SkySafari + SkyFi works intermittently - drops connection

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    Originally from ticket #25348.

    I purchased a new SkyFi wireless about 6 weeks ago (11/16/2015). Due to illness, I was not able to try it until two days ago (12/29/2015). When activated, either with external or battery power, the SkyFi only intermittently broadcasts its SSID, or is able to be found using its 10.0.0.1 address.

    I have tried it with three separate devices: iPad 4, and two Windows PCs (one laptop, one desktop).

    When it does broadcast, the SSID, the setup software is intermittently unresponsive.

    Finally, when it is working, it has intermittent trouble communicating with the attached IEQ45 German Equatorial Mount.

    I think this may be a bad unit, and would like a replacement unit as soon as possible.

    Thank you,

     

    Keiron Smith replies:

    Hi Joseph,

    Be aware that on Windows, you may not see the SSID unless you have configured Windows to join Ad Hoc networks.

    1. Do you always see the PC on the iPad?

    Please read these two articles:

    https://support.simulationcurriculum.com/entries/56946354-Starry-Night-SkyFi-Windows-
    https://support.simulationcurriculum.com/entries/66694194-V7-Windows-8-can-not-find-SkyFi-network

    2. On the iPad, try the Auto-Join feature that makes the connection more stable.
    3. Is the location you're in particularly noisy with respect to Wi-Fi or other electronic signals?
    4. You could try resetting the SkyFi to see if that helps.

    We will replace it if it is indeed damaged.

    Keiron Smith
    Starry Night & Sky Safari Software Support Team

     

    Ticket update:

    Thank you for your prompt response. I have been trying a number of alternative strategies to try to narrow down the scope of the problem.

    As a clarification, I want to describe my network setup. I have a Comcast (XFinity) router, with an external DLink DAP-1520 Dual Band Range Extender. It is through the DLink extender that I establish my connection. The reason is that the extender is much closer to both the telescope and computers, so there is a much stronger signal and better connection.

    Back to the problem at hand:

    It appears that if I reset the SkyFi to default 10.0.0.1 SkyFi name it seems fairly stable, though I did not try and extended stress test, only 15 to 20 minutes.

    Also, I believe that the best strategy for renaming and the connecting to an existing Wi-Fi network is to first rename the device (for example: SkyFi-MyNameHere), then changing the configuration to connect through the router. If I go the other way and first connect to the existing WiFi network, then rename, I use up two ip addresses to get to the same configuration (more on that in the side issue, below)

    As a side issue, when I look at my router connections list, I see SkyFi listed multiple times (as many times as I have connected in the past), each time with an ascending ip address. For example, I see SkyFi as 192.168.0.50, 192.168.0.52, 192.168.0.54, etc. I do not know if this is a router issue or SkyFi issue holding the ip addresses. I will attach an MS Word document with a screen print of the issue. I also intend to contact Comcast (my provider) to see if this is a router issue.

    Back to the main problem - dropped connections. I successfully connect to the router, then start up the IEQ45 mount, use HW VSP3 to create Com3 connection on the PC, use StellariumScope to connect to the port, open Stellarium and successfully connect to the scope and can send slew and sync commands to the scope.

    After some period of time (sometimes 1 hour or less, others up to 6 hours), the connection is "dropped" somehow.

    I am using a network monitor (64 bit netscan.exe) and can see the SyFi connection, but when the connection breaks, netscan.exe first says the device appears to be offline, then drops it from the list of attached ip addresses.

    The mount is still functioning, and I can slew or return to zero position from the mount, but all communication with the PC is lost.

    So I at a loss to correct whatever is causing the problem.

    Thank you,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Ticket update:

    As a further clarification, I looked at the DLink status, and can see that it was up continuously for over 23 hours (I had reset and rebooted it yesterday prior to the last test, to make sure that it was in a "new" state and that the connection to the XFinity router was good. I also checked the XFinity router, to check that it had been running continuously also.

     

    Keiron Smith replies:

    Hi Joseph,

    You have many pieces in this chain that could fail.

    Please test the regular Ad Hoc mode to make sure it is working like that. Try staying connected for 6 hours or so.

    First try it with the iPad. That eliminates a lot of complexity with the PC and HW VSP3.

    We would like to verify whether the connection is stable on the iPad in both Ad Hoc and infrastructure mode.

    Thanks!

    Keiron Smith
    Starry Night & Sky Safari Software Support Team

     

    Ticket update:

    Tested with iPad both in Ad Hoc and infrastructure mode. SkyFi disconnects from either around 6 or 7 hours into viewing, with no apparent cause.

    I can then unplug the power from SkyFi, then plug it in again and re-establish the connection, but the connection is definitely lost in both Ah Hoc and infrastructure modes.

     

    Keiron Smith replies:

    Hi Joseph,

    1. Has the device gone to sleep during this period?
    2. When you re-establish the connection, does you have to rejoin the wireless network, or is that part stable?

    Keiron Smith
    Starry Night & Sky Safari Software Support Team

     

    Ticket update:

    Concerning request for more information, your questions with my answers:

    1. Has the device gone to sleep during this period?

    If you mean the SkyFi, I believe that the answer is "yes". It seems to be offline, if that is equivalent to "gone to sleep".

    2. When you re-establish the connection, does you have to rejoin the wireless network, or is that part stable?

    No, I do not have to rejoin the wireless network. As soon as I plug the SkyFi back into a power source, it is connected to the infrastructure network, or in the case of Ad Hoc, available on the iPad. That part seems to be stable.

     

    Ticket update:

    I replied through the web site, and here is the same information in email form:

    1. Has the device gone to sleep during this period?

    If you mean the SkyFi, I believe that the answer is "yes". It seems to be offline, if that is equivalent to "gone to sleep".

    2. When you re-establish the connection, does you have to rejoin the wireless network, or is that part stable?

    No, I do not have to rejoin the wireless network. As soon as I plug the SkyFi back into a power source, it is connected to the infrastructure network, or in the case of Ad Hoc, available on the iPad. That part seems to be stable.

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Keiron Smith replies:

    Hi Joseph,

    Please generate a telescope log file. Look in the Settings --> Set Up --> ave Log File.

    Please attach the log file after one of your sessions. Thanks!

    Keiron Smith
    Starry Night & Sky Safari Software Support Team

     

    Ticket update:

    I have SkySafari Pro v 5.

    I started a session a with SkyFi in "infrastructure" mode with save log file turned on.

    Where will the log file be, and how do i send it to you (or save it for myself, for that matter)?

    I looked in the help file, but I don't see any indication of how to access the help file or send it to you.

    I am using local storage on my iPad 4.

     

    Ticket update:

    I just got a communication error with SkyFi, reported by Sky Safari Pro 5. Checked and can see that SkyFi is still connected to by infrastructure network.

    I did not reconnect, thought it best to wait to hear from you before doing so.

    Please contact me and tell be how access the log file to send to you.

    Thanks,

     

    Keiron Smith replies:

    Hi Joseph,

    You can find the log file in the app's Documents directory using iTunes File Sharing. Copy the file to your desktop and attach it to your response.

    The capture of the log file and how to use iTunes File sharing is described in the Help > Settings Help > Scope Setup Help. Look near the bottom of that page.

    Feel free to reconnect. We just need the log file that is written during the communication error.

    Thanks!

    Keiron Smith
    Starry Night & Sky Safari Software Support Team

     

    Ticket update:

    here is the log file you requested - very large! (36 mb?)

    I will split it into two files if possible..., send 2nd half, then first half

    I think the error happened around 10 AM 02/03, but that is only a guess, as I just let it run without any intervention for a number of hours.

    Here is the first half of the log file

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joseph,

    Keiron asked me to look at your log file and review the ticket.

    First, I'm very sorry you are having the problem. And thanks for taking the time to send the log file.

    The log file shows that the scope is not responding to our commands anymore. We get a "timeout" error coming back. Basically we are not getting response back from the scope in the required time.

    It is hard to say who is a fault here. It could be the hand controller or it could be the SkyFi (although we haven't seen a SkyFi fail in this way). Do you have another scope you can try this on? Or maybe a friend's scope?

    We can certainly exchange the unit but it would be nice to test on another scope before sending it back if possible.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I can get access to a Losmandy mount with a Gemini 2 controller.

    It looks as though I will need to buy or make a cable to use with this setup.

    Apparenly the Gemini / Losmandy RS232 pinouts are not compatible with the stock SkyFi cable?

    I can get one from http://www.carbon12astro.com/skyfi-cables.html for $34.95 + tax and shipping.

    I could try to make one, but I would need pinout information for both sides (Gemini 2 and SkyFi) before I could go that route.

    Please advise,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joseph,

    Each amount manufacturer seems to use a different pinout on their RS-232 interface. Yes, you will need a cable specific to the Losmandy.

    I would recommend the cables from ScopeStuff. I have a Gemini 1 mount and this cable works well and is relatively inexpensive.

    http://scopestuff.com/ss_lgc2.htm

    However, I see that they claim the cable doesn't work on Gemini 2. I'm sure I've used my cable on a Gemini 2 previously. I don't know why Losmandy would have changed the pinout. You might check with Losmandy about this.

    If you are good making cables, you can do so. Note that we cannot provide support if there is trouble with a custom cable. It is just too hard to troubleshoot.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    I checked a number of different sites, including the http://gemini-2.com/ web site, which generally has the best information. It seems pretty clear that Gemini 1 and Gemini 2 have different wiring for the RS232 port. I think I will need to get the cable from http://www.carbon12astro.com/skyfi-cables.html if I want to try this.

    I have a couple of other questions:

    It looked to me as if there were a great many error message in the log. Is that true? Is it giving errors almost constantly? Operation seemed normal up to the time of failure, but the logs sure look like there are many many errors being reported.

    Can I get rid of the log files in any way? I didn't realize that by default Sky Safari Pro V5 logs, so I have quite a numbr of large files. I would like to recover the storage space on my iPad.

    Thanks,

    Joe

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joseph,

    OK, I'll believe you that the cables are different. Must be my faulty memory.

    If you are referring to the telescope log file, those are not errors. We log all communication with the scope, not just errors. If you see:

    Received ASCII at 2016/01/13 19:31:08 with error 0:

    The error "0" means everything was ok with that transmission.

    No, we don't log by default. You have to turn on the option in the Scope communication settings. You can delete the field by using iTunes File Sharing. Select the log and press Delete on the keyboard.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I must have accidentally set logging on at some point, as I am always logging.

    I will try deleting some of those old log files.

    I sent off for the Gemini 2 cable. It should be here in a few days, and then I can try SkyFi with Gemini 2.

    Joe

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Ok, let me know how it goes when it comes.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I got the Gemini 2 to SkyFi cable yesterday (02/10/2016) and connected the Gemini 2 to SkyFi.

    During the time it was active it disconnected at least three times (possibly 4 or more). I reconnected after all but the last one, which occurred around 8 PM PST. I will get the log files and send them in.

    The disconnect has now occurred with two different mounts: IEQ45 and Losmandy G11 with Gemini 2.

    I hope that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible.

    Thank you,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I got the Gemini 2 to SkyFi cable yesterday (02/10/2016) and connected the Gemini 2 to SkyFi.

    During the time it was active it disconnected at least three times (possibly 4 or more). I reconnected after all but the last one, which occurred around 8 PM PST. I will get the log files and send them in.

    The disconnect has now occurred with two different mounts: IEQ45 and Losmandy G11 with Gemini 2.

    I hope that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible.

    Thank you,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joe,

    I hope we can get this resolved soon as well. It is frustrating for both of us.

    I see the same timeout errors as before in the log files. One thing that is unusual is this:

    Received ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:07 with error 0:
    1
    Sent ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:07 with error 0:
    :SL18:06:05#
    Received ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:07 with error 0:
    1
    Sent ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:07 with error 0:
    :SC02/10/16#
    Received ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:07 with error 0:
    1Updating planetary data#
    Received ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:37 with error -13:
    Sent ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:37 with error 0:
    :GR#
    Received ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:37 with error 0:
    05:56:02#
    Sent ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:37 with error 0:
    :RC#
    Sent ASCII at 2016/02/10 18:06:37 with error 0:
    :GD#

    Notice the "updating planetary data" message. That is not something for our app and I'm wondering where it is coming from. We got an error -13 right after that.

    I see other "error -13" without the extraneous text, but it does make me wonder how this is getting injected into our stream.

    Tell me again how this is set up. Are there other pieces of software running at the same time and somehow communicating over the same RS-232 interface?

    Also, tell me how you are powering the SkyFi? I assume you are using an AC adapter to get it running for that many hours. We sometimes see these time out errors when the power is not stable.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    Power is through AC outlet.

    No other applications running - using SkyFi via infrastructure (not Ad Hoc) to communicate with iPad 4 running Sky Safari Pro V5. Nothing else running on the iPad during the test.

    I don't know if Gemini does any "planetary data update" or in Sky Safari might, but I did not see any messages like that, though I wasn't watching either the iPad or Gemini for a lot of the test time, just letting them run.

    I know that Sky Safari send me messages, such as those about satellite movements as alerts, but I don't think it send messages to the scope about such things... Perhaps someone in the Sky Safari group could give you more information on that.

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joe,

    I am the SkySafari group. There are only 1.5 people working on the app and I am 1.0.

    Even if Gemini does any updating, it should never write anything to our log file. I will ask the 0.5 person if he has any thoughts about why this is in our data stream.

    You did get these same disconnects when in Ad Hoc mode, right?

    We can certainly send you another SkyFi, but I really would like to narrow down that as the problem before doing so.

    I'll let you know when 0.5 responds.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I did get disconnects in Ad Hoc mode too.

    I really enjoy the latest version of Sky Safari my hat is off to you and "1/2" for the work you have done. It is a joy to use!

