SkyFi Hardware Overview


    SkyFi lets you control a telescope or other serial device from a computer, iPhone, or iPod with WiFi wireless communication. This page is an introduction to SkyFi's hardware.

    All of SkyFi's external connections are made through the end panel at the top of the unit. The battery compartment, status LED, and reset button are found on the bottom of the case.

    Simulation Curriculum offers a 1-year limited warranty on all SkyFi units purchased directly from Simulation Curriculum or from an authorized reseller. This warranty does not cover damage caused by an out-of-spec AC power adapter. Here's a picture of a third-party AC power adapter that will destroy a SkyFi unit. If you can't figure out why this adapter does not meet the specs below, you should not attempt to use your own power adapter with SkyFi!

    Simulation Curriculum offers an AC adapter that meets SkyFi's requirements. This adapter is now included with all SkyFi units sold in the USA and Canada after May, 2012. If you bought your SkyFi before that time, you can order an AC adapter from our on-line store.

    The End Panel

    SkyFi's End Panel.
    Power Switch is in BAT position.

    This panel contains the following connections:

    • Serial Port - an RJ-11 "telephone" jack, which connects to the RS-232 serial port on another device (telescope, computer, etc.) SkyFi includes an RJ-11 to DB9 male adapter cable that connects SkyFi to the DB9 female connector found on most telescope serial cables.

    • USB Port - a USB "A"-style port, which connects SkyFi's internal host/master USB hardware to the smaller USB "B"-style port on a USB slave device (like your telescope controller). Use a standard USB cable to connect SkyFi's USB "A" port to the USB "B" port on your slave device.

    • DC Input - allows SkyFi to be powered from an external source. The input DC power requirements are 6 - 12 Volts, 0.5 - 1.5 amps. The connector fits any standard center-positive 5.5 mm OD x 2.1 mm ID male barrel plug. You may purchase an AC adapter which lets SkyFi run from an electrical wall socket. You may also use a car cigarette lighter-style adapter, which will work with any 12V DC power source, such as a car battery.

    • Power Switch - switches between internal (battery) power and external (DC) power. This switch has two positions:

      • BAT (right; close to DC input jack) - powers SkyFi from the internal 4x AA battery pack, or turns SkyFi off if battery power is not available.

      • EXT (left; away from DC input jack) - powers SkyFi from the external DC input, or turns SkyFi off if DC power not available.

    Please Note: when running SkyFi from an external 12V DC power source, it may become quite warm. This is normal; SkyFi doesn't use any more power than the 6V supplied by the internal battery pack, and it is simply dissipating the extra power as heat. SkyFi's electronics can function properly at temperatures up to 85° C!

    The Bottom Panel

    SkyFi's Bottom Panel.

    This panel contains the following items:

    • Status LED - lights up when SkyFi is turned on. The LED should appear red at first, then turn green after a few seconds. The LED color indicates SkyFi's status:

      • Red - SkyFi is turned on, but its WiFi radio is not working yet. Blinking red indicates that the batteries are low.

      • Green - SkyFi is turned on, and its WiFi radio is working correctly. When SkyFi sends or receives wireless data, the LED will blink green.

    • Reset Button - inside the small hole at lower right. When SkyFi is turned on, poke this button with an unbent paper clip to restore all settings to factory defaults. If you depress the reset button with the power off, then turn the power on, SkyFi will be placed into "programming mode," which lets you update its firmware through its serial port.

    • Battery Compartment - accepts four standard AA batteries. Make sure you insert the batteries correctly, with the positive ends of the batteries matching the + marks inside the battery compartment. Battery life for typical alkaline batteries should be 8 - 12 hours under normal operating conditions.

      Please note: batteries are not included in the SkyFi retail box.