Go Back   IceInSpace > Equipment > Software and Computers

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
  #1  
Old 21-02-2019, 04:31 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
Computer for mount and capture control

So, a toss up between putting this here or in the AP equipment section, mods feel free to move it if you think appropriate.

I am very much at the start of the AP journey, currently using my 9.25 SCT with a 0.63 reducer, thin OAG with an ASI290MM Mini guide cam and an ASI294 imaging camera. I have been using an old, slow, first generation Intel NUC Celeron to control the mount, run the guider and capture images via APT, which I am quite comfortable with. The problem is it is S.L.O.O.O.W.

Pretty much everything works OK so long as you leave it alone, the problem is plate solving, All Sky Plate Solver takes around 2 minutes to solve and unless a goto lands close to the expected target (Really close) Plate Solve 2 usually times out (At 300 seconds) trying to do a spiral search. Try to solve the same image on my PC in the house and ASPS solves in about 20 seconds and Plate Solve 2 pretty quickly, quickly enough that I never bothered to time it.

I am thinking about getting a current generation I5 NUC to replace it. I tried out my wife's current Gen I5 laptop and it solves in similar times to my desktop (Which is an I7 but years old)

I can build myself a NUC to image with for about $750 ignoring the OS and I can run it off my DC power setup as the current ones span an input voltage range anywhere from 12 to 19VDC. The poor little Celeron is 12VDC only and does not even like the 13.8V of most bench power supplies, it powers up and shuts down again immediately, the Intel supplied wall wart spits out 12.5V on the nose.

The plan is to mount the VESA bracket that comes with a NUC to the eyepiece tray and make a box to go over the top and keep the dew away. I have been remoting in to the NUC via my laptop and Teamviewer and plan to continue either ethernet connected or with a little 12V wifi router on low power mode, or with the NUC as a hotspot if I can arrange that.

Can anyone suggest something that is similarly priced or better for similar grunt in a