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StarSense for Skywatcher mounts


kerrylewis
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Has anyone taken delivery of one of these yet?

If so, I would love to see first impressions. I am interested but would wish to use it on at least two different scopes and wonder how easy it is to align with the eyepiece view if moved. I note that you get two camera brakets. Perhaps this make it easier to swap over? I've asked this question elsewhere on the forum as I thought that users with Celestron might have some experience of this but without much response. Do they tend to get used with just one set-up? Does the camera have to stay fixed to the OTA to preserve alignment or does the bracket alone achieve that? 

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I have one on a C-8 with a Celestron CG-5 mount. The bracket base is attached to the scope and remains on it. When I am finished observing, I release the camera from the base and put it back in the box. I have done this numerous times and I still get very good pointing without even doing a polar alignment beforehand. Having a bracket base on another scope is interesting. You must do an initial alignment with the camera so the software can determine how the mount is pointing in relation to the scope/camera. As long as you don't move the bracket base, you should not need to redo this realignment. If you put the camera on another scope and the camera ends up pointing at exactly the same initial point on both scopes, it should work. I don't know how much offset difference the software will allow before you might have a problem, if you align with one scope and then use the camera on another without aligning on the second. If you use a different mount, that would really complicate matters. Hopefully someone who has done this can comment.

JohnD

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If you have one telescope then one Starsense is brilliant. You can remove the camera (for transport)  and the fixed bracket on the OTA means it remains calibrated when reaffixed.

If you have two telescopes; then two brackets and one StarSense will (in theory) work. The trouble is you will need to recalibrate the Camera on each different bracket/OTA (unless you are very fortunate). Calibration adds five minutes to the basic align procedure, which probably defeats the speed/ease/convienience benefits of Starsense versus other alignment methods.

After realising this. I simply bought a Starsense for each scope.

If I consider my former rate of pay (I am retired) and apply that as a value per minute to the extra minutes of stargazing that I enjoy in between the clouds because Starsense offers no hassle set-up I think it has proved to be a good investment. But those less affluent will correctly argue it is extravagance, especially when two star alignment is free. But it's the Celestron "law of diminishing marginal utility" With the addition of each further scope; the value of a single Starsense will diminish.

Do I get the SGL 2016 prize for economics?

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
12 hours ago, jam1e1 said:

hi Kerry ive just got one......but sat in the box awaiting a clear night when free - will report once had a chance :) 

That's good - I really look forward to seeing your report. I see that you have a few scopes - do you intend to use it with more than one? 

If I got one I would use it with the AZ-EQ6 mount but ideally with two different telescopes - the Celestron 9.25 and a 6" refractor. I understand that it comes with two different brackets, so I would hope to fit one to each scope and then have the camera aligned each time. Obviously if I had to set up the camera alignment each time I shifted it, it would negate some of the system's advantages. So I'm looking for reports of it in use to see if this might be possible. 

Good luck with your 'first light' 

 

Edited by kerrylewis
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one at the moment, i doubt could manage a 6" frac and 12" Newt at once...... i may try with the ED80 and one other, then wont spend half night trying to balance! Most likely to use with 12" Newt so can find challenging targets

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Managed to have a brief play the other night. I'd recommend setting it up in the day and reading through guide before a first run - there are a few nuances to setting it up and the interface, whilst more modern than synscan, takes a little getting used to - but relatively straightforward. I think it was a bit of jinxed night as wasn't the most successful for me!

Firstly, the fuse blew on my setup - i think they were only 3A rated - the Starsense appears to draw more power that Synscan setup, on its own was fine but when connected the SkyFi unit it blew due to drawing too much power - need higher rated fuses :) Got round this by using batteries in SkyFi to cut down on power requirements. (I didnt have this  with Synscan and SkyFi)

The Celestron handset replaces the Synscan one, its got multi line display which is a nice feature. There may be a better technique to it, but one aspect wasn't too keen on is time setting - with synscan you set time and press enter straight away, so can sync time accurately. With this interface you need to enter time then date then location then daylight saving, meaning you need to set time about a minute ahead and wait if enter rest of details sooner - maybe a better way, will have a play another time to see if can do another way. Setting location was relatively straightforward, you set country then city, though long / lat can be entered too. I set to london initially, then tried to enter log / lat but couldn't find how to reedit - will try another time. With alignment, there is auto and manual. It does say if have obstructions use manual align - tried auto anyway though it does seek low altitudes so as expected wasnt successful. Did manual align, its surprisingly straightforward and easy, just pick 3 areas and it will capture image and plate solve, it reported that found 100+ stars so seemed to do good job! I then went to calibrate camera to scope - i didn't think the instructions were clear as had trouble following steps as stated, but eventually got it to carry out procedure. I did find it hard to locate what it thought was pointing at - not sure if anyone has a technique as without a finder i was a bit lost! It then asks to realign once done, though not clear if need to bring scope back to flat horizontal again. I gave up at this point as clouds started to come in so will have to try again another time.

The biggest frustration for me was unable to get SkySafari on iphone connected to scope for control - appears to be incompatibility issue with SkyFi/SkySafari and AZEQ6/Starsense - have written to SkySafari team, apparently a new SkyFi firmware should be out in next few weeks that hopefully will address this and enable Skysafari to work with this model of Starsense. If this doesn't get fixed ill return the Starsense as only use scope with Skysafari - so keeping fingers crossed!

