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JamesF

JamesF's observatory build

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That's stupidly cheap, isn't it?  Enough so to be tempting to try, at least.

Mind you, the 500m outdoor range might mean I need to improve security on my wireless networks.  With the indoor stuff I have at the moment people do at least have to get into cannon range before they can start snuffling about on my networks.

James

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5 hours ago, JamesF said:

That's stupidly cheap, isn't it?  Enough so to be tempting to try, at least.

Mind you, the 500m outdoor range might mean I need to improve security on my wireless networks.  With the indoor stuff I have at the moment people do at least have to get into cannon range before they can start snuffling about on my networks.

James

Forgive my total ignorance but does this unit act as a simple "aerial" for improved local reception of your own wireless router signal?
Or does it re-transmit your own internet wireless signal to a potentially much wider audience?
Could just anybody in the neighborhood tap into my "free WiFi broadcasting service" as a result?
Having seen my 60m distant neighbour's Chromecast and STB as the result of a new TV, initial set-up scan, it seems there is a potentially serious, privacy and bandwidth issue.

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Posted (edited)

it's a repeater I think so will broadcast out and looks like it LAN connects back into your router. I'd hope it can have SSID and MAC security enabled to at least improve security if needed. If it does plug back into your router to reach the internet/internal LAN then you can at least control some of that with vLAN and firewall rules, perhaps, depending on the quality of your router that is.

In most regular housing areas I've lived I can "see" quite a number of WiFi and other devices, worrying to think how insecure some of them are too, but that's their issue 😉 Folk really don't seem to think about security much if their new device is plug and play etc, then blame the manufacturer when they get breached because they couldn't be bothered to check things. Same with all these "smart" IoT devices proliferating out there...

An option might be to use a spare WiFi router on the side of the house facing the shed? Or in a window facing that way. wire linked back to local LAN on the internal router and WAN side turned off (unless it has ethernet WAN - cable type). Set it with different SSID's and put it into a suitable housing to protect from weather - problem will be shunting heat tho... A proper AP will cost in the £80-£200 region so better to run the long cable as planned.

Problem with WiFi with extended range is of course going to be that you can't control where the signal goes or who might see it. Can see James with a line of cars parked up in the area all freeloading 😉

Edited by DaveL59
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I only use it as a receiver & feed it into the 'local' network, but I've tried the wifi re-distribute and found that it acts as a transparent repeater, so whatever security you have (if any) will still be the same at the further distance....

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12 hours ago, JamesF said:

Thank you, Chris :)  I'm very pleased with how the lighting works.  I've discovered that it somehow "remembers" what state it was in when the power was disconnected, which means I can set the scope room to, say, mid-brightness red, and it restarts that way even if I switch the lights off at the mains and switch them on again the next night.

James

That's really handy! The less faffing about the better. I might have to pinch this lighting idea when I get round to building another obs. 

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Well, I pinched it from Alex, so it only seems fair :)

James

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the explanations.  :thumbsup:

Regarding "distant" wireless reception:
I have just moved my laptop from the far North side to the East side of the pier to make room for a monitor and "proper" keyboard.
My wireless reception has just shot up from weak and completely unreliable to 100Mbps up and down!
No other change except moving the closed laptop about 60cm or 2' to the SE onto a new desk extension. 
My massive mounting and three OTA's must have been shielding the signal to the laptop.

It might be worth experimenting if such a simple change can provide all the wireless reception you need.
My indoor router is on the first floor. As is the dome at about 15m away to the north.
I've heard that being on the same level as the router can aid reception.

Edited by Rusted
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It will depend on what WiFi router you have, but if you have one that has separate\detachable aerials, then it will usually be possible to upgrade\adjust\remotely site them, using good quality aerials & extension leads, which may well give the improvement you require.... 

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My understanding is that "normal" wifi aerials radiate the signal in all directions, except for a "bit that's missing" from the top and the bottom.  I imagine it as a sphere with a cone shape removed from the top and bottom (the top cone being upside down, obviously).  The radiated power is fixed, so by selecting an aerial design that has "fatter" cones where it transmits no signal, more power is radiated over a smaller volume, giving a signal that may travel further, but is more directional.

The router that I currently use for my outdoor connections has a replacement aerial that should reach further, but as I now have a spare wifi router perhaps I could put something different on that.  In the beer shack, which is a little further away than the observatory, I use a flat, square aerial (though that's plugged straight into a wifi card in the computer).  Something along those lines might be another way to improve things, though in fact when I was installing updates on the pier computer in the observatory this morning it was easily hitting the full bandwidth of our internet connection so perhaps there's not much need to go further in the short term.

James

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Yes, the radiation pattern of a dipole or monopole and earth plane is a doughnut shape.  You can modify the pattern to be more directional by adding a reflector and/or directors if you want radiation or reception in only one direction.  OTOH you can contravene the law of the land by increasing the radiation above permitted level.

