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Homebrew Bluetooth accessory for Nexstar+ USB HC

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#51 jasonjeremiah

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 05:19 PM

Congrats on the great deal for that 8se!  There'll be a few of those around by end of the summer I expect!

 

Tablet just arrived here.  Will play with it later today.

I've got 3 different versions of C8s right now, Powerstar 3 C8 (with setting circles and old school Byers worm drive), Nexstar 8 GPS and now Nexstar 8SE (for portability).  I always intend to sell one after I buy another (at least that's what I tell the wife) but that never seems to happen.  I like building and playing guitars, also.  I own over 20 guitars.  My wife thinks I have issues, but I think this is the behavior of a perfectly normal person!



#52 mlord

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 10:15 PM

Tablet just arrived here.  Will play with it later today.

Well, the cheap tablet behaves like a cheap tablet.  smile.gif

The 8-inch screen is just about perfectly sized for use on the telescope mount, so got that part right! The tablet is decent for the task of running Skyportal, and connecting via the built-in WiFi on my Evo-8 is rock solid.

 

But I'm having to return it because it is quite slow at most other things, and there's no way to install an ad-blocker.  The infernal adverts appear in most apps and chew up processing power and bandwidth.  I'm not used to seeing unwanted adverts, and that's a deal-breaker for this device.

 

Returning it, and paying an extra $40 for a Lenovo M8 instead.  Faster CPU, and.. there's a way to install ad-blockers on it.  smile.gif


Edited by mlord, 13 April 2021 - 10:15 PM.


#53 mlord

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 04:34 PM

With the new tablet on order, I am gearing up to get this project going here.  I sold a couple of ethernet dongles to finance a copy of SkySafari+ and some more bits and pieces.

 

A question:  Is SkySafari+  "portable" among one's multiple Android devices like other paid apps, or have they done something unfriendly and tried to limit it to a single device?

 

If it is "portable" between my devices, then I'll purchase it immediately and get it working with the smartphone.  Otherwise it'll have to wait for the tablet.  That arrives on Thursday, but it will likely take a day or so to unlock it and get Magisk installed, and then the necessary ad-blockers.  :)



#54 Chote

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 06:40 PM

Once purchased, you can install Skysafari+ in multiple Android-based devices. No limit.

I myself, so far installed it on at least four Android phones and three tablets.

 

It can even clone your set up across your installed devices, e.g. scopes and eyepieces set up (to have combination of field of views shown/mapped on the sky).


Edited by Chote, 14 April 2021 - 06:43 PM.

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#55 mlord

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 09:59 PM

I used it with SkySafari and was able to control the mount

I finally have a paid copy of SkySafari+ (6) here now.  I can connect over WiFi no problem, but what did you do to get the Bluetooth working??

 

Does it need a particular Bluetooth name (SSID) or something?

 

Nevermind.  It started working.  Suddenly it offered a picklist of BT connections, and I chose the SSID of the adapter and it connects.

 

Seems pretty much identical to SkyPortal, except not as convenient to use.  But I'm sure I'll figure out more about it over time.

 

Pity it cannot initiate an alignment sequence over bluetooth.  I may just go back to WiFi for that convenience.
 


Edited by mlord, 14 April 2021 - 10:23 PM.


#56 mlord

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 11:09 PM

Here is v0.7 of the Arduino code for this project.  This implements Bluetooth connectivity from the Nexstar+ USB hand-controller for use with SkySafari+ 6.

 

Improvements include better status indications via the two external LEDs.  LED1 on solid indicates a good USB connection to the HC, and LED2 indicates whether or not SkySafari has connected to the Bluetooth.  After any Bluetooth disconnect, the board resets itself to enable a subsequent smooth reconnection.

 

GPIO pin D15 can be grounded (hardwire, or use a switch) to enable "CPWI" compatibility mode instead of SkySafari mode.  Untested, but it used to work!  smile.gif

Attached File  usb_bt.ino.v0.7.txt   9.29KB   20 downloads


Edited by mlord, 14 April 2021 - 11:16 PM.


#57 mlord

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 05:05 PM

I accidentally fed +12V onto the 3.3V rail and fried the USB-Serial chip on the ESP32, as well as .. the mini-USB host shield.

