Jump to content


Cheap DIY Raspberry Pi 3 SkyFi adapter with wifi hotspot.

Craig Shaw

Recommended Posts

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 ?



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.


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 - 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.

Edited by Craig Shaw
Spelling mistake and extra word in tag and title
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep, Pi can be used for imaging, guiding, focus control...  pretty much my entire setup is handled by an old RaspberryPi Model B+ (before they changed the board footprint).

See https://www.fastnetserv.com/how-to-make-a-raspberry-pi-3-as-a-3g4g-router/ for configuring as a local router / dhcp server for 3G/4G via USB. Technically you're mostly already there - you just need HostAPD, and depending how you want to do things DNSMasq can help (means no more remembering IP addresses).



Edited by Marci
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, Marci said:

Yep, Pi can be used for imaging, guiding, focus control...  pretty much my entire setup is handled by an old RaspberryPi Model B+ (before they changed the board footprint).

See https://www.fastnetserv.com/how-to-make-a-raspberry-pi-3-as-a-3g4g-router/ for configuring as a local router / dhcp server for 3G/4G via USB. Technically you're mostly already there - you just need HostAPD, and depending how you want to do things DNSMasq can help (means no more remembering IP addresses).



Excellent, i will take a look! The above uses DNSMasq already so i guess it will be the same type of setup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Similar Content

    • By refractor2345
      So, as the title explains I need a mount for my 70mm F/10 refractor, It has a fork mount (Alt-az) and the tripod head fell with crash to the ground. So, it wobbles a lot and it causes frustration to even point at Jupiter, I don't want to throw It away, It is a nice scope and my first scope, so I need some easy mounts to make. There are some threads (Forums) but I would like to make a custom mount!
    • By Gina
      Here's a photo of my triple widefield, narrow band imaging rig with 200mm focal length lenses.  Mainly 3D printed to my own design.  Further details to follow.

      Mounted on my EQ8 in the observatory.  Three cameras 2x ASI 1600MM-Cool and 1x ASI 294MM-Pro.  Mounted in the adapters directly on the cameras are Ha, OIII and SII Astrodon 3nm NB filters.  In the middle is an ASI 178MM with 55mm lens for guiding.  The main imaging lenses have remote focussing controlled by the Astroberry Focuser INDI driver in Raspberry Pi SingleBoardComputers.  The guider uses fixed focus as the focussing on a guider is not critical.
      The ASI 294MM-Pro camera is run from an RPi 4B with Astroberry Server and controls the mount for slewing, plate solving and guiding as well as imaging in Ha. The other cameras run from RPi 3B boards.  The 3 RPi boards are contained in the yellow 3D printed box with blue top.  3 Ethernet patch cables connect the SBCs to a Network switch and a CAT6 Ethernet cable to the house.  The RPi boards are air cooled with a fan run at low speed to avoid vibration.
      The turret rotation angle is controlled separately from an ESP32 SBC and MQTT network over WiFi (same network as I use for my weather station).  Controlling the turret rotation this way was much easier than producing a new INDI driver and matching control in Ekos.  MQTT network and Code-RED Dashboard make for an easily programmed control and data gathering system.
    • By astrosathya
      Hey Everyone,
      I first made a 6" f/10 telescope back in 2002. It was, as everyone called it here "the minimum size you should make". So I went ahead with it. The f/10 was because some gentleman had ground the glass to f/10 and abandoned it in the local astronomy club and the president of which handed to me.
      After having used the scope until 2009 (I went to UK for my Masters and bought my GOTO setup at the Telescope showroom I was working.  I am primarily an astrophotographer, but one can never forget ones roots can we?
      So, long story short, I am back to grinding a 6' f/8 this time, The FL now stands at 49" (f/8.1). I had finished fine grinding with 1000 grit SiC and moved to 1200 grit SiC but only to realize (after 30mins of grinding) that the seller had incorrectly labelled the powder as 1200 grit. I ended up with large pits all over the mirror and had to resort back to the "actual" 1000 grit SiC. This was yesterday. Now, after about 2 hours of 1000 grit, there are about a dozen pits of varying depth. I think another 30 minutes should get rid of them.
      I tried making a polishing tool from White Portland Cement using the mirror as the mold and aluminum foil as separator. Disaster struck as the cement ate away the foil and got stuck to the mirror in the form of a thin layer (thankfully) and I was able to remove all of it by mild scrubbing and later grinding with 1000 grit SiC. The misadventures that I deliberately get into. 😕
      Hopefully I can start polishing soon. 
      Wish me luck folks. I will post al developments here.
    • By astrosathya
      Hi Everyone,
      I am planning to build a Mirror-O-Matic machine, but since the designer Dennis Rech is not responding to emails anymore, I would be very grateful to anyone who could kindly share the plans of the machines you've built. Anything would be helpful. Images, plans, cur lists, advice etc.
    • By bottletopburly
      Startools 1.8 is  currently under development, Ivo is  currently working a Narrowband Accent" module  for duo band users , initial image Ivo has posted certainly looks interesting https://forum.startools.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2225&start=10 Ivo also working on a new deconvolution algorithm so some good things for Startools users to look forward too .
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.