There is now in the works a ASCOM Driver to eliminate the hand controller, driving the mount directly from a planetarium program.  This has been discussed on the Yahoo! EQ6 Group and has generated a Yahoo group of it's own EQMOD Group.

I will detail here mostly my own experiences with this system and the construction of the hardware I used.


The interface

The interface is a simple RS2332 to TTL level converter that goes between the PC's Serial port and the Hand Controller port on the mount.  It eliminates the hand controller. It is based on the Texas Instruments MAX232 integrated circuit.

Overview shot of the assembly, cover removed.  The Serial Data Cable to the PC is 30' long, the Mount Data Cable is 5' and the interface box will Velcro'd to the spreader bar of the Meade Field Tripod.  The cable is a Cable Wholesale 50' black serial assembly (cost $12) cut down as needed.


A low illumination green LED is glued into the top cover for power verification.  The 5V regulator assembly is bolted to the end of the top cover.  Unit is laying top face down in these images.

Testing will commence upon arrival of the MAX232 chips from Mouser (~12/2/06)  I plan to use Dave Lane's excellent Earth Centered Universe to drive the scope.



Wireless Hand Paddle

One of the additions to the EQ Direct driver is the ability to slew using a mouse.  Starting with the 1.05 version a Joy Stick or Numerical Pad was added.  I found a good wireless numeric pad from Targus that works well with this driver.

The Targus PAKP0003U Combination Wireless Mouse and Numeric Keypad.  The numeric pad is only 3" wide and 5" tall.  It varies from 1/2" to 3/4" thick.  The thicker portion is at the top.

I made a Plexiglas mask, held in place with Velcro, to keep me from hitting unwanted keys in the dark.  The whole thing fits nicely in a pocket when not being used at the scope.  The only downside to this device is the range between the transmitter and receiver can not exceed about 8 feet.  I plan on using a USB repeater cable from the PC to the mounting and will place the dongle at the scope, so this is not going to be an issue for me.