Frequently Asked Questions
Can Voyager or SkyGazer control my telescope?
For SkyGazer, the answer is "No" - SkyGazer is designed purely for eyeball or binocular observing.
For Voyager, the answer depends on what kind of computer-controlled telescope you have. If your telescope is listed on the Voyager 4.5 Telescope Control page, then the answer is: yes - we've implemented and tested support for your telescope and we know that it works.
If your telescope is not listed, check your telescope's user manual. Many "Go-To" telescopes can emulate a Meade LX-200; if so, Voyager should be able to control your telescope. Many "digital setting circles" can use the Tangent Instruments BBox protocol; if you can put your system into "BBox mode", Voyager should be able to talk to it.
How does Voyager communicate with my telescope? What do I need to make a connection?
Most computer-controlled telescopes that are sold commercially today require a serial (RS-232) connection. Carina Software sells serial cables that can connect the most common Meade and Celestron telescopes with a standard computer DB-9 serial port. Before you purchase one from us, though, let us know what kind of telescope you have - different telescopes require different cables.
Very few computers sold today have RS-232 serial ports - most have USB ports only. So, you will also need a USB to serial adapter. We've had good experience with the Keyspan high speed serial adapter family and can recommend them.
For a wireless connection to your telescope, you can purchase our SkyFi wireless telescope controller. Voyager 4.5 also supports the StarryNight BlueStar bluetooth-to-serial telescope adapter. We can't offer technical support on this product, but we have tested it, and it works with our software.
I can't make Voyager communicate with my telescope! Help!
First, make sure the telescope is turned on. Some telescope models (e.g. the original Celestron NexStar 5/8) need to be put into "RS-232 mode" or something similar before they will communicate with your computer; check your telescope manual for details.
Second, make sure you have the correct kind of cable for your telescope. Even though many telescope serial cables look identical, their pinouts are different. Make sure everything is securely connected to the correct ports on both the telescope and the computer (again, check your telescope manual for details). Sometimes unplugging and re-plugging the cable fixes the problem, or restarting the telescope (or computer). We suspect that static electricity can sometimes build up and interfere with the serial communication; that's why just unplugging (or just touching) the components makes a difference.
Third, make sure you have the correct telescope type and COM/serial port selected in the "Telescope Setup" dialog box. If you are using a USB-to-serial adapter, you must select the COM or serial port that corresponds to your USB/bluetooth adapter. If you aren't sure which one this is, check the Device Manager (Windows) or Apple System Profiler (Mac OS X); that should give you more information about your hardware configuration. You might also just try all of the available COM/serial ports one by one.
If you are using a USB-to-serial adapter, such as the KeySpan USA-19HS, make sure you've installed the driver software for your adapter! Without drivers, your computer won't be able to see the serial or COM ports provided by the adapter. You can download the appropriate driver software from your USB-to-serial adapter manufacturer's web site.
Fourth, make sure no other software is using the serial port you have selected. If Voyager gives you an error message that says "Can't open the serial port", that is probably the problem. Fax software is usually the culprit here; on older Macs, AppleTalk also sometimes uses the serial port. Make sure you turn any such software off. If Voyager's error message is "The telescope is not responding", then the problem is more likely that you selected the wrong COM/serial port or the wrong telescope type; that the cable connection is bad; or that the telescope is turned off (or in the wrong mode.)
Finally, if you have some other piece of software on the same computer that can communicate with your telescope, using exactly the same cable and/or adapter, that's valuable information. You might try comparing the setup to figure out the problem; that could also help us to debug it. If all else fails, you can generate a "transcript" of your telescope communications and e-mail it to Carina Software for further analysis/debugging. Check the Voyager 4.5 manual for details.
Can Voyager show me what my telescope is looking at on my computer screen?
The short answer is: no. For this, you need a CCD camera designed for astronomical observation, or a webcam, and/or software to control your camera and download/display its images. Santa Barbara Instrument Group manufactures excellent high-end astronomical CCD cameras with excellent cross-platform (Mac OS X and Windows) support, and has been in the business for many years
Copyright February, 2011
Carina Software & Instruments, Inc