17.1.

What is StellarMate?


StellarMate is a small mobile astronomy gadget that you can connect your astronomy devices. It enables you to control your mount, camera, focuser, filter wheel, dome, and many more devices. Designed for astrophotography, it includes free powerful astrophotography tool that supports mount control, batch capture, autofocus, autoguide, and astrometry.

17.2.

How does it work?


The gadget includes several methods that enable you to connect your equipment. StellarMate communication channels include 4x USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 MBPS Ethernet, 802.11n Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.0. You connect your equipment to StellarMate using any of the supported communication channels. Once connected, you can use a mobile (Phone & Tablet) or desktop (Windows, MacOS, Linux) application to control your equipment.

The gadget includes several methods that enable you to connect your equipment. StellarMate communication channels include 4x USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 MBPS Ethernet, 802.11n Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.0. You connect your equipment to StellarMate using any of the supported communication channels. Once connected, you can use a mobile (Phone & Tablet) or desktop (Windows®, Mac® OS, Linux®) application to control your equipment.

17.3.

What do I need to run StellarMate?


You need equipment (Mounts, Cameras, Focuser, etc.) that can be connected to a computer via either USB, Bluetooth, or Ethernet. All modern gadget include connectors to computers. For mount with Serial connectors, you will need to purchase a Serial-2-USB adapter. Since StellarMate uses INDI for device control, you need to make sure your device is supported. While not strictly required, it is highly recommended to use an external powered USB hub to connect your devices to.

To use the StellarMate App, you need either an Android or iOS-based smartphone.

17.4.

How do I connect to StellarMate?


You can connect to StellarMate via the following methods:

  • Direct Connection: Plug the supplied HDMI cable to a monitor to gain direct access to StellarMate OS. You also need to plug your Mouse & Keyboard.
  • Wired: Connect StellarMate to your LAN via Ethernet. You can access it like any other device on your network. You can use Network Discovery tools on your operating system (e.g. Avahi/Bonjour) to detect it as it advertises its services over the network.
  • Wireless: Use StellarMate App for Android and iOS to connect to your gadget.

17.5.

Should I upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 on StellarMate?


No. Upgrading to 18.04 will likely break your system. Please wait until there is an official StellarMate OS image with 18.04 support.

17.6.

What programs can be used to control StellarMate?


There are many mobile and desktop applications that you can use to control StellarMate. For a complete list, please check INDI Clients page.

However, only Ekos and StellarMate App are officially supported.

17.7.

What is the default username and password for StellarMate OS?


username: stellarmate

password: smate

17.8.

How can I reset WiFi? How can I reset to Factory Defaults?


To reset StellarMate, use VNC or connect via HDMI and click on the StellarMate Tools icon on the desktop as illustrated below:

After clicking the icon, a small window shall pop up with two buttons:

  • Network Reset: Click this button to reset WiFi settings in case you have issues accessing the unit via WiFi or HotSpot. It will restore StellarMate to HotSpot mode.
  • Factory Reset: Click this button to reset all settings, including WiFi. This action is irreversible! Please make sure to back up any important data on the SD card!

StellarMate must be restarted for the above to take effect.

To reset StellarMate, use VNC or connect via HDMI and click on the StellarMate Tools icon on the desktop as illustrated below:

After clicking the icon, a small window shall pop up with two buttons:

  • Network Reset: Click this button to reset WiFi settings in case you have issues accessing the unit via WiFi or HotSpot. It will restore StellarMate to HotSpot mode.
  • Factory Reset: Click this button to reset all settings, including WiFi. This action is irreversible! Please make sure to back up any important data on the SD card!

StellarMate must be restarted for the above to take effect.

17.9.

StellarMate HotSpot disappeared, where did it go?


Usual Cause

StellarMate HotSpot is only active when StellarMate is not connected to any network.

If you connect StellarMate to your WiFi network, or if you connect StellarMate to LAN via Ethernet, then the HotSpot is deactivated. It is only reactivated again when there is no network to reach.