    My wish list for Sky Safari:
    1. I wish there was a way to find "scope" [like in Stellarium]. I might be looking around at the rest of the sky to pick some new targets, and would like to "find" where the telescope currently is pointing.

    2. I also wish there was a search for name "like" with inexact spelling...

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I will send a log from the last ad hoc session with the Losmandy G11 / Gemini 2 mount. The file was large so I split it into three sections. I found "error -13" in the first and last third. Please note that the last error -13 was caused by me when I shout down the mount before disconnecting Sky Safari,

    Attached is the first third of the file

    Here is the middle third

    Here is the last third

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joe,

    Thanks for the files. Unfortunately, these don't really shed any new information.

    I talked with Tim, that wrote the scope control code. He suggested you try connecting with the Meade LX-200 Classic scope type. Both iOptron and Gemini use the LX-200 protocol. He said that:

    "It's a Meade xL 200 thing. The scope pauses for 30 secs. Old school classic lx 200 only. Setting scope type to lx 200 classic should fix it."

    I think what he means is that after a long time running, the LX-200 scope types will pause for 30 seconds (maybe to do some housekeeping). I think the LX-200 Classic code in SkySafari is designed to allow for these longer pauses.

    It is worth a try. If that doesn't work I can see about getting you a replacement, but I bet you will see the same error.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update

    Bill,

    I'll give the Meade LX-200 Classic setting a try tonight.

    Joe

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I have a question about Sky Safari Pro V5: the "rate" slider. I assume this is used with the up/down and left/right arrow keys: are there only four settings? off, 1/3, 2/3, full?

    I tried to find information in the help screens, but with no luck. I was trying to center an object, and found that even the "slowest" did not seem slow enough for fine tuning my movements. I think that I detect a 1 second "error" in RA when centering an object, and can't correct even at the slowest rate....

    Is this user definable, defined by the mount type or some other means?

    What are the rate settings? I believe on most mounts they are related to tracking speed: multiply by 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, etc.

    Thanks,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    Joe,

    Yes, the rate slider is only relevant when using the on-screen arrow keys. There are only 4 settings, but the lowest is not OFF, it is equivalent to a guiding rate.

    I'm not sure what you mean by " I think that I detect a 1 second "error" in RA when centering an object". Could you explain please? Is this a second in time or an arc-second?

    No, the slew rates are not user definable. Tim wrote this code. For mounts that have more than 4 speed settings, I think he just divided it as equally between "as slow as possible" and "as fast as possible".

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    Bill,

    I tried the Meade LX-200 Classic setting with "Ad Hoc", and still got "-13" errors, though not as many as previously (this test had about 5 "-13" errors, while my last test before this had about 60 "-13" errors in one night!).

    I think it would be useful to try another Sky FI unit, as we seem to have exhausted most debugging I can accomplish with this unit.

    The error I was trying to address with the slider and arrow keys was about one arc second. I expanded the display until I could see the offset from intended object in larger context (pretty large, large enough to see arc second markers!). I didn't realize that the first setting was not "off", as earlier, in non expanded mode it was not obvious that there was movement. I'll try it again with my next session. Thanks for the clarification. Is there a way I can find information in the help files on the rate slider? It is not obvious to me as to where to look for some information in the help system, unless you first know how it is categorized...

    Thanks,

    Joe Cicelski

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    OK, We can get you a new unit, but I will be surprised if it really fixes the problem. I know you are sick of this.

    Out of curiosity, what are you doing that requires a continuous connection for 6-8 hours? I suspect most users just tap "Connect" again if the connection drops and they are set for another few hours.

    I will transfer this ticket to Sophie and she can arrange an exchange.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

     

    Ticket update:

    I use the scope for astrophotography, which requires longer viewing times, often for 6 hours or more. Most is "unattended", from inside the house, automated via Nebulosity, and other software packages.

    I like the way Sky-Fi works with the scope, and will need to figure out how to use Sky-Fi along with the other software, and to see if I can get them all to work together! Meanwhile I need a stable connection for extended periods of time.

    Typically, individual images may be 20 minutes or more each, with multiple exposures (5 - 10 each) for luminance, red, green and blue filters. Often a complete image will take multiple nights to shoot.

    I am new to this, so I am still learning!

    Joe

     

    Bill Tschumy replies:

    I understand. However, SkySafari is really not doing anything with the scope unless you are doing a GoTo or slewing with the arrows. SkySafari is *not* making the scope track. So if the connection is lost, there is no harm. You just tap "Connect" again when you are ready to do something again with the scope.

    That said, we can certainly try another to see if it improves things.

    Bill Tschumy
    SkySafari Developer

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