View Full Version here: : How do you setup a wireless observatory?
15-08-2010, 08:18 PM
I would like to make my new observatory wireless in that I want to control from inside the house rather than having to physically go to the observatory computer.
The observatory computer runs XP. I have a Netgear wireless hub. I have heard mention of remote desktop as a function in XP although when I looked for it I couldn't find it. Perhaps it is a download from Microsoft.
The house room is about 70 metres from the observatory which has colorbond walls.
15-08-2010, 08:48 PM
I would advise to run a hardline from the house to the obs then use a remote desktop on the host machine in the obs. Wireless is ok but it tends to drop in and out by nature. You don't want guiding interrupted or sub downloads halted because of network interrupts. Wireless would be adding another layer of potential trouble IMHO.
...or are you running all the electronic in the OBS with a separate machine that runs all the guiding/acquisition software hardwired to the scope and you only want to access it wirelessly to collect subs across the wireless when they're saved locally? That works fine. That's what I do.
15-08-2010, 09:29 PM
Remote desktop is fine on xp but you need XP Pro to use the server feature .
Wireless would be fine as the rd session dropping won't affect the apps running on the server machine.
From memory you can find the RD server by right clicking on my computer and selecting properties then the remote tab. If I get a chance tomorrow I'll put up a couple of screenshots.
15-08-2010, 09:31 PM
Download TightVNC works great XPPRO has remote :thumbsup:
15-08-2010, 09:43 PM
I agree with Mark. A cat5 cable is preferable.
Remote console extenders are an easy way to have a hardware based remote control for your PC in the observatory. eg:
You plug a monitor, mouse and keyboard in the house and a long cat5 to the observatory PC with its own monitor, mouse and keyboard. This is a common approach in IT server mangement and industrial applications. Primitive but effective.
I still stick to the old reliable serial connection for controlling my PME. Software Bisque also recommends steering clear of wireless in this situation.
I am using Tightvnc and it works perfect every time over wireless.
Very easy to setup and for free.
15-08-2010, 10:24 PM
Will regular wireless go 70m, even with an extender?, sounds a bit far to me. My obs is 20m from the house and the diversity "Max range" wireless I have is a tad slow and unreliable, shows "low" signal.
15-08-2010, 10:31 PM
pmrid put a uhf tv antenna on one or maybe both ends and it has to be about 200meters between house and obs.
An directional antenna on the roof might take care of that.
But then again a bit of cable will be cheaper.
16-08-2010, 05:48 AM
there's several things with wirelss
if you have the old G version, 1 antenna, they have issues if not line of sight and signal strength, eg wall thicknesses and type.
The N version either 2 or 3 antennas has longer distance, not due to power, but because it can calculate the signal by the differences in the received signals. So N gives you speed and distance under the right circumstances. I use antenna extenders, it's a base with connectors for 3 antennas and 1.2 metres of cable, can be used by the base or pc card. Edimax is the only one readily available, $31, although there are others.
This will give you flexibility to get a strong signal by placement, eg kitchen window antenna, kitchen bench for the base, and in the obsevatory you can have the pc where ever you like and place the antenna closer to the line back to the house.
Also one of the band used coincides with the microwave oven, so avoid that one if the base is in the kitchen, hence the move to 5ghz from the std 2.4ghz.
I'd go wireless because it's a pain bury 20m of cat 5 or 6 cable, and then the connection point in the house.
Wireless n would be up and running in an hour, and you can add extenders to well extend the network if you you have a weak signal along the path from the eg front of the house where the access point is to the back of the house (extender at back, another access point).
16-08-2010, 07:22 AM
I'm another swayed towards a wired LAN setup.
I only say this because my efforts to get a wireless system going
reliably never really panned out.
I'd put most, if not all of that down to ignorance of all things
Anyhoo, my wired LAN from house to dome has worked fine for a few
years now, I drive the scope over the LAN from inside using RD and Win XP.
I usually run the imager capture program, Cartes Du Ciel as the scope
drive interface and Bartels Scope exe on the Dome laptop (connected to
the dome PC via serial 3 wire).
I still have to manually go outside and nudge the dome azimuth by hand
every half hour or so.
A wired LAN could have a disadvantage over a Wireless LAN in that
any nearby lightning strike or static discharge could kill everything inside your house via
the dome or vice versa I suppose.
16-08-2010, 08:17 AM
As Tandum has mentioned in this thread, I have put up a couple of UHF TV dishes and beam my wireless the 100 metres from house to Obs with ease - also allows me access to my internet connection from the Obs which I find helpful at times of 'inactivity'. Also have found I can finish a night of imaging and then let the system load the several gigs of subs across to my NAS while I get some sleep.
