Advanced PC Control Software -
Replace the Hand Control with a PC
hcAnywhere/hcTour have been purchased by Celestron and are now called
here for more information on NexRemote. The following describes some of the
history behind NexRemote/hcAnywhere as well as products still offered by
AstroGeeks offers two utilities that enhance your connection
capabilities. These are still available from AstroGeeks even after the
acquisition of hcAnywhere by Celestron.
The first is a virtual serial port hub - NexHub - that allows you to run
several different astronomy programs and each of them can connect to NexHub on a
different port - thus allowing you to communicate with the scope using multiple
programs simultaneously. This program currently works with the NexStar 8/9.25/11 GPS,
5i/8i, GT (those with the newer hand control), CGE, CGE Pro, CGEM and AS-GT scopes.
The other utility - COM2TCP - allows you to use an Internet
connection (technically a TCP/IP connection) to send normal RS232 commands from
one PC to another PC. This is a generic utility that works for just about
anything, but in terms of your PC and scope - on the sending end, the commands
that an astronomy program sends to a comm port are intercepted and sent via the
TCP/IP network to a remote computer and are redirected to a comm port on that
remote computer (to which the telescope is connected).
Here's an example of how that could be useful. Let's say you have your scope
in a backyard observatory with a PC connected to it and a wireless network
extending into your house. You could run hcAnywhere on the PC in your house.
Both PCs would be running COM2TCP/TCP2COM. Using a web cam on a
piggybacked refractor and Internet video conferencing software you could perform
an Auto Alignment from inside your house and away you go. You could also use
COM2TCP to remotely control a serial port controlled motorized focuser. With a
StellaCam (Mintron) in the visual back and PC Anywhere (or many other ways to
get a remote video feed from the StellaCam/Mintron) you have fully remote DSO
observing. With a CCD in the visual back - fully remote imaging. And of course
you can also be talking about a scope in a remote observatory connected to a PC
that has an Internet connection - thousands of miles away...
Here is the link to the site where it is all available:
WOW! This is powerful stuff.
Summer, 2003 - A Bit of History of hcAnywhere/NexRemote
AstroGeeks (Andre Paquette and Ray St.Denis) have been busy at work on a
PC program - hcAnywhere (since purchased by Celestron and now sold as
NexRemote)- that will allow you to remove the HC from
the NexStar GPS and CGE series scopes and use a Windows PC connected to the PC Port on the
telescope base to
completely control the scope. hcAnywhere also supports the NexStar
5i/8i by connecting to the RS232 port on the bottom of the hand control and
the NexStar GT models by connecting to an inexpensive manual hand control.
The program is in essence a virtual hand
control that performs all of the functions of the standard hand control -
and more. This includes the creation of a virtual serial port (RS232 port)
that other astronomy software can access just like the serial port on the
real hand control. It allows the use of a wireless game pad to control the
scope and the program talks! The prompts that appear on the LCD panel
on the hand control are spoken so that you can actually use the scope
without looking at the PC screen. Be sure to visit the link below for
more details on this ground-breaking software.
A second program they have created is hcTour (now called NexTour). hcTour allows
the user to create customized tours based on a 46,000 object database.
Each tour can have a maximum of 200 objects and you can define an unlimited
number of tours. You are no longer limited to just the original tour
objects found in the hand control.