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After doing lots of reading on cloudynights and after some great advice from folk here on SGL I'm looking to buy a mini PC for my video astronomy set up.

Currently I'm using a windows 7 laptop in a bag attached to my mount and camera, connecting this laptop to WiFi and using a remote desktop to control everything from inside the house. Mount and Camera controlled through ASCOM, and using stellarium for GOTO and sharpcap to capture frames from a Atik 414EX Colour (1391x1039 16 bit images). Typical frame rate is around 4s per frame, and stacking for up to 5 minutes in sharpcap.

I am particularly interested in the Kodlix GN41 as it has a 12V voltage power supply, Windows 10 Pro, has a low power Gemini Lake Celeron N4100, supports a SSD to 512GB with M2 interface, and has USB2.0, and 3.0.

My only worry is the Celeron processor as compared to an i3 or i5 (I currently use a i5 laptop for my work). On the other hand the options with i3 or i5 processors, have higher power requirements and from what I can find require 19V input voltage and obviously much more expensive.

I'd really appreciate some advice and thoughts as to if this is going to work :)

 

 

 

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I've just bought one of those, with a little usb powered monitor to go in a remote box for my small rig. I think that for just running the mount and camera it should be fine, it's only processing that needs the power.

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2 minutes ago, DaveS said:

I've just bought one of those, with a little usb powered monitor to go in a remote box for my small rig. I think that for just running the mount and camera it should be fine, it's only processing that needs the power.

I agree, the low-power processors are perfect for at-the-mount tasks. 

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Thanks @DaveS, would really like to hear how you are getting on with it, and your thoughts about it?

Also when you say only processing that needs the power...what sort of processing are you thinking? My worry is that the processing that happens in Sharpcap for the live stacking might be too much for it.

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As yet all I've done is load up some software, and get it talking on my LAN. I still have to purchase new licenses of Maxim DL 6, and Pinpoint. The ASA software is quite picky.

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As for processing, stacking, calibration and post, that all happens on my i7 desktop, all the local PC has to do is control the mount, grab the frames and either store them locally for download or squirt them down the LAN to a main PC.

 

Edit: I should add that I'm a Deep Sky imager, so my frame rate is one every 600 (Or even 1200) seconds. Image production happens later.

Edited by DaveS
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Completely agree that for deep sky imaging the mini PC would be an awsome addition - as you say all the processing is done on your indoor PC.

I guess the key question would be for sharpcap - how much memory and computing power is needed for the live stacking and stretching of images

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1 hour ago, festoon said:

On the other hand the options with i3 or i5 processors, have higher power requirements and from what I can find require 19V input voltage and obviously much more expensive.

The additional power requirement isn't that great in the scheme of things, and they are readily available in 12v.  I run a 12v Eggsnow i5 fanless mini PC on my set up in Spain and it works flawlessly.  However, yes they do cost more, but.............

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10 minutes ago, RayD said:

I run a 12v Eggsnow i5 fanless mini PC on my set up

I did have a look at these (I think they are the same as the Kingdel models)....I was particularly worried by the comment "The Operating System is activated but not licensed, just for testing the mini computer; Default version:Windows 10 Pro; Optional: Windows 8, 10.Linux Ubuntu 17.04. (remind that please tell us the version you need before shipment if not Windows 10 Pro.) "

What does this mean in reality...do you have to uninstall whats on there, and install a new version of windows 10 pro?

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27 minutes ago, festoon said:

I did have a look at these (I think they are the same as the Kingdel models)....I was particularly worried by the comment "The Operating System is activated but not licensed, just for testing the mini computer; Default version:Windows 10 Pro; Optional: Windows 8, 10.Linux Ubuntu 17.04. (remind that please tell us the version you need before shipment if not Windows 10 Pro.) "

What does this mean in reality...do you have to uninstall whats on there, and install a new version of windows 10 pro?

Oh I'm not sure if this has changed then.  Mine came with a fully licensed version of W10 Pro, which I am still using today and have applied all the updates etc.  I suspect if this is different now you wouldn't have to uninstall anything, but maybe you have to buy a license key?

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Just looking on amazon, I think the licence only costs about £10....

I have zero experience of Windows 10 setting up, hopefully it would not be too difficult to do

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I used an Intel NUC (NUC7i5BNK) with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, W10 Pro 64bit. It can handle anything I throw at it, and so small its mounted on the pier with the scope.  I think the latest version would be a NUC8i5BEK. I've also powered it from a 12V LiFPo battery.

