Reviews

"This little box is absolutely amazing! It runs on iPad + Sky Safari no problem, which is what I expected and is amazing in its own right, but the ability to log onto the house WiFi network and being able to run programs with virtual ports (using COM2TCP) wirelessly is not what I expected... You really need to get the word out that this box is not just for running your GoTo scope with your iPhone, but it is also a full-fledged wireless interface to your ASCOM platform that can control your mount drive from anywhere within your local WiFi network. Very satisfied."

- Suha, Hillsboro, NM, February 2013

"How did it perform? In a word: flawlessly. One simply chooses from a database of catalogued objects or selects from those visible on the screen, and the telescope goes to the object at your desired slew rate. Wondering what deep-sky objects can be viewed in Ursa Major? Use SkyVoyager to show that portion of the sky, and select a target. It's that simple."

- Todd Carlson, Sky News, November/December 2010

Read the full review!

"Aside from the 'oohs and aahs' elicited by anyone witnessing the system's seemingly magical ability to control a telescope, we found the range and reliability of the setup equally impresive, controlling telescopes from up to 30 meters away... It really is a revolutionary way to navigate the sky."

- Adrian Ashford, Sky & Telescope, September 2010

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"Compliments on the SkyFi and SkyVoyager. I have to tell you guys that I was out last Saturday night in 20 degree weather using my scope (crazy ... but hey). Both hardware and software worked perfectly ... and just to show off, I commanded the scope/mount to slew to another target from a distance of about 140 feet while sitting next to the campfire! Oohs and aahs from everyone!"

- Robert Nielsen, North Carolina,
USA, January 2010


Articles

"How Astronomy Came to the iPhone: A Personal Story"

Astronomy Techology Today, November 2008

Read the story in ATT!


SkyFi-USB production unit.
Click to enlarge.

SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller - Now with USB!

SkyFi is our patent-pending WiFi-to-Serial adapter, designed for wireless telescope control. If you have a computer-controlled GoTo telescope, SkyFi can use the WiFi capabilities built into your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to point your telescope in the sky.

SkyFi now includes both USB and serial ports! That means SkyFi can now control the latest USB-only telescopes from iOptron and Meade, as well as other telescopes with RS-232 serial interfaces.

To order SkyFi from our on-line store, click here. Android users please note: unfortunately, most Android devices cannot see or join Ad Hoc Wi-Fi networks. This means that, out of the box, they cannot work with SkyFi. Android users have two ways to overcome this limitation: 1) Enable Ad Hoc networking on your Android device; or 2) configure SkyFi to join your home Wi-Fi network. For more discussion, see this page.

Orion StarSeek Wi-Fi Module

Southern Stars has licensed SkyFi to Orion Telescopes & Binoculars as the StarSeek Wi-Fi Module. Orion's StarSeek Wi-Fi module works with our SkySafari iPhone app, and Orion's StarSeek iPhone apps will work with our SkyFi wireless adapter. They are fully inter-operable.

Please contact Orion Telescopes for support regarding Orion's StarSeek products. Orion is responsible for technical support on its StarSeek products, not Southern Stars.

Overview

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, iPad, 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, Southern Stars 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 SkySafari software running on Mac OS X, as well as our SkySafari app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android.


SkySafari (previously SkyVoyager) with SkyFi in use at the telescope.
Click to enlarge.

Telescope Compatibility

SkyFi can wirelessly enable almost any telescope with a standard USB or RS-232 serial interface. Models that have been tested and are known to work with SkyFi include:

Support for additional USB telescope controllers containing the Future Technology FT232R and FT232RL USB-to-UART chipsets is coming in a free firmware update during the first half of 2012. This includes the USB SiTech and USB ServoCAT controllers.

Some Meade ETX models (60/80) ship with the Autostar #494 controller. To make SkyFi work with these scopes, you need to replace the #494 Autostar controller (which does not have a serial port) with the #497 Autostar (which does). Contact Meade to upgrade your controller.

For ServoCAT and Argo Navis users, this document contains cable pinout diagrams and setup instructions. For Starmaster Sky Tracker systems, this document contains the equivalent instructions.

The only models that do not work with SkyFi are those that have neither USB nor RS-232 serial ports. Such models include:

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 SkySafari iPhone app. This document from Vixen explains how. You also need to configure SkySafari 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. Our SkySafari Plus and Pro iPhone apps are designed to do just that. So are the Plus and Pro versions of SkySafari for Mac OS X.

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 set up to create port COM4 that connects
to SkyFi's default IP address and TCP port.


Creating a virtual serial port with HW VSP3.
Click to enlarge.

David Snay of Astronomy Technology Today magazine has written a step-by-step guide to Connecting to a Telescope Through SkyFi via COM2TCP. You can download a PDF of Dave's guide by clicking this link.