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SkyFi 3 | How To Connect to the Meade Audiostar Hand Contoller (Solution: There Are Two Cables Included With The #505 Meade Serial Cable - Read On & Diagram Included!)

How 

I have a Meade LX90, a Celestron Nextstar SE and a Skywatcher Synscan...I want to use my SkyFi with each of those telescopes. My problem is it isn't clear to me which cables it is I am supposed to use for each scope. I believe I have just ruined my SECOND SkyFi unit :(
I have NO PROBLEMS establishing wireless connectivity between my Tablet and the SkyFi unit, it's just the segment between the SkyFi unit and the Telescope. I understand there are LOTS of different types of telescopes with proprietary methods of connectivity, but come on you guys have to do BETTER in supplying this information to us consumers. I love the SkySafari product, but after frying my SECOND SkyFi unit....you are leaving me no alternative but to go elsewhere. Where is the cabling information???

27 comments

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    J. Lavender Official comment

    Hi Bill,

    SUCCESS!!

    With mild animosity held towards Meade, I now realize the error in my SkyFi III/Meade LX90/AudioStar configuration. I feel somewhat sheepish for not noticing this earlier. However, the Meade #505 Connector Kit actually comes with TWO cables. 

    Cable #1 has a 4-pin (RJ10) modular connector on each end; Either end fits into the DB9 connector.

    Cable #2 has a 4 pin (RJ10)  modular connector on one end, and an RJ11 connector on the other. 

    Cable #1 was "pre-plugged" into the DB9 connector....and THIS is the WRONG cable for the SkyFi3-AudioStar connection. 

    My annoyance with Meade is because:

    1. The DB9 connector has an RJ11 socket on the back end....but they've pre-plugged in the 4-pin (RJ10) connector here. 

    2. The correct cable (Cable #2) Meade used a MODIFIED RJ11 plug on one end. RJ11's are usually 6-pin - this RJ11 is modified to only have 4-pins. Weird!

    Here's a wiring diagram I've created. Thanks for your time Keiron and Tom, I super appreciate your patience. You can consider my ticket CLOSED.


       

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    Keiron Smith

    Hi,

    Each manufacturer has a different telescope serial cable.

    We sell these serial cables for Meade, Celestron and Orion/SkyWatcher/Synscan here:

    https://store.simulationcurriculum.com/collections/scope-control/products/telescope-serial-cable

    If the SkyFi is broken I don't believe having the wrong serial cable in use is the reason for it.

    Is the SkyFi in question one of our older ones (which takes batteries) or the new SkyFi 3 (which has a rechargeable battery)?

    Why do you think it is broken?

     

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Keiron,

    I have used my SkyFi II (takes batteries) with my Skywatcher Synscan for a couple of years now, without a problem. (In fact is has been AMAZING).

    I recently acquired a Meade LX90 and wanted to use use the SkyFi with that telescope. So I built myself a cable according to the Meade Lx90 pinout specs on your webpage here: http://skysafariastronomy.com/products/skyfi/serial.html

    I tested, tested and re-tested the cable using my volt-meter and it IS wired per your specs - but when I connected the SkyFi to the Meade Hand controller and tried using SkySafari Pro on my tablet, I kept getting the error "Can make wireless connection to telescope, but Telescope is not responding". After several attempts I gave up.

    I also have a Celestron Nextstar SE - So, I built another cable, again per your pinout specs for the Celestron. Again, when I connected the SkyFi to the Celestron Hand controller and tried using SkySafari Pro on my tablet, I kept getting the same error "Can make wireless connection to telescope, but Telescope is not responding". After several attempts I gave up.

    So I conceded I must be a MORON and shouldn't be in the business of building cables. But now, when I attach my SkyFi to the always-working Skywatcher Synscan...guess what? I now get the error "Can make wireless connection to telescope, but Telescope is not responding".Arrrrgh!!

    So now I fear I have damaged the SkyFi unit itself :(

    I did want to mention that when I acquired the Meade LX90, there was NO hand controller with it, so I bought a new one from Meade. It is called the Meade "AudioStar" and I'm wondering if the pinout specifications on your website are for the original Meade hand controller and does not apply to the new Meade Audio Hand Controller?

    Anyway, this is the second SkyFi I have inadvertently "roasted" the first one when I was trying to get Bluetooth connectivity working....sigh....anyway I would gladly ship them BOTH back to you if you wanted to examine.

    Jay 

     

     

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    Keiron Smith

    Hi Jay, 

    Are you star-aligning your scope(s), using their hand controllers, before trying to connect with SkySafari?

    Thanks!

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Keiron,
    Wow impressive response time! Thank you.
    I bought a SkyFi unit when they first started coming out under the Skysafari brand. A common mistake made by many of us at that time was not doing an alignment before connecting the SkyFi to the telescope. So what I am trying to say is it is a habit for me to align first, plug in SkyFi second. So to answer your question, Yes, I did 2 Star alignment process on all 3 telescopes prior to plugging in the skyfi unit

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    Mario Wolczko

    Jay,

    This may be a red herring -- but I feel compelled to mention it.  I have a Meade LX-80 and initially could not get it to communicate with SkySafari. 

    I eventually discovered that the mount frame is not at the RS-232 Ground voltage, but at 12V relative to that (I don't recall whether positive or negative).

    After putting an optoisolator in the path, everything worked fine.  

    I don't know if my LX-80 is a one-off or if they're all like that; or if your LX90 has a similar problem, but I thought it worth mentioning. My hardware was not damaged, but perhaps you have not been as lucky.

    Mario

     

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    Keiron Smith

    Hi Jay, 

    The error message "can make wireless connection to telescope, but telescope is not responding" means SkySafari is communicating with the SkyFi unit.  So, let's not assume it is broken.

    In SkySafari Settings > Telescope > Setup > Equipment Selection > Scope Type < each of your mounts has a specific Scope Type that must be selected here.  What are you choosing for each mount?  Note, I don't want to assume this is all correct.  So, the details matter.

    When connected to the SkyFi  Can you access the Sky Settings Web Page?

    Can you borrow from a friend, a Skywatcher, Meade or Celestron manufactured RS232 cable; i.e. can you test with a telescope serial cable that we know definitively works in your setup?  We sell them here if required:

    https://store.simulationcurriculum.com/collections/scope-control/products/telescope-serial-cable 

    Meade Audiostar Hand Controller works with same cable as LX200.

    Thanks!

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    Dmckay

    Hi There,

    I have been tearing my hair out dealing with the same problem. "can make wireless connection to telescope, but telescope is not responding" 

    I am using the Skyfi on a converted 10" LX200 that is now using the Audiostar handset. I also am using a home built cable but the pinout is exactly

    right (tested multiple times). A new cable should be here today so that will confirm whether the cable is OK or not.

    I just got done connecting the Skyfi to my Meade LS8 and all worked great. Of course it uses a different style cable but the controller is similar and the 

    Skyfi connects to the control panel not the handset. 

    Any Good Ideas???

    Thanks, Doug

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    Bill Tschumy

    Doug,

    I'm not really sure how this is supposed to work with the converted AudioStar controller.  Normally you connect to the LX-200 via the the control panel, not through the hand controller.  I really don't know what the converted one will do.  Does it not work when you connect via the control panel?

     

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    Dmckay

    Bill,

    With the LX200 upgrade all of the electronics are scrapped and a new board is installed where the original control panel would sit.

    The new board has no input for the Skyfi but the new Audiostar handset has an additional port for the Skyfi cable hook up.

    The controller setup is the same as the Meade ETX 90-125 with Audiostar.

    Sounds a little complicated but the way the LX200 is set up now is waaay better than the original. 

    Thanks for the response,   Doug

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    Bill Tschumy

    Doug,

    So when you earlier said "Skyfi connects to the control panel not the handset.", what did you mean?  I thought you meant it still worked using the control panel but not using the hand controller.  But it sounds like after the conversion, there is no place to plug it into the control panel.

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    Dmckay

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry for the confusion. In the case of the Meade LS8 the Skyfi plugs into the panel on the scope itself and the Skyfi works perfectly.

    On my converted LX200 there is no input on the new panel. It is supposed to work like a Meade ETX with the Audiostar handset with the input through the 

    additional port on the handset.

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Keiron,

    I gave up on my SkyFi II's. Not sure what the issue is, but I knew something is funny once both units stopped working on the ol' reliable SkyWatcher SynScan set up. I used the SkyFi II for YEARS without problem.

    So, I have now purchased, and received delivery of your new SkyFi III unit. Here are my results:

    SkyWatcher: I am happy to say that with my OEM SkyWatcher serial cable, my SkyWatcher SynScan is now working fine.

    Celestron: I am also happy to say that with my OEM Celestron serial cable, everything works fine.with my Celestron Nextstar SE Alt-Az mount (Although the SkySafari software configuration for the mount must be Celestron 5i/8i, not sure why, but it works)

    Meade: For my Meade LX90, Fork (Alt-Az) GoTo mount, with an AudioStar hand controller, I purchased the OEM Meade #505 Cable Connector Set from Meade (For use with Meade #497 Autostar/Audiostar Controlled Telescopes). I attached it to the SkyFi III and I continue to get "SkySafari CAN establish a network connection but the telescope is not responding". Grrrrrrrrrr...In the SkySafari software, I went down the Telescope Configuration list, a tried EVERY Meade Telescope/Meade Mount combination, but continued to receive the SAME ERROR. 

    My LX90 IS aligned prior to plugging in the SkyFi unit. The SkyFi unit IS plugged into the AudioStar hand controller (not the mount). There are no customizations, 3rd party products or any kind of modifications to this telescope and mount. The only anomaly I can think of is that the AudioStar hand controller is brand new and not the original hand controller for this scope...but it was supplied by Meade and works perfect with the scope/mount. At this point there are only 2 things I am unsure about:

    1. Would the OEM Meade #505 cable connector set that I purchased from Meade, different than the Meade Serial cable supplied by Simulation Curriculum?? 

    2. Is the SkyFi III 4P4C plug supposed to plug into one of the AUX ports on the mount, and NOT the hand controller?

    Thanks for helping me sort this out!

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    Dmckay

    Hi J Lavender,

    I am still dealing with all the same identical issues.

    I didn't get the Skyfi III but my model II is doing all the same stuff including a brand new Meade 505 cable from Meade.

    Gone through all of your steps several times and have all but given up too.

    Please if anyone can give us a solution you would be my Astronomy Hero!

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    Mario Wolczko

    Did you try an optoisolator?

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    Dmckay

    I don't think I need to prevent high voltages from affecting the system receiving the signal. So optoisolator is out. :)

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    Mario Wolczko

    What about ground loops?

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    Bill Tschumy

    Dmckay,

    I just want to make sure you are aware that the LX200 cable and the AudioStar cables are different.  You will not be able to use the old LX200 cable with the new AudioStar controller.

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Bill,

     

    So while we are on the topic....what IS the cable that I need to talk to the Audiostar Hand Controller?? Unless I am supposed to plug my SkyFi III into something OTHER than the Audiostar hand controller, the Meade #505 Connector kit isn't the right one either. I'm not sure why I haven't heard from Keiron on this, but is the Meade cable supplied by SIMCUR different than the one supplied in the Meade #505 kit??

    After investing 3 SkyFi Units into all this, I feel so CLOSE to actually making it all work, but the silence from SIMCUR on this topic is killing me! ;)   

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    Bill Tschumy

    The Meade #505 cable should be the correct one for the AudioStar hand controller.  It would be wired the same as what we sell for the ETX/AudioStar hand controller.  This cable is different from what is used with the LX200.

    These threads get confusing when several people chime in with their own problems.  Sometime it is not obvious that there are multiple problems being dealt with in the same thread.

    Looking back at your posting from Sunday...

    "I am also happy to say that with my OEM Celestron serial cable, everything works fine.with my Celestron Nextstar SE Alt-Az mount (Although the SkySafari software configuration for the mount must be Celestron 5i/8i, not sure why, but it works)"

    I use an Alt/Az SE mount all the time for testing.  It has always worked with the "Celestron NexStar GPS/SLT/SE" setting.  Is that one you tried?

    It sounds like you are doing things correctly for Meade.  I haven't used the #505 set myself, but looking at the picture of it, it seems there are a couple of configurations.  Are you sure you have it set up correctly?  I can send you one of our AudioStar cables to try to see if that works.

    For the Meade problem, do you have "Set Time & Location" in the Telescope Setup settings ON or OFF?  If it is ON, try turning it OFF.

    For the LX90, the serial cable is definitely supposed to plug into the hand controller.

     

     

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    J. Lavender

    Thanks for the quick reply Bill, it is much appreciated. I'm trying not to be impatient, but of all things, I really want to get this working with my Meade

    I am totally puzzled by the Meade situation now. The LX90 works perfectly with the Audiostar hand controller. Adding the SkyFi unit and Meade #505 serial cable (DEFINITELY attached to the hand controller) ...and all I get from SkySafari is "Can connect to Network...No response from the Telescope".

    The SkyFi III unit WORKS with my SkyWatcher, and  it works with my Celestron...so I can only deduce it is the cable. I'm not sure I know what you mean when you say " but looking at the picture of it [sic] #505, it seems there are a couple of configurations"?  I'm not sure how one could go about setting it up incorrectly.. It's a DB9 on one end, and a 4 connector RJ plug on the other...that slides into the hand paddle. SkySafari itself is pretty straightforward - Meade LX 80/90 Telescope and Alt-AZ GoTo mount. I DO have the Fork Mount, but it is NOT Equitorial (I did try SkySafari using this mount configuration as well, but to no avail).

    I played with Set Time & Location, but don't recall the setting. I will try it again. In the meantime, I would like to take you up on your sending me an AudioStar cable offer. I'll trade you two defunt SkyFi II units! Let me know how we can make this happen.

    Re: Celestron - My original SkySafari settings indeed were for the mount "Celestron NexStar GPS/SLT/SE". I [Connected] fine, didn't receive ANY error from SkySafari, but the mount wouldn't slew to the selected object when pressing [GoTo]. Once I switched the mount to 5i/8i it worked fine. I purchased the mount myself brand new. It has the tag on it saying "Celestron Nextsar SE" right on it. I'm not so worried about the SkyFi III working with this mount, I just thought I would mention it.

    Thanks Bill!

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    Bill Tschumy

    Jay,

    Send me an email with your address and I will send you an AutoStar cable I have from old stock.  bill@simcur.com

    However, before sending it to you, it would be nice if you could try without the Set Time& Location being ON.  To test you don't need to be out under the stars.  You can just do a fake alignment on one star and then try connecting.

    Is yours a Meade mount a GPS unit?  The GPS mounts definitely don't like being told when it is and where they are.

     

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Bill,

    Understood re: fake alignment. I will give the Time & Location a whirl tonight and get back to you.
    This is an older LX90 Alt-Az fork mount, I don't attach any kind of GPS device, nor am I aware of any built in.
    I'll get back to you tomorrow.
    Thanks again Bill for your time and attention to my issue.

    Jay

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    Dmckay

    Hi J Lavender,

    did this actually fix the problem? Cuz I have been using the RJ 11 cable to no avail. 

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    J. Lavender

    Hi Dmckay,

    Yes it did fix the problem. I:

    1. Tested each wire of the 4 Pins on the RJ11 connector to make sure they weren't broken and indeed went "straight across" to the 4 pins of the RJ9 connector. Again make sure there's no crossover cuz that Meade cable #1 DOES cross Yellow and Green wires

    2. I also made sure the little metal connectors IN each socket of the Meade DB9 plug were situated so the serial port pins would seat properly when plugged in. Both sockets 3 and 4 of the DB9 looked wired "sloppy" to me. So i used a very tiny phillips screwdrive and pushed the metal contact to the side of the hole. Sorry if I'm not clear here...difficult to articulate this in words.

    3. If you have an original LX90 Fork Mount, make sure you have NOT selected the "Equitorial Fork" as your mount in SkySafari...you must use the Alt-Az GOTO mount

    Once I did all of the above it worked great! I have to admit I felt pretty stupid not noticing Cable #2 had a modifed  RJ11 on one end...seems like a recipe for confusion...but alas I now have 3 different scopes, from 3 different manufacturers....ONE SkyFi unit that works with them all!!

     

     

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    Bill Tschumy

    I thought there were a couple of configurations of that cable.  Glad to hear you figured out the right one.

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    Keiron Smith

    An excellent result, Jay!  Thanks for your patience, and persistence, sleuthing out the solution!  Well done, and clear skies!

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