The Explore Scientific/Losmandy G-11 was designed by Explore Scientific’s Engineers, and features the PMC-Eight, which represents a new approach to robotic precision motion control for telescope mounts with a robust eight processor electronics board for a wide range of software clients. While the design is innovative, we are doing what no other telescope company has done, and that is to make the controlling interface language and example software code open source, so that programmers in the astronomical community can create new platforms and new astronomy GoTo experiences to best suit their needs for casual observations and research.
The result is a robust high-end equatorial mount that offers either hardwired or wireless connectivity with a computer running any ASCOM-compatible software. For users without such software, Explore Scientific provides an intuitive mount control graphical interface software package called ExploreStars, which is downloadable from the Microsoft App Store, Google Play, or iTunes App Store at no charge. (ExploreStars is currently available for Windows 8.1 and 10 or Android with other OS available soon.)
The equatorial mount underlying the Explore Scientific/Losmandy G-11 with PMC-Eight GoTo system is a modified version of the Losmandy G-11. For example, Explore Scientific has replaced the servo motors in the standard G-11 with stepper motors to more precisely control the motor rate to .01 arc seconds per second. Another modification is the use of helical couplers on each axis ($175 value on each axis) to provide more reliable operation and higher performance by connecting the worm and motor more securely in the RA and DEC axes. Moreover, the Explore Scientific’s modified mount includes the Losmandy RA extension (a $295 value) (the 0.6" saddle plate extension is not necessary with our setup) that not only allows the mount to track beyond the meridian but also allows the 35-pound mount head to be separated into components of 15 and 20 pounds for easy transportation.
The heart of Explore Scientific’s PMC-Eight GoTo controller is the eight processor micro-controller. In addition to standard features like an auto-guide port (ST4 contact input) and a serial port for conventional hardwired connectivity, the PMC-Eight encompasses such advanced features as a wireless Ethernet 10/100 with full IP function which permits access to the controller from anywhere, which provide fast and robust operations. To fully unlock the potential of this controller, Explore Scientific has adopted an open-source approach – meaning that Explore Scientific freely provides documentation for the controller and example software demonstrating how the controller’s features can be utilized. Thus, the astronomy community which we refer to as the OpenGoTo® Community is encouraged to develop and share creative applications for the PMC-Eight. We also offer one of, if not the only ASCOM compatible wireless driver on the market. It is also one of, if not the only ASCOM driver with complete open-source code available to write whatever you might need into the code of the ASCOM driver.
The combination of a 60-pound payload capacity, various ASCOM compatible software packages coupled with the precision of the PMC-Eight system makes the Explore Scientific/Losmandy G-11 an excellent choice for the serious astronomer. Additionally, the Explore Scientific OpenGoTo Community provides a resource for advanced amateur astronomers to develop his/her own applications for this system. And, when controlled by ExploreStars, this mount is a proven favorite among audiences during events outreach and at star parties.