Jump to content

sgl_imaging_challenge_2021_annual.thumb.jpg.3fc34f695a81b16210333189a3162ac7.jpg

Connecting camera to laptop


Recommended Posts

Hello

This is my first question on the forum so I hope I am posting in the right section.

As I mentioned in my Welcome posting I want to do my observing from indoors and capture some planetary and lunar images along the way.

I have a Skywatcher Skymax 127 Synscan AZ Goto which I used for manual observations quite a few years ago. I will also have a ZWO ASI 224MC camera when Santa delivers it.

My questions, in this post, are to do with getting the hardware set up correctly. I plan to site the telescope outside the house with a fairly clear view to the south.

The goto mount is fairly easy to control from my laptop using the SynScan Wifi adapter which I have just acquired. The mount is powered by a 12v Skywatcher power station.

My current thinking is to connect my laptop directly to the camera with a USB 3.0 cable poking through a window. I estimate that this needs to be about 7 or 8 metres long.

1) Would an active USB 3 cable work for transmitting the images at this distance?
2) Do I need to power it at the external end (to operate the camera)?
3) Would a USB hub help?

For anyone who has already been down this road, please don't be afraid to point out anything that I have not thought of!

Also, are there any books that might help me with this? I do not have a DSLR camera and most of the recommended books seem to use one.

Thank you

David

Edited by David127
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way I do it is to have a laptop outside collecting the data but an inside desktop that I use to link to the laptop with Teamviewer or something similar. That way you don't have long cables which could cause issues. I protect the laptop with a cover. The 224 will not need a power connection - it takes it from the USB.

Edited by PeterCPC
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • David127 changed the title to Connecting camera to laptop
3 hours ago, David127 said:

Hello

This is my first question on the forum so I hope I am posting in the right section.

As I mentioned in my Welcome posting I want to do my observing from indoors and capture some planetary and lunar images along the way.

I have a Skywatcher Skymax 127 Synscan AZ Goto which I used for manual observations quite a few years ago. I will also have a ZWO ASI 224MC camera when Santa delivers it.

My questions, in this post, are to do with getting the hardware set up correctly. I plan to site the telescope outside the house with a fairly clear view to the south.

The goto mount is fairly easy to control from my laptop using the SynScan Wifi adapter which I have just acquired. The mount is powered by a 12v Skywatcher power station.

My current thinking is to connect my laptop directly to the camera with a USB 3.0 cable poking through a window. I estimate that this needs to be about 7 or 8 metres long.

1) Would an active USB 3 cable work for transmitting the images at this distance?
2) Do I need to power it at the external end (to operate the camera)?
3) Would a USB hub help?

For anyone who has already been down this road, please don't be afraid to point out anything that I have not thought of!

Also, are there any books that might help me with this? I do not have a DSLR camera and most of the recommended books seem to use one.

Thank you

David

I do the same as @PeterCPC. Dedicated scope-side laptop which runs everything, and just remote access it from another PC inside. My WiFi's half decent (most of the time!), so no ethernet cables needed either.

If you've got a couple of PC's available, then this is a much better solution than looong usb cables.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do the same: laptop to desktop via TeamViewer.  
If you need a USB hub to connect gear->laptop, use a powered one. 
Laptop’s batteries don’t like extreme cold, so try to keep them warm or connected to the power grid. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, David127 said:

My current thinking is to connect my laptop directly to the camera with a USB 3.0 cable poking through a window. I estimate that this needs to be about 7 or 8 metres long.

1) Would an active USB 3 cable work for transmitting the images at this distance?
2) Do I need to power it at the external end (to operate the camera)?
3) Would a USB hub help?

I use a remote connection and in your case the most reliable way sounds like the following:

- Take an extension power cord outside to within reach of your scope. You can use this to power mount, usb hub and any other devices you may wish to attach at a later point in time.

- Attach a powered USB hub and use that to connect to mount and camera.

- Take a long USB cable from your laptop to control both mount and camera and attach that to usb hub.

I use a slightly different approach and that makes use of RPi as I use Kstars/Ekos to control mount and camera. I run a long ethernet cable from my laptop to RPi :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is essentially what I do. Laptop inside the house, and scope gets wheeled just outside onto a patio. The wires run through the middle of some bi-fold doors that I can still close. I run power and USB on 10m cables. I connect the 10m USB active repeater cable to a USB hub on the tray below the mount, and have "permanent" wiring  from there to the USB and iPolar on the mount (it's an iOptron CEM120, so is blessed with lots of through mount USB and power connections).

However, I think the problem you may have is USB 3.0.  I've never got USB 3 working properly over 10m cables, however I've tried. Certainly not to connect all the peripherals I need at once. And ZWO cameras seem to be more sensitive than other things. So my 10m cable is USB2. This forces everything "down" to USB 2, and it all works fine because what I'm shooting is DSOs, and even though I've got a fast set up, I'm not generally working below 20 second exposures.

On the odd occasion I want to shoot video for planets or moon, I'll go outside with the laptop and manually connect USB 3 direct to the camera, as really USB3 speed is essential for this.

