Last updated: 18 March 2009
Jump to the start of the discussion on Meade discontinuing the mySky Plus!
Oceanside Photo & Telescope sent me an evaluation unit of the Meade mySKY. The mySKY is an exceptional educational tool to teach anyone the wonders of the night sky, to identify what a particular object is that they see in the sky, and to automatically have compatible Meade telescopes (with AutoStar #497 or AutoStar II) GOTO the selected object. The mySKY sells for $399 (without the GOTO cable, which is $29.99).
The box, seen at the right, contains the mySKY unit (which looks like a Star Trek universe handheld phaser), the instruction manual, a set of earbuds, a product registration card, and a DVD (data, not video) containing the mySKY updater application and the AutoStar Suite software. Both of the applications are Windows only and Vista support is claimed. The instruction manual contains nine pages of information that will get you started using the mySKY. Additional instructions are available on the mySKY itself as a video narrated by Scott Roberts of Meade Instruments. There were a couple of extra sheets of information in the box, one of which expanded on the caution in the manual about using the mySKY at least 10 yards from metal objects like cars, fences, and steel-reinforced buildings. This requirement is due to the "magnetic sensors" used to determine orientation of the mySKY unit as you move it around to point at the sky. The contents of the box are shown below:
The mySKY database contains over 30,000 objects (similar to the AutoStar #497) but of course most of these can not be seen with the naked eye. You can still get information on these unseen objects, including photos and textual data. You update the mySKY software by removing the 256MB SD memory card (under the I/O port cover on the right side, as seen in the photo below) and insert it into a card reader (not supplied) on your Windows computer. You then run the mySKY update software to actually do the update (once one is released by Meade). I have not yet done that. It is unfortunate that Meade chose this method of updating when it seems technically feasible to have allowed the user to mount the SD card like a disk drive and copy an updated ROM to the card. That way any computer could have been used to update the mySKY software. Hopefully some smart developer will develop a Mac OS X (and perhaps Linux) application to update the ROM similar to Rodolphe Pineau's AutoStarX (Mac OS X) and AutoStar_Lin (Linux) for the AutoStar #497. Using a removable memory card for the software means that you do not need to connect the mySKY unit to your computer as you do with the AutoStar when updating its software. The mySKY is powered by 4 AA batteries (not supplied); there is no provision for external power. Meade claims the mySKY will run for 6 hours on batteries. I did notice that a lot of battery life was used during my initial testing but at least 6 hours seems reachable.
The following four photographs show the mySKY from each side. The ON/OFF button (round button at the top) and the I/O port are seen on the first one. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the handgrip.
The screen and LED sight brightness level (upper) and volume (lower) controls are seen here.
Here's the user-view of the mySKY. You can see the button controls for navigating and selecting items in the mySKY onscreen menus, the color LCD display, the three LEDs (top) for pointing the mySKY, and the headphone and serial cable jacks cover (bottom).
And finally the front (skyward) side of the mySKY showing the trigger (silver button in the middle).
When you power-on the mySKY you can view the video instructions (useful for first-timer users) or jump right into using it (following a brief setup). There is no internal speaker so if you plan to watch (and listen) to the instructions or object information then you must connect the supplied earbuds. It seemed odd to me that the headphone jack is covered since easy access to the jack would seem to be useful. But then the audio is not always required or even desirable so having the jack covered does protect it. If you plan to use the mySKY at a star party you probably want to use external speakers instead of earbuds. I connected my external computer speakers and they worked well. Once you get ready to use the mySKY you can either use the built-in GPS (12-channel) to automatically get your location/date/time, use the last selected Site location, or manually enter the Site info and Date/Time. The mySKY automatically calculates Daylight Saving Time. If you select to enter your Site manually you go through the Country/State/City selections just like on the AutoStar. One oddity I noted was that while I had previously selected Torrance, California, as the Site, the next time I powered the mySKY on it showed Avalon, about 26 miles from Torrance, as the previously selected City. Using GPS to get the information is fast and should be used whenever possible. If you do use GPS, the next time you power on the mySKY don't expect that the city name displayed as the previous Site will be correct. Everytime I used GPS from my home it would show a city about 10 miles North of me and it wasn't even the closest city in the City database, which was Torrance (about 2 miles away).
