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Anyone use a NUC for a dedicated imaging PC?


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Hey :)

ive seen a few posts and vids of people using the intel NUCs attached to mounts for controlling and imaging.

i know for just image acquisition not a lot of processing power is needed but I’m looking to use this with a Remote Desktop setup... NUC on the mount, controlled via Ethernet cable to my pc in the house.

Am I correct thinking the NUC/mini pc is doing all the work (remote desktop wise) ...the pc I’m controlling it with has the easy job?

If so...

 I’m looking for something with a bit more oomph than just a ‘generic low powered mini pc’ which is why I’m looking at a NUC.

 

If anyone uses something like this be great to know the specs of the ‘NUC/mini pc’ to compare with what I’ve got in mind 

 

Cheers

Ant

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4 minutes ago, AntHart said:

Hey :)

ive seen a few posts and vids of people using the intel NUCs attached to mounts for controlling and imaging.

i know for just image acquisition not a lot of processing power is needed but I’m looking to use this with a Remote Desktop setup... NUC on the mount, controlled via Ethernet cable to my pc in the house.

Am I correct thinking the NUC/mini pc is doing all the work (remote desktop wise) ...the pc I’m controlling it with has the easy job?

If so...

 I’m looking for something with a bit more oomph than just a ‘generic low powered mini pc’ which is why I’m looking at a NUC.

 

If anyone uses something like this be great to know the specs of the ‘NUC/mini pc’ to compare with what I’ve got in mind 

 

Cheers

Ant

Hey Ant,

I run my setup with an NUC. Granted it's a fairly powerful NUC (got a good deal on it via eBay), but even a basic one would suffice for image acquisition. I control it via Windows Remote Desktop over Wi-Fi and it works flawlessly, hasn't dropped a connection yet, plus no cables trailing into the house!

My NUC is the 5i7ryh with Core i7-5557U @ 3.10 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 128 GB M.2 SSD and a HDD. It boots up pretty much instantaneously, connects to Windows RD very quickly and runs SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium, StellariumScope, PoleMaster and whatever else I throw at it easily. It's very compact and sits on a dovetail bar on top of my imaging scope, and means that there are no trailing wires to a laptop etc which might snag.

You can check out an imaging session timelapse I did which shows the equipment: 

 

 

 

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A note of caution on powering the NUC.

I got involved with this for work a couple of years back. Sorry I don't remember the specific model, but I guess a similar consideration needs to be made across the board.

When powered on, the internal power supply takes a BIG inrush current. If the battery/powerbank/whatever cannot provide the big inrush without the supply dropping, the NUC may not start.
It thinks the supply voltage is too low.
This means you need a battery pack with good pulse current capability, or a mains supply with a very large output capacitor.
Don't skimp on wire gauge connecting the power supply to the NUC and keep the length as short as possible.

Next is the timing of the NUC on/off switch. Again I am working from memory.
A short button push powers on. A long button push powers off.
In practice the button, or its equivalent circuit, is often done remotely.
If you are going to push the button (it is a connector on the NUC) without sight of the NUC actions, take care on the timing.
The manufacturers specification gives little information about time limits.
Further, the minimum button push time for 'on' varied between models.

HTH, David.

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I used to use NUC's to run my imaging rigs..... as you say I controlled it all remotely from my PC in the house. Initially I thought it was a great idea, but I found that after time (perhaps 2-3 years) they became totally unreliable, would continually crash and blue screen. In the end, I bit the bullet to replace them and got a couple of refurb'd DELL mini desktops. They are nearly 3 years old now and haven't missed a beat. They have been brilliant, best PC's I've ever used for the imaging rigs. 

I still use them remotely from my PC in the house. Initially I wanted to stick with a NUC or similar size PC as I thought that they looked good and tidy, but now I'm glad that I just have a desktop tower sat next to my pier.

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I use 2 NUC i3 8th gen with 16GB Ram and 256 m.2 ssd and they are very reliable, at least until now (oldest one is 2 years old). At the mount you don't need too much computing power to run an imaging session so any small, reliable computer will do. I would advice against mechanical drives since the movement of the mount will kill them pretty quickly.

