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DeepSkyMan

EAA over WiFi - Hypercam 183c Or SX Ultrastar C

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Hi there, Happy New Year everybody.

My primary astro goal for 2018, will be to put in place a mobile EAA platform to work with my Vixen Sphinx SXW and C8 EdgeHD.  I want to utilise modern digital USB, wireless interface wherever possible so all analog-based solutions such as the Mallincam range of cameras or Revolution Imager would not be suitable.  My preference would be for a camera with a relatively small circular cross-section with possible long-term use with Fastar in mind.  

I am currently looking at two possible cameras:

Altair Astro Hypercam 183c

SX Ultrastar C

Although happy to take on board alternative recommendations from this ‘August forum’ ?

Fundamental to the platform is the ability to control everything from an iOS device via remote control software, so the integration of the control and imaging/guiding software is as important as the camera itself.  My primary interest is real/near real-time viewing as opposed to traditional AP.   Elements in the proposed platform are as follows:

iPad Air - Already in place

Compute Stick/ Mini computer - Yet to be obtained - Needs to be small enough to attach to the telescope dovetail bar without seriously compromising telescope balance but powerful enough to run all the necessary control and imaging software.  The aim of this approach is to keep all necessary cabling lengths as short as possible and have as much of the cabling as possible integrated with the scope movement as opposed to trailing from a stationary point around the mount/tripod.  I am very much a Windows guy so recommendations should be restricted to that OS for this aspect of the platform.  Note my comments in this section of the post are based on the assumption alongside whatever research I have done, that there are no solutions that would enable everything to be controlled natively from iOS which of course from a simplicity perspective would have been my preference.  

Guide Camera - Yet to be obtained - Suitable suggestions for this aspect of the platform would be most welcome although I am thinking along the lines of the Altair Astro GPCAM2.

Guidescope - I currently have an 80mm Altair Astro Maxi finder which I intend to press into service for this aspect of the platform.  I am hoping that this may also function as a wide field imaging platform as well.  May look to upgrade this to something with better quality optics in the future.

Guidescope control - Sphinx GEM - has integrated ST4 guiding interface.  Use of PHD2.  My understanding is that ASCOM has a much richer set of feedback features to the user however I’m thinking that from a simplicity perspective considering the iOS primary interface I would be better to go with ST4.

Primary Imaging Camera - Yet to be obtained

Primary Imaging scope - Already in place - C8 EdgeHD

Mount - Already in place - Vixen Sphinx SXW

Mount Control - Already in place - SkySafari Pro

Communications - Over WiFi - Currently scope control is from my iPad and SkySafari via a small TPLink router and thence to a cabled ethernet connection to the GEM (actually the Starbook controller).  I am thinking that this may need changing to some sort of powered USB hub with integrated WiFi capability.  The completed platform should permit switching in real-time between different scope control, guiding and imaging aspects of the system via the iPad to Windows remote control software.

Regarding imaging software I have read on the various forums favourable comments regarding the Starlight Live software that comes with the Ultrastar, and this was one of the reasons why the Ultrastar was first on my shortlist.  However I have also recently read favourable accounts of SharpCap which would be used with the HyperCam, not least of which is the integrated polar alignment routine that comes with this software.  I’d be interested in any feedback from members with firsthand experience of these different software solutions.  Does anybody know if there is a ‘blow by blow’ comparison between Starlight Live and SharpCap?

Although I have done quite a bit of research on the topic prior to this post, still obviously very much a novice in this arena so happy to take on board recommendations and/ or alternative suggestions from SGL members to help me get up and running.

Wishing you all Clear Skies for the new year

Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by DeepSkyMan

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Hi Paul

One quick comment is that almost nobody in EAA guides, so unless you want to have a dual AP/EAA setup you could simplify things quite a bit. This is especially true if you use a low read noise CMOS camera as you can get away with very short exposures (5-10s).

Speed is of the essence in EAA so you should plan on using a focal reducer with your C8. This may affect your choice of camera (pixels/arcsec etc).

I'm not aware of a detailed SLL/SharpCap comparison. I use SLL with a Lodestar X2 mono. This is a very sensitive camera if you are prepared to forego a large FOV. Bear in mind that there are some advantages to using a smaller sensor /pixel count such as reduced image size and faster transfer over wifi which might be an issue with some of the larger colour sensors coming out.

cheers

Martin

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41 minutes ago, Martin Meredith said:

Hi Paul

One quick comment is that almost nobody in EAA guides, so unless you want to have a dual AP/EAA setup you could simplify things quite a bit. This is especially true if you use a low read noise CMOS camera as you can get away with very short exposures (5-10s).

Speed is of the essence in EAA so you should plan on using a focal reducer with your C8. This may affect your choice of camera (pixels/arcsec etc).

I'm not aware of a detailed SLL/SharpCap comparison. I use SLL with a Lodestar X2 mono. This is a very sensitive camera if you are prepared to forego a large FOV. Bear in mind that there are some advantages to using a smaller sensor /pixel count such as reduced image size and faster transfer over wifi which might be an issue with some of the larger colour sensors coming out.

cheers

Martin

Thanks Martin, much appreciated.  Long term I may get into a more traditional AP setup but it makes sense from an EAA perspective to remove the Guidescope element from my initial setup.  The simpler the better ?

