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Andyb90

Is Anyone Using a Mini PC for Imaging Control and Capture?

26 posts in this topic

Hi Everyone,

I was just looking at this article about using a mini PC for imaging:

http://www.lightvortexastronomy.com/intel-nuc5i5ryk-mini-pc-for-remote-control.html

I have a cheap laptop which I use for imaging. It's okay, but performance could be better. Also it only has 2 USB ports. I'm thinking of replacing it and wondering if a mini pc would be a good option. The specs seem quite high for the cost. The model in the above article also has 4 usb 3.0 ports which would be very good for connecting all devices directly.

It looks like RAM and storage are easy to upgrade too.

Is anyone using one of these for control and capture? Would it be a good replacement for my existing lower spec laptop?

Andy.

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Just now, Andyb90 said:

Hi Everyone,

I was just looking at this article about using a mini PC for imaging:

http://www.lightvortexastronomy.com/intel-nuc5i5ryk-mini-pc-for-remote-control.html

I have a cheap laptop which I use for imaging. It's okay, but performance could be better. Also it only has 2 USB ports. I'm thinking of replacing it and wondering if a mini pc would be a good option. The specs seem quite high for the cost. The model in the above article also has 4 usb 3.0 ports which would be very good for connecting all devices directly.

It looks like RAM and storage are easy to upgrade too.

Is anyone using one of these for control and capture? Would it be a good replacement for my existing lower spec laptop?

Andy.

I use a Mini PC (not the one you've linked) and it works excellently.  It's loaded with W10 Pro and I connect to it using RDP.  Never failed.

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I use a mini PC strapped to my pier, it's a quad core celeron with 8gb ram and 240gb SSD drive, six USB ports of which 2 are USB 3.0...works a treat, its only 8" by 6" by 1".. as a bare bones unit, I just added the ram and hard drive, total cost £125

i then control this via a PC in my house with teamviewer of the wireless network.... it's flawless and no silly USB dropouts anymore.. :)

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I use a mini laptop, but had to change the resolution for the software to work properly.  But seems to work OK.

Carole 

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This is my fanless PC next to my TS80.  There are quite a few different ones out there to select from, but I would say don't worry too much about USB3, just make sure it has a couple, but as many USB2's as you can as you use loads of them, and it then saves using a hub.

Getting one which has Vesa fixings is also handy if you are going to fix it to a pier.

Other than this, i5 with 8Gb RAM and a 256Gb SSD seems to be pretty much a decent middle road which should run all your image acquisition etc. but may struggle with any processing as the graphics will be the limiting factor.

20170222_080049.thumb.jpg.e8084dca17293b924fbaab2711b9866c.jpg

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Posted (edited)

The actual imaging doesn't need a powerful computer. I use a passive-cooled mini PC with a dual Celeron @ 1.5GHz + 4GB and a 2.5 in disk. With an external 7 port USB hub, it's more than adequate for image capture / guiding / widefield cam and running CdC.

Though if you want to do much processing you would probably want something more powerful. But you'd also want a bigger screen, too.

Edited by pete_l
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Yes as said above, you don't need massive processing power, unless you are using one of the newer ASI1600 cameras on full res for planetary imaging, then you may need it...., but for image capture and guiding a dual core celeron will be fine, with 4gb ram and an SSD drive would be preferable too.. :)

i do all my processing on a PC in the house..

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Something nice and fast would be good for my solar imaging.

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Hi Andy,

I have the Intel NUC strapped to my dual scope setup (on the saddle) and i works great. It's setup so I can access it via teamviewer over wifi from my laptop so no need to attach a screen or keyboard etc. However as others have said, for the actual acquisition part you most likely don't need a powerful computer such as the Intel NUC, a compute stick or similar with a good USB hub will probably be enough, much lighter and use less power if you are remote imaging. If I had to do it again I would probably do that. Having said that I've also got other programs such as PixInsight on there which is very convenient if I want to quickly check things out or start processing whilst in the filed during the day.

Mike

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my imaging setup is a raspberry pi 3 acting as a wifi access point, with INDI on it. I do the focusing and exposure check with KStars/Ekos via WiFi using a laptop, and then launch a python script for the actual shooting. everything is powered by a regular phone power bank, which even lasts for several nights (I got a big one). 

of course, depending on what you want to shoot your setup might be a bit more complicated. I do medium/wide fields, with no autoguiding, so this setup is more than enough for me. 

