Jump to content

1912116577_Solarchallenge2022banner.jpg.913a200cf105ddeae9f37765cb1d0c73.jpg

Observatory Usb hub Ideas?


Astropedro
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm right in the middle of building my observatory in this lovely cold January weather we having. :)

I have made a few purchases including filters, an 1600mm camera, filter wheel and I'm looking for an autofocusser.  It has dawned on me that my laptop will be roughly 25 feet away from the observatory as I've no intention of sitting in there whilst imaging.  I want warmth and comfort.......

240v power to the observatory is sorted.

So how am I going to get all the cameras, focuser, filter wheel etc to communicate with my laptop?

So........options.......

1. a powered USB hub on the end of an expensive USB cable?

2. A wireless USB hub?

3. Do I have to fork out for Asiair unit or similar?

My observatory won't be finished for a few days and then there will be at least a year of clouds......sorry guys......I'll post some photos and some comments of how the build went.

In the meantime I need to sort something out.

 

As always, thanks for any help with this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have some spare cash, go for the Pegasus UPB V2 it will cover all your USB, Power, focuser and dew ports in one, and they work really well, so just one 12v power lead to the mount, best thing I ever bought, I also then have an intel NUC on the mount, with NINA running, and I RDP into that from the house PC….all works really well…👍🏼

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kind of similar to Stuart's suggestion.

Put a pc of some kind in the observatory and use ethernet (cable please not wifi!) to connect to the house. Could be a NUC or whatever is convenient as I assume you dont need to put it on the mount. Now you can use RDP or VNC and effectively 'be in ' the observatory. This will future proof you for years.

What hub you use then depends on the physical and electrical arrangements on the mount. The Pegasus is a good option, or you could 'build your own' with discrete USB hub, power distribution etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again as above. I'm building my observatory this year too but the setup will be as it is now (albeit Ethernet in the Obs vs Wireless now). I have a Quieter 2 mini pc and the Pegasus Advance and I RDP from the comfort of anywhere. In fact I am just setting up a NAT on the router so I can still access it remotely when I'm not at home. It's all powered with a 25/32A power supply from FLO so just one power cable going to the power box right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used the 2 sets of Pegasus brackets (£58 worth but make a lovely neat job) and have the mini pc piggybacked on the powerbox all fastened under the front end of the dovetail. Nicely balances the filterwheel, camera etc at the other end too. As said apart from the power cable, all the other power leads and USB are all "local" and fastened up (nearly) neatly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dont think I would use a mini-pc as a USB hub. A number of issues

Usually only 4 ports and often not all USB3. USB max current may only be 0.9A (the USB3 spec). Typically only one of the USB3 ports on a NUC is able to deliver 2.4A.
The miniPC actually has a USB hub (or two) inside, and you are at the mercy of the pc designers.
You are also at the mercy of Windows USB hub management routines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies guys.  

So.....a repeating usb cable to a powered USB hub from my laptop in the house won't work?

 

Just looking at simplifying of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I run the Pegasus  Pocket Power Box Advance (PPBA) on my HEQ5, running power for the mount, ASI294MC Pro and two dew heaters. I also have the ZWO EAF and a ASI120mm Mini guide camera.

This lot is connected to a 15 metre active USB3 cable from the mount to my laptop in the house. The PPBA is powered by the Pegasus 10 amp power supply from a 240v waterproof extension lead. ;) 

Download speed from the camera to the laptop is very fast, compared to the old USB2 extension I used to use. I don't normally need the full 15 metres but it means I can place the mount where I want too in the garden. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use the startech 4 port usb over cat5e cable. One end goes on your laptop in the warm, it's then linked by a cat5e cable I think max about 40M, to the remote end. Then just plug your usb stuff into that. I haven't got round to the remote pc yet. I also haven't tried usb hub into the remote end, theory says it should work. Ensure it's powered at the remote end otherwise the load will be out of your laptop usb port. HTH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As another data point I use :

ankher usb3 10 port hub on the mount. 

power to the hub controlled by the pier 8way remote switch, no power means the hub and attached devices is off. 

usb 3 cable to observatory pc 

Ethernet over powerline from house to observatory plus a WiFi extender in the obbo for all my alpaca WiFi devices. 

 

In general this has been very reliable. Powerline sometimes drops  but not often. Hub itself, very reliable. 

HTh

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you need USB3 ?

A Lindy 10m powered USB3 hub will cost about £75.

A 10m USB2 powered hub is less than £20, and worth a punt before you shell out £500 for a Pegasus box.

But USB is always a gamble.

Then there's USB over Ethernet cable, the cheap adapters seem to be suspect, Startech adapters are £200 to £400.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again guys.  There's never a shortage of help and knowledge on here.

 

The gambler in me says buy a USB extension and hope for the best.

However.......mini pc's do seem cheap so I may go down that route.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/cheap-FAST-Windows-10-Mini-PC-Desktop-Computer-4GB-RAM-SSD-19-Monitor-WiFi-/334213888100?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49286&mkrid=710-127635-2958-0

 

Guessing that will do me?  Haven't bought it yet but with 2 usb3 and 4 usb2 that would cover me for connections.  I have a 1600mm camera, a qhyiii guide camera, EFW mini, EAF ordered today and no dew straps yet but will cross that bridge soon enough.

Then connect my laptop to the mini pc with a ridiculously long cat5 cable I suppose. 🙂

Further opinions and guidance welcome.

 

Thanks again guys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, Astropedro said:

Thanks again guys.  There's never a shortage of help and knowledge on here.

 

The gambler in me says buy a USB extension and hope for the best.

However.......mini pc's do seem cheap so I may go down that route.

Lots of advice!

