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How can I stream live video to a tablet?


PeterC65

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I was looking at the spot where M101 is located a couple of nights ago but could see nothing. This got me wondering whether a camera might allow me to see fainter objects that I cannot see, and more detail in those I can see visually.

I don’t want to take photographs but I’m thinking I could replace the eyepiece with a camera and stream live video to a tablet via USB.

I’d like to buy a reasonable quality camera such as the ZWO ASI 224MC, but ZWO cameras don’t seem to operate as webcams, streaming live video natively to a tablet. It seems they need an App which gets poor reviews and would mean taking a chance that the App would work, and continue to work, on my Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Is there a simple way to stream live video from a ZWO camera to a tablet?

The Bresser MikrOkular camera looks OK, and seems to be simple. I’ve seen it described as a webcam which I assume means it can be used with the native video streaming capability of a tablet. But it also has an App which gets poor reviews. Does anyone have practical experience of using this camera to stream live video to a tablet?

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With an added cost from my experience using a raspberry pi with astroberry or an Asiair you can do this easily. I find astroberry crashes a lot though. The asiair you'd have to use a zwo camera, your tablet then becomes your controller and viewing device, nothing wrong with the asiair app as it's solid.

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17 hours ago, PeterC65 said:

I was looking at the spot where M101 is located a couple of nights ago but could see nothing. This got me wondering whether a camera might allow me to see fainter objects that I cannot see, and more detail in those I can see visually.

I don’t want to take photographs but I’m thinking I could replace the eyepiece with a camera and stream live video to a tablet via USB.

I’d like to buy a reasonable quality camera such as the ZWO ASI 224MC, but ZWO cameras don’t seem to operate as webcams, streaming live video natively to a tablet. It seems they need an App which gets poor reviews and would mean taking a chance that the App would work, and continue to work, on my Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Is there a simple way to stream live video from a ZWO camera to a tablet?

The Bresser MikrOkular camera looks OK, and seems to be simple. I’ve seen it described as a webcam which I assume means it can be used with the native video streaming capability of a tablet. But it also has an App which gets poor reviews. Does anyone have practical experience of using this camera to stream live video to a tablet?

If you want to see fainter than visual, you will need to do 'EAA'. Live streaming of video will probably be worse than visual as the camera exposure time is too short.

You need a package that can take exposures, say between 1 and 5 seconds long, and add them in real time to build up an integrated image. 'Jocular' will do this but there are others. Each time an exposure is finished and added to the displayed image, the noise gets less and the signal gets more.

Edited by AstroKeith
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You could do this with an app on your tablet connecting to an ASI Air or Stellarmate…or alternatively you could use a laptop/mini pc to control the mount and camera and then  you’ve got a selection of applications you can use- Starlight Live or ASILive or available for SX ccd’s or ASI CMOS cameras. Sharpcap can also do live stacking for any camera supported by ASCOM…but it may only be the paid for version and not the free version. I use Jocular - developed by fellow SGL’er @Martin Meredith. It works a treat with my ASI290mm, and I’m sure would work well with the ASI224MC too but it can also work with lots of other branded cameras by picking up the images from a ‘watched’ folder.

I’m not sure what scope you’d be planning to use, but you’ll probably want to be running at F6 or so to increase the ‘speed’ of the system. So you may benefit from some sort of reducer - but with these small chip cameras you could get away with the 0.5x reducer that screws in to the nosepiece of the camera.

Have a look at the EEVA Observing Reports channel to see the sort of result you may expect to get.

 

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  • 3 months later...

Hi PeterC65,

I'm trying to do a similar thing and just getting more and more confused. Being a novice, I must be missing something really obvious.

I'm also not interested in taking astro pics but I am interested in displaying what my scope sees, on a screen, so I can talk about it to viewers like students.

So I figure I need a camera attached to the focuser and somehow focus the camera on my targets, but how do I do that if I can't see through the eyepiece? And how do I remotely slew the scope to find a target if I can't see the FoV on the remote screen?

I've discovered that not all modern cameras can output their live view. I've discovered that there's a difference between astrophotography cameras and astronomy cameras. I've discovered that a guide scope isn't necessary because an astronomy camera can guide itself. 

Because devices typically only have one network card, I can only connect wirelessly to one device from one other device. In my case, I think must slew the scope with the appropriate App (Skywatcher SynScan Pro) on my iphone that talks to the scope via a dongle stuck in the drive mechanism.

Then I think I have my iPad in my other hand, screen-sharing with my Mac which is sitting on the scope, hardwired to the camera feed.

Does this sound feasible to you?

 

 

 

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Thanks happy-kat,

Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand what you're saying. 

I can remotely operate my go-to with the SynScan App, (with my iPhone or iPad) but I don't know what astap, platesolving, sharpcap pro or live stacking actually are, or how they apply to the question at hand.

Edited by Scubayorp
typo
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As far as I'm aware You will need to connect the camera to a computer and then remote connect to the computer from the tablet, at least if you are doing the Samsung tablet.

You will need some software on the computer to display the camera image.  Sharpcap is an example. This can control the camera to adjust image so you can see something.  It can also do live stacking where it adds the images together to eliminate noise and boost the signal.

I recently got a cheap intel nuc mini pc from eBay for £60.  This can run the software easily through windows 10.  I can the use the Microsoft remote desktop app to control the computer from a tablet.  It is pretty easy to setup.

 

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38 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

The last post OP uses an ipad and mac. Astap has a mac version and will plate solve and live stack. Sharpcap is windows only.

D'oh.  I missed the post that revived the thread and went back to the first post!  Oops.  

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43 minutes ago, Ratlet said:

As far as I'm aware You will need to connect the camera to a computer and then remote connect to the computer from the tablet, at least if you are doing the Samsung tablet.

You will need some software on the computer to display the camera image.  Sharpcap is an example. This can control the camera to adjust image so you can see something.  It can also do live stacking where it adds the images together to eliminate noise and boost the signal.

I recently got a cheap intel nuc mini pc from eBay for £60.  This can run the software easily through windows 10.  I can the use the Microsoft remote desktop app to control the computer from a tablet.  It is pretty easy to setup.

 

Thanks Ratlet,

Yes, The Mac will sit with the scope and I'll remotely use the camera App on it,  from the iPad in my hands. The scope itself will be moved from target to target remotely from my iPhone in my other hand.

I'm poor, so I've well and truly overspent already! I need to use what I've got, which is:

  • Skywatcher 14" Dob Go-To, collapsible, with wifi dongle,
  • MacBook with ZWO's ASIStudio App,
  • HDMI output from MacBook to house cinema screen,
  • iPad with screen-share App to remotely manage the MacBook with camera App.,
  • iPhone with Skywatcher SynScan Pro to slew scope,
  • Sony a5000 mirrorless camera with HDMI and wifi output,
  • E-mount to attach a5000 to scope's focuser,
  • HDMI cable and capture card to go from Sony camera to MacBook,
  • ZWO ASI120MC-S astronomy camera with USB3 output, and
  • USB3 cable to go from ASI camera to MacBook.

Yes, I am trying to set all this up (either with the a5000 camera or the ASI astro camera, but I'm stumbling when I try to understand which way will work, and why I need to stack anything, and how I remotely focus on targets while looking at the cinema screen with my audience.

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On 28/02/2022 at 01:24, PeterC65 said:

I was looking at the spot where M101 is located a couple of nights ago but could see nothing. This got me wondering whether a camera might allow me to see fainter objects that I cannot see, and more detail in those I can see visually.

I don’t want to take photographs but I’m thinking I could replace the eyepiece with a camera and stream live video to a tablet via USB.

I’d like to buy a reasonable quality camera such as the ZWO ASI 224MC, but ZWO cameras don’t seem to operate as webcams, streaming live video natively to a tablet. It seems they need an App which gets poor reviews and would mean taking a chance that the App would work, and continue to work, on my Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Is there a simple way to stream live video from a ZWO camera to a tablet?

The Bresser MikrOkular camera looks OK, and seems to be simple. I’ve seen it described as a webcam which I assume means it can be used with the native video streaming capability of a tablet. But it also has an App which gets poor reviews. Does anyone have practical experience of using this camera to stream live video to a tablet?

Hi PeterC65,

I have received really good advice, from another forum, about exactly how to do this. Perhaps I shouldn't paste it here verbatim, so let me know how best to send it to you?

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4 hours ago, Scubayorp said:

Hi PeterC65,

I have received really good advice, from another forum, about exactly how to do this. Perhaps I shouldn't paste it here verbatim, so let me know how best to send it to you?

Thanks for the information you sent (via a PM). I'll download SharpCap and give that at go.

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7 hours ago, bosun21 said:

I think that you have to get the paid version of Sharpcap to get access to the live view function.

I downloaded the free version yesterday and was able to get live view from my PC webcam, so I think it is included in the free version as is live stacking. The Pro version seems to add the more advanced tracking and processing features.

 

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1 hour ago, Scubayorp said:

I've heard that also, and it is Windows only.

Yes, Windows only, so no use for a tablet only solution which is what I'd like ideally (camera connected via USB directly to tablet running suitable - reliable - software).

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Looking at your list of bits Scubayork, you have everything to get you off and running at EAA. Forget the Sony camera for a while and just use your asi120 camera with the asistudio and asi live software that came with the camera. 

Also, have you heard of backyard eos? That's for a canon camera, I know you can get one for a nikon, no idea if you can get it for a Sony but worth a search, you can do live view with that.

 

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When I started in astronomy in around 2003, I used the Phillips Toucan pro with the supplied software on Windows XP, simple to use and drew quite a crowd as I was outside the front of the flat where I live. We were all surprised at the views I was getting, although trying to get Orion focused was a challenge. There was no other cameras or software I could afford to further this avenue, but I was live streaming all be it planets more than DSOs. It's all gone a lot more complicated and expensive since.

Chaz

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Expensive most likely, complicated I'd say it's easier than ever, the newer auto telescopes like Stellina and Evscope make it hassle free. Personally I like the custom route of building a rig yourself to your liking.

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Late to this party but here goes a potential solution for live streaming to an audience. 

You need a live USB connection to your chosen webcam to a laptop or PC but that is already established.

From there your guest audience should have received a prior invite to a ZOOM conference. (You may need a licence for this but that's another matter).

Use the zoom share screen from there, simples. 

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I've made some progress with this so here's an update ...

I've come to the conclusion that it isn't possible to directly stream live video to a tablet reliably. The issue seems to be the lack of a suitable reliable tablet app for EEVA. As others have mentioned, it is possible to stream to a tablet but only by way of a PC, and if I'm doing that then I'd rather use the laptop to view the image and minimise complication. Using the laptop is better in other ways as the screen is bigger, the keyboard and mouse allow easier image control (I find), and the USB port on the laptop is mechanically more robust.

So my setup is now a camera connected directly to a laptop via USB.

I managed to pick up an Altair GPCAM2 327C from another SGL member at a good price. This camera is designed for EEVA which was a big attraction. On the laptop I'm using SharpCap and AltairCapture software which both seem to be aimed at EEVA. I've tried using NINA and APT and these will show live video but seem to be aimed at astrophotography rather than EEVA so they seem over complicated. I downloaded Jocular as this software is mentioned a lot on SGL but it only supports live video from ZWO cameras and so can't be used with my Altair camera (with live video).

I've also been able to get live video from my Canon EOS 1100D and used this with SharpCap. However I can only get 1280x720 video rather than the 4272x2848 sensor resolution. This, and the larger sensor compared with the Altair camera, means that the Canon's pixel size in arcseconds is large and so it would be under-sampling with most of my scope / Barlow / reducer combinations. As I understand it, under-sampling means a lack of detail which is the thing I'm trying to see with EEVA so the Altair camera seems like a better bet. Both cameras are about as tricky to focus as my Binoviewer by the way with the refractor and the Newtonian (not the Mak, which will focus on anything). I've spent an afternoon testing all of the various combinations and now have a table!

I should mention that so far all of my testing has been in daylight as I'm not wanting to get up in the middle of the night. But I now have lots of new things to try when the nights draw in.

Assuming that EEVA works out for me, the notion of observing from warm indoors, possibly alongside the wife, is quite appealing. My mount (Sky-Watcher SynScan AZ GOTO) can be controlled via USB. I don't normally do this but yesterday I checked that it still works (the handset must NOT be in PC Direct mode, rather oddly). My plan now is to attach a USB hub to the mount, powered by the mount battery, run a single USB cable from the laptop inside to the mount outside, then connect the mount and the camera to the USB hub. A suitable hub is on its way for testing before I invest in cables.

 

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As far as I'm aware the skywatcher wifi dongle (I bought mine sh) would work with your mount, with this you could then use a tablet or phone or laptop to control the mount using the skywatcher synscan app or software.

Great update thanks for sharing

Edited by happy-kat
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On 01/07/2022 at 10:09, happy-kat said:

As far as I'm aware the skywatcher wifi dongle (I bought mine sh) would work with your mount, with this you could then use a tablet or phone or laptop to control the mount using the skywatcher synscan app or software.

Great update thanks for sharing

Yes that had crossed my mind. It would allow wireless control of the mount but I'd still need a cable for the USB camera connection. I'd have to remove the hand controller to use the WiFi dongle whereas the USB mount control cable plugs in to the hand controller which can still be used. I like having the hand controller available to use (for alignment for example) so the USB cable route is better for me.

Following on from my previous post I can report that the USB hub works well and the additional cables are now on order from FLO. The USB hub I bought is this one from Amazon. I'm very impressed with it. The case is nicely finished aluminium, each port can be switched on/off separately, the USB connection to the PC is via a proper USB 3.0 A to B cable and so can be unplugged, and it can be powered from a 12V centre positive 2.1mm DC plug (so the same standard plug that the mount and battery use). The hub seems to work without external power so that may just be needed for the quick charging port. I will try it on the end of a 5m cable and then decide whether to equip it with power at the mount.

 

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