The mySKY 480x234 display is just slightly smaller in size than an Apple "iPod video" display. However, the pixel density must not be as high as the 320x240 iPod display as videos, photos, and the Sky Map are somewhat "pixelated" but they are still viewable. There is a "Nightvision" mode that you can enable/disable that turns the display red (no other colors are visible). The photo here shows the Sky Map display with the mySKY pointed towards to the North. You can easily see the Little Dipper beneath the words "Zoom In". Across the bottom of the display you see a menu containing Object, Options, and Tours. The buttons beneath the display are used to make your selection.
If you select Objects you get this display:
Selecting Solar System and then Moon will get you to this display:
I found the User Interface very easy to use but it was confusing in a couple places. On the Sky Map display you can see "Zoom In" and "Zoom Out". Even if you are fully zoomed in or out the text still displays, seeming to indicate that you can still zoom in or out. I kept pressing the Zoom In button (the up arrow) but the display was not changing. So I pressed harder; no change. Then I figured out that the text didn't change. The other UI error is even more inappropriate; when you have an object selected you can "Goto" the object, which tells the mySKY to show you the way to move the mySKY to point to the object in the sky, or "Point Scope", which commands your AutoStar-connected telescope to slew to the selected object. If no telescope is connected the option to "Point Scope" should not be displayed. Hopefully a future software update will correct these UI errors.
Just like with the AutoStar you can also show "events". Here I have selected Meteor Showers and then the Orionids:
If you select an object and then ask the mySKY to Goto it you get the Sky Map display with a directional arrow overlayed that directs you how to move the mySKY. In the photograph below you see that I have selected to Goto Jupiter. As you get closer to the selected object the arrow gets smaller and will eventually change to a small circle and crosshair. Once you have the mySKY pointed at the object the display changes to show the object information screen. From here you can select to go back to the previous display, play a video (if one exists), or display the information data screen.
I initially found it awkward to use the mySKY with one hand. When gripping the mySKY with my index finger on the trigger my thumb was not in a position to use the arrow keys. The thumb was too high up on the panel. However, after using the mySKY for awhile I discovered the "secret". If you pick up the mySKY and let it rest in your hand while gripping the handle, it naturally falls to rest on your index finger. That puts the mySKY too low in your hand. If you raise it so that your index finger just touches the trigger without the mySKY resting on your index finger, your thumb will be in a better position to touch the three buttons, four arrow keys, and the central enter button.
The day the mySKY arrived was unusual. As everyone knows when you get a new telescope or accessory it is always cloudy that night. Well, my mySKY broke that tradition; it was clear! So about an hour after Sunset I went outside for my first real use of the mySKY. I powered it on, selected GPS (which got its data quickly), did the sensor alignment (place the mySKY on a flat surface for a few seconds), and then pointed the mySKY at the Moon and pulled the trigger to have the object in the sky identified. Oops, the mySKY identified it as a certain star. I tried again and this time the mySKY got it right. I pointed at Antares and pulled the trigger. Oops, wrong object. Pointed at Jupiter and pulled the trigger. The mySKY said "Jupiter". Pointed at Altair; oops. Pointed at Vega; oops. But after about 5 minutes of pointing at different objects I was finally getting near 100% accuracy with the mySKY. As I used the mySKY more I began to determine the likely sources (yes, there can be more than one) of MY pointing inaccuracy. If you wear glasses then the three LEDs used to line up the mySKY on the object will probably be out of focus to your eye. Since you are supposed to place the object to be identified on the top edge of the center LED, if the LED is out of focus it is difficult to be precise enough. With practice you will learn the "sweet spot". Another thing to be aware of is "trigger jerk". Just like what is taught in "gun school", it is easy to move the mySKY off-target when you pull the trigger. A smooth gentle squeeze on the trigger will help keep the mySKY pointed where you want it pointed. The last cause of pointing errors is that your arm may get tired holding the mySKY towards the sky. Even though the mySKY is relatively lightweight, it will still cause your arm to tire as you use it more during a single session and a tired arm will create unsteadiness when pointing the mySKY. A solution to the trigger jerk and tired arm is to support the base of the mySKY in the palm of your other hand. After you pull the trigger it may take the mySKY up to about 10 seconds to identify the object. Some objects will be identified much faster. During my next night out with the mySKY I had 100% identifying accuracy in all parts of the sky with the exception of one object: Altair. When I had the mySKY show me where Altair was in the sky it ended up pointing me about 7 degrees south of Altair. Maybe there is an error in Altair's position in the database.
