SkyFi is the only WiFi device on the market specifically designed for telescope control. It's battery-powered for field use; your scope, SkyFi, and iPhone all run off batteries, or from a 12V source.
Unlike bluetooth devices, SkyFi requires no pairing, and no special drivers. It uses standard TCP/IP networking protocols. Because TCP/IP is the language of the internet, SkyFi can enable your telescope to be remotely controlled over the internet. This is a capability that bluetooth simply was never designed for.
You can use SkyFi with your WiFi-enabled laptop or desktop computer, as well as an iPhone or iPod Touch.
SkyFi is very compact, barely larger than an iPhone. It can be easily attached to your telescope's mount or tripod; a strip of double-sided Velcro is included for that purpose.
SkyFi accepts four AA batteries, and has a typical battery life of 8 to 12 hours under continuous use. SkyFi can also be powered from an external source, like a car battery or a wall socket. Power adapters for both AC (120V, 60Hz) wall socket input and DC (9-12V, 1.2A) cigarette-lighter socket input are available.
Once powered on, SkyFi creates its own 802.11 wireless network. By default, this is an open wireless network called "SkyFi", but you can rename and secure it later on. Join this network from your iPhone, laptop, or other computer, and - voila! - you're ready to use SkyFi. As long as your computer or iPhone gets its IP address by DHCP, no additional network configuration is required.
SkyFi provides a standard DB-9 serial adapter to interface with your telescope. That means you can use your existing telescope serial cable - you don't need to buy (or build!) another. If you don't already have a telescope serial cable, Carina Software can supply one at additional charge; please specify your telescope model when ordering.
Finally, you'll also need a telescope control application running on your computer, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. SkyFi works seamlessly with our Voyager software running on Mac OS X and Windows, as well as our SkyVoyager iPhone app.
SkyFi can wirelessly enable any telescope with a standard RS-232 serial interface. Models that have been tested and are known to work with SkyFi include:
- Meade LX-200 Classic and GPS
- Meade LX-90, ETX, LXD, LX-400 ACF with AutoStar controllers
- Meade Magellan I and II
- Celestron Ultima 2000
- Celestron NexStar 5/8, 5i/8i, GPS, SLT, SE
- Celestron CGE, CGEM, CPC, EdgeHD
- Orion Sirius, Atlas, SkyView Pro
- SkyWatcher mounts with SynScan controllers
- Takahashi Temma 2
- ServoCAT Argo Navis, Sky Commander, Losmandy DSC
- Astro-Physics GTO, Losmandy Gemini, Vixen SkySensor 2000
The only models that do not work with SkyFi are those that lack an RS-232 serial interface. Such models include:
- iOptron SmartStar and MiniTower mounts with GOTONova controllers
- Meade ETX-LS
- Vixen mounts with StarBook controllers
These telescopes have USB interfaces, which cannot be physically connected to SkyFi. We are working on a SkyFi wireless USB solution for these models, and we'll let you know here when it's available.
The Vixen StarBook controller uses an ethernet interface, which is also physically incompatible with SkyFi. However, you can use an Apple AirPort Express (or other wireless router) to control the StarBook from our SkyVoyager iPhone app or our Voyager software on a Mac or PC. You also need to configure SkyVoyager (or Voyager) to communicate with the StarBook controller at 169.254.1.1 on port 80.
Using SkyFi with Other Software
SkyFi lets you communicate with your telescope over a wireless TCP/IP connection. Both our Voyager desktop software and our SkyVoyager iPhone app are designed to do just that.
However, other astronomy programs like The Sky and Starry Night expect to communicate with a telescope directly over a serial port. To make SkyFi work with those programs, you'll need a virtual serial port driver - a piece of software that presents SkyFi's wireless TCP port to other programs as if it were a real serial port.
A number of third-party virtual serial port drivers are available, and many of them are free. Here are a few that we've successfully tested with SkyFi; all of these run on Windows:
- COM2TCP - $39 with a 45-day free trial, by AstroGeeks. Our new favorite! Has the simplest user interface of any virtual serial port solution we've tried, and the latest stable version adds support for Windows Vista - 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit editions).
- HW VSP3 - Works on Windows XP, Vista, and 7. Free, and reasonably straightforward to install and configure.
- com0com - an open-source virtual serial port driver for Windows. Also free, but not nearly as easy to set up as HW VSP3. You need to install and configure both the com0com and com2tcp pieces.
Carina Software is developing its own virtual serial port drivers for Mac and Windows. In the meantime, you are free to use any of the solutions listed above. Please note that Carina Software does not provide support for third-party software such as The Sky, Starry Night, or the other programs listed above.
|Name||Carina Software - SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller|