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Headless PC out in the field


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I'm looking to replace my creaking laptop with something small like the Raspberry Pi, that can run windows and NINA. There are many mini PCs on the market which may suit me, but my question is how to control this potential  headless PC. At home I can use VNC or TeamViewer etc, but what about when I am at a dark site without any networking infrastructure? Is it even possible with a windows PC? I think the Raspberry Pi creates a Wifi hotspot if it can't join an infrastructure network (e.g Stellarmate) and you can connect that way - I've never tried it.

I should say that I would be using a tablet to connect the headless PC if it's at all possible - has anyone tried this? Seems like a simple requirement but searching with Google does get me anywhere. 

I guess disconnected PCs aren't going to be able to advertise any irrelevant junk at you, so why would anyone design one of those.

Any contributions are much appreciated

Tim

 

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/GL-iNet-GL-MT300N-V2-Converter-Pre-installed-Performance/dp/B073TSK26W/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?crid=13TX4R9UHW1DP&keywords=travel+router&qid=1641926555&sprefix=travel+roulet%2Caps%2C213&sr=8-3

One of these connected to the mini-pc creates its own wifi with no actual internet required at any point. Only time you need peripherals is when initially setting this up just the first time, other than that its always headless.

Connect to this PC from this local wifi with any device running RDP.

Thats how i use my win-10 mini pc using an android tablet.

 

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41 minutes ago, Star Gazer said:

I'm looking to replace my creaking laptop with something small like the Raspberry Pi, that can run windows and NINA

The Raspberry Pi can run windows but a different version "IOT" So cannot run normal windows or NINA. But it does run either Astroberry (free) or Stellarmate albeit payable (linux) both designed for Astro and you can control from a tablet. But if N.I.N.A is your preferred route you will need and Intel NUC

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Thanks   fozzybear  for the suggestion. I have a RPi that I flashed it with Stellarmate, but I have experienced too many issues and wasted precious imaging hours.. The RPi and Stellarmate is a formidable package with some great features, but for me there were lots of issues with plate solving and camera and mount connections. There was also a moderate amount of crashing, which is sad because if it were stable it would be an awesome solution.

In my original post here I said I never tried to connect the RPi when out in the wilds, away from any know Wifi connection. Out of curiosity I tried it, and it was so simple to connect to the StellarMate hotspot on  RPi from my iPhone using VNC. Really awesome to think that two tiny devices could provide such a powerful totally portable package. I flashed the RPi with Stellarmate three times, and each time I had a new set of issues. It doesn't matter how powerful or tiny a device is if it isn't reliable then your wasting you precious time...

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I'm very happy with my Aaeon-UP Core. https://up-shop.org/up-core-series.html.

The newer model is the Core Plus https://up-shop.org/up-core-plus-series.html

I'd recommend buying with the Alu case as I had to bodge one together. You will also need an external antenna.

It is very reliable, much more so than  my RPi3. I've had it since mid-2018 and it hasn't missed a beat whereas the RPi intermittently stops running after a couple of hours. I installed Ubuntu on the Aaeon but it is an x64 CPU so you can install Windows on it. But I think Linux is better supported on it. 

As far as I know you can set up Windows to run as a hotspot https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/use-your-windows-pc-as-a-mobile-hotspot-c89b0fad-72d5-41e8-f7ea-406ad9036b85#WindowsVersion=Windows_11

 

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I have my mini pc setup so it starts windows without the need to sign in or enter a password. When the home WiFi is not detected it automatically connects to the hotspot on my phones Internet. I have used this out in the field. The initial setting up requires a monitor (hdmi connection to a TV will do) to set everything up but only needs doing once. Once connected to your phones hotspot, you can then control via VNC.

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On my mini pc it logs in on start and runs the win 10 hotspot on boot so I just remote desktop straight to the mini pc with no requirement for any additional kit or network.

Only issue is I had to make a loop back plug for the ethernet port just so win 10 will start the hotspot on boot this can be taken out after boot but I leave it in without issue.

 

Dave

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Hi,

I used a miniPC with Windows 7-10. Worked well most times, but sometimes Windows want to update and in newer version I found it difficult to disable all updates. One more problem, the miniPC took 1.5 to 2.0 Amp from 12 volts battery. I wanted to reduce it. When updating to Windows 10, my GPS unit, EQMOOD Direct cable and QHY5 camera stopped working.

 

Five years ago I started to setup a Raspberry with kStars and Ekos, my first Raspberry PI 3b was way too slow to do it the way I want it to work. When the RP 4GB arrived I switched over to that one. Now things started to work but still lot of problems. 2021, i got almost everything to work and today it's much better than my miniPC solution. Never go back to Windows now and my whole setup only takes 1.5 Amp from 12 Volt. That includs a HEQ5 mount, 2 dewheaters, guide camera, DSLR etc. No need for a huge battery now.

I tried NINA in my Windows server, but now the Raspberry do it for me after the last updates. For the Windows server I brought a Router and set up a local network on the filed, now I use the Raspberrys Hotspot, maybe the signal is a bit weak because of the metal cabinet I installed, for the cooling.

 

I posted a thread with an overview of what I have done, here is the link once more:

http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/tutorials/tutorial-ekos-sequencer/01-tutorial-ekos-sequencer.html

There are more pages about the Raspberry, look at the project pages.

I say, it work with my equipment now, but with another setup it of course could be different.

What I love most: autofocus (and it really work), auto plate solver, sequencer, low power need, very small, cheap and no cost for software. And my old GPS, EQDirect cable and QHY5 camera working, but they are old so they will be replaced soon.

 

/Lars

Edited by Astrofriend
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I've just purchased the VPN travel router as recommended by @ONIKKINEN. It's tiny. 5 minutes to setup to link with the Beelink mini-pc. I have now disabled my home wifi so no more windows updates unless i choose to. Works great with remote desktop, VNC etc.

PXL_20220115_171923155_2.jpg

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7 hours ago, Dean Hale said:

I've just purchased the VPN travel router as recommended by @ONIKKINEN. It's tiny. 5 minutes to setup to link with the Beelink mini-pc. I have now disabled my home wifi so no more windows updates unless i choose to. Works great with remote desktop, VNC etc.

PXL_20220115_171923155_2.jpg

No sudden windows updates is one of the biggest bonuses of having a disconnected scopeside PC IMO. I see no reason why windows would need to be updated when all the capture software works just fine. I dread the idea of having to update my mini-pc which has never been connected to the internet...

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If I remember correct. When I disabled the updates in Windows 10 later version I could only delay it 3 months. But if the PC isn't connected to internet it shouldn't be a problem. But my astroserver is connected to the local network where I control it from. And then it has connection to internet, it syncronize the clock. In my new Raspberry it sync position and time with the GPS.

 

/Lars

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