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rDUINOScope

FREE and Open Source, Arduino Due based Telescope Control GOTO

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THE WORLD'S FIRST STAND ALONE ARDUINO BASED TELESCOPE CONTROL GOTO.

All available open source telescope controls either use Raspberry Pi, which consumes a lot of power, or uses Arduino as extension to a computer, smart phone or tablet. rDUINOScope is the first Arduino Based, Stand Alone device allowing amateur astronomers to enjoy the night sky.

Initial idea was to create a cheap and easy to build alternative of commercially available GOTO products like the ones manufactured by SkyWatcher, Orion, Vixen and others. Thus the hardware architecture is built on Arduino DUE board and cheap sensors available on the market. In the heart of the system is Arduino DUE board, loaded with Software which is constantly developed to add functionality.

PROJECT Web Site: http://rduinoscope.byethost24.com

rDUINOScope is an Open Source, Arduino Due based Telescope Control System (GOTO). Drafted as stand alone system, rDUINOScope does not need PC, Tablet or Cell Phone, nor Internet connection in order to operate and deliver stunning views!

Basically it have a database with THE BEST ~250 stellar objects ( Messier and Hidden Treasures Catalogues) and 200 stars, calculates their position on the sky and points the telescope. Implemented Alignment procedures allow for "Always in the eyepiece" experience when slewing to selected objects and once the object is in the eyepiece, the system keeps tracking it.

In case however you'd like to take advantage of your electronic devices, #rDUINOScope utilizes Bluetooth communication (Wire Free SetUp) to connect with all electronic devices and accept commands based on MEADE LX200 communication protocol.


The system works with stepper motors of all types and can be mounted on both DIY Mounts or Commercially available products like SkyWatcher, MEADE, Orion, Vixen and etc.

Recently a hardware project has been created, to revise the original content, reduce the price of ownership and make it look and feel professional. Project by Otto Winter: https://hackaday.io/project/21397-rduinoscope-control-v13


Functionality:

  • Best ~250 Stellar Objects database - Messier Objects and Hidden Treasures;
  • 200 Brightest stars from Northern and Southern hemispheres;
  • Calculates the Local Sidereal Time and Hour Angle and points the telescope;
  • Hemisphere independent - works on both sides of the globe;
  • Auto Tracking, Auto Meridian Flip, Auto Stop when object below horizon;
  • "Observation Log" is kept for each observation, including temperature, location and etc.
  • BlueTooth connection with "Stellarium" and "#rDUINO Controller" Software;
  • Supports Bluetooth commands, based on MEADE LX200 protocol;
  • Stand alone operation ... or/and... Computer/Tablet aided operation;
  • Complete NGC & IC catalogue via "#rDUINO Controller" Software and Bluetooth;
  • Fancy Joystick multi speed manual control;
  • Day/Night mode of operation of the screen;
  • Precise and Quick Alignment methods for "Always in Eyepiece" experience;
  • ... and many other small geeks which I consider useful :)
  • What's inside the rDUINO SCOPE
  • Arduino DUE Microcontroller Board - consumes ~ 500mA ;
  • TFT Touch Screen (240 x 400 px);
  • PS2 joystick;
  • GPS uBlox Neo 6M - GPS Module;
  • DRV8825 - Stepper motor drivers capable of passing 2A current;
  • HC-05 - BlueTooth module working as "Master";
  • PCB Mount Buzzer for Sound Alerts;
  • RTC DS3231 - clock to store Date and Time even when disconnected from power supply;
  • DHT22 - Temperature & Humidity sensor to show and record environment variables during observations;

  • _READ_ME.txt

    Description of the final release v.2.1 Boiana EQ along with some F.A.Q.

    plain - 2.20 kB - 04/07/2017 at 18:19

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    _02_Boiana_EQ.ino

    Main Arduino File

    ino - 45.69 kB - 04/07/2017 at 18:10

    Download

    graphic_screens.ino

    GRAPHICS FILE, Linked to the main file

    ino - 24.74 kB - 04/07/2017 at 18:10

    Download

    touch_inputs.ino

    TOUCH INPUTS FILE, Linked to the main file

    ino - 26.70 kB - 04/07/2017 at 18:10

    Download

    BT.ino

    BLUETOOTH COMMUNNICATION, Linked to the main file

    ino - 12.74 kB - 04/07/2017 at 18:10

    Download

    View all 6 files

    • 1 × Arduino Due from http://www.arduino.cc
    • 1 × 3.2" TFT 400*240 SD Touch Module With Shield for Arduino Due I used the one from Elechouse
    • 1 × RTC DS323 Real time clock from Ebay
    • 1 × GPS uBlox Neo 6M GPS module from Ebay
    • 1 × PS2 joystick for Arduino again from Ebay

    View all 12 components

    View all 3 project logs

    • 1

      STEP 1 Preparation

      Before we start, it is important that you understand how the software works in order to be able to make changes and customize it for you. After all this is one of the most significant strengths of this project!

