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Remote control of Asiair 100m away ?


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Hi

I have an imaging rig that is typically set up at the end of the garden about 100m from my house. I have and Asiair pro which handles  the imaging sequencing, mount, camera, guiding, focussing etc etc. 
I can obviously control this all via my iPad if I’m standing next to the rig, but my question is how can I control it all from the comfort of my home 100m away? My home WiFi obviously doesn’t reach that far nor can broadcast a signal that far from the Asiair. 
if it helps at all there is mains power at about the halfway point.

Any suggestions gratefully received 

thanks 

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You could broaden your home wifi signal with a mesh, and put a TP link travel router on your asiair, that connects to your home wifi. 

Whenever you are connected to your home wifi, you can control the asiair as if you were standing next to it. 
 

It works with any router, but the TP one is light, can be powered through the asiair, and if you know where to 3d-print, you can download a contraption on thingiverse that holds it firm on the back of the asiair. (That way you keep it free for cooling) 

 

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I only have a small city garden, the rig is just 6 meters away from the back door. Still, I placed a wifi mesh under the balcony (in a waterproof box) to extend my signal in the garden. 
For the 100m range, I’d look into wifi solutions over your electric net. (Powerline wifi adapter) One receiver at the setup, another one indoors, that should work just fine! 

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Posted (edited)

Steve Nickolls uses an Ethernet cable to control his remote mount and imaging gear, using the StarTech USB over ethernet system.

In your case though, as the ASIAir has an Ethernet port, it may be a simpler arrangement, though to be honest, that's a bit beyond my knowledge base :wink2:. Perhaps something like this?

https://www.startech.com/en-gb/networking-io/usb31000s

Ian

 

Edited by The Admiral
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35 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

Steve Nickolls uses an Ethernet cable to control his remote mount and imaging gear, using the StarTech USB over ethernet system.

In your case though, as the ASIAir has an Ethernet port, it may be a simpler arrangement, though to be honest, that's a bit beyond my knowledge base :wink2:. Perhaps something like this?

https://www.startech.com/en-gb/networking-io/usb31000s

Ian

 

Thanks I’ll check it out, networks aren’t really my thing so all help is appreciated - thanks 

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20 minutes ago, Coriorda said:

Thanks I’ll check it out, networks aren’t really my thing so all help is appreciated - thanks 

Me neither! It may not be so straightforward if you want to use a tablet and the ASI app, rather than a PC/laptop. It has set me thinking though, there ought to be a way.

Ian

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I have a similar setup and connect to the ASiAir from the house using ethernet and and a powerline adapter.  It's a really simple setup - one adapter plugs into a main socket in the house with a ethernet cable cable connecting that to your router.  That means that every other electrical wall socket now connects to the router including the sockets in the observatory.  The second powerline adapter plugs into a socket near your rig and an ethernet cable connects that to your ASiAir.  If you wish you can use a 3rd adapter to plug into any other socket in your house to give you flexibility as to where you want to work from. Alternatively you can connect your laptop (via ethernet cable) direct to your router if you sit nearby it.  Thereafter connection to the ASiAir is by ethernet and is much more stable than wifi.

Jim

TP Powerline Adapter

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38 minutes ago, saac said:

That means that every other electrical wall socket now connects to the router including the sockets in the observatory

Some years ago I tried a powerline adapter so that I could get our TV tuner/recorder connected to the internet. I only got about 3.5Mbps IIRC. Can the mains circuitry be fast enough to get an image transferred for viewing in short order?

Ian

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10 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

Some years ago I tried a powerline adapter so that I could get our TV tuner/recorder connected to the internet. I only got about 3.5Mbps IIRC. Can the mains circuitry be fast enough to get an image transferred for viewing in short order?

Ian

My ASIAIR saves images to USB stick then have to remove that to  transfer them to PC after session, not sure if it's even possible to download them on the fly.

Dave

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10 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

Some years ago I tried a powerline adapter so that I could get our TV tuner/recorder connected to the internet. I only got about 3.5Mbps IIRC. Can the mains circuitry be fast enough to get an image transferred for viewing in short order?

Ian

Most routers now operate with Gigabit LAN ports so with the powerline adapters you can have options of over 1000 Mbs over ethernet.  I honestly haven't noticed any delay with image download times. 

