Southern Stars now offers two wired telescope-control solutions for your Apple mobile device: SkyWire and SkyWire Lightning. It's the simplest way to turn your iPhone into a 21st-century telescope controller. This brand-new "Made for iPod" accessory adds an RS-232 port to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch - and lets it connect directly to the serial port on your telescope.
SkyWire requires zero configuration - just plug it into your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It doesn't need batteries - it's powered by the phone, and consumes almost no power when not in use.
SkyWire isn't just a "dumb cable". It's a true "Made for iPod" accessory that meets all Apple specs. Unlike other "iPhone serial cables" available on the internet, you don't have to jailbreak your iPhone to use it. It's the simplest, most reliable, and most affordable way to control a telescope from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
Most telescope models will require an additional cable to adapt SkyWire's standard DB9 connector to a telescope-specific RJ-11 serial connector. If you already have a "PC serial cable" for your telescope, you don't need this additional cable from us. If you do need this cable, we can provide one for you - with free shipping if you order it with SkyWire!
The new SkyWire Lightning supports the following iOS devices:
The original SkyWire with 30-pin dock connector supports the following iOS devices:
The original SkyWire will also work with newer Lightning iOS devices through Apple's Lightning-to-30-pin Adapter or Cable. SkyWire may also work with other third-party Lightning-to-30-pin adapters and cables, but we've only tested SkyWire with genuine Apple accessories.
SkyWire Lightning needs no adapter. It plugs directly into your iOS device's Lightning port.
SkyWire will not work with Android devices. It is was designed for, and is exclusively compatible with, iOS devices. For Android telescope connectivity options, see the SkySafari for Android Telescope Control and Frequently Asked Questions pages.
SkyWire can connect to any telescope with a standard RS-232 serial interface. Models that have been tested and are known to work with SkyWire include:
Some Meade ETX models (60/80) ship with the Autostar #494 controller. To make SkyWire 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.
The only models that do not work with SkyWire are those that lack an RS-232 serial interface. Such models include:
These telescopes have USB or Ethernet interfaces, which cannot be physically connected to SkyWire.
Really, SkyWire is pretty simple. Here's everything you wanted to know about SkyWire, including:
Effect on battery life: At most, SkyWire uses an iPhone 4 battery 20% faster than an iPhone 4 running alone. This "worst-case" scenario assumes that both SkyWire and the iPhone are running continuously. When plugged in but not active, SkyWire consumes almost 10x less power, and should have near-zero impact on battery life. An iPad battery, with its much higher capacity, won't even notice a SkyWire connected to it!
SkyWire was the first in a family of serial cable accessories for iOS devices. It was specifically designed by Redpark Product Development to be used with our SkySafari iPhone app for telescope control. But it's also a true RS-232 serial port that can - in theory - be used with other serial devices. Redpark sells a similar cable that is licensed by Apple for hobbyists to develop such serial applications.
Please note that due to Apple's policy restrictions, you can only develop apps that work with Redpark's cable for your own personal use. Such apps cannot be sold on the iTunes Store. If you want to sell an iOS app which uses Redpark's serial cable, you'll need to develop your own "flavor" of the cable. Contact Redpark for more information.
Other flavors of the Redpark serial cable include Orion's StarSeek Telescope Control Cable, and Redpark's own C2-DB9 Serial Cable. For similar reasons, these cables cannot be used with SkySafari. Redpark's and Orion's cables identify themselves to iOS as different accessories than our app expects. Even though all of these cables are physically identical to SkyWire, this firmware difference is enough to prevent our app from recognizing the other cables.
Due to Apple's restrictions, we cannot change our app to recognize Redpark's or Orion's cables; and Redpark cannot change its driver or SDK to recognize SkyWire. Apple's policy is very strict in this regard - each accessory is specifically designed for one app, and vice-versa. We cannot sell SkySafari on the iTunes store unless we adhere to Apple's rules!