      To understand this part you need to download the code from the Project Files, along with the "libraries" files ... or simply download the whole package from : http://rduinoscope.co.nf/downloads.php. All referenced row numbers are according the code of V2.1. Boiana EQ

      You should know how the Arduino code works... Usually Arduino program have 2 sections- SETUP(); and LOOP();
      SETUP() is executed at the beginning of the program and basically it utilizes the system;
      LOOP() is a constant loop function which fires multiple times per second. So in order to assure we have screens, touch inputs and etc. and the screen not flickers because of the LOOP() we need to invent a mechanism to let Arduino know what is the User expects it to do. Thus in the LOOP() section you will see a very small portion of the code that only says "Consider Touch.. or Consider Time ..." and etc. The rest of the activities happen within those functions which allows us to alter the flow of the program so that the screens are not refreshed multiple times per second.


      Calculations: I have used some information found on internet on how to calculate position of stellar objects. Most of the information I collected from the following link: http://www.stargazing.net/kepler/altaz.html - Describes needed formulas and approach to calculate Hour Angle (HA), knowing location, current time, and stellar object RA and DEC.

      Once I created the code to calculate HA /row 678: void calculateLST_HA() /, I used this page to check if it works OK: http://www.jgiesen.de/astro/astroJS/siderealClock/ , and on a later stage when I added the DB with Messier Objects I used Stellarium (http://www.stellarium.org/) application for the same checks.

      The main issue I found was not the formulas themselves, but the way Arduino deals with variable types and in particular the precision of the calculations.

      Now once we have the HA and DEC calculated for a given object, we want to make the mount point the telescope and to do so, we need to somehow know how much exactly motors needs to turn. To succeed in this I need to know what is the worm to gear ratio – i.e. how many turns should the worm do in order that the gear makes 360°. I have Vixen Super Polaris and quick search on internet revealed that it uses 144 tooth gear for both RA and DEC shafts.
      I have created a simple Excel file (*.XLS - http://rduinoscope.co.nf/downloads/Gears_Stepper_Calculation.xlsx) to calculate how much the motors should turn once I calculated HA and DEC, and also how often to "fire" motors in order to compensate for the Earth rotation.

      The same mathematical model I used in the XLS is also implemented in the code, so what you need to do is simply substitute the values for your mount in the beginning of the code (rows 34 to 37).

      // HERE GOES THE Mount, Gears and Drive information.
      // ... used to calculate the HourAngle to microSteps ratio
      // UPDATE THIS PART according to your SET-UP
      // ---------------------------------------------
      // NB: RA and DEC uses the same gear ratio (144 tooth in my case)!
      //----------------------------------------------
      int WORM = 144;
      int REDUCTOR = 4;  // 1:4 gear reduction
      int DRIVE_STP = 200;   // Stepper drive have 200 steps per revolution
      int MICROSteps = 16;   // I'll use 1/16 microsteps mode to drive sidereal - also determines the LOWEST speed.

      Now once we calculated ratios, the code will know how much to turn the motors in order to point the telescope to the corresponding coordinates and also what is the clock speed so that the mount can track the object. Functions taking care of the above starts at row 906 and row 917:

      void Sidereal_rate(){
      }
      void cosiderSlewTo(){
      }

      Considerations: You know, this is not a consumer ready product. It allows you to customize it for your needs and thus is very flexible, but with the flexibility comes some drawbacks. I have included this “considerations” section in order to make sure those are not dropped from your To Do list.

      - Mounting motors is a simple task, which however impact the way your calculations should work. In my scenario Vixen Super Polaris have their original gears put on the right side of the worm shaft. I however found those shafts to be short in order to replace the gears with pulleys and thus moved the pulleys on the opposite side of the shaft (left). This caused that the motor actually needs to turn backwards in order to increase telescope position and thus I had to revise the original code I have created. You should definitely revise the directions you motors turn other ways you will end up with wrong counting of the steps, thus wrong position. Let me show you what I mean: See row 1028 where I command motor to STP_BACK, but on row 1031 I increase the counter +=...... (All referenced row numbers are according the code of V2.1. Boiana EQ)

      if (SLEW_RA_microsteps > RA_microSteps){
           digitalWrite(RA_DIR,STP_BACK);
           digitalWrite(RA_STP,HIGH);
           digitalWrite(RA_STP,LOW);
           RA_microSteps += RA_mode_steps;
      }else{
           digitalWrite(RA_DIR,STP_FWD);
           digitalWrite(RA_STP,HIGH);
           digitalWrite(RA_STP,LOW);
           RA_microSteps -= RA_mode_steps;
      } 
      

      ACTION: Revise the following parts of the code: void consider_Manual_Moveint xP, int yP), void cosiderSlewTo() and void Sidereal_rate()

      - Northern VS. Southern Hemispheres: The code also inverses the FORWARD move depending on the hemisphere you are located. This is done in a part of the code, where I take care of the Touch inputs. You might need to revise the code section.

