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Multiple Monitors in Obsy

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Getting a bit tired of swapping between guiding and imaging software on the observatory laptop, I decided to swap the house 19" monitor with a smaller one and wall mount the monitor in the obsy. Now I can have ATP on the 19" monitor and PHD guiding on the laptop.

Enjoying the moment as I play with the screen resolutions to get things just right, I had a light-bulb type brainwave. What if I can get an old laptop that has been gathering dust on the shelf back to life and somehow connect it up as a third monitor so I can see Carte du Ciel as well?

A quick search on the web for such an idea brought me to two websites offering such software.

Maxivista ( http://www.maxivista.com ) provides multi screen capability between computers combining the computer screens to provide one desktop.

I made up a crossover LAN cable to connect the laptops and tried out their demo version. It worked very well, smooth mouse movement and dragging windows over the new third screen. However, to benefit from all the features in the demo the price tag is $99, which is not bad I suppose, but too much for me to justify the extra luxury of a third monitor.

I could just chuck the laptops and put in a tower unit with multiple screen video card, This option would give me a slower computer though, as my main obsy laptop is dual processor and the tower isn't.

A bit more searching on the web and I found a program called Zonescreen.( http://www.zoneos.com/zonescreen.htm )

It sort of does a similar thing, perhaps not all the bells and whistles of MaxiVista but it is free for personal use.

Zonescreen has two parts to it, a video driver and a "wizard" that provides desktop mirroring. The wizard part I dont want, but on the download page there is another file which is a specially compiled version of TightVNC. When the Zonescreen driver is installed it can talk to the video driver and provide an extended desktop over another computer.

Installing the video driver was a bit of a head-scratching moment as there are no clear instructions or wizard to do this. I gleaned the info by an obscure mention of it at the bottom of a page in the help file. You have to open a dos cmd window and type ZSSERVER /installdisplay, which should give you another display if you check in Device Manager/Display Adapters.

Then install the TightVNC on both computers with the main computer as a server and the doner computer as the client. If all goes well you get a window pop up with the extended display which you can then choose to make fullscreen.

Using the extended desktop for the first time I found mouse movement as good as the main laptop, but when dragging windows there is an obvious delay, There is no way you'll be playing videos on the extended desktop as the refresh rate will make it look choppy. But for what I'll be using it for in the observatory I probably won't notice it much, if at all.

Below is a pic of my new screen set up with APT displayed across all 3 displays just to show you: looks a bit weird as all the displays have differing resolutions which is the way I set it up for best viewing the relevent software I'll be using when imaging.


Edited by astromerlin
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