The only downside I have noticed is that I sometimes seem to induce PHD guiding errors if I logon from the house while the Obs PC is running everything. It's a 2.8 GHz dual-core Pentium machine but some programs seem to hog almost all its resources at different times. Nebulosity is a main culprit. I run EQMOD, Cartes de Ciel, PHD and Nebulosity together and it seems that RD will sometimes interrupt one or more of them sufficiently to seriously interfere with guiding.
16-08-2010, 08:25 AM
I guess I'm pro wirelss becasue I work in IT, so if something doesn't work I know WHY. Wired is always better, my whole new house is getting hard wired to the hilt, and you can also add a phone or intercom outside, and wireless is a supplement. BUT there are instances where wireless has a benefit, eg dig up the back yard, crawl under the house, etc.
The jobs I do, the wireless often gives you access where wired would be too expensive, or time consuming. If there is an existing duct from the house to the obsevatory eg for 240v, then getting the cable there isn't an issue, if not ...... can be alot of work.
And there is that old G standard, and the newer N standard in wireless. big differences in performance.
And you can sit in the backyard and use the notebook on a sunny day.
16-08-2010, 08:36 AM
Wireless is OK..
But, being a wireless person... I would go for wired :P.
First, reliability (70metres) is an issue here. And any kind of interference may compromise the reception (well, not likely in rural areas.. except in case of storms with lightning)
Second, there are some regulations about radiated power in certain bands (and using directional antennas means stronger EM field in certain places.. Of course, all is OK if nobody complains, and in Austalia nobody cares about this.. but still..)
The lighting issue can be taken care of by optical insulators (opto-couplers).
And how about power? If you are using 240V, then optical insulation may be pretty academic.. and lightning could do a damage even if local power (solar) is used, if there is no proper lightning rod installed.
When I will be building my observatory, I will use optical fibres for communication (not sure how available this is to the rest of you guys, though.. but for me the whole system is already in my drawer here at work ;) )
16-08-2010, 08:58 AM
Very interesting thread and some great replies. Thank you so much for responding, you guys have a wealth of data.
On 2nd thought it is probably less than 70 metres and more like 40-45. I think I'll measure it.
Wired seems preferable perhaps with a surge protector in case of lighting in summer.
20 metres of the 40 would be under the house which has easy access, so its only about 15 metres from the house to the wall of the observatory.
My wireless digital phone works in the observatory but the reception is a bit so so. There's a bit of a test.
If I do wireless then all I need is a wireless hub plugged into the observatory computer USB. Do I need to set anything else on the observatory computer? Do I set up a wireless network with the house controlling computer?
I downloaded Tightvnc and checked the remote settings on the house computer.
Does it matter the house computer is Windows Vista or Windows 7 and the observatory computer XP?
Thanks in advance. There's a lot of knowledge here on this topic.
16-08-2010, 10:44 AM
Do you have power to the observatory? Have you considered Ethernet over the power lines (converters at both ends). Jaycar has a unit at $180 that you might want to look at. Wireless speed is dependant on signal quality. You may be able to get a wireless connection but that will be pretty useless if the connection is very slow.
It doesnt matter with tightvnc as long as the firewall works nice :P
PS: a wired connection has one BIG advantage, you can use waku up on lan and switch on the computer in the obs with a magic packet.
This way you only have to get out to open the obs roof :)
16-08-2010, 05:39 PM
I'd injext a note of caution about EOP devices. I've tried two different types (Brands) and have found them to be somewhat unreliable and very sensitive to moving from one circuit to another within your own power distribution grid. Ideally, you would like to 'try-before-you-buy' with this I think.
16-08-2010, 07:45 PM
Yes I have power in the observatory. A nice heater under the computer table - maybe a kettle and some tea bags soon as well. Hmm better not make it too comfortable or I'll end up living in there like a hermit!
Could be handy. Its more I want to be able to check on images as they progress throughout the night and perhaps redo a focus check after temps have dropped.
Sounds like its still a bit of beta technology. I think the hard wire sounds appealing.
17-08-2010, 04:06 AM
With the kit you have No 1:- is ACP :thumbsup:
It has a very nice web interface that allows limited functional control of your equipment (scope and camera). You just assign the user an account, password and set their privileges. Those privileges consist of the ability to compress images, web uploading, access to the built in FTP server, script execution or admin rights.
The guru for remote access is Marcus
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