Replacing my laptop.

The laptop that I have been using with my scope is over 10 years old.  This isn’t a problem in itself, but there are a few things that are worth noting.


  • Sony Vaio VGN-A115ZIt’s power hungry.  The internal battery is worn out, and only lasted about an hour in real use anyway.
  • It’s very picky about the input power, so can’t be run from a 12v DC-DC converter, unless it’s plugged into a car with a running engine (too low input voltage otherwise)
  • The 230v power supply doesn’t work with an inverter. Lucky I have a generic that does work.
  • Inverters are power hungry.
  • It’s just plain awkward to use the laptop in the dark.
  • The laptop has suffered from a HDD failure, so I replaced the drive.  If the laptop needs any work again, it’s not going to be so easy to repair it.

So, all in all my laptop is part it’s sell by date and should really be sent to the old technology retirement home.  That said, once it’s up and running it does perform it’s two jobs.   These two jobs are rather specific…

1. Run my Astronomy software – SkyMap Pro 10 to drive the scope.

2. Run my autoguiding software – K3CCDTools3


For autoguiding my laptop connects to a relay box from kitsrus. Which again requires power.


If I’m going to retire my laptop I need to replace both of these functions.  Here’s how I’m going to do it.


1. iPad and SkyFi.  Instead of SkyMap Pro, which hasn’t had any version updates for several years, I’m changing to SkySafari Pro.  The SkyFi allows me to connect my LX-90 to a wireless network, or for the SkyFi to act as a wireless network server.  This means that I can use my iPad as an interactive star chart, pretty much the way that I did with SkyMap Pro 10, with the added advantage of not having to find a place to setup my laptop.


2. Skywatcher SynGuider This nifty little unit will replace the need for K3CCdTool3 as an autoguider, it will also mean that I don’t need the relay box anymore.


These two changes will free up space, lower the power requirements for my scope and hopefully make life a little easier.  I’m looking forward to these arriving, then of course the 6 months obligatory cloud cover.

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