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SkyQ, Ap, Ipad Users Experience Wanted

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#1 moondog

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 07:14 PM

Hey Guys, Any SkyQ wifi + Ipad users out there..?
Maybe you can clear up some questions. I’ve been reading up on this, and I am getting some conflicting feedback. I even called Apple and Celestron, and neither one of the representatives I talked to seemed to understand the whole bag of kit and how they are supposed to work together. Before I spend some 400 bucks on an Ipad, I’d like to hear from someone with actual field experience.
a) if I am at a remote location, where there is no wifi other than the signal from the skyQ plugged into my CPC, and I have the wifi-only type of ipad without a data plan, it seems unlikely to me that the ipad will “know” where it is. Celestron's FAQ says that the IOS device supplies the GPS info TO the telescope. My understanding is that ipads don’t have true GPS, and get their location data externally, ie cell towers(It would be nice if the GPS info could be fed to the tablet FROM the GPS in the telescope)..in other words, if the thing can't act like a cell phone, does it know where it is? So, am I stuck having to buy the more expensive 3G type of ipad for remote location functionality?
b) some folks seem to think that alignment has to be done with the hand control, and then you can slew to objects using the ipad. Celestron advertising sounds convincing that this thing can work completely in the place of the hand control.
c) does the Celestron Ap feature a good “red screen” or just a dimmer adjustment?
I appologize if this seems like a thread that belongs in an "ipod forum". Thanks for any help.

#2 Mike in Tampa

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:13 AM

i've wondered about some of these things myself. one of the reasons I haven't taken the plunge and get the SkyQ.

#3 rboe

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:24 AM

I've been told iPads with Wi-Fi and a cell plan (plan does not have to be active or reachable) have true GPS. I have one of those iPads and the Tom Tom software seems quite happy even when we are in a dead zone.

I use Sky Safari with a NexStar 11, which has GPS installed already so I can't speak to the main issue in your question.

God a buddy with an iPad?

#4 rboe

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:26 AM

By the way, welcome to Cloudy Nights! A side note; if you put a rough idea of your location in your profile someone may realize they live close enough to offer in person help. Like hooking up an iPad (as in this case). :)

#5 moondog

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:01 AM

Thanks. I'm from Butler, PA.
My mother in law has one, but it has a data plan, and I want to test one without. That way if it works, I could maybe save some money - if that makes sense.
Not to get off the ipad topic, but as for Sky Safari - do you use that wirelessly, or what kind of cable does it use to hook up to the scope? I understand that Sky Safari works with android tablets, but the wireless aspect is not straight forward.

#6 rboe

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:20 AM

I use it wirelessly with the Orion Star Seek. which appears to have suffered a price increase. It's the bees' knees though.

Wi-Fi only models do not have a GPS in them (you can check with the Apple site).

If you need the services of a GPS your cell may have that info and there are inexpensive stand alone devices too. With some of the newer alignment proceedures, having GPS is becoming a wee bit redundant. :p

#7 moondog

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:15 PM

so, with the sky safari, I assume that you can manually enter the correct time and site coordinate information?
does sky safari let you do your scope alignment without using the hand control?

#8 rboe

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:10 PM

I don't think so. Scope has to be aligned before the iPad is connected.

Sky Safari gets the time from your iPad. Good question on location. I think it gets it from the scope. :scratches head:

#9 HeyJP

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 02:37 PM

I have SkySafari, SkyFi and an iPad (and iPhone and Mac for that matter, all with SkySafari on them).

FIrst, my CPC 1100 (and all CPC's) have GPS built-in. The CPC NexStar HandController does the actual alignment and all scope controlling. SkyFi allows SkySafari on the iPad to talk to the HandController. The HandController does all the actual positioning.

So, the HandController gets GPS from the CPC. You must do your initial alignment from the HandController. SkySafari can do localized recalibration (local alignment). When it does that, SkySafari sends tweaked locations to the HandController.

SkyFi can either be a client on a home or other WiFi network, or can create an Ad Hoc network that talks directly to SkySafari on the iPad. I use the former on my back deck at home, the latter when I'm at a dark site.

The CPC does not need GPS from anything else. It gets GPS internally when you power up.

Jim in Boulder

#10 Mike in Tampa

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:02 PM

Hey JP,

does the IPAD and SKYFI connect to one another directly or do you need to be connected to the home WIFI network? i think that is one of hte OP's concern, if he would be able to use a WIFI only iPad and SkyFi q adapter out in the field away from a WIFI connection.

