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Subject: PEMPro -- Must Have Program to Reduce LX200 PEC --part 1 of 2

From: Don Jarvis <> Date: Nov 2004

To all LX200 CCD Imagers:
There have been many postings in the past about how to reduce the PEC in an LX200 to lengthen image times. I can highly recommend a MUST HAVE program to minimize the PEC in the LX200 mount fairly easily. If one wants to really improve your CCD images I believe one must check out PEMPro, a new program by Ray Gralak to model the periodic error in a mount and then via FFT curve fitting, program the error out of the mount. My mount is pretty bad in PEC +-30 arcsecs and until I began to use PEMPro I could never get an image time longer than 30 seconds guided or unguided.

It was a real amazement for me to be able to take a 10 minute guided image with only minor/modest star elongation. Still have a long way to go to getting round stars but at least I have some hope for my mount.

You can download a demo at Program cost is $150 but it is worth every penny. (PS. I don't work for Ray or get any commissions).

I have posted the results of my first LX200 PEC training run (Its large - 4G) using PEMPro. In the PDF file you will find screen shots from PEMPro from start to finish of a PEC training cycle. My scope is an 8" LX200, F10, Celestron .63 focal reducer, Maxim 4.06, Robofocus focuser, Milburn Wedge, and old ST7 CCD. That combo yields 1.18 arcsecs per pixel.

Images were taken from beautiful and dark skies of suburbia Houston, Texas on a clear night after a cold front came thru.

There is still more refining to be done to reduce the RA elongation of the stars but I now feel I have a change at getting round stars.

I've been alpha/beta testing PEMPro for about 5 months now. Obviously, PP cannot make the mechanics of the LX200 run smoother, increase the number of cells of PEC programming (i.e. 200), etc.

As someone else posted earlier, it is similar in concept to training the PEC manually using a guiding eyepiece or via the CCD port with a CCD camera.

However, there are some important differences.
One, due to how PP computes the error correction, it creates a normalized PEC curve which has an equal number of +/- corrections. This reduces almost to 0, the amount of induced RA drift created when programming the PEC manually. MAPUG and Doc G. has several discussions of induced RA drift. After a typical PEC programming, I find my LX200 PEC counter is with +/- 15 units of the nominal 21,600. When programming by hand, I found the counter to be off by 300 to 400 hundred.

Second, its ability to graphically display the Periodic Error is SECOND to NONE. Its flat amazing how nicely it graphs the error and computes the total and RMS error of the current PEC. In fact, its graph also shows one the polar alignment error as it maps multiple worm cycles.

Third, there are 15 or so PEC programming parameters that can be changed by the user. PLEASE be aware one should initially just take the stock defaults until one understands how PP works but here they are. One can:

Change the number programming cycles (i.e. send 1 to 4 sets of programming corrections per LX200 PEC cell), offset the start of programming, vary the minimum time of programming pulse, vary the programming time differently between east and west directions, very an aggressiveness factor. How or why to change some of these parameters are somewhat empirical in nature and take some playing with.


Subject: PEMPro -- Must Have Program to Reduce LX200 PEC --part 2 of 2

From: Don Jarvis

Rob Getz wrote:
> Am I correct to assume that PEMPro requires either Maxim or
> CCDSoft I currently use AstroArt for my CCD control/capture. The
> CCDware website seems very limited as to information on PEMPro.

Rob, yes, you will need Maxim 4 or CCDSoft 5. Currently Maxim 4 probably works the best with PEMPro as Ray is currently making some changes to work better with CCDsoft. Maxim 3.22 might also work but I think Ray is using some of the new features in 4.x

If you download the demo and unzip it, there is a pretty good manual with the software. PP's demo is one that will only collect PEC data but won't write the corrected curve back to the scope. Therefore, it doesn't have the normal 30 day time-out.



Subject: New Astroart CCD Control Driver for 416XT/XTE   Top

From: Martino Nicolini Date: Aug 2001

At the Astroart web site is now freely available the CCD control driver plug-in for MEADE 416XT/XTE cameras. It has all the usual advanced features supported (imaging, focus, subframing, telescope control etc.). The serial port connection is up to 115200 baud.