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I have just housed an old desktop pc in the garden and made a small wooden box out of wood with a lift up top. You might find that using an old router as a wifi repeater and then connecting the pc to the router via cat5 gives you the ability to use wake on lan.

This means I can just flick a switch in the house give the router a few minutes to start and then start up the pc remotely and run/connect all my gear without leaving the house.

I do not have an obs so still have to go out to remove the cover. 

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One other thing I forgot to mention is that mounting the computer directly next to the scopes helped me to get rid of intermittent USB problems. Now everything is plugged straight into the PC with no long cables or USB hubs. It also makes everything very tidy, having the PC (and MounthubPro) on the saddle means I only have to run a single 12V cable from my battery up the mount, everything else is mounted right next to the scopes so much less opportunities for snagging a cable.

Mike

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21 hours ago, pete_l said:

The actual imaging doesn't need a powerful computer. I use a passive-cooled mini PC with a dual Celeron @ 1.5GHz + 4GB and a 2.5 in disk. With an external 7 port USB hub, it's more than adequate for image capture / guiding / widefield cam and running CdC.

Though if you want to do much processing you would probably want something more powerful. But you'd also want a bigger screen, too.

My current imaging laptop is this one:

Acer Aspire ES1-311 Intel Pentium N3540 Quad Core 2GB 500GB.

I'm finding it's slow to boot up and then quite slow to fire up the software. Also web browsing on the laptop can be quite sluggish despite other devices being fine. I'm not sure if it's the processor or RAM that is the issue or maybe a combination of the two. I was thinking maybe the i5 processor with 4-8gb RAM would improve performance.

Andy.

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, AngryDonkey said:

Hi Andy,

I have the Intel NUC strapped to my dual scope setup (on the saddle) and i works great. It's setup so I can access it via teamviewer over wifi from my laptop so no need to attach a screen or keyboard etc. However as others have said, for the actual acquisition part you most likely don't need a powerful computer such as the Intel NUC, a compute stick or similar with a good USB hub will probably be enough, much lighter and use less power if you are remote imaging. If I had to do it again I would probably do that. Having said that I've also got other programs such as PixInsight on there which is very convenient if I want to quickly check things out or start processing whilst in the filed during the day.

Mike

I'd not seen the compute stick before. It looks interesting. I'm wondering how the m3 processor compares to the i3 or i5.

Also do you have a picture of the NUC mounted to your setup?

Andy.

Edited by Andyb90

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39 minutes ago, Andyb90 said:

I'm finding it's slow to boot up and then quite slow to fire up the software. Also web browsing on the laptop can be quite sluggish despite other devices being fine. I'm not sure if it's the processor or RAM that is the issue or maybe a combination of the two. I was thinking maybe the i5 processor with 4-8gb RAM would improve performance.

Andy.

I can't help you there. But what I do is have a multi-screen utility called Dexpot. This gives me 4 virtual screens, so 1 with CdC, another with PHD2 a third with a widefield view of the general part of the sky. I run all of this through a remote desktop utilty (Remina) across a wifi connection into the house and control the whole mess remotely from a linux desktop on the "big" computer.
So any browsing or forum posts ;) while I have the observing rig running is done on a different PC

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You need very modest PC's in astronomy for AP purposes for very good results.

If only the same could be said for the scope/mount/camera/filters.... ! :)

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Posted (edited)

Like GuLinux above, I use an RPi 3 and INDI with KStars/Ekos on Linux box indoors. 

Edited by Gina
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Posted (edited)

Mini computers? Yeah, a Friend put a bug in my ear back in January, about the time I finished TekkyDave's ASCOM focuser.

He mentioned he was thinking about a Stick computer. Well, naturally I had to grab that stick and run with it. There were a few snafu's, but once ironed out, it has been working great for me. Lesswire's, but not entirely wireless. Although I have seem where some have mounted a battery on their scopes as well for a truly wireless experience (although I do believe guiding to the mount requires a wire).

Here I am, all cozy and remotely running my telescope and mount from my home office most nights now. I carry my Borg-a-Scope out, connect 5 wires, and connect my big battery.

I do almost all of my alignment remotely. And once done, and my Bahtinov mask is stowed away, my Borg-a-Scope takes me far, far, away....