Other Causes

  1. Failure to boot up: If the unit cannot be reached in any method (WiFi, Ethernet, etc.) then connect HDMI cable + keyboard and see the output on the screen. StellarMate is quite a tolerant to power off but sometimes part of the SD card gets corrupted and requires manual intervention.

After the initial bootup message, press Ctrl+D and you will drop to the terminal.

Then type in the following. Please beware that there is one space between sudoedit and /etc/default/rcS.

When it asks for a password, enter smate and then press Enter.

An editor will open, press the arrow key down to go to the bottom of the editor. You will see a parameter called FSCKFIX=no. Change the no to a yes.

After that, press Ctrl+O to save the file and then press Enter.

Then press Ctrl+X to exit the editor. Finally, type in sudo reboot to reboot StellarMate and press Enter.

StellarMate should hopefully bootup normally next time.

  1. Wrong Home WiFi password: If you entered a wrong home WiFi password, this can lead to HotSpot dropping while not being able to establish a connection to the Home WiFi Network. The recommended solution is to use HDMI+Keyboard to login to StellarMate OS, and then reset the WiFi network from the StellarMate Tools App on the desktop. After restarting the unit, the HotSpot should automatically come up.

17.10.

What is the default password for StellarMate WiFi HotSpot? How to change?


StellarMate WiFi HotSpot password: stellar@mate

To change the default password, follow the steps in this video:

17.11.

How do I figure out StellarMate hostname?


By default, the unit hostname is stellarmate.local

From StellarMate App, go to My Mates then select your unit. The hostname is the unit name. If you changed the unit name, then just use the name followed by .local

For example, if you changed the unit name to observatory then your new hostname is observatory.local

Another way to find the hostname is to open the Web Manager from the StellarMate App and you will see the unit hostname in the browser address bar.

17.12.

How can I use SkySafari to control my mount with StellarMate?


If you using StellarMate Web Manager, please add SkySafari driver to your Auxiliary drivers. From within Ekos, select SkySafari from Auxiliary.

Video instructions

For complete instructions, please visit SkySafari INDI support page.

17.13.

How can I use a Joystick to control my mount?


Please follow instructions in Controlling your Mount with Joystick tutorial.

17.14.

How do I update StellarMate?


Use Web-Based VNC Viewer or any VNC Viewer to access StellarMate. Simply double click the Software Updater icon to fetch updates. If there are any available updates, a window shall appear with the required upgrades. Click Install to download and install them. It is recommended to restart the unit after installing updates.

If for any reason you are having problems with the GUI Software Updater, you can directly write command to start the update process. Double click the Mate Terminal icon and a terminal window shall be opened. Type in the following command and press Enter:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y upgrade

17.15.

Can I use SSH to log in remotely? How about SFTP?


Yes. Use port 5624 to login to StellarMate using your username and password. The same port should be used for SFTP (e.g. in FileZilla). You can perform the remote update using the following command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade

17.16.

How can I save my images on StellarMate?


StellarMate ships with 16GB MicroSD card and over 9.5GB of free space to store images on.

  1. If you are using Ekos on PC/Mac, then you need to set Upload mode to Local and then set the Remote Directory to /home/stellarmate/Pictures as illustrated below:

  1. If you are using Ekos directly on StellarMate, simply set the Directory field in the capture module to /home/stellarmate/Pictures. The Upload mode should remain as Client.

17.17.

Problems with ZWO ASI cameras?


If you are using USB2 cameras from ZWO, they must be flashed with the -compatible firmware in order to be used with StellarMate.

Download the ASI Cameras Firmware Upgrade Tool for your OS and flash the camera with the -compatible firmware. For example, if your camera is ASI120MM, then flash the camera with this file: ASI120MM-compatible.iic

This is not required for USB3 cameras.

17.18.

Can I use my ASCOM drivers and software with StellarMate?


No.

StellarMate is based on Open Astronomy Instrumentation Protocol (INDI) and does not use ASCOM. INDI enables native remote control of your equipment and numerous devices are supported by manufacturers today. Ekos is the officially supported client, but you can also use over 15+ clients on across many operating systems.

17.19.

What is EkosLive?