As you move the mySKY around, the Sky Map follows your movements to always display the right area of the sky. I found that this movement took some getting used to, especially if you are fully zoomed in. But the mySKY was fairly responsive to my movements. My only real complaint with the mySKY is the pointing mechanism. I think it would have been better to use an illuminated crosshair style of aiming aid (like a "rifle scope") that would be focused at infinity instead of the large LEDs that require you to "rest" the object on the top edge of the LEDs (sort of like a gun pistol sight), which is an imprecise positioning reference. But as you use the mySKY you will learn to compensate somewhat for this design.
Overall, the mySKY makes a good learning tool. I remember when I was first learning the night sky back a few decades ago; I used a "planisphere" to show what constellations were visible at specific dates/times. It was a big help and taught me to recognize the constellations and bright stars. Now the mySKY brings the planisphere to the 21st Century (at a 21st Century price) with lots of capabilities never dreamed of when I was using the planisphere all those decades ago. You can have the mySKY step you through each of the stars that outline each constellation, pointing the mySKY at each star; this will help you learn the constellations. You can also select from several "tours" (similar to the tours on the AutoStar), including "Tonights Best". You can get a true multimedia experience with the mySKY as you learn the night sky. For use at star parties you may want to connect external speakers to the mySKY as indicated earlier. The screen is bright enough that several people will be able to see it if they stand close. Navigation in the menus is easy and if you have used an AutoStar it will be somewhat familiar. Meade has an excellent video demonstration online on their web site. Check it out.
Not everyone will want or need a mySKY. But if you conduct star parties, find yourself showing your neighbors the night sky, or want to quickly learn your way around the night sky, the Meade mySKY can be an effective accessory to bring additional enjoyment to everyone. Astronomy clubs should certainly consider getting one for use at public star parties or other outreach events. Like the box says, it is fun and easy to use.
I will update this page as I use the mySKY more. Stay tuned...
According to the mySKY manual, the mySKY is connected to the AutoStar after the AutoStar is aligned. This means that unlike third-party GPS add-ons, the mySKY can not be used to provide Site and Date/Time information to the AutoStar for alignment.
I will report on using an AutoStar #497 telescope with the mySKY after I get a cable.
Since the Meade GOTO cable is not yet shipping, here is some info from Dick Seymour on making your own (which I have not done):
From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Do NOT plug the MySky's cable into the AUX port. It is intended to go into the Autostar's serial port. That's the small hole on the Autostar itself, near the [scroll up] key. The cable is NOT the same as any previously-supplied cable which Meade may have supplied with other devices. The pinout on the MySky cable was explored by Charles Jagow of the Meade_MySky Yahoo group. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/meade_mysky/ It is a one-to-one cable, with the pinout being 1->1 2->2 3->3 4->4 using a 4-pin 4-wide RJ10 plug at each end. If you build a MySky cable as described above, it would also work with the LX200gps (it would be a very loose "fit" in the wider RJ11 socket used by the LX200gps... you could build a 4-to-6 pin cable that would -look- like the "comes with DSI" cable, but the pinning is quite different. The comes-with-DSI cable is 1->5, 2->4, 3->3, 4->2 with pins 1 and 6 not connected on the 6-pin end. The MySky cable for an LX200gps would be 1->2, 2->3, 3->4, 4->5 (with pins 1 and 6 not used on the 6-pin end) All pin numbers are based with you looking at the pins, with the locking clip towards the floor, and the wire going out the "back" of the connector. Pin 1 is on the left. +-1 2 3 4-+ |___ ___| |_| have fun --dick
[20 Nov 07]
During the OPT Telescope Demonstration and Star Party on Saturday, 10 November, and Saturday, 17 November, some telescopes that had been set up had problems doing a polar alignment during the daytime as they could not see Polaris. It occurred to me that I, with mySKY, could assist them. I grabbed the mySKY, turned it on and went through the initialization steps, and then asked it to GoTo Polaris. In just a couple of minutes we had the telescopes polar aligned now that we knew where Polaris was in the sky! This turned out to be a useful and unexpected benefit of the mySKY capabilities. Keep it in mind if you have a mySKY and want to align your telescopes during the daytime.
I did a lot of demos of the mySKY to the OPT Star Party attendees. Everyone was impressed with the ease of use and the capabilities of the mySKY. Being able to show color images of the objects they were seeing (or hoped to see) in the telescopes really added a lot to their experience.
One caution about the mySKY: avoid laying it down on its right side. I discovered that the Power button is easily depressed and the mySKY will accidently turn on. This also means that you will probably want to remove the batteries before placing the mySKY into a case for traveling.
