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Old 29-09-2020, 10:00 AM
yorkpf (Paul)
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yorkpf is offline
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 11
ASIair Pro + Celestron Nexstar 6SE + SkyPortal + SkySafari

I have a stock standard Celstron NexStar 6se (single-arm alt-azimuth mount), sitting on a tripod in my study (about a metre from my MacBook Pro and iPad). I am attempting to run it completely wirelessly. My plan is to eventually place it in the back garden, just 4 or 5 metres outside the window of my study, after testing to see how well the setup behaves indoors. I have external power sockets in the garden.

I have used USB cables in the past to get data to and from from the cameras (the main camera - a Canon 700D DSLR and a ZWO ASI 034 MC on the finderscope), and to drive the mount itself (using SkySafari 6 Pro and a Celestron SkyPortal WiFi Module). It has also been possible, using cables, to drive a JMI motorized focuser.

I realise that my setup is not ideal for astrophotography but, if it turns out that I am able to operate things remotely, I may upgrade to an EQ mount and a larger aperture.

Just to be clear, my plan is to operate the current telescope and its cameras and accessories entirely wirelessly from the study, removing the need for cables and the need to punch holes in the wall, bury cables in conduits etc. The scope will eventuallyt be placed only about 5 metres from the computer (as the crow flies).

My home wireless network is driven by a TCP-supplied TP-Link Router (an Archer C1200 model).

In support of my aim to run everything wirelessly, I recently purchased a ZWO ASIair Pro device and am attempting to set it all up. This is proving surprisingly difficult.

I can connect to the mount using SkySafari 6 Pro running on the MacBook Pro and talking to a Celestron SkyPortal WiFi Module plugged in to the AUX port on the scope. Using an ASIair Pro device and its associated software running on an iPad (ASIair doesnít work on the MacBook), I can successfully obtain a terrestrial image (of some palm trees) back to the iPad and choose exposure times etc. The DSLR camera is plugged into a USB 2.0 port on the ASIair device. I guess this shows that the iPad and the ASIair Pro are communicating, at least at some level, and so is the MacBook Pro and the telescope mount. Both lots of software (ASIair Pro on the iPad, and SkySafari on the MacBook Pro) are operating in Wifi Station mode.

What I canít do is the following:
a) Operate the mount through the ASIair Pro, whether via the SkyPortal dongle or the RS232 connection from the HC port to a USB port on the ASIair device. Hence the need to use the MacBook and SkySafari.
b) Operate the focuser (it has an FCUSB controller) using ASIair Pro.
c) Given that I canít operate a simple focuser, I feel less than confident that I will be able to operate a filter wheel and do other things, should the need arise.

Iím unsure what to make of the fact that it seems necessary to use two computing devices (a MacBook and an iPad) to operate the setup: On the one hand, it would seem neater if only one computing device was needed; on the other, using 2 devices gives me lots more screen real estate to play with (and the MacBook has an external monitor), and I like the idea of doing GoTos, using a planetarium skychart.

The difficulty of setting this all up and getting it working and stable does not leave me feeling confident that I will be able to operate a ďremoteĒ setup, with any degree of success.

Does anyone out there have any experience with the setup I am using and with what I am attempting to do?

I would be extremely grateful if you could point out where I am going wrong and what to do about it OR (perhaps) where my expectations are unrealistic. With regard to the latter though, I find it really disappointing that (well into the 21st century), the performance of astro electronics seems to fall so far short of what is possible. Help (please).

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