To control your camera and telescope don't forget to download the new GUI 2.30 also. More info and downloads at:



Subject: Meade Autoguider Software Available   Top

From: Michael Cook, <> Date: Sept 2001

I must have missed this on this list, but a friend passed along the "news" that Meade has separate autoguider software for the 208/216 CCDs. This is not the PictorView software, but is Windows based from the developers of the original DOS based software. This "new" software looks like it ends fiddling with that short-medium-long press button on the back of the CCD and may be an option for those who have had little/no success with the autoguider part of PictorView software. See:



Subject: Selecting Astronomy Software - Final Decision   Top

From: Bill Wood <> Date: July 2001

For whatever its worth I have finally decided on SkyMap Pro 7:

I demo'd Starry Night Backyard (free internet download), TheSky 5 ($129 plus shipping), Starry Night Pro ($129 plus shipping) and Guide 7 ($89 plus ship) and SkyMap Pro 7 ($94 plus ship). Spent easily 100 hours with these 5 programs. Wanted to demo Cartes du Ciel which is free and ECU but I ran out of stamina, and I was becoming so confused by the different interfaces that I was starting to go nuts. All these programs come with 30-day money back guarantees. I am sending all of them back except SkyMap.

Bottom line is all the programs are very good. I am a full-time computer user and stare at a screen all day every day since early 1980s. A logical interface is critical to me. SkyMap is so good there is no comparison as to ease of use and logical command layout. SNP is the worst and to me very confusing and unnecessarily complex. Sky and Guide are good. But for the simple task of learning the sky and finding and planning what you want to look at SkyMap wins hands down.

Guide is unsurpassed in sheer accuracy and quality and completeness of data. But all the rest are very accurate too. Sky is useless on double stars; a defect they acknowledge and intend to correct in the next version.

SNB is real good. SNP is more powerful and complete but too confusing. I have no doubt it will do whatever you want after you memorize how to run it. But it ain't intuitive and it has massively annoying floating tool bars that cannot be docked, resized or customized. The major advantage of SNP is its solar system animations. These are terrific and I regard them as very important to learning how the solar system works. Plus you can use these features to get kids interested. Very impressive. Sky's animations are very good also. Guide and SkyMap do not have any solar system animations but they do show moons going around Jupiter Saturn etc.

All the programs allow you to go back and forward in time. Skymap makes you manually click each time increment whereas all the others let you play time like a movie.

SkyMap finds conjunctions, oppositions, eclipses etc. and produces ephemeris lists with great ease. Sky does a neat job of finding conjunctions using the solar system animation too. In addition SkyMap lets you find the date/time when objects are closest/farthest to/from earth. None of the others did this as far as I could determine.

I don't have a laptop or any kind of imager hence could not test telescope control or camera related functions. All the programs indicate scope control features and I understand that Sky is required to run SBIG imagers.

I have used many programs and I am very hard to please when it comes to software. Only a very few are truly brilliant; like Excel, Quicken and a few others. SkyMap is brilliant software; short on fancy animations but it displays everything in the sky accurately and lets you find and see what you want with ease.

Keep in mind that computer software preferences are very personal and your opinions may differ. Luckily you can't go wrong with any of these programs and I think they are well worth the modest price.


Subject: Best Pair II (V1.2) Freeware Available  Top

From: Paul Rodman <> Date: Oct 2001

Another release of Best Pair is available for download at:
Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

This is a software application for Mac and Windows computers that attempts to compute the best pair of alignment stars to be used for AltAz 2-star alignment of LX200 telescopes or any Meade telescope using the AutoStar controller.

It implements a few user-requested features and fixes a few minor bugs and cosmetic glitches.

It's still free, but in order to use it you will have to give me your name and e-mail address in order to get a password to un-stuff/un-zip it. After you click Submit, you should get a pretty fast reply via e-mail with the password. I'm only doing this to try and keep track of how many folk are using it and to be able to e-mail them if a show-stopping bug or new version is released. The information will not be released to any third parties.

Best Pair is freeware, but if you like it feel free to drop myself and/or Jim <> a note of support.

The app runs on pretty much all Mac and 32-bit Windows OSs. There's even a "native" version for those fortunate enough to be running Mac OS X.

The updated DOS version, for the one or two that might use it, is at:


Subject: Belkin USB/Serial Portable Adapter  Top

From: Glenn "Mitch" Mitchell <> Date: July 2002

The Sony Vaio I have does not have a serial port. It does have a USB port. So, I have been searching for an easy to use solution.

Keyspan has an adapter which did not work.