 

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I dont have an Intel NUC but I do have a mini PC at the mount. Bought off Amazon before Christmas in their sale, I first bought one with an Intel Celeron processor for about £100. It was ok to start up and run everything but it struggled a bit with platesolving. It also got warm due to having no fan. I returned it and tried another more expensive one with an i3 processor, and 250gb SSD and you can add a 2.5" drive to extend it. Runs W10 pro and I control it via VNC viewer with either my phone tablet. Its loaded with APT, NINA, Sharpcap, Stellarium, CdC, Pixinsight! Works like a charm. Was £250 iirc

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I am currently using a Raspberry Pi 4 and have used a RPi3 before that. Both are perfectly adequate to guide, plate solve, image, autofocus and everything else you need for imaging. There are a few drawbacks, though. The internal WiFi can be a bit weak, depending on your infrastructure that might or might not apply. Also when using it with a SD-Card, transfer rates a a bit on the slow side which effectively limits its use for planetary or lucky imaging. But that might be migitated by using a fast storage (i.e. SSD via USB3).

Anyway, even the smallest NUC currently available, which features a dual-core Celeron CPU, outperforms the Raspberry Pi considerably. Your only issue might be how snappy eveything runs, i.e. Windows itself, start times of apps, etc. But as I can just power my device on when getting ready for imaging, I really don't care about that. Why anyone would hang an i7 with 16 GB RAM on the scope is beyond me, but to each his own, I guess.

I just ordered a NUC with Pentium J5005 (~155€) as I want to take a look at what happens on the Windows side of things. I am not particularly fond of ASCOM, but N.I.N.A. looks interesting and develops fast and then there's Voyager's siren call of carefree automatic sessions ;)

TL;DR

They will all work fine for the basic tasks of equipment control and image aquisition. Maybe stay away from Atom Cpus.

 

On 23/04/2020 at 09:43, Carbon Brush said:

When powered on, the internal power supply takes a BIG inrush current. If the battery/powerbank/whatever cannot provide the big inrush without the supply dropping, the NUC may not start.

It thinks the supply voltage is too low.
This means you need a battery pack with good pulse current capability, or a mains supply with a very large output capacitor.
Don't skimp on wire gauge connecting the power supply to the NUC and keep the length as short as possible.

Great information, thank you!

 

All the best

Sven

Edited by freiform
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On 23/04/2020 at 03:42, SyedT said:

Hey Ant,

I run my setup with an NUC. Granted it's a fairly powerful NUC (got a good deal on it via eBay), but even a basic one would suffice for image acquisition. I control it via Windows Remote Desktop over Wi-Fi and it works flawlessly, hasn't dropped a connection yet, plus no cables trailing into the house!

My NUC is the 5i7ryh with Core i7-5557U @ 3.10 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 128 GB M.2 SSD and a HDD. It boots up pretty much instantaneously, connects to Windows RD very quickly and runs SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium, StellariumScope, PoleMaster and whatever else I throw at it easily. It's very compact and sits on a dovetail bar on top of my imaging scope, and means that there are no trailing wires to a laptop etc which might snag.

You can check out an imaging session timelapse I did which shows the equipment: 

 

 

 

Your NUC has more power than my current desktop/editing machine!ha! 

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On 23/04/2020 at 09:03, swag72 said:

I used to use NUC's to run my imaging rigs..... as you say I controlled it all remotely from my PC in the house. Initially I thought it was a great idea, but I found that after time (perhaps 2-3 years) they became totally unreliable, would continually crash and blue screen. In the end, I bit the bullet to replace them and got a couple of refurb'd DELL mini desktops. They are nearly 3 years old now and haven't missed a beat. They have been brilliant, best PC's I've ever used for the imaging rigs. 

I still use them remotely from my PC in the house. Initially I wanted to stick with a NUC or similar size PC as I thought that they looked good and tidy, but now I'm glad that I just have a desktop tower sat next to my pier.

