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Orion TeleTrack altazimuth tracking mount

Version française (the french version is more complete)

Project presentation

The idea is to make a robotic panoramic photography head from a standard motorised astro-telescope mount; the low cost of the Merlin/Orion Teletrack telescope mount makes it a very good choice.

The Merlin/Orion motorised mount can take a max. load of approx. 4kg which means it can handle most DSLR camera bodies and the lenses typically used for panoramic photography.

The head is capable of a complete 360 degree rotation on two axes although this is not possible with larger DSLR bodies and longer lenses.

The head has a camera control port which allows automatic camera shutter release with a suitable cable or via an IR shutter release adapter.

Special control software has been developed to allow fully automatic pano shooting of up to 5,000 (100x50) images with cameras supporting wired or IR remote controls.

How to turn it to a robotic panoramic head

The original hand controller uses an ASCII Serial Protocol to drive the head. But the head can't be connected directly to a standard RS232 port on a computer, for two reasons:

  • signals are not RS232 compatible; they are TTL open-drain
  • TX/RX are wired together (only half duplex is allowed)

So it requires a TLL-RS232 interface adapter, to which you can add an RS232-Bluetooth adapter if you need/desire a wireless connection between the Merlin/Orion head and the host computer running the Papywizard control software.

This interface replaces the original hand controller supplied with the Merlin/Orion head.

Some TTL-Bluetooth adapters for use with Merlin/Orion and Papywizard.

The Papywizard control software

The Papywizard program has been developed by Frederic Mantegazza to control the dual-axis movements of the Merlin/Orion head, and to trigger the camera shutter, allowing fully automatic shooting of panoramic image sets of up to 5,000 images(100x50 images).

Written in the Python programming language, Papywizard is cross-platform and will run on Nokia 770, N800 and N810 Internet Tablets, Windows 2000, XP and Vista and Linux PCs.

The Nokia Internet Tablets use a Bluetooth wireless connection to the Merlin/Orion head. PCs running Windows or Linux may use a wired serial connection or a Bluetooth wireless connection.

The Papywizard software is free; it will run in simulation mode without requiring a connection to a Merlin/Orion head, so you can download, install and run Papywizard to get a feel for what the Merlin/Orion+Papywizard robotic pano head system can do.

Papywizard is currently (February 2009) available with built-in support for English, French, German, Polish and Italian translations.

Download the Papywizard software for Windows here, save the .exe file to a folder/directory of your choice, then double-click on the .exe file to install the program.

  • When using a Bluetooth connection with Windows be aware that Papywizard only works with the Microsoft and Broadcomm Bluetooth stacks.
  • Windows 2000 does not have built-in support for Bluetooth devices.
  • Some Bluetooth devices will connect as a virtual COM port.

Installing Papywizard on Nokia Internet Tablets, which use the Linux-derived Maemo operating system, requires a different approach. View the Papywizard Installation Guide for installing Papywizard on nokia 770, N800 and N810 Internet Tablets, and Papywizard v2 Installation Guide for installing Papywizard v2 on nokia N8x0.

Users questions and feedback

Use the forumto ask questions and provide feedback about the Merlin/Orion panohead, and Papywizard control software.