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Old 05-01-2010, 02:06 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Argo Navis controlled via iPhone/SkyFi success

Hi all

Thanks to both Gary Kopff from Wildcard Innovations and Tim Benedictus from CarinaSoft for their valuable support and help, I now have my scope set up such that I can control my Argo's PUSHTO guide angles from my iPhone. The communication is bilateral, which is fantastic. I can point the iPhone at an object in the sky (with its accelerometer, compass and GPS) and the Voyager software will tell the Argo via the 802.11 private wireless network on my SkiFi where I have to PUSHTO to get to it. As I point the scope at a target, I can also watch the direction it's pointing to on my iPhone in real time via the screen reticle as I move the scope. This is brilliant for me as I can ditch the large finderscope which upsets my balance when I have the cameras attached. Now I'm not flying blind! Also, 802.11 is so much better than some of the older BluTooth-enabled systems it's not funny. Outdoors range is fantastic.

For public nights it's also going to be fantastic as I can have people ask "what's that?", pointing up, and I can point the iPhone at it, identify the object and then have the scope ready to PUSHTO straight there. Wonderful!

Once again - thanks Gary and Tim!!!

Here's the setup.
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Last edited by Omaroo; 05-01-2010 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 05-01-2010, 02:12 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Now, build a green laser pointer into the iPhone - and align it to the "accelerometer, compass and GPS". It's a travesty that it isn't fitted as standard!
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Old 05-01-2010, 02:16 PM
gary
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for the report and the picture of the rig.

Looks like you are 'cooking on gas!'

Best Regards

Gary Kopff
Managing Director
Wildcard Innovations Pty. Ltd.
20 Kilmory Place, Mount Kuring-Gai
NSW. 2080. Australia
Phone +61-2-9457-9049
Fax +61-2-9457-9593
sales@wildcard-innovations.com.au
http://www.wildcard-innovations.com.au
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:06 PM
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Rodstar (Rod)
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what a great idea...fantastic Chris!
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:17 AM
Calibos (Keith)
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Don't want to rain on your parade mate but I would have thought that the functionality you are talking about isn't very accurate. I played around with it myself and while its kinda neat, I can't imagine using it to feed co-ordinates to the argo. (We are talking about the hold the iphone to the sky mode aren't we?)

Where SV on your iPhone in combo with the argo would come into its own is the planetarium aspect. Seeing whats in the area on screen, selecting a new object and feeding the push-to info to the argo. ie. not having to use the scroll wheel navigate the catalogues.

In my case, I have a 16" Lightbridge and am waiting to find time to fit my servocat and Sky Commander DSC. I received my Sky-Fi just after Christmas. I am as excited as you though about getting it all working together with SV and my iPhone. Not that it would be very useful for actually selecting targets but I'll definately be giving the 'hold to sky' mode you are talking about a try. I wonder can I get the scope to follow the SkyVoyager onscreen cursor. If that were possible I could hold the phone up and watch the scope mirror my movements of the iPhone
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:17 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calibos View Post
Where SV on your iPhone in combo with the argo would come into its own is the planetarium aspect.
I thought that this would have been taken for granted...

"Holding" the iPhone up to the sky doesn't select an object perse. You still need to select it and hit "GOTO". By virtue of the fact that you've selected the particular target on-screen (zooming to do so as well), it's pretty darned accurate in the coordinates sent to the Argo.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:55 PM
Calibos (Keith)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omaroo View Post
I thought that this would have been taken for granted...

"Holding" the iPhone up to the sky doesn't select an object perse. You still need to select it and hit "GOTO". By virtue of the fact that you've selected the particular target on-screen (zooming to do so as well), it's pretty darned accurate in the coordinates sent to the Argo.
Oh, I get ye now. You still have to tap on the object in view to select for the co-ordinates to be sent to the argo. I was thinking it was kind of sending real time dynamic push to co-ordinates. So in this respect your selection of objects to send push to co-ordinates to the argo is exactly the same as in normal planetarium mode, its just that this way is easy for the public at outreach to play with it. ie. they don't have to get their head around scrolling the view around and knowing east from west and mentally orientating themselves etc. Navigate the sky in the 'sky view mode'.

Yeah, I get you now.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:46 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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You got it. The public relate to the iPhone with Voyager running like they do a Celestron SkyScout or Meade MySky. When they point to a fuzzy that they can see, you can dazzle them by holding the phone up to that fuzzy and pronounce that they've "discovered" (for instance) NGCXXXX! Then, you can preempt the proper viewing of that object by pre-loading the Argo with the appropriate guide angles, ready to push to. Wonderful!
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:54 PM
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JethroB76 (Jeff)
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very neat
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:22 PM
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Louwai (Bryan)
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Nice Chris. We might need to talk more when I get an iphone........
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:55 AM
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You're going to love it Bryan. Any time!
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:10 PM
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Hi Omaroo, this looks really interesting. Questions, would you know how does Carina's SkyVoyager for iPhone compare with SkyMap Pro? Can SkyMap Pro talk to the SkiFi? Thanks, Fox!
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:27 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Hi there Fox

I run both Voyager and StarMap Pro. Quite frankly I don't like StarMap. I find that it's too "itty bitty", and ponderous to navigate around in. Settings are a right royal PITA. Also, it's "WiFi" setting seems to do absolutely nothing - it doesn't even detect my home network 802.11 modem let alone the SkyFi and gives "No networks detected". Don't know what it's trying to do.

