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Astroberry/Ekos first looks


TerryMcK
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I bought yet another Raspberry Pi4 the other day. It has a metal case that keeps it cool that I specced from Amazon - iUniker Raspberry Pi 4 Case, Raspberry Pi Case with Heatsink, CNC Metal Case with Heatsink Raspberry Pi Shell without Cooling Fan for Raspberry Pi 4B if you want to get one yourself.

This comes with heat conducting tape that you apply to the CPU, RAM and USB chips. The case then has internal metal blocks which conduct the heat away. I have to say for £13 it is very good. Much better than the Pi4 fan which develops a noise in time. It is also relatively heavy duty case so should work ok strapped/velcroed to the scope.

I also bought a 128GB microSD card. Following Ian's x6gas excellent guide on setting up the Astroberry server I had the scope connected and guiding in under 3 hours of receiving the new Pi4.

I have then been playing around with the included free software. Ekos is excellent and connection to PHD2, My ZWO ASI183MC, HEQ5 was seamless. Then firing up KStars and getting it to slew and then update the Files setting in Ekos to whatever you are pointing at is fantastic.

image.thumb.png.ddb81541190a6fca37ab9f09aae90dae.png

 

I've only been playing around with it indoors for now. Remote control via VNC or Web-browser is also great. I'm now looking forward to some clear nights to try it out in anger.

 

BTW anybody know if PoleMaster will work with Astroberry? Otherwise I shall have to drag the winders laptop out to polar align (no static observatory here I'm afraid - I do it ala Trevor Jones at astrobackyard.com or Chuck at Chuck's Astophotography)

Edited by TerryMcK
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I got a pi and installed astroberry last month but have yet to do anything with it other than playing with my DSLR remotely 

To connect to your HEQ5 do you just use and EQMOD cable direct to the pi?

Have a QHY5ii that I will sort for PHD at some point. 
 

Overall though I’m well impressed at how seamless it is

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On 03/02/2020 at 17:58, wormix said:

I got a pi and installed astroberry last month but have yet to do anything with it other than playing with my DSLR remotely 

To connect to your HEQ5 do you just use and EQMOD cable direct to the pi?

Have a QHY5ii that I will sort for PHD at some point. 
 

Overall though I’m well impressed at how seamless it is

Yes EQMod cable used. The 5m one from FLO

Edited by TerryMcK
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1 hour ago, TerryMcK said:

I bought yet another Raspberry Pi4 the other day. It has a metal case that keeps it cool that I specced from Amazon - iUniker Raspberry Pi 4 Case, Raspberry Pi Case with Heatsink, CNC Metal Case with Heatsink Raspberry Pi Shell without Cooling Fan for Raspberry Pi 4B if you want to get one yourself.

This comes with heat conducting tape that you apply to the CPU, RAM and USB chips. The case then has internal metal blocks which conduct the heat away. I have to say for £13 it is very good. Much better than the Pi4 fan which develops a noise in time. It is also relatively heavy duty case so should work ok strapped/velcroed to the scope.

I also bought a 128GB microSD card. Following Ian's x6gas excellent guide on setting up the Astroberry server I had the scope connected and guiding in under 3 hours of receiving the new Pi4.

I have then been playing around with the included free software. Ekos is excellent and connection to PHD2, My ZWO ASI183MC, HEQ5 was seamless. Then firing up KStars and getting it to slew and then update the Files setting in Ekos to whatever you are pointing at is fantastic.

image.thumb.png.ddb81541190a6fca37ab9f09aae90dae.png

 

I've only been playing around with it indoors for now. Remote control via VNC or Web-browser is also great. I'm now looking forward to some clear nights to try it out in anger.

 

BTW anybody know if PoleMaster will work with Astroberry? Otherwise I shall have to drag the winders laptop out to polar align (no static observatory here I'm afraid - I do it ala Trevor Jones at astrobackyard.com or Chuck at Chuck's Astophotography)

Hi,

I have been using this software for two years now and it is excellent... I love the “all in one” solution..