Unfortunately almost every set up is different and browsing this and the CN forum you will see that USB issues are very common. Some have no problems, others seem to attract them. There are a large number of variables,

The cable (and any repeaters etc)
The hub (powered/USB2/USB3) How well does it handle the data and cope with the environment.
The pc/controller. What hardware is used and what else shares the internal bus. What drivers are being used both by the pc operating system and the astro application.
The device - camera, focuser, etc.   Again what hardware has been used and what drivers.

USB2 was never meant to carry large contiguous files and certainly can run into issues when a hub or bus is shared. The drivers aren't good at packet switching. USB3 is supposed to overcome this by allowing the data packets to be managed. Unfortunately USB3 seems not to have been implemented well in quite a few devices.

So there is no definitive answer. Best 'suck it and see' or trial and error. Personally, I've seen more success (mine & other systems) when a pc or other computer is put at the mount, and then ethernet used to get into the house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, michael8554 said:

32GB SSD, 4GB RAM, and Win 10 Pro for only £60 is a real surprise to me.

Seller Refurbished is what ?

Michael

Old corporate PC’s that have been used and abused, not refurbished, just taken from an office environment and wiped and sold….👍🏼

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oops! I've had a bit of a scare tonight! Managed to blow 2 fuses in my 12v banana plug type distributor! I have something similar to this below, separate channels power everything, one channel for mount and another channel for camera, focuser, dew controller. With the Atik 460, even when PC is powered off, the fan still runs. So I've been disconnection the power cable to the Atik after every session before I cover up. Switched everything on this evening and connected the cable, it blew 2 fuses in the power strip! Luckily enough no damage to anything as I switched over to 2 of the spare channels and everything is ok. But its making me think about one of these Pegasus boxes. They really worth the investment? @Stuart1971

 

hobbyking-powerstrip-fuse-protected-power-distribution-board-1_R191H9Y6K0A1_RS1QGSOABOZ8_grande.jpeg.4fc97c36b8f5c360cb1d379c20fd6b32.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, david_taurus83 said:

Oops! I've had a bit of a scare tonight! Managed to blow 2 fuses in my 12v banana plug type distributor! I have something similar to this below, separate channels power everything, one channel for mount and another channel for camera, focuser, dew controller. With the Atik 460, even when PC is powered off, the fan still runs. So I've been disconnection the power cable to the Atik after every session before I cover up. Switched everything on this evening and connected the cable, it blew 2 fuses in the power strip! Luckily enough no damage to anything as I switched over to 2 of the spare channels and everything is ok. But its making me think about one of these Pegasus boxes. They really worth the investment? @Stuart1971

 

hobbyking-powerstrip-fuse-protected-power-distribution-board-1_R191H9Y6K0A1_RS1QGSOABOZ8_grande.jpeg.4fc97c36b8f5c360cb1d379c20fd6b32.jpeg

Yes….all the way…

they are constantly tweaking the software with new features and it just works, support is great too….the way I look at this part of my kit is that it can’t let me down, no power or USB and your kit is a giant doorstop, it needs to work and you need to not have to worry about it, buy cheap buy twice….👍🏼

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

Yes….all the way…

they are constantly tweaking the software with new features and it just works, support is great too….the way I look at this part of my kit is that it can’t let me down, no power or USB and your kit is a giant doorstop, it needs to work and you need to not have to worry about it, buy cheap buy twice….👍🏼

 

Thanks. I like the idea of being able to switch off the individual power ports. Also, I get the odd USB gremlin that needs them to be unplugged/plugged to cure it. Am I right that they Ultimate one can toggle those off individually as well?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can vouch for the Pegasus Pocket Powerbox Advance, it's fantastic and works really well. 2 dew straps, 4 12v outputs, one variable DC output, 4 USB3. Probably enough to manage your entire setup.

I can also support what's been said about long USB runs, and stock USB cables and hubs - nothing but trouble. The Startech hubs are very good as are their cables. I've replaced all my cables with Startech cables of short lengths, and where I used to have constant camera and mount disconnects, they are now a thing of the past.

I'm also in the process of adding a fanless mini PC (MeLE Quieter2) which is so small and light it can fit on the scope and keep all power and USB runs local. RDP from indoors can control everything. Three options for remote connection - wifi for now; Ethernet Cat 5 in the longer term; and local wifi hotspot if there's no network available.

 

3 minutes ago, david_taurus83 said:

Am I right that they Ultimate one can toggle those off individually as well?

Yes David, the Advance can switch all of the 12V DC outputs together, but the Ultimate can do them individually. I may consider upgrading at some stage - didn't really think this was a required feature but as I get more automated I can see the benefit.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I did think about the ultimate for the individual switching but went for the Advance as couldn't think of a use case for me. At the minute my Quieter 2 is in the DSLR port which is the only one set to be ON at power on. I have my mount, main camera and EAF in 3 of the 4 other ports. For me I need them all on and not individually so any sequence I set up in NINA turns them all on and off as required along with the dew heaters too.

 

Capture.thumb.PNG.0e03ef01da9c33fd30afb5f360519bce.PNG

Edited by scotty38
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@scotty38 I'd completely overlooked the DSLR power port to drive the PC - excellent! Agree that the other 4x12V power outlets can be switched as one, unless there's an equipment fault.

Like you, I have the mount, imaging cam and focuser powered from the 12V ports. EQDIR to the mount, focuser and main cam are all in the PPBA USB hub and working fine, but is there a benefit in putting those directly into the PC?

I'm just getting to grips with the NINA advanced sequencer so will take a look at the Connector plugin and sequencing the PPBA switches. This is fun!

  • Like 1
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

×
×
  • 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.