This program helps you to polar align your mount using the drift alignment method with CCD or webcam support. It supports any cam which can be installed as a Windows device (Meade LPI, ToUcam, NexImage, etc). There's also a version available for the Meade DSI cameras. The error in polar azimuth and polar elevation can be adjusted very quickly, even if Polaris is not visible (e.g. obstructing trees, buildings, or if observing in the southern hemisphere). The idea is to measure the star drift of an inaccurately aligned mount using a webcam, and to calculate the amount of polar axis misalignment. After that, it assists you in achieving near-perfect mount alignment using the webcam display. With WCS, the effort needed for alignment is reduced to a minimum, and you have more time for observing and imaging.
How does it work?
For azimuth adjustment, find a bright star in the south or north, near the meridian. Adjust your telescope so that you can see the star on the WCS display. Be sure that your webcam is well aligned on your scope; use your hand controller to check that the star moves at horizontally through the webcam display as you press the RA buttons. After that, click on the star which you want to use for drift measurement. Crosshairs will appear and the star will be locked in a red circle. Drift measurement commences.
After a while, you can see the star drifting away from the crosshairs which mark the origin. Wait a few minutes for accurate error calculation, than click on the Correction button.The longer you allow for drift measurement, the more precise and more stable the determined value becomes. You will now see red and green lines on screen. Use your hand controller to align the star between the two red lines. Next, turn your mount's azimuth adjustment screws until the star falls between the green lines on the opposite side of the display. Your mount should now be very well aligned in azimuth. Check this by running a new measurement.
Next, use a star in the east or west. Click on the Polar elevation button to calculate alignment correction. Click on the star and again measure the drift for a few minutes. After that, click the Correction button. Find a star in the south (yes, south!) and move the scope until the star falls between the two red lines. Use the polar elevation screws to move the star between the green lines. The polar axis of your mount should now be very well aligned.
If the error doubles after correcting, you moved the mount in the wrong direction. Just repeat the measurement, but turn the adjustment screws to move the star from the green crosshairs to the red crosshairs.
You may also try to measure using a star in the north or west, but then be sure to correct from green to red. The amount should be the same.
There's also a Version for the Meade DSI (Deep Sky Imager) Cameras available. Download DSI-WCS V2.02 (2.96MB exe file) here and one for ImagingSource Cameras (DMK, DKF, DBK) IS-WCS 2.02. Be sure to install theICVB6Runtime first if you use IS-Cameras! A big thank you to Stefan Geissler / Imaging Control for his support!
WCS is available in several languages. Just copy your language file (e.g. EN for English, ITA for Italian, DE for German) to language.txt.
Adapting the language file is very easy. If you would like to translate it into your language, feel free to do so and send it back to me, so I can make it available for other users.
NEW: Be the first to translate WCS into a new language and receive your program key for free!! (value: 21 Euros) You just have to translate/correct the language.txt file and send it back to me. Thank you for your support!
Included is a fully functional 30-day trial version. If you like the program and would like to use it after your 30-day trial period, you need to request a program key, which costs only 21 EUR (about 28 US$). You may request your program key manually or from within the program using the Info button, and then the Register button.
Unzip the files into any directory (e.g. \programs\wcs) Click on wcs.exe. Done.
You need the .NET Framework from Microsoft(R) Version 1.0 or higher (1.1 or 2.0 are OK) to run the program.
Computer with AMD or Intel processor, minimum 800MHz, at least 256MB RAM. Windows 2000 or XP.
Further documentation is provided in the program itself.
WCS is very easy to use and prompts you with a status line for your next action
If you have any questions or bug reports, please have a look at the WCS-Forum.