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Cannot Successfully Align With SkySafari 6 & SkyPortal Wifi Unit

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#1 StarryEyedJade

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 11:30 PM

I have an older CGEM (2006) mount with Celestron wifi adapter. I can get my android phone (LG V20) to connect to the wifi network issued by the SkyPortal, although sometimes with considerable difficulty.  I have loved using SkySafari 6 before I got the wifi SkyPortal, so I was excited to try alignment and slewing to my favorite targets, just using my phone as my remote slewing device. 

 

The first time I tried it, I had already aligned successfully with 2 alignment stars and 4 calibration stars.  I connected and only used the app to slew the telescope to different targets and it worked pretty well....once.  That first night I even successfully aligned using the SkyPortal and the SkySafari 6 app. 

 

The next night was a nightmare, I finally just gave up after 8-10 failed alignments and 6 hours later.  I could connect by using connect & align button, set the scope to index marks and align to the first star, all good.  Choose and went to slew to a 2nd star, and it ran my scope into its tripod.  Or, it will act like it does a successful alignment, and then when you choose a target, it is over 20 degrees off.  I align with a cross hair eyepiece on a 2x barlow, I'm pretty sure I was not that far off.  Another time it was slewing to a target quickly, and it came to a very abrupt stop and said it was aimed at the target I was slewing to, but again it was over 20 degrees off. 

 

This kind of behavior makes me worry about it damaging my mount or scope.  Does anyone have any ideas of what I am doing wrong.  I am a rookie amateur astronomer, so I have no doubt that I am the problem, but I really cannot figure this out.



#2 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 11:49 PM

It sounds like some of the internally stored data related to the mount and alignment state is wildly incorrect in SkySafari.  The usual fix is to uninstall SkySafari and install it again.  At least one other person also found it necessary to use the "Factory Settings" option on the physical hand control and then SkySafari started working.  But first, some basics.

 

When you are connecting to the Celestron WiFi adapter, you will not align using the physical hand control.  In fact, until you get all this working successfully, you should unplug the hand control from the mount.  Once you do have everything working, you can leave the physical hand control connect as long as you don't accidentally start an alignment or attempt a GoTo operation.  That can be useful as the hand control's arrow buttons might be more convenient than the on-screen buttons in SkySafari.

 

Then, be really sure you are starting a new alignment with Connect and Align (vice just Connect).

 

Finally, I don't recall there being a special configuration setting for EQ mounts (there is for use of a wedge with the alt-az mounts) but I don't own any of the EQ mounts so perhaps someone will chime in here to confirm.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#3 sg6

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 03:30 AM

Can Skysafari alone actually perform the alignment ?

I would have thought that it could not, as that would mean there is no purpose in having the Celestron handset and so Celestron lose out on selling handsets. Additionally it would mean Synta would have had to hand over details of the software to a third party.

 

There is the Skywatcher Synscan app that may perform as a handset, however that is unknown to me at present. It all depends on the convergence of Celestron and Skywatcher hardware and software.



#4 StarryEyedJade

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 04:40 AM

Thanks for the quick response Michael, great Jupiter picture by the way! 

 

I will try the uninstall/reinstall and try again tomorrow night and update this thread if it works.  I am connecting the wifi dongle to an aux port splitter with the NexStar handset attached to the other port.  When I tried to unplug the handset and only plug the dongle in, it would not work at all.  I think they both need to be connected for this mount.  Like I said, it worked pretty well the first night with just minor issues getting the app to connect to the wifi network.  

 

Hi Skylab, thanks for your response also.  I did successfully connect and align using the app the very first night I used it, and it did a real good job, targets were well centered and I was real happy with it. 

 

I do not think my equipment configuration will work strictly using the wifi and the app without the handset connected, that may well be because my mount is rather old.  



#5 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:05 AM

Can Skysafari alone actually perform the alignment ?
I would have thought that it could not, as that would mean there is no purpose in having the Celestron handset and so Celestron lose out on selling handsets. Additionally it would mean Synta would have had to hand over details of the software to a third party.

There is the Skywatcher Synscan app that may perform as a handset, however that is unknown to me at present. It all depends on the convergence of Celestron and Skywatcher hardware and software.


Yes, SkySafari (and the free SkyPortal app derived from it) can take the place of the physical hand control when connected via Celestron's WiFi. Celestron provides the alignment and control subroutines to Simulation Curriculum in a partnership that benefits both companies.

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com

#6 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:11 AM

Thanks for the quick response Michael, great Jupiter picture by the way!

I will try the uninstall/reinstall and try again tomorrow night and update this thread if it works. I am connecting the wifi dongle to an aux port splitter with the NexStar handset attached to the other port. When I tried to unplug the handset and only plug the dongle in, it would not work at all. I think they both need to be connected for this mount. Like I said, it worked pretty well the first night with just minor issues getting the app to connect to the wifi network.

