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SkyFI III in Cold Weather

I have used the SkyFi III a few times this winter with mixed results in the cold weather.  The first time I tried it I had a full charge and took it out for about an hour and used it for about 30 minutes.  The temperature was cold about 5 above.  I then turned it off and tried it again a little bit later and when I held the red button to turn it back on, both the ON and Charging light would flicker and would not stay on.  So I brought it back in the house and waited about 5 minutes before I could power it back on and I checked the power and it was at  70%.

I did the same thing tonight where I used it for about an hour in 20 above temps and then turned it off and used my internal WiFi built into the Celestron mount.  I then when back to turn on the SkyFi III about 30 minutes later and I had the same problem as the first time where the ON and charging lights would flicker when I tried to turn it on.  I then brought in the device and turned it back on and there were no issues the ON button stayed powered on.  I then checked the power and it was at 44%.

I normally would not turn it off outside in the cold but I am testing other hardware and software that used the internal WiFi built into the Evolution Mount. I reported this issue to Bill while I was troubleshooting a different problem(software bug) and that was the first time I had issues above.  When I bring it in the house from the cold, it then starts working again (stays) powered on.

Can this device handle the cold weather we have in Minnesota in the winter?






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    My experience with cold temperatures (and I'd most definitely consider 5° F as COLD) and batteries is that so far, I've only found ONE reliable battery that works well below freezing.  And that's the one now marketed as Energizer Ultimate Lithium.  They come in AA, AAA, and sometimes 9v sizes.  They are NOT rechargeable.  And although they contain Lithium, they aren't the same technology as current rechargeable Lithium batteries as the SkyFi-III contains.

    So, my unofficial answer is that NO, the SkyFi-III probably won't work long for you at 5° F unless you somehow warm it -- or keep it warm.  Keeping it warm seriously might be your quickest, simplest and cheapest solution. Once at room temperature (say 70° F), place it in some kind of small insulated material -- maybe even an insulated vacuum bottle with a hole drilled in the plastic top for cables.  If the SkyFi-III is insulated well enough, it might work well all night.

    If you don't like that solution, maybe the second simplest and cheapest solution would be an external battery pack full of say 6 Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries.

    Another solution would be a deep cycle 12v battery that you put inside an insulated cooler.  Lead/Acid and AGM batteries also severely lose their capacity below freezing, but they usually have so much to start with, they can last for several hours even a 5°.  But if you put that same battery inside a cooler, then it'll last even longer in the cold.  Then you could also externally power your SkyFi-III from that.  Or you could put your SkyFi-III inside a dew heater to keep it warm -- powered by the big 12v battery.  Kendrik and others make heated holders for eyepieces and phones and tablets that should work for the SkyFi-III

    And lastly -- Depending on your system and whether you're running SkySafari from an iOS or Android device, you could either buy a SkyBT (for Android devices) or find an old SkyFi-USB.  Both of those devices use disposable batteries and you could put in Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA batteries in the SkyBT, or AA in the SkyFi-USB.  I've done both.  And they last "forever." 

    Although I use my system in Southern California and rarely operate it much below 40° (heck, I don't operate much below 40°), I switch to my trusty old SkyBT (or even older RN-270) and put two AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in it.  I really don't know how long it will operate in the cold, but it's well over 12 hours.  Those batteries are much stronger and longer-lasting than any other AA or AAA battery -- even in the cold.





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