[02 Feb 08]
Meade mySKY Cable Set
Made in China
OPT supplied a Meade mySKY Cable Set for this review. But first I would like to apologize for the delay in this review. As frequent visitors to the Site know, I moved in December from California to Arizona. That created the first delay. Then there was the theft of most of my observing equipment in late December. That created the second delay. And then there was a problem with the mySKY (detailed below). That created the final delay. But finally, here it is.
There are three cables and an instruction sheet in the box. There are coiled cables for each of the following:
AutoStar #497 controlled telescopes (including the ETX and LXD series)
AutoStar #494 controlled telescopes (including the ETX-60/70/80)
AutoStar II and LX200 Classic telescopes (which I was not able to test)
The #494 and #497 cables are 29 inches long (unstretched) and the AutoStar II cable is 35 inches long (unstretched) and have the appropriate 4 or 6 pin connectors on each end. The cable for the #494 AutoStar also has the inline electronics box as is found on the Meade #506 serial cable.
According to Meade's information, using the mySKY with your telescope adds a GPS to your telescope. Well, that is sort of true but you have to do a normal AutoStar alignment BEFORE attaching the mySKY so you don't get a GPS input of location and date/time. But once you have the mySKY attached, any object displayed on the mySKY screen can be GOTO-ed with your telescope by pressing the "Point Scope" button on the mySKY.
I had planned to test the Cable Set on the ETX-70, ETX-125, and LXD75-8"SC but the theft of my LXD75 has delayed that test. However I was able to test on the ETX telescopes. What follows are the results of those tests. I will update this page once I replace the stolen telescope.
The steps to use the mySKY are simple: align the telescope normally, select the MODE function on the AutoStar, connect the cable between the telescope AUX port (if you have the #494 AutoStar) or AutoStar serial port (#497) and the mySKY, power on the mySKY and let it align. Once the mySKY is aligned you go to Options->Connection->Telescope to allow the mySKY and telescope to communicate.
First to be tested was the ETX-70AT. Since I had moved from California to Arizona and had not used the mySKY since the move I decided to check it out first. I re-inserted the batteries (which I had removed for the move) and powered on the mySKY. I selected to acquire the GPS location; after about 10 minutes of waiting for the alignment to complete I decided the mySKY was locked up. I powered it off (the ON/OFF button still worked) and tried again with the same lockup on the "Acquiring GPS" screen. The lockup occurred just as the "hourglass" was displayed and the LEDs on the top turned on. I then did the manual entry of my City and Date/Time. That worked fine; no lockup. I pointed the mySKY at Mars and asked it to Identify the object; it responded with "Mars". I tried a GPS alignment again with the same lockup. I tried several times to get the GPS to work. Sometimes "satellite bars" would appear and sometimes not before the lockup. Sometimes the "progress bar" would move to the right and sometimes not. I gave up on using GPS.
I powered up the ETX-70 and went through the normal AutoStar alignment steps. I then connected the cable for the #494 AutoStar to the ETX-70 AUX port and the mySKY. Then I powered on the mySKY and selected the "current" information instead of trying to use GPS. On the mySKY I selected "M42" as the "Object" and asked the mySKY to "Goto" it. "Goto" on the mySKY gives you onscreen directions to point the mySKY at the selected object. The mySKY correctly took me to M42. I then asked the mySKY to "Point Scope". After a few seconds the ETX began slewing. When it finished I looked into the 25mm eyepiece and there was M42! I then pointed the mySKY at Mars and asked it to ID the object. It said "Mars". I asked it to "Point Scope" but Mars was nowhere near the eyepiece FOV. Wondering if this was an ETX/AutoStar problem or a mySKY problem I told the AutoStar to GOTO M42 and it put M42 in the eyepiece. I decided to realign the ETX and start over with the mySKY but nothing changed. I decided I should reTRAIN DRIVES on the ETX-70 since it had been a long time since its last use. But that would have to wait for another time.