Hi Skylab, thanks for your response also. I did successfully connect and align using the app the very first night I used it, and it did a real good job, targets were well centered and I was real happy with it.

I do not think my equipment configuration will work strictly using the wifi and the app without the handset connected, that may well be because my mount is rather old.


Nope, you most definitely do not need the hand control connected when you are aligning via SkySafari connected via the Celestron WiFi module.

Thanks for the kind words about the Jupiter image. The amount of detail in the image is modest but I've always thought it was artistically pleasing.

#7 StarryEyedJade

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 05:11 PM

I stand corrected, Michael, even with my older mount, I was able to do the alignment without the handset connected at all. 

 

So,I uninstalled/reinstalled the SkySafari 6 app and did not connect the hand control pad to the mount at all.  I got one fair alignment out of it.  I stepped through the alignment, I usually do a 2 star alignment with 4 calibration stars.  Although I had actually aligned to 7 stars, it would never register in the app that I had more than 3 objects aligned.  So I tapped "Done" and it gave me the error that I had not aligned to 4 targets and that my alignment may not be very accurate. 

 

It was close, still several degrees off of targets but not over maybe 5 degrees off.  So I rebooted everything and tried again, and again, and again, and could never get to a third target without it going wildly off course (20-50 degrees off or more).  After about 6 failed alignments, I went back to the handset and just forgot about the app.  Once I manually aligned, my targets were spot on. 

 

It is so frustrating because this works so well for most everyone else.  I can connect and control the scope with the app after doing a manual alignment, but at this point I am really worried about it doing damage to my scope or mount.



#8 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 06:49 PM

I stand corrected, Michael, even with my older mount, I was able to do the alignment without the handset connected at all. 

 

So,I uninstalled/reinstalled the SkySafari 6 app and did not connect the hand control pad to the mount at all.  I got one fair alignment out of it.  I stepped through the alignment, I usually do a 2 star alignment with 4 calibration stars.  Although I had actually aligned to 7 stars, it would never register in the app that I had more than 3 objects aligned.  So I tapped "Done" and it gave me the error that I had not aligned to 4 targets and that my alignment may not be very accurate. 

 

It was close, still several degrees off of targets but not over maybe 5 degrees off.  So I rebooted everything and tried again, and again, and again, and could never get to a third target without it going wildly off course (20-50 degrees off or more).  After about 6 failed alignments, I went back to the handset and just forgot about the app.  Once I manually aligned, my targets were spot on. 

 

It is so frustrating because this works so well for most everyone else.  I can connect and control the scope with the app after doing a manual alignment, but at this point I am really worried about it doing damage to my scope or mount.

Do you have another smartphone/tablet you can test with?  It is possible that even if you uninstall SkySafari, some settings files stick around on the smartphone/tablet.  It really sounds like something goofy going on with SkySafari.  You should probably submit a ticket in the Support section of Software Curriculum's website as well:

https://support.simu...us/requests/new

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com



#9 descott12

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 07:00 PM

I have found that if a SkyPortal alignment fails for ANY reason, I have to cycle power on the scope AND restart SkyPortal. There doesn't seem to be an obvious way to clear all previous alignment points. At least I haven't found it. 

I was going to contact Celestron directly about this as there should be a way to do a clean reset.



#10 StarryEyedJade

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 11:45 PM

Success!! Thank you Michael.  I tried it on an old tablet I have that barely had enough horsepower to run SkySafari 6, and I was able to successfully do an alignment first try.  Reset everything and tried again, and again success! 

 

Then I tried with my phone ........ and it worked !!!  Tried it 3 more times and it worked every time.  Now I have had to do this experiment in my basement because it is raining in Atlanta tonight. but I have a pretty good idea of where my stars are located at this time of night, and it seems to be pretty accurate. 

 

I will give it another try next time I have clear skies for sure, and update whether it is accurately slewing, or if it is still off a bit.  

 

Hi Dave, thanks for your input, and yes, I have also found that any error or failure is pretty much game over, and you have to reboot both the mount and restart the app.  

 

I would like to know if anyone knows how to change your alignment star, once the mount has slewed to the location?  I have not found a way to do this other than rebooting and redoing the whole alignment.  I am the victim of a very large oak in the front yard.  In the winter I can get to most stuff in that part of the sky, but sometimes my star goes behind a branch and I need to choose another.  

 

Thank you again everyone for your help and advice.  This is the coolest hobby I have ever had by far, and I feel that I have come a long way in a year and a half, equipment and knowledge wise.  My first scope was a Mead ETX 80 on an alt-az mount, and I have moved up to a Celestron 11 with an equatorial mount - big learning curve there.  But I have survived to view another night so far!!

