Introduction | Message "No Internet" | WLAN - Blues or Not? | Download and Upload Data - A Mystery to Me, but no Longer... | Charging the eVscope | Gallery | Small Bug List | Further Conclusions on Version 1.0 | Links
On this page, I describe my experiences (no observations) with my electronic 4,5" Newton telescope Unistellar eVscope (I took part in a Kickstarter campaign in mid-November 2017; it arrived on January 27, 2020). This page covers experiences with the WLAN connection and the data download (app version 1.0). Possibly, these are useful for others who want to acquire the eVscope as well...
Note: See page Overview of the eVscope Pages for just that!
Photos: My eVscope (End of January 2020)
The following experiences are based on the app version 1.0 (1.0.0 to 1.0.6) and refer partly to changes compared with the original state, partly to changes made in the course of this version. On the one hand, the stability of the app has been improved, which was indeed urgently needed, without me calling the app in version 1.0.6 already "stable". On the other hand, some changes were made in the range of functions and the user interface (list not complete):
Anyone who has purchased an eVscope of a later delivery (batch) or is considering buying an eVscope will not be interested in many of the experiences described below because he or she will be using the app at a later stage! For these eVscope owners, there is therefore no need to read this page, unless you are interested in how the app has changed over time.
Notes: Page Unistellar eVscope - First Experiences describes my initial issues before the app version 1.0. Those who already start with a newer app version do not need to read that page either. For a more detailed version history, see page App Version History.
While doing the SD card exchange, I noticed something that I had not taken note of before, but that was discussed in the Kickstarter forum. After a few seconds, my iPhone shows a message that there is no Internet connection:
This is indeed the case, because the iPhone is now connected to the WLAN network that the eVscope sets up, but this message appears like a warning that suggests that something is wrong. In fact, everything is fine, and the app correctly connects to the eVscope (at least most of the time...)
P.S.: A video tutorial from Unistellar also points out that this message is completely normal.
In the Kickstarter forum, some eVscope owners reports Wifi issues with the eVscope. Typically, according to these reports, the WLAN connection would soon get lost after an initial successful connection. Regrettably, this has never been thoroughly discussed in the Kickstarter forum. Recently, a US eVscope owner complained in an e-mail to me that he has Wifi problems with his new eVscope, but regrettably did not get into details.
I did not write about Wifi connection problems here on my Website, but this does not mean that there are none. This has probably to do with what you expect... My take on this is that the eVscope's WLAN signal is not very strong. According to my observations, it does not reach far, just a few meters. And it is also weakened by walls, that is, when the signal has to pass through rooms. So, the WLAN connection to my eVscope gets indeed lost from time to time or under certain circumstances, but I attribute this to the weak WLAN signal.
I usually hold my iPhone next to the eVscope after I turn the eVscope on and then connect my iPhone to its WLAN network. As far as I remember, I never had a problem with this procedure. Others seem to have already problems at this stage. One reason for this that is sometimes mentioned, is the following: Other, stronger WLAN networks may interfere with the eVscope's WLAN network and may take over, that is, take precedence. There may be many other reasons for WLAN failures, but regrettably I cannot comment on this because of my lack of experience with such situations...
Indeed, when I increase the distance between the eVscope and my iPhone, the Wifi connection may get lost and often this is what happens. This is particularly the case, when I put the eVscope on the terrace and go inside into the kitchen, because it is cold outside. Then, there are the winter garden and the kitchen between my iPhone and my eVscope. I usually sit close to the kitchen door, and there the connection may work or not (it tends to get lost from time to time and may reappear), but when I go to my wife who sits deeper inside the room to show her something on my iPhone, the connection usually gets lost. The connection typically is restored when I return to the winter garden or the terrace. In some cases, however, I have to reestablish the connection and after that restart the app, because it does not recognize the eVscope's WLAN.
So, I would definitely prefer a stronger WLAN signal, because the current state prevents us from observing with the eVscope on the terrace and us sitting in the warm kitchen in winter...
In certain cases, one may also be at a distance, where the WLAN signal is already somewhat "shaky" and the connection may get lost, reappears and so on...
So, all I can say is that the eVscope's WLAN works for me, provided that I care for the distance to the eVscope and for potential obstacles between the eVscope and my iPhone.
In short: With sufficient smartphone memory, downloading and uploading data works as described in the article eVscope Data Storage & Memory: Downloading and Uploading Data in the Unistellar Help Center. In the following my "tale of woe" with a smartphone that had too little memory!
Note: See the updates at the end of this section!
