Long story short, I own a really nice 12″ Dobsonian telescope, but I live in an area of high light pollution. This makes it difficult to find many objects. I decided I wanted to add some digital setting circles (DSC) to my scope, but all the commercial solutions were $500+ and often had really crappy user interfaces.
After doing some research I realized that it wouldn’t be too difficult to attach two CUI AMT11 encoders ($30/each) to my telescope. I then wanted a way to use SkySafari on my iPad to locate objects with it’s DSC feature. This meant I needed a way to connect the encoders to my iPad over WiFi.
The initial phase will be an encoder-to-wifi bridge so I can use SkySafari with my AD12- similar to the $250 Astrodevices Nexus. I don’t have GoTo on my scope (honestly, I don’t feel the need for that right now and I’m not sure how easy it would be to add to my scope), but for a few dollars more, my design will be able to support 2x serial ports and camera shutter control- just like the Nexus. The only thing I’m not sure about support yet is USB connectivity to certain models of goto controllers.
One little feature I have planned is the ability to use a button on a remote (so you can hold it in your hand) to “lock” the encoder values. The idea is that when you’re doing a 2 star alignment, you can lock the values so you don’t have to worry about knocking the scope or anything while you reach over to the iPad and click a button. I’m open to other ideas as well, so feel free to make any suggestions. :)
The actual cost of my board + components for just the encoder-to-wifi feature should be around $100 and it’s all open source!
Here are some pictures of what the current board design (subject to change) looks likes: