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Thread: Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Skeye

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    Arrow Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Skeye



    I was looking for some way to allow my Meade 16 Starfinder Dob to track.

    I started a thread and found some tables could do the trick but where expensive. While I can't afford the tables I found, a recommendation from star2root in this forum set me on a related quest.

    Star2root recommended some Push-To software called Skeye that runs on Android phones and tablets.

    I went at once to the iTunes App store and purchased the only telescope Push-To software I could find for the iPad/iPhone called "iPushTo".

    I quickly found that is software would be usless to me. You have to mount the phone/pad when the scope was perfectly horizontal and there is not option for further alignment, nothing to align for gyro drift during use and a poor interface and catalog.

    So the iPad and PushTo software was a FAIL.

    That is ok though, I love my iPad and it works wonderfully as a hand-held sky survey tool, planning tool, and much more. I like the apps StarTrackerHD, DS Browser, pUniverseHD and especially I love SkySafari+

    Plan B:

    I purchased a used Color Nook and bought a non-OS replacing triple boot "root kit" that allowed the Nook to run Android tablet software (Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich).

    The Color Nook was on the application web sites "white list" of devises reported to work with the Skeye software app.

    Turns out the person that wrote the report did not bother to try the primary feature of the software, the Go-To function.

    As I learned the Color Nook tablet does not have a magnetometer.

    This renders it useless as a GoTo tablet.

    I contacted the developer though his news group and he appended the white list: http://skeye.wikispaces.com/

    I was very pleased with the easy of contact and how friendly the developer was. This encouraged me to press on.

    Plan B: Used Color Nook $100 + Android OS Root Kit / MicroSD $15 = FAIL.

    Plan C:

    I went to Microcenter the next day and purchased an Acer A100 tablet. The tablet was a factory refirb for $169.00.

    I really, really like this tablet it has great I/O ports, fast, great screen, great form factor. It does have a magnetometer, gyros and a GPS built in.

    After installing Skeye and the important support apps Navy Clock to sync time to the nano-second and GPS Status to calibrate the gyros and magnetometer I thought I was all set.

    However, it was not to be.

    The A100 apparently has a very poor magnometer and the on-board electronics interfere with it's performance.

    It works fine for a basic compass but the SkEye software would continually, give "Strange Magnetic Field" warnings even away from the scope, with WiFi off, Bluetooth off, and out in fields away from all metallic structures of any kind.

    The app ran great with no lock-ups but it would not align well and even when still the stars would "swim" on the screen.

    Plan C: Acer A100 Tablet + Skeye and support apps = FAIL

    So back to Microcenter to trade up to a tablet with a better magnetometer.

    Magnetometers are not exactly something you find in reviews so I turned to the white list again. Most of the reports were from people with little to no technical experience so it was a rough guide at best.

    Plan D:

    I purchased a Galaxy Tab 2, 7.0 $249

    (Model GT-P3113, Android Version 4.0.3, Kernel 3.0.8 )

    I installed Skeye and at once noticed better hand-held performance then I got with the A100. I really liked the A100 better (see above) but the Galaxy tablet was running Skeye and that is what is most important.

    The RAM-Mount system I ordered had not arrived yet so I used the highly technical mounting system from 3M called "Velcro".

    Once the RAM-Mount arrives I will have a more secure accurate platform for the tablet and I will be able to use it with the RAM-Mount system on my motorcycle for GPS and other duties.

    I aligned the application with Saturn and Vega and it took me to the Ring Nebula. Now when I said it 'took me there' it brought it into my 30mm Explore scientific 68Deg eyepiece view. It did not center it. But that is ok.

    As I worked with it through the night I found that, as expected with any phone/tablet used for this kind of work, there will be gyro drift. I found that by using the application's simple insta-align feature I could just align with a few bright stars in any constellation and it provided good Go-To services for the DSO's nearby.

    This was very useful as this week has been poor viewing with the moon and high humidity. The Go-To was much quicker than my Telrad for darting from one section of the sky to the other. I was able to find lots of old friends and 3 new M-objects got crossed off the bag-list.

    I am NOT getting rid of the Telrad, as it helps me to quickly align the Skeye to bright stars and counter the gyro-drift.

    Plan D: $249.00 Galaxy (proper name for the job I think) Tab 2 + $9 Skeye Pro, + Navy Clock, + GPS Status = WINNER.

    Photos:

    All Four Tablets Ready to try Push-To services:




    A100 mounted on 16inch Dob



    Galaxy Tab, temporally mounted with Velcro for testing to the 16 Dob




    The great I/O ports of the A100



    Poor, Color Nook. Affordable but no Magnetometer.

    Meade 16" Starfinder Dob, Telrad, Skeye on Android Galaxy.
    LX-90 10-inch, ETX-125
    E.S. 6.7/82, 9/100, 11/82 16/82, 20/68, 30/70, Meade UWA 14, Binoc.
    PST Solar Scope with Meade tracking mount.
    Heliograph with Meade tracking mount.
    20x80, 7x50 Binocs

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    Thanks for posting this!

    Very interesting shoot out and similar to what I have been saying about Goto/intelliscopes/argonav vs push to manuals/apps - they obviously cannot substitute for pinpoint pointing accuracy

    Have you found any solution you are happy with or is "accurate enough"?
    Name: Gus OTAs: ED 100 PRO refractor, Orion ST80 (not the CF), 8" Dob stuck in Canada Mounts:HEQ5PRO Synscan mount, Manfrotto Tripod CAMS: QHY8L not recommended, Guidecam Philips SPC900 webcams (4), Canon unmodded-450D DSLR

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by admin View Post
    Thanks for posting this!

    Very interesting shoot out and similar to what I have been saying about Goto/intelliscopes/argonav vs push to manuals/apps - they obviously cannot substitute for pinpoint pointing accuracy

    Have you found any solution you are happy with or is "accurate enough"?
    One problem with tablets is that my posts have lots of typos!

    I agree, it is not as accurate as the goto scopes I have had.

    I had an ETX for years and it would put the target in the eyepiece center almost every time.

    What I did not like about my ETX was that to have a good aln you had to point it to Polaris which is not always possible. If I used a compass to aln the ETX it's goto and tracking would suffer.

    Skeye has not been that accurate for me. I hope to improve it a little once I get the RAM mount attached.

    I do like it, and I find it a good complement to my telrad.

    However, I would not encourage anyone to use it as a replacement to buying a goto scope. The gyros/magnetometers in tabs and phones are simply not that accurate and are prone to interference.

    If your scope is not a goto this is a cheap and easy substitute though not as accurate.

    For Telrad users it is hard to star hop to DSOs away from bright stars and Skeye can help get you there with less effort and time.

    .

    .
    Meade 16" Starfinder Dob, Telrad, Skeye on Android Galaxy.
    LX-90 10-inch, ETX-125
    E.S. 6.7/82, 9/100, 11/82 16/82, 20/68, 30/70, Meade UWA 14, Binoc.
    PST Solar Scope with Meade tracking mount.
    Heliograph with Meade tracking mount.
    20x80, 7x50 Binocs

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    that is ok we can clearly understand and learn a lot from your writings!

    I agree it would be helpful but as you say its not going to replace a goto scope (at least not yet maybe in a decade or more we could be in for a surprise someday).

    thanks again!
    Name: Gus OTAs: ED 100 PRO refractor, Orion ST80 (not the CF), 8" Dob stuck in Canada Mounts:HEQ5PRO Synscan mount, Manfrotto Tripod CAMS: QHY8L not recommended, Guidecam Philips SPC900 webcams (4), Canon unmodded-450D DSLR

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    Er... Unless I'm missing something, both sky safari and pocket universe can track where you're pointing by compass and/ or gyroscope, and will show an arrow pointing to the selected object - they do on my IPod touch anyway . I think most of the iOS planetarium apps do that. Both let you line things up (in azimuth, at least - not sure about altitude - I think that goes directly from the gyro) when using the gyro (since the iPod touch doesn't have a compass).

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    Default Re: Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Ske

    Quote Originally Posted by jerryTheC View Post
    Er... Unless I'm missing something, both sky safari and pocket universe can track where you're pointing by compass and/ or gyroscope, and will show an arrow pointing to the selected object - they do on my IPod touch anyway . I think most of the iOS planetarium apps do that. Both let you line things up (in azimuth, at least - not sure about altitude - I think that goes directly from the gyro) when using the gyro (since the iPod touch doesn't have a compass).
    Jerry,

    Yes, that is called hand-held mode. Those modes assume you are looking naked eye at the sky and using the pad as a chart that show the general part of the sky that the screen in parallel to.

    A PUSH-TO app does a great deal more. A push-to app has to align with the telescope and be able to calibrate to where the scope is looking, like a finder-scope if you will.
    Meade 16" Starfinder Dob, Telrad, Skeye on Android Galaxy.
    LX-90 10-inch, ETX-125
    E.S. 6.7/82, 9/100, 11/82 16/82, 20/68, 30/70, Meade UWA 14, Binoc.
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    20x80, 7x50 Binocs

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    Thumbs up Re: Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Ske

    UPdate.

    I am getting MUCH better results now that I am using the RAM mount system.

    Some tips:

    Start out by letting the tablet sit for 30min to acquire really good GPS and mag settings, then set and RECORD location information in app.

    First 2-3 Alignments should be in very different parts of the sky.

    From then on use the quick-align for EVERY target you find with the high-power eyepiece (except for large objects)

    Let the scope 'sit' for a moment before and after each quick-align to make sure the app is accurate.

    I am getting good enough now with the app that I no longer need to use my Telrad except for the first 2 or 3 alignments. From then on it is all Skeye!

    If you are not finding a target to go another target in the same or a close constellation and quick-align to it, then search on the original target with a wide FOV eyepiece.

    .

    .
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Meade 16" Starfinder Dob, Telrad, Skeye on Android Galaxy.
    LX-90 10-inch, ETX-125
    E.S. 6.7/82, 9/100, 11/82 16/82, 20/68, 30/70, Meade UWA 14, Binoc.
    PST Solar Scope with Meade tracking mount.
    Heliograph with Meade tracking mount.
    20x80, 7x50 Binocs

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    I would have guessed the acer would have gone the trick! I use skeye on my nook color. The DSC obviously is useless though. As much as I love RJs app and the work he has put into it, I do use SkySafari Pro a lot more at this point. Good thread. Wish I had your budget!

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    Default Re: Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Ske

    Thanks!

    I owned the ipad before this project and I use SkySafari and other apps on it.

    For the DSC, I kept my receipt for the Acer and returned it the store. The A100 interferes with itself but apparently the larger formats (10in) don't, or at least not as much.

    I sold the nook on ebay for what I paid for it.

    It was a frustrating experience but I learned from it.

    .
    Meade 16" Starfinder Dob, Telrad, Skeye on Android Galaxy.
    LX-90 10-inch, ETX-125
    E.S. 6.7/82, 9/100, 11/82 16/82, 20/68, 30/70, Meade UWA 14, Binoc.
    PST Solar Scope with Meade tracking mount.
    Heliograph with Meade tracking mount.
    20x80, 7x50 Binocs

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    Default Re: Tablet/Phone Push-To Software and Hardware shootout, iPad-Android iPushTo and Ske

    Looks really interesting. I have a smart phone and an Acer A500. I'll give this a go. Will not be as good as the LX200 but on the dob and cg5 mount will put me in the ball park of DSO's.
    Don't you love technology :-)
    Regards
    Chris.B
    10" LX200, Astro optics doby, Saxon 90mm refractor. Imaging with Canon 40D and DSI.
    (ASV)Melbourne, Australia.

 

 
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