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OK, this is how I am setting up my wireless and cordless EAA equipment which I control from my warm office. Might offer some ideas.

1. Atik Horizon on Hyperstar on Evolution 8" SCT. USB3 cable to...

2. Intel i5 NUC 4Gb Ram  at scope affixed to mount by Zacfton cable ties (these are awesome!).

3. Use 'TeamViewer' to control NUC and view images on laptop in office. Note TeamViewer is also available for IOS.

4. Control Evolution using Celestron WiFi to SkySafari on Android tablet. Also possible on IOS.

5. Control Focus by MKIT20 wireless Microfocuser.

6. Power to all from MaxOak 60aH battery. Offers 20v; 12v and 5v outputs simultaneously.

I have all the above running perfectly with my 24 megapixel DSLR. Just awaiting delivery of the Atik Horizon. Key issues I discovered are processor speed and the need for fast 802.11ac wireless. Raspberry Pi and Atom processors might not suffice with megapixel cameras like the Atik Horizon or ZWO AS1600. But lesser processors might be fine with lower resolution smaller sensor cameras.

 Power is also challenging. Despite the Evolution having an internal battery, you will need 60aH to power the rest of the above for seven hour session. The above is remarkably portable too. I can carry my kit fully assembled from my office (converted garage) to my yard. A Starsense auto-align and I am observing in the warm in under ten minutes. 

Edited by noah4x4
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4 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

OK, this is how I am setting up my wireless and cordless EAA equipment which I control from my warm office. Might offer some ideas.

1. Atik Horizon on Hyperstar on Evolution 8" SCT. USB3 cable to...

2. Intel i5 NUC 4Gb Ram  at scope affixed to mount by Zacfton cable ties (these are awesome!).

3. Use 'TeamViewer' to control NUC and view images on laptop in office. Note TeamViewer is also available for IOS.

4. Control Evolution using Celestron WiFi to SkySafari on Android tablet. Also possible on IOS.

5. Control Focus by MKIT20 wireless Microfocuser.

6. Power to all from MaxOak 60aH battery. Offers 20v; 12v and 5v outputs simultaneously.

I have all the above running perfectly with my 24 megapixel DSLR. Just awaiting delivery of the Atik Horizon. Key issues I discovered are processor speed and the need for fast 802.11ac wireless. Raspberry Pi and Atom processors might not suffice with megapixel cameras like the Atik Horizon or ZWO AS1600. But lesser processors might be fine with lower resolution smaller sensor cameras.

 Power is also challenging. Despite the Evolution having an internal battery, you will need 60aH to power the rest of the above for seven hour session. The above is remarkably portable too. I can carry my kit fully assembled from my office (converted garage) to my yard. A Starsense auto-align and I am observing in the warm in under ten minutes. 

That sounds like the perfect EAA setup to me! I have cables, counterweights, polar aligning, goto aligning, power cable, saddlebag, you name it! I have got setup time down to around 30 minutes start to finish, butI would love to make it quicker, however now requires considerable additional spend to achieve so will be part of a longer term plan I think.

Looking forward to seeing the new Horizon in action. :thumbright:

Edited by RobertI

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5 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

OK, this is how I am setting up my wireless and cordless EAA equipment which I control from my warm office. Might offer some ideas.

1. Atik Horizon on Hyperstar on Evolution 8" SCT. USB3 cable to...

2. Intel i5 NUC 4Gb Ram  at scope affixed to mount by Zacfton cable ties (these are awesome!).

3. Use 'TeamViewer' to control NUC and view images on laptop in office. Note TeamViewer is also available for IOS.

4. Control Evolution using Celestron WiFi to SkySafari on Android tablet. Also possible on IOS.

5. Control Focus by MKIT20 wireless Microfocuser.

6. Power to all from MaxOak 60aH battery. Offers 20v; 12v and 5v outputs simultaneously.

I have all the above running perfectly with my 24 megapixel DSLR. Just awaiting delivery of the Atik Horizon. Key issues I discovered are processor speed and the need for fast 802.11ac wireless. Raspberry Pi and Atom processors might not suffice with megapixel cameras like the Atik Horizon or ZWO AS1600. But lesser processors might be fine with lower resolution smaller sensor cameras.

 Power is also challenging. Despite the Evolution having an internal battery, you will need 60aH to power the rest of the above for seven hour session. The above is remarkably portable too. I can carry my kit fully assembled from my office (converted garage) to my yard. A Starsense auto-align and I am observing in the warm in under ten minutes. 

Do a MaxOak 60 Ah battery with 5 V output exist?

Can you give a link to it please?

Thanks in advance.

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I’d definitely second Martin about guiding and EEA, with short exposures I’ve found no need. Also, jumping ahead, in the new SharpCap there is a feature tracking tool which can reduce drift in between exposures - essentially guiding using the exposure itself.

