The idea came to me from frustration with trying to set up / calibrate my telescope. It was a slow and painful process and I knew that it could be sped up with a computer.
What it does
A USB Camera is connected to the telescope along with a serial connection to a computer. Once a star is in the general view, the user can select the object and the telescope will automatically center it perfectly, which then allows you to view the object dead on with a high quality lens.
How we built it
The telescope does NOT have a serial port to connect to a computer. Because of this, we had to reverse-engineer the communication between the controller and telescope. The initialization codes movement codes, and stop codes were found and converted / moved into a python program to be able to control the telescope from a computer.
The program will use OpenCV to add a threshold to the image from the camera. This will rule out any objects that are not bright. It will then find all of the objects and when the desired one is chosen, the serial commands are sent to move the telescope to get it centered.
Challenges we ran into
Locating the commands on the oscilloscope proved to be a challenge. The commands are straight binary, and do not convert nicely to ASCII, which made searching time-consuming.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Finding the commands and being able to demo inside!
What we learned
serial device reverse-engineering, OpenCV, celestial coordinates.
What's next for Center Scope
Use it for real!