The next day I took the mySKY outside during the daytime and tried GPS from a different location. It still locked up. I checked the mySKY battery level; it showed "60%" so I put in fresh batteries and tried GPS again. Still locked up. I checked the mySKY software version on the mySKY and it showed "1.2q". This version had worked fine during all the times I had used the mySKY in California so I thought that maybe the software had become corrupted and that reloading it would solve the lockup. That requires Windows. I used the DVD that came with the mySKY to install Meade's AutoStar Suite software in Windows XP on Virtual PC 7 on my PowerBook G4. I then ran the mySKY Updater application; it said there was a newer version available and so I let it download and install it. I then removed the memory card from the mySKY and inserted it into my USB card reader. Unfortunately, Windows would not reliably see the card reader and kept giving me an error, so the Updater application could not see the card to update it. The card reader was fine as the Mac OS X side could see the card and its files just fine. I don't know why Windows could not see the card; grumble.
Since I was returning to California for one final move-related trip I decided to stop by Meade's Irvine office and let them look at the mySKY. They said they had recently discovered a bug in the mySKY and they took the unit. They would ship it back to me in a couple of days. And in fact, a new unit did arrive a few days later. Yes, a "new unit" still in the box with all the normal items (I had only left them the mySKY unit itself). I tested that one and it worked OK acquiring GPS. The software version was 1.2tc. HOWEVER, when I tried IDs and Goto's on the mySKY all the objects were always about 5 degrees from where the mySKY thought they were. But the GPS location and date/time/zone were all correct. Odd.
Even though the mySKY pointing was 5° in error I decided to see what would happen when it was connected to the telescope. I first did a TRAIN DRIVES on the ETX-70 to eliminate that as a source of error. I then went through the alignment steps on the telescope and mySKY, connected the mySKY, and had the mySKY "Point Scope" to several objects. When slewing was done the object was always in the 25mm eyepiece FOV! It is worth noting that it consistently took 10 seconds from the mySKY "Point Scope" button press to the start of slewing on the ETX-70 (with the AutoStar #494). Until I realized the length of the delay I kept wondering if I had pressed the button and would press it several times. So, if you have an AutoStar #494 controlled telescope, be patient.
My next use was with the ETX-125AT with an AutoStar #497 and a Meade #1247 Electronic Focuser. I turned on the ETX and started the AutoStar alignment process. Unfortunately the telescope slewed vertically to the hard stop and I had to power off. I did a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES but the problem remained. I checked the AutoStar version and it was 4.0Ef (wow, I didn't know I was that far behind!). So I decided to update it to the current version (4.3Eg), which might be required for the mySKY anyway. I used AutoStarX to update the AutoStar from my PowerBook running Mac OS 10.4.11. Following the update and its "soft" reset, I tried an alignment and the telescope still slewed to the vertical hard stop. So I selected RESET from the AutoStar, re-entered all my parameters, and did a successful alignment. Whew! I then connected the mySKY using the AutoStar #497 to mySKY cable, powered up the mySKY and did a GPS acquire. mySKY Goto's and Identifies were still about 5° off even though this was 24 hours later than my tests with the ETX-70 the night before. Maybe something with my location? I will have to try it out when I get back to Oracle Observatory, away from all sources of interference. But mySKY "Point Scope" always put the object in the Finderscope FOV and sometimes in the 26mm eyepiece FOV. With the AutoStar #497, mySKY commanded slewing would start in less than 1 second (instead of 10 seconds when used with the AutoStar #494). Since I had the Electronic Focuser attached and it uses the MODE mode to control focusing with the AutoStar, I was curious if there was any problem using it with the mySKY attached. There wasn't. I could switch between AutoStar GOTOs and slewing, mySKY Point Scopes, and focusing with no problems. I then disconnected the mySKY from the AutoStar with both still powered on. Both the ETX/AutoStar and the mySKY continued to function normally. So there should be no concern about disconnecting the mySKY from the telescope if you need or want to.
I will update this report once I have an opportunity to use the mySKY from Oracle Observatory and with a replacement LXD75-8"SC.
For now I can say that the Meade "mySKY Cable Set" works and provides connectivity to the AutoStar #494 and AutoStar #497. If you have a mySKY and a compatible telescope, you will find it fun to use the mySKY to command your telescope. Whether that is a function that you NEED is up to you. For star parties it can be a nice functionality to have. It does not add GPS functionality to your telescope, at least not for telescope alignment. If you want that you will have to look at alternatives. It would be nice to be able to purchase the cables separately as if you only need one you will still be paying for three.
By the way, as of this week OPT is selling the mySKY for $299 ($100 off the previous price).