I finally received a bunch of replacement MAX3421E USB chips yesterday, and got out the hot air gun to replace the fried one on that mini-USB host shield.  Works fine again now, so I have a spare to experiment with!

 

And today Amazon Girl dropped off a shipment of ESP32 dev modules that I scored for CAD$6/each this past week.  I guess I'll have to wire up some more HomeBrew projects now. laugh.gif


Edited by mlord, 08 May 2021 - 08:20 PM.

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#58 mlord

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 04:36 PM

SkySafari-6+ users:  When connecting over Bluetooth, the "scope display" (crosshairs) doesn't move across the display as the scope is slewed.  But when connecting over WiFi it does scroll across as the scope slews.  Is this normal?

 

EDIT:  It's because of the hand-controller connection used by Bluetooth:  The hand-controller doesn't return position information ('e' command) until after an alignment sequence is completed via the hand-controller.  After that, SkySafari now scrolls as the scope moves.


Edited by mlord, 11 May 2021 - 04:50 PM.


#59 mlord

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 09:34 PM

SkySafari-6+ users:  When connecting over Bluetooth, the "scope display" (crosshairs) doesn't move across the display as the scope is slewed.  But when connecting over WiFi it does scroll across as the scope slews.  Is this normal?

 

EDIT:  It's because of the hand-controller connection used by Bluetooth:  The hand-controller doesn't return position information ('e' command) until after an alignment sequence is completed via the hand-controller.  After that, SkySafari now scrolls as the scope moves.

And.. it only does that with the Nexstar+ hand-controller (HC).  When I instead plug into the StarSense HC, the display in SkySafari slews around in response to me slewing the mount around, before having done any alignments.

 

I suppose I could "fix" it to behave the same with the NexStar+ HC, at least on the All-In-One version of this project --> that version could query the position info from the mount, and translate that into a "HC response" to feed back to SkySafari..  maybe someday.
 



#60 mlord

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 09:51 AM

The sky opened up here for a while last night, and I managed to get the scope out there to observe things.  This time I used my 8" tablet with SkySafari6+, connecting over Bluetooth to the StarSense HC.

 

The setup was very robust, no disconnects or anything.

 

But I really do NOT like SkySafari6+.  Compared with the free Celestron SkyPortal version, it is simply more confusing and missing the mount-specific settings etc.  Or at least I couldn't find those settings -- am I correct that these are missing from SkySafari ?

 

EDIT: Figured it out: these settings are unavailable from Bluetooth, but do exist on a WiFi connection.

 

Here are some of the settings from that screen.. more are below if one were to scroll down:

 

skyportal_scope_settings.jpg


Edited by mlord, 14 May 2021 - 09:56 AM.


#61 Chote

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 08:21 PM

Hi Mark,

Just to confirm whether the pin-to-pin connections listed in post #19 is still valid?


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#62 mlord

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 08:29 PM

Just to confirm whether the pin-to-pin connections listed in post #19 is still valid?

Yes, no changes since then.

 

At some point, I do plan to post wiring and stuff for doing this project with just a 3.3V Arduino Pro Mini, the mini-USB host shield, and an HC-05 bluetooth module.  Plus a 12V-to-5V DC converter.  Those modules just bolt together, pin for pin, making for a very easy project!

 

Cheers
 


Edited by mlord, 14 May 2021 - 08:29 PM.

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#63 mlord

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 08:32 PM

Well, one possible change.  The existing code will work with or without it, but going forward one should connect the mini-USB RST pin directly to 3.3V, instead of to D2.


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#64 Chote

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Posted 15 May 2021 - 12:54 AM

If I don't connect any LEDs, will your latest code work?



#65 mlord

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Posted 15 May 2021 - 08:17 AM

If I don't connect any LEDs, will your latest code work?

No problem, it will work just fine.  The LEDs just make it easier to know what's not working if it doesn't connect.


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#66 mlord

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Posted 25 May 2021 - 08:56 PM

Instructions for using the Bluetooth feature are now available in this post:  https://www.cloudyni...2#entry11125062




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