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yep seen those, aerial in a can making it v directional and a cheap way to achieve a bit of extra range. There's a fair few wi-max designs too so if the aerial is removable then these might be workable, even better if you can mount outside. Do watch out tho when aiming these at the house, try siting the receiver so the incoming beam isn't directed at living or sleeping space, unless you want to glow in the dark 😉

 

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On 08/08/2019 at 19:48, JamesF said:

Sadly I've already tried and failed in that respect.  They just don't seem to work very well here.  I am continuing to experiment with them as they'd be useful in another couple of cases too, but I think our mains wiring might just be a bit too far outside the design parameters of the powerline units.

James

I found that if there is an ELCB (or whatever they are these days) then the power net things don't seem to work well.

Not supposed to be happy on extension cables - but I tried one c50m and the powernet worked fine

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I've not updated this thread in a couple of weeks so I thought I'd have a bit of a catch-up.

All the pier PCs are now installed, with INDI/Kstars etc. and run back to the KVM switch in the warm room, which works very nicely.  The boxes on the piers still need a bit of tidying up, but that will wait.  I've been making up power cables to carry 12V to all the kit on the piers as all the existing cables were too long.  Eventually I'll put a power distribution box on the mount itself.

And I've actually mounted up telescopes and been using the kit, mostly as a way of shaking out any issues that need dealing with.  Today I added guidescopes (with cameras) to two of the mounts and zip-tied a powered USB3 hub to the mounting bars.  Long-term I'll make up proper brackets, but I need more USB connectivity and I started running into problems where, for example, my Atik 314L+ wouldn't talk over USB directly to the PC, but is quite happy plugged into the hub.  I went for 7-port Orico hubs in the end despite a slight preference for Startech, in part because the barn conversion is eating money at quite a rate at the moment.  I've stopped opening the invoices from the builder's merchant until the end of the month when I have to pay them :D On the plus side, the electrician will be running cabling so that once the barn is a holiday cottage, it can have its own observatory :)

There are lots of jobs I really ought to be getting on with, but other than actually using the observatory for its intended purpose I'm finding my time being used to catch up on other things that have been pushed aside in the attempt to ensure the observatory is usable before we get into Autumn (and to do other things I enjoy, to be fair).

One thing I do want to do fairly soon is get a filter wheel into the imaging train on one of the rigs.  I need to have a look at how to do that though.  I really don't like this stuff that's only held in with thumbscrews.

James

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I would have thought you might have gone for Raspberry Pi SBCs for your pier computers, James.

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Had the RPi4 been easily available, I might well have done.  So much is moving to USB3 now though that I think going for the USB2 models now would probably have been a mistake.

James

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You can use USB3 devices on USB2 - just that download times are greater.  I'm using the USB3 ASI1600MM-Cool camera with RPi 3 in my main imaging rigs and ASI178MC (also USB3) in my all sky camera.  Download time for ASI1600MM is under 10s for the full frame, even over WiFi.

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I want to be able to do high frame rate imaging for planetary, lunar and solar as well though.  That starts to cause problems, especially when you need an external disk for storage.

James

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Ah yes, that's true.  I'm considering planetary in the future.  That's where I'm hoping the RPi 4 might help.

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I ended up buying a hot shot gaming computer with 32Gb and an SSD 500Gb drive to handle 400 frames per sec from my ASI 174 for solar imaging.

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Unfortunately even though most of the SBC's  are getting\have USB 3.x ports, quickening the image 'download' from camera, there will still be holdups writing the data to 'disk' whether that is local or over the network to a SAN, which would be considerably slower using wifi….

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Hi James,

just catching up on your thread, good to read you have made progress.

Going back to the wifi, if you are worried about evesdropping onto your network, it is easy to have the router not transmit the SSID. Anyone looking for a network will need to know the SSID rather than select from a list.

I am sure someone has a hack for this, but at least it adds a little extra security without making life too complicated. Luckily bad people are also generally lazy people...

HTH.

Gordon.

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Yes, I disable my SSID broadcast as well as using WPA encryption.  I thought it was the standard recommended practice.

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Around here, having a "hidden" SSID would probably be sufficient.  I overheard someone the other day talking about perhaps buying one of those new-fangled horseless carriages.

I've just been reminded of a farmer who lives locally.  He's had huge problems with people in local villages over planning issues, for no good reason at all really.  Just general NIMBYism and fear of change that got stupendously out of hand.  Anyhow, he and his brother share a light aircraft that they fly from a rough airstrip in one of his fields on top of a hill behind his house.  Because internet connectivity is poor in his village he has a 4G connection in the same field, broadcast over a moderately tight beam down to his house, but obviously there's overspill to other houses.  He has used the (visible) SSID "<village name> International Airport" or something similar just to wind them up :D

James

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ohhhh I'd be sooo tempted to flood\crack the link & re-divert..... :evil4: 

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