SkyScout Astronomical Instrument

© Brooke Clarke 2009

Control Panel
Sky Scout Control Panel
What's in the box
Sky Scout What's in the box
Not shown is the CD with the full manual,
Sky Scout Front Top
Eye Window

Sky Scout eyepiece panel view
Top
Top

Battery sleeves
Sky Scout Battery Sleeves


SkyScout Speaker
USB  Micro-B for charging internal battery
SkyScout Speaker
OFF - Low - Hi Volume control, 3.5 mm Stereo Plug, LED (Green charging, Red Charged)

Background

These are what I call orientation devices.  That's to say they have an accelerometer (ADXL320) to measure elevation angle and a magnetic compass (Brand & Model?)  to measure azimuth bearing as well as a GPS (SiRF GSCI-4100) to know where on the Earth they are and the current Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) and date.   A micro controller (Samsung S3C2410) uses the sensor inputs with a data base containing the locations of many heavenly bodies to either identify an unknown object or to guide you to a desired object.  They will not work in a vehicle where there is acceleration but should work in a vehicle going in a straight line at constant speed, like on a freeway.

The optical path in the SkyScout and mySky is just a window.  There's no magnification.  That's because many of the things you want to see take up a large expanse of the sky and because it's hard to hand hold anything with much magnification.   There's no point in magnifying the image of a star because it's still going to look like just a point.  It takes a lot of magnification to see things like the Messier objects, i.e. a good telescope, not a drug store type.

Celestron came out with the SkyScout and Meade with the mySky around 2002.  In July 2009 while looking for something else spotted a mySky for just over $100 so Googled it and found there are a number of problems with the push buttons (fall off, get stuck) and that some units just don't work at all.  Then Googled the Sky Scout and didn't find any chronic problems with it.  Net Shops had them on sale for $189 and also had the "All About Stars" and "Astronomy for Beginners" memory cards for $20 each.

Digital Setting Circles

The setting circle on a telescope is just a dial calibrated in degrees or time  (declination/elevation) and  (right ascension/azimuth).  When the scope is aligned you can then point to anything by just setting it's coordinates.  By adding angle encoders and an outboard box you end up with Digital Setting Circles.  By entering your location (Lat, Lon), and the UTC time and date they can help you find any object in their data base.  You could for example use a pendulum hung from a pair of binoculars to control the elevation encoder and a magnetic compass to control the azimuth  encoder and have something similar to the orientation devices.

Operation

Identify

You point to something and press the Target button on the top.  The LCD panel gives you the name.

Locate

You choose what you want to see and when looking through the zero magnification (just glass windows) finder there is a LED in one of 8 radial positions telling you which way to move.  When you're on target all the LED blink.  If what you are asking for is below the horizon the Sky Scout still will direct you to it, i.e. pointing into the ground.  I like that much better than a no solution result because you can find objects that are just about to rise or have just set.
Tonight's Highlights
Stars
Constellations
Deep Sky
Asterisms

GPS

Position and satellites items.

Field Guide

When one of the memory cards is plugged in it's title is the first entry.

Settings

Allows manual entry of date, time, Lon & Lat (handy if GPS not available, like when indoors).  Also an "about" with the version numbers.
as received: Version: 1.28.12 Nov 15 2007

There is also a "Telescope Interface" item under the Settings menu.

SD Memory Card

The SD Memory card title appears after "Settings" in the main menu.  It is not under Field Guide.

Help

There is a HELP button on the front panel.  For setting up the SkyScout, Identifying objects or Locating objects from the data base.

Updates

The SkyScout PC program checks for a new PC software version of itself and downloads that.  Then checks for a new version of the SkyScout firmware.
18 July 2009  SkyScout_013022EN.cel is the current firmware (1.28.12 is the as delivered firmware).
18 July 2009 version: 1.30.22 Jun 5 2008

Battery Sleeves

These are made of magnetic shielding material and are not welded (would require a heat treat operation) just wrapped.  They can be made to fit a larger diameter AA cell by just cutting the label to allow the metal to slide.  If these are not installed the magnetic compass will have what's called a hard iron error and my be way off.  I've heard that leaving the sleeves off may also cause excessive current drain. 

Cables

The SkyScout has a Mini-B size USB connector that's used for firmware updates and connection to the Telescope Interface.
 Celestron has NOT connected the USB DC power lines to the SkyScout, but could since it does not seem to draw more than 500 ma.  Why not?

The Speaker has a Micro-B size USB connector that's used to charge it's internal Li-xxx battery.

DC Power

At power on it draws about 200 ma.
When searching for GPS satelittes it draws almost 300 ma.

Accessories

All About Stars" SD memory card

"Astronomy for Beginners" SD memory card

External Speaker
Comes with a USB A to Micro-B cable for charging the internal battery.  A lanyard to hang around your neck.  A 3.5 mm stereo extension cable.  The LED shows green when the USB cable is connected and it turns red when the battery is charged (maybe RED because you should disconnect the charging cable and not leave it connected?)  The LED is green when the Volume control is on.

Holder for Green Laser Pointer - poor design, long screws get snagged

Telescope Interface -$99  allows connecting to Clelesron "go to" scope and points scope at object viewed in Sky Scout.  Maybe it's a way to get the bearing and elevation angles out?
Note:  When the SkyScout is powered on and connected to a computer using a mini USB cable you can see "SkyScout" in the Device Manager under USB devices.  But is does NOT show up as a hard drive.
The PC program "Celestron SkyScout" has it's own USB driver for talking to the SkyScout.

On Line Support

SkyScout Yahoo Group -

Patents

7155833 Viewing and display apparatus position determination algorithms, Lemp, III; Michael (Irvine, CA), Yamcon, Inc. (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), January 2, 2007, 33/268 ; 33/355R; 33/366.11; 340/815.4; 434/284

7010862 Viewing and display apparatus position determination algorithms, Lemp, III; Michael (Irvine, CA), Yamcon, Inc. (Irvine, CA), March 14, 2006 33/268 ; 33/355R; 33/366.11; 340/815.4; 434/284

6844822 Celestial object location device, Lemp, III; Michael (Aliso Viejo, CA),  Yamcon, Inc. (Aliso Viejo, CA) January 18, 2005, 340/815.4 ; 33/628; 340/999; 701/13; 701/226

6570506 Celestial object location device, Lemp, III; Michael (Aliso Viejo, CA), Yamcon, May 27, 2003, 340/815.4 ; 33/628; 340/907; 340/999; 701/13; 701/226

6366212 Celestial object location device, Lemp; Michael (Aliso Viejo, CA), Yamcon, Inc. (Aliso Viejo, CA), April 2, 2002, 340/815.4 ; 33/268; 340/999; 701/13; 701/226

Links

Celestron - SkyScout 


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This is the  page created 18 July 2009.