I was looking for a very similar EEA set up to what describe, though I had slightly different priorities with the OTA and mount. I did a write up of my set up here (it’s also worth reading the thread on how I got to what I bought, Martin and others were extremely helpful with detail):

Also, over on Cloudy Nights there is a long thread called “Compute Stick: I think I’m in EEA heaven” or something similar that I found extremely helpful.

I’m fully wireless including on power. I mostly get two observing sessions out of the batteries that drive everything. Though as a force of habit I mostly charge everything each night anyway.

Personaly, I would look at the ASI294Pro or the ASI385 for a colour camera. The ASI294Pro is really great, it’s very sensitive with a wide dynamic range — and I’ve been super happy with mine — though since it’s a 4/3 size essentially, I’m not sure how it’ll work with your sct. You’d need to take a look at how it fills the sensor — especially since you’ll want to use a reducer. The TSOptics 0.5 worked pretty well for me on a Meade SCT. But you need to check scope, reducer and sensor size. 

I use ShaprCap and really like it. The 3.1 beta has lots of great features — plate solving mount control being by far the best.  I can’t give you a comparison to any other software unfortunately. But I can say that the developer Robin answers emails personally and responds in the forums. He’s made changes to the software based on some feature requests and other conversations about stuff which is amazing.

Some notes on my setup. Since that post I also bought a asi294Pro and I do now have an extra battery for its cooling system (though I sometimes am lazy and use it uncooled).

I’m also doubly happy I bought the Core m3 Compute Stick rather than the atom since ive had no number crunching issues with it, even with the big sensor on the 294. There are reports that the less powerful sticks struggle with big sensors. I think the m3 is relatively safe, though it is definitely more expensive. Having had previous experiences with underpowered computers I was happy to assign budget to the brain of the system since that is what you interact with most.

I know you said you had an iPad Air, which is what I started with too... but then I started using an iPad Pro with the Pencil and it’s fantastic. I hate going back to my iPad Air (the pro is on loan from work). Since I rdp to the Compute Stick the stylus makes all the difference when your trying to do simple stuff like resize a window or pick a specific point on the histogram. An apple pencil makes the experience like using a surface pro but on prettier hardware...

All the electronics and my two cameras pack into a very small bag. About 20 x 30 x 10 cm? It also carries a Bahtinov mask and some other odds and ends.

 

Edited by London_David

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7 hours ago, roelb said:

Do a MaxOak 60 Ah battery with 5 V output exist?

Can you give a link to it please?

Thanks in advance.

Amazon was selling the 60aH.  Now  offering 50aH with 20v/12v//v outputs.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAXOAK-Capacity-50000mAh-Portable-Notebook-Most/dp/B00YP823NA/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515742180&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=MaxOak+60aH

The 60aH is actually a single block of multiple 3.7v Li-Ion batteries daisy chained in a single unit to give the different voltage outputs. 

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I did an exhaustive search for batteries and in addition to the MaxOak there are two Poweradd batteries that looked appropriate power sources for a wireless rig:

Poweradd Pilot Pro2 23000mAh Multi-Voltage (9V 12V 16V 19V 20V) Portable Charger https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013HXKZYW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_cPhwAb4XVNV2X

That was the one I bought because it’s smaller and flatter and easier to travel with. It is light enough to velcro to the tripod leg.

However, if you just want power the Poweradd Charge Center which is 50,000mAh is a good design. Unfortunately amazon seems to have stopped stocking it. But it has great connectivity and features. 

Edited by London_David
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4 hours ago, London_David said:

I did an exhaustive search for batteries and in addition to the MaxOak there are two Poweradd batteries that looked appropriate power sources for a wireless rig:

Poweradd Pilot Pro2 23000mAh Multi-Voltage (9V 12V 16V 19V 20V) Portable Charger https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013HXKZYW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_cPhwAb4XVNV2X

That was the one I bought because it’s smaller and flatter and easier to travel with. It is light enough to velcro to the tripod leg.

However, if you just want power the Poweradd Charge Center which is 50,000mAh is a good design. Unfortunately amazon seems to have stopped stocking it. But it has great connectivity and features. 

Folks, something you need to take into account when using these multi-voltage power banks, AH rating is generally based on the lowest voltage setting.   If you are powering a number  of different voltage devices with them you need to be aware that you will not get anywhere near the quoted AHs

Kind Regards

Paul.

 

 

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It’s true — watt hours would be a more helpful comparison than mAh.

Having said that, in terms of what I get out of the battery, the 23000mAh PowerAdd runs my eq3-2 pro plus a 5ghz Wi-Fi hub all night (6-8 hours maybe I’ve never actually timed it) and has enough left for a shorter second session.

I have a second one that I use for powering the cooling on the ASI294Pro and similarly it will run it all night, plus spare for a second session. 

I’ve never actually done a proper timing or Power test — my assessment on the batteries was very much “does this last all night with time to spare”. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t actually charge these ones between sessions, dangerous as that is...

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