Yes the polemaster software does work, but it’s a real pain to install, and I would not recommend unless you are very Linux savy...it is much easier to install on Ubuntu, but as Astroberry is Raspbian it is a pain, I managed it but I have to start the software from the command line... 👍😀

 

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I'm really impressed with the Astroberry server running Kstars with Ekos to control all the gear.

  • Sequencing like Sequence Generator Pro
  • Guiding using PHD2
  • Full control over the ZWO cameras I have - not limited to ZWO gear either unlike the ASIAir.
  • Full control of the HEQ5Pro mount
  • Parking at the end of your sequence
  • Control from a browser/iPad or remote from a multiplatform KStars/Ekos client
  • Oh and focusing provision - anxious to try that out with my new Lakeside Focusing system.

Too many other features to mention. What excellent piece of software running in a little tiny box. 

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10 minutes ago, TerryMcK said:

I'm really impressed with the Astroberry server running Kstars with Ekos to control all the gear.

  • Sequencing like Sequence Generator Pro
  • Guiding using PHD2
  • Full control over the ZWO cameras I have - not limited to ZWO gear either unlike the ASIAir.
  • Full control of the HEQ5Pro mount
  • Parking at the end of your sequence
  • Control from a browser/iPad or remote from a multiplatform KStars/Ekos client
  • Oh and focusing provision - anxious to try that out with my new Lakeside Focusing system.

Too many other features to mention. What excellent piece of software running in a little tiny box. 

Welcome to the club.... 👍

you are right it is superb, and a real “all in one solution” I have used many packages and this Beats them all hands down....and best of all the software is completely free, just the cost of the Raspberry PI, Micro SD Card and a case... so about £50.. bargain... 👍😀

Edited by WanderingEye
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Just to answer an earlier question regarding Polemaster, there is a way to get it to work on Astroberry and with a desktop icon too, as it’s been done in the latest Stellarmate version which is also now raspbian based..... can get it to work on AB but only from command line, I can’t get a desktop icon or menu item to work.. 👍😀

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11 minutes ago, WanderingEye said:

Just to answer an earlier question regarding Polemaster, there is a way to get it to work on Astroberry and with a desktop icon too, as it’s been done in the latest Stellarmate version which is also now raspbian based..... can get it to work on AB but only from command line, I can’t get a desktop icon or menu item to work.. 👍😀

Yes I tried to get it going but it seemed a little flakey. I was following Polemaster instructions in their raspberry Pi manual. I ended up not being able to sudo because it stated that you had to

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

alias sudo='sudo env PATH=$PATH &>/dev/null'

$ source ~/.bashrc // Make the changes take effect

 

Entering that alias into .bashrc meant that anything I sudo'd just went to null. You couldn't even edit the .bashrc file as it just went to null. So I managed to copy in the backup of the .bashrc file I had made so I could sudo again!

I'll have another go at it at the weekend but if you have any pointers that would help. Up to now everything has worked and I have the Windows Kstars app running on a winders PC indoors controlling the astroberry Kstars remotely. 

Edited by TerryMcK
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Radek has put together a very attractive software package which is quick to download and install in your Raspberry Pi 4. He has also set up an 'Astroberry software repository' which should make future updating simple and streamlined.

Until recently I was running the KStars/Ekos/indi software using an iPad as the controlling terminal, but since buying a new (i5) laptop which offers 10 hours of battery life, I am finding that this new combination is ideal. I start off with Polar Alignment using the guidescope and guide camera, then select and track a target star for focusing manually with a Bahtinov mask, Capture and Solve (platesolve) with the main scope and camera then Slew to target to put the star centre of the image, carry out focussing using the image preview facility. At this point I can take the laptop indoors. Then I select my wanted target object, slew the mount, Capture and Solve and leave the software to slew again as needed to line up the object. Next start guiding, and then leave the RPi to perform the required image capture.

My latest learning discovery is that the captured images can be easily transfered, by the same VNC Viewer/Server combination which allows me to operate the RPi4 remotely, to a folder on the laptop. The contents of the folder can then be used by SharpCap Pro (running under Windows on the laptop) to carry out some live stacking for EAA, all this while the RPi is doing its work on the mount.

