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Android + Bluetooth = telescope control! :)

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#26 dciobota

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 11:45 AM

Hi folks,

Wow! I feel somewhat ashamed to have somewhat dropped the ball on this. I haven't really worked on this since september, other things just kept getting in the way. After reading these posts I feel motivated to start work once again.

Thanks all who have tried this app and reported results, glad it works with other devices. I have an old Droid I bought off ebay, and even on android 2.1 and tiny 3.7" screen it does the job. I'll keep adding the features I planned, planets and moon probably next. Gotta have those at least, lol.

INDI, that actually looks pretty good and I see quite a bit of telescope support. XML is actually a darn good idea, I work with it every day. My only problem is I don't have a development unix machine... plus, my guess I would have to create separate native libraries for each type of phone and tablet chipset, right?

Looking at my development and notes from way back in sept, I have in progress what I would call a telescope hub. It would be a standalone app, and there would be two ways to connect to it: ip and programatically (android intent). The hub will handle the transport part (connecting to the mount through either bluetooth, ip or straight usb via usb-serial) and the protocol part (like celestron, autostar, etc). Standardized commands would be sent to the hub, and standardized replies sent back, similar to ascom I guess. I'm thinking INDI has something similar as well. I don't really want to reinvent the wheel, but as my development options and time are limited, this looks like the best I can do. Does this seem like something supportable to you? The protocol handling part and hub interface would be completely open to the community, so anyone can write a client or even add support for a telescope mount.

Anyhoo, thanks again for the interest in this, and I'll try to put up an update, maybe over Christmas break.

Daniel

#27 Harshad

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:49 AM

Daniel, nice to see this project evolving.

Looking at my development and notes from way back in sept, I have in progress what I would call a telescope hub. It would be a standalone app, and there would be two ways to connect to it: ip and programatically (android intent). The hub will handle the transport part (connecting to the mount through either bluetooth, ip or straight usb via usb-serial) and the protocol part (like celestron, autostar, etc). Standardized commands would be sent to the hub, and standardized replies sent back, similar to ascom I guess. I'm thinking INDI has something similar as well. I don't really want to reinvent the wheel, but as my development options and time are limited, this looks like the best I can do. Does this seem like something supportable to you? The protocol handling part and hub interface would be completely open to the community, so anyone can write a client or even add support for a telescope mount.


I am no expert but this sounds exactly like INDI to me. It would be cool if you followed the INDI schema (unless there are some shortcomings in it).

If there is going to be something like INDI for Android, I would be interested in making SkEye a client for the service.

As for the communication part (Socket or Android Intent), I could share some code I had developed to communicate between Android applications over local sockets. Sockets would be faster than Intents (speed will probably matter when guiding).

I wish I could be more proactive in this, but I don't have a motorized scope to try & test things out.

#28 dciobota

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 02:01 PM

Hi Harshad,

First off, love your app. :bow: I definitely would like to work with you in implementing this, that is a very much appreciated offer. I only have Celestron mounts, I don't know if I can contact the guy that was helping me with the Autostar. I do have a prospective helper for Intelliscope interfaces... the one major player I'd like to be able to support also is Orion goto scopes.

I think you're right, it does sound like INDI, as a matter of fact I was going to ask for permission to use the same schemas and see if I can implement the same functionality.

And as far as sockets, yup, I figured that may be the better way to go also, so I'll support that first. I would definitely welcome code samples, have done sockets in jave in the past but not on Android.

Anyhoo, I'll pm you with further details. I look forward to make this work for you, it would be a great extension to SkEye.

Daniel

#29 groz

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 05:40 PM

I think you're right, it does sound like INDI, as a matter of fact I was going to ask for permission to use the same schemas and see if I can implement the same functionality.


Hehe, well, grab the documents and 'fill yer boots'. In reality, INDI is just that, the specification for data interchange. The sourceforge repositories contain a reference implementation, which is hosted on a *nix build, running on linux, and I understand it's also available thru macports.

If you want to build a new implementation, that's great. If you make it open, we can arrange for write access to the indi subversion tree. Having another client / server reference available for droid would be great.

