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David Crane    8

I'm trying reduce the usb cables issues I have by attaching a mini computer to the centre of the OTA so it moves with the scope and I have minimum cable movement. Has anyone any experience of suitable computers and set ups bearing in mind I don't have a fixed location and have to set up each night. The ones I have seen are about 12 x 12 x 5mm and about 950gm. The down side seems to be the 32GB memory most offer which seems to get half filled with Windows. I would be no good with Linux or any other operating system. I would also like to be able to put SGP, CdC, PHD2 and a few other on as well but maybe on a micro usb card.

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ultranova    598

Hi, I have found the mini computers are ok as long as you don't overload

them, running one or two not overly intensive programs at once is ok,

but these little computers for the most part are not that powerful and can easily

struggle with to much going on at the same time.

It all boils down to how much load you are putting on it.

If you are just running your mount and PHD2 it should be ok, but soon as you add

something else it could start to cause issues again depending on the spec of the computer

and what you intend to fully use on it.

I went for a second hand dual core with 4gb of ram on eBay, not exactly a small laptop,

compared to one of the mini ones but runs pretty much every thing, mount, phd, filter wheel

camera.

Hope that helps, someone else might have first hand experience with one of the mini computers

that might blow my take on it out of the water.

Good luck

Paul 

 

 

 

 

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m.tweedy    412

I use one similar to this

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01AU7T1NO/ref=psdc_428651031_t3_B06WW1MSXQ

with all of the programmes

SGP/APT with PHD2 Atik460, EFW2, Lakeside focuser and a few other "bits" via a powered USB hub into this.. So far so good

mounted under the OTA. The wiring has been tidied up now but this is to give you an example

IMG_0213.thumb.JPG.49466f6f5cb3c52fbf2ed483278fe292.JPG

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Stub Mandrel    6,873

I'm getting old.

I remember when Mini Computers were the size of a couple of fridge freezers and bigger than microcomputers...

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JamesF    8,204
26 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I'm getting old.

I remember when Mini Computers were the size of a couple of fridge freezers and bigger than microcomputers...

Disk units the size of washing machines... (and they were top-loading, too :)

James

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Alien 13    4,151
29 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I'm getting old.

I remember when Mini Computers were the size of a couple of fridge freezers and bigger than microcomputers...

 

1 minute ago, JamesF said:

Disk units the size of washing machines... (and they were top-loading, too :)

James

I remember it well and tape drives as big as a fridge freezer, the magnetic memory core was impressive too all 12Kb of it in what was at the time one of the largest machines in Europe. My first encounter with computers was at a grammar school that had a very basic valve job that filled a room.

Alan 

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JamesF    8,204

Oooh, oooh, and when people called monitors "glass ttys" because a "proper" tty was a teletype unit :D

James

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Alien 13    4,151

Just remembered the separate room/building that housed the printer due to it sounding like a building site when digging out the old concrete, was very fast though...

Alan 

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Sunshine    402

i remember when computers used 5.25" floppy discs, eons ago.

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Kaliska    86

I'm using one of these (with a 64gb micro sd card) to run my wireless setup. I have SGP, PHD, Polemaster, EQMOD, SharpSky Pro all running and been testing it this evening. This is a fan-less mini pc, so there's no noise from it at all, so far, so good. 

 

 

IMG_0272[3090].jpg

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adyj1    22

I've got a 3-yr old low spec mini PC with 2GB RAM & 32G SSD https://www.amazon.co.uk/Acer-M1601-Nettop-Celeron-1-6GHz/dp/B01CNVAFIU

Runs APT, Cdc, PHD2, Sharpcap, TeamViewer, EQMod, all on Windows 10, without complaining (although due to its age it is a low-powered Celeron CPU, so if it did complain, it would do it quite slowly 😉). Haven't had to resort to an SD card as I've still got space on the SSD... 

Ady

 

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Craney    710
1 hour ago, Kaliska said:

IMG_0272[3090].jpg

That looks a great set up @Kaliska.   I was wondering what you did with the ouput fro the main imaging cam (ZWO), does it feed back into the mini-PC somehow or do you have a second PC/laptop involved ??

 

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groberts    109
6 hours ago, Craney said:

That looks a great set up @Kaliska.   I was wondering what you did with the ouput fro the main imaging cam (ZWO), does it feed back into the mini-PC somehow or do you have a second PC/laptop involved ??

 

Yes, I'm also interested in this + can someone spell out in a KISS manner exactly how one uses these mini computers:

  1. They are it seems, just a hard disk, onto which I presume you load the required software -  SGP, Cdc, PHD etc - and 'view' and operate from another computer?
  2. How does the WiFi communication work?
  3. Can you instead use an ethernet cable for greater reliability?
  4. Bearing in mind Craney's aforesaid question, what sort of disk size is optimal?
  5. Anything else  worth knowing for the uninitiated?

I like the idea a lot but am wary it gets too technical!

Thanks, Graham

 

   

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Kaliska    86

The image i posted was on sunday evening, before i had hooked up the multitude of cables. Everything, including the camera is now attached to the mini-pc on top, with just 1 cable (power) coming from it all. Although it now looks like its having a really bad hair day lol, time for some cable management! @Craney

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Kaliska    86
Posted (edited)

The Wi-Fi is as simple as it gets as long as you are able to pickup your home wifi. You just need Teamviewer (the free personal version) https://www.teamviewer.com/en/  which allows you to use the mini -pc on your desktop from inside the house. Programs other than Teamviewer are available, but for me this one just works straight away and you can even use it on your iPhone or iPad should you wish to do so. I've had all the programs running last night and there were no noticeable issues with performance that i could generate when load testing it.

