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Icesheet

Autoguiding CPU requirements

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I have recently purchased an Orion Mini guide scope and I'm keen to start autoguiding using my Altair GPCAM2 224. However, I have a MacBook and it's not playing ball. I've managed to get BETA versions of Atair Cam and PHD2 drivers on my Mac but the frame rate on Altair capture is horrendous and PHD2 doesn't recognise the camera. Therefore I'm resigned to having to shell out on a windows based laptop. I'm looking to the second hand market at the moment but all I want is the minimum specs I need to capture. I will use the Mac to process images.

Altair states minimum requirements are :

Windows PC Hardware Requirements:
Minimum CPU: Equal to Intel Core2 2.8GHz or Higher
Minimum Memory: 2GB or More
USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port

 

It doesn't say if this is IntelCore2 single, duo or quad. I'm presuming single here. Even still is that the minimum for just capturing data? What are others using. I'm really reluctant to start shelling out another £100+ on a used laptop just for autoguiding.

Chris

 

 
Edited by Icesheet

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My Dell 6420 has a quad core i5 2.5GHz CPU. Seems to handle guiding and image capture just fine.

I did swap out the hard drive for a SSD though. i'm not that fussy about spinning rust in -20 to -30 temps outside.

 

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12 minutes ago, kendg said:

My Dell 6420 has a quad core i5 2.5GHz CPU. Seems to handle guiding and image capture just fine.

I did swap out the hard drive for a SSD though. i'm not that fussy about spinning rust in -20 to -30 temps outside.

 

Now you're just showing off !:wink2:

That's surely way more than required for capturing, at least more than what Altair quote. If I have to shell out on something with that power I feel I'm as well selling the GPCAM and getting an Orion StarShoot that works with Mac or the Skywatcher SynGuider so I don't even need a laptop.

Argh shame on me for not checking on this when buying.

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I was lucky. I got a great deal on it as a refurb unit. :icon_biggrin:

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I think the Altair requirements will be more than sufficient for guiding &c.  I have used an Asus Eee PC 1005PE (Specs) which quite happily runs PHD2, Astrophotography tool (including plate solving), Cartes du Ciel and captures the image data.

As Kirkster501 says: very little power needed for these

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2 hours ago, kirkster501 said:

Almost zero CPU to answer your question.

 

22 minutes ago, almcl said:

I think the Altair requirements will be more than sufficient for guiding &c.  I have used an Asus Eee PC 1005PE (Specs) which quite happily runs PHD2, Astrophotography tool (including plate solving), Cartes du Ciel and captures the image data.

As Kirkster501 says: very little power needed for these

Ok sounds promising. So to be specific this below would suffice?

 

 

IMG_0743.PNG

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My Toshiba is a low-spec quad core and keeps up with guiding fine, I don't think it is a particularly demanding processing operation.

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My 10 year old dual core laptop (upgraded to SSD and 4GB RAM) runs 2 instances of MaxIm, PHD2 and remote desktop with no problems.

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For years I've used a netbook with a N450 Atom processor and 1g RAM (slow and miniscule by modern standards) running concurrently PHD, APT, Celestron Nexguide, ASCOM, with a QHY5 guide cam. It worked fine, with all the peripheral kit running through a 10-way powered USB hub. I could also run Tight VNC allowing remote control of the notebook. However the notebook was very inadequate for processing afterwards. 

However things started to fall over very quickly when I changed the 1100D for a QHY183. The guiding would fail during QHY183 downloads and the QHY183 would quickly lock up, in spite of the fact it has a frame buffer. Downloading from the two cameras at the same time was not good. It may not be totally down to the notebook; it's been my experience that APT works more reliably with Canon SLRs than with CCD cameras. 

I upgraded to a refurbished I7 laptop off Ebay for £199 including a 12 month guarantee which works everything just fine and will handle the processing as well. . I would suggest making a bit of an investment rather than aiming for the absolute minimum. Any dual core or better machine will probably be perfectly ok for just getting the data with your current kit but things change just as  quickly in the astro world when it comes to both hardware and software.  It's worth not having to go round this loop again too soon. My 2p worth....

RL

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3 hours ago, Icesheet said:

 

Ok sounds promising. So to be specific this below would suffice?

 

 

IMG_0743.PNG

Absolutely no problem whatsoever.

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For guiding only, as kirkster suggests a low speed XP computer is sufficient.

However, for high frame rate planetary imaging you need a much higher spec as Altair and Ken suggest.

Michael

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16 minutes ago, michael8554 said:

For guiding only, as kirkster suggests a low speed XP computer is sufficient.

However, for high frame rate planetary imaging you need a much higher spec as Altair and Ken suggest.

Michael

100% agreed. 

PHD take very little CPU

EQMOD again takes very little CPU

Stellarium take a bit more CPU and a fair amount of memory 

BYEOS (and probably PHD) not much CPU but some spiky USB transfers.

So for these 4 programs on a small laptop/netbook you are OK. I had a little ASUS x205ta netbook with 32GB of SSD hard disk that work OK for this when I travel.

I can even use DSS on it after I'm done. Not fast but it works. Just make sure you have a largish memory card for storing images. 128GB seems to be just fine.

For planetary you need USB speed and processing speed because you are capturing/processing video. 

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12 hours ago, rl said:

For years I've used a netbook with a N450 Atom processor and 1g RAM (slow and miniscule by modern standards) running concurrently PHD, APT, Celestron Nexguide, ASCOM, with a QHY5 guide cam. It worked fine, with all the peripheral kit running through a 10-way powered USB hub. I could also run Tight VNC allowing remote control of the notebook. However the notebook was very inadequate for processing afterwards. 

However things started to fall over very quickly when I changed the 1100D for a QHY183. The guiding would fail during QHY183 downloads and the QHY183 would quickly lock up, in spite of the fact it has a frame buffer. Downloading from the two cameras at the same time was not good. It may not be totally down to the notebook; it's been my experience that APT works more reliably with Canon SLRs than with CCD cameras. 

I upgraded to a refurbished I7 laptop off Ebay for £199 including a 12 month guarantee which works everything just fine and will handle the processing as well. . I would suggest making a bit of an investment rather than aiming for the absolute minimum. Any dual core or better machine will probably be perfectly ok for just getting the data with your current kit but things change just as  quickly in the astro world when it comes to both hardware and software.  It's worth not having to go round this loop again too soon. My 2p worth....

RL

 

11 hours ago, michael8554 said:

For guiding only, as kirkster suggests a low speed XP computer is sufficient.

However, for high frame rate planetary imaging you need a much higher spec as Altair and Ken suggest.

Michael

Thanks for the input as always everyone. It is definitely something I need to consider. Right now my primary objective is just to autoguide and achieve longer exposures. However, I do plan to dabble in planetary imaging in the future. My MacBook Pro Retina is fairly high spec and I will continue to use that for processing images. However, shelling out more on a laptop now will hold me back from upgrading my mount (from Star Adventurer). Ahhh for the bottomless pit of pennies!!

Edited by Icesheet

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4 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Is there any point to autoguiding when doing planetary work?

Hi, 

The GPCAM I have doubles as a planetary imager and an autoguider. So when I mentioned wanting to do some planetary imaging it would have been without autoguiding.

As to the more general point of autoguiding when doing planetary work, I wouldn't have thought there is much need but someone with more experience might offer their opinion here.

Edited by Icesheet

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