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SkySync and SkyPortal

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#1 John Laidlaw

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 12:50 PM

Hi all,

 

I am considering getting both the SkySync and SkyPortal - my previous experience with manually aligning my 8SE was one of frustration, due to limited observing time and heavily light-polluted skies, all of which lead my to not stargazing at all for some years.

 

I have SkySafari 6 Plus on my phone, and would like to use that as the controller. After searching through this forum, I am still not sure if I understand if this would work, how it would all connect, and whether it would be worth doing.

 

I would appreciate hearing anyone's opinion on this set-up, and any experience of advantages and/or catches to using it.

 

Many thanks in advance!



#2 sandconp

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 10:14 PM

I am not sure what you mean by SkySync? Did you mean Star Sense?

#3 John Laidlaw

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 06:55 AM

I am not sure what you mean by SkySync? Did you mean Star Sense?

SkySync is the Celestron GPS module:

 

https://www.celestro...c-gps-accessory



#4 corax

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:21 AM

SkySync is the Celestron GPS module:

 

https://www.celestro...c-gps-accessory

If you are going to use SkySafari, then you wouldn't need a GPS unit. SkySafari sends time and location information to the mount.


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#5 dcollier

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:21 AM

All Sky Sync does is is give you a precise GPS location and time provided that your time zone is setup correctly.  This will improve your alignment a bit.  But it still requires you to correctly identify and center the alignment stars.   StarSence  automates the the Alignment process.  Not sure how well it works from Sky Safari.   Likely it is better to align it from the hand control before connecting to Sky Safari, judging from the past traffic on this site about that topic. 

 

           -Dave 


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#6 corax

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:34 AM

I just got StarSense, and it works fine with SkySafari. For all the faults of the SkySafari interface, I think it's better than the StarSense hand controller. (And if you wanted to use a hand controller, it would have to be the StarSense controller -- the NexStar HC doesn't work with StarSense.)

 

Having StarSense lets you bypass the worst aspect of the SkySafari interface, which is using the direction arrows during alignment. (ETA: but you still need to use them on the very first alignment, when you calibrate the StarSense camera to the same axis as the telescope.)


Edited by corax, 26 August 2019 - 09:37 AM.

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#7 John Laidlaw

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:52 AM

Many thanks for the information, folks! All very useful.

 

I live in a heavily light-polluted area just south-west of Milwaukee, WI - is StarSense capable of picking up enough stars for alignment under such conditions?



#8 EdDixon

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 06:38 AM

I have recently returned to the astro area from many years ago.  While I still had a 25+ year old manual 4.5 inch reflector, I decided to get a new Goto scope. 

 

My initial choice was a Meade 5.1...which turned out to be just awful.  Image image quality was poor and best, the initial tripod broke in 2 days.  A replacement tripod was not much better.  Any kind of photos were terrible with about any camera or setup.  After a few conversations with Meade...where they said the StarNavigator model was NOT suitable for astrophotography...I gave up on it.

 

I've had my new Celestron Nexstar 8 SE now for a few days.   So far its been great on every level.  I'm just beginning to work with photo things and trying to use the various software they included with it.  Their laptop package...called CPWI...as worked great so far.  It connects to scope via the scope attached WiFi module.  Make both alignment and using Goto things so so much easier.  The laptop controls the goto functions from star maps on screen or from lists. 

 

Their second software product was called Sky Portal ...which goes on your phone or tablet.  It also is designed to use the same Wifi setup.  So far that has been a no go as it can never connect to the scope.  I always get a Failure message from both an iPnone X or an iPad Mini 4.  The laptop is neither connected or powered up with trying this.  I just cant get the iOS devices to connect at all.  They have a laptop version called Stary NIghts and it cant connect either.

 

My goal here is to use the iPad to control where the scope points and to use the Laptop to capture images using a dedicated astrocam (ZWO ASI224MC).  I will have the ZWO later this week to try.  It connects via a USB cable (I think) directly to laptop.  So laptop is used to verify focus and placement and iPad for scope movement and centering.   Then image capture starts with only laptop.  I know I could run both on laptop, but thought that might be harder.

 

Any ideas why Sky Portal on the iOS decices cant connect?  I have tried may times with different connection options and none work.



#9 corax

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 01:16 PM

Any ideas why Sky Portal on the iOS decices cant connect?  I have tried may times with different connection options and none work.

In the SkyPortal app, what settings do you select for "Scope Type" and "Mount Type"?

 

After you turn the mount on, do you see (and do you select) "Celestron XXX" as one of the network choices in the main WiFi settings on the iOS device?

 

Sometimes it helps to delete and reinstall the SkyPortal app on the iOS device.

 

Sometimes you need to do a firmware update (luckily, I have not, despite having an older AVX mount).



#10 EdDixon

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 07:19 AM

In the SkyPortal app, what settings do you select for "Scope Type" and "Mount Type"?

 

After you turn the mount on, do you see (and do you select) "Celestron XXX" as one of the network choices in the main WiFi settings on the iOS device?

 

Sometimes it helps to delete and reinstall the SkyPortal app on the iOS device.