I know there are a few implementations 'out there'. DCD is a python implementation of an indi client, and many of us use it for a raw 'quick test' of server side development work.

Personally, I'd find an indi client on droid to be a fantastic thing to have. All of our 'telescope end' server stuff is already targetted to headless little solid state computers that run on 12v 'at the telescope', with clients running elsewhere on the network. Having a client that can communicate with it all, over wifi, on my phone, would be interesting, and could well be my inspiration to get a doid based tablet.

#30 dciobota

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 03:21 PM

Awesome, thanks! I have a lot of reading to do. :grin:

Thanks fot the encouragment and I agree, this would really benefit the android community. I hate reinventing the wheel and INDI seems perfect for the job.

I'll keep you all posted on the work.

Clear skies.

Daniel

#31 Tim DeBenedictis

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:13 AM

Daniel-

I'm one of the SkySafari developers. We're just gotten our Android version out the door, and I'm trying to support a few more off-the-shelf bluetooth serial adapters. Our code is working well with a StarryNight BlueStar, and a Roving Networks RN-370, but not so well with an AirCable 5. I can't figure out why - the AirCable just "acts flaky" but another user said his AirCable 3 runs fine with your app and his Celestron. I'm wondering if you might be interested in sharing code with us - perhaps we can trade you a free copy of SkySafari Pro. Anyhow, feel free to email me privately at timmyd@southernstars.com if you're interested.

-Tim

#32 dciobota

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:53 PM

Hi Tim, sorry for the late reply. I just sent you an email.

Clear skies,

Daniel

#33 dciobota

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 07:02 PM

Hi all,

I think I toitally forgot to put a link to the app after I added goto.

Here's the Celestron version:
https://docs.google....DMxZmFhM2M5MzEy

However, I'm not working on this anymore, at least not in this form. With the help of some of the guys over at the INDI project I have started porting INDI over to the android, so I'll be pretty much tied up doing that in whatever little spare time I have. The good news is that once INDI server is up on android, anyone can write a client app to talk to it, and I can actually rewrite the handbox apps to talk to INDI. This way I don't have to write device code anymore. :jump:

So hopefully I'll be able to provide a greater benefit to the community. :cool:

Clear skies,

Daniel

#34 Antcodd

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:26 PM

Hi,

Can anyone confirm if the Bluetooth-serial adapter mentioned in the the third post (http://www.usconvert...products_id=262) works with SkySafari Plus/Pro (for Android)?

I'm thinking of getting one but would need to ship it half way across the world to New Zealand hehe (only available adapter here is about 3x the price). I was also planning on using it to help with porting telescope control for the Android port of Stellarium that seems to be getting off the ground.

Thanks,
Anthony

Edit: By the way, if anyone wants to test this software, SkySafari etc. without a bluetooth adapter; I managed to make it work with hub4com and creating an incoming bluetooth COM port in bluetooth settings on the PC then using

hub4com --baud=9600 --octs=off \\.\COM5 \\.\COM4

(replace COM5 with the bluetooth COM port and COM4 with the serial port/usb to serial adapter the scope is attached to). You can put that in a *.bat file in the hub4com directory if you like. The --octs=off is important as otherwise it won't work (something to do with flow control pins not being connected on the scope end and hub4com expecting proper flow control before forwarding data to the other COM port).

hub4com can also act as a TCP server so could also potentially work with SkySafari like it is a SkyFi but I didn't manage to get that to work (the configuration for hub4com is ridiculously complex).

#35 groz

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:49 PM

but I'm about 10x more angry with the scope manufacturers for still using serial in 2011!)


When usb loses the 16' cable limitation, and can run from the mount on a pier, down the pier, under the floor, and into the warm room where the computers are located, then it's time to think about losing serial control on mounts. Until such time, usb becomes an unworkeable limitation for many higher end installations.

To build a mount, that has an inherent limit of 16' of cable between the mount, and the controlling computer, would be awfully short sighted of a manufacturer, and, likely to lose them most if not all access to the higher end fixed installations. A serial connection doesn't have this limitation, usb does.

