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NINA - an initial view...


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I so want to really like and get on with Astroberry/KStars - it is everything I wanted and the fact it runs on a Pi meant I finally thought I would be able to get out and mobile.  But, it just is not quite stable enough for me - when it works it is brilliant, when it doesn't it can just be a night of frustration trying to fight issues; PA is fiddly, sometimes sequences just don't quite run, autofocus can be sketchy and at the moment for some reason it just doesn't like my Starlight Xpress CCD and I can't spend another year fighting issues and getting demotivated.

I have APT as well but just felt KStars hung together better but have caved in and given NINA a go.  You know what?  I like it so far.  Has a nice UI and is pretty intuitive.  Sure I still find ASCOM more clunky than INDI, I found INDI utterly seamless to get everything up and running, however once set up it generally doesn't need touching again.

Yesterday was my first time hooking everything up and it took a while to resolve COM port conflicts and get everything talking but by the time I got outside and hooked everything up it all started working first time which is what I wanted.  It took a little while to get the autofocus to work but that was simply because I was too far out to begin with but once I had set the focuser there or thereabouts it worked flawlessly.  As an aside this is the first time I have really used my autofocuser and it is life-changing, really is.  The sequencer is straightforward also and things like slew to and plate solve all worked very well.

Last night (and after I had got over some one time initial setup bits) was the first time I have run a routine on any software and had confidence it would complete without an issue which is a big step forward for me :) .  Overall I am impressed enough to have ordered a mini PC to see if this finally gives me the mobile setup I have been looking for and I recommend anyone considering alternatives to their current control software to give it a go.  The only thing of particular note I think is missing at the moment is some form of automated mosaic routine however I am sure this will come either directly from the Dev or via a plugin.

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I haven't used the feature in anger yet but doesn't the mosaic config allow you to send to the sequencer? I had a play a while back and set up a nine panels on the veil, sent it to the sequencer and from there it runs through the imaging as needed. I'll check later as i have a replacement mini pc arriving today.

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Not sure if this is what you need and yes there is config needed for each panel, exposure, number of frames etc but once done it should sort itslef out.

I sent this to the simple sequencer and it's 4 panels on IC1396

 

1.PNG

2.PNG

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Posted (edited)

@scotty38 - ah brill.  Didn't see that - is there an idiot's guide to setting it up?  Looks perfect...

EDIT - think I have figured it out :).  Just running it through the simulator now :)

Edited by dannybgoode
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OK - having had a play with the mosaic/panel generator thing I can confidently say it's lovely!  Very easy to use - more intuitive than KStars/EKOS and I like the way once you have set a panel up you can just drag it around to maximise its use.  As an eg, to get M81 and M82 together with M81 in the centre I would need a 1x5 grid but the 5th grid would be pretty much empty.  Knocking it down to 4 vertical panels and it means M82 drops out of frame but I can simply drag the panels up so M81 is in the bottom of the 4 panels and job done.  Really very nice...

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Thought I would post a little update now I am using a Beelink Mini PC to run the show.  I have not yet used the set up in anger, that will happen hopefully tonight looking at the forecast however last night I had it up and running to get PHD2 set up and calibrated and I currently have it outside running the main camera to capture some dark and bias frames.

I am connecting to it using Windows Remote Desktop and so far it has been utterly reliable, no issues at all with connectivity and every time I have started NINA and connected various bits to it everything has been flawless.  It just 'feels' robust so to speak and I have much more confidence in it all working when I need it to most; ie when it is nice, dark and cloudless.  This is not something I could say about Astroberry and APT.  All in all very happy so far and will report back after tonight's (hopeful) session.

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8 minutes ago, dannybgoode said:

Thought I would post a little update now I am using a Beelink Mini PC to run the show.  I have not yet used the set up in anger, that will happen hopefully tonight looking at the forecast however last night I had it up and running to get PHD2 set up and calibrated and I currently have it outside running the main camera to capture some dark and bias frames.

I am connecting to it using Windows Remote Desktop and so far it has been utterly reliable, no issues at all with connectivity and every time I have started NINA and connected various bits to it everything has been flawless.  It just 'feels' robust so to speak and I have much more confidence in it all working when I need it to most; ie when it is nice, dark and cloudless.  This is not something I could say about Astroberry and APT.  All in all very happy so far and will report back after tonight's (hopeful) session.

