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Introduction to ASCOM Alpaca

Please note: This is for developers and company leadership. End users please see the ASCOM FAQ for Alpaca.

For over twenty years ASCOM has enabled astronomy programs to connect to ASCOM-compatible astronomical devices through standard APIs built on Microsoft COM technology. These APIs have been (and still are) very successful and support a wide variety of astronomy programs and devices that run together on a single Windows PC.

In today's heterogeneous network-connected world this is a significant limitation and so we have introduced ASCOM Alpaca, which provides the path for:

NOTE: Alpaca is 100% independent of Windows. Nowhere in the Alpaca ecosystem is Windows (or COM) needed.

The introduction of ASCOM Remote in 2018 began the process of extending the ASCOM ecosystem to include the internet, Linux, and Mac OS, including small embedded controllers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi as well as astronomy software on those platforms that wish to use instruments which are hosted on Windows systems.

As of early 2019, this effort has grown into a new wave of development, with several astronomy instrument vendors embracing the implementation of the ASCOM Alpaca API as ReST end-points, reachable over the internet. This effort is much farther along that you might imagine.

For a quick peek at an example of Alpaca technology have a look at this 8 minute video. This video is suitable for company management as it includes business strategic issues, engineering advantages and justification for using Alpaca protocols. If you're a developer interested in more detail and a demo, see the second video below.

For more in-depth information, including a demo using the Alpaca Linux/Raspberry Pi Rotator simulator from an unmodified copy of Software Bisque's TheSky on Windows, see the following 15 minute video. Watch the Field of View Indicator in TheSky turn the Linux rotator, and see details on the Python development process used.

If you want more info, please post to the ASCOM-Talk Developers Forum. To get started download and install the current version of ASCOM Remote to your Windows 7/10 PC and look at the included documentation which includes the Alpaca protocols and standards.

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Get Started With Alpaca

Download Latest Release

Download and install ASCOM Remote to your Windows 7/10 system. Documentation is included.
View the ASCOM Alpaca API
View the API Reference (PDF)

Developers Forum

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