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Celestron WiFi Module/SkyPortal Worth It?

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#1 GiffS

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 10:57 AM

Hi Folks:

 

First Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate turkey day.  I have done a few searches and found a few threads about sorting out issues but I have not seen anything that indicates if the Celestron WiFi module/SkyPortal combination is worth the investment.  I have a Nextstar 6SE.  If the answer is yes or sort of then I am wondering if that set up eliminates the need for the GPS unit since I would think that the smartphone would provide date and time info as well as location (assuming a cell signal).

 

Thanks in advance.

 

GiffS



#2 ButterFly

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 12:50 PM

Phone control is great.  There are many more databases to tap into.  I use SkyFi and SkySafari.  The difference is that with SkyPortal and Celestron's Wifi dongle, you can align directly from SkyPortal.  I need to use the handcontroller to align first.  It's not a deal breaker for me.  I can, however, use the SkyFi on other mounts as well, whereas the Celestron WiFi only works with Celestron mounts.  That's why I opted for that.  SkySafari Plus has a much larger catalog, but SkyFi III and SkySafari is much more expensive.  If you have no other mounts, the Celestron WiFi is just fine, and it can be used with SkySafari later, should you want more catalogs.

 

GPS modules are not very helpful in general.  Small distances (~50mi) don't matter much for anything.  Closer planets may be off by a little.  That's all.  But the phone does have a GPS signal anyway (it's not cell, it's a GPS signal from GPS satellites).



#3 kopite

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 01:16 PM

I use the Celestron Wi-Fi module on my 6SE and it works great with SkyPortal or SkySafari on my iPhone, iPad or CPWI on my laptop or PC. A lot easier to use than the hand controller and well worth the cost. One other thing you might want to get is a AUX splitter which costs about $25. That way you have another AUX port you can use for additional accessories such as a focus motor.


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#4 spongebob@55

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 01:22 PM

I have the SE mount and the celestron wifi module and it is definitly worth it.  Very accurate go to's , easy to use.   I use it with SkySafari 6+ and align it with SS6+.  I also bought the splitter as mentioned above, just so I don't have to worry about accidentally hitting it with 2" diagonal and big honkin' 2" EPs.  Get it.

 

Good luck.


Edited by spongebob@55, 25 November 2021 - 01:23 PM.


#5 DirtyRod

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 01:56 PM

I have it but don’t use it much. For visual I think it’s good but having it disconnect or your phone power off when you are doing AP is a problem. I’ve had that happen twice when imaging which then required me to realign when I tried to slew to my second target. I’ve since gone back to a cable.
 

I did switch to AP mode after the last incident which may be more stable.



#6 Zoroastro

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 07:24 PM

From my experience with a SkiPprtsl WiFi (2nd gen): no. Apart from the low quality/high price of that Celestron dongle, which ended his useless life frying the aux bridge, WiFi is an unstable connection by nature, due to external factors as interferences or obstacles and PC/phone issues as energy savers or other disgraceful "features".

 

We are having instead good results with the HomeBrew WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS DIY projects by Mark Lord. Bluetooth connection is much better. You just need to solder few cheap components (or order a preassembled board for few dollars more) spending some hours of your time and maybe 30 USD of materials.



#7 12Bass

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 08:39 PM

Phone control is very nice to have.  I use SkySafari with Bluetooth, and it works very reliably.  I've read that some can have connectivity issues using Wi-Fi in congested areas, so I'd suggest looking into Bluetooth if you have an Android device.



#8 firemachine69

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 08:46 PM

Used mine all of two nights. Got frustrated with the connection issues. Back in the box it went. 



#9 Gamewarden

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 08:28 AM

I have a 6se and use Safari 6 with both my phone and Samsung tablet. I have used many of the different connection methods including Cpwi, no luck there. Wifi for me works perfectly from within my house out to my back deck BUT I have no neighbours so no competing wifi signals.



#10 Noah4x4

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 09:45 AM

Much depends on your location.