Can you manage it with 5m?  That's more likely to work. Or just try it and see if you are lucky!  My problem was no doubt exacerbated by needing to connect 2 x cameras, focuser, power hub (for dew control) and iPolar all over the one cable.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your suggestions.

The two computer approach is not an option for me at the moment, though I am drawn to the idea of using a Raspberry Pi outside as I have done some other projects (not Astronomy) using them. But for the time being I am hoping to keep things as simple as possible.

I am aware that my USB cable length would be too long for a standard USB 3 connection which was why I was thinking of using an "Active cable". There are some reviews on Amazon that suggest this would work over 10m or more?

Would having a separately powered USB hub help? I did see a comment somewhere that the problem with a longer USB cable is not necessarily the data transmission but is due to the voltage drop so that not enough power reaches the camera to power it successfully. But I am clutching at straws here as I have not had any direct experience yet.

My goal at the moment is to assemble the kit I need without wasting money on something that will never work.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@David127 I use a single 10 metre Active USB Extension to connect my rig outdoor, through a window, to a desktop PC. I'm now using a Pegasus Pocket Power Box Advance and everything connects to that but previously I have used two 10 Metre USB cables with a non powered USB Hub/Splitter on the end of one of them and had no issues at all. With that old set up I had my imaging camera, guide camera and mount connected and it worked like a charm.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, David127 said:

Thank you all for your suggestions.

The two computer approach is not an option for me at the moment, though I am drawn to the idea of using a Raspberry Pi outside as I have done some other projects (not Astronomy) using them. But for the time being I am hoping to keep things as simple as possible.

I am aware that my USB cable length would be too long for a standard USB 3 connection which was why I was thinking of using an "Active cable". There are some reviews on Amazon that suggest this would work over 10m or more?

Would having a separately powered USB hub help? I did see a comment somewhere that the problem with a longer USB cable is not necessarily the data transmission but is due to the voltage drop so that not enough power reaches the camera to power it successfully. But I am clutching at straws here as I have not had any direct experience yet.

My goal at the moment is to assemble the kit I need without wasting money on something that will never work.

 

You could try usb over cat6? That's advertised to work up to 100m, but the hubs are quite expensive, and I've never used it myself so no idea if they're any good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

re: my comments above - the 10m USB3 cable I tried was an active repeater cable. It did promise to work, but I just had problems with connections or subsequent dropouts, so it never worked consistently. The hub at the scope I use is powered - you definitely need that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I routinely use an active USB 3 cable to a 12v powered USB hub on the scope. So far I have never had any uses even on damp nights. I have taped up all of the repeaters on the cables which might help. I do keep thinking about a remote mini pc, but what I use now works well so I will carry on with it for now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again everyone for you advice.

I think I am going to try an active USB 3 cable like this one

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MutecPower-Extension-Repeater-Extender-booster/dp/B092R756LY/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=active%2Busb%2B3%2Bcable%2B10m&qid=1634825527&sr=8-9&th=1

Together with a powered USB 3 hub but I'm not sure which one to get. I don't need many USB outlets so 4 will be fine, but I do need to power with 12v from my battery pack which uses cigarette lighter sockets as its output. Nor do I want to spend too much - StarTech are a bit too pricy for me.

Any recommended models please?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried the Mutec version in the link above and had to send it back and the connector was very poor and failed after a few uses. I changes it to a kenable version which I have been using for about 18 months now. I would suggest adding a short 50cm extension to the male end before the PC and taping this in place. This will protect the plug which tends to be the weak point. (I actually tape all the joints and boosters to prevent water ingress and to protect them).

FWIW I have actually ordered another one today so I can control my second rig😀

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One issue will be focussing with the camera. I use 5 metre cables to run into the garden cabin for camera use but find myself dragging the laptop next to the scope for focussing.

I want to build a motorised focusser to help with this step.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer to your question about the length of usb cable, yes that will work.i use an 8m usb3 cable to connect my DSLR to my laptop with no issue at all.

Just make sure it's usb3 and that it's a data cable. The first one I bought turned out to be just power.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Xoc1 said:

One issue will be focussing with the camera. I use 5 metre cables to run into the garden cabin for camera use but find myself dragging the laptop next to the scope for focussing

I use Team viewer which connects my phone to my laptop to get around that. So I can stand beside my scope with my phone remotely watching the laptop screen and the effects of my focussing.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I Have tried the teamviewer for focussing but found the latency fustrating. Wi-FI in my garden has a poor signal - I may invest in a Wi-Fi mesh to inprove this. But still feel that a motorised focusser would be the ultimate as it avoids disturbing the scope while focussing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 22/10/2021 at 17:17, David127 said:

@AstroMuni Thank you for this idea. Did you install the app called "Teamviewer for Remote Control" onto the phone?

I have a Windows 10 laptop and an Android phone.

The same app. I have an android phone as well. I find that wifi signal can be poor in the garden so I switch off wifi on phone and onto 4G data.

Edited by AstroMuni
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.