Belkin has come out with a new product. It's called "USB/Serial Portable Adapter". I bought it for $39.95 at CompUSA. It looks a lot like the Keyspan adapter. It's just a female RS232 connector with a short USB pigtail. It attaches directly to the USB port. Comes with a lifetime warranty and technical support.

I attached the adapter and loaded the CD-ROM. Software ran. Told me to remove the adapter, reset the machine, and install the adapter again after the reboot was complete. I did. It asked for the CD-ROM. Finished the installation.

It loaded just fine under Windows XP Pro. It's using COM4 on my machine. If you need a serial adapter, you might want to consider this one.


Subject: USB-Serial Adaptor Suggestion for WindowsXP  Top

From: Peter Erdman <> Date: Apr 2003

Jorge wrote:
I need to buy a USB-SERIAL Adaptor for WindowsXP to connect my LX200 to a laptop computer.

I have been very pleased with the "Edgeport" series of USB-serial interfaces and powered hubs. I run everything from one USB port on the computer--two USB cameras, Optec focuser, Optec filter wheel, mount, and Robo Focus. The Edgeport devices are at the telescope, so I only have to run AC power and one USB line out to the telescope. Nice and simple so setup takes less time.


Subject: Adding Serial Ports to New Notebooks Computers --part 1 of 3  Top

From: Mark de Regt <> Date: Apr 2003

-----Original Message----- From: Doug David
> I've been shopping for a new notebook, and have noticed that most do not
> come with serial ports anymore. Is this a problem with hooking them up to a
> LX200?? Is there a USB to serial adapter out there that works with Starry
> Night Pro or The Sky??

There are, but I have heard mixed things about them adding noise to an imaging train (no personal experience). There are PCMCIA cards which give you two serial ports; I use one from Socket:
<> since I need a serial port to communicate with the LX200 and another one to work the Robofocus.


Subject: Adding Serial Ports to New Notebooks Computers --part 2

From: Bob Parry <>

This topic has come up a number of times in the past. I have posted my experiences with an IBM laptop and Rocket Port USB to Serial Adaptor. I have had no problems what so ever, it has been dependable and has never once disconnected.

The Rocket Port by Comtrol comes with 4 Serial Ports and is one of the more expensive of these devices, but it seems that you get what you pay for.

I could not go for one of the PCMCIA devices as I needed the one and only PCMCIA port for my SCSI card. If you are not using a Meade CCD than one of those should work fine as well.


Subject: Adding Serial Ports to New Notebooks Computers --part 3 of 3

From: Bill Bradfore <>

Another option is the Meade USB to RS232 Adapter. I use it to drive my LX200 with TheSky without any problem.


Subject: RS232 Troubleshoot Tool--Do It Yourself Plans  Top

From: Clark Williams <> Date: Sep 2003

Adam Stuart wrote:
> I saw that Radioshack has an RS232 Troubleshoot tool for
> $14. Will this tool test the integrity of my LX200 serial cable
> and/or the serial port on the telescope? TheSky does not communicate
> with my LX200 and I want to know if it's the port and/or the cable.

Adam, if you are handy with a soldering iron and have a Radioshack nearby, you can build a cabletester for your cables yourself.

See my page at: <>

If you need a program to test the port, try the program I wrote at:


Subject: Virtual Atlas of the Moon Software Link  Top

From: Wayne Watson <> Date: Jun 2002

Here is link for Virtual Atlas of the Moon <>. I think there are about 30M of zipped files, mostly images. You might want to download only one or two of the image files. Make sure you unzip them in the LOMAP directory under /ProgramFiles/... It's a very good program.


Subject: AstroPlanner Software Released (Mac & PC)  Top

From: Paul Rodman <> Date: June 2002

AstroPlanner V1.0 has now been released. Basically it's an observation planning and logging application for the Macintosh (both Classic and OS X) and Windows.

It also controls LX200 scopes (among others) and includes the BestPair alignment star technology.

The basic version is free (although registration is required). The shareware version will include extra catalogues, tech support, etc., but is the same application.

Subject: AstroPlanner 1.2.2 Released (March 2003)

Just a heads up. AstroPlanner 1.2.2 is now available. In particular it (hopefully) resolves a number of issues with telescope control, esp. with LX200GPS and SS2K telescope controllers, so if you're using an earlier version you might want to download the update. <>


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