Mount Controllers

Whilst the EQMOD ASCOM Driver (EQASCOM) provides an on screen user interface for mount control many folks require an additional external control boxe so the are not always tied to a PC.

There are three basic controller types that EQASCOM supports directly.

Mice
  • Requires the EQASCOM slew pad window to be open.
  • Left Button: Slew Left or Slew Up
  • Right Button: Slew Right or Slew Down
  • Wheel: Change Slew Rate.
  • Wheel Button: Switches between Left/Right buttons between Slew Left/Right and Slew Up/Down
Numpad/Keypad
  • Requires the EQASCOM slew pad window to be open.
  • N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW slew functions
  • Spiral Search
  • Emergency Stop
  • Keys can be reassigned.
Game Controllers
  • Continuously active, EQASCOM doesn't need focus.
  • Joystick slew control
  • 30+ functions that can be freely assigned to gamepad buttons
  • Wide range of gamepad controllers available.


Gamepads
Gamepad controllers are widely available and come in numerous configurations. Here are a few typical sample types that can be used with EQASCOM:

X-box / PS type game controllers
  • 2 analogue joysticks (four axis) - EQASCOM uses only the right hand one (ASCOMPAD can be used to add functionality to the other one).
  • POV control - 4, or somethimes 8 POV directions
  • 4 trigger buttons - some gamepads have 2 buttons and 2 analogue triggers (six axis controllers). EQASCOM dosn't read the analogue triggers.
  • 2 joystick press buttons
  • 4 function buttons
  • Up to 4 other buttons - typically 2.
Retro - nintendo type controller
  • 1 four way direction control that reports as a "full deflection" X/Y joystick
  • 2 trigger buttons
  • 4 function buttons
  • 2 additional buttons
  • "flat design" can be held in one hand - but be careful of the triggers.
  • Cheap! 3 delivered in the UK.
Retro - nintendo type controller - basic
  • 1 four way direction control that reports as a "full deflection" X/Y joystick
  • 4  buttons
  • Cheap,  3 delivered in the UK.
  • Can be easilly be operated with one hand
Arcade type controller
  • 1 analogue joystick
  • 10 buttons (8 large two, two small)


Custom built controllers.
Not everyone is comfortable using a commercial game controller. Whilst some prefer a basic handheld control others require somthing more akin to an observatory control panel. Anyone possessing basic soldering skills can quite easily remove the controller board from a commercial gamepad unit to create a controller or control box of their own design. Here are a couple of example of such projects.


The image below shows what a cheap (3) 
retro Nintendo controller looks like when disasembled.



This type of controller provides 8 buttons and four directional switches that report back to the PC as a joystick at full deflection. To create a custom controller using this board you only have to wire your own chose of switches/buttons to the pads on the controller board.




The red dots show where one side of each switch/button would be wired to; the green dots show suitable 0V attachment points on the board but you only need to run one 0V line that then loops to every switch. The diagram below shows how you would wire up your buttons and includes additional switch that isolate the button 0V line thereby acting as a controller disable.



For the buttons it really doesn't matter how you choose to arrange them or what 'red' pads on the controller board you connect to - the Gamepad Configuration Screen in EQASCOM allows you to map and function to any button. For the directional controls you need to be a little more careful and keep the same order - (i.e. the pad marked AL is anaogue Left, AU analogue Up etc.)


Known Controller Issues:

Game Controller continuously reports "POV_N"  as being pressed.
This can happen with some gamepad controllers that do not provide a POV control - the solution is just to diable the reading of the POV data in EQASCOM (an option on the gamepad configuration screen)

Game Controller trigger buttons not recognised.
Some game controllers have a pair of analogue triggers rather than buttons. The state of these analogue triggers is not reported as a button state.

Game Controller stops responding.
Wireless game controllers will often enter a sleep mode if they haven't been touched for a while - this saves power and prolongs he battery life. Often an inital button press wil wake up the controller and subseqent button presses will be received correctly - some controller types may have a dedicated 'power' button that wakes them.

POV control not working.
Some game controller have a mode/analogue button that switches the POV control between reporting as 4(or 8) compass direcitons and reporting as an X/Y Axis joystick. If you want to intercept and act upon the individual POV button contacts the mode must be set to digital not analogue.



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