 

Kindest regards and may you all have clear skies!



#11 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 12:11 AM

Success!! Thank you Michael.  I tried it on an old tablet I have that barely had enough horsepower to run SkySafari 6, and I was able to successfully do an alignment first try.  Reset everything and tried again, and again success! 

 

Then I tried with my phone ........ and it worked !!!

 

<snip>

 

I would like to know if anyone knows how to change your alignment star, once the mount has slewed to the location?  I have not found a way to do this other than rebooting and redoing the whole alignment.  I am the victim of a very large oak in the front yard.  In the winter I can get to most stuff in that part of the sky, but sometimes my star goes behind a branch and I need to choose another.  

 

<snip>

You're welcome.  Odd though that it started working thereafter with your phone.

 

Regarding bypassing an alignment star, do you still mean SkySafari?  I actually have not used SkySafari to align one of Celestron's EQ mounts so I don't know for sure, but I assume after it automatically slews to an alignment star, the screen has a prompt to center in the finder with an ENTER button?  Is there another button in that dialog?  Or, if using Android, what happens if you tap the "back" button (bottom of the screen - might need to swipe down from the top to display it)?  Or, if using iOS, is there a "back" button anywhere on the screen?

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com



#12 StarryEyedJade

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 04:12 AM

Yes, In SkySafari 6, it asks you to choose an object in the Eastern sky and you tap Go To and it slews to the target you selected.  Then you get 2 choices, Enter and Done, tap Enter after you get the star in your view finder and Done to end the alignment, the back button on the phone itself asks if you want to exit the app, so I did try that. 

 

Not that big a deal, just really glad the alignment issue seems to be resolved.

 

cool.gif



#13 descott12

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 06:58 AM

In Sky Portal, after you have aligned successfully, the align button is still there. I have used it to reset the alignment to an existing alignment star if its a little off.  

 

There is also the option to add ( I think up to 10) alignment stars.  It numbers them starting from 0 (which is very odd - clearly done by a computer programmer...) so it seems there should be a way to indicated which star index you want to update or replace, but I have not tried that yet.



#14 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 12:46 AM

In Sky Portal, after you have aligned successfully, the align button is still there. I have used it to reset the alignment to an existing alignment star if its a little off.

There is also the option to add ( I think up to 10) alignment stars. It numbers them starting from 0 (which is very odd - clearly done by a computer programmer...) so it seems there should be a way to indicated which star index you want to update or replace, but I have not tried that yet.


Yes, up to a total of 10 alignment points. It only allows you to add more, not replace existing (like the physical hand control). Usually alignment accurate maxes out at 5 it 6 points. If you think one of your alignment points is way off you would need to power the mount off and on, exit and restart SkyPortal/SkySafari, tap 'Connect and Align' and start over.

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar User's Guide"
https://www.NexStarSite.com

#15 Bill Geertsen

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 06:20 PM

Mike,

 

Is there an easy way to clear the 10 alignment points in SkyPortal?

 

When I start a new session on another night the 10 used alignment points are still there, not allowing me to start a new alignment.

 

BG 



#16 SgtSluggo

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 07:02 PM

In skyportal, if you choose "Connect and Align" instead of just "Connect," it should clear the old alignment information. 



#17 descott12

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 07:45 PM

In skyportal, if you choose "Connect and Align" instead of just "Connect," it should clear the old alignment information. 

Actually, as Mike Swanson posted above on Jan 19, I think you need to power the mount off and back on and restart SkyPortal. It doesn't seem to start from a clean slate unless you do that.



#18 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 08:02 PM

Powering off and back on is good, but SgtSluggo has the key point - be sure you use "Connect and Align" not "Connect" when you first start SkyPortal/SkySafari.  From The NexStar User's Guide II page 100:

 

When you first start SkyPortal, there are two buttons for connecting to the ‘scope
(if the buttons are not displayed at the bottom of the screen, tap the ‘scope
button):

  • Connect and Align – clears the last alignment and starts the alignment process from scratch.
  • Connect – retrieves the last known alignment model and assumes the ‘scope is still pointed to the same location in the sky. Normally, you would only use this if you accidentally disconnected and don’t want to go through the entire alignment process again, or you just want to get to the telescope settings in SkyPortal. In other words, this is not an alignment method, just a method for making a connection, particularly if you accidentally disconnect during an active session. Additionally, this button allows access to the Setup and Control screen for telescope control in SkyPortal without the need to align the ‘scope.

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#19 Bill Geertsen

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 09:31 PM

Thanks for the tips everyone.

I'll try it again tomorrow and and let you know how it went.

