Markless™ Astronomics

Accessories for Big and not-so-Big Dobs



Astro PC-Podium™  


NOTICE: Appearance varies slightly from prototype shown above on my 20" Obsession.   The prototype shown above was built with Baltic Birch plywood shelves and red anodized aluminum tube.  Final design uses satin finish stainless steel tube and polycarbonate, or polycarbonate and acrylic, shelves.   See pictures below and in customer installation section for details of final product.

Thanks to the ASCOM Initiative, Software Bisque, StellarCAT, and Wildcard Innovations, the Astro PC-Podium™ by Markless™ Astronomics is a truly functional accessory for your laptop in slewing your big Dob with planetarium software like TheSky6, MegaStar5, Cartes du Ciel, and others when used in conjunction with your laptop PC, the Argo Navis DTC, and ServoCAT !   With that equipment and software, you just click your screen and slew to an object!   It really is that simple.   Think of the possibilities!

But, to make it really handy, you need to have your PC laptop right next to you, not on a desk or table 10 feet away, or behind your scope which you have to walk around to look at it.   This laptop stand is right there with you, right by your side!   A telescope laptop stand should not be big and clunky, either.  It needs to be svelte and stylish.   This one is!

How to use your laptop as a planetarium and GoTo telescope controller.

Here is what you need:

  • ServoCAT™ equipped telescope
  • Argo Navis™ DSC
  • Laptop PC, running planetarium software; e.g., TheSky™*, MegaStar5™, Cartes du Ciel™, SkyTools™, or other.  Check with the manufacturer to see if it is compatible with ASCOM drivers.
  • ASCOM driver for ServoCAT™, developed by Peter Eschman.

Contact Gary Myers (RXDesign(at)ssvecnet dot com) at StellarCAT for precise information on installing driver on your laptop PC.
Upgrade your Argo Navis to firmware release 2.0.0 (from Wildcard) and use MODE CATALOG/FROM PLANETARIUM.

Follow the instructions, take it one step at a time, and you'll be slewing to on-screen objects in no time at all!

* TheSky™V6 has a native driver making the Argo Navis beta firmware and the ASCOM driver unnecessary.

What are the benefits of using your laptop to control your scope?

  • You have a detailed sky atlas available all the time on screen, right next to you, which is much more detailed than any paper atlas can be.
  • You have nearly unlimited objects to which you can slew and track.
  • Your laptop screen shows where your scope is pointing in the sky in REAL TIME.
  • You can see on your screen all the nearby objects.
  • You are closely emulating how the largest scopes in the world are controlled.
  • Your AN is still available for its complete capability.

There are many ways to attach your laptop to the PC Podium.   For my own setup, I obtained an inexpensive used Docking Station on eBay for my ThinkPad A30, and Velcro'ed it to the top shelf.   With 12 square inches of industrial grade Velcro, it is very secure, and I can lock the laptop in the docking station.

The PC Podium™ also facilitates CCD image making by placing your computer near the focuser -- no more racing over to your desk.   Just turn your head, view your image, and make entries to your imaging s/w.  

Perfect height above the ground, varying slightly by telescope design and size.

No pressing need to go wireless when you have your laptop mounted on your scope.   Have wireless already?   No problem, it still works, and you get the benefit of having your planetarium s/w right next to you while you observe!

Simple, clean, elegant (CAD designed), strong, and lightweight (about 8 lbs. without a docking station and/or PC).   I think you'll find it perfect for the job.   Made in the USA of only the best materials: Baltic Birch Plywood, stainless steel tube and hardware, Polycarbonate, Acrylic.


Astro PC Podium™ with Fixed Shelf: $225, plus shipping & handling $25; (laptop PC not included)

  • Fixed orientation (faces outward)
  • Clear Polycarbonate shelf, 14"W x 12"D

    Astro PC Podium™ with Turntable: $250, plus shipping & handling $25; (laptop PC not included)

  • Rotate laptop to face the focuser, face outward, or face in any of 360 directions!
  • Clear Polycarbonate base shelf
  • Large Lazy Susan turntable
  • Black acrylic top shelf, 14"W x 12"D

    North Carolina residents please add 8.25% sales tax.

    OEM pricing available.

    Not recommended for telescopes smaller than 16" in aperture due to a lack of overall weight.

    Email me to place an order or inquire further: cs(at)marklessastronomics dot com (copy and paste in your email s/w)

    Charles Starks, Charlotte, NC

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    Owners' Pictures of PC-Podiums Installed

    Here is a two-fer installed by Dan Wolk of Espanola, NM.   Nice installation, Dan!

    Here is what Dan wrote:

    "Hey Charlie :) Fed X rolled up at 6:30 pm yesterday with the goodies! I put both podiums together immediately and left the install for tonight! I just finished in fact. Velcro and all! They sure are beauties :) I put them both an inch above the wheelbarrow handles and flush with the back of my rocker box. One on each side which should balance out nice with the 35 amp hr. battery on the front of the rocker box. The scope sits on an EQplatform as well so they're nice and high! The back of the scope looks very scientific now! I put the velcro on exactly in the same positions on both the Toshiba monitor and my laptop so if I'm not imaging, the laptop can go on the focuser side instead with no fuss. I only use the laptop for star charts. Man, this set-up is going to be sweet! I'll take some digital pics ASAP and send them your way and I'm going to get on my groups and spread the word! Of course, all weekend will be cloudy :0 Many thanks for the fantastic products and at a great price too! Dan"

    Here is a neat installation by Robert Wade of Kalamazoo, MI. That's an ingenious use of an observing chair!

    Here is what Robert wrote:

    Charlie, I just returned from the Winter Star Party yesterday and had an absolutely fantastic time. All of your attachments came in extremely handy, & I can say they are essential to the way I want to use my telescope. Attached I’ve included some photos – rather large I’m afraid. ... I really liked the rotating laptop swivel base. That allowed me to keep using the computer while the scope was slewing to new targets placed close to the previous target, many, many times. ... The combination of SkyTools 2, Pete’s ASCOM driver, and the Servo Cat were simply unbeatable.

    Best Regards,


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    Great Astro Links to other fine products and ideas:

    Astrocrumb Filter Slides - a "MUST HAVE" accessory for your Big Dob. Roger builds 'em RIGHT!

    Obsession® Telescopes - by Dave Kriege - Heirloom Grade Telescopes for the discriminating astronomer



    Copyright 2003-2009, by Charles Starks, Charlotte, NC, All Rights Reserved

    Updated: 2:21 PM 10/28/2009