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Just now, BlueAstra said:

I used an Intel NUC (NUC7i5BNK) with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, W10 Pro 64bit. It can handle anything I throw at it, and so small its mounted on the pier with the scope.  I think the latest version would be a NUC8i5BEK. I've also powered it from a 12V LiFPo battery.

Yes, a NUC is another great option.  The Eagle from Primaluce uses a NUC, and performance wise that is fine.

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3 minutes ago, festoon said:

Just looking on amazon, I think the licence only costs about £10....

I have zero experience of Windows 10 setting up, hopefully it would not be too difficult to do

Most of the mini PC's you can buy now have the W10 install pre-configured, so you just need to switch on, follow the prompts and away you go.  You don't really need any expertise to run them.

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20 minutes ago, BlueAstra said:

I used an Intel NUC (NUC7i5BNK) with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, W10 Pro 64bit. It can handle anything I throw at it, and so small its mounted on the pier with the scope.  I think the latest version would be a NUC8i5BEK. I've also powered it from a 12V LiFPo battery.

How did you use the 12V LiFPo battery? Just looking at amazon for it, does it not require a 19V input voltage?

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4 hours ago, BlueAstra said:

I used an Intel NUC (NUC7i5BNK) with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, W10 Pro 64bit. It can handle anything I throw at it, and so small its mounted on the pier with the scope.  I think the latest version would be a NUC8i5BEK. I've also powered it from a 12V LiFPo battery.

Yes, I like these. Not just for the form factor but for the capabilities too. I have one NUC6CAYH running W10 a Gigabyte BACE and a Gigabyte BXBT. Each has 8GB and an SSD (240GB is more than enough). The great thing about the Gigabyte boxes is that they support Windows 7. Although these don't have screamingly fast processors, that is unnecessary for my use: rig control, PHD2, image previews, electronic viewfinder/widefield and a little bit of basic stacking, afterwards. All done across a remote desktop link.

I did try using an ACEPC with inbuilt eMMC, but I was not happy with its performance. To paraphrase Clarkson if it went any slower, it would travel backwards in time. Maybe the current generation is better?

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I have 2 x z8300s with win 10, one for a media streamer and one for an allsky camera.

I can't remember the exact specs but 2GHz Atom cpu, 2GB ram, 32GB ssd and run off of a 5Vdc supply.

Cost about £65 each from memory and would be more than enough to capture images, unless stupid fps are required for lucky imaging.

I control both via vnc on a phone, works really well.

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@DaveS,

Hi, I am also thinking about buying the Kodlix GN41 as an OTA mounted computer. For my use I would want to fit a 512 GB SSD to collect image files - ASI1600 camera with lots and lots of 32 megabyte files. I see from the specs that it can use an M2 2280 form factor SSD. Do you know if these plug straight in or do you need to buy a caddy as well?

Regards, Hugh

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I don't know off the top of my head. I did try plugging in an old OCZ Vertex 3 that I had hanging around, but it didn't show up in disk management so I couldn't even format it.

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Take a look at the processor and memory when your rig is running at full power.

CTL-ALT-DEL together. Select Task Manager and at the bottom select MORE DETAIL. There you will see CPU/Memory?Disk 

This will give you some idea on how much, or little, power you will need. Celeron should be enough ;)

Dave.

 

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On 15/02/2019 at 18:44, BlueAstra said:

I powered it from the 20V output of a Maxoak K2 Li_Ion battery.

Cool thanks :) Is it Ok to run a 19V input ona  20V battery output?

Really tempted by the NUC, except they cost a lot more!!!!!!

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On 16/02/2019 at 13:57, DaveS said:

I don't know off the top of my head. I did try plugging in an old OCZ Vertex 3 that I had hanging around, but it didn't show up in disk management so I couldn't even format it.

I found a 500G Sandisk 3D SSD that I had kicking around. Plugged it in and was able to format it and get it set up as volume D, just in case I couldn't push teh subs down the network.

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5 minutes ago, DaveS said:

I found a 500G Sandisk 3D SSD that I had kicking around. Plugged it in and was able to format it and get it set up as volume D, just in case I couldn't push teh subs down the network.

Fantastic! Did this go into the M.2 22mmx80 interface?

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Yes, I just opened it up (Two philips screws), shoved the SSD in and powered up. Disk Management found the new disk and I was able to proceed from there.

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