Some pictures:

The stick computer is mounted with Velcro, as is the Powered USB hub. Yesterday I relieved the telescope of a plastic bag dew shield, and fashioned a snap on Quonset hut of some 2 1/4" shop vac hose I had laying about my shop. Hopefully shielding from the dew, while allowing free air flow. I have a 64 Gb Micro SD card mounted in the computer for all storage. Uses all the same programs as my Laptop or Desktop computers. And has an auxiliary WiFi antenna on the mount that I use the USB3 port for.

In use, I merely carry my Borg-a-Scope out, mount it, connect, and go back inside to wirelessly connect and run the computer, and mount. It even runs Dave's focuser I built.

I'm really glad I did it.

 

DSC_0629.JPG

DSC_0630.JPG

DSC_0631.JPG

Edited by SonnyE

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I'm also using an Intel NUC/Ascom/SGP or an RPi3/Indi/Kstars combination according to the setup. Here is the FSQ106/EM200/QSI setup using the NUC.

59215c11bef51_FSQ-106EDonEM200.thumb.jpg.689d02fe3ef5caa972deaffc8e19a947.jpg

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On 18/05/2017 at 22:03, Andyb90 said:

Hi Everyone,

I was just looking at this article about using a mini PC for imaging:

http://www.lightvortexastronomy.com/intel-nuc5i5ryk-mini-pc-for-remote-control.html

I have a cheap laptop which I use for imaging. It's okay, but performance could be better. Also it only has 2 USB ports. I'm thinking of replacing it and wondering if a mini pc would be a good option. The specs seem quite high for the cost. The model in the above article also has 4 usb 3.0 ports which would be very good for connecting all devices directly.

It looks like RAM and storage are easy to upgrade too.

Is anyone using one of these for control and capture? Would it be a good replacement for my existing lower spec laptop?

Andy.

I use a 'stick' PC (intel x5 Z8350 @1.4GHz, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage) with Windows 10 Pro preinstalled. Cost £135

Along with an Amazon Basic 4 port USB 3 hub. 

All I need to do is provide power to the hub (5V) and the PC (12V) no other cables run to the OTA (no dew heaters required under current conditions here).

The hub plugs into the USB 2 port of the PC and the ASI1600 to the USB 3 port. Filter wheel runs from the ASI's integrated hub.

Focus motors and guide cam run to the Amazon hub.

It runs PHD2 and SGPro perfectly which is all it needs to do.

RDP connection over WiFi give me control. The folder the images are captured to is under OneDrive.

I have DSS Live monitoring the image folder on a larger PC just to see the image building up.

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On 24/05/2017 at 10:11, iapa said:

I use a 'stick' PC (intel x5 Z8350 @1.4GHz, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage) with Windows 10 Pro preinstalled. Cost £135

Do you have a link to your stick PC? The Windows 10 pre-installed is a definite plus.

I'd likely use my 10" Android tablet for the screen. I already use it with Google remote desktop to access the laptop.

One thing I'm wondering is how I would get on with using my new Polemaster with the tablet as the screen. Would I be able to make small adjustments without any problems using the tablet? I'll have to test that out.

Andy.

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18 hours ago, Andyb90 said:

Do you have a link to your stick PC? The Windows 10 pre-installed is a definite plus.

I'd likely use my 10" Android tablet for the screen. I already use it with Google remote desktop to access the laptop.

One thing I'm wondering is how I would get on with using my new Polemaster with the tablet as the screen. Would I be able to make small adjustments without any problems using the tablet? I'll have to test that out.

Andy.

I got one of these which came with Win 10 Pro preinstalled.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Desktop-PCs/Bben-Windows-Officially-Licenced-Multimedia-Computer-Bluetooth/B01M61HVJC/ref=pd_sbs_147_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=PAAMG5NBB19AB2YMXV3S

When I purchased two more, they just had Win 10 Home installed. I've been discussing with the vendor and they advised that they have had reports of issues with audio under Win10 Pro - have to say I've not had any problems with audio under 10 Pro on any of the three. I upgraded to Pro myself - there are OEM Pro upgrade licenses avail on Amazon I think.

Thing is, you need do Pro version to get RDP unless you use some other way to getting remote access.

I have use the stick with Polemaster connected via USB hub and RDP connection from iPad to get control and it was OK using pole master, just need to be a little less aggressive when making adjustments as I was suffering a small lag in refresh of the screen. Also tried successfully with a laptop, Surface tablet and even iPhone 7 plus.

 

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