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Space Oddities

Upcoming ZWO ASIAIR 'Pro'

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Hey everyone! :) 

Just wanted to share something interesting. Someone recently posted on Facebook some pictures of what seems to be a V2 of the ASIAIR. 

No spec so far, but the photos seem self explanatory:

  • Raspberry Pi 4, with 2xUSB 3.0
  • An upgraded 64 Gb micro SD (the maximum was 32 Gb so far)
  • 4xDC 12V outputs
  • 1 DSLR output (not sure what it does)
  • A new aluminium enclosure

It seems pretty legit, since the pictures also show the upcoming ASI GT cameras, that aren't even out yet. Also, ZWO shared this image at a local star party

4.jpg.40ddc0c3884c51cad8a79772db059b65.jpg

 

This seems like a very interesting update! The USB 3.0 and the faster Pi 4 could potentially mean planetary imaging, which wasn't possible so far. Also, the 12V output could be very useful as an alternative to the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox. It makes the whole thing very portable :) 

Here are the pictures:

1.thumb.jpg.7439bf240076368019979022716f7dcc.jpg

2.jpg.0b8fe6044a1a4b3dd3e881a4b89e07fa.jpg

3.thumb.jpg.57094a553a23fd2ed9b2f35294f6dbd7.jpg

 

 

Edited by Space Oddities
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The rumour is real. There is a new ZWO ASiair in the pipeline. But because it is still in development we don't know when it will be released. 

To say we are watching with interest would be an under-statement. The current ZWO ASiair is one of our bestsellers and my colleague Grant is very pleased with his. 

Steve 

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5 minutes ago, Tomatobro said:

pi 4's go into thermal cutback if pushed hard so I guess that is why the aluminium case

Perhaps they've placed a fan inside to cool down the CPU. They seem to be cutting down the temperature quite effectively: https://www.martinrowan.co.uk/2019/08/cool-cases-for-the-hot-raspberry-pi-4/

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I'd expect a bit more ventilation if they'd put a fan inside, but perhaps that's just not obvious from the photos.  Perhaps if the processor is thermally connected to the case then there's no need for a fan?

I wonder if the DSLR socket is for shutter control where cameras don't have a usable USB interface (or when it is proprietary)?

James

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35 minutes ago, Space Oddities said:

Hey everyone! :) 

Just wanted to share something interesting. Someone recently posted on Facebook some pictures of what seems to be a V2 of the ASIAIR. 

No spec so far, but the photos seem self explanatory:

  • Raspberry Pi 4, with 2xUSB 3.0
  • An upgraded 64 Gb micro SD (the maximum was 32 Gb so far)
  • 4xDC 12V outputs
  • 1 DSLR output (not sure what it does)
  • A new aluminium enclosure

Hopefully the Ali case will be like a FLIRC: passive cooling in direct contact with the CPU. Though that makes the onboard WiFi a bit tricky.
Also, the 12 Volt outlets would be good if they were controlled on/off by the Pi4. I reckon the DSLR jack socket is for shutter control

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6 minutes ago, Adam J said:

If only it was not locked down to ZWO products.

I've not tried it (don't own one), but it may well be possible to swap out the SD card for a standard RPi distribution with all the necessary bits of KStars/EKOS/INDI installed and have it support everything that software currently supports.  Perhaps not something someone who isn't already confident with Linux might want to try though.

James

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5 minutes ago, Adam J said:

If only it was not locked down to ZWO products.

My thinking exactly. Ascom and INDI support almost all platforms regardless of brand. ZWO have great products but limiting the Air (which uses open source hardware...) to only ZWO products kind of goes against the spirit of the community..

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2 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I've not tried it (don't own one), but it may well be possible to swap out the SD card for a standard RPi distribution with all the necessary bits of KStars/EKOS/INDI installed and have it support everything that software currently supports.  Perhaps not something someone who isn't already confident with Linux might want to try though.

James

Actually, all it takes is for one person to do it and then produce scripts to create the SD card image, or make the SD card image available, I guess.