#11 bogg

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:06 PM

If your mother in law has one you can still test it out. Just turn off cellular data and it will act like a wifi only iPad. If you really want to go all out remove the SIM card and it will have no choice but to act like a wifi only model. I used to use mine on the cell network but it is wifi only now, I took the SIM card out. I will probably reactivate at some time but for now it works fine.

#12 rboe

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:27 PM

The Star Seek or SkyFi creates its' own ad hoc network and hands off an IP address to the iPad. No home network needed. I've never used it in my back yard where my network could be used. But I could.

#13 HeyJP

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:02 PM

Yes, the SkyFi supports either configuration: connected to home network, or stand-alone creating its own ad-hoc network. In fact, it is pretty elegant about this, as you can configure bot: First it looks for your home network and connects if it finds it.. Or, if home not found, it creates it's own. This complements the iPad workflow too. The iPad connects to home network first, and if not present looks for any network it recognizes: which out in the boonies at a dark site, the SkyFi will be the only one!!

iPad and SkyFi automatically connect together in either scenario.

Jim

#14 moondog

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:57 PM

I’m getting scared by technology that I don’t understand. Like, I’ve been a draftsman for 30 years, and now you have to be part computer geek to get by. I guess my astronomy hobby is heading the same direction.. aaargh..!
Jim, thanks especially for your detailed insight. Everyone, hang in there with me a little longer, because it’s gonna get weird.
So, I started out thinking I’m going to buy an ipad, because I like what I’ve read about the SkyQ app and the skyQ adapter that plugs into the scope. Especially, because it lets me completely sidetrack the hand controller. So, I can test that on my mother in law’s ipad, but I still spend 100 bucks on the skyQ up front, and if it works I gotta buy the darn ipad. But, Jim here makes the Sky Safari sound pretty nice – and according to Southern Star’s website, they also make this kit that will work with an android device – well almost… now, I do have access to an android tablet. So, I guess I can live with the HC long enough to do initial alignment. But now, if I go the Sky Safari route, I’ve got a new set of questions to address. Like, how hard is it to “enable ad-hoc networking” on an android? (Keep in mind I am geek challenged). If I do that, does the tablet still work at home on the wi-fi, or do I have to fiddle around and undo something? Or is that the part that works elegantly? You see, I’m afraid that what works nicely on the iPad may not be so straight forward with the android. The Southern Stars FAQ gives some information about things that “isn’t supported” but can be made to work. Any advantage to the Blue Tooth route? I can presumably buy a little Blue Tooth serial gizmo for 100 bucks, and then I don’t need the SkiFi thingy? What would the Blue Tooth serial thingy plug into – the Hand Controller or the Telescope?

#15 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:20 PM

The Bluetooth "thingy" plugs into the bottom port on your hand controller. You should have the cable you need already as it comes with the scope. It has a 9 pin serial connector on one end and a small phone jack connector on the other.

I happen to have an extra RN 270 I'd be willing sell you, however, it's an RN 270F. I mistakenly purchased the wrong gender module. To remedy this I needed to use a null modem adapter and a gender changer. This setup works flawlessly but the extra adapters add approx 1 1/2" to the assembly. I'm sort of OCD and like things as neat as I can get them so I have the male (RN 270M) version on the way to me.

If you're interested, PM me.

#16 rboe

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:22 PM

Ad hoc is pretty much on by default. Don't spend anything thinking about it unless it does not work. Usually things like this just work in the background (it's how you connect to hot spots like coffee shops).

Bluetooth works, or so I'm told. I never did get it to work so I swore off it. You need a Bluetooth dongle hanging off the scope, then things like Palm Pilots can connect. In theory. Pretty much everything hangs off the scope as they don't have wireless capability built in.

Just about everything that has a screen that you want talk to the scope with has wireless; either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. So you need to bring the scope up to speed.

If memory serves, the Bluetooth dongle had to hang off the handset.

#17 rboe

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:24 PM

I'm not familiar with Sky Q but I do believe SkySafari will let you install a trail package to see if you like it.

