NexStar Resource Site

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Advanced PC Control Software -
Replace the Hand Control with a PC

hcAnywhere/hcTour have been purchased by Celestron and are now called NexRemote/NexTour.  Click here for more information on NexRemote.  The following describes some of the history behind NexRemote/hcAnywhere as well as products still offered by AstroGeeks.

AstroGeeks offers two utilities that enhance your connection capabilities. These are still available from AstroGeeks even after the acquisition of hcAnywhere by Celestron.

The first is a virtual serial port hub - NexHub - that allows you to run several different astronomy programs and each of them can connect to NexHub on a different port - thus allowing you to communicate with the scope using multiple programs simultaneously. This program currently works with the NexStar 8/9.25/11 GPS, 5i/8i, GT (those with the newer hand control), CGE, CGE Pro, CGEM and AS-GT scopes.

The other utility - COM2TCP - allows you to use an Internet connection (technically a TCP/IP connection) to send normal RS232 commands from one PC to another PC. This is a generic utility that works for just about anything, but in terms of your PC and scope - on the sending end, the commands that an astronomy program sends to a comm port are intercepted and sent via the TCP/IP network to a remote computer and are redirected to a comm port on that remote computer (to which the telescope is connected).

Here's an example of how that could be useful. Let's say you have your scope in a backyard observatory with a PC connected to it and a wireless network extending into your house. You could run hcAnywhere on the PC in your house.  Both PCs would be running COM2TCP/TCP2COM.  Using a web cam on a piggybacked refractor and Internet video conferencing software you could perform an Auto Alignment from inside your house and away you go. You could also use COM2TCP to remotely control a serial port controlled motorized focuser. With a StellaCam (Mintron) in the visual back and PC Anywhere (or many other ways to get a remote video feed from the StellaCam/Mintron) you have fully remote DSO observing. With a CCD in the visual back - fully remote imaging. And of course you can also be talking about a scope in a remote observatory connected to a PC that has an Internet connection - thousands of miles away...

Here is the link to the site where it is all available:

WOW! This is powerful stuff.

Summer, 2003 - A Bit of History of hcAnywhere/NexRemote
AstroGeeks (Andre Paquette and Ray St.Denis) have been busy at work on a PC program - hcAnywhere (since purchased by Celestron and now sold as NexRemote)- that will allow you to remove the HC from the NexStar GPS and CGE series scopes and use a Windows PC connected to the PC Port on the telescope base to completely control the scope.  hcAnywhere also supports the NexStar 5i/8i by connecting to the RS232 port on the bottom of the hand control and the NexStar GT models by connecting to an inexpensive manual hand control.  The program is in essence a virtual hand control that performs all of the functions of the standard hand control - and more. This includes the creation of a virtual serial port (RS232 port) that other astronomy software can access just like the serial port on the real hand control.  It allows the use of a wireless game pad to control the scope and the program talks!  The prompts that appear on the LCD panel on the hand control are spoken so that you can actually use the scope without looking at the PC screen.  Be sure to visit the link below for more details on this ground-breaking software.

A second program they have created is hcTour (now called NexTour).  hcTour allows the user to create customized tours based on a 46,000 object database.  Each tour can have a maximum of 200 objects and you can define an unlimited number of tours.  You are no longer limited to just the original tour objects found in the hand control.

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