EkosLive is a real-time web application that can be run from any browser. It allows you to control many aspects of Ekos right from the browser. It is built around material-ui from Google, so it is very friendly for mobiles & tablets on any platform.

It supports capture, focus, guiding, alignment, and polar assistant tools. Furthermore, it can save your images directly to the cloud where they are stored along with a rich metadata system that enables easy search for images in the future. You can define your own tags to uniquely identifies images of interest.

Turn on sound notifications on to get audible alerts on tasks such as when an image is captured and so on. It supports multiple themes (Normal, Dark, and Night) to suit your seeing preferences.

More on this

17.20.

How can I connect to StellarMate directly via Ethernet cable?


It is possible to connect to StellarMate directly without going via a router. Simply connect an Ethernet cable from your PC/Mac to StellarMate. There is no need to use a crossover cable, any regular Ethernet cable would do. You can access StellarMate as you would normally do via the address http://stellarmate.local:8624

Under some circumstances, the PC/Mac cannot recognize the direct connection immediately. To force it to connect with StellarMate, find out what auto-IP address was created by StellarMate. This information can be found in StellarMate Web Manager. Use WiFi to connect to the StellarMate hotspot, and click on the information icon to display StellarMate info.


From the example screenshot above, we know the auto-IP address is 169.254.10.197. Now open the terminal application in your operating system and simply type:

ping 169.254.10.197

After which the PC/Mac should register the IP address and you can start using stellarmate.local address as usual.

A more permanent solution involves creating a static IP address on StellarMate using Network Manager.

17.21.

How to access images on StellarMate from PC/Mac?


If you captured images and saved them to StellarMate, then they should be available by default under /home/stellarmate/Pictures. To access the images over the network, there are two options:

  • On Windows®, click on the Network icon in the left pane of File Explorer as illustrated below.


  • On Linux® & Mac® OS: Use FileZilla to connect to StellarMate via Secure FTP (sftp) using your username (stellarmate) and password (smate). Remember to set port to 5624.


17.22.

Can I add a Real-Time Clock?


StellarMate Gadget already ships with RTC clock configured and ready to go. For users of StellarMate OS running on their RPI3/RPI3B+, you can purchase a DS3231 module and install it. There is no need to perform any additional software configuration as StellarMate OS supports DS3231 natively.

17.23.

Cannot connect to DSLR camera?


The following is a list of checks you need to verify before contacting support regarding DSLR connectivity issues:

  • Make sure the camera battery is full.
  • Make sure there is enough space on your SD card.
  • Make sure the camera is set to Bulb/Manual mode. In some models, you need to rotate the dial first to Manual then change the settings to make it Bulb.
  • Turn off any power-saving features in the camera that might be making the camera go to sleep mode without your knowledge. Some cameras support inactivity timer, try to set it to 10 or 15 minutes to be on the safe side.
  • Try a different USB cable.
  • Try plugging the camera to a different USB port on StellarMate.

If none of the above works out, please submit a support ticket with details on your setup.

17.24.

Can I hook up an external USB drive for storing images and videos?


Absolutely. After you connect the external USB drive. You need to login to StellarMate OS desktop either via VNC or HDMI. You should see the external driver icon on your desktop. Double click it to learn of the location of the driver.

In the example above, the drive location is /home/stellarmate/Elements. This is the location URL you need to save your images to. If you need to save in a directory inside the drive, then simply double-click it and copy the URL from the location bar. Next, where to put this URL?

  1. Using KStars on StellarMate

If you are running KStars inside StellarMate directly, then simply browse the location in the Directory field of the Capture Module. You can also paste the URL there directly.


  1. Using KStars on Windows®/Mac® OS/Linux®

If you are running KStars remotely on a Windows®/Mac® OS or Linux® machine, then in this case you need to change the Upload mode to either Local (save images only in StellarMate) or Both (save images in StellarMate and send a copy to us).

You will see the Remote field getting enabled for editing. Simple paste the location URL here and start the capture process to have your images saved to the external USB disk.

17.25.

How many Ethernet ports does the unit have?


