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Section 1.1 - About The FocusLynx

What Is The FocusLynx?

The FocusLynx focuser hub is a truly universal telescope focuser controller. Designed with the user in mind, the FocusLynx incorporates many new features which make the often difficult task of setting up an observatory and operating an optical system much more fluid and much less frustrating.

Dual Focuser Control

Note: The FocusLynx package comes standard with a single focuser control board.  However, the system is capable of controlling two focusers with the optional secondary stepper board.  Contact Optec or your dealer for pricing information.  

As many astrophotographers strive to achieve more vivid images they find it necessary to increase the exposure time of their images to allow greater amounts of light onto the imaging sensor. Of course, the more you extend the exposure time the more necessary it becomes to perform guided tracking in order to maintain a crisp star field. Consequently, many of our users have begun adding a secondary guide-telescope (which also requires a focuser) to their instrument package. Until now, installing a second focuser meant purchasing an additional focuser controller, managing twice as many cables, and dealing with twice as many software controller headaches. With the FocusLynx focuser hub, adding a second focuser to your optical system is as simple as plugging it into the second focuser port. The hardware and software are specifically designed to allow you to instantly begin controlling both focusers seamlessly and without fuss!

The Ever-Reliable Serial Port

Everyone knows that the serial port is almost extinct, right?   In truth, the serial port is still the most reliable standard communications protocol available and is used in several industries and applications, including observatory control. The RS-232 serial protocol is simple to implement, capable of communication over great distances and very reliable when used properly. To allow the hobbiest to easily write software for control of the focuser and for firmware upgrades, the FocusLynx system includes an RS-232 interface as standard.

Using Optec's Serial-USB communications cable, users can easily connect the FocusLynx controller to any modern PC even when no DB-9 serial port is available.  The Serial-USB cable includes an RJ-12 plug on the controller end and terminates in a USB converter on the PC end.  The original TCF-S focuser has enjoyed overwhelming success with these new communications cables.   Additionally, with the Serial-USB cable the 5 meter distance limitation of USB 2.0 is negated.  The FocusLynx controller includes a single 6-ft.long Serial-USB cable, but much longer cables, up to 50 meters in length, are available from Optec.

Wired Ethernet Connectivity

When designing the FocusLynx system, Optec engineers looked beyond USB for the future of device communications.  We quickly realized that packet-based communications using the Ethernet framework are the future.  Just as factory floors are bypassing USB and converting to Ethernet, so too will all observatory installations.  Ethernet and packet-based communications allow far more flexibility and productivity than is possible with USB.  

In the near future, we believe all device communications will be through an Ethernet framework allowing remote device control from anywhere in the world.  Optec engineers are leading the way to this future with the introduction of FocusLynx.  We have designed the FocusLynx to accommodate remote observers by allowing software connectivity via wired ethernet and the optional Wi-Fi connectivity.  

Optional Wi-Fi Connectivity

With the explosion of mobile devices capable of direct network communications, the FocusLynx system includes easy mobile access through iPhones, Droid OS devices, and any other device with an internet browser. With the purchase of the optional Wi-Fi control board, connectivity to a FocusLynx hub and both focusers is a snap.  Now observers, astrophotographers, and astronomy enthusiasts can completely eliminate the hassle of computer control cables by connecting to the FocusLynx over a wireless network and with any mobile device!  Focusing can be accomplished without ever touching your telescope eliminating vibrations and thermal effects.

ASCOM Compatibility

The FocusLynx software package includes an ASCOM-compatible driver. Therefore, the FocusLynx focuser hub is usable with any ASCOM-compliant software.  Acting as an ASCOM Local Server, the FocusLynx requires ASCOM Platform 6.0 or higher for use.  

Please Note: This manual documents only the FocusLynx focuser hub and control software. Refer to the ASCOM Standards website (www.ascom-standards.org) for platform downloads and documentation.