#18 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:57 PM

As far as the wifi and Android goes, when I spoke with Tim at Southernstars and told him I would like to use my smartphone (Moto Razr Maxx) he recommended I take the Bluetooth route, which I did. I think I read under the FAQ on their website that in order to use wifi with android, the device would require rooting, which I wasn't going to do. I also remember reading that my particular phone would in fact work but again, Tim recommended the BT route.

After a nightmare of trying to get it to work, it finally did. The root of the evil, as I mentioned in my last post, was because I bought the wrong gender RN 270. Once I installed the 2 other components which were easily found at Radio Shack, it connected immediately with both my phone and my Galaxy Tab 2.

The RN 270 Southernstars recommends, is 100% plug n play. If you do chose this route, the pairing code for the BT module is 1234. I'm also mostly computer illiterate and the RN 270 doesn't come with a manual. There are a couple PDF files which can be found online and if you're like me, it might as well be written in Greek. One of them does mention the code being 1234. Apparently, most BT devices use 1 of 2 codes from the manufacturer. 1234 or 0000.

Don't be discouraged by my babbling. Download the app on your phone or tablet, plug the serial end of the cable into the RN 270 (don't forget the 2 AAA batteries) and the other end into your controller, pair your device to the RN 270, start the Skysafari app and start having fun.

#19 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:15 PM

Here's a pic of the RN 270 velcroed on the back of the fork arm. Note the extra length of the assembly? It works great but I don't like the visual sloppiness of it.

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#20 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:24 PM

Here's a pic of the quick mod I made to the hand controller holster. Note the missing plastic? The wire clears nicely and the controller seats properly and stays put.

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#21 moondog

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:18 PM

Thanks Mike. I too would want it to be as neat as possible. Them looks like a lot of danglies. Where did you order your RS270M from? part Number? That word "nightmare" worries me.. did you have software issues also, or just the M-F hardware issue? Also thanks for the photos. I'm having trouble figuring out where some of the wires go however. What is that little black box? And that wire then goes to the scope, where the HC would go? So is that just an extension cord? Not sure where the grey wire goes from the HC or did you splice in the black stretchie cord into the 9 pin connector going into the RS270?

#22 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:31 PM

I got it HERE

Not sure what black box you're referring to. The blue thing is the RN 270. Beneath that is what I think you're referring to. That is the null modem adapter and the gender changer, wrapped in electrical tape ;) Those connectors are normally fastened with the little screw things on either side of the connector. Think old school monitor connection on the back of a PC. Because there are those 2 additional components in line, there was no way to connect them using that method, short of buying a couple very small threaded rods an a few nuts and running the rods through all the pieces....which I actually did at first.

The wire coming off that is simply encased in split loom tubing. Looks cleaner IMO and it also hides the fact the wire is doubled back on itself to take up excess length. About halfway down it is zip tied to the coiled wire that connects to the hand controller. It runs along the HC cable
And plugs into the bottom of the HC. If you look, there's a phone jack looking thing under the HC. It goes there. The reason the coiled cord may look long is that I'm using the Scopestuff extension cord. The stock cord is way too short and stiff.

So, it goes.....RN 270>Celestron Nexstar RS 232 PC Interface Cable>bottom of HC. The coiled black cable out of the back of the HC plugs into the scope base where it normally would. I'll try and take a better pic to show how simple it actually is.

The 2nd pic shows the HC slightly lifted out of the cradle to show where the wire from the RN 270 goes and also to show where I removed a bit of plastic to allow that cord to clear the bottom and the HC to fully seat. When I take the HC off the cradle, the wire from the RN 270 comes with it smoothly and without snagging.

Unfortunately, "danglies" are gonna happen and you gotta deal with it as best as you can. Actually, that's where a lot of the fun of customizing your scope goes. Its not all about fancy eyepieces and lasers ;)

Yes, the "nightmare" was purely due to the gender issue of the RN 270. Heres the confusing thread I started regarding that issue. Keep in mind, it was all caused by getting the wrong part to start with. NIGHTMARE

#23 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:43 PM

Back of HC

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#24 Monadnock

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:47 PM

Front

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#25 Mike in Tampa

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:30 PM

looks like the Celestron SKY Q will also work without using a WIFI

here's a blurb from the SKY Q instruction PDF:

To connect SkyQ Link using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, first run the SkyQ app (available in the App Store) and then connect in one of two
ways: Direct Connect Mode connects your device directly to the SkyQ Link module and Access Point Mode allows your device to connect to SkyQ
Link through a WiFi network






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