      - Gearing on DEC and RA axis: My code works assuming that both DEC and RA axis use 144 tooth gear. This is the case for Vixen Super Polaris. In case you have a different setup you might need to revise some portions of the code. If you have issues to identify those parts of the code, drop me a message and I’ll try to help you out!

      Plan your activities: Now we reached a point where we need to plan our activities to actually build the rDUINO Scope GoTo system. Rough estimation is that you should be able to complete the system in 2-3 days considering you have everything needed (HW, Tools and Materials). It took me something like 4-5 months to complete it, considering I was only able to work during the night (not every night), and also I needed to do a lot of research. Putting it all together took me like:

      - 1 day to build the Shield board and live up the system;

      - 1 day to pack everything in a box;

      - 1 day to fix motors and pulleys to the mount.

    • 2

      STEP 2 Materials

      Now, as we know how basically the program works, you need to plan your procurement and obtain needed materials.


      Bill of Materials: Most of the materials I used are bought from Chinese suppliers on Internet. Few of them however I decided to buy locally mostly because they were considered good to have and I wanted to avoid delays: GPS, Bluetooth and Joystick. It cost me roughly $190 USD to get all this, so tit is really a low cost compared to how expensive is to buy such system from manufacturers.

      You can find list of materials along with their prices and where you can buy them on the project website: http://rduinoscope.co.nf/rDUINO_step2.html, but the list is also available on this website in the "COMPONENTS" section.

      If you can find them cheaper or deliver them faster I strongly suggest you do so.

      Additionally depending on your design, you might need 40 pin. cable with connectors for the TFT, some plastic bolts to fasten the joystick, USB cable to ensure the Arduino Due is still programmable when enclosed in the box, fan and others.

      If you don’t have those at home (as I didn’t) you should also buy some soldering materials, solder, nippers, digital multimeter, and others.


      Software you will need: One important part of building your rDUINOScope is to download and install the Arduino IDE and all related Software (drivers, board definitions and libraries). Follow the below list in order to install needed on your computer:

      1. Go to Arduino website and download the IDE: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software. Install the software – Once the software is installed it will also install drivers needed so that your computer recognizes the Arduino board when connected.
      2. Run the Arduino IDE and navigate to: Tools -> Board -> Boards Manager, once there Download and install Arduino Due board definition “Arduino SAM Boards (32-bit ARM Cortex-M3)”;
      3. Download the libraries pack that I used as part of the program and copy-paste them in the “libraries” folder of your Arduino IDE installation. (NOTE: "libraries" is a folder on your computer, but it is also a folder within the COMPLETE PACK available on the project website: http://rduinoscope.co.nf/downloads.php, so what you need to do is to download the pack, rename the extension to .ZIP, open it and copy the content of the "_libraries" folder from the ZIP to the "libraries" folder on your computer.)
      4. Restart the IDE and open the main program file - “_02_Boiana_EQ.ino”. You will noice that 4 more files will open in a separate TABs. Those are supporting files taking care of different parts of the software.

      You should be able now to compile the code and load it to the Arduino Due board after connecting Arduino to your Computer.

      Note: In case you are not aware of how the Arduino IDE works and what needs to be done in order to program Arduino, refer to website and tutorials: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

    • 3

      TEP 3 Assemble
      For more detailed instructions, please visit the Project Website : http://rduinoscope.co.nf/rDUINO_step3.html

      Now is the time to create the Shield board. A Shield board is a board with pinouts which you stack on top of the ArduinoDUE board.
      Some of the components needs to be on that board and some are better positioned on the enclosure box instead. My split goes like this:

      • Shield Board holding: both DRV8825 drives, RTC3231 clock, Bluetooth module HC-05, Piezo speker, Connector for 12V and pinouts for the remaining components;
      • Monthed on the box components are: GPS Module NEO 6M - RX so that the antenna can always points toward the sky, DHT22 temperature sensor sticked outside of the box through a hole, PS2 Joystick , the TFT Screen and all switches (ON/OFF switch and Day/Night Mode switch). Additionally I have drilled holes for the Motor Drives connectors, 12V power supply connector and a USB cable port that goes to ArduinoDUE Native port to allow for Software updates without opening the box.


