ASCOM Driver for Meade LX-90

ASCOM is a software platform that allows software applications to interact with hardware devices like telescopes, filter wheels, cameras and so on.   The advantage of it is that application developers don’t need to know how to communicate directly with any given telescope brand.  Simply install the driver for you telescope and away you go.

There is a host of software that makes use of ASCOM, the ones that I use are SharpCap, PHD2, Sequence Generator Pro, WifiScope to name the ones that I use.

There’s also a big bonus in that it’s possible with some drivers, or with a program called the POTH hub, to connect multiple programs to the same piece of hardware at the same time.   Why would you want to do this?   Well, connecting PHD2 and Sequecnce Generator Pro allows you to point the telescope, platesolve, start autoguiding and capture images automatically.

However, there are limitations.  The telescope manufacturers haven’t really spent any time creating drivers to support their products.  For the Meade Telescopes based on the Autostar, there has been no code changes to the driver since 2008, that’s over a decade.  OK, so the architecture of the scopes don’t really change that much, but there are things that were never properly implemented which I know that the scope can do.

With that in mind, I took it upon myself to create a new driver for my Meade LX-90.  Not only that, I decided that I wanted to make the driver an open source project.  That means that other people can get involved and help to create a driver that works in the way that drivers should work.   That is, minimal configuration, they just work.

There are a few features that I specifically want to support on my telescope.   I want a way to be able to set the date and time of the scope using my laptop, so that I don’t need to type it in.   I want to be able to set the location of my telescope using a GPS.   I did this in 2001 when I first got my scope using a Psion Series 5, so I can’t see why I can’t do it now using a Laptop.     I also want to be able to connect several pieces of software without the need for the POTH Hub.   EQAscom let’s you do it, so why can’t Meade owners get the same love.

These are all things that my new Meade Generic Driver can do.

This is just the start of it.   I’m also planning several pieces of software that will allow telescope owners to benefit.  Watch this space 😀

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