OnStep and Sky Safari Pro work well together!


Guy Brandenburg
 

With an Amazon Fire Tablet, on which I placed SkySafari Pro ($15), we can now get the OnStep mount at Hopewell Observatory to go to any target we want, without any wire connection needed at all. The ‘Smart’ Hand Controller is no longer a necessity, which is good, because it’s always been rather a PITA.

The SkySafari Pro interface is really nice and much more user-friendly than any other planetarium software I’ve tried so far. Among other things, you can use your fingers to pan around and zoom into the sky map display, and double tap on a target of interest. Once you’ve located your target on your screen, you can then press ‘GoTo’, and the scope will begin slewing to that target. While it’s doing so, you can watch where the telescope is currently pointing to on the screen’s display, kind of like those airplane icons on maps on some airline flights – only a lot more accurate and zoomable. (I decided to use WiFi for the connection, but I could have apparently used Bluetooth instead.)

Once the scope thinks it has arrived at the proper location, you can look through the eyepiece (or at a display screen) to see if it is properly centered. If not, then in order to center it, you simply tilt the tablet in the direction you want the scope to go! And changing the speed of such movement is really easy!

I have thanked Arlen for showing me this on his cell phone. I myself could never get it to work properly with my iPhone, but after some time in a nice warm location here in town with at least a halfway decent WiFi connection, instead of in the dark and cold at a remote place with no WiFi and barely even a cellular signal, I was able to finally download the proper software and the proper star catalogs onto the tablet and make the proper wifi connections with the proper IP address and port number, to a spare OnStep setup on the bench in front of me.

Then it worked! 

I demonstrate this with a clumsy video on my blog: 
https://guysmathastro.com/2022/11/24/new-automation-with-skysafari-pro-and-onstep/

BTW, SkySafari Pro works on Android and other tablets, on MacOS, Windows, and supposedly even on iPhones (though I failed). You do need to pay for the Pro version, because the free version does not have telescope control capabilities.

 

 

So, for very little money, but a whole lot of work, we have 21st-century Wi-Fi control over a very fine telescope mount! Now to learn how to use a decent sequence generator!


Craciun Bogdan
 

On Wed, Nov 23, 2022 at 04:27 PM, Guy Brandenburg wrote:

With an Amazon Fire Tablet, on which I placed SkySafari Pro ($15), we can now get the OnStep mount at Hopewell Observatory to go to any target we want, without any wire connection needed at all. The ‘Smart’ Hand Controller is no longer a necessity, which is good, because it’s always been rather a PITA.

The SkySafari Pro interface is really nice and much more user-friendly than any other planetarium software I’ve tried so far. Among other things, you can use your fingers to pan around and zoom into the sky map display, and double tap on a target of interest. Once you’ve located your target on your screen, you can then press ‘GoTo’, and the scope will begin slewing to that target. While it’s doing so, you can watch where the telescope is currently pointing to on the screen’s display, kind of like those airplane icons on maps on some airline flights – only a lot more accurate and zoomable. (I decided to use WiFi for the connection, but I could have apparently used Bluetooth instead.)

Once the scope thinks it has arrived at the proper location, you can look through the eyepiece (or at a display screen) to see if it is properly centered. If not, then in order to center it, you simply tilt the tablet in the direction you want the scope to go! And changing the speed of such movement is really easy!

I have thanked Arlen for showing me this on his cell phone. I myself could never get it to work properly with my iPhone, but after some time in a nice warm location here in town with at least a halfway decent WiFi connection, instead of in the dark and cold at a remote place with no WiFi and barely even a cellular signal, I was able to finally download the proper software and the proper star catalogs onto the tablet and make the proper wifi connections with the proper IP address and port number, to a spare OnStep setup on the bench in front of me.

Then it worked! 

I demonstrate this with a clumsy video on my blog: 
https://guysmathastro.com/2022/11/24/new-automation-with-skysafari-pro-and-onstep/

BTW, SkySafari Pro works on Android and other tablets, on MacOS, Windows, and supposedly even on iPhones (though I failed). You do need to pay for the Pro version, because the free version does not have telescope control capabilities.

 

 

So, for very little money, but a whole lot of work, we have 21st-century Wi-Fi control over a very fine telescope mount! Now to learn how to use a decent sequence generator!

Hey there I am actually using sky safari 7 Pro for 35$.
The app is so beautiful and all catalogs of every sky object is there. There are lots of settings and most important you can set manually your setup. Like telescope type aperture and focal length, eyepieces etc. The connection over WiFi is very easy. The goto is working great, you have free moving buttons like on shc to center and lock the scope. Very impressed with this app so far. 


