Drive Systems for the Sophisticated Telescope Builder
Download DriveScope System Operating Manual (pdf format 2.4M)

The System

The DriveScope system is a hardware and software system that can be applied to fork type equatorial mounted telescopes and provides complete computer control of pointing. The system uses a Telescope Control Card located in the host computer, power supplies and motor drivers, stepper motors for Right Ascension, Declination and Focus movement and WinScope software operating in the host computer. The system is available to the advanced telescope builder that needs computer control but lacks the resources to build a control system. The system can accept Meade LX-200™ type commands enabling control from a number of other programs.

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The DriveScope system uses stepper motors for precise accuracy in RA, DEC, and Focus positions. Motors are available from size 17 motors up to robust size 42 motors. Torque ranges from 19 oz-in to 2100 oz-in are available. Motors for each axis can be mixed to match the torque requirements of the telescope. Micro stepping of the RA and DEC motors result in smooth precise motions. Special high torque motors can be supplied. Contact ScopeCraft with needs.

Standard Motors

Frame Size


Range (oz-in)

Spec Sheet



NEMA 17.pdf (105k)



NEMA 23.pdf (916k)



NEMA 34.pdf (986k)



NEMA 42.pdf (301k)


Telescope Control Card
The heart of the control system, the TC Card is an ISA bus card that resides in the host computer and is configured as a COM port. The TC Card converts commands generated by either ScopeCraft's WinScope program or other compatible programs, into motor motions for the telescope. Absolute position and time information is maintained in the TC Card for sidereal tracking movement. In addition, the TC Card accepts inputs from SBIG tracking CCD cameras to maintain long exposure tracking accuracy. A port is also available for the connection of a hand control pod for manual motion control.
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The standard TC Card is designed to be installed into the computer in a ISA bus slot. The card is then configured as a COM port in the Windows system. Communications between either WinScope or third party software is directed to that COM port. Available comports are COM1 thru COM4 with IRQ 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12 &15 supported.

Optionally the TC Card can be supplied as a standalone card that is connected to the PC via a serial port on the machine. The Serial TC Card is powered by an external wall mount power supply. With this option existing COM ports on the computer are used.













Power Supply/Driver
The Power Supply and Driver converts the signal from the TC Card into motor currents for each of the drive motors. The Power Supply/Driver unit should be located at the telescope for short connections for the motor wiring, but can be up to 50' away from the main computer and the TC Card. OPTO isolation is used between the drivers and the TC Card. The unit is sized for the motors selected to provide maximum capability at the lowest cost. Depending on the motors the power supply is either a 40 Volt 6A or a 80 Volt 6A linear supply.
The DriveScope system is compatible with a number of other astronomy programs. By virtue of it's compatibility with the Meade LX-200™ commands set, the system can interface seamlessly with MPO, TheSky™, SkyMap Pro™, and others. Access to these programs allows unattended operation, remote access, and precision pointing. 

Motion Specifications

  • 1,000,000 to 6,000,000 micro steps per full axis rotation
  • slew speeds up to 2 degrees per second
  • guide speeds from 0.5 x to 2.0 x sidereal rate
  • drive rate: sidereal
  • adjustable accelerations depending on motor and telescope

System Requirements

  • PC running Windows 95, 98, 2000
  • One ISA bus slot (or optionally an available external COM port)
  • 2 Mbytes of hard disk storage
  • 256 Mbytes of RAM
  • CD ROM drive
  • Video monitor with at least SVGA

Supplied materials

  • TC Card (standard or optional Serial TC Card)
  • Driver/Power Supply
  • Two microstepping motors with cabling up to 12 feet of cable per motor
  • Optional Focus motor with up to 12 feet of cable
  • Four button hand paddle with 6 feet of cable
  • WinScope Software CD
  • 10' interconnect cable for the TC Card and the Driver/Power supply
  • 10' serial cable if the optional Serial TC Card is ordered
  • DriveScope instruction manual