Welcome to Stellar Journey, this site exists primarily to record and document my observatory's operation. Below are some of the highlights of the better DIY projects that I've found useful.

Software, Etc.
Sky Planetarium




OnStep
OnStep is my computer controlled stepper motor goto system for German Equatorial and Fork mounts. Arduino Firmware and an ASCOM Driver enable telescope control from popular astronomy software, but Sky Planetarium provides the most comprehensive support. A Hand Controller App for Android devices also enables access to most features for "stand-alone" operation.


ASCOM camera drivers for:
Lumenera Cameras (LU070, LW130/SKYnyx2-1, LW170C, etc.) and Quantix Photometrics 6303e
These ASCOM camera drivers I wrote might be of use to others with identical (or similar) camera's.

Motorized Focusers:
Focuser motorization
Updated and improved focuser firmware for Arduino and a new ASCOM driver are done.

Current Projects

4-17-17: Recently I decided to overhaul my Observatory Control System and to release the firmware code for it (Open Source.) It's much more "general purpose" now and it's also fairly easy to setup (as these things go) since all firmware is on one inexpensive and easy to work with device, the Arduino Mega2560. See my Observatory Control page for more information.

1-30-17: Sky Planetarium's Goto Assist helps improve equatorial telescope mount goto pointing accuracy. Some time ago I started integrating Goto Assist with OnStep's similar functionality. This feature is now complete and inital testing on my Tak EM10 mount has been done as well. Even with only a rough polar-alignment pointing accuracy after modeling was about 2' RMS. This is a respectable result and will be useful for imagers and visual observers alike. Other Sky Planetarium features like plate-solving and the sequencer can work together to streamline gathering data for mount modeling in Goto Assist.

11-16-16: Sky Planetarium has gone through a series of bug-fixes over the last month or two. The latest releases represent a significant improvement to SP and it's probably a good idea to update and/or try it out if you haven't done so already.

11-7-16: I took the EM10 mount out again last night and spent some time imaging about a dozen or so Messier objects. I used my B/W Lumenera LW11059 Camera in combination with a little 100mm refractor. The results were quite decent given the limitations of my setup and light polluted location. The images were added to Sky Planetarium as I work toward getting all of the Messier catalog imaged for it. OnStep was operating unguided with PEC/refraction compensated tracking enabled and everything was working very well.

11-4-16: OnStep's -Alpha on GitHub now has (untested!) multi-star align support for Alt/Az mounts.

11-3-16: I setup my OnStep EM10 mount and did a couple of 3-star aligns (Eq mode.) Everything looks like it's still working as it should. This was just to make sure I didn't break anything while working to add multi-star and Alt/Az align features.
Observatory
Documents the construction of my roll-off roof observatory, completed in the fall of '11. It's located a fair distance from home, so I equipped it for remote operation.



The Ring Nebula, M57: The Owl Nebula, M97: The Whirlpool Galaxy, M51: The Dumbbell Nebula, M27: A 'Nearby' Galaxy, M33: The Milkyway like Galaxy NGC7331: The Globular Cluster, M13: The Crab Nebula, M1: