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    Re: Which Celestial Computer..??
    From: Luis Soltero
    Date: 2000 Jul 08, 3:33 PM

    Hello all,
    
    I thought I should add a few comments to this recently posted mesg to reveal additional
    important info.
    
    On Friday, July 07, 2000 7:47 AM, Richard B. Emerson [SMTP:navsys{at}PINEFIELDS.COM] wrote:
    > Barry Colman writes:
    >  >         I think I am in the market for a celestial computer to
    >  > practice with...Since there only two that I am aware of the Starpath
    >  > using the TI-86 or of course the Celesticom V.. Does anyone have any
    >  > opinions pro-con to either..??
    
    Actually there are quite a number of hand held celestial calcs on the market.  Check out the
    StarPilot home page (http://www.starpath.com/catalog/1863.htm) for  a 
    comparison of all known units on the market.
    This comparison is quite
    comprehensive and gives a good overall picture of the scope of each product.  The comparison is
    also available in PDF format so that you can download it, print it, and really 
    study before purchasing a unit.
    
    
    >
    > I have both.  If you look around on eBay, you can get "New In Box"
    > TI-86's for something like half price (the interface to download
    > software is $20 and eBay prices aren't any great savings there).
    > Download the manual and software, pay the license fee, and the price
    > for a Starpilot is almost the same or slightly less than a Celesticomp
    > (forget the expensive Celesticomp "Pro" version - it just adds weight
    > management for cargo ships).  That's the price comparison.
    List price of a TI-86 is $129.00.  Starpath sells the programmed units for $249.
    That is $130.00 for the calc + $119.00 for the software.   No discount is included in the price of the
    calc since Starpath must program and package it before it goes out the door.  For $249
    you get a stock TI-86 preprogrammed with the StarPilot application + all TI materials + a hard
    copy of the StarPilot manual.  There will be additional savings for users who already have or
    negotiate a better deal for a TI-86.  So if you can find a TI-86 on e-bay for $65.00 then you
    can have a StarPilot for $65 + $119 + $20(for the download cable) = $204.  In my book
    this is considerably cheaper than a CelestiComp at $279 (last I checked).  Starpath encourages
    it's users to own a TI-Graph Link cable since this option allows you to download free updates over
    the internet.  It also allows you to print (via the PC) any StarPilot screen and even allows you to
    upload and store your sites on the PC.
    
    One of the most important points here is that the TI-86 is a "stock" calculator.  If you fall out of your
    dink in Australia while transporting your StarPilot you can simply walk down to the local K-Mart
    equivalent, buy another TI-86, stop by the internet cafe on the way home and viola you have a
    working StarPilot again.  This is not true of some of the other hand helds which use machines which are
    not so readily available and can not restore the code via download from a computer.
    
    While at the web site check out some of the other StarPilot options such as the water proof, crush proof,
    brilliant yellow, floating storage box.
    
    >
    > The StarPilot manual is on-line in PDF format.  It describes the
    > features reasonably well although there are a still a few places that
    We are currently working on a new version of the manual which will be available soon for download in
    PDF format from the StarPilot download page.  This and all other manuals in PDF format are available
    for download at NO cost.
    
    Also note that the StarPilot web page has additional documentation to and examples such as a discussion
    of doing "Lunars", etc.
    
    > In terms of ease of use, the Celesticomp is smaller and therefore
    One of my big complaints about the Celesticomp as far as it's ease of use
    is that an external reference is needed to
    equate a body name to a body number. This is one (of many) reasons that motivated
    me to create the StarPilot. Unless you memorize the body list or
    have a cheat sheet pasted on the calc cover it is difficult to know the number of
    a specific  body.
    
    Once you understand the working of the StarPilot no external references are needed
    to complete sights on any of the bodies.  The stars and planets for example are identified by name.
    
    
    > Either computer has enough tools to let you do a good job of
    > navigating with a mix of DR and celestial work.  Both have
    > star-finding capabilities and both have various additional tools for
    > wind triangles, etc.  The Starpilot, however, has a host of added
    > "chrome" beyond the Celesticomp including reductions for distance off
    > from sextant altitudes (e.g., measuring a known height to determine
    > your distance from the object), dip angle (for close-in horizons), and
    > lunar distance reductions.  In features, the Starpilot is way beyond
    > the Celesticomp.
    
    Some of these "chrome" features are not only handy but VERY important.
    The one that comes to mind is the plotting of LOPs.
    The visual sky planner is also very nice and easy to use when identifying
    celestial bodies.
    
    **Note that the StarPilot supports DR updates in "log mode" while the
    CelestiComp only supports "Speed" mode.  If you are on a Sailboat the DR Mode=Log
    is very handy indeed since speed is anything but constant on a sailboat.
    
    >
    > All of these features, however, make the Starpilot far more complex to
    > use.  Unless you use it daily, you have to have the manual handy for
    > even sun lines (on a recent trip, I didn't have a printed copy of the
    > manual I could get to and I couldn't remember how to get Starpilot to
    > remember by Height of Eye and Index Correction factors instead of
    > entering them for each shot, for example).  The Celesticomp, however,
    This is a matter of opinion (of course I would say that :-)  The option you
    need is in the settings menu under S(ight)R(reduction) mode.  Set SR Mode to sequential
    to cause the StarPilot from prompting for inputs.  All functions and options are available
    via simple menus.
    
    Note that although the TI-86 does indeed have more buttons these calculators were designed
    for junior and high school students.  There are LOTS of 10-12 year olds using these systems.
    Kids really like to play games on them.  So, if they can do it so can you!  Dont let keys
    labeled "sin" or "cos" intimidate you.  Also keep in mind that the StarPilot only uses a
    few keys mainly the numeric keypad, the arrow keys, and the ENTER key.  The important
    thing to note here is that the calc is a generic scientific calculator than can be used for
    any host of normal calculations such as balancing your check book, etc.
    
    >
    > So which one should you buy?  If all you want to do is celestial work
    > and don't want a lot of "chrome", the Celesticomp is the call.  If you
    > want a lot of gee whiz features and pushing buttons makes you smile,
    > go with the Starpilot.  Still can't decide, flip a coin!  [laugh]
    
    The only one to buy is the StarPilot of course !!
    
    The StarPilot is a dynamic new product on the upswing with many new features and enhancements
    in its future.
    
    One last point.
    
    I am a sailor and have been cruising full time on my boat in the Caribbean for 9 years.  I use the
    StarPilot A LOT and have tried to make it as functional as possible in the environment we
    live in.  I am very interested in hearing your comments and check this mailing list and other sources
    from input on how the StarPilot can be enhanced.  If you feel that the StarPliot needs a new feature,
    or you can make a case for changing the specific functionality of a feature 
    let us know.  If after evaluating
    your comments and/or request we agree with you we will enhance the code and make it available to the
    community.
    
    Cheers,
    
    --luis
    
    Luis Soltero
    StarPilot Designer/Starpath School of Navigation.
    S/V Crystal, In Transit
    Belize City, Belize
    

       
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