Tech – Software Part 1 (SiTech Servo II)

This post should be the prelude to several posts dedicated to the software we are using. The first software we want to discuss is the command and control software of the SiTech Servo II telescope controller.

The software is split into two more or less independent parts:

  • Sidereal Technology Servo Configuration Utility
  • telescope control (sitech.exe)

Servo Config – Sidereal Technology Servo Configuration Utility

This tool is dedicated to configure the controller with all sorts of parameters needed. E.g. motor speeds, encoder ticks, backlash settings and so on.

ServoConfigMainScreen
Servo Config tool main dialog. (Screenshot taken from the SiTech Servo Config manual)

The program is a little bit colorful, but it nicely sums up all relevant information in the main screen. You can easily see the status of both axes (motor status, encoder status) and you can also see other controller settings below.

You also have a little virtual hand pad, which is quite handy when one is fiddling around with parameters and want to test them.

On the left side you’ll find a menu where you can access the settings. The most important menu item is “Edit Parameters” which takes you the parameter setup screen:

Configure
The first tab of the “Edit Parameters” screen, where you can change motor parameters. (Screenshot taken from the SiTech Servo Config manual)

 

Sitech
SiTech.exe  main window.

All in all the basic setup is/was done quit fast and straight forward. The most difficult part was to determine the actual values for the parameters to set. Some were found in the config files of the old DOS based control software and some were found by trial and error – but with the help of this tool and its documentation we were able to do the whole setup in one day. Seeing the motors moved by the new controller was quite satisfying.

For further in depth information check the documents provided by Sidereal Technology:

SiTech.exe – Telescope control

The more complex part of the SiTech software bundle is the actual command and control software, called SiTech.exe

First of all, you can configure the pointing model there, which as you can read in Tech – Telescope Alignment & Guiding, was not so easy to handle.

Sitech2
The SkyView and InitPoint dialog from SiTech.exe are sufficient for their Task but for Day to Day operation something more widespread will be used.

The basic handling of the scope, e.g. unparking the scope and other stuff can be handled directly from the main screen.

For pointing to object, SiTech.exe also have a full planetarium subprogram included. At this you can easily find objects and point the telescope to them, however we will not really use this part of the program since it is a little bit clunky to handle and pointing to objects through Stellarium is far more comfortable – so we decided to use Stellarium instead. The good thing is, due to full ASCOM support of SiTech.exe, this is quite easy to do.

Stellairum2
Connecting Stellarium to the SiTech.exe (Via StellariumScope & ASCOM) makes pointing the Telescope quire easy, at least on the Software side.

So we basically use SiTech.exe as interface to the controller itself. We also use it to configure the pointing models and park/unpark the scope. Perhaps we also use it as main script controller for automation tasks.

SiTech.exe also provides powerful ASCOM scripting extensions. A documentation of them can be found at this web page (SiTechExe ASCOM Extensions Help as of Version 0.91Xe).

In upcoming blog entries regarding software, we will discuss Stellarium, which we use to point at objects and AstroArt which we use for acquiring images.

 

 

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