The eVscope offers functions for downloading and uploading data that are not documented anywhere and are still a mystery to me. In the following, I will try to describe what I know about these functions so far.
Data can only be downloaded if the iPhone is connected to the eVscope via WLAN.
Data can only be uploaded after data has been downloaded and the iPhone is connected to the Internet.
Over time, the memory of the eVscope fills up, which is shown under "Storage" in the "User" tab. I do not know, what is stored there. Originally, I was afraid that new photos might be lost when the memory is full. But apparently old photos are deleted to make room for new ones (David Kerr had learned this from Anna/Unistellar). So you would not need to use the download function (Download Data) at all, especially since I am not sure which purpose it serves (except as a preliminary stage for uploading, see below). In any case, the data memory is NOT emptied after a download. This happened to me probably because the download did never really succed (see update below).
For the download, the iPhone must be connected to the eVscope via WLAN. The download takes a very long time, often aborts and then starts over again. This can take quite a long time! Unfortunately, I cannot say where the data is stored on my iPhone - I cannot find it anywhere. Later, I was told that it is stored in an hidden file on the iPhone (see the update below).
In some cases, there was a message during download that my iPhone memory was full*. But there were still about 8 GB of 16 GB available on my iPhone. The download could still be continued, but it did not seem to be completed correctly, because an upload was not possible afterwards. This was only the case, after I had repeated the download, which then ran without an error message.
*) This message is obviously generated by the iPhone, but I do not know on what basis this is happening. Maybe this is a pure "precautionary measure" (i.e. a warning). But I also do not know whether the threshold for the warning can be set somewhere... An Internet research showed that this seems to be an Apple problem, but I was not able to not find a true solution...
>> Obviously, the error message is correct, see the update below.
I do not know exactly which purpose the upload function (Upload Data) serves. According to David Kerr, the data is uploaded to a SETI server. What happens there and if you have access to this data yourself, I do not know.
Apparently, the upload function is only activated after a download had been done. Furthermore, the iPhone has to be connected to the Internet before you can upload data. I did some uploads as a test, but unfortunately I do not know what the effect was, or rather I got hectic error messages after a correct start, until the app crashed (I tried this several times...). All in all, at the moment these functions are unusable for me.
Unistellar had called for the first time for a "Citizen Science" observation on April 11, 2020; the comet C/2019 Y4 (Atlas) was to be observed. To do this, the data memory should be emptied to 20% by downloading the data, and after the half-hour observation the data should be uploaded to the SETI server. The downloading of the data failed mostly, because I received an error message that the memory of my iPhone was full (which was not the case, about half of the memory was still available). In a few cases, the download succeeded without an error message, and the data storage was shown as empty (0%). After a short time, however, it was shown as full as before (100%). The upload to the SETI server started in these cases, but after about one second, I received flickering error messages, and after a few seconds the app crashed. So I was not able to participate in this event and just took my own photo of the comet.
On April 14, 2020, I sent a request to Unistellar and there I briefly described my problems presented above; on April 21, 2020, I received an answer from Anna, which clarified some questions, though not everything. Basically, the download with "Storage: 100% used" needs about 12 GB free memory. But on my 16 GB iPhone only 7-8 GB are available. In this respect, the iPhone message that the iPhone memory is full was correct. But why the download can be continued and sometimes even runs without any error message is a mystery to me. According to Anna, the memory can only be emptied by a download; this is done into an invisible file; according to her, there is also no way to connect to the eVscope other than via the app and thus delete the memory.
The upload is done from the smartphone to the Unistellar server and requires a good Internet connection or a wireless 4G connection, which would be expensive due to the large amount of data.
The transferred data includes what was observed in "Enhanced Vision" mode (up to 6 hours stacking) and requires about 12 GB when the eVscop memory is 100% full. According to Anna, this has nothing to do with the photos in the eVscope gallery (or photo album), but of course both compete for iPhone memory.
At the end of May, I ordered a used iPhone 7 with 128 GB of memory and put it into operation at the beginning of June. With it, downloading and uploading data worked perfectly as described in the article eVscope Data Storage & Memory: Downloading and Uploading Data in the Unistellar Help Center. Here I would like to quote the key takeaways from the article:
And I would like to cite two helpful tips from the article:
With sufficient smartphone memory, downloading and uploading data works as expected! However, you should read the article eVscope Data Storage & Memory: Downloading and Uploading Data in the Unistellar Help Center to learn about the subtleties of this process. And your smartphone should have more than 12 GB of free memory to hold the data!
WLAN and data transfer to the SETI server can have their pitfalls, but by and large everything works for me in the meantime.