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Celestron Starsense autoalign


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Good evening,

I have been humming and harring for a while now as to whether or not to plunge into buying the Celestron Starsense autoalign system. I have read many reviews on this and other forums and although the general opinion swung in favour of the positive I couldn't help the slight doubt when reading about some issues with regards to firmware updates etc.

Anyway, it was my birthday this month and my wife asked me if I wanted to go for the starsense as she would like to buy it for me. After very little discussion I very appreciatively said yes I would very much like it.

Well this week my starsense arrived and I set too checking and updating the firmware. I already had the CFM installed on a laptop running Windows 7. As it turns out the version I received is the new version which has the mini USB connector on the HC and not the usual RS-232 jack which connects via a USB to serial convertor. (although when using the mini USB the serial driver is still required as the USB converts to a serial configuration within the HC).  I connected the HC to the mount (AVX), and connected both the starsense camera and the HC to the laptop using the standard to mini USB cables (these are the same cable used for connecting most digital cameras to a computer), I then opened CFM. Within seconds CFM had recognised the mount, the starsense HC and the starsense camera. I clicked on update and the process started and completed without a hitch. All I needed now was a clear spell to test the system. 

Well tonight the forecast indicated that I had about an hour window of relatively clear sky and no rain, so out I went and set up the gear. Normally if I was only going to get an hours clear sky it just wouldn't be worth me going out as it would take that long to get the gear out, set up and do the usual 2 or 3 star alignment for the goto. 

Well this time I fired up the mount and the HC went through the usual verification and set up the camera (about 20 seconds). As it was the first time in operation the HC offered to load or save an number of profiles (this is presumably so that the camera can be set up with more than 1 telescope), however I declined this for the time being and continued with the start up process. After setting up my coordinates and the date and time I pressed align and was offered a number of alignment options, I opted for the Auto align. The scope immediately started to slew and paused at intervals for the camera to acquire images assess the number of stars and plate solve. It did this about 3 or four times then stopped and the HC reported that alignment had completed. I thought what after about 3 minutes!!!! you must be joking. I entered a known star and slewed to it to complete the telescope field of view centring as per the instruction manual (I have read reviews whereby a couple of people indicated that some of the instructions for this stage of the operation were wrong, however I followed the instructions as written and it all worked perfectly). So after approximately 4 to 5 minutes the system was , in theory, aligned. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so next was to put it to the test. I didn't have very long as I noticed that the cloud was starting to move back in so I quickly decided to look at some favourites. I started with Bodes galaxy - and bang dead centre of the eyepiece. Next Andromeda and again bang in the centre. I then thought I would slew right over and selected Orion and once again it was bang on the money. I finished with Pleiades before having to give in to nature as she drew the curtains on my sky window. 

To sum up, I found the Celestron starsense autoalign camera to be very well made, the new HC has a number of new functions which I have yet to explore, but what I am totally made up with is the ease of use and the accuracy the system achieved in such a short time. I know some users have reported issues with instructions and updating firmware but I can honestly say that I had no issues what so ever and I am amazed at the amount of time that the system saved me during set up. From my point of view its highly recommended. All I need now are a few more hours of clear sky so that I can set up, in a fraction of the usual time, for a bit of imaging.

Best regards,

Benno.     

 

 

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Good stuff. Don't tell cloudsweeper - he thinks it doesn't work :)

I am sure you will miss all that manual alignment fun & games!

The time saved is great for getting the eyepieces, note books & other stuff all sorted while the scope just does its thing.

There are some nifty new features hidden in there as well, such as increasing the standard 3 plates to more if you want further accuracy.

You can add further alignments "as you go" if you move to a part of the sky where the original shots weren't taken.

You can even setup for own set of alignment shots (to replace the standard ones) if the camera is shooting at a location that is blocked in your garden - then the scope uses your shot locations forever on...

Its very flexible for sure, and a well worth purchase now they finally fixed the bugs that were there when they released it couple of years back!

 

Also, you are correct "user profiles" are for if you use it on more than one scope.

 

Edited by alanjgreen
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8 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

Good stuff. Don't tell cloudsweeper - he thinks it doesn't work :)

 

 

Not so!  It's just that I can do an alignment very quickly and easily (especially after getting the GPS Module), so I can't justify spending 250/270 quid on one!

I'm sure it's a great accessory, it's just not for me!  :happy11:

Doug.

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Good to hear this Benno.

So often we consumers feel like we are stuck in a crap shoot, and some win, some lose.

We... the ultimate test bed, the reasons and drive behind an endless stream of 'Updates'...

Cheers! And do enjoy! Oh, and Happy Birthday as well !

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Glad your one works..at what stage have you enterered the coordinates as ive never found it or its never asked me.

