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PMC-Eight - The Vision and Technology

PMC-Eight Technology: Sharing the Vision

In this 56 minute video, we share our vision of what a really reliable, high-performance telescope mount should be and how we have done that by creating the PMC-Eight Technology.
Presentation Power Point Slides (pdf file)

In late 2013, we started the mount development project, called the PMC-Eight (Precision Motion Control - 8 CPU microcontroller) to take astronomical mount GOTO technology in a new direction and to a new level of performance with a clean-slate design. Using state-of-the-art electronics with a philosophy of highly reliable performance coupled with modern engineering practices, we have created the open-source program called the OpenGOTO Community.

The PMC-Eight is operated by firmware that takes advantage of the deterministic properties of its microcontroller, contributing to the high reliability of the system. It incorporates 64 Kbyte EEPROM of Non-Volatile Memory which is also used to store the controller parameters.

The hardware supports an Auto-guider port (ST4 contact input); Wireless Ethernet 10/100 with full IP function permits operation from anywhere over the internet; it is fully ASCOM compliant and supports our ExploreStars APP (available on Windows, Android, and Apple iOS) or any APP or software created through the OpenGOTO community. Currently the PMC-Eight Controller is delivered with the Losmandy G-11, EXOS2GT-PMC8, and iEXOS 100 PMC-Eight mounts.

The hardware and software were all designed, developed and built in the USA by a highly-skilled team of people who are all practicing astronomers, and who each brought their knowledge, skills and experience to the PMC-Eight Control System.

The PMC-Eight is the brainchild of Scott Roberts, President and Founder of Explore Scientific. Scott saw the need for something that could be totally customizable. Generally, manufacturers have not allowed access to their software keeping much of their operating system proprietary - the PMC-Eight represents a new approach to robotic precision motion control for telescope mounts with a robust eight processor electronics board for wireless and wired connection 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 firmware 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.

Jerry Hubbell, Vice President of Engineering, Explore Scientific, designed the electronics and firmware that drive the PMC-Eight. He is a retired nuclear instrumentation and controls engineer with over 35 years of experience in the nuclear industry and the author of 'Scientific Astrophotography'(2012) and 'Remote Observatories for Amateur Astronomers'(2015) published by Springer. Jerry became interested in astronomy and space exploration during the Apollo era in 1968. He started using a small telescope in his teen years. In addition to his work at Explore Scientific, Jerry is the Assistant Coordinator for Topographical Studies for the Lunar Section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, and the Assistant Director of the Mark Slade Remote Observatory (MSRO) in Wilderness, Virginia. He is an active researcher and his interests include high-resolution Lunar imaging, Minor Planet astrometry and high-precision light-curve photometry, and Exoplanet high-precision transit photometry.

Dan Dickerson is the author and programmer of the award winning ExploreStars App used in the Open Goto software. He works for APh Technological Consulting, which started in 1972 and has a long history of developing systems for microprocessors and embedded systems including the very first computer games, attractions at Universal Studios, various Hollywood special effects instruments, and scientific instrumentation. Of note, APh was the designer of the electronics used on the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) that was used on the Mars Observer and the Mars Global Surveyor. Dan worked through many of these projects as a programmer and systems developer, including the MOC, at APh during most of the company's existence. Dan is a Caltech alumni and an amateur astronomer who is passionate about exploring the universe and educating the public in astronomy.