In July 2019 I took a trip to Tivoli Farm, Namibia to observe the southern sky. I had brought along a Star Adventurer tracker together with my faithful stand-alone camera, a Lacerta MGEN. Unfortunately, my MGEN acted up on me quite soon, putting my wide-field program at risk. I asked our host, Reinhold Schreiber, for help, and as usual he was very kind and helpful and had a trick up his sleeve: a stand-alone camera previously unknown to me, the StarAid Revolution.
The Revolution is a very compact autoguiding camera, about the size of a 1.25” (31.8 mm) eyepiece. The camera comes with a short user manual, a 220 V AC/12 V DC power supply, a USB cable for PC connection, an ST4 cable and splitter resembling a sort of a “soapbar” which acts as a “hub” between the camera head, the guiding cable and the power supply:
The power supply is required when operating the camera in stand-alone mode, otherwise it can also run off a USB cable or power bank.
This camera has two very interesting features: WiFi-based control via a smartphone, and plate solving to automate guiding and polar alignment.
The camera I used was an early production unit, so before using it I updated the firmware to the latest version available. The user’s manual is concise but easy to read and understand, and the connections are quite straightforward for anybody having some familiarity with this type of equipment.
The Revolution creates a local wifi network, to which one has to connect the device to be used for control and monitoring. Once connected to the wifi, no native app (e.g. Android or iPhone) is needed: the camera can be operated by connecting to the its local IP address with just any web browser (I used Chrome). The camera has an integrated web server providing all controls needed for operation: autoguiding, assisted polar alignment, live view and plate solving.
Getting the camera to autoguide is a matter of minutes:
Once imaging is started, one can use a mobile device (an Asus 7” tablet in my case) to monitor the camera’s behavior, making corrections only if needed. It is advisable to keep within the camera’s wifi range, because this can cause some problems upon reconnection, although the camera will continue autoguiding. In my case, I had left my wide-field imaging rig (a Star Adventurer loaded up to its max capacity) just a few meters from the observatory housing the main telescope, so that I had everything under control:
Below are a couple shots guided with the StarAid Revolution:
As far as autoguiding performance is concerned, I must say that the Revolution is easy to use and works really well, so it saved my wide-field imaging plans. The pros and cons of this product can be briefly summarized as follows.
All in all, the Revolution is a very compact and interesting product, although the lack of a couple of important features and its relatively high price tag could to some extent limit its success.
Finally, I would like to point out that the producer has rolled out several new firmware releases since the summer of 2019 with many improvements and bug fixes. For the sake of correctness, I must say I didn’t test any of these new improvements. Please check out the relevant webpage for details.
Thank you for your review – the only review I have seen so far on a device that looks perfect for my needs. A quick question, how does the plate solving work, does it do it automatically ? Many thanks again.