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Radboud University > Faculty of Science > Department of Astrophysics

Using the telescope mount with the computer

Below is a list of guidelines to get the telescope mount working together with the computer. Click on a link for more specific details:

  1. Open the telescope configuration window (Telescope → Control panel, or telescope icon in the icon bar)
  2. Click the button Connect
  3. Click the button Set Telescope Time

After observing:


Q. The mount refuses to move

A. Unpark the mount via the handheld control

Q. The mount doesn't find the objects

A. Check date and time settings

Q. Objects are not aligned in the center

A. Synchronize the telescope position with the object on the computer

Q. Error message when connecting CdC with the mount.

A. Check the driver settings

Q. Mount doesn't respond when connecting to telescope

A1. Check communication settings.

A2. Check the connection of the serial cable.

A3. Check if other applications also use the COM port.

Detailed usage of the mount using the computer

Switch on the mount

Switch on the mount at the south-side of the pillar by pushing the power switch shortly to the left. A red light will switch on and the handheld remote will shortly show the series- and version number, followed by messages like:

10MICRON - Comec
Booting... EUR
QCI Version 2.7.9
Initializing motors

When the mount has fully started, the date and time appear in the display of the handheld remote. After about seventy seconds the mount is ready for usage.

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Switch on the computer

Switch on the computer and the display. After a few minutes you end up at the windows desktop.

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Start the program Cartes du Ciel

You can start the application Cartes du Ciel, hereafter called CdC, by clicking its icon on the desktop or taskbar, or via the Start menu: Start → All programs → Cartes du Ciel.

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Check date and time settings

Ensure that the system date and time of the computer are in sync with the current time! The date and time are shown in the lower right corner of the screen. As the computers in the domes are connected to a NTP server, this should already be the case.

Check the date and time settings of CdC. Click on the clock icon in the left icon-bar Select use system time and Auto-refresh.

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Open the telescope configuration window

The figure on the left shows the icons in the icon bar that provide the telescope functionality. From left to right these are:

  1. Telescope configuration window;
  2. Synchronize telescope;
  3. Point telescope to object;

Click on the leftmost telescope icon. The telescope configuration window will pop up (see image).

Click the connect button. If all is configured well, after a few seconds the red square will turn green. If it fails to connect, i.e. the square stays red, check the *port configuration* tab. This should contain the following settings:

Serial port: COM1
Speed: 9600
Data bits: 8
Parity: N
Stop bits: 1
Timeout [ms]: 1000
Interval timeout: 250

If these settings still result in a failing connection try a higher value of the interval timeout.

After connecting the telescope, click on the button Set telescope time. The system time of the computer will now be loaded in the mount of the telescope. You can hide the telescope configuration window by pressing the hide button.

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Point the telescope to the object

If you want to point the telescope to a particular object do the following:

  1. Find the object on the map of CdC;
  2. Select the object;
  3. Press the rightmost telescope icon, or
  4. Right click on the object and select Telescope → Slew;

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Park the telescope

After finishing your observation, the telescope needs to be parked in the vertical position. The telescope mount contains 3 park positions:

  1. Vertical position west from the pillar.
  2. A location at the horizon
  3. Vertical position east from the pillar.

From the three parking positions only one can be assigned as the standard parking position. When the mount receives an instruction to park the telescope, it will use this parking position. Park position 1 is usually the default park position.

Via CdC:

In the telescope configuration window click the button Park telescope.

Via the handheld control:

  1. Press the Menu button;
  2. Using the arrow buttons, scroll to Alignment and press Enter;
  3. Scroll to Park and press Enter.
  4. Confirm the parking by pressing Enter;

The mount will now move to the parking position.

note: To be able to move the telescope after it is parked, you first have to unpark it using the handheld control!

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More detailed troubleshooting

The mount doesn't move: unpark the mount via the handheld control

After starting up the mount, it can be in the parking mode. This means you cant move the telescope by pressing the direction buttons on the handheld control. To unpark the telescope, navigate the following menu items on the handheld control: MenuAlignmentEnterUnparkEnter. When the handheld control asks for a confirmation, press Enter.

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Synchronize the telescope position with the object on the computer

If the selected objects aren't shown in the center of your field of view, you can synchronize the telescope position in the map of CdC with that of the position of the telescope mount.

  1. Point the telescope to a well known star. You can optimize the position of the star in the field of view by using the arrow buttons on the handheld control. Ensure that the location of the star is in the center of the field of view before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Find the star that you have pointed the telescope to on the map of CdC. You can do this by using the menu EditAdvanced Search. Or click on the binocular icon. Or scroll the map by pressing the middle mouse button while moving the mouse. If the map doesn't scroll, disable the 'scroll lock' by clicking on the anchor icon so that it is turned off.
  3. Select the star by clicking it using the left mouse button.
  4. Click the middle of the 3 telescope icons (Sync). If a confirmation question is shown to center on <object name>, click OK. If no object name is shown, retry this step again.

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Check the driver settings

Check if the serial cable from the mount is physically connected with the computer. Open the CdC system settings window from the menu bar via Setup → System. Select the Telescope tab. Ensure the following settings are used:

  1. Select the CdC plugin as the telescope interface.
  2. Select “Meade.tid” as the Telescope plugin.

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