Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo Mount - SynScan WLAN - Further Experiences

Introduction | First Practical Experiences | Preliminary Conclusions | Links

On this page, I present further, that is, first practical experiences with the SynScan WLAN adapter from Sky-Watcher. This device allows me to control my Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo telescope mount with the SynScan app for iPad or Windows, instead of using the hand box. It is also possible to control the telescope via Synscan app with the astronomy application SkySafari Plus or Pro in version 5 and 6. On the Apple platform, however, this is somewhat more complex than when using Android or Windows because you need two computing devices.

Note: There is another WiFi adapter available that is called SkyFi 3 (current version; or III...) and sold by Simulation Curriculum.

See also:

 

Introduction

I came across the SynScan WLAN adapter through an e-mail contact in April 2019. This WLAN module is compatible with all Sky-Watcher GoTo mounts and allows wireless control of the telescope via smartphone, tablet, or computer using the SynScan or SynScan Pro app. These apps support the SkySafari Plus/Pro planetarium software for Android and Apple iOS, but Apple iOS requires two devices at the same time (two iOS devices or one iOS device and one Macintosh).

I can only report here about iOS/OS X and the Windows App. I described on page Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo Mount - SynScan WLAN - First Experiences how I got into a working state with the WLAN adapter on the Apple platform - through a lot of trying and possibly lucky coincidences. On this page, I describe my first practical experiences with this configuration.

Box content (and glasses...)

The adapter module

Ditto, connected to the mount

 

First Practical Experiences

Even when I did not have the SynScan WLAN adapter in a "workable" state (April 2019), I was already able to make first observations of easy to find celestial objects (M 35, M 44, M 45) using my PS 72/432 refractor. My first impression was that the accuracy of the alignment via the iPad app was quite good, but I was not able to make any more precise statements. It did not seem any worse than the handbox. I have to add, however, that I worked at low magnifications, and with these the alignment is generally easier for me (but it is also less accurate...).

At the end of April 2019, I started with my first "pure" observations using the SynScan WLAN adapter and the PS 72/432. I repeated these on May 1, 2019 with the Explorer 150PDS, a telescope with a longer focal length (and correspondingly higher magnification when using the same eyepieces). These observations (M 35-38, M 44) are described elsewhere; here I am only interested in how far I was able to successfully use the WLAN adapter. This succeeded without any problems, since I managed NOT to press the "Enter" key after entering the Messier number... So there were no crashes of the app on the iPad. The alignment also worked satisfactorily.

On June 4, 2019, about a month later, I then operated the Skymax-127 on the GoTo mount with WLAN adapter in order to repeat observations of globular star clusters that I had made two days earlier with the PS 72/432 on the AZ-Pronto mount. I also wanted to test whether I would be able to control the telescope with SkySafari 6 on the Macintosh. This time, I only found the 1-star alignment instead of the 2-star alignment in the app*, and therefore used it. Of course, I did not expect a high accuracy of the alignment, but it worked reasonably well. After some timem hoewever, I had to repeat the alignment, which was not a problem for me. Once again, the iPad app ran without any crashes...

*) I do not know, why the 1-star alignment is gone (probably after a version update); there is, however, a 3-star alignment...

I was able to connect the WLAN adapter to SkySafari, and controlling the mount using SkySafari also worked. I was even able to"play around" with the alignment using the "Align" command in SkySafari. It is important for such corrections to move the telescope on the mount manually with the encoders switched off. Otherwise you cannot "cheat" SkySafari because it would detect every manual movement, take care of it, and display it on the screen (see in the following).

Correcting the Alignment in SkySafari

P.S.: I came across the following procedure on my own, but I found it more or less identically in the SkySafari help (see below).

How I "correct" the alignment (works only locally):

When I use the direction keys of the app to move the telescope, the target point in SkySafari moves with it as well. Typically, it does not lie on the object I want to approach/observe and set by moving the scope. Then also the "Align" command does not work with larger discrepancies, because the alignment error must not be too big, if you want to correct the alignment (but I have not yet tested this systematically). I also found it difficult to look through the eyepiece and control the telescope with the app on the iPad at the same time (and find the target in the eyepiece...).

Scope Control Panel: Align (From the SkySafari Help with some Additions)

Align: This synchronizes the scope to coordinates of the selected object. The bullseye indicated in the sky chart shows where the telescope thinks it is pointing. If that appears incorrect, the scope and the software must be aligned. To do so:

  1. Physically center the scope on a real object in the sky (do not use the arrow keys in SkySafari or on the handbox!).
  2. Select that object in the sky chart to make it the current target object.
  3. Click the Align button.

You can re-align the scope and the software anytime there is a discrepancy between the two. (Sometimes, however, an error message appears that the difference is too large, but this may only appear if you move the scope with the motors.)

It is important that you disable the encoders in the mount (if there are such...). Otherwise, the purely mechanical movement of the mount would also be recognized and registered by SkySafari. When using the SynScan WLAN app, the encoders are disabled by default.

Note: for Celestron NexStar, Orion/SkyWatcher SynScan, iOptron GOTONova, and ServoCAT telescope controllers, tapping the Align button stores the offset between the telescope's reported position and the selected object's position. It subtracts that offset from the telescope's reported position whenever the telescope is within 10 degrees of the object you Aligned on. In other words, SkySafari performs a "local sync" around the alignment target. If you move the telescope to a very different part of the sky, you may want to Align on a target in that part of the sky. Also note that the telescope's RA/Dec reported by SkySafari will differ from the RA/Dec reported by its hand controller (since SkySafari is applying the alignment offset to the telescope's reported position.)

 

Preliminary Conclusions

If it should be "GoTo" and go fast, I only use the SynScan WLAN adapter and control the Star Discovery mount using the respective iPad app - despite of all the problems that I had and still have with it. I would have a little more luxury if I gave the control to SkySafari on the MacBook Pro, but this is rarely really necessary.

With the StarSense competition I do not get along well enough yet, so that I would prefer this solution...

 

Links

 

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03.09.2019