USING SKYSAFARI PLUS TO CONTROL 497 AUDIOSTAR
WITH ANDROID PHONE
Last updated: 29 June 2012
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2012 18:01:51 From: Brad Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hey man, great site. Just got an ETX-90 second-hand with the intention of operating it with my Android phone and started digging in. Here is what I found: Required Hardware: 497 Audiostar/Autostar with RS-232 port (attached to a compatible telescope) ($149.99 plus shipping from Meade) Bluetooth RS-232 serial adapter ($45.00 plus shipping from US Converters, model #BT-232B) Android OS smartphone (price varies, but most likely already purchased if interested in this array) Required Software: SkySafari Plus or SkySafari Pro for Android ($14.99 for SkySafari Plus, $39.99 for SkySafari Pro, both available from the Google Play store) NOTE: the baseline $2.99 SkySafari does not include telescope control I'm emailing you prematurely, as I haven't received my Audiostar handset yet, but I'm reporting what I have pieced together thus far during my research. The problem I ran into is that SkySafari caters to a wifi ad-hoc network to control the 497. Android doesn't support wifi ad-hoc connections the same way iOS does and therefore makes a wifi connection cumbersome (you would be required to implement a wireless router available to act as intermediary between your Android device and the wifi transponder on the 497). Alternatively, Android allows a direct bluetooth connection in a way that iOS doesn't support. Summary: wifi control for iPhone, bluetooth control for Android. That sounds like a simple piece of information, unless you have spent the last week figuring it out because no one says it that plainly! That being said, it appears to be simpler and more cost effective to use a bluetooth connection on Android as opposed to a wifi iPhone connection. Assuming that a 497 came with the telescope, and the user already has an Android smartphone, only an RS-232 bluetooth serial adapter and SkySafari Plus is required to be purchased (about $60 total for both. SkySafari Pro has the same telescope control options, but is about $25 more the SkySafari Plus). According to SkySafari, all the hardware that is required is a compatible RS-232 bluetooth adapter attached to the 497. Once the bluetooth adapter is installed on the 497 and paired with an Android phone, SkiSafari should be able to control the telescope, slewing to any object one can find in the app. The great thing about this setup is that any Android phone with SkySafari can control any 497 Autostar/Audiostar enabled telescope with the bluetooth adapter. Not to mention that it takes very little technical savvyness to makes this all happen. I have yet to test the effectiveness of the setup, but the reason I am emailing you now is because it took a lot of web time to put all of the pieces together, and more importantly to weed out bad/irrelevant information. It literally took hours to figure out I only needed 497 Autostar/Audiostar, a bluetooth serial adapter, which one to get, etc. Google wasn't much help. Meade and SkySafari seem to really push the PC wired connection or wifi options (not to mention half of their links are dead). Even though I provided only three links below, it took forever to whittle it down to those three! Hopefully the next time an Android user says "Hey, I want a telescope that I can control with my phone", they will be able to read these communications and make it happen without all the look-up hassle. The information and links I provided aren't available in one convenient location, so I expect that this email can amend that. Here are the pertinent links (narrowed down from dozens of sources), including where to buy: RS-232 Bluetooth Adapter: http://www.usconverters.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=228 (this is the bluetooth adapter that I purchased, and received, but have yet to receive my 497 to test) Southern Stars: SkySafari for Android: Scope Control Page: http://www.southernstars.com/products/skysafari_android/scope_control.html Meade Audiostar (this is Meade's shopping page): http://www.shopatron.com/products/productdetail/Meade+AudioStar+%2307640/part_number=07640/1322.214.171.124.42062.455126.96.36.199? s=part_number&part_number_d=ASC&part_number_c=part_number&t=1&i=all& NOTE: not verified, but it appears Autostar isn't available anymore. It seems to have been replaced with Audiostar. Audiostar is simply the next evolution of the Autostar and is (as far as I can tell) available at the same price the Autostar was. It also appears that the Autostar does not have an RS-232 port (again, not verified), but the Audiostar in fact does. I will update you in a few days once I receive the 497 and can test the setup. Until then, anyone can take a shot in the dark (as I have) and purchase the required hardware and software with the expectation that everything will function properly. From all indications and research, the array should operate effectively. I am sure there are some nuances to get it going (as there usually is), but I will update you with a step-by-step once I have it unraveled. The crux of this and subsequent communications are to provide Android users with a one-stop-shop to find all the information they need to purchase, setup, and configure an array to control their 497 enabled telescope with their phone. Brad Hughes (likes to speak in parentheses)Mike here: For more on SkySafari, see my iOS-based review.
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