ASCOM Driver for AWR Microstep Drive System

Saturday October 23 2010 - , , , , , , , , , ,

ASCOM Driver for AWR Microstep Drive System

Robotic, Remote Controlled Observing

Our driver for the AWR drive system was born out of a need to do robotic, remote control astronomy with AWR’s high quality drive system. Good though it is, the AWR system was designed for interactive use and presents a number of challenges for the remote observer. It’s LX-200 protocol emulation is not quite complete enough to work safely in a remote-controlled observatory and users were experiencing issues with the major planetarium and automation programs such as TheSky and ACP.

awrlogoWith that in mind, we set out to create an ASCOM driver to address these issues and, in collaboration with AWR Technology, we think we’ve solved the major ones.

ASCOM Telescope V2 – full implementation

Our driver implements the ASCOM Telescope V2 interface and works with all astronomy programs that can control an ASCOM device (that’s pretty much all of them, including ACP, TheSky, Cartes du Ceil, Microsoft World Wide Telescope, MaxIm DL, and others). Our users include the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and Kingsland Observatory, home of the largest operational optical telescope in the British Isles.


In addition to all the standard features of an ASCOM Telescope Driver, our driver has many options that make your observing easier and safer.

  • Pre-park slew – we introduced this option for installations that need to avoid an obstruction when moving to the park position. When enabled, this option causes the telescope to move to a ‘safe’ position prior to finally parking or resuming operation.
  • Tracking on/off control – we are able to control tracking so that the mount can be left in a static position.
  • Offset Tracking Control – If your control software has the capability, we fully support offset tracking rates in both right ascension and declination, allowing the telescope to follow non-sidereal objects such as comets, minor planets/asteroids/NEOs.
  • Safety interlock – using a specially wired ‘dongle’ that plugs into the AUX connector, we provide a hardware safety interlock with software override. This feature is essential for any telescope used remotely, as it prevents the mount from moving unless commanded to do so. Without this feature, a power cut at a remote observatory would leave the mount tracking when power returns with the risk of damage from cable-wrap, tracking into the pier or observatory building.
  • Force GUIDE rate after slew – essential for anyone attempting to use self-guided cameras or auto-guiders with relay outputs (i.e. which connect to the CCD port on the Drive Box). A feature of the Drive Box firmware is that it always moves the telescope at the rate configured on the Intelligent Handset. If the last movement was at SLEW speed, then the guider will move the mount at very high speed – probably not what was intended. This feature ensures that the handset is constantly returned to GUIDE speed so that auto guiding works correctly.

Buy Online

The driver is available only from TiGra Astronomy and costs £49.95 by PayPal. The purchase price entitles the original purchaser to download the driver unlimited times from a protected Windows Live SkyDrive, install and use the driver at one site on any number of computers. It includes free minor version upgrades and entitles the purchaser to access our support centre, where they may report bugs, request new features/enhancements and monitor development progress.

System Requirements

The system requirements listed below are the supported configurations. Other configurations may work, but have not been tested and we do not provide support for them.

  • Windows XP (x86 only), Windows Vista (x86 only), Windows 7 (x86, x64), Windows Server 2008 (x86; x64); Windows 7 recommended
  • ASCOM Platform 6.0 or later (
  • AWR Intelligent Handset firmware version 1.726 or later is fully supported; 1.702 is the minimum required version with which the driver is known to function, however there are several significant known issues and if support is required we would first ask the user to upgrade to 1.726 or later.

Technical Support, Bugs, Feature Requests

Purchasers of our driver gain access to our support centre, where they may create issues, request support or request new product features. Please see: