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Last updated: 29 June 2012

Sent:	Thursday, June 28, 2012 18:01:51
From:	Brad Hughes (
Hey man, great site.  Just got an ETX-90 second-hand with the intention
of operating it with my Android phone and started digging in.  Here is
what I found:

Required Hardware:
497 Audiostar/Autostar with RS-232 port (attached to a compatible
telescope) ($149.99 plus shipping from Meade)
Bluetooth RS-232 serial adapter ($45.00 plus shipping from US
Converters, model #BT-232B)
Android OS smartphone (price varies, but most likely already purchased
if interested in this array)

Required Software:
SkySafari Plus or SkySafari Pro for Android ($14.99 for SkySafari Plus,
$39.99 for SkySafari Pro, both available from the Google Play store)
NOTE: the baseline $2.99 SkySafari does not include telescope control

I'm emailing you prematurely, as I haven't received my Audiostar handset
yet, but I'm reporting what I have pieced together thus far during my
research.  The problem I ran into is that SkySafari caters to a wifi
ad-hoc network to control the 497.  Android doesn't support wifi ad-hoc
connections the same way iOS does and therefore makes a wifi connection
cumbersome (you would be required to implement a wireless router
available to act as intermediary between your Android device and the
wifi transponder on the 497).  Alternatively, Android allows a direct
bluetooth connection in a way that iOS doesn't support.  Summary: wifi
control for iPhone, bluetooth control for Android.  That sounds like a
simple piece of information, unless you have spent the last week
figuring it out because no one says it that plainly!

That being said, it appears to be simpler and more cost effective to use
a bluetooth connection on Android as opposed to a wifi iPhone
connection.  Assuming that a 497 came with the telescope, and the user
already has an Android smartphone, only an RS-232 bluetooth serial
adapter and SkySafari Plus is required to be purchased (about $60 total
for both. SkySafari Pro has the same telescope control options, but is
about $25 more the SkySafari Plus).  According to SkySafari, all the
hardware that is required is a compatible RS-232  bluetooth adapter
attached to the 497.  Once the bluetooth adapter is installed on the 497
and paired with an Android phone, SkiSafari should be able to control
the telescope, slewing to any object one can find in the app.  The great
thing about this setup is that any Android phone with SkySafari can
control any 497 Autostar/Audiostar enabled telescope with the bluetooth
adapter.  Not to mention that it takes very little technical savvyness
to makes this all happen.

I have yet to test the effectiveness of the setup, but the reason I am
emailing you now is because it took a lot of web time to put all of the
pieces together, and more importantly to weed out bad/irrelevant
information.  It literally took hours to figure out I only needed 497
Autostar/Audiostar, a bluetooth serial adapter, which one to get, etc. 
Google wasn't much help.  Meade and SkySafari seem to really push the PC
wired connection or wifi options (not to mention half of their links are
dead).  Even though I provided only three links below, it took forever
to whittle it down to those three!

Hopefully the next time an Android user says "Hey, I want a telescope
that I can control with my phone", they will be able to read these
communications and make it happen without all the look-up hassle.  The
information and links I provided aren't available in one convenient
location, so I expect that this email can amend that.

Here are the pertinent links (narrowed down from dozens of sources),
including where to buy:
RS-232 Bluetooth Adapter: 
(this is the bluetooth adapter that I purchased, and received, but have
yet to receive my 497 to test)

Southern Stars: SkySafari for Android: Scope Control Page:

Meade Audiostar (this is Meade's shopping page):
NOTE: not verified, but it appears Autostar isn't available anymore.  It
seems to have been replaced with Audiostar.  Audiostar is simply the
next evolution of the Autostar and is (as far as I can tell) available
at the same price the Autostar was.  It also appears that the Autostar
does not have an RS-232 port (again, not verified), but the Audiostar in
fact does.

I will update you in a few days once I receive the 497 and can test the
setup.  Until then, anyone can take a shot in the dark (as I have) and
purchase the required hardware and software with the expectation that
everything will function properly.  From all indications and research,
the array should operate effectively.  I am sure there are some nuances
to get it going (as there usually is), but I will update you with a
step-by-step once I have it unraveled.  The crux of this and subsequent
communications are to provide Android users with a one-stop-shop to find
all the information they need to purchase, setup, and configure an array
to control their 497 enabled telescope with their phone.  

Brad Hughes (likes to speak in parentheses) 
Mike here: For more on SkySafari, see my iOS-based review.

Go back to the Autostar Information page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright © 2012 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2012 by the Submitter