[05 Feb 08]
Subject: re: MySky review... Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2008 19:03:07 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You wrote: > The steps to use the mySKY are simple: align the telescope normally, > select the MODE function on the AutoStar, ... What, pray tell, is the "MODE function"? Did you mean "press MODE to reach the status (RA/DEC) display"? (if one assumes that "selecting" something on an Autostar implies pressing the [enter] key, it's hard to "select" MODE) --------------- and, re the 5 degree error... does the MySky have a "Calibrate Sensors" operation to adjust the magnetic variation to local conditions? have fun --dickMike here: Yeah, that's what I meant: press the AutoStar MODE key for a couple of seconds. And no, there is no CALIBRATE SENSOR function. There is a "leveling step" that requires the mySKY to be away from magnetic fields and metal. Perhaps that is where I had the problem although the previous mySKY (the one that locked up on GPS acquire) did not experience this error and I placed the mySKY on the same table for leveling.
[08 Feb 08]
I took the mySKY to Oracle Observatory on 6 February to see if I could get any better results. At 1915 MST with the temperature at 32°F I began using it. Unfortunately, this replacement unit still has pointing errors. Sometimes (but rarely) it would be right on but mostly it was about 10 degrees off in Identify and Goto. I tried various orientations on my table for the "sensor calibration". I had to use the table (which has some metal supports and legs) as it was impossible to find a good level surface at Oracle Observatory in the dark. I rotated the unit 90 degrees from a previous sensor calibration but that didn't result in any change. I even tilted the unit 45 degreees but that didn't make any difference either. Perhaps there is a problem with the sensors in this replacement unit or maybe the mySKY just doesn't like temperatures below 50°F. The first unit I received last year worked much better (until it failed on the GPS Acquire). But all that testing was during warmer nights in Southern California. I guess I will wait for warmer nights here in Arizona and then do some more testing.
[13 Mar 08]
Subject: Re: Meade mySky Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 15:17:20 From: Roger Butler (Roger.Butler@rwcmd.ac.uk) As a big fan of both Meade and Apple, I have to say they make great products but don't do them justice with their documentation. Where would we ETX users be without your site ? Keep up the good work ! I bought a meade mySky about six months ago and have been delighted with it ever since . I have found it does just what it says, right out of the box. It is intuitive - does just what you expect it to in the way you expect it to. Bit like Macs. So I am not too bothered that the booklet that comes with it is only 5 pages long, and they are just a glimpse into the obvious. But lately I have been linking it up to my ETX125PE and having fun jumping around the sky with both of them. However I notice that in the 'Connections' window there is a choice of 'telescope' or 'computer'. What does the computer connection do ? None of the documentation or reviews mention it. And the database SD card is updated from a cardreader. It would be great if it allowed theimages on the small mySky screen to be shown on a bigger computer screen. This is a great educational device and it is particularly useful at star parties and other public events. It would be nice to be able to show a larger number of people just what is going on. Best wishes from your fans in the UK. Roger Butler Chairman Cardiff Astronomical Society Wales UK PS - I am attaching a review of the mySky I wrote for our society magazine
[11 Apr 08]
Mike here: Last night I did some more tests of the mySKY with the temperature at 65°F just to rule out low temperatures as the cause of the problem I've reported with the replacement unit. The several degree error still occurs. For example, I pointed at Mars and asked the mySKY to identify it. The mySKY responded with Castor, which was several degrees away. I asked it to Goto Mars and it pointed to the west end of the constellation of Gemini (Mars was about in the middle).
[25 May 08]
Subject: Holster for Meade mySky Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2008 09:20:31 From: Ernest Baldini (firstname.lastname@example.org) Available, only on line, from Ace Hardware is a drill holster, black nylon, that is perfect for the mySky. It is catalogue # 2095537 at $20.99. Ernest Baldini Melbourne, FL
[4 June 08]
Mike here: I did some more testing with the Meade mySKY during my visit to Oracle Observatory on 31 May 2008. In the past I've mentioned some pointing problems with it and this time was no exception. The temperature was 57°F and the mySKY was still consistently 5-7 degrees in error on Identify and Goto functions. This is a bummer as the first unit I had worked almost perfectly right up until it failed (locked up getting the GPS alignment). This second unit gets GPS OK but is lousy at its main function, which is Identifying and Goto-ing objects!
[27 July 08]
As noted on my SCAE 2008 report, Meade announced the "mySKY plus" at OPT on Saturday, 19 July. The most noticeable changes are that GPS is now disabled and there are many new and enhanced video segments. As a teaching tool, the new videos will definitely be a plus. Meade said they disabled GPS as there were too many user complaints about long delays acquiring GPS and problems with reliability. Existing mySKY owners will be able to update to the new software from Meade's web site the first week of August. I received a new SD card from Meade at SCAE and was finally able to have some breaks in the clouds tonight to try it out. Here's my brief report.