Jim 

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5 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

My ASIAIR saves images to USB stick then have to remove that to  transfer them to PC after session, not sure if it's even possible to download them on the fly.

Dave

Mines is the same Davey but I think what we are talking about is the preview which you can access remotely.  I don't know why they didn't provide the functionality to download files remotely. It much surely feature on a future update. 

Jim

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9 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

My ASIAIR saves images to USB stick then have to remove that to  transfer them to PC after session, not sure if it's even possible to download them on the fly.

Dave

I wasn't meaning to download the taken images Dave, that would indeed go onto some local storage medium, but rather I was thinking of the images you get whilst setting up and running, which are visible on the ASIAir App screen. Not sure how big those proxies are though.

Ian

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15 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

I wasn't meaning to download the taken images Dave, that would indeed go onto some local storage medium, but rather I was thinking of the images you get whilst setting up and running, which are visible on the ASIAir App screen. Not sure how big those proxies are though.

Ian

That's what I was talking about, these are the preview images. Those together with live video are easily handled by the powerline adapter speed is not an issue at all. But I do think a future update from ZWO will surely address the lack of ability to download images remotely, seems entirely sensible. 

Jim

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I use an iPad for the ASIAIR don't know if Apple have something like Windows remote desktop for remote access, I use a USB WiFi extender from my obs'y at the bottom of the garden, not quite 100 feet away, to monitor it from indoors using RDP.

Dave

 

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I haven't read every post in detail, but here is my take on the issues/problems.

The powerline adapters are OK for short runs of mains cable. That being up to a few tens of metres.
The cable capacitance causes signal loss that is proportional to length. Some boxes are better than others.
As an example, I use powerline adapters around the (ordinary size) house and they are OK.
The 40M or so of cable from consumer unit to observatory did not work.

Wifi signals are generally good for 10M/20M, maybe a bit more, if there is not too much signal loss.
Line of sight is the best path.
Signal loss is caused anything solid and anything with a moisture content.
Range is also influenced by locally generated electrical noise.

A wood obsevatory wall causes significant loss. Brick walls are awful.
If you have an alumium framed conservatory, it can approximate to a faraday cage!
Siting either end of the link next to a computer, or anything with a microprocessor, can restrict range.

The best thing to do is to use a directional antenna outside the observatory.
A directional antenna helps by putting most of the radio transmission in the right direction and ignoring incoming signals from the wrong direction.
Use a good quality cable to connect your radio kit to the antenna. Cheap cables are like leaky hose pipes.
This is the solution I adopted. But don't forget the aerial performance will degrade as metals tarnish. The RF feed cable will do the same as it absorbs moisture.
Make sure to buy quality products, not the cheapest. Otherwise you will be replacing parts frequently.

After all of this, you can start to worry about whether to piggy back on your home wifi, or setting up a new network.
There is no point in putting loads of effort into clever software techniques if the signal path is not good.
Contrary to situations shown Hollywood productions, software cannot mend hardware that doesn't do the job🤔

Download one of the free wifi analyser packages to run on a tablet and look around to see how busy your immediate surroundings are.
You may choose your link between 2.4 & 5GHz. Or specify channels that are generally not in use.
This will also help you to check that your intended signal path gives good results.

HTH, David.
 

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

I use an iPad for the ASIAIR don't know if Apple have something like Windows remote desktop for remote access, I use a USB WiFi extender from my obs'y at the bottom of the garden, not quite 100 feet away, to monitor it from indoors using RDP.

Dave

 

I started off using an iPad Davey and all worked really well. My obsy is about 50 m from the house and I got the very occasional wifi drop out. My next solution was to use a TP powerlink adapter that also had a wifi extender and that boosted the wifi in the obsy. This had the added benefit of allowing me to use the likes of my Alexa/Echo speakers which was cool :)   I guess for no other great reason other than it was possible I then connected the ASiAir directly by ethernet cable to the powerline adapter and used a laptop (Win 11 running ASiAir thru BlusStacks) - It just made sense with a permeant setup I guess.  I've only been using the ASiAir properly since Jan of this year and I must admit I am impressed - it just makes everything work without any major drama.  The on board plate solving is great  - this is the first time I've been really able to lock onto and frame targets quickly.  It is a great little bit of kit; I just wish they would open up a little and allow it to talk to a wider range of astro equipment (non ZWO). 

