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Sky Commander XP4

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#1 n5ama

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 10:25 AM

I have a 18" Dob that uses Sky Commander XP4 and hardware. I really don't have a major problem with this setup except the hand controller.

It's making me crazy with the inability to tweak the scope position in the dark. Once I find the flat switch position, it works fine, but put it away and then try to re-locate the control switches is a major pain....

 

Is there a replacement hand controller that will plug and play to fix this problem? If not plug and play, I don't have a problem with rewiring a better hand controller to work with the XP4. 

 

I guess if a hand controller can't be located, I could either cut into the switch and modify it or simply glue some buttons on top of the controller to make it more user friendly.

 

Any help greatly appreciated.

 

Tom



#2 havasman

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 11:38 AM

Sky Commander XP4 problems can represent a grand opportunity for improvement if you replace them with Nexus DSC. 



#3 bobruben

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 12:30 PM

I have a Sky Commander XP4. Attached is a picture of it attached to my 'scope. The only buttons I have are on the front of the XP4 unit. What do your buttons look like?

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC05251.JPG


#4 n5ama

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 06:31 PM

I've got the unit in your picture. The hand controller in addition to directional control once you get to what you are viewing. You can also select goto, track and several other functions. I'll get you a picture of the hand control unit.

 

I'll have to check out the Nexus DSC. It might make sense if I can keep my encoders. 

 

I made a trip to Home Depot and found some clear plastic bumpers with a adhesive. They were +- 3/8" diameter and wouldn't work until I trimmed them down to 1/4". I cleaned the plastic surface of the controller and stuck these on and they seem to work. I have no idea how long these things will stay put but it's almost worth doing it every time I use the scope to avoid fighting that hand controller.

 

This will do until I find a better option.

 

Thanks    



#5 n5ama

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 06:34 PM

BTW, I have the unit in your picture attached to the box in a convenient place and the hand controller near the focuser.



#6 StephenW

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 07:10 PM

Sounds like you have the SkyTracker system - is that correct?  Is your dob a Starmaster?

 

Assuming you have the SkyTracker, then yes, I agree that the "flat" buttons can be difficult to navigate on the dark - there is very little tactile difference between the buttons and the case, so they can be hard to find.  Unfortunately, I have never heard of a replacement hand controller for this system.

 

The clear plastic bumpers sound like a great idea - I might try that myself :).



#7 Spoonsize

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 07:47 PM

clean the controller buttons with alcohol before applying the buttons, they will stick for a longer time.

#8 n5ama

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 07:51 PM

The Dob is a Starmaster 18. My documentation/users manual is for the Sky Commander XP4.

 

Yeah, they certainly didn't hurt themselves making that hand controller useful. when its really dark, you need a 500 candlepower flashlight to find the buttons.

 

I've been looking around for the Nexus DSC and so far haven't had much luck finding one. I googled it and came up zero.

Who markets this hardware?

 

Thanks



#9 n5ama

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 08:01 PM

Oh yes, I cleaned the plastic surface on the controller with some 90% alcohol but just used the stickum on the back of the bumper for adhesive. The bumper pad adhesive is protected with a bit of material until you are ready to apply it. I hope it sticks better on the controller than it does the protective film or this is going to be a very short lived solution.



#10 Berny

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 11:59 AM

The Dob is a Starmaster 18. My documentation/users manual is for the Sky Commander XP4.

 

Yeah, they certainly didn't hurt themselves making that hand controller useful. when its really dark, you need a 500 candlepower flashlight to find the buttons.

 

I've been looking around for the Nexus DSC and so far haven't had much luck finding one. I googled it and came up zero.

Who markets this hardware?

 

Thanks

https://www.eyepiece...C_p/9401000.htm



#11 Berny

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 12:02 PM

I'll have to check out the Nexus DSC. It might make sense if I can keep my encoders. 

 

 

Yes, it will work with your encoders.

 

https://www.eyepiece...C_p/9401000.htm

 

Edit: Added the link.


Edited by Berny, 15 May 2019 - 12:03 PM.


#12 StephenW

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 03:48 PM

One thing to note that I don't think the Nexus provides is that the SkyTracker hand controller is small, light and on the end of a long cable which allows it to be mounted at the eyepiece via velcro or just hand-held while you're viewing. This is useful when you are adjusting the position of the object at the eyepiece, e.g. to re-center, or maybe pan over the Moon.

 

Does the Nexus provide a similar handheld control option to pan around the sky?



#13 n5ama

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 06:36 PM

This sounds like a nice unit to have. It might help playing with it while getting up on the learning curve and having a fall back alternative that one is comfortable with.

The cable connected hand controller is a definite plus and the main reason I started this topic. Outside of pushing the scope around by hand, I’m not sure how you make minor position changes while looking through the eyepiece or the monitor.

Thanks for the link to the Nexus!!

#14 n5ama

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 11:13 PM

Starmaster 18 with the XP4 controller and hand unit. 

 

I tried the cut down bumper pads tonight and they worked good. I don't know how long they will stick, but so far so good.

 

TomDSC01378a.jpg DSC01377a.jpg



#15 n5ama

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 11:20 PM

BTW, how does one attach all the stuff on the lower part of the reply, such as your list of hardware junk and other misc stuff?

I'm sure you go to the users profile or settings or ?? but I can't seem to make it happen.

 

Thanks,

Tom



#16 3 i Guy

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 03:09 AM

Tom,

click on the down arrow of your handle in the upper right, then go to “my settings”,  then look for “signature” on the left side. Once the dialogue box appears, that’s where you fill out your info.

 

 

mark


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#17 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 08:08 AM

Be aware that if you do make the switch to the Nexus DSC you will need to contact Serge at Astro Devices and ask for the two cables for the Sky Tracker system. One is a serial extension and the other is a USB cable that runs from the Aux 2 connection on the Sky Tracker box to the Nexus. You can contact Serge at info@astrodevices.com


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#18 n5ama

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:13 AM

Thanks Mark and Doug!

 

I've always enjoyed reading the signatures of the CN people. I'm also now addicted to the CN classifieds.   

 

Tom



#19 Cotts

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 09:34 AM

There has been some conflating of two separate technologies in this thread.  DSC's and GoTo/Tracking.   

 

DSC's do not slew to targets, centre targets etc.  They just tell where the scope is pointing.     It's the GoTo that moves the telescope and "zeroes" the display numbers on the DSC's. .  Neither the Sky Commander, nor the Nexus have a "hand controller".

 

GoTo systems like Sky Tracker and Servo Cat have motors and hand controllers with buttons for GoTo, slewing, centering targets etc.  

 

Dave


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#20 Cotts

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 09:37 AM

By the way, in post 14 you show the DSC's mounted rather awkwardly on your scope with wires going hither-thither.  Here's a great product that can tidy up that scene:

 

https://www.markless...s.html#dscstalk

 

Dave


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#21 n5ama

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 09:12 PM

Hi Dave,

When I'm using this Dob in the pitch black in New Mexico, I know which side of the scope I'm on by how much tangle I'm getting. If I'm not getting tangled at all, it means I need to continue walking around the base until I do get tangled. Then I know I'm on the focuser side of the scope and can start feeling around for the ladder. 

 

This isn't a problem in the Houston area. I can not only see the tangle of wires, I can read the text printed on the wires stating gauge, temp and voltage rating.  :<(

 

This sounds like a very useful accessory when I transport the scope to some decent seeing. 

 

Thanks for passing that along,

 

Tom




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