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Orion Starseek Wifi Module Serial/USB


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Orion Starseek Wifi Module Serial/USB

by David Aucoin

This is a review for the Orion Starseek WiFi Module Serial/USB unit (Orion, $159.99). I am reviewing this using the RS 232 option on my Celestron 90 SLT and CG5-ASGT mounts.

I had wanted to get this because using the standard Celestron Hand Controller was very vanilla, meaning that although it gave you great functionality, unless you knew what object you wanted to look for, all you had to go on was just the NGC, Messier, Caldwell, IC or named object. IF you could put two and two together and knew what that NGC number referred to, then you were going to be very confused.

Enter the Orion Starseek WiFi Module with Serial and USB connections. Out of the box, the unit was compact 2 3/4" wide, almost 5" long and 1 1/2" thick.On the face is the decal/label with the Starseek logo. On the top is an RS232 port, a USB port a switch to turn it on (actually the switch switches from the batteries on board (4-AA's) or an external battery that accepts center positive 6-12 volt, 0.5 to 1.5 amp connector. On the back is a Reset button, a Status button (Red when you turn it on and Green when you are set to go) and the battery cover. It has a Default SSID and Default IP. You can change them to your liking to screen out other tablets, iphones and iPad. I have not gotten around to doing that yet. The WiFi module creates a LAN (local area network) and for the immediate vicinity of your scope, any tablet or smartphone with the Starseek app will control the telescope (be careful at star parties, you might get interference from someone else's tablet).

The list on the Orion website shows you what the WiFi module will work with. Fortunately, it works with both my Celestron 90 SLT goto scope as well as my CG5-ASGT EQ mount. All you need to do is to plug it into the RS 232 jack on the hand controller. It also works with newer scopes that have a USB connector as well.

Upon turning on my CG5 mount for aligning and calibrating, I plugged in the RS 232 cable from the WiFi module to the Hand Controller. Turning on the Starseek module, I first got the Red light followed by the Green light, indicating that I had a local area network. I turned on my iPad Mini, touched the app and went to my General setting icon, opened the WiFi option and selected the Starseek signal. It will say that it is not an active WiFi signal, but you can join anyway. Closing out the General tab, I went back to the Starseek app, touched the connect button and waited for the chime to tell me I had a connection. With the scope pointed at Saturn, I aligned the app with Saturn, getting the "Do you want to align on Saturn?" request and I pressed Align. You can also Lock or Unlock that request to make sure you stay with that object.

Now, while this review requires that you have the Starseek (basic, Pro and Max options) app, I will keep this short as this review is about the Starseek WiFi module and not the app itself.

The app is crammed with thousands upon thousands of objects, from galaxies, quasars, globular clusters, asterisms, planetary nebula, emission nebula, dark nebula, open clusters, galaxy groups (Markarian, Copeland, Abell's, etc), double stars...the list goes on. You can select asteroids, comets, satellites and other Solar System objects. At this point, I turned on the comet option and the screen soon became littered with comet positions. I selected PANSTARRS K1, just below the bowl of the Big Dipper. I hit the GoTo button on the app and it slewed to the comet and centered it in the eyepiece. After ogling the comet for a few minutes, I de-selected the comet option and proceeded to go look at Mars. I hit the GoTo button and it slewed to Mars, again, almost near the center of the FOV.

After a night of fruitful observing, it was time to power down and disassemble my rig. I turned off the power to the mount and turned off the Module switch. I removed the RS 232 cable and then stored the Starseek WiFi module in one of my accessory cases.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the Starseek WiFi module. It performed very well and allowed me to use my iPad Mini and walk around the scope, sans cables, look at the sky to see what was available to view, then look at the iPad once more to see what I wanted to see and with the tap of a finger, the scope slewed to object after object.

I would recommend this item to anyone who wants complete wireless control of their telescope.

Dave Aucoin


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