With the proliferation of GoTo telescopes and their handsets with databases of a huge set of catalogues you could be forgiven for thinking that is all you need. But with the advent of WiFi control for telescopes comes a new range of possibilities. The latest version of Simulation Curriculum’s SkyFi wireless telescope control system, AKA SkyFi III, does just what it says on the tin, or in this case plastic case.
Compared with earlier models which required either batteries or a power cable, the Sky Fi III now features an inbuilt rechargeable lithium ion battery that can provide up to 12 hours of power.
In our tests we used it to control our NEQ6 Synscan mount and on other occasions our StarGate 500 GoTo Dob for 3 sessions that totalled almost 10 hours with no sign of power loss or signal loss.
This is a big improvement as lithium batteries do not suffer as much from the cold nights compared with ordinary batteries so you can be sure of a continuous connection.
With the SkyFi III you can robotically control your mount from a distance allowing you to sit in a comfortable warm environment yet still have control to point your mount/telescope to either image or amuse your friends with views of the night sky whilst you keep warm.
It seems such a simple device, yet it allows access to any WiFi smart device, which then allows you to use more advanced features in either your chosen planetarium program or app.
We were able to connect our iPhone XR and, on another occasion, our 2nd Gen iPad Pro and use the Sky Safari app to control our telescope with ease.
Support is now available for android devices too: so as long as you have a telescope that is compatible, you should be able to control your telescope.
The Sky Fi III can be connected to your telescope either via the serial port or USB port. Be aware that you do need to purchase the correct cable (not supplied) for your telescope and it is worth contacting the supplier to ensure you get the right one.
Because it has both serial and USB it can control the latest USB-only telescopes from Meade or telescopes that have the RS-232 serial interface.
This does mean that Vixen mounts with the StarBook controller don’t work, as they use an ethernet connection, but there are workarounds that can help. Again, contact the supplier about your specific needs.
There is no power cable for recharging but any 5v micro USB cable common with many gadgets today will work.
We used our bluetooth earpiece cable to charge the SkyFi III up taking around eight hours plugged into our PC and had no problems.
By connecting to planetarium apps on our smart devices we found it far easier to simply tap any object on the screen and ‘GoTo’ it with ease but it is worth noting that often these apps usually require you to perform the usual star alignment with the handset.
Once done you find you have even more choice of potential targets and all because you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection via the SkyFi III and we can highly recommend it.
Power Inbuilt rechargeable lithium ion battery
Battery life Up to 12 hours of usage
Ports USB and serial port plus 5v micro usb for recharging.
Supplier The Widescreen Centre
Tel +44 (0) 1353 776199