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Nibor

How to mount a Smartphone on a telescope????

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Hi!

I have at long last moved into the 21st cent and bought myself a regular sized smartphone - it uses the android operating system for which there are many astro apps available.

One of the most interesting to me at the moment is the virtual planerarium, "Skeye":-

http://lavadip.com/skeye/

When mounted to a telescope it offers the opportunity to use the smartphone as a "push to" system - it seems to lend itself to dobsonians but I am interested in trialling the idea on my refractor and Mak.

The website does offer some mounting ideas (download the manual for links) but I was wondering if anyone in the lounge had found an elegant and robust method of using the typical Skywatcher finderscope style base for attaching the smartphone??

It seems that a few years ago such a mount was commercially available but I have been unable to track one down.

Any ideas would be very welcome!!

Wishing you all Happy and Prosperous 2013 and a decent number of cloudless nights!!

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Funny this should come up now. Got my Feb issue of Sky & Telescope a couple of days ago and page 61 has a "new product" , an iPhone Telescope Adaptor :icon_exclaim: from www.arcturuslabs.com. Also on the back page is an article on iPhone Astrophotography.

Feb issue S & T should be in the shops now/soon.

Nigel

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Funnily enough S @ N magazine have a 'How To' article by Vincent Whiteman showing how to do this in the January 2013 issue.

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Bear in mind the software relies on the g-sensors to work out the orientation of the phone, and may also rely on a magnetometer to act as a compass.

The g-sensors may or may not be that accurate for pointing depending on the quality. Mine were okay on my HTC Desire (old phone now) for about six months, it certainly showed the relevant part of the sky as you waved it over your head. After that they became rather erratic. I used Google skymap (free if it is still available) which does much the same as other planetaria. Sometimes it would work fine, others it would not have a clue where you were pointing. Occasionally waving the phone around you head randomly would sort it, but not always.

If the software relies on the compass/magnetometer function in any way, then it may well be sent off course if you bolt it right next to a big metal tube/tripod, don't know if this software does or not, but easy enough to test out.

I suspect that the simple attachment answer might be some sort of car/satnav cradle to hold the phone and bodge it to the side of the scope somehow. You could probably pick one up of eBay for peanuts to match your phone and bodge it. You might be able to lash that up to a spare finder bracket somehow.

I would just think about:

- Having some means to ensure the phone definitely stays in the cradle, e.g. a couple of cable ties around the whole thing at the start of each session and cut them off at the end.

- Ditto for the phone cradle to the scope, e.g. a short tie of some sort in case it becomes detached.

The last thing you want is for your phone to fall on the floor in the dark, especially on to a hard surface. It could end up at all sorts of angles over the course of a night so give it a good workout in the day (on a carpet) to test.

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I have the iPhone adaptor shown in S@N and it holds the iPhone very steady with good adjustment screws to line it up with the EP. Example of unedited pic attached:

post-26268-135732141189_thumb.jpg

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Many thanks for your thoughts and comments!!

Part of the trial plan would be to attach the smartphone (with the Skeye app installed) to a scope mounted on my S/W GOTO mount and then conduct some experiments. The Skeye app has a search and align facility which I should be able to test the against the GOTO. There may be the magnetic effect of the scope to contend with but I am hoping to mount the smartphone not too close to the scope itself and this distance will form part of the trial.

I will probably check out one of these to base the mounting system around:-

http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/28920-OmniHolder-Universal-Case-Compatible-Car-Mount-Reviews.htm

Once I have some results I shall post an update.

Part of my thinking is to use the "push to" app to enhance my basic altaz grab and go system. The software shows Telrad circles and if I can get in the target zone with the app then I should be able to pick up the target with my widefield refractor using a wide angle E/P.

Light pollution is a bit of an issue from my observing balcony - not to mention trying to dodge the clouds!! So when an opportunity arises I want to make the most of it!!

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Hi robin , hope your doin ok long time since we spoke,

i have tried most of the smartphone apps and everyway to attach them to my scopes I gave up in the end due to not being that accurate and when you switch the phone on to use ,it killed your night vision , the best app I now use is called whereisit it's a app that coverts ra/dec coords into alt/az in real time you program your location and then I use a compass and a wixey to get to where you want , you preserve your night vision and its as good as a goto, the best is it costs 63p from android apps ,

hope this helps regards John

Edited by dobbie
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Hi robin , hope your doin ok long time since we spoke,

i have tried most of the smartphone apps and everyway to attach them to my scopes I gave up in the end due to not being that accurate and when you switch the phone on to use ,it killed your night vision , the best app I now use is called whereisit it's a app that coverts ra/dec coords into alt/az in real time you program your location and then I use a compass and a wixey to get to where you want , you preserve your night vision and its as good as a goto, the best is it costs 63p from android apps ,

hope this helps regards John

John,

Hi! Thanks for your comments - life is OK just now - although a bit upset at the lack of decent observing skies!!

