As mentioned in a previous post (click here), I’ve been using SkySafari as my primary planetarium program, linked via WiFi to my netbook running EQMOD. This works brilliantly. However, it’s one thing doing this on a home network, where you have a wired/wireless router to connect both the Tablet/Phone and the PC to, and a totally different kettle of fish if you want to take the setup out into the ‘wild’ so to speak. For example, if you go to a star party, or a dark sky site, you can’t exactly uproot your entire home network and take it with you.
As this can be a bit confusing, I thought I’d give a little info on how to set up what’s known as an ad-hoc wireless network. This enables the iPad and the PC to talk over a wireless connection without the aid of a router in the middle. It requires a little more manual setup than a standard WiFi connection, but will live alongside your existing wireless settings on both the PC and table/phone without stopping you using them.
This setup is of course applicable for other applications too, but here we’ll be talking about SkySafari in particular. However, once this is done, the iPad can control the PC via things like VNC too, but setting that up is for another article…
2. Click ‘Manage wireless networks’. The following dialogue box will appear (yours will have different networks in it, or possibly none at all).
3. Click ‘Add’
4. Click ‘Create an ad hoc network’
5. Click ‘next’
6. Give the network a name – ‘eqmod’ in this case and select security type ‘WEP’.
7. Put a password in for the network – this needs to be 13 characters long
8. Check ‘save this network’ and click ‘next’.
9. This sets up the ad hoc network, and activates it. You’ll get a message to say that its ready to use, with a reminder of your network name an WEP key. However, you can now close the window (with the ‘close’ button), as you need to do some more setup before you can finally use the connection.
10. Right-click the wireless icon in the system tray and select ‘Network and Sharing Centre’ again.
11. This time, click ‘Change adapter settings’.
12. Right-click your wireless connection (usually called ‘Wireless Network Connection’ or similar), and select ‘Properties’.
13. Double-click ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
14. Click the ‘Alternative Configuration’ tab.
15. Select ‘User Configured’ and enter 10.0.0.1 in the ‘IP Address’ field, and 255.255.255.0 in the ‘Subnet Mask’ field (as below).
16. Uncheck the ‘Validate Settings’ box if ticked, and click ‘OK’, then click ‘OK’ again. Your Windows 7 PC ad hoc connection is now ready.
17. To make sure that the ad hoc network is broadcasting and ready be connected to, click the wireless icon in the system tray, and you should see that the new ad hoc network is ‘Waiting for Users’ (see below). If not, just select it and click ‘connect’. Once it’s Waiting for Users, you can set up the iPad/iPhone.
The setup on the iPad/iPhone are the same as each other. It’s basically a case of connecting to the network, then setting a static IP address for that network. This is done as follows (for devices running IOS7 – should be similar in previous versions too).
1. Go to Settings –> WiFi
2. Under a section called ‘Devices’ you should see your ‘eqmod’ network showing up. tap this. It will tell you that ‘eqmod’ is not connected to the Internet, but you should click ‘Join Anyway’.
3. Enter the 13-character WEP password you set up earlier on the Windows PC and tap ‘Join’. Your device should join the ad hoc network. This may take up to about 30 seconds.
4. Tap the ‘i’ to the right of the name of the network.
5. Tap ‘Static’, and enter 10.0.0.2 in the IP address, with 255.255.255.0 in the subnet mask.
6. Finally, switch on ‘Auto-Join’, so that your device reconnects automatically if it goes to sleep.
7. Tap ‘WiFi’ in the corner to go back, and then ‘settings’ to come out of the WiFi page.
You’re done with the network setup side of things.
To reconnect to your home network, simply go back into your WiFi settings and reselect your home network if required.
The process to reconnect the ad hoc network when required is :-
a) Select the network on the Windows PC and click ‘connect’
b) Go to the WiFi settings on the iPad/iPhone and click the ‘eqmod’ network.
c) Give it all 30 seconds to establish.
You should now be able to run EQMOD and WiFiScope on the laptop as described in the previous post (click here), using 10.0.0.1 as the address to connect to in SkySafari.
For even more cleverness, and if you know a bit more about networking, you can do the following :-
– Reserve your PC’s IP address on your home network so it never changes. You can usually do this in your router configuration somewhere.
– Set the ‘Alternative Configuration’ on the adapter to the same address and subnet mask (don’t worry about the default gateway).
– Set your iPad/iPhone into the same subnet.
If you do this, then you don’t need to change the address in the SkySafari settings when moving between your home networks and the ad hoc network.