Jim 

Edited by saac
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I am about 150m from the observatory, but there is mains power to it. I use powerline connectors. Just checked and my bandwidth is currently 70 Mbit/s. Plenty enough for remote control and live viewing of images. I use a mini PC at the pier for all the local control and data acquisition, but I also download to my main PC during a run. I also have an ethernet connected security camera running so I can see what is happening in the observatory.

So for me powerline works fine. The bandwidth you get depends on the quality/noise of your wiring, and there is one room in the house where I can't seem to make the powerline adapters work, but mostly they are rock solid.

I have a dedicated externally mounted wi-fi access point in the garden, but it does not reach the observatory - too many trees in the way - but i can get 50-60m if I have line of sight.

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I setup my ASIAIR on my terrace, which luckily isn't 100m away from my bed :) but still, the Wi-Fi signal isn't very strong here. Not to mention that the Wi-Fi signal of the ASIAIR Pro is really bad, even when I'm standing next to it.

I basically had 2 needs, I suppose you have the same (just with a little more range):

  1. Have a fast Wi-Fi connection from the ipad to the ASIAIR while doing the polar alignment, focusing, etc.
  2. Have a fast connection from the house, so I can control it from my bed, computer, etc.

So what I did is that I run an Ethernet cable through the walls, from my home router to a wall socket, next to the terrace door. From here an ethernet cable to a box, under my astro setup, in which lives a small travel router (as well as the electric stuff). From the travel router, I run a 3rd ethernet cable to the ASIAIR. 

This works great for me, because when connected to the travel router's Wi-Fi outside, I can control the ASIAIR on my iPad. It's really fast and there's no connection issue like with the ASIAIR. My 26 megapixels image download in just a second.

When I'm back inside, the travel router is connected to my home network via Ethernet. So my PC, phone, iPad, connected to the home Wi-Fi, are therefore also connected to my ASIAIR. And everything is fast thanks to Ethernet, as if I were standing next to the mount. I only have to switch my iPad from the travel router's Wi-Fi to the home Wi-Fi, but usually it does it automatically due to the better signal.

Ethernet is great because it works on long distances. The maximum range of Ethernet cable is ~100m, so that could work for you. You can also use a range extender somewhere in the middle, or a small router, if the range/speed isn't enough.

I powerline adapters, but I got mixed results. The download speed wasn't great, sometimes it dropped. Upload speed was terrible for some reason. I guess it really depends on your electrical installation. 

If you were to reproduce what I did, you would need:

  1. A Wi-Fi repeater, in or very close to your house, that will be used as some kind of antenna: it connects to your home Wi-Fi and broadcasts its signal to the ethernet port.
  2. A 100m cable, preferably one that is designed for outdoor use (example: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Tronic-Ethernet-Network-Weatherproof-Black/dp/B0816GP5FC/ref=sr_1_3). You connect the 100m cable to the Wi-Fi repeater's Ethernet port.
  3. A Wi-Fi router near your telescope, to which you connect the 100m cable (WAN port), and when you connect to its Wi-Fi, you should be connected to your home network. Any Wi-Fi router would work really, even a cheap 2nd hand one. I went for a small travel router, powered via USB, because it takes less space and I only have 3 power plugs.
  4. A 2nd Ethernet cable from the small router near your telescope, to the ASIAIR. This way you discard the ASIAIR's Wi-Fi completely, and everything is much faster. It's optional of course, but since you already run a power cable to the ASIAIR, why not add an ethernet cable.

Hope that helps :) 

 

 

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Space Oddities said:

A 2nd Ethernet cable from the small router near your telescope, to the ASIAIR.

Would I be correct in assuming that you could do away with this if you had an ASIAir Plus, and just connected the long LAN cable to the ASIAir? Local to the ASIAir you could control through its own WiFi, and remotely via the house WiFi.

Ian

 

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Absolutely. I use a travel router mainly because the Pro's Wi-Fi is very weak, but also because I might add a 2nd rig. This way I have only one Wi-Fi to connect to, and can run 2 cables from the travel router to the 2 rigs.

But if you have an ASIAIR Plus and only one setup, then yes!

 

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