With regards to storage space, I'm going to start with a 64gb micro SD card, which should be plenty enough, but you can go the 256gb these days and memory is so cheap now. Ethernet cable is a viable option, but for me personally, the less cables coming from the mount, the better. @groberts

Edited by Kaliska

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RayD    2,112

I wouldn't personally run an Ethernet cable to the OTA.  Cat 5 etc. is solid copper and designed for fixed applications, it isn't designed for dynamic (moving) applications, so could well become a source of poor reliability in the future.

As @Kaliska notes, the wifi connections are pretty good for this usage as all the functions are being carried out by the PC, so even a temporary drop won't cause an issue as the 'work' is still going on.  To make things more secure and reliable you can set the PC up as an access point so you connect directly to it rather than connecting it to your home wifi, but either way will work fine.

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David Crane    8

Hi Kalista

The mini pc you have is one I'm looking at so that's good to know. From your photograph it looks like you have power unit of some sort next to it. I'm also trying to get rid of the many power transformers that add additional weight to the setup. Could you enlighten me. Thanks

By the way, I was just packing up last night after a bad night of cable problems when I read the funny replies near the top of the post. Thank you gentlemen. You made me laugh.

David

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Kaliska    86

@David Crane   With regards to the power distributor, i opted for this one (power unit) which was the best value one i could find. Each output has the option to take out the supplied fuse and replace it with one of your choosing (all 3A on my setup) You could go with the Rigrunner which many astro guys use, but i was on a budget and for less than £15 delivered it was (to me) a no brainer.     

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Kaliska    86
31 minutes ago, RayD said:

To make things more secure and reliable you can set the PC up as an access point so you connect directly to it rather than connecting it to your home wifi, but either way will work fine.

Yes, that an option that has eluded me so far, will have to look into how to set this up and if there is any benifit over Teamviewer.

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Philip R    803
10 hours ago, Sunshine said:

i remember when computers used 5.25" floppy discs, eons ago.

I still use one! ...and i have even seen an 8"/160kb floppy drive. I was told at the time NASA were/are running out of them.

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Fellside    21
14 hours ago, David Crane said:

I'm trying reduce the usb cables issues I have by attaching a mini computer to the centre of the OTA so it moves with the scope and I have minimum cable movement. Has anyone any experience of suitable computers and set ups bearing in mind I don't have a fixed location and have to set up each night. The ones I have seen are about 12 x 12 x 5mm and about 950gm. The down side seems to be the 32GB memory most offer which seems to get half filled with Windows. I would be no good with Linux or any other operating system. I would also like to be able to put SGP, CdC, PHD2 and a few other on as well but maybe on a micro usb card.

David

I have been looking at these

 https://www.ambros.co.uk/product-category/shuttle-pcs/shuttle-barebones/

particularly this one

https://www.ambros.co.uk/computer-shop/shuttle-dx30-barebone/

A little bigger than your 12 x 12 x 5mm:smiley:

You fit a small SSD card or HD plus memory. You have to provide the operating system which is an additional cost, Win 10in your case. WiFi can be upgraded to the latest ac speed. Then you have to look at can you ISP`s router do keep up with that.

Graham

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David Crane    8

Hi Kaliska

Can you tell me where you bought your power unit from. ebay looks favourite and less expensive than Amazon.

Thanks Graham. The choice is getting bigger but at least the idea seems to work and help reduce the frustrating usb cable issues.

David

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solwisesteve    11

I know everyone keeps on talking about teamviewer BUT if it's for a local connection e.g. laptop in the house to mini-pc in the obs, then, IMHO, teamviewer is NOT the programme to use. The problem is teamviewer works through a remote cloud site. So your laptop talks through your internet to the cloud and also your mini-pc talks through your internet to the cloud. Then the remote teamviewer server (the cloud) joins the traffic together. Obviously the performance is limited therefore by your internet upload speed (assuming your internet upload speed is slower than your download speed - it usually is). A much better solution, for windows users any way, is to use windows remote viewer which is direct remote control between the two computers over the local network i.e. no going out to the internet so the only limitation speed wise is how fast your local network is which will nearly always be a lot faster than your internet.

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JamesF    8,204
2 hours ago, RayD said:

@KaliskaI wouldn't personally run an Ethernet cable to the OTA.  Cat 5 etc. is solid copper and designed for fixed applications, it isn't designed for dynamic (moving) applications, so could well become a source of poor reliability in the future.

Cat5 cables come in solid core and stranded varieties.  I'd not want to use the solid core stuff in an application where it was going to be regularly moved (I have hundreds of metres under the floors in my house where it isn't going to get moved at all), but I don't think the stranded cable should be any more prone to failure than any other cables (USB, power etc.) likely to be found on an imaging rig.

James

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Kaliska    86

@David Crane   i bought it from the site i linked (they have a uk outlet) but i see they're out of stock, so get one from where you can.

@solwisesteve I've not tried windows remote yet, but will give it a go. Not sure how much difference it would make as there's nothing i find lacking in speed when imaging, but i guess others might need the increased performance when the two computers at talking to oneanother.

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