During the SCAE 2008 Star Party on 12 July I tested the mySKY (old software) and discovered that the pointing error still existed even though I had changed my location from Arizona to California. In fact, the error was about 15 degrees in California, versus the 5-7 degrees I had been seeing in Arizona. And no, it was not a time error, but seemed to be a calibration error in the mySKY unit. When Meade provided a new SD card on the 19th I was anxious to see if the new software corrected my problem. Unfortunately I was not able to test it while in California and the monsoons in Arizona kept my nights cloudy until tonight, when the skies were partly cloudy with some stars visible. I installed the new card and powered up the mySKY. The screen showed I now had version 1.3a (I had version 1.2tc before). There is a new startup demo that runs on first use. I noticed right away that the video was offset to the left, with about a 4mm wide blue stripe running vertically along the right edge of the screen. Once the initial video completed the date/time/location menu appeared; there was no GPS option in the menu. I entered my location information and after the sensor calibration step I was taken to the Sky Map screen. It was also shifted left, with the stripe along the right edge now being white in the upper half and garbage "noise" in the bottom half. I powered off the mySKY and then turned it back on. The display was now properly centered. During all subsequent startups, the display was OK. Once it was dark I went outside and tested the pointing. Surprisingly it was now about 15 degrees off on Jupiter, Vega, and Polaris. I guess it will have to be returned to Meade for a re-calibration.
[31 July 08]
Meade has posted information on the "mySKY PLUS" on their web site. As of today, the software update is not yet available online.
[17 Nov 08]
Subject: Success with my ETX60 and my sky plus Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2008 23:31:29 From: perry duke (email@example.com) Just wanted to let you know of the success I had this weekend with my ETX 60 and the My-sky plus I just purchased. I have had the 60 for a while now and never really used it (been using an old ETX 90 I found on Craigs list for 100$) Well, I took it out to the driveway, did the set up and it worked perfectly. Took the tour and saw the orion nebula, the pleides, and 10-12 other things in the tour, flawless operation! I also purchased a My-sky plus from OPT for 149$ and received it this week. I went through the tutorial, set it down to calibrate (took about 6 seconds) and it was spot on, excellent piece of equipment. I am planning on purchasing the cable set to use the MS+ with the 60. I know this is a long message but I was just so excited to have these two wonderful items work so flawlessly out of the box, I know you get alot of tech Emails with problems, just wanted to pass on some positives. Great site and your hard work and guidance is very much appreciated. Perry Duke firstname.lastname@example.org
[12 Dec 08]
Jon Zander provides his opinion:
Subject: Meade mySky rip-off Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 17:22:05 From: Jon Zander (email@example.com) Just thought you would like to know the other side of the whole mySky fiasco. I got mine in November 2007, and it was broken by March 2008 with the power switch button breaking. Three more units were sent to me in quick succession, but they were all defective and sent back. Meade now refuses to send me letters of explanation as to why they no longer will fulfill their warranty obligations and I'm out $400--I basically rented one for four months at $100/month. At best I get a call to my answering machine saying a bunch of salesperson gibberish. I will never buy a Meade product again because of their theft. Maybe you should pass this note along as the "beyond comprhension mySky rip-off but we'll take your money and snub you" feature of this pathetic device. Jon ZanderMike here: Sorry you have had problems. I know that Meade had some issues with the mySKY and I have also experienced a couple of problems.
