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I have searched SGL for a tutorial incase this has been covered so forgive me if it has. I've also searched the web in general and couldn't find a full tutorial to do this, so i have collated a couple of tutorials that make it work. I have managed to get SkySafari to work with a £32 ish Raspberry Pi3 and the cable that came with my scope with a usb to serial converter - the same things you need for connecting to a PC. It allows me to control the scope using the SkySafari Plus app on my tablet or phone AND it creates a wifi hotspot on the Raspberry Pi so it doesnt have to be on a network to work. This also turns the pi into a natty mini wireless router which is handy if you travel since it gives you a private wireless network when plugged into hotel wired internet ? ***STANDARD DISCLAIMER*** I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE THAT MAY OCCUR TO YOUR HARDWARE BY FOLLOWING THIS POST OR ANYTHING LINKED TO THIS POST It takes about 30 mins to do the tinkering, make sure you use the latest LITE version of raspbian. You need: Raspberry Pi 3 Portable power to it (preferably) Raspbian Lite Image file Appropriate cables to connect your Telescope to it via USB Computer connected to network Network cable to connect Raspberry Pi for initial setup A GoTo / Push To etc telescope mount compatible with SkySafari Plus / Pro A nice case for the Raspberry Pi You need to know a little about accessing the Raspberry Pi by SSH. For windows, use Win32 Disk Imager to burn the latest Raspbian LITE image to a micro sd card. Open the card on the pc (called boot) and make a blank file on it called 'ssh' - no file extension. This enables ssh access automatically. Stick it in your Pi and plug it into your network router and a power source. Find its ip address - i log into my router by typing its ip address into a web browser and look at connected devices, there are other methods though. I use a program called Putty to ssh. There are many tutorials on how to do the above and it isnt as hard as it first seems. I used 2 tutorials to do this and i will link to them directly as the original authors explain it better than me. The first one is muuuch longer than the second which is just 3 steps so bare with it. ***NOTE*** When the first tutorial suggests a reboot after the upgrade, DO IT! Then ssh back into the Pi and continue. Don't bother rebooting after tutorial 1 either. Tutorial 1 - Turn Raspberry Pi into a portable wifi hotspot See 'CONNECTING' after doing step 2 in the next tutorial to actually connect to the scope as what you have just done changes it a bit. Tutorial 2 - Make it talk to SkySafari App and the 'Scope You can now unplug the pi from your router. Plug your USB to serial adapter into the pi, your telescope cable into that and connect it to your scope as you would do with a pc (mine is into the AutoStar hand box) and use it as a stand alone adapter just like the £200 SkyFi adapter! CONNECTING: To connect SkySafari to the pi you simply connect your tablet or phone to the pi's network like you would any other wifi network, i called mine Scope, connect using the security key / password you made up in tutorial 1. Open SkySafari and follow step 3 in the second tutorial but with IP address 192.168.0.10 - the port is still 4000 (unless you changed it) If you are at home and your cable is long enough to reach your router you can plug the pi into that and use your home internet too - which you cant do with the SkyFi adapter! I am going to shorten my serial cable to make it a neater package, i can always solder new plus to make an extension if i ever need one. I am also working on finding out how to make it share usb internet so a 4g dongle can be plugged into it when out and about since when you connect to the pi's wifi in the field you will not have internet on the device connected to it. Also the Pi could possibly be used for imaging or tracking, someone on here will probably know more on this.
I can confirm that there are issues with connecting via serial to the Nexstar+ handset on the AVX mount with the latest firmware . I'm currently trying to guarantee the behaviour process I'm seeing but it's intermittent and that is annoying when trying to troubleshoot. I'm having problems in getting repeatability of the issues being seen, but this is the most consistent behaviour I'm getting. The behaviour I'm seeing is: With everything powered off, I connect up the cables between my SkyFi and the handset. I put the handset in the cradle so it doesn't move. I've previously modified the cradle to allow the serial cable free access to the handset port when connected. I power up the SkyFi, and I confirm I have connection to my wifi router. I power on the mount and awaken from hibernation, entering the date and time (without moving the handset from the cradle), and the mount sits at the standard prompt on the screen, and the mount has started tracking. Trying to connect via SkySafari 4 on my tablet, I get an error that I can make the wifi connection but not to the mount itself. Touching nothing else I gently tap the "2" button to get to the Stars menu, then I hit "back" and exit out of that submenu back to the main prompt. Attempting to connect again on the tablet, I immediately get the telescope connection and it appears stable for the rest of the session. It's not likely to cabling, as I've exchanged out all of the SkyFi to serial cabling, and I'm seeing computer serial port difficulties as well. If it were cabling it would not just start working each time at the same point when I've exited the submenu.It really does look as though the handset doesn't communicate on the handset serial port until submenus have been entered and exited from. As an aside, when the mount is pointing exactly at 90 degrees declination, it actually reports itself on the serial port as being at 0 degrees declination. Interesting way of avoiding the RA singularity at that point. My mount's firmware levels are current as of January 10th at least.