Who had an ASIAir going cheap the other day? :D

James

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Well, clearly the advantage of the ASIAIR over other solutions, is the mobile app. I've tried both the ASIAIR and Stellarmate, which is an awesome tool as well, but for casual or beginner photographers, or those like me who can't/don't want to carry a laptop, the ASIAIR is sooo much easier. Really a plug and play solution :) 

And that's the reason why I also don't use the traditional approach of a laptop, and the usual suspects (PHD2, APT & co). Being new to the hobby, but born with a computer mouse in the hand, I find these software extremely well made and comprehensive - but far too complicated for making this hobby enjoyable. My time in the field is limited, and I'd rather have a simple plug and play solution like the ASIAIR, than spend precious time scratching my head with these great, but complex software programs. Plus the fact I can do everything with my phone. ZWO really addressed a need for portability and simplicity with the ASIAIR, and this upcoming 'Pro' version will most likely take a step further :) 

I'm not a fan either of limiting the software to ZWO products. The AP community is indeed a very open world, which is great. Perhaps it's to reduce the technical effort, most likely for obvious commercial reasons. But I'm sure we'll see a similar software one day for other camera brands, even though creating and maintaining a mobile App for both Android and iOS is quite a lot of work... :( 

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I have been tempted by the ASIAir but it either has to support everything or be open to using standard drivers. If they dont address it someone else will build a nice mobile frontend for EKOS/Indi and a script to update your ASIAir to use it. Pushing ZWO software out of their own product. As the current version stands its £130 more than a standard RPi - which is an expensive mobile app imo.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, upahill said:

I have been tempted by the ASIAir but it either has to support everything or be open to using standard drivers. If they dont address it someone else will build a nice mobile frontend for EKOS/Indi and a script to update your ASIAir to use it. Pushing ZWO software out of their own product. As the current version stands its £130 more than a standard RPi - which is an expensive mobile app imo.

 

 


That’s not really a fair comparison - the ASIAIR comes with case, 32gb memory card, memory card reader, a good quality usb to serial cable and a really good 12v to 5v usb power adapter so the price difference is much less than that.

True you are paying for the software but as somebody who has been using the ASIAIR for over a year now and before that used a StellarMate (the OS alone for that cost around £50) I can honestly say the ASIAIR has transformed my astrophotography and from what I know now, I would pay even more than the cost of the ASIAIR for what it does.

I would like to see other devices supported but understand the amount of extra testing and support that would be required to achieve this - not to mention the commercial side of things.

I’m not convinced that the open source community will catch up with the front end apps for the ASIAIR anytime soon - ZWO have a years head start and I’ve not seen anything yet to rival it.

Look at it a different way - if ZWO were selling the software by itself commercially how much would it be worth? If you look at the licence costs with things like SGP, Pixinsight and Maxim then the ASIAIR is an absolute bargain.

I’m very excited about this rumoured pro version but appreciate it’s not for everybody and I am very happy to admin I’m very biased on this one because of how much enjoyment it’s given me this past year or more.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Space Oddities said:

I'm not a fan either of limiting the software to ZWO products.

It seems to go a bit beyond ZWO products:

378061526_Screenshot2019-11-0120_37_29.png.c5308f496970b54164e925ccfc68fc93.png

It can not support the ASI120MM/MC camera - which is a shame because I've got one of those!

I suppose you could say that Artemis Dusk doesn't support ZWO but fortunately it does support my Atik camera.

It's a start!

:)

 

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Don't get me wrong, as a package I think its great for those that understand its limitations, and are happy to buy knowing those are there. And I don't begrudge ZWO making margin on it, they put some work in.

It's just not for me, I have some ZWO products, but im not prepared to buy into their entire product ecosystem, others will which is cool. Ill go for whichever option gives me the most flexibility on product use and software. If they improve 3rd party device support, go open source, or whatever ill probably buy one.

Of course the downside with that for me, is having to lug around my laptop with a dozen different programs. I envy the convenience gained by those with an ideal setup for the Air.

 

 

What I do like about the rumoured Pro model is that they are evolving the hardware side of things, it looks like its not a Pi with some software anymore and they are thinking about stuff like power distribution. Adding some value to the hardware element and not just the software.

 

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If you prefer a more open version the AtikBase is similar - uses StellarMate in the backend so Indi/Ekos but has built in power distribution / focuser control in the hardware as well.