I have tried 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Celestron WiFi. None were satisfactory at home in my severely Internet cluttered urban location. The problem is that Celestron WiFi depends upon the 2.4ghz channel which is prone to local interference from other 2.4ghz networks and USB3 devices. The range and signal strength is also poor. I eventually switched to 5Ghz wireless (MESH) solutions. However, if you are at a remote dark sky site they will probably work flawlessly, if you don't wander more than 10 feet from yoir scope. .
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#11 Thomas B

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Posted 29 November 2021 - 04:05 PM

Good timing on starting this thread, as I was considering getting a SkyPortal module for my Nexstar Goto mount; I THINK I have a Nexstar5 with a Nexstar+ hand controller. So far I downloaded the android Skyportal app and took it for a testrdive; I like how it is layed out, however it and all other phone apps show sky objects about 5-10 degrees off from actual locations, don't know why. With everything being that far off, and don't know why this is happening for me with an iphone and an android phone as well, I don't expect I'll see any joy in using the device.

 

Do ya'll experience objects not lining up with phone apps? And does anyone have a solution? I'd certainly enjoy the SkyPortal device if I can get it to work.

 

Giffs, have you downloaded the SkyPortal app and given it a test drive yet? Are your objects lining up properly or off like I am experiencing?



#12 GiffS

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:56 AM

Giffs, have you downloaded the SkyPortal app and given it a test drive yet? Are your objects lining up properly or off like I am experiencing?

No I have not downloaded SkyPortal yet.  I have been using Stellarium on my iPhone and it is usually spot on, very helpful for selecting the first star in  Auto Two Star Align.  I will give SkyPortal a go in preparation for trying the SkyPortal WiFi dongle when I can get one. 

 

My problem is I am going down several rabbit holes at once.  Trying to get a handle on Planetary imaging (the clock is quickly running out for Jupiter and Saturn is on it’s last gasp), trying to improve the alignment process and procedure, getting my observation area and physical comfort while observing together, figuring out DSO targets for when the planets disappear and thinking about if I need more aperture or not (of course I do!) and how to get it without getting divorced or waiting forever for delivery.

 

What have I gotten myself into???



#13 scrufy

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 01:10 AM

Worth it?

No

 

Ive had 2 and both broke after less than 3 months.



#14 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 01:32 AM

A further consideration is what do you want to do NEXT?

Remote control of a scope from a tablet/phone can be fun. But later, you might want to add (say) a remote controlled camera, or motorised focuser, or guiding or some other additional functionality. As most astro-software is written for PC/Windows you then might need different solutions, else find yourself wrestling with multiple control devices and a spaghetti of cables. In summary, if embracing wireless remote control, think holistically. Where do I want to take this hobby NEXT? Your better choice is then CPWI/laptop or ASIAir etc.

Another consideration is that mastering "pinch" and "swipe" isn't easy for many older traditional keyboard warriors. I hated the lack of tactile feedback from tablet. Add the flaky connectivity of Celestron WiFi in 2.4 ghz Internet cluttered urban areas into the decision making process and there is much to think about. I would simply view it as part of a long and expensive journey. I had to buy SkyPortal WiFi device else forever wonder about it benefits. But inside a year, I ceased using it in pursuit of more sophisticated, more holistic solutions, such as mini computer at scope and Windows Remote Desktop.

#15 Rac19

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 02:34 AM

I am another who gave up on the WiFi Accessory, it was just too unreliable for me. As per Noah 4x4, I am in a suburban area with lots of competing WiFi signals, so that might have been part of the problem.

 

I now use a scope-side mini PC, with direct USB connections scope control, focuser cameras etc. I control this over WiFi via RDP. Because WiFi is used at supervisory level and not in the control loop, there are rarely any issues.

 

The bottom line is, to use the WiFi Accessory for direct control (as per the SkyPortal App), you need to have a suitable, reliable, uncluttered WiFi environment, otherwise it can be very frustrating.


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#16 SpitzA3P

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 10:23 AM

SkyPortal lacks essential features which the free ware SkySafari has.  I think this was engineered into Portal so that you need to upgrade to SkySafari Plus, at $15.

 

The Plus will align and track, and has many useful features, like naming all the deep sky objects.  You can set the density of names on the screen, and the limiting Apparent Magnitude, eg.

 

Plus also has a feature where you can center a new object, and add it to the three star alignment, giving much better tracking after adding a few objects.

 

The Wifi works well for me on both Phone and IPad, a Samsung Galaxy 6, if I recall .  JUST don't wallk into the  house with the Ipad in your pocket or you have to re align.