 

I assume "connect and align" applies to the first star only.

 

BG



#20 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 10:23 PM

Hi Bill,

 

When you first start the app and open the telescope control panel (if it isn't already open), you are presented with the two buttons.  If you choose "Connect and Align", any old alignment stars are thrown out and you are starting with the first star.  If you choose "Connect" it continues to use the last alignment (which is keeps indefinitely) and assumes the scope is still in the same exact state as the last time you connected.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#21 Bill Geertsen

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:30 AM

Success!

 

That was it. I just ran it several times using "Connect and Align" for the three star alignment. All looks good on the screen. Now all I (we ) need is a sky with stars in it instead of cloud bottoms.

 

This deserves a Boston Lager or two.

 

Every once in a while, the screen freezes and comes back in a few seconds.

Also, every once in a while the slew stops just short of the target, tapping GoTo again completes the slew.

 

Is this behavior normal for SkyPortal?

 

BG


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#22 lateott

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:22 AM

I have a newer 8 SE with Alt-Az mount and I see the same pattern using the iphone SkyPortal and the wifi dongle in direct mode. Sometimes multiple failures (always when I need to align quickly!), sometimes a goto is off by 5 to 10 degrees. Sometimes I add an alignment point and get the failure message that it is too far from the current calibration.

 

The most disconcerting thing is when I select goto for a new object (often the second star in the alignment) and the mount goes nuts to some other part of the sky without regard to the OTA crashing into the mount. The Stop key prevents a collision, but I have to be vigilant.

 

I have noticed occasionally that the compass view of the sky seems off by 10 degrees or so.

 

This pattern makes me wonder whether the location or time in the iphone is not being registered correctly.

 

Something is clearly off, and it seems like the app should provide some other indications or checks to prevent this kind of thing before alignment begins.

 

 



#23 NMBob

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:37 PM

Failure to be able add a point means the previous points (objects) were not centered carefully enough. Get an illuminated reticle eyepiece. You *think* you are getting it in the middle, but you are not.

 

-- or --

 

If it is taking off in a different direction the mount may have the wrong hemisphere selected. Check the hand controller and make sure it is Alt-Az North, or whatever it should be for where you are and how you have it set up.

 

You can check the date and time of the mount using the hand controller and compare that with what SkySafari says.

 

The compass view being off could just be the internal compass needing to be calibrated. If the lat/lon, date/time, hemisphere, etc. are correct the mount should be pointing the right direction. If the SkySafari display is tracking the mount and it shows the mount stopping in the wrong place then that's not good.

 

I don't think it will even connect if it not correct, but make sure you have Celestron WiFi selected and the correct mount type (like Alt-Az GoTo) in SkySafari. I have Tilt Device to Slew turned off so nothing unexpected happens.

 

The program can only know what it's told, and can only think it's correct. It has no other reference to go on. It could be something is broken. Catching it doing the wrong thing is your job.



#24 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 01:13 AM

<snip>

 

Every once in a while, the screen freezes and comes back in a few seconds.

Also, every once in a while the slew stops just short of the target, tapping GoTo again completes the slew.

 

Is this behavior normal for SkyPortal?

 

BG

Hi Bill - no, that is not normal.  I don't recall you stating which scope you have - some of the early Evolution mounts have very weak WiFi modules which cause communication drop-outs.  So much so that owners have been known to abandon WiFi use or to purchase the external WiFi module and connect via that instead.  Beyond that, smartphones/tablets vary greatly in performance and have been known to contribute their own problems.  If you have other smartphones/tablets you can test with that is definitely a good idea.  Additional WiFi troubleshooting can be found in the yellow box on the right here at my website:

https://www.nexstars...m/PCControl.htm

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#25 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 01:15 AM

I have a newer 8 SE with Alt-Az mount and I see the same pattern using the iphone SkyPortal and the wifi dongle in direct mode. Sometimes multiple failures (always when I need to align quickly!), sometimes a goto is off by 5 to 10 degrees. Sometimes I add an alignment point and get the failure message that it is too far from the current calibration.

 

The most disconcerting thing is when I select goto for a new object (often the second star in the alignment) and the mount goes nuts to some other part of the sky without regard to the OTA crashing into the mount. The Stop key prevents a collision, but I have to be vigilant.

 

I have noticed occasionally that the compass view of the sky seems off by 10 degrees or so.

 

This pattern makes me wonder whether the location or time in the iphone is not being registered correctly.

 

Something is clearly off, and it seems like the app should provide some other indications or checks to prevent this kind of thing before alignment begins.

Hi,

 

These problems sounds like communications errors (see my previous post).

 

SkyPortal/SkySafari are generally set to use the date/time/location provided by the smartphone/tablet.  You can check this in Settings.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com




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