StellarMate comes with one 10/100 mbps Ethernet port.

17.26.

I hear a loose part inside StellarMate. RTC Clock?


StellarMate Controller comes preinstalled with a Real-Time Clock module. On very rare occasions, it can come loose. But do not worry, you can easily put it back in.

Simply remove the top cover of StellarMate, then put it in the pins that are enclosed by the red rectangle in the image below. You can apply light glue to the base to ensure it remains secure.


17.27.

EQMod position is incorrect on startup?


The Default Position for EQMod after power up is the home position. The home position is defined as the position where the mount is facing the celestial pole with the weights down. For northern hemisphere users, the mount needs to point roughly at polaris.


In rare circumstances, users might see the initial position for EQMod in Ekos to be wrong. Unless you set it to a custom parking position, it should always start near the celestial pole. An off position might look like this:

To fix this issue, please perform the following steps:

  1. If the mount is not already unparked, unpark it (click the green flag in the toolbar).
  2. Go to INDI Control Panel --> EQMod --> Site Management and click on Purge Data under Park Options.

  1. Power off the mount.
  2. If the mount is not pointed at the celestial pole with the weights down, adjust it manually until you reach this position.
  3. Power on the mount.
  4. Start the Ekos equipment profile again.

Now EQMod should point toward the celestial pole and a new default parking position is recorded. If you still have issues after performing these steps, please open a ticket in the support area.

17.28.

Why mount slews to the wrong position in the sky?


Power

Make sure your mount have sufficient power to make the slews. Power is one the primary problems faced by users but it is one of the least issues users suspect or investigate, so make sure to rule out power as the cause for the mount erratic behavior.

Alignment

GOTO mounts learn how to go to specific objects in the night sky after they are properly calibrated and aligned at power up.

All mounts must be first aligned using the handset using 2 or 3 star alignments before you can use them with StellarMate. The only exception to this rule is as following:

  • EQMOD: When using Skywatcher mounts with EQMod driver, no alignment is necessary at startup. It should start pointing at the celestial pole (unless custom parking position is used). Make sure the mount is powered up while it is in the Home Position. Afterwards, slew to a nearby star and use Ekos Alignment module to sync the telescope. EQMod would then be ready to make accurate GOTOs.

  • Hibernation: For mounts that support hibernation (e.g. AVX), it is possible to hibernate and later on wake up the mount without losing alignment data.

Time & Location

This is the most common cause for inaccurate and erratics GOTOs. StellarMate requires an accurate Time and Location data in order to drive the mount correctly. If you are using Ekos on a PC/Mac, KStars would automatically set the mounts time and location. You can double check the mount time and location settings by going to INDI Control Panel --> Mount Driver Tab (e.g. EQMod Mount) --> Site Management Tab.

However, this only sets the mount time (in the handset) and not the StellarMate System Time. The system time is still important for other calculations, so it is prudent that StellarMate system time is accurate. StellarMate gadget is shipped with a Real Time Clock (RTC) module that keeps the system time even when the unit is turned off. If you are using StellarMate OS on a plain Rasbperry Pi board, then there is no way to keep the time ticking and accurate. StellarMate would sync the system time once it has an active connection to the internet.

In case you are using StellarMate in HotSpot mode, the unit has no access to the internet and the time must be either it Manually via VNC or via the StellarMate App. When using the StellarMate App, it would automatically syncs StellarMate system time and location when it establishes communication with the unit. The time and location information are extracted from your phone/tablet. To explicity sync the GPS information, click on the Sync GPS button in the app.

If you are using a GPS dongle in StellarMate, then it would be sufficient to sync the StellarMate system time and location once powered up. Without the GPS dongle, using the StellarMate App is the next best option as it always keeps StellarMate system time and location synchronized with your phone/tablet.