#36 dciobota

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 12:13 PM

Hi Anthony,

I can confirm that the bluetooth serial adapter works with the SkySafari prerelease version that was put out in december. I tested it with a cge and nexstar mount, so it's good for celestrons at least. A fellow in Ukraine bought the same adapter and used SkySafari with an intelliscope controller, so that works too. Btw, that particular adapter has a very long range. With my app running on a droid X I was able to control my scope from about 30ft away.

Hope this helps.

#37 yaroslav_s

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:17 PM

Here is a similar adapter on Ebay.com. eBay Link

#38 Antcodd

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 01:20 AM

Thanks heaps guys, I was planning on ordering it from that eBay link anyway. Looking at the manual it appears to be the same item and it's insanely cheap to ship. Good to know it should work!

Sorry I didn't reply earlier, thought I'd get notified about new messages in the thread but I must have done it wrong (just figured it out now - unusual that it is off by default for subscribed threads).

#39 Driven1

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 07:26 PM

I realize this is an old thread, but can't seen to find any further info on the project's advancement (if any). I realize that this app was designed for bluetooth. What I'm wondering is if the developer would consider setting it up to use a USB Serial converter. Through another app called Slick USB you can use an FTDI based USB Serial port to control the telescope. I've tested it through a Terminal app and I can get the scope to move. So I would expect if this app had serial support, it would work this way. Anyone know anything on the status of this app or where I might find the developer?

#40 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:16 AM

I realize this is an old thread, but can't seen to find any further info on the project's advancement (if any). I realize that this app was designed for bluetooth. What I'm wondering is if the developer would consider setting it up to use a USB Serial converter. Through another app called Slick USB you can use an FTDI based USB Serial port to control the telescope. I've tested it through a Terminal app and I can get the scope to move. So I would expect if this app had serial support, it would work this way. Anyone know anything on the status of this app or where I might find the developer?


The SkySafari developers have their own Yahoo technical support group and you can find it here:

http://tech.groups.y.../southern_stars

SkySafari Plus and Pro support WiFi connections to telescopes on Android and iOS. They support Bluetooth connections on Android. They do not support USB connections directly to any phones or tablets.

They do have a WiFi device with a USB port for connecting to telescopes that only have USB ports, like iOptron. They don't work that well and the SkySafari developers blame iOptron. I tend to agree with them that iOptron is the culprit.

There is also a great little WiFi telescope interface from Astro-Gene that also has a built-in access point and DHCP server and is designed to work with iOS and Android

http://www.astrogene1000.com/

http://www.astrogene...wifi3/index.htm

#41 dciobota

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

Hi guys,

The reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated... ok, maybe not by much lol. Been out of the scene for sometime now, and I do feel guilty about not finishing this app, or at least putting it up on the market, such as it is. I have also another one that remains about 80% complete (an astro oriented dslr control), so I really need to get my stuff together and finish what I startet, lol.

As to the usb serial access. I downloaded the terminal app, and tried to connect to my two scopes: one, an ioptron cube pro, the other a celstron slt, using my two tablets, a nexus 7 and a samsung tab 2 7.0. Unfortunately, neither tablet worked with neither scope. :-( The tab seemed to connect, but I never got replies back from either scope.

Without the actual code from that app, or at least knowing why it won't work, I feel I may be reinventing the wheel trying to support usb. I know how to connect to usb devices, but not sure how a usb serial device actually works. In linux, the device is registered with the approriate driver (like usbserial), but this is not the case with android it seems. It does register the usb device (it shows up with dmesg) but no driver is assigned to it. So it looks to me like the app you mentioned has its own driver built in. So not much luck for me there. :(
I may do some more research on this in the future.
As a more fruitful path, the indi for java project provides a better (more generic) way of interfacing with telescope devices:
http://www.indilib.o...ndiforjava.html

Currently, the only implementations I see for drivers is using bluetooth, like my app. But if usb support is added in the future, writing a driver for indi may be the best way to go.

Hope this helps.

Daniel

#42 dciobota

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:47 PM

So, ok, I did some quick research and lo and behold, google code shows this project:
http://code.google.c...al-for-android/

Looks perfect for the job. So now I need to get off my easy chair and do some coding again. ;-)

#43 Driven1

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:36 PM

Wow! You DO exist! Sweet!