Voyager is a pleasure to use, and most functions are very similar, and some better then the equivalents on StarMap. Granted, SMP has many more than Voyager, but I find that i don't use any of them, because they aren't much use on a device the size of a phone - and it is still a phone after all. I'd rather use my laptop. photo exposure timers and logbooks are basically useless to me on a device like this. All I want are a good planetarium, a way to search for objects and a nice smooth display - which I think that Voyager just does better. Coupled with the SkyFi it's a killer combination now - very powerful indeed.

While SMP covers 2.5 million stars and 13,200 deep sky objects, Voyager only covers 320,000 stars but - more importantly - 18,500 deep sky objects, a full 5,00 more than SMP.

Here's a decent survey of iPhone planisphere apps - but is outdated and doesn't test Voyager (especially the latest version, v1.3):

http://physics.weber.edu/schroeder/iPhoneStarApps/

Last edited by Omaroo; 08-01-2010 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:29 PM
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Thanks Omaroo, I've just bought Sky Voyager, its a nice app, and different to SM Pro. From what I've seen so far, I like it, I'll see how it pans out over time and decide if I will go for the SkyFi addition. Voyager's map is a little slow on my iPhone 3G - I think the iPhone 3GS would be much better.

It will be most interesting to see if this 10-inch Apple "iTablet/iSlate" eventuates on the 26th Jan - I am really really hoping it will run both iPhone apps and Mac OSX software at the same time. Fox (unashamed Apple fan...)!
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:18 AM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox View Post
Thanks Omaroo, I've just bought Sky Voyager, its a nice app, and different to SM Pro. From what I've seen so far, I like it, I'll see how it pans out over time and decide if I will go for the SkyFi addition. Voyager's map is a little slow on my iPhone 3G - I think the iPhone 3GS would be much better.

It will be most interesting to see if this 10-inch Apple "iTablet/iSlate" eventuates on the 26th Jan - I am really really hoping it will run both iPhone apps and Mac OSX software at the same time. Fox (unashamed Apple fan...)!
Hmm.. yes, the 3GS is far faster.

The "iSlate" tablet will be interesting, but I've just bought an Amazon Kindle and love it, so no tablets for me for a while. Besides, I have a tablet PC and the reason that I love the Kindle so much is that it sports an E-Ink display, not backlit LCD. To read a book I want it in fabulous E-Ink black and white and have absolutely no eye strain. Also, having tablet PC's for a number of years now I'm not convinced that they're all that useful in real life once you get past the novelty factor - Apple version or not. If you can't stick it in your pocket or clip it to your belt then you just have to lug it around with you.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:14 PM
Calibos (Keith)
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Chris,

I figured out something today that made me think of your Skyscout comment above.

You may well have already tried out the iPhones Voiceover functionality, where the phone can read out text in a decent quality synthesised voice. This can be switched on by going to General Settings, Accessibilty. The problem was that we all thought that there was only the one menu item relating to it. ie. ON/OFF. With it turned on, it changes the whole UI of the Phone. It was great how it could read out the text descriptions of objects within SkyVoyager but unfortunate that it made the rest of the App very hard to use. Having to double tap everything and multitouch/touch scroll disabled etc ie. it seemed to be a 'Global' setting.

Well, I just stumbled upon the fact that at the bottom of the menu page there is a setting called 'Triple-Click Home'. You can change this to 'Toggle Home'. In other words with a triple click of the Home button you can turn the VoiceOVer On/Off within parts of APPs.

Now you can use SkyVoyager normally. CLick on the info for an object, click on the Object description button. Triple Click Home to turn on Voiceover, tap the text to start it reading and when finished Triple click Home to turn it back off.

Now you can 'Listen' to an object description while looking through the eyepiece, kinda like a skyscout.
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:08 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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How cool Keith I'll give it a go!
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:01 PM
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Fantastic Chris! Sounds like a blast!
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:02 PM
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kustard (Simon)
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Hey Chris, what are you using to power the SkyFi & iPhone?
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Old 13-03-2010, 09:36 AM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Sorry Simon - I've been away... just got back.

The iPhone uses its own battery of course (it's not physically plugged in to anything and is only on momentarily anyway), and I use a split cable to distribute 12Vdc to both the Argo Navis and SkyFi from the 12v-out socket on the G-11. Otherwise it's a case of using 4xAA cells in each.
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