I did think about a machine like that but as I’m looking to be able to use it with DC power/no access to mains that’s why I decided on a ‘low power’ mini pc like a NUC

Cheers

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23 hours ago, david_taurus83 said:

I dont have an Intel NUC but I do have a mini PC at the mount. Bought off Amazon before Christmas in their sale, I first bought one with an Intel Celeron processor for about £100. It was ok to start up and run everything but it struggled a bit with platesolving. It also got warm due to having no fan. I returned it and tried another more expensive one with an i3 processor, and 250gb SSD and you can add a 2.5" drive to extend it. Runs W10 pro and I control it via VNC viewer with either my phone tablet. Its loaded with APT, NINA, Sharpcap, Stellarium, CdC, Pixinsight! Works like a charm. Was £250 iirc

Don’t suppose you have any further specs or info on the model you use do you? Sounds like just the type of thing I’m after.

Cheers

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11 minutes ago, AntHart said:

Your NUC has more power than my current desktop/editing machine!ha! 

Cost £230 second hand! I did make sure that it wasn't too old and was in good condition though. 

Edited by SyedT
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16 hours ago, freiform said:

I am currently using a Raspberry Pi 4 and have used a RPi3 before that. Both are perfectly adequate to guide, plate solve, image, autofocus and everything else you need for imaging. There are a few drawbacks, though. The internal WiFi can be a bit weak, depending on your infrastructure that might or might not apply. Also when using it with a SD-Card, transfer rates a a bit on the slow side which effectively limits its use for planetary or lucky imaging. But that might be migitated by using a fast storage (i.e. SSD via USB3).

Anyway, even the smallest NUC currently available, which features a dual-core Celeron CPU, outperforms the Raspberry Pi considerably. Your only issue might be how snappy eveything runs, i.e. Windows itself, start times of apps, etc. But as I can just power my device on when getting ready for imaging, I really don't care about that. Why anyone would hang an i7 with 16 GB RAM on the scope is beyond me, but to each his own, I guess.

I just ordered a NUC with Pentium J5005 (~155€) as I want to take a look at what happens on the Windows side of things. I am not particularly fond of ASCOM, but N.I.N.A. looks interesting and develops fast and then there's Voyager's siren call of carefree automatic sessions ;)

TL;DR

They will all work fine for the basic tasks of equipment control and image aquisition. Maybe stay away from Atom Cpus.

 

Great information, thank you!

 

All the best

Sven

Hi,

The J5005 model/chip is the one on my shortlist.

Theres a NUC with that cpu for £170(plus 8gb ram and 120gb ssd and o/s) so about £270 all in.

Theres one made by Minix with that cpu for roughly the same price ready to go, looks pretty decent.

Im just trying to weigh up if that cpu will be snappy enough once running Windows, Remote Desktop Plus all the other software.

Id rather get something a little over powered for the job than something that’s at its limits. Don’t want to make the mistake of cheaping out, regretting it and have to buy twice! 

Cheers 

Ant

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2 hours ago, AntHart said:

Don’t suppose you have any further specs or info on the model you use do you? Sounds like just the type of thing I’m after.

Cheers

This one. It was cheaper in the sales. It had given me zero issues since I bought it. Its setup to auto log on and connect to the home wifi first, my phones hotspot second (for use in the field). Needs a 12v supply and the plug is 5.5 x 2.520200425_160116.thumb.jpg.9f71a11d32cd6e2e1291189ea379cde3.jpg

 

1534529333_2020-04-2516_12_10.thumb.jpg.7a9e5998b202a463c087033ecb1400e6.jpg

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1 hour ago, david_taurus83 said:

This one. It was cheaper in the sales. It had given me zero issues since I bought it. Its setup to auto log on and connect to the home wifi first, my phones hotspot second (for use in the field). Needs a 12v supply and the plug is 5.5 x 2.520200425_160116.thumb.jpg.9f71a11d32cd6e2e1291189ea379cde3.jpg

 

1534529333_2020-04-2516_12_10.thumb.jpg.7a9e5998b202a463c087033ecb1400e6.jpg

Thanks for that, I’ll check it out 👍🏼

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On 24/04/2020 at 21:45, freiform said:

I am currently using a Raspberry Pi 4 and have used a RPi3 before that. Both are perfectly adequate to guide, plate solve, image, autofocus and everything else you need for imaging. There are a few drawbacks, though. The internal WiFi can be a bit weak, depending on your infrastructure that might or might not apply. Also when using it with a SD-Card, transfer rates a a bit on the slow side which effectively limits its use for planetary or lucky imaging. But that might be migitated by using a fast storage (i.e. SSD via USB3).