Ive tried 3 times but not wasting another night of good seeing with it..i wait until i havr a free evening and try again..

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Newbie,

when you start the unit up and after waiting for it to find the camera (you see a countdown on the screen), after it says starsense ready. you choose align, then auto align...

- it then shows the date and time on screen, you can press enter to accept or back to enter new values...

- see page 11 of this pdf

 

http://www.celestron.com/media/1317936/94005_starsense_autoalign_manual_february2016.pdf

 

Time & location on is also available as a menu item for you to view/change, see page 24

 

Finally, is it a new unit or pre-used?

- if pre-used, you may need to do a factory reset to get rid of the previous owners settings.

 

also note that you can test all this in the house, as least as far as getting the scope to move to take photos, obviously you can't get beyond that! But it's enough to test all the above :) 

 

what software version is on your handset?

you can check the version in the daytime :), just fire up the handset.

- see page 26 for the menu tree, it's in the "hand control" menu

if you have an old version, it's worth updating the unit via the Celestron cfm utility.

- search on this site for starsense cfm to find the instructions.

 

Edited by alanjgreen
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3 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

Newbie,

when you start the unit up and after waiting for it to find the camera (you see a countdown on the screen), after it says starsense ready. you choose align, then auto align...

- it then shows the date and time on screen, you can press enter to accept or back to enter new values...

- see page 11 of this pdf

 

http://www.celestron.com/media/1317936/94005_starsense_autoalign_manual_february2016.pdf

 

Time & location on is also available as a menu item for you to view/change, see page 24

 

Finally, is it a new unit or pre-used?

- if pre-used, you may need to do a factory reset to get rid of the previous owners settings.

 

also note that you can test all this in the house, as least as far as getting the scope to move to take photos, obviously you can't get beyond that! But it's enough to test all the above :) 

 

what software version is on your handset?

you can check the version in the daytime :), just fire up the handset.

- see page 26 for the menu tree, it's in the "hand control" menu

if you have an old version, it's worth updating the unit via the Celestron cfm utility.

- search on this site for starsense cfm to find the instructions.

 

Thanks..im working away so no chance of having a look..its a new unit,if i go onto auto align it goes off on its own accord and never reached full alignment..

First night i tried it i lost the whole eve as it recommened removing the finderscope..so when it didnt work i couldnt do my normal alignment as trying to find a star without a finder was impossible..second time it slewed around and thought about it for 10 mins before i swtched it off started again and did the same thing 3 times..another night lost..3rd time after doing the same thing again  switched it off packed it away and did my normal alignment..and there its sat since..will try again soon if this weather playsball..

thanks again for your help

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  • 1 year later...

Forgive me if I have missed it here or another thread,  but can you use starsense with out a handset?  I’m interested in the time savings but run my rig off a lap top and soon a mini computer.  I would rather stay away from the handset. 

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25 minutes ago, PKM44 said:

Forgive me if I have missed it here or another thread,  but can you use starsense with out a handset?  I’m interested in the time savings but run my rig off a lap top and soon a mini computer.  I would rather stay away from the handset. 

Yes you can.

Your scope will need to have a wifi adapter fitted and you need to install Sky Safari 6 on your phone/iPad.

Sky Safari has the ability to recognise and control the Starsense camera so you do not need the handset connected.

HTH,

Alan

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  • 1 year later...

Celestron mount with StarSense AutoAlign USB handset on Windows 10. The StartSense Camera does not need to be connected to the computer by its USB, indeed the computer and CFM will not see it. I do not know why the camera has an USB port, the computer does not recognise it.

If you connect the handset by USB before turning on the telescope, the  handset will light up but you will not connect to CFM. 

Connect Camera and handset to the telescope in usual manner, switch on whilst holding down button 7 and the Celestron key together so handset shows 'BOOTLOADER', then connect handset USB to computer.

Start CFM, it should now see both handset and camera, in the info box.  Wait for its preamble to complete then hit 'update'. Go and have a cuppa whilst it does its thing. Switch off telescope and disconnect from computer.

Sorted.

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6 hours ago, jefrs said:

Celestron mount with StarSense AutoAlign USB handset on Windows 10. The StartSense Camera does not need to be connected to the computer by its USB, indeed the computer and CFM will not see it. I do not know why the camera has an USB port, the computer does not recognise it.

If you connect the handset by USB before turning on the telescope, the  handset will light up but you will not connect to CFM. 

Connect Camera and handset to the telescope in usual manner, switch on whilst holding down button 7 and the Celestron key together so handset shows 'BOOTLOADER', then connect handset USB to computer.

Start CFM, it should now see both handset and camera, in the info box.  Wait for its preamble to complete then hit 'update'. Go and have a cuppa whilst it does its thing. Switch off telescope and disconnect from computer.

