On this page, I present simple instructions for using my new astrophotography computer Ikarus StellarMate Plus (ordered on October 21, from Astroshop, arrived on October 26, 2021). However, it should be noted that the StellarMate software is very much "in flux" and that the procedures described here may already be "obsolete".
Note: For simplicity reasons, I will often call the device just "StellarMate"...
What the StellarMate Plus from Ikarus Technologies is, and why and for what purpose I purchased it can be found on page Ikarus StellarMate Plus - Information. On this page, I present simple instructions for using it.
On this page, I collect simple instructions for working with the StellarMate Plus from version 1.6 on. In older versions, many things are different, other errors occur; so I can not report on it, because my device came with version 1.5.9. and was updated quickly to versions 1.6.0 and 1.6.1. In the meantime, the software arrived at 1.7.0.
First, the equipment (mount, tube, camera, power supply) is set up and connected with cables (power supplies, USB cable between StellarMate and the camer). Then the mount and the StellarMate have to be started as follows:
First, the equipment (mount, tube, camera, power supply) is set up and connected with cables (power supplies, USB cable between the StellarMate and the camera). Then the StellarMate and the mount have to be started as follows:
First, the equipment (mount, tube, camera, power supply) is set up and connected with cables (power supplies, USB cable between the StellarMate and the camera, USB dongle and USB printer cable between the mount and the StellarMate). Then the StellarMate and the mount have to be started as follows:
The StellarMate OS software runs on the StellarMate astronomy computer.
After several posters in a Cloudy Nights discussion had written that they use a Sky-Watcher USB dongle (pus USB printer cable) instead of the WiFi to connect the StellarMate to the mount and that this would have significantly increased the stability of the system, I bought such a dongle in December 2021. In addition, a Sky-Watcher employee had recommended this dongle in a YouTube video covering the AZ-GTi mount (including for software updates).
On January 8, 2022, I finally found the time to try out the USB dongle during the day with a test setup. First, I wanted to run the AZ-GTi mount wirelessly to have a comparison, but that failed because the mount did not accept StellarMate as a hotspot (probably my mistake...). I then tried the USB dongle, which I connected to the StellarMate via a USB printer cable. To use this setup, I had to create a new device profile that entailed the "SkyWatcher ALT/AZ" entry instead of the AZ-GTi mount (I still need to look up the exact names...). Overall, the StellarMate now worked fine with my mount and camera in this dry run, but the "proof of the pudding" at night was still pending...
I also tried the Sky-Watcher Star Discovery mount with the StellarMate once more, this time connected via the USB dongle and using the same profile as for the AZ-GTi mount. And lo and behold, while the Star Discovery mount showed a somewhat strange behavior when connected via Wi-Fi (and thus was not usable...), it now worked without any problems. According to my first impressions, it worked even better, because it did not overshoot, as the AZ-GTi did and still does.
All in all, the dongle test proved to be successful in my first "dry run". So the question remained, how well the plate solving and GoTo would work at night. I have already had very mixed experiences with this...
Not: On page "Tips and Tricks" there is a more thorough instruction.
I did not find an easy way for moving photos from the StellarMate to my Apple Macintosh computer and therefore consulted the StellarMate FAQ. On Linux and MacOS, the FAQ recommends using FileZilla (Pro) to connect to StellarMate via Secure FTP (sftp) using the username stellarmate and the password smate (provided, you did not change them...). The port has to be set to 5624.
You can set this in the server manager/site manager (please excuse the screens in German ...):
You can also enter this data at the top of the application window (note that the protocol type precedes the server name):
On my Apple Macintosh, I created a folder "FilezillaX" where the data from the StellarMate is stored after a file transfer. All in all, this is not as easy as I would have liked it to be, but it works for me.
My preliminary conclusion is that the StellarMate ...
Note: First you have connect your laptop/computer to the same hotspot that the StellarMate is connected to. Currently, I use the StellarMate as hotspot (not the mount, not the home network).
To be able to connect your laptop/computer to the StellarMate, you have to enter "stellarmate.local:6080" in the web browser. The noVNC screen appears:
After clicking the "Connect" button, a prompt will appear where you have to enter the password "smate":
After that, the KStars application starts automatically, covering the desktop:
If you click in the KStars tab, the KStars window disappears and you see the desktop. In the middle of the left edge, there is the "Software Updater" icon (StellarMate OS only):
If you double-click it, the "StellarMate Tools" window appears on the desktop:
The "Software Updater" button is used to check, whether the StellarMate OS can be updated; if so, you will be prompted to start the update. For this, the StellarMate must be connected to the Internet (typically via the home network).
In addition, the StellarMate computer can be restarted from this dialog. This is necessary, for example, after a successful software update.
Note: See Saving Photos (Captures) and Live Stack Photos (Captures) with a Trick for more details
Background: So far I have not found a way to save photos (captures) from within the app! The app, however, saves live stacks in this folder: home > stellarmate > Pictures > livestacking.
Connect to Stellarmate via noVNC on your computer/laptop (for details see above), KStars starts automatically:
As soon as I take a photo (capture) on my iPad using the app, the photo also appears in the KStars FITS Viewer on the computer/laptop (the window remains open):
I can save the photo on the StellarMate using either the floppy disk symbol or the "Save As..." button in the Viewer window. A "Save" dialog appears:
It should be noted that the photo will always be saved in FITS format, no matter what is set in the drop-down list for the saving format, if you do not specify a file extension. If you specify an extension, it takes precedence over the selection in the list. Clearly a programming error! Basically, the photos should be saved in the "Pictures" directory (home > stellarmate > Pictures), but you can save them where you want (StellarMate saves them there by default).
The window will remain active and will be updated after each further photo, so you can save further photos in the same way.
Note: See Move Photos from the StellarMate to the Apple Macintosh to learn how to get at the photos!
On the following screenshot, I started the control application Ekos:
But I do not use Ekos on my computer/laptop - I use it via the app. Nevertheless, it can, for example, be quite useful to check certain data/settings that may not be availabe in the app. Here is the INDI Control Panel, which can be called from KStars:
As soon as I take a photo (capture) on my iPad using the app, the photo also appears in the KStars FITS Viewer on the computer/laptop (the window remains open), here together with Ekos:
How to save photos is explained above...
The "Targets" screen of the StellarMate app (here from app version 2.5.0 on) is one of three (known to me) ways to access targets using plate solving. On the one hand, the DSO type has to be selected (star icon), and on the other hand the beginning of the name (or number) of the object(s) has to be entered in the search field in order to restrict the search. The search is very picky about the correct writing! There are also several filters that I have not yet fully understood.
"M31" leads to an empty target list
"M 31" leads to just M 31, the Andromeda Galaxy (galaxies selected)
"M 3" leads to a couple of galaxies whose number starts with "M 3" (galaxies selected)
The Moon and the Sun can be found among the planets...