I'll repost an update once get chance to have another go, now that am more familiar with its workings.

Overall too early to comment on accuracy/effectiveness for now, although despite the issues experienced, I do like the new upgraded interface and apparent ease of setup/use, hoping for a more successful run next time!

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Seems like a very interesting piece of equipment but what's not clear to me is does it dispense with the need to polar align or is it just star alignment?  

I cannot see Polaris (my house is in the way) and with lot's of fiddling about use the SynScan routine before switching to EQMOD + CdC etc for star alignment.  I have looked at drift, alignmaster etc but all still seem fiddly and my east/South/West horizons also aren't too good with trees and some houses.  If StarSense could deal with this it would be very, very helpful, if not any other ideas?

Thanks, Graham

  

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14 hours ago, groberts said:

Seems like a very interesting piece of equipment but what's not clear to me is does it dispense with the need to polar align or is it just star alignment?  

I cannot see Polaris (my house is in the way) and with lot's of fiddling about use the SynScan routine before switching to EQMOD + CdC etc for star alignment.  I have looked at drift, alignmaster etc but all still seem fiddly and my east/South/West horizons also aren't too good with trees and some houses.  If StarSense could deal with this it would be very, very helpful, if not any other ideas?

Thanks, Graham

  

You will still need to polar align the mount, the starsense just automates the star alignment.

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15 hours ago, groberts said:

Seems like a very interesting piece of equipment but what's not clear to me is does it dispense with the need to polar align or is it just star alignment?  

I cannot see Polaris (my house is in the way) and with lot's of fiddling about use the SynScan routine before switching to EQMOD + CdC etc for star alignment.  I have looked at drift, alignmaster etc but all still seem fiddly and my east/South/West horizons also aren't too good with trees and some houses.  If StarSense could deal with this it would be very, very helpful, if not any other ideas?

Thanks, Graham

  

Use the Polar Adjustment feature in the SW handset, it will help you adjust the mount without the need to see polaris. Just remember every time you change the polar aligment using the adjusting bolts that you need to re-do the star alignment .

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

minor update from previous post, appears the Celestron Starsense for skywatcher is only compatible with newer SkyFi3 hardware units from simulationcurriculum. Once new unit arrives ill give it a go and update findings. Jamie 

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  • 2 weeks later...

so brief update on Starsense with SkySafari - managed to get it connected and working fine with SkyFi 3 unit - you need to connect the usb port on SF3 to the starsense usb slot on botton of handset. Slews fine in all directions and also appears to local align ok - though only tested indoors. Im using a test beta build from simulationcurriculum 

In summary, SkySafari 5 and SkyFi3 are compatible with Celestron Starsense for skywatcher mounts :) 

Two observations:

1) One thing im not sure regarding skywatcher mount, im not sure if the encoders are still used or not - couldn't find a setting to turn on / off in starsense HC, does anyone know?

reason ask is with the synscan handset, the clutch can be disengaged and mount position will still update and retain alignment. I took clutch off but position didnt seem to update on Skysafari.

2) If turn mount off, the handset appears to stay on and draws power from the SF3 unit - im not sure if this draws power still when powered. The SF3 has a build in battery which is good design improvement. It does have usb power port though so can recharge/power in the field

Look forward to next clear sky where can give a proper test run.

Edited by jam1e1
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Had a first go last night- successfully aligned and calibrated - aligned around Cassiopeia, Pegasus and Altair - managed to get accurate goto across a number of objects around those regions, all goto were near enough center to fov in 12mm EP :) 

I do want to give another few goes before give a conclusive ok, but early findings are starting to prove positive.

One issue I did notice, not sure if SkySafari or Mount / Handset related - tried to goto near zenith, mount slewed then appeared to lock up and not respond to any commands via Handset or Iphone hence gave up as was late - anyone else noticed this issue? Ive had on the synscan handset too so may be to do with SS5, though ill need to retest with HC when next out to confirm.

 

Edited by jam1e1
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16 hours ago, jam1e1 said:

Had a first go last night- successfully aligned and calibrated - aligned around Cassiopeia, Pegasus and Altair - managed to get accurate goto across a number of objects around those regions, all goto were near enough center to fov in 12mm EP :) 

I do want to give another few goes before give a conclusive ok, but early findings are starting to prove positive.

One issue I did notice, not sure if SkySafari or Mount / Handset related - tried to goto near zenith, mount slewed then appeared to lock up and not respond to any commands via Handset or Iphone hence gave up as was late - anyone else noticed this issue? Ive had on the synscan handset too so may be to do with SS5, though ill need to retest with HC when next out to confirm.

 

Would an additional calibration point near the object of interest improve the pointing accuracy, i.e. could the starsense be used as a standalone alternative to astrotortilla for framing subs?

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I've been using the Starsense on Celestron mounts (CGEM-DX and AVX) for about year now.

It has performed flawlessly - as long as I have the date.time an location set correctly :) I usually and one or two additional calibration stars, although not notice much difference when I haven't.

I was just wondering tho' is the handset common to Synta and Celstron mounts?

I though that some of the commands were different for the different manufacturer mounts?

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