Sorted.

Not entirely true. I refer you to the earlier posts above that mention the comprehensive guidance I offered in 2017.

1. The Starsense camera has never had a  firmware update  (e.g. since 2014).

2. If it ever needed an update, you will need a second cable from Starsense camera to PC in addition to that from HC to PC. That is, unless using WiFi to update.

3. If you connect only a single cable to HC, then CFM will falsely report "Starsense camera updated". That is because it is up to date  (since 2014). But if there was ever a camera update required, I am not sure what it would report! 

4. You definitely need two cables according to Celestron. I know that because I too reported that it didn't given the false "camera updated" message and I got rebuked. Celestron Support was apparently referring people to my pinned guidance note  in Cloudy Nights as their own manual was pants! 

4. The Starsense HC had major bug fixes in 2018 and notable updates for Evolution and some GEM mounts in 2019. It is desirable to update to embrace these.

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 19/03/2020 at 23:17, noah4x4 said:

Not entirely true. I refer you to the earlier posts above that mention the comprehensive guidance I offered in 2017.

1. The Starsense camera has never had a  firmware update  (e.g. since 2014).

2. If it ever needed an update, you will need a second cable from Starsense camera to PC in addition to that from HC to PC. That is, unless using WiFi to update.

3. If you connect only a single cable to HC, then CFM will falsely report "Starsense camera updated". That is because it is up to date  (since 2014). But if there was ever a camera update required, I am not sure what it would report! 

4. You definitely need two cables according to Celestron. I know that because I too reported that it didn't given the false "camera updated" message and I got rebuked. Celestron Support was apparently referring people to my pinned guidance note  in Cloudy Nights as their own manual was pants! 

4. The Starsense HC had major bug fixes in 2018 and notable updates for Evolution and some GEM mounts in 2019. It is desirable to update to embrace these.

 

Using two cables to the computer may well be true with the older Hand Controller and the 'Celestron Programming Cable' with USB/Serial adaptor. The instructions seem to have been written for this older system (pic). With the USB Starsense HC the data is fed through to the camera on the RJ12 cable. I did a little experiment when I had to replace the motor board (which has its own update process) - I updated the camera with the NexStar+ Telcon serial HC attached, this did require the camera USB cable to be used, all devices were updated. The updates are reinstalled if they are already the latest ones. Then repeated with the USB StarSense HC, with one USB cable, and again with two USB cables. With one USB cable to the StarSense HC all devices were seen and updated. One or two USB cables made no difference. You can observe the updating in progress on the CFM - latest updates are reinstalled.

fyi the supplied camera to mount RJ12 cable is far too long, a 50cm RJ12 cable is adequate (usual online vendors)

StarSense_Connection_Diagram.jpg

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5 hours ago, jefrs said:

Using two cables to the computer may well be true with the older Hand Controller and the 'Celestron Programming Cable' with USB/Serial adaptor. The instructions seem to have been written for this older system (pic). With the USB Starsense HC the data is fed through to the camera on the RJ12 cable. I did a little experiment when I had to replace the motor board (which has its own update process) - I updated the camera with the NexStar+ Telcon serial HC attached, this did require the camera USB cable to be used, all devices were updated. The updates are reinstalled if they are already the latest ones. Then repeated with the USB StarSense HC, with one USB cable, and again with two USB cables. With one USB cable to the StarSense HC all devices were seen and updated. One or two USB cables made no difference. You can observe the updating in progress on the CFM - latest updates are reinstalled.

fyi the supplied camera to mount RJ12 cable is far too long, a 50cm RJ12 cable is adequate (usual online vendors)

StarSense_Connection_Diagram.jpg

Yes and no....

The report CFM gives that Starsense Camera "has been updated" is false. There has been no Starsense camera update since January 2014 (1.2. 13343).  However, the Starsense HC has been updated, most recently August 2019 (1.20.19207).

My understanding is that in the event that a SSA camera update is necessary, it will require the second cable. But as no SSA camera update is available, one cable will suffice until further notice.

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On 30/04/2020 at 15:25, The Admiral said:

Glad my redundant StarSense is working out for you ☺

Ian

Yes! Once I got the camera refocused it's quite amazing. I set up Thursday night 07/05/20. Of course by the time it dot dark there was solid high thin cloud. I could just visually see  Arcturus but little else. So I experimented. There's a LED street lamp over our back room before our patios. Despite that and the cloud and high hedge and fence it still did an Auto Align in under a minute. Adding a star to the calibration makes it want to do another Auto Align. So we did that three or four times. Despite only seeing a few stars, now focused, it competed successfully every time, quickly too.  I cannot bend down to use the red dot without pain.

Thank you once again.

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