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Jul 06

Raspberry Pi Telescope Control

I have a Raspberry Pi which I received as a vExpert gift from SimpliVity a couple years ago. Over the 4th of July weekend I started tinkering with it to use it to interface with Stellarium in order to remotely control my telescope.

raspberrypi

I had a spare 8 GB SD card and I installed the Raspbian image on the card, booted, and configured the Raspberry Pi.

I also had an old USB to Serial adapter (which actually does not work with Windows 7/8, but the Raspberry Pi recognized it without issue) which is connected to one of the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi.

usb-serial

Once the Raspberry Pi was configured I used apt-get to install the subversion package.

sudo apt-get install subversion

This was needed to pull the telescope server software from SourceForge.

svn co https://svn.code.sf.net/p/stellarium/code/trunk/telescope_server

Then I compiled the Telescope Server by running make in the telescope server src directory. This created three binaries: TelescopeServerDummy, TelescopeServerLx200, and TelescopeServerNexStar. Since I have a Celestron mount, I use the TelescopeServerNexStar. To start the telescope server run TelescopeServerNexStar TCPPort SerialPort. Replacing TCPPort with the port I want the Telescope Server to listen on and SerialPort with the USB to Serial device entry.

TelescopeServerNexStar 5000 /dev/ttyUSB0

Once started the Telescope Server started receiving RA and DEC position information from the telescope mount.

telescope-control

Then I configure the remote telescope connection in Stellarium. To open the telescope configuration use Ctrl+0 and configure the telescope. Select External software or a remote computer and enter the IP Address of the Raspberry Pi and the TCP port the Telescope Server is listening on (in my case 5000).

configure-telescope

Then hit connect to connect Stellarium to the telescope server running on the Raspberry Pi.

scope-setup

Once connected, I can then select an object in Stellarium (the Moon in this case), press Ctrl+1, and the telescope slews to the selected object.

stellarium

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate this weekend and I was not able to try it out in the field. Hopefully next weekend. Also going to try to see if I can get the Raspberry Pi to control one of my Astrophotography cameras, if not it looks like a lot of folks are doing some cool Astrophotography with the Raspberry Pi camera board.

About the author

vHersey

Hersey Cartwright is an IT professional with extensive experience designing, implementing, managing, and supporting technologies that improve business processes. Hersey is Solutions Architect for SimpliVity covering Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. He holds the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-DV #128) certification. Hersey actively participates in the VMware community and was awarded the VMware vExpert title in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. He enjoys working with, teaching, and writing about virtualization and other data center technologies. Follow Hersey on Twitter @herseyc

3 comments

  1. Max

    Hi,
    Tying to install telescope server as described here.
    Succesfully connected USB pi serial cable, it recornises Phoeinix device
    Copied files using
    svn co https://svn.code.sf.net/p/stellarium/code/trunk/telescope_server

    Ran Make, got the three executables in SRC dir
    However when ran:
    pi@Rasptel:~/telescope_server/src $ TelescopeServerLx200 5000 /dev/ttyUSB4
    got:
    bash: TelescopeServerLx200: command not found
    Tried the dummy and nextstar versions with same result
    Probably doing something really stupid, any ideas
    Any help appreciated

    1. vHersey

      Max,

      Since the compiled binary is not in the path you have to tell it to execute from the current directory using ./

      So try this: ./TelescopeServerLx200 5000 /dev/ttyUSB4
      or the full path: /telescope_server/src/TelescopeServerLx200 5000 /dev/ttyUSB4

      Also make sure the binary is set to be executable: chmod +x /telescope_server/src/TelescopeServerLx200

      Hope that helps.

      Hersey

  2. Max

    Hersey,
    Thanks, all good, can control from Stellarium

    Thanks for your help
    Max

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