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Some observations on Synscan Pro 2.0.6 for Android


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I don't know of any official community for Synscan, so I'm posting here in case anyone else can confirm/advise.

For the record, I'm running the app under Android 11, communicating with a Star Discovery (wifi enabled) mount that runs motor board software 3.39.A6.  Although my mount is alt-az only, I have tended to use the pro version of the app that also supports EQ on other mounts.

The first point to note in passing is that the latest version of the app is now available on Google Play. For some time prior to this, you needed to go to the Skywatcher website for the latest version, an unsatisfactory situation that was never properly explained.

I upgraded the app to 2.0.6 a few weeks ago. I prefer the slightly revised UI, and it is noticeably more responsive, though the search for named stars is now broken and I assume they'll be fixing something so obvious. The two improvements mentioned in the release note are (i) it's no longer necessary to disable the phone's mobile network before connecting to the mount - I confirmed this - and (ii) "when in background, continue to handle request from other apps" - I'm not sure what this is referring to. I run Sysncan with Skysafari, and they communicate fine when Synscan is in the background. However there is an issue where Skysafari reports that it has lost connection, and when you switch to Synscan, it (i.e. Synscan) restarts. A while ago I changed the Android settings so that Synscan wasn't a candidate to be "optimized" (i.e. killed when in background) but that didn't cure it. If that's the issue that 2.0.6 was suppsoed to fix, then it hasn't, because it happened again to me.

But my main difficulty has been that the mount sometimes has a mind of its own. It can be tracking a target quite happily and then it will suddenly execute a slew, without my requesting it. The slew speed varies, but it's normally fairly slow (3-4?). The distance that it travels before stopping also varies, but perhaps between 5 and 15 degrees? The direction is very often straight up or down (i.e. change in alt but not az). The mount is definitely moving under power - I can hear the gears - and it also "knows" that it has moved, because (usually) if I re-issue the last goto from Skysafari, it goes back to where it was before.

I've actually noticed this behaviour for some time prior to updating to 2.0.6, but it was infrequent, and absent entirely in some sessions. Since the update it has been very common, and it has a new wrinkle - in some cases, after one of these "unauthorized excursions", it will immediately reverse course of its own volition - but very slowly - and after a minute or two it will be back where it started. The other new behaviour is that the mount will attempt to wander off even when I have slackened the clutch to slew it manually (I operate with the auxilary encoders on) - again, I can hear the gears while I'm doing it - and it never did this before. It's worth noting that the accuracy of the goto pointing itself was better with 2.0.6, so they might have tweaked that.

I initially suspected a hardware problem, but checking back on my notes I realized that the deterioration co-incided with the 2.0.6 update, so I fell back to 1.19.16 and I had no problems at all on the next session. So at the moment I'm thinking it's software, not hardware.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has experienced these symptoms, either with the Star Discovery or any other Skywatcher alt-az mount.


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2.0.6 here too and also use the Pro version on an altaz as I like using the camera trigger time lapse function. Unfortunately I have not used it since the update and prior to the update I never experienced random slews or poor goto or dropping when switching between safari and synscan.

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update:

I've now had two sessions after falling back 1.19.16, and the mount has behaved itself on both occasions.
It's hard to be definitive as you can't control for all the variables, but I won't be in any hurry to go back to 2.0.6.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Same problem here with 206...Been using 1.19.16 for quite some time now. I thought I accidentally hit point and go but after it happening a few times, I switched back to 1.19.16, but I have to manually enter location or it crashes every time. I've been waiting patiently for a fix and was hoping to find some good news since it's been 3 or 4 months now I think. 

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