      How to connect components to ARDUINO DUE board:

      Component Hardware Pin Arduino Pin
      GPS (VCC: +3.3V) GPS NEO 6M - RX 16
      GPS NEO 6M - TX 17
      RTC (VCC: +3.3V) RTC DS3231 - SDA A4
      RTC DS3231 - SCL A5
      Bluetooth (VCC: +3.3V) BT HC-05 - TXD 14
      BT HC-05 - RXD 15
      DHT (VCC: +3.3V) DHT22 - out 3
      Speaker Piezo Speaker 2
      PS2 (VCC: +3.3V) PS2 joystick - VRx A1
      PS2 joystick - VRy A0
      Declination DRV8825 DEC DRV8825 - STEP 6
      DEC DRV8825 - DIR 7
      DEC DRV8825 - FAULT +3.3 V
      DEC DRV8825 - M0 10
      DEC DRV8825 - M1 9
      DEC DRV8825 - M2 8
      DEC DRV8825 - ENABLE
      DEC DRV8825 - RESET DEC DRV8825 - SLEEP
      Right Ascention DRV8825 RA DRV8825 - STEP 4
      RA DRV8825 - DIR 5
      RA DRV8825 - FAULT +3.3 V
      RA DRV8825 - M0 11
      RA DRV8825 - M1 13
      RA DRV8825 - M2 12
      RA DRV8825 - ENABLE
      RA DRV8825 - RESET RA DRV8825 - SLEEP
      TFT Screen use with TFT Shield pins (22-53) + SPI
      Day/Night (VCC: +3.3V) Mode Switch A3



      Right... Now we are ready to assemble the Shield Board.
      Get a prototyping PCB and assess how to cut it, so that it can hold all components, to have some room for wiring and have the pinouts soldered in such a way that it can be stacked on top of Arduino. Please note that you need to solder all the pins used by Arduino and connect them either to the components on the Shield board, or to a connector on this shield bord so that components put on the box itsels can be connected too.

      I'm including some photos below of the process:


      Once those were done, I connected the board and tested the shield! ... It wasn't working! :(
      I checked the wiring and it turned out that I have created a bridge between 2 connections and I had to fix it. Please note that as of this moment I started to check every soldering for issues as I really got lucky to not burn my Arduino or anything else with the wrong wiring.

      NB! - Make sure you check all connections!

      Make sure you follow the following wiring diagram for the DRV8825 and motor drives as it is important....


      Make sure you use suitable power adapter (12V, 1.6A) and connect the motor drives before the power is ON! NB!: Never connect motor drives when DRV8825 is under load as it might burn the drivers!

      Now as all components are soldered in place, I suggest you to also connect the motor drives, load the software to the Arduino board and test the entire setup. It should work without glitches at this point.

      You should now be able to play around with the software and get to know the User Interface.

      In order to help with the interface I have created a USER'S GUIDE page on the project's website: http://rduinoscope.co.nf/guide.html

      Your setup should look something like this:

    View all 5 instructions

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    Discussions

    Tyberius Prime wrote 6 days ago point

    I'm going to build one!

    Alas I have trouble sources the TFT - how much work would it be to adapt to one with a SSD1963 chip?

      Are you sure? yes | no

    Dessislav Gouzgounov wrote 6 days ago point

    Good for you! I'm really looking forward for images of your build :)

    Revising the code to work with different screens is a serious effort. I'm planning to do this for later versions in order to incorporate smarter, faster screens but this will be probably in the next year. 

    In the meantime try Aliexpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20170523035523&isPremium=y&SearchText=3.2+inch+TFT+LCD+Arduino+DUE

    This is the original screen I'm using and the software works with it: http://www.elechouse.com/elechouse/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2217 

      Are you sure? yes | no

    Tyberius Prime wrote 6 days ago point

    The original is out of stock, and ali will take a while to ship to germany (or be expensive).

    I'll give it a go, it's apperantly mostly a question of replacing (or shimming) the adafruit-gfx library with UTFT.

      Are you sure? yes | no

    Dessislav Gouzgounov wrote 05/01/2017 at 11:15 point

    Great News: rDUINOScope have just reached 400 downloads on both project websites!

      Are you sure? yes | no

    Dessislav Gouzgounov wrote 04/27/2017 at 19:37 point

    GREAT NEWS: Otto Winter took the schematics
    into his hands and have come up with a brilliant All-In-One solution for the
    hardware part of the rDUINOScope. Check out his open project too: https://hackaday.io/project/21397-rduinoscope-control-v13

      Are you sure? yes | no

    Dessislav Gouzgounov wrote 04/12/2017 at 15:10 point

    Fellow astronomers, 

    Before all, I'd like to thank you for your interest in rDUINOScope. It really feels great.

    I'd like to share with you that the free hosting I used for the project website exceeded allowed bandwidth of 5GB in just a few hours and the site went down. Thus I have created a mirror website wth all instructions and files to download.

    Mirror Website: http://rduinoscope.byethost24.com

    Once again, thank you for the support!

    Warm Regards,
    Desso

      Are you sure? yes | no

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