Anyway, even the smallest NUC currently available, which features a dual-core Celeron CPU, outperforms the Raspberry Pi considerably. Your only issue might be how snappy eveything runs, i.e. Windows itself, start times of apps, etc. But as I can just power my device on when getting ready for imaging, I really don't care about that. Why anyone would hang an i7 with 16 GB RAM on the scope is beyond me, but to each his own, I guess.

I just ordered a NUC with Pentium J5005 (~155€) as I want to take a look at what happens on the Windows side of things. I am not particularly fond of ASCOM, but N.I.N.A. looks interesting and develops fast and then there's Voyager's siren call of carefree automatic sessions ;)

TL;DR

They will all work fine for the basic tasks of equipment control and image aquisition. Maybe stay away from Atom Cpus.

 

Great information, thank you!

 

All the best

Sven

I'm interested by your Raspberry Pi comment - what OS is it running? I currently run my imaging from an old laptop, but a Pi sounds cleaner..

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31 minutes ago, kryptonite said:

I'm interested by your Raspberry Pi comment - what OS is it running? I currently run my imaging from an old laptop, but a Pi sounds cleaner..

I’ve been looking in to this and while it is possible to ‘get’ windows on a pi it’s certainly a struggle and some say not worth the hassle. I’ve even read that it’s locked to 1gb of ram! 
Anyone who knows more I’d be happy to hear it 👍🏼 Definitely open to options.

I would 110% go for a pi if APT or NINA worked on it but these are windows only and I want to go this route software wise.

I also want to run windows 10 pro so I can have the Remote Desktop embedded software , the way I see it a program that’s built in will run better than any 3rd party app.

...sorry to hijack your conversion 

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7 hours ago, AntHart said:

I’ve been looking in to this and while it is possible to ‘get’ windows on a pi it’s certainly a struggle and some say not worth the hassle. I’ve even read that it’s locked to 1gb of ram! 
Anyone who knows more I’d be happy to hear it 👍🏼 Definitely open to options.

I would 110% go for a pi if APT or NINA worked on it but these are windows only and I want to go this route software wise.

I also want to run windows 10 pro so I can have the Remote Desktop embedded software , the way I see it a program that’s built in will run better than any 3rd party app.

...sorry to hijack your conversion 

I found this thread, which I might explore. I have a pi kicking about somewhere. 

 

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9 hours ago, kryptonite said:

I'm interested by your Raspberry Pi comment - what OS is it running? I currently run my imaging from an old laptop, but a Pi sounds cleaner..

I am running a Linux system and INDI (the backend, like ASCOM for Windows) and KStars/EKOS as planetarium software and integrated solution for hardware control and image acquisition. There are alternatives, though; Cartes du Ceil is also available for Linux and CCDCiel is a capturing software by the same author. For planetary/lucky imaging there is oaCapture and FireCapture, although with limited support for cameras; not every vendor offers a Linux SDK, even less offer ARM binaries (Pi's CPU architecture.).

If you do not want to start from scratch, there's pre-made images with everything you'll need; as a first stop, I would strongly recommend AstroBerry [1].  Copy the image to an SDCard, boot up the Pi, login to its WiFi Network (or connect it to you existing WiFI or Ethernet) and off you go.

 

9 hours ago, AntHart said:

I’ve been looking in to this and while it is possible to ‘get’ windows on a pi it’s certainly a struggle and some say not worth the hassle. I’ve even read that it’s locked to 1gb of ram! 

It's a tech demo at best. You cannot do anything reasonable with Windows on a RPi. Basically it's Linux or nothing.

 

All the best

Sven

 

[1] https://www.astroberry.io/

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