 

Sometimes you need to do a firmware update (luckily, I have not, despite having an older AVX mount).

I have an iPad Mini 4 running iOS 13.1 beta (also an iPhone X running 12.4)  I turn on scope and Wifi module.  I use the iOS device to connect to the scope Wifi, shown as "Celestron-E3".

 

I fire up Sky Portal (version 3.1.0.9067).  Under the Scope menu option at the bottom of the screen are Connect and Align...and Connect options.  Selecting either device ALWAYS yields "Connection Failure".  Same result for both iPad and iPhone.  

 

Under the Settings area, any attempt to set scope values yields..."You must be connected to your scope to view pr change its settings".  So there are no choices for anything like scope or mount.

 

A app delete and redownload has no effect...it always fails no matter what.

 

 

Their laptop package...called CPWI...has worked great so far.  It connects to scope via the scope attached WiFi module.  Make both alignment and using Goto things so so much easier.  The laptop controls the goto functions from star maps on screen or from lists.  What I want is this capability from the iPad using Sky Portal.

 

No clue of what to try next as Sky Portal has been a zero so far.



#11 corax

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 06:12 PM

Under the Settings area, any attempt to set scope values yields..."You must be connected to your scope to view pr change its settings".  So there are no choices for anything like scope or mount.

Huh. I have SkySafari Pro and thought it would be similar to SkyPortal (SimulationCurriculum makes both), but I downloaded SkyPortal and see that it is different in the telescope settings field.

 

I can't recommend SkySafari highly enough. One handy feature (among many) is that one of the "Scope Types" is a demo interface, which lets you test out different control features without actually connecting to a scope.

 

Both SkySafari 6-Plus and SkySafari 6 Pro appear to be half-price in the app store ($6.99 for Plus, $19.99 for Pro). But if you can't connect with SkyPortal, I can see how you'd be reluctant to upgrade to SkySafari.


Edited by corax, 02 September 2019 - 06:13 PM.


#12 EdDixon

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 08:40 PM

Huh. I have SkySafari Pro and thought it would be similar to SkyPortal (SimulationCurriculum makes both), but I downloaded SkyPortal and see that it is different in the telescope settings field.

 

I can't recommend SkySafari highly enough. One handy feature (among many) is that one of the "Scope Types" is a demo interface, which lets you test out different control features without actually connecting to a scope.

 

Both SkySafari 6-Plus and SkySafari 6 Pro appear to be half-price in the app store ($6.99 for Plus, $19.99 for Pro). But if you can't connect with SkyPortal, I can see how you'd be reluctant to upgrade to SkySafari.

So I got SkySafari 6-Plus for the iPad.  Downloaded and brought it up.  Connected to the scope the first time.   It never moved the scope. Then exited and restarted the app for an align first..  Now it refuses to connect...just like SkyPortal..same error as before.  Rebooting iPad makes no difference.  Communication failure each time.

 

Sure seems like these things are not ready for prime time.



#13 EdDixon

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 09:05 PM

OK, got it to work some.  One key is the scope type first has to be Celestron Wifi.  Once that is selected, you can connect and move the scope.  You can then go back to settings and select the true scope type...Celestron SE..and it continues to work and slew.

 

So far just working inside with mount as too cloudy for anything outside for tonight.



#14 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 09:31 PM

Hi Ed,

 

When using SkySafari as the alignment device connected via the Celestron WiFi module you should leave the "scope type" set to Celestron WiFi; never change it to Celestron SE.  That setting is only used when the alignment device is the physical hand control and you are connecting via a method other than the Celestron WiFi module.

 

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



#15 EdDixon

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 09:35 PM

Hi Ed,

 

When using SkySafari as the alignment device connected via the Celestron WiFi module you should leave the "scope type" set to Celestron WiFi; never change it to Celestron SE.  That setting is only used when the alignment device is the physical hand control and you are connecting via a method other than the Celestron WiFi module.

 

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

Ok, thanks for the heads up.  Its a big learning experience for me here.  When I first got into astro...many decades ago...I had a low cost 3 inch scope and a paper sky chart.  There is a lot more here today...


Edited by EdDixon, 03 September 2019 - 05:45 AM.


#16 pauldalyroi

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 04:32 PM

I have the SkySync GPS unit on my Evo 9.25.

 

I thought that it would hardly help much (bought it from an amazon card I was gifted) since I always entered time and site based on my phone's reported GPS coordinates and current time.

 

I was wrong!

 

I don't know why, but alignment and tracking when I've setup via the SkySync is far more accurate that it ever was with manual location & date/time. Maybe it gets a more accurate position than my old phone (galaxy S6 last time I manually entered a site & time). Or maybe my phone reported position based on AGPS rather than true GPS. Or could just be that the few seconds from reading the time to actually entering it made that difference.... I don't know and can't really explain it.

 

But with SkySync, alignment is much better!

 

cheers

 

Paul.



#17 EdDixon

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 10:16 PM

I too also got the SkySync GPS and it works well.  TIme and GPS are set as they should.




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