On the hardware side I have bundled together the RPi4 (in a metal heatsink 'flirc' case) with its plastic bottom surface outermost for best WiFi Hotspot coverage, a 7 port USB 3.0 hub which is powered by 12V but has three charging ports, one of which powers the RPi4, and a Pegasus Pocket Powerbox (PPB) which provides distribution of 12V to the mount and the USB hub and a dew heater supply for two dew straps which is controlled automatically by a dew point savvy temperature/humidity sensor. The bundle of three similar sized small boxes is held together using a velcro strap, and only a single 12V power cable is led from this group and away from the mount to a battery or mains PSU power source.

In principle the RPi4 could also control the PPB via a USB cable (there is an Indi driver for it), but you'd have to pay attention and not switch off the 12V distribution outlets, which would instantly and possibly brutally power down the RPi4.

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One thing I have found is that there doesn't appear to be any way of setting mount limits in Ekos as you can in EQMOD ASCOM. So it is possible to clout the tripod or pier with the backend of the scope. I haven't done it yet but can see it is possible.

Reading threads on the Indi forum it appears that it was thought about 5 years ago but doesn't look to have been implemented. Anybody come across this?

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Must admit i think it is there under "Enable limits" in Ekos Mount module - might be wrong as I dont use them but are there for "telescope simulator" - cant check for "real" EQMOD set up on Indi but be surprised its not an option 🙂

Screenshot at 2020-02-18 12-54-42.png

Edited by stash_old
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  • 4 months later...

Just for anybody interested AstroBerry is now at version 2.0.3 and I upgraded it today. I'm not sure what the fixes or new features are but no doubt it is on the Astroberry.io website.

If you have an existing installation then SSH into the PI or run up a terminal session from the console and run

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt dist-upgrade

 

There are a few interactive commands to enter so don't just walk away and expect it to finish on its own. On my PI4 it took about 10 minutes to complete.

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Just did mine, set everything up in the garden and as far as I can tell in the daytime it worked perfectly, will have to wait for clear night to check autofocuser but it looks great.

It looks like a really great package, was debating the Stellarmate version as it is meant to be "easier" but Astroberry just works. And it's free.

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1 minute ago, Richie092 said:

It looks like a really great package, was debating the Stellarmate version as it is meant to be "easier" but Astroberry just works. And it's free.

It does indeed Richie. It has been a game changer for me since I started to use it back in February (pre UK Covid!). I feel like I have been using it years now but still finding new things that it can do.

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I was just happy it worked Terry! There looks to be a couple of clear nights coming next week so will try it for real.

Couple of hardware issues to sort out, got a second hand package of very well looked after kit the other week but needs a few bits doing/adding to it. Get that sorted and I am ready for a first light.

Do you save the images to the onboard card and copy them off after?

 

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I've just installed Firecapture 2.6 for Raspberry Pi on the Pi too. I can confirm that works great too but as ever with these sort of almost video capture programs you need to have a fairly large storage. My PI has 128GB of onboard staorage and I can always attach an external USB3 drive.

BTW the cameras that it can use on the PI are limited to ZWO and QHY at the moment.

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Just now, Richie092 said:

I was just happy it worked Terry! There looks to be a couple of clear nights coming next week so will try it for real.

Couple of hardware issues to sort out, got a second hand package of very well looked after kit the other week but needs a few bits doing/adding to it. Get that sorted and I am ready for a first light.

Do you save the images to the onboard card and copy them off after?

 

Yes I keep them onboard the PI but also use the Windows version of KStars to control the sequence remotely. It simultaneously copies the files from the PI onto the PC as they are taken. I use a gigabit ethernet connection from the PI to my LAN rather than use the wireless network to speed things up.

If using the PI on its own I don't take the card out and put it into a card reader. I use a piece of software called SecureCRT to SFTP into the PI and copy the files over to the PC directly.

There are many other ways of connecting to a Linux machine like the PI to copy files over to a PC (or MAC).

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1 hour ago, Richie092 said:

Thanks, will look that up. I'm a MAC. Can't wait to use it.

There's a version of KStars for Mac too that can be used to remote control the Kstars on the PI. I've tried it out on my Mac and it works great.

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