 

You can also point to a object and make the scope go there.  I am very happy since I got the Plus version going.



#17 mlord

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 11:13 AM

SkyPortal lacks essential features which the free ware SkySafari has. 

And the free version of SkySafari totally lacks "telescope control".  The free SkyPortal includes telescope control for Celestron scopes only.  The paid versions of SkySafari include telescope control and other features.
 



#18 firemachine69

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 11:25 AM

And the free version of SkySafari totally lacks "telescope control".  The free SkyPortal includes telescope control for Celestron scopes only.  The paid versions of SkySafari include telescope control and other features.
 

 

 

 

I've got no problems whatsoever paying once for planetarium software (within reason), but I'm not a fan of SkySafari or SkyPortal. Although, the "what can you see tonight" feature is pretty nice. I'm pretty big on Stellarium as my main app, and it's pretty much the reason I'm not going to do Celestron anymore.


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#19 ButterFly

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 01:37 PM

I've got no problems whatsoever paying once for planetarium software (within reason), but I'm not a fan of SkySafari or SkyPortal. Although, the "what can you see tonight" feature is pretty nice. I'm pretty big on Stellarium as my main app, and it's pretty much the reason I'm not going to do Celestron anymore.

Stellarium for PC is fantastic.  I didn't like the phone version.  I very much like SkySafari, but it is more limited than Stellarium because of the paywall.  Even the Pro version has limits over Stellarium on a PC.

 

A mini PC at the scope with the phone remoting into it is a very viable option.  They cost a little more than the Celestron Wifi module, but many cost less than a SkyFi III.  Finding a 12V compatible mini PC is a lilttle more troublesome, but they are out there.  I just went for a 5V version with a step down converter.

 

Someone should really just package mini-PCs with astro freeware on it already.  ASCOM ready and everything.


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#20 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 04:16 PM

Someone should really just package mini-PCs with astro freeware on it already.  ASCOM ready and everything.


Isn't that ASIAir, or the Eagle device or AtikAir? All decent bits of kit, but they lock you into a single camera manufacturer and offer limited scope as regards other peripherals.

#21 Rac19

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 06:06 PM

I've got no problems whatsoever paying once for planetarium software (within reason), but I'm not a fan of SkySafari or SkyPortal. Although, the "what can you see tonight" feature is pretty nice. I'm pretty big on Stellarium as my main app, and it's pretty much the reason I'm not going to do Celestron anymore.

Agreed, I have settled on the PC version of Stellarium as my planetarium/GoTo, even though I use CPWI for Starsense AutoAlign and gamepad manual slewing. Cartes du Ciel is my second preference, it's just a little less intuitive, for me anyway.



#22 ButterFly

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Posted 11 December 2021 - 06:23 PM

Isn't that ASIAir, or the Eagle device or AtikAir? All decent bits of kit, but they lock you into a single camera manufacturer and offer limited scope as regards other peripherals.

Exactly, but not quite.  I just got a little mini PC to run as my television.  It's a fabulous little scope controller that guides fine too.  It just has no screen, so I need to use my phone as the screen when outside.  At 15W (5V 3A), it's not a huge drain either.



#23 Giant

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 03:44 PM

Buy the WiFi Module. It works fine. You will have remote control of your scope with any of the programs that folks have mentioned above. A real gamechanger.

As far as wireless coverage and interference, 1.) if you are using it in Direct Connect mode with others at a star party doing the same thing, then there will be interference, or 2.) if you are too far from the scope, then other wireless devices around your area may conflict. However, just buy a cheap nano-router and configure it to "talk" to your wifi module in Access Point mode and your smartphone or PC, and place it near the scope. It will emit a strong wifi signal to overcome any interference or distant limitations.



#24 Speo

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Posted 16 December 2021 - 03:14 PM

You can use a bluetooth module for $10 on eBay

 

https://www.cloudyni...9#entry11555493



#25 mlord

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Posted 16 December 2021 - 03:57 PM

You can use a bluetooth module for $10 on eBay

 

https://www.cloudyni...9#entry11555493

That only works with the (much) older hand controllers, back before they sported USB ports instead of a serial telephone jack port.

 

But yes, one can make an AUX port bluetooth adapter (even more useful than the above) for about $20 or so.




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