It lacks the front end mobile interface though.

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1 hour ago, Grant said:

Look at it a different way - if ZWO were selling the software by itself commercially how much would it be worth? If you look at the licence costs with things like SGP, Pixinsight and Maxim then the ASIAIR is an absolute bargain.

They actually sell it for $99 :) I had a self made Pi running Stellarmate, that I repurposed to use with ASIAIR. It's not cheap, but definitely worth it for my usage.

Also, you're right: though a Pi 3 costs around 40-50€, you need to add a few things to make it work properly, i.e. an enclosure, an SD card and a power source. They're not very expensive, but if you add the license, the total price gets you closer to the 179€ of the ASIAIR bundle.

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I don't think the hardware limitations of the ASIAir are really down to the difficulties of testing and support -- the code is already out there, after all, and presumably getting sufficient use to iron out most of the bugs.  There will probably be commercial issues however if ZWO, say, started shipping (for example) Altair's libraries to support their cameras as well on a product they make money from.  That has the possibility of getting a bit messy and as a business it's probably a headache you really don't want.

I'd suggest that it's far from impossible that the open source community could catch up with ZWO for the mobile app side, but things happen a different way in the open source community.  Open source projects generally get started because someone (or a group of people) get an itch they really feel the need to scratch.  It's rare (at best)  that someone looks at what's out there and thinks to themselves "There's no open source project that does *this*, so I'll do that".  For example, I started writing oacapture because I really wanted to use Linux for my planetary imaging work and things ballooned from there.  Unless there are people (coders etc.) who really feel they want a similar app to what's available for the ASIAir and want it to be open source then it's very unlikely to happen.

James

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So, how is this pro-gadget powered? Through usb-c with step up converters to get 12 V out? :grin:

The zwo- & dslr only support is probably a combination of strategy and licensing issues.

Does anyone know if it's possible to test the app without buying the hardware? 

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5 hours ago, wimvb said:

Does anyone know if it's possible to test the app without buying the hardware? 

No, I don't think so. The only thing you can do is watch Youtube videos about the ASIAIR, I'm afraid!

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There's no way you'll be stepping up the voltage from a 5v  3amp usb-c input, it will probably just have a 12v input Broken out into a few outputs..

Imagine the 5v input power required to power some 12v dew heaters or other devices..

The usb-c connector would never cope.It can handle 3amps max.

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I know, hence the :grin:. The asiair pro must have a power adapter built in.

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Here are new pictures posted on the ASIAIR's Facebook group :) 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASIAIR/permalink/1487829178046967/

 

One of the side allows you to attach it to a finder base, as shown on the 2nd picture.

The price should be around $299 according to one of the group's admins. It is not final. They are also thinking about a discount for existing ASIAIR users, from what I understand. But still a lot of uncertainty!

 

78061370_10157710363853482_8128768375582097408_o.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_oc=AQlwGS1sPxShj_cReEbygVrzuJLN0BQKl0hfehpnFF690Ged_yfy0uS5HFinpmXTh70&_nc_ht=scontent-frx5-1.xx&oh=c0351a62ac6a334833cec1f7b00d5502&oe=5E8887BD

 

75557495_418410319061931_5058578379188469760_n.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_oc=AQla-jxKosPKDGb5AQqJhHv4aNojgto7FOPH1scgnC5-V1Ei2gx_uMaXsk4uZ0z43WI&_nc_ht=scontent-frx5-1.xx&oh=24a2b2f2d9714b91945e951a551ad54f&oe=5E509358

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I use a mini pc and connect to it via team-viewer, this seems very expensive for less capability, that includes the fact that my mini pc has an internal 500GB SSD and is significantly cheaper. I run N.I.N.A on it and its excellent.No messing about with little memory cards I just transfare files PC to PC over the WIFI, the final thing is that you can even access it via a ipad and the team viewer app. Mini PC was £150.00 and the 500GB SSD was £50.00...  I did consider the original as a solution but to be honest in the end I could not deal with the idea of being tied in to ZWO products. I dont think its worth the proposed price and thats not something I have said about ZWO products before.

 

Adam

Edited by Adam J
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