The equipment the ASIAIR Plus was tested with were a Losmandy GM811G Equatorial Mount, William Optics GT81 Telescope, ZWO ASI2600MC Cooled Color Camera, ZWO ASI120MM Mini Camera, ZWO 30mm Mini Guide Scope, ZWO EAF - Electronic Automatic Focuser, and ZWO EFW - Electronic Filter Wheel. Using both an Android phone and a sideloaded Chromebook.
Getting started with the new ASIAIR couldn’t be simpler. After plugging it in and turning it on, it broadcasts its own WiFi channel. Connecting to that I opened the app and it immediately connected and started the registration process, which just involved me waiting while it used my phone’s internet connection to register itself.
Once up and running it immediately found and identified all my equipment which was connected to it by USB. It also identified the 64GB SD-Card I put in the new slot and changed to use that card for image storage. Since this latest version runs off internal storage the external SD-Card slot is free for user use. This at first seems like a minor improvement until you realize this frees up a much needed USB port, as you no longer need one for external storage.
Using the ASIAIR Plus I was able to control the mount to polar align. The ASIAIR uses plate solving to determine polar alignment. Taking one picture then slewing 60 degrees to take a second picture it was then able to continuously direct me in how much I needed to adjust my alignment. Once aligned I then used the ASIAIR to slew the mount to a couple of random locations and plate solve them syncing this information to the mount and further increase the accuracy of the ASIAIR’s goto capability.
Using the goto I was able to pull up a list of recommended targets for the night and search for a specific target I had in mind; C20, the North America Nebula. A great feature of the ASIAIR’s goto is that once it slews to the target it does a plate solve to verify accuracy and adjust position as necessary to perfectly center the target.
Once on target I clicked a couple buttons to start the guiding and waited. The ASIAIR took care of everything and once it started guiding I moved back to the main interface to setup the Autorun. This part intuitively lets you setup duration of exposure, filter used, and number of exposures. Including multiple sets of different settings if desired. This night was simple, 300 seconds using the Radian Triad Ultra filter for 45 shots. Going back to the main interface I started the run and the ASIAIR proceeded to switch to the proper filter and autofocus the telescope before starting the exposure run.
After starting the Autorun I had no more involvement. I just sat in front of the TV and binged on Star Trek TOS. 4 hours later, once the run was finished, I started over and this time setup a run for 2 hours on Pleiades (cut short by clouds) after which I packed up the equipment and caught a few hours sleep. The next morning I used the new USB C port on the ASIAIR Plus to copy the files from the unit to my computer. The SD-Card in the unit just showed up as another drive on my computer allowing for fast and easy file transfers.
In conclusion once you get all the parts setup, and gain a little experience using the software, the ASIAIR Plus really simplifies and makes more enjoyable the process of all night shooting sessions.
If you do not own an ASIAIR, buy one.
If you own the original ASIAIR, buy the Plus version.
If you own the ASIAIR Pro, then the decision needs to be more thoughtful.
Do you need the extended range? Do you not already have a WiFi extender that you use with the Pro?
Do you need the added power of this more powerful unit now? I don't think so, but I have no doubt new features will soon be added to the software that will need the extra processing power and then the decision will be simpler.