Exactly what i was doing last night after migrating to a mini pc from my old laptop. I left my kit set up for tonight too 🙂

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3 minutes ago, scotty38 said:

Exactly what i was doing last night after migrating to a mini pc from my old laptop. I left my kit set up for tonight too 🙂

I have to tear mine don't each time sadly however I am slowly getting it all back outside in-between emails and phone calls :) .  Scope is out and cooling also and NINA is chuntering away on flats at the moment.  Fingers crossed all goes to plan and I can get some good data.  I the past I have rushed to complete targets just to get an image as I couldn't be confident everything would just work the next time however I am planning on taking my time and getting some really good, long data on targets.

Yeah, very impressed with NINA.  So much so I have subbed to the dev's Patreon channel for a few £ per month...

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ah, I've not seen the Patreon channel but have tried to like the Discord stuff on many occasions but cannot find any love for it 🙂

Fortunately I've not had any issues as such and any query I've had has been a knowledge thing which the documentation has always resolved for me.

 

BTW I use the Beta as even with my limited knowledge it has so many better features, the advanced sequencer being worth it if nothing else...

Edited by scotty38
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Well so far, so very impressed.  Was set up and PA'd  using the 3 star routine within minutes and got straight down to some Andromeda action whilst I wait for the HH to pop up above the roofline.  Slewed, plate solved, focused and guided without a fuss (big shout out for ASTAP as well - fastest plate solving software I've used and speeds up the whole process considerably) and off it went without a fuss.  Just not experienced this ease of use before.  OK that is partly down to the fact that I've actually got off my behind and put a few hours in making sure I had nailed down all the steps however the fact that everything worked when asked gave me the motivation.

Hopefully this run will continue :)

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And wow - the flat wizard!.  So so quick.  Makes flats very easy indeed.  Not had a flip yet - I can only see the Eastern half of the sky anyway so rarely happens for me until I get somewhere open...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I really wanted everything to be controlled by RPi and INDI when I started out but have to admit I found that I got too many issues and most of those related to stability that I just went with a mini PC strapped to the mount. I initially used APT but when NINA Autofocus was so much better than APT's version I made the switch and have never looked back. I have always used ASTAP as main and blind solver with the H17 database. NINA just makes things so much easier and I have now started mono imaging and with Patriot Astro You tube videos regarding the NINA Imaging templates getting this setup has been as breeze. Flats as you say are so much easier and I just love the Three Point Polar align plugin as this makes sure the polar alignment is as good as it can get and does not even need to see Polaris! The only problems that I have had recently was a crash in NINA which was caused by the Scope 3D View plugin but I have just removed that for now and I tried to save time with the Dark Customs filter offset calculator which you must let it do 2 or more iterations otherwise it fails, otherwise everything else is good.

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1 hour ago, Grant Fribbens said:

The only problems that I have had recently was a crash in NINA which was caused by the Scope 3D View plugin but I have just removed that for now and I tried to save time with the Dark Customs filter offset calculator which you must let it do 2 or more iterations otherwise it fails, otherwise everything else is good.

I'm using GS Server instead of EQMOD now and that obviously has the 3D view embedded if you fancied another option..... I think I had an issue with Darks Customs too so may revisit it now you've said that.

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23 minutes ago, scotty38 said:

I'm using GS Server instead of EQMOD now and that obviously has the 3D view embedded if you fancied another option..... I think I had an issue with Darks Customs too so may revisit it now you've said that.

Should have mentioned that I already use GS Server after initially using EQMOD but I really enjoy the way GS Server can do PPEC on my EQ6-R so easily. EQMOD it seemed much harder than it should have been. I thought it might be nice to have a 3d view of the scope on the main NINA screen but I woke up to find that the mount had not parked overnight due to a crash because of this plugin. I did not like the plugin as I could not resize the scope image to my liking with the way I have NINA layed out :)

Edited by Grant Fribbens
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Totally agree. As amazing as stellamate/kstars/ indi is. I also was having too many reliability issues. Mainly with my camera (altair 183c protec) . But I found the polar alignment routine in stellarmate amazing as I don't have view of polaris. But since the new 3 point alignment routine has been added to nina there's been no looking back. Still getting used to nina but as you say seems pretty intuitive so far. And I've also been able to keep use of my rasberry pi by using virtual here to act as a wireless usb hub between my rig and my pc. With no problems there either 

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