The Skeye app I am trying does have a red night vision mode and it is supposed to redden the "hard" keys - but doesn't do so on my phone!!

I am still waiting for a chance to try its accuracy but initial experiments indicate that it is essential to calibrate the phone's magnetometer by moving it in a figure of eight manner before attempting to use it to locate objects.

I have currently devised a simple temporary mount system by clipping the smartphone on the following windscreen device http://www.amazon.co...57768423&sr=8-2 and by using much velcro attaching it to the dust cap of my Skywatcher 9 x 50 finderscope!!

It does render the finderscope useless for its intended purpose tho'!! - But I have some widefield e/pieces to help zero in on the target.

I am looking forward to testing the app. for accuracy when the skies clear!!

If reasonablely accurate I will then look for another fitting method for my grab and go and work on a fitting for my 10" newt.

For info I attach a PDF of the Skeye's manual.

SkEyeIntro.pdf

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I am looking for a decent priced smartphone mount as well, I currently have the Iphone 4 and in November plan to upgrade to an Iphone 5. I use the goskywatch app on my ipad to make sure I am looking at what I think I am looking at (closer planets that resemble stars to naked eye). At school's observatory, I have no problems taking some great pictures of the planets but at home (I'm assuming the mount is to blame now) not so much. I did try the skyeye app as well until I found another app I simply liked better. at home I can by on our wifi easily so that helps alot. 

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Has anyone tried the Arcturus labs adapter? It looks well built and superb for a number of applications?

http://arcturuslabs.com

I've had some great lunar results simply holding the iPhone over a larger plossl.

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The way I mount my smart phone was a hard case on the back of this I stuck a gopro 3m mount then 2 straight brackets then a gopro tripod mount then I screw this onto the piggy back screw on the tube ring

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Hi robin , hope your doin ok long time since we spoke,

i have tried most of the smartphone apps and everyway to attach them to my scopes I gave up in the end due to not being that accurate and when you switch the phone on to use ,it killed your night vision , the best app I now use is called whereisit it's a app that coverts ra/dec coords into alt/az in real time you program your location and then I use a compass and a wixey to get to where you want , you preserve your night vision and its as good as a goto, the best is it costs 63p from android apps ,

hope this helps regards John

Thanks for the info, just downloaded for free from google play store, do you use your a compass on your phone or a separate silva type?

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Re: problems with the inaccuracies of the smart phones gyro / compass not being accurate enough ...

When I started out 5 years ago, I used a home made adaptor on a small plastic ball head which came from a $10 fleebay LCD screen. It allows you to move the phone slightly to "sync" onto a star you can see nearby to your (invisible) object/target. Then with only a little way to go to whatever you want to actually view, it was accurate enough to get very close, having been "sync'ed".

I found GoSkyWatch good as the app because it has a circular bulls-eye feature. You dont have to keep tapping the app to see what the object is. Any object which goes into the bulls-eye makes a pop-up "balloon" appear which shows you a small image of the object in the bulls-eye and some details like Mag, RA/DEC or ALT/AZ.

So you'd find Vega (say) and centre the OTA on that. Invariably, while you would have the OTA centred on Vega, you'd see on GoSkyWatch that Vega would be out of the bulls-eye area due to the gyro/compass inaccuracies in the phone. So you'd then "Sync" the phone's image of Vega into the bulls-eye by slightly moving the adapter on the ball head. Once you've "sync'ed", then you could push the OTA around that area, within 20 degrees or so, and be pretty guaranteed they would be in the EP on the OTA. So you'd push around that area while looking at the app screen popups ... find something which looked interesting, and then look through the EP. If for some reason you just could not see the object, then invariably the app would show you stars which you could not see by eye but could see through the EP and so you could "sync" again on those stars and get even closer to whatever you wanted to see. 

It worked well for the starter scope I had which was a 400mm Orion ST80. So for wide field it works fine. I would think with more mag/narrower FOV it would become increasingly more problematic. I would say it would be great for binoculars if you had them on a tripod/parallel bino mount or something. It also taught me, without me realising it, that I was in effect star-hopping with technologies help. And I also learnt quite a few names of things and what they actually looked like via the pop up pictures from the bullseye. It all kinda subconsciously sunk in! :) . Didnt cost much either (The ST80 was second hand and cost me $135 I think it was. I stuck the ST80 on my old trusty camera tripod using my existing phone so none of that cost anything! I think GoSkyWatch cost me $10 back then).

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