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 😀

9 Responses to “ASCOM Driver for Meade LX-90

  • Dear Colin,

    Thank you for providing your driver. Can I ask you for a little more information please? I am just finishing set up a Technical Innovations Pro Dome (15′) that has an LX200GPS on an LX850 GEM which has AutoStar II. I have a Digital Dome Works (DDW) hardware controller for the dome and Tim Long (Canterbury, UK) kindly provided me recently with a recent ASCOM driver he wrote. I don’t have a specific LX200GPS control program and was looking around for a possible ASCOM driver which you seem to have. I am running Windows 10 on a powerful (used) desktop machine and the latest version of ASCON platform 6.4 SP1. I also have SharpCap pro camera software. Will your Meade driver play nicely with this mixture and if so can you please supply a link so I can download your driver.

    Thanks very much.

    Douglas

    • cjdawson
      1 year ago

      Hi Douglas.

      I’ve not tried the driver with the LX850, however the meade command set is fairly stable and the driver should work just fine. If there’s any issues, I’m that they can be sorted out. I’ve used the drive happily with SharpCap Pro, PHD2, SGPro, Cartes Du Ceil and a few other programs… all at the same time.

      Here’s the link to the driver page, all the details about the driver, including the release history is on there.
      https://bitbucket.org/cjdskunkworks/meadeautostar497/wiki/Home

      Regards
      Colin.

  • Dear Colin,

    I did not see your reply so I just sent you an email with a bit more information about an error message I received after running your Meade Generic driver.

    Look forward to your feedback.

    Thanks.

    Douglas Benn

    • Hopefully this has been resolved. I can’t remember, if not, please raise an issue on the driver site.

  • Kevin Franklin
    1 year ago

    You, sir, are a lifesaver. I’ve had nothing but pain trying to get the standard ASCOM driver to allow me to connect to my scope at all, let alone with more than one application at once. Tonight I was able to get my Nexdome and LX90 dancing in unison thanks to your driver. Well done, and thank you.

  • MarkTheBike
    6 months ago

    Hi Colin
    I agree with Mr Franklin above – You, Sir, are a lifesaver. I run an RCX400 10″ and discovered your driver a while back but it didn’t mention RCXs, and I then found an RCX driver by Sehgal. That mostly works but something completely screws up the focusing so I was unable to autofocus in N.I.N.A. By chance, I stumbled across your thread in SGL today and realised that a) yours is being actively developed, b) you’re open to suggestions, c) you take support seriously and, if you don’t mind me saying, d) you seem to take great pride in the integrity of a solid piece of kit.
    So far, it’s working well with the RCX and I’m currently running focus calibration checks – a complete novelty. If I may put in 2 suggestions for those of us with RCXs, there is a built-in Dew Heater that allows setting of power percentage, or Temp above ambient, and a simple fan On/Off switch for the OTA. Whilst it’s many many years since I last coded, I’d be very happy to use mine as a testbed if you ever fancied chucking some RCX functionality into your driver.
    Excellent stuff, many thanks.
    Mark

    • cjdawson
      6 months ago

      Hi Mark.
      Thank you. Glad to hear that the driver is mostly working with the RCX400. I’ll add it to the list of supported Telescopes. I’m interested in the Dew heater and fan switch that you mention. I should be able to add a switch driver for those features, and will a. add them both to the todo list, and b. give you a shout when it comes to “beta testing” it 🙂
      If you come across and problems with running your RCX with the driver, let me know as I’m sure we can figure it out.

  • MarkTheBike
    5 months ago

    Hi Colin
    Sorry about the delay, not been logged on. Well, I think I can now report back that there have been NO problems with the driver and my RCX, it’s been a joy to use as it seems to be just plug-and-play. I’ve tried it in N.I.N.A., PHD2 and SharpCap successfully. I’ll try it in FireCap when I have a chance. The weather’s been rubbish here in Devon but I pointed at a neighbour’s spar-dash wall and set up a quick schedule in NINA, 9 subs with a focus to start off. The driver was flawless (sadly not the same for my NINA settings) but it was still more success in 1hr than I’ve had with this combination in a year. Respect!
    OK, if there’s any RCX info I can dig out for you then just ask. I use Andrew Johansen’s MyScope as a toolbox. The OTA fan is a simple On/Off button but the dew heater allows either a temp xx to be added to ambient (e.g. +3C), or heater power xxx to be set (e.g. 040%). Setting values to 0 will switch it to Off. Hopefully, the fan should be easy and is my most used function – at startup, I just set Dew to +3C on the Hbx and leave it running, so it’s very low priority. Very happy to test anything you have time to do… just let me know with an email if poss 🙂
    Best regards
    Mark

    • cjdawson
      5 months ago

      Hi Mark.
      I’ve taken a look at the documentation for the LX200 command set and have found a set of features that I can implement using the switch driver. It’ll be interesting to see how I manage to get all this to turn out. I’ve just completed a switch driver for the LynxAstro Dew controller, so I know that I can do it from the driver side. Actually already started a switch driver project.

      I’ll send you an e-mail as I would very much appreciate a trace log from my driver, this will give me some information about your scope, so that I can have the driver detect the scope on connection, and allow me to activate the extra features that are not part of the LX-90, etc.
      This way, I won’t get ETX-70 owners putting in support requests for the “dew heater” that they don’t have 😉

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