Mihai Gavrilciuc
 

Do not forget to press "Align" after every target aquisition;this will improve a lot next goto's precision,at least for the corresponding quadrant.

On Thursday, 24 November 2022 at 09:50:01 EET, Craciun Bogdan <cbvbogdan@...> wrote:


On Wed, Nov 23, 2022 at 04:27 PM, Guy Brandenburg wrote:

With an Amazon Fire Tablet, on which I placed SkySafari Pro ($15), we can now get the OnStep mount at Hopewell Observatory to go to any target we want, without any wire connection needed at all. The ‘Smart’ Hand Controller is no longer a necessity, which is good, because it’s always been rather a PITA.

The SkySafari Pro interface is really nice and much more user-friendly than any other planetarium software I’ve tried so far. Among other things, you can use your fingers to pan around and zoom into the sky map display, and double tap on a target of interest. Once you’ve located your target on your screen, you can then press ‘GoTo’, and the scope will begin slewing to that target. While it’s doing so, you can watch where the telescope is currently pointing to on the screen’s display, kind of like those airplane icons on maps on some airline flights – only a lot more accurate and zoomable. (I decided to use WiFi for the connection, but I could have apparently used Bluetooth instead.)

Once the scope thinks it has arrived at the proper location, you can look through the eyepiece (or at a display screen) to see if it is properly centered. If not, then in order to center it, you simply tilt the tablet in the direction you want the scope to go! And changing the speed of such movement is really easy!

I have thanked Arlen for showing me this on his cell phone. I myself could never get it to work properly with my iPhone, but after some time in a nice warm location here in town with at least a halfway decent WiFi connection, instead of in the dark and cold at a remote place with no WiFi and barely even a cellular signal, I was able to finally download the proper software and the proper star catalogs onto the tablet and make the proper wifi connections with the proper IP address and port number, to a spare OnStep setup on the bench in front of me.

Then it worked! 

I demonstrate this with a clumsy video on my blog: 
https://guysmathastro.com/2022/11/24/new-automation-with-skysafari-pro-and-onstep/

BTW, SkySafari Pro works on Android and other tablets, on MacOS, Windows, and supposedly even on iPhones (though I failed). You do need to pay for the Pro version, because the free version does not have telescope control capabilities.

 

 

So, for very little money, but a whole lot of work, we have 21st-century Wi-Fi control over a very fine telescope mount! Now to learn how to use a decent sequence generator!

Hey there I am actually using sky safari 7 Pro for 35$.
The app is so beautiful and all catalogs of every sky object is there. There are lots of settings and most important you can set manually your setup. Like telescope type aperture and focal length, eyepieces etc. The connection over WiFi is very easy. The goto is working great, you have free moving buttons like on shc to center and lock the scope. Very impressed with this app so far. 


adraasch
 

Guy,

Sky Safari can also allow you to build observing lists.  You can use this to be a sequence generator of sorts.  Play with this at home or in CCCC to get comfortable with the features and I think you will find it to be quite satisfactory.

Also, you can do impromptu object look up using the search tool, where you can see useful info on the object including it's current position relative to the horizon.  If you are connected to a scope you can then just press goto and slew to the object of you desire.

The planner allows you to select the type(s)of objects you are interested in, and optionally which constellation to limit by and can build an observing list.  For example, it is simple to build an observing list of all of the planetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus.

As you go through an observing list you can enter observation notes for later review.

There is a lot to Sky Safari, but it is the best tool I know of to drive a scope and do observation planning.  

I still use physical charts, the Pocket Sky Atlas in particular, as I find it helpful to actually learn where the object of interest is situated relative to the neighboring constellations.  I find a physical chart is useful as it's zoom factor is fixed, as well as the detail factor.

Enjoy the mount, you and others worked hard on it.

Best,

Arlen

On Thu, Nov 24, 2022, 3:27 AM Mihai Gavrilciuc via groups.io <mikegsm777=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Do not forget to press "Align" after every target aquisition;this will improve a lot next goto's precision,at least for the corresponding quadrant.

On Thursday, 24 November 2022 at 09:50:01 EET, Craciun Bogdan <cbvbogdan@...> wrote:


On Wed, Nov 23, 2022 at 04:27 PM, Guy Brandenburg wrote:

With an Amazon Fire Tablet, on which I placed SkySafari Pro ($15), we can now get the OnStep mount at Hopewell Observatory to go to any target we want, without any wire connection needed at all. The ‘Smart’ Hand Controller is no longer a necessity, which is good, because it’s always been rather a PITA.

