris (assuming your scope is parked in this position.)

Now you are ready to go. Just find a target, click on it and press ‘cmd+1’ assuming you have one scope set up, your scope should now slew to this target. You can have several scopes set up which will use the number 1-9 and 0 thus if you have a scope set up under number 4 then you will need to press ‘cmd+4’ to slew.

When finished you can park the scope and disconnect. And thats it.

I hope people find this useful.

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One question.. Do you need the SynScan version or is the SYNTREK OK ?

Edit: Just seen it's via the handset, so it's the synscan version.

Edited by Penfold

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Or, just get Equinox Pro and have it all working out of the box + webcam support!

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hi, would i be able to control this kind of mount.

obviopusly it doesnt come with GOTO system, but i will upgrade later on in life, but would i be able to control it?

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hi, would i be able to control this kind of mount.

obviopusly it doesnt come with GOTO system, but i will upgrade later on in life, but would i be able to control it?

Which kind of mount are you referring to?

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Thanks Digz that will come in very useful. Is there any chance you will allow me to cut and paste it to a new discussion in the Mac Astronomy Group, as this is the kind of info we are after. Or if you could create the discussion in the group with the above information would be great. Would you also consider joining the group.

Thanks

David.

Edited by Dai150PL

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....

Firstly I am using a generic USB to Serial adapter (brought from Maplins) with a drive downloaded from Prolific (Welcome to Prolific.com) - PL2303 Driver for Mac. This driver seems to be the best one around for controlling USB to Serial adapters. So what do you do?

....

Hello,

I have been having the same problem with my Celestron CGEM and my Mac OSX (SL).

So far I am using the same procedure as described in the first post

...

Once done you can then perform your star alignments or connect to Stellarium. In either case, before you connect to Stellarium it is important to note that you do not need to enter ‘PC Direct Mode’ which is rather counter-intuitive but works!

...

This part does not seem to exist on the NexStar controller. Did anyone figure out how to switch the NexStar controller to make it talk to the Mac/Stellarium?

I see a "connected" confirmation in the telescope control plugin when using the /dev/cu.usbserial device.

But the NexStar does not seem to "see" the Mac nor does it move when I hit cmd+1, ctrl+1 or alt+1.

Do I need to manually open any port or something?

Any help is highly appreciated.

Wil

Edited by obs30

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Why struggle with Stellarium? I control my NexStar 6se and NEQ6 Pro, Webcam and guider all from Equinox Pro Equinox 6

It also controls Canon DSLRs.

Okay, it is not free, it's about $60 but well worth it. Grab the 30 day trial, which is not limited. The site also has a wealth of videos and info on Mac connections and a helpful forum.

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Thank you for your advice.

Sure, you have a good point. I tried the trial version of Equinox, but was not too happy with it. But I am reconsidering now.

I want to make sure it is not a hardware related problem, before I start buying software.

Actually, I love RedShift. I had been using RedShift under Windows since version 3 with all upgrades (10 years?) . Recently I changed to Mac and looking for something equivalent. Hopefully, they will eventually come up with a Mac version some day.

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Note that there are two versions of Equinox. Equinox 6 (now called Pro) is more fully featured than the Eqinox on the Mac App Store. It worked first time for me with my MacPro and MacBook. I'm using the Meade USB-Serial adaptor. I also like Starry Night but it is much more expensive for the scope controlling version. RedShift is available for iPhone/iPad.

Edited by vulcan

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I had Equinox 6 installed. Well, I guess I give it a shot again, I could also see whether my problem is hardware related.

BTW, after plugging in the usb-serial-adapter, do I need to configure it in the network settings? In the terminal window it shows up immediately under /dev/cu.usbserial.

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BTW, after plugging in the usb-serial-adapter, do I need to configure it in the network settings? In the terminal window it shows up immediately under /dev/cu.usbserial.

I haven't connect to Stellarium for a while, but I don't recall having to configure anything other than what you need to set up through Stellarium.

I use to get the same problem, in that it would say it was connected but nothing would happen when I hit cmd+1. I cant remember what made it work but I think it ultimately came down to the driver that I installed. Have you installed the driver I mention at the start?

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I didn't do anything specal, it just worked. I have the ProlificUsbSerial.kext in System/Library/Extensions (PL2303 Mac OS X 10.6 v1.4.0, Prolific Edition) which is the generic driver for many USB/Serial cables.

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Hi Digz and Vulcan,

Thank you both for your very quick help!

I had downloaded and installed the latest drivers from the prolific website. It did not really work with the provided CD of the adapter cable.

I just re-installed Equinox 6 and actually, it looks very nice. The last time I installed it, I just had the new Mac for a couple of days and was still heavily in the Win2Mac transition phase ;-)

I will try tonight to access the scope with Equinox. I keep you posted.

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I detect a quick weekend project here - I'll investigate.. it should 'just work' as the Prolific driver seems fine (although has a few issues).

Edited by NickK

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Just choose NexStar GPS in the preferences 'telescope' tab. That's all I had to do. The same setting also works for EQ5/NEQ6

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I just had a note that a new Equinox 6 version (6.16.0) has been released with a new Polar Alignment function and bug fixes.

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Just choose NexStar GPS in the preferences 'telescope' tab. That's all I had to do. The same setting also works for EQ5/NEQ6

I will do so! Thank you!

Funny, I downloaded Equinox 6.15 this afternoon and I just saw the same update 6.16. popping up....

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I detect a quick weekend project here - I'll investigate.. it should 'just work' as the Prolific driver seems fine (although has a few issues).

Thank you.

Unfortunately, it did not really work for me.. and I could not figure out why. Any suggestions? :)

The prolific 2303 drivers are the most recent ones (1.4.0 MacOSX10.6 for 32 and 64bit) and the /dev/cu.usbserial is coming and going with the actual physical usb connection. I have OS X 10.6.7 with the latest security updates of this week.

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I don't have /dev/cu.usbserial on my Macs and everything is working fine. Could it be that this is conflicting with the Prolific driver? There is a readme file with the Prolific installer that tells how to remove older Prolific drivers using Terminal. You could use the same principle to remove cu.usbserial.

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Hi all,

PROBLEM SOLVED !!!

I guess it was a 64bit issue. I found another driver for the Prolific 2303 device which explicitly stated to be compatible to the 64bit kernel. I uninstalled the original driver from Prolific and replaced it with this one. You can also find it here. Now both Stellarium and Equinox work like a charm with my CGEM mount !!!

Thank you all for your help again!

Clear skies.

Edited by obs30

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