Mount Model

When using EQMod mount or any mount that uses INDI Alignment Subsystem, it improves its GOTO accuracy by building a model of the night sky in the driver itself. This is in contrast to traditional mounts when the model is built in the handset (e.g. Meade). Sometimes the model inadvernetly lead to wrong GOTOs and you keep adding more sync points to correct this issue, it might end up getting worse. The best thing to do in this situation is to follow these steps:

  1. If the mount is not already unparked, unpark it (click the green flag in the toolbar).
  2. Go to Ekos Mount tab, and click on Purge all configuration. This will clear all settings related to the mount.


  1. Disconnect and Stop Ekos.
  2. Power off the mount.
  3. For equatorial mounts, if the mount is not pointed at the celestial pole with the weights down, adjust it manually until you reach this position. For Alt-Azimuth mounts, make sure the mount is in its home position.
  4. Power on the mount.
  5. Start the Ekos equipment profile again.

Now, depending on the mount type, it should have the correct startup position:

  1. EQMOD

: Mount should point toward the celestial pole and a new default parking position is recorded

  1. Other: Mount should point toward the last alignment star that you used in the handset when performing the initial 2 or 3 star alignment process.

When performing GOTOs, the mount should slew normally and track.

Support

If you still have issues after performing these steps, please open a ticket in the support area.

Please make sure to submit the logs required to investigate your issue. Turn on INDI + Mount logging and send the logs to support.

17.29.

Can I use the App & Ekos on PC/Mac to control my equipment at the same time?


Yes. It is possible to do this by following these steps:

In StellarMate App

  1. Start your equipment profile.
  2. That's all.

In Ekos on PC/Mac

  1. Make sure you are connected to the same network as StellarMate.
  2. Create a new equipment profile with the same drivers started in the App equipment profile.
  3. Set the profile to remote and the host to stellarmate.local
  4. Make sure INDI Web Manager is UNCHECKED. This is very important.
  5. Save and then click start.
  6. Done!

17.30.

I cannot connect to my mount, what's wrong?


Depending on your mount type, you can connect to your telescope mount using different connection types:

  • USB: This is the most common type of connection type between StellarMate and the mount. The connection usually requires RS232 Serial to USB connector where the USB end is connected to StellarMate while the serial plug connects to the handset (or sometimes directly to mount).
  • Bluetooth: Limited supported for Bluetooth dongles for some mounts. Please chech StellarMate Manual for more details.
  • Ethernet/WiFi: Connects to the mount over Ethernet or WiFi network. In the Mount driver connection tab, switch the mount to Ethernet mode and set the host name and port where your mount is running.

In case Ekos reports it failed to communicate with the mount still, please make sure of the following:

  1. Read your specific mount driver documentation.
  2. Telescope is properly powered and connected via RS232 to your PC (in case of USB connection).
  3. RS232 or RS232-to-USB cable is firmly connected at the mount and PC USB port.
  4. Telescope is aligned (2 or 3 star alignment).
  5. Use StellarMate Serial Port Assistant to assign permenant designation in situations where you have multiple USB-to-Serial devices.
  6. Ensure the port specified is the correct port. Usually your port is /dev/ttyUSB0 but sometimes if you unplug and plug the USB cable again, you might get port /dev/ttyUSB1. Use dmesg to find out which port your mount is connected to if all of the above fails.

Before contacting support, please make sure to enable the logs and submit them in the ticket.

17.31

How to install StellarMate OS on another MicroSD?



IMPORTANT


If you have purchased StellarMate from a retailer, please submit a new ticket and attach your order receipt and tell us if you don't see an order in the Orders page.



To be able to use a different MicroSD than the already built-in one, you need to flash StellarMate OS onto your MicroSD.


1. Login to the stellarmate.com website and then go to the Orders page.


2. You should see a list of  your orders. Click on your order link, then scroll down to see the downloads. Make sure to download the SM OS version appropiate for your hardware platform.



3. Download balenaEtcher, and install it, then open it.



4. Connect an SD card reader to your computer with the MicroSD card inside.


5. Open Etcher and select from your hard drive the StellarMate OS  .xz file you just downloaded to write it to the MicroSD card.






6. Select the MicroSD card you wish to write your image to.



7. Review your selections and click 'Flash!' to begin writing data to the SD card.



8. When it's done, connect the MicroSD to StellarMate and power it up!