Here's the thing, I already have a working USB Serial port using Slick USB (available through Market) on my Tablet so all I really need is for your app to recognize the USB serial's available for use. If you want to build a USB serial port into your app, that would be awesome too.

I use Slick USB to create the port with my USB to Serial converter. Connect the USB Serial converter to the AutoStar hand controller vial a homebuilt Serial/DB9 cable, and then I've made a command connection to the Meade AutoStar Controller using a terminal app. I can send commands from the terminal app based on Meade's command set and get the scope to move. I just have no clue how to make it all work easily. In fact, I can't even figure out how to get the scope to STOP moving! Lol!

For the person that mentioned SkySafari...

Already talked to the folks a Southern Stars about adding serial support to SkySafari. They're not gonna touch it for support reasons. It would be really great if they would, but I got a VERY firm No.

I also realize that I could go BT or Wifi but using serial is such a simple system that it's not likely to give the headaches associated with the other two. I can also currently do the same thing using my Laptop with the same USB to Serial converter. The use of my Tablet is just sooo much easier to carry around.

If I had a clue about coding I'd try to get it done myself. But alas, I don't.

So, I'm hoping dciobota can come up with something. Thanks for your interest and your coding abilities!

Oh! Almost forgot. According to what I've read in the Meade Command Set, not all commands will give replies, ie: Movements like :Me# (moves the scope East but does not give an acknowledgement that the command was received). Their "Get" commands WILL give replies like :GL# (shows Local time from the Controller in 24hr. format. These DO come back as correct replies in the terminal app I'm using.



#44 dciobota

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 08:43 PM

Hi Driven,

Lol I exist and that's all I can say at the moment. Not sure what you mean "have a working serial port" through Slick USB. As far as I can tell, the app is only a serial terminal simulator, unless I missed something. There is a library for sale to allow oither apps to connect to serial devices, but it's $99, a bit to steep for me.

I did some more digging and there is an indiserver app for android that so far has lx200 support over usb (I think). It mentions bluetooth only, but the code shows prolific support unless I'm mistaken. So, that's probably the best way to go for me: write an indi client (or use the one for android) and hook it up to my app.

I'll keep you posted, but I'm not promising anything soon. ;-)

I'm actually kinda surprised none of the planetarium folks tried to tackle this already.

Hope this helps.

Daniel

#45 Driven1

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 05:39 PM

https://play.google....sbtoserialte...

Yup. You're missing something. If you own an FTDI based USB to serial converter (and I do), Slick USB provides the driver to allow Android to utilize the converter. Slick USB also has a terminal built into it. There are free and paid versions. The one thing I don't know is if other apps would be able to access the serial port.

This is what I'm using for a serial port...

http://www.tigerdire...asp?EdpNo=18...

#46 dciobota

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 07:04 PM

That's a pretty nifty and compact little adapter! :cool:

But yes, I agree with you, the app lets you talk to your mount that way, but it won't allow other apps to do the same unless you buy that library he has advertised for $99. I'll keep playing with that android indiserver app to see if I can get it to talk to one of my mounts. Stay tuned.

Daniel

#47 Driven1

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 10:27 PM

Thanks Dan.

#48 JLundberg

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 12:12 PM

Hello everyone,

Just getting back into things and ran across this forum. I'm excited about the possibilities running my scope from my android. I look forward to hearing about more of this in the future.

John

#49 deltacathy

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 06:45 PM

Hello everyone,

Just getting back into things and ran across this forum. I'm excited about the possibilities running my scope from my android. I look forward to hearing about more of this in the future.

John


Hi John,
Do a search on the net for ( synscan Bluetooth ) and you find a link to the Bluetooth adaptor for Meade LX200 ,Skywatcher SynScan and Celestron Nexstar mounts ( Nexstar are heavier as they need a battery pack attached ) Merlin/Teletrack and Allview are the same size as the picture.
They weigh around 28g and work with pc mac or Android also have a look at the Skywatcher EQ8 Bluetooth on YouTube .

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