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By Craig Shaw
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 ?
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.
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.
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!
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.
Zero budget astrophotography...
I thought it may be interesting for people wanting a super lightweight and easy to set up form of astrophotography that costs next to nothing. I've taken these three shots with my mobile phone through a pair of cheap binoculars using an ordinary tripod (it belonged to my wife's grandfather).
The intergration time for each was only a few minutes.
Orion: 157 x 1 sec
Andromeda 300 x 2 sec
7 sisters 120 x 2sec
I've made a VIDEO of the method and the surprising adventure I had taking them which you can watch here:
By Martin Perrett
After having my mind programmed into thinking that home observatories should be round or square I saw an article showing a triangular one. This altered my thinking completely. I had some plywood and other wood left from building my house so took a couple of days to build my observatory. The size was dictated by the tripod base and the movement of the telescope on the mount. I have a NEQ6 Pro and 8inch ACF. The first thing is to align the tripod along the meridian North South with the help of the sun's shadow and the time. This means that with the scope parked it takes up less room. The roof hinges over with the help of a counterweight (not shown on my first video) and the base of the observatory is a equalateral triangle about 5-5 feet high to allow the scope to see most of the sky. This setup allows for access to the scope but is really for remote viewing. The triangular base is approx. 6 feet on each side but the roof requires room on one side to be hinged over. The observatory can be built from 4 sheets of 18mm exterior grade ply and one sheet of 5mm marine ply for the roof and 3 4.2mtr length of 50mm by 100mm treated wood. The cost could be less than £200 if you can use some reclaimed bits. The video I made is about 20 minutes long and involved me thinking and working things out while building it. The triangular construction is much easier and stronger than a square or circular one. The design means I have the scope setup and ready for those short glimpses of clear sky while also able to try remote control of the scope with the roof closed. Since the first video I have put more hinges on the joint and a beam (made from hardwood I bought as an off cut) with a couple of old rail track plates used as counterweights. The next thing is to use a garage door opener to remote the opening of the roof.
So here is the link to the video. Please just see it as an example of what you can do, not as a 'this is the way to do it' video. If I was building it again it would be similar but better.