[9 Mar 09]
Subject: Meade mySky Plus experience Sent: Friday, March 6, 2009 17:19:21 From: Steve and Brenda Gladfelter (firstname.lastname@example.org) In December 2008, my wife purchased a mySky Plus from OPT corp. (where I got my ETX 125 PE and found them to be excellent problem resolvers). She also ordered OPT's own cable to point the scope by connecting to the handbox since I didn't need Meade's 3 pack. I was very impressed with the mySky, but then I followed instructions and tried the update, which promptly failed and the unit was inoperable. Being somewhat computer savy, I realized a hidden binary file had not copied when I had backed up the SD card so I could not restore it. Using the data from the install disk from the mySky plus package I was able to get it working with a prior version of the software/firmware that was not as elaborate, BUT, it included the GPS function which was missing from the plus! All Worked well and my pointing accuracy was good and the point scope function worked well. I used it to re-learn the night sky as I have been out of amateur astronomy for over 30 years, and I found I could us it in the house to find the position of, lets say Saturn, in the sky at any given time to let me know if I wanted to take the scope out to observe. Last week, I was setting in my office and used the mySky to see what all was available from my backyard that would not be in the light pollution around my home. I found it would be worth my time to get the scope out, but before I did so, I decided to check the position of Andromeda. When I pressed the power button, it felt as if there was nothing there. There was no "springy" feel to it and the unit failed to power on. I knew it wouldn't help, but I put in fresh batteries and same results. The power button was broken. This unit has never been dropped, abused, or used by anyone except me with loving care, and stored in the original box when not in use. I can only surmise that the power button (as well as the "update" feature) are weaknesses common to the mySky. After reading entries on your site and searching the net, I found multiple instances of failure with "cheap" switches being used for volume, screen display and power. Some had sent the units back to Meade as many as 5 times and still had them fail out of the box after which they refused to do anything further, including refusing refundall in direct violation of the law since they were still in warrantee. I directed some of those folks to filing an FTC complaint and a complaint with their state AG's office to see if that helped. Myself.I have faith in OPT. When my first 125 fried out of the box, not only did they replace it, but did a free PAT on it. I wrote them today and expect to hear soon. It is very important to deal with a dealer you can establish a relationship with. John Downs of OPT has even sent me some amazing astro-photography images he has taken. At the very least, I suspect they will help me deal with Meade on the issue and at best, resolve it themselves then deal with Meade so I don't have to. I will let you know what I find out. Worst case, I will open the case as I used to own a computer repair shop and should be able to figure out what is going onbut I don't want to void the warrantee if I can get it honored. I am posting this as both a warning about the problems the mySky seems to have built into it and as a suggestion to always know your dealerdo some homework! As others have said, your site is the single most valuable information for an amateur or experience astronomer that I have found! Steve Gladfeleter
And an update:
I already heard back from John Downs at OPT and he says Meade has discontinued the mySky units. My options are to take my chances with Meade on repair or he said they would credit the returned unit toward a Celestron Sky Scout, which he says is much better made. I know it won't control my scope, but I have the computer for that so I think I will go with the sky scout instead of trying to get anything out of Meade. Thanks SteveMike here: Hadn't heard about it being discontinued. But I guess as a cost-cutting measure, they have to trim the product line.
Wonder if they are just trying to dump existing stock and telling dealers not to order more. Luckily for OPT, they are sold out. Sounds like there won't be much support for them. John said they are "currently" accepting units for replacement, but feels that will end once they run out and the I'd be stuck (in the event I had another go bad.) Unfortunately, the Celestron appears to be the best of the two options and I appreciate OPT doing this. Steve
True to form, OPT came through like champs. They are shipping the new Celestron Sky Scout IYA limited edition and external speaker accessory to me on Monday. They are having me return the dead mySky and cable. I am very glad to do business with these folks. Between Mike West and John Downs, I have gotten nothing but the best service...above and beyond. SteveMike here: Here is the OPT product page for the mySKY Plus showing it being discontinued:
[18 Mar 09]
Subject: Final update on mySky and Sky Scout Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 11:01:39 From: Steve and Brenda Gladfelter (email@example.com) As I mentioned, OPT took back the mySky and sent the Celestron Sky Scout IYA Limited edition (with the SD Card included for 2009 events). This thing has worked flawlessly, is much more solidly built and extremely accurate. While it doesn't guide the scope, it doesn't need to! If I see something interesting, I point and shoot to identify it, then tell the scope to go to whatever I identified. I was finally able to calibrate my sensors. There is light pollution in my back yard that wipes out Polaris. I found where it should be with the Sky Scout and put it against the tube. And used that location. My Alignments are now dead on horizontally and only a bit low vertically due to the method I am using. It makes it much easier to align, however, having the alignment star in the FOV of the red dot LNT finder or sometimes even the 26mm eyepiece. All in all, I have gotten more enjoyment and satisfaction from this unit that I did the whole time I had the mySky. They are not in the same league. The Sky Scout comes with a nice case, earphones, wrist strap and I added the accessory speakers, which are awesome. I even use them with the IPod. They are powered speakers that recharge by simply plugging them into the USB port on a computer. At this point, thanks to a good dealer, I am happy with my ETX 125 PE, my Sky Scout and of course your web site. Thanks! Steve
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