This was a bit of an impulse purchase from ABS! Having recently picked up a nice Vixen GP mount, I fancied being able to use it with SkySafari via a SkyFi box. The GP came with MT1 motors which as far as I'm aware are not compatible with the SkySensor 2000 PC controllers, so I needed to change the motors anyway. The GotoNova kit came with two replacement Servo motors with optical encoders, a handset with eight line display, the gears and bolts to install it, plus cabling and power lead. Installing it was fairly straightforward, although I did find it fiddly getting the RA motor installed and aligned correctly. The covers are black, somewhat spooling the lovely green finish of the GP, but I will live with that. Once installed, I checked everything was working, and it all seems fine. The motors are quieter, and also have a much faster slew rate than the MT1s which is great. It means I don't have to keep undoing the clutches to get anywhere fast! I had no idea if the setup would easily work with SkySafari. The iOptron handset has a USB connection on the bottom, so I simply plugged a cable into it, and connected it to the SkyFi unit. I connected via WiFi to the SkyFi network, powered on, opened SkySafari and connected to the scope and away it went, synchronising with the position that the mount was in. I now have slewing from my phone and Goto control with all the ease of SkySafari. Brilliant! Might be able to keep up with some of Nick's target lists now!! ?? All I need to do now is check it out properly at night with an accurate align procedure, but so far it looks good! The GP is a nice lightweight mount, suitable for grab and go so will be regularly used hopefully both at home and at my club nights. Photos to follow.
I am hoping that people will post here to report their experiences with these wifi scope control devices. What are you using them with? Which mount? Which software do you use, SkyPortal or SkySafari or something else? What hardware do you run the software on, i.e. what device and what version - e.g. iPad Air with 16MB. Finally, how do you find the performance? Do you experience lag, loss of connection, crashes? If we get enough responses, this might provide answers to some questions such as: Is the latest SkyPortal dongle any different to the original Skyq Link? Does the latest one perform any better? What are the best partnering/host devices? Android, iPad, iPhone. Do newer host devices with more powerful processors perform better than older devices? Personally, I have been using a Celestron Skyq link on and off for a couple of years. When I first got it, there was a partnering Skyq app from Celestron that was pretty poor. Then the SkyPortal app came along, together with support in SkySafari, which improved things a lot. To answer my own questions, this is my setup: Original Skyq link dongle SkySafari 5 Original iPad with 16GB Celestron AVX mount with Starsense And this is my experience to date: The software is robust, it always connects to the mount and recognises the Starsense camera and aligns quickly and accurately. Goto works well. But trying to control the scope using the virtual buttons on the touch screen of the iPad is very frustrating. There is a lot of lag between touching one of the buttons and the scope moving. This lag varies seemingly at random. Sometimes it moves almost immediately, sometimes after a long pause, sometimes it just never responds. Then the amount that the scope moves doesn't really relate to how long you touched the button for. Some nights the lag will be manageable, other nights it can be bad enough to be pretty much unusable. For me this is the main issue I have with using the dongle vs the handset. Last night I was trying to frame the Orion Nebula, and it took about 15 mins (and even then it wasn't exactly how I wanted it). I would much prefer using SkySafari to control the mount over using the hand controller, but the lag is so frustrating that usually I use the hand controller. I would be prepared to invest in a newer version of the wifi dongle, of the SkyFi 3, or a more up to date iPad, or an Android device, if I knew that this would solve the issues. So, please post your own experiences here. Hopefully it will help people make a more informed purchasing decision, or allow people to upgrade with some degree of confidence that it will pay off.