The SkySafari Pro interface is really nice and much more user-friendly than any other planetarium software I’ve tried so far. Among other things, you can use your fingers to pan around and zoom into the sky map display, and double tap on a target of interest. Once you’ve located your target on your screen, you can then press ‘GoTo’, and the scope will begin slewing to that target. While it’s doing so, you can watch where the telescope is currently pointing to on the screen’s display, kind of like those airplane icons on maps on some airline flights – only a lot more accurate and zoomable. (I decided to use WiFi for the connection, but I could have apparently used Bluetooth instead.)

Once the scope thinks it has arrived at the proper location, you can look through the eyepiece (or at a display screen) to see if it is properly centered. If not, then in order to center it, you simply tilt the tablet in the direction you want the scope to go! And changing the speed of such movement is really easy!

I have thanked Arlen for showing me this on his cell phone. I myself could never get it to work properly with my iPhone, but after some time in a nice warm location here in town with at least a halfway decent WiFi connection, instead of in the dark and cold at a remote place with no WiFi and barely even a cellular signal, I was able to finally download the proper software and the proper star catalogs onto the tablet and make the proper wifi connections with the proper IP address and port number, to a spare OnStep setup on the bench in front of me.

Then it worked! 

I demonstrate this with a clumsy video on my blog: 
https://guysmathastro.com/2022/11/24/new-automation-with-skysafari-pro-and-onstep/

BTW, SkySafari Pro works on Android and other tablets, on MacOS, Windows, and supposedly even on iPhones (though I failed). You do need to pay for the Pro version, because the free version does not have telescope control capabilities.

 

 

So, for very little money, but a whole lot of work, we have 21st-century Wi-Fi control over a very fine telescope mount! Now to learn how to use a decent sequence generator!

Hey there I am actually using sky safari 7 Pro for 35$.
The app is so beautiful and all catalogs of every sky object is there. There are lots of settings and most important you can set manually your setup. Like telescope type aperture and focal length, eyepieces etc. The connection over WiFi is very easy. The goto is working great, you have free moving buttons like on shc to center and lock the scope. Very impressed with this app so far. 


 

If SkySafary Pro was somewhat cheaper, I could easily write an essay on how amazed I am with that app. It's superior to any other planetarium but that comes with great cost that makes me doubt. What makes me specially mad is selling version 7 separately at full price, without upgrade option from version 6.


Basar Titiz
 

As a Sky Safari 6 Pro user, I wonder what kind of difference it will make between performing an initial 2, 3, .. .star alignment vs omitting the alignment and simply making required adjustments by guide operations to bring the objects to the center of the eyepiece after consecutive GoTo commands and use the command 'Align' in Sky Safari. Will it make any difference to the pointing accuracy of OnStep, especially in Sky Safari Pro? Will OnStep utilize these corrections and reduce GoTo errors in time?


adraasch
 

I believe that continually syncing to stars as you slew from target to target in Skysafari will only increase the slew accuracy in the vicinity of the last star you synced on.  Doing a n-star alignment in OnStep has the potential to achieve more accurate pointing across a wider area and can account for more error sources.  (Polar alignment accuracy, flexure, axis non-orthogonality, cone error, etc.

On another note, Skysafari is being offered at reduced rates today.  (Black Friday)

Best,

Arlen

On Fri, Nov 25, 2022, 5:44 AM Basar Titiz <basartitiz@...> wrote:
As a Sky Safari 6 Pro user, I wonder what kind of difference it will make between performing an initial 2, 3, .. .star alignment vs omitting the alignment and simply making required adjustments by guide operations to bring the objects to the center of the eyepiece after consecutive GoTo commands and use the command 'Align' in Sky Safari. Will it make any difference to the pointing accuracy of OnStep, especially in Sky Safari Pro? Will OnStep utilize these corrections and reduce GoTo errors in time?


 

Yes but not Pro version is offered with discount, only Plus. At least in my country.

Regarding alignment and pointing models, i think this is not for OnStep, but perhaps for synta mounts which controller is nothing more than a muscle and all the brain is in some app in computer or phone. If this is a copy of what I seen in EQMOD, like sync every time and add everything to model, and then use n+nearest star, where n must be in different quadrant (preferably) and nearest synced point to calculate next GoTo. If so, I am asking the same question, is it possible to use that instead of one in OnStep at all. If so, there may be some benefits of that.


 

I just upgraded to 6 Pro and can connect to my Onstep from my cheap Fire Tablet, but I can't figure out how to unpark the scope in theapp.  I have to go to the OnStep Android app on the tablet to do that--then SkySafari works ok.  
Any suggestions on how to do that within the program?  There must be a 'park/unpark' control somewhere.


adraasch
 

Richard,

As there is no park/unpark functionality exposed in the actual Meade LX200 mount protocol, using only the LX200 protocol in SkySafari to control OnStep it is impossible to park / unpark directly.  (The necessary commands simply are not going to be sent to OnStep from Skysafari's implementation of the Classic LX200 protocol).

Here is a link to a site which shows the "Classic LX-200 Command Set":

Note, this is not an official Meade document.

Note also, that not all of these commands are implemented in OnStep's command protocol.  But some additional commands are implemented, such as those regarding 'Home' and 'Park' functions.  In OnStep, these commands are in the format of ':hX#' where 'X' denotes a single character which indicates what exact 'Home' or 'Park' functionality is desired (see the wiki for details).

This is the OnStep wiki, which has a section at the end that describes the control protocol that OnStep provides:

As you see, OnStep implements only a subset of the "Classic LX200 Command Protocol", but then extends that with additional commands for Park/Unpark, Home, etc.

The upshot of all the above is that for most people, using OnStep is a three step process:

Step one, use a tool to get the mount configured to operate (unpark, align, set date/time, location, set tracking rate, etc).
Step two, use another tool to drive the mount during observation/astrophotography using LX200 legacy commands.
Step three, use a tool to turn off tracking and/or park the scope.

The tools in steps one and three can be via Smart Hand Control, Smart Web Server, Android App, to park/unpark, home, etc.
And any of several planetarium / astrophotography apps (desktop, or phone based) can be used for step two.

If you need something custom, it is fairly trivial to connect to OnStep via a computer using an application you develop in Python.  And as you are the developer, you can make it do whatever you need/desire.

If you don't know Python, there are lots of examples online.

We live in amazing times!

Hope this helps,

Arlen






On Sat, Nov 26, 2022, 9:10 AM Richard Shagam <rnshagam@...> wrote:
I just upgraded to 6 Pro and can connect to my Onstep from my cheap Fire Tablet, but I can't figure out how to unpark the scope in theapp.  I have to go to the OnStep Android app on the tablet to do that--then SkySafari works ok.  
Any suggestions on how to do that within the program?  There must be a 'park/unpark' control somewhere.


Dave Elson
 
Edited

Did you have any problem installing on the Amazon Fire? I thought it was unavailable for that product.
Which version of Sky Safari are you using?
Thanks.


 

On Sat, Nov 26, 2022 at 08:17 AM, Dave Elson wrote:
Did you have any problem installing on the Amazon Fire? I thought it was unavailable for that product.
Which version of Sky Safari are you using?
Thanks.
I am running SkySafari 6 Pro on the Fire HD 8 tablet, 8" HD display, 32 GB, latest model (2020 release),,
which was on sale for $50 at the time.  It is possible to add the Google Play Store app to the Amazon Fire tablet.  I forget the steps, but instructions are fairly easy to find on the net.  For that matter, it is supposedly possible to 'unlock' a Fire Tablet so that it looks more 'android'.  I had run the SkySafari 6+ version for some time, but it never connected to my OnStep.  Also the Fire Tablet version I have does not have a compass, so you don't get the point in the sky functionality.  The 6 Pro on sale did connect just fine, as reported by another user, (7 Pro is incompatible w/ Fire) so I took the chance and spent the $15. 

As I reported earlier, I did have problems with 'park/unpark', but since I have the Google Onstep app installed, I use that for the function--a bit of a nuisance, but hey, the astro technology is waaaayy better than when I was a 12 year old! (I'm 72)


ETXcetera
 

I too have wondered if possible to bypass onstep app and go straight to skysafari. I currently use Android App for setup and then iphone for navigation 😒. I have not tried this yet but I was thinking if you change

#define TRACK_AUTOSTART               ON

Then it should be unparked when you plug the mount in.
In Skysafari there is a toggle for "Set Time & Location".
If you have a decent polar scope and are polar aligned, then pointing to a bright star and Aligning to it in the app might work.

I would also probably use these settings:
#define PIER_SIDE_SYNC_CHANGE_SIDES   ON
#define PIER_SIDE_PREFERRED_DEFAULT  BEST

All is lost I think if Skysafari cant set the time and location (maybe your board has a real time clock though :-)