What's New in the XP4
The XP4 is based on the original Sky Commander DSC design but with the following important hardware upgrades:
- • 4 times the internal memory space – 512kB vs 128kB, allowing room for many more objects to be stored, up to approximately 30,000.
- • Memory is Flash type – this means it is re-programmable in the unit. No need to pyhsically replace an OTP (One Time Programmable) EPROM in order to upgrade. Connect the XP4 to your PC and run the XP4 Boot-Flash Utility to upgrade. Flash memory has virtually unlimited reprogramming cycles.
- • Encoder Fast-Tracking – This is the first important upgrade supported in version 4.2. It allows use of very high resolution encoders, up to 24576 count without the problem of loosing encoder counts if the scope is moved quickly. It is also useful on very small scopes that can move quickly. This feature operates only while external 12 volt power is applied because it uses more power than an internal 9 volt battery can supply.
- • New custom ABS plastic enclosure with externally accessible battery compartmnet for easy battery replacement.
- •At this time the XP4 Boot-Flash Utility is available for download. With it you will be able to upgrade to the most recent version (4.2). In the near future you will be able to use it to add objects to the Sky Commander internal database.
Many of the basic operating principals and features of the original Sky Commander are carried forward in the XP4 design.
- • Six Button Control – the ENTER, MENU, UP, DOWN, LEFT and RIGHT buttons are used to control the unit. You will quickly master the operation by understanding a few basic principals.
- • Large LCD - 32 character (16 x 2 line) Liquid Crystal Display with adjustable intensity yellow-green backlight. The backlight is soft on the eyes and not detrimental to night vision.
- • RS232 - Serial (RS232) port to connect the Sky Commander to your Personal Computer. Display telescope position on the PCs screen. Many astronomy programs interface to the Sky Commander – The Sky, Megastar, Guide 7.0, Sky Map Pro, Deep Sky Planner, and more.
- • Search & Identify mode – As you pan the scope, any database object that matches the scopes position is displayed immediately. Search is filtered by an adjustable magnitude limit.
- • Browse by Constellation – Select a constellation and browse the database. Adjustable magnitude limit.
- • User List – Select objects from the internal database and add them to a "favorites" list for easy access at a later time.
- • Special List – Add coordinates of any object to a "special" list. This can be done "on the fly" through the keypad or through the RS232 interface.
- • Realign to Object – Improve pointing accuracy, especially in the vicinity of the object that you realign to.
- • Ultra Low Power – Get about 40 hours of operation from a single 9 volt battery. Battery current is a mere 6mA.
- • Standby Mode – Extend battery life and extinguish backlight with a simple â€˜double-clickâ€™ on the MENU button. Return to normal operation by pressing any button.
- • Battery Monitor – Bar graph indicates relative battery life.
- • External Power – Standard 2.1mm power jack for use with 12 volt battery or power supply.
- • Display Heater – In cold weather the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) will be come slow. An internal heater will turn on under thermostat control. This feature requires the use of external 12 volt DC.
- • Equatorial Table Support – Use the Sky Commander with an equatorial table. No need to re-do the two star alignment after resetting the table.
XP4 Boot-Flash Utility Available at www.skyeng.com
A new version of the Sky Commander has been released (NOV 2015). The new version, 5.03, supports the UGC (Uppsala General Catalog) of almost 13,000 galaxies. (Our Sky Commander computers have been installed with the new version).
Sky Commander owners can upgrade their units by downloading the newest Boot-Flasher program from the Sky Engineering web site. It runs on all Windows OS from Windows-XP to Windows 10. The new version (released SEP 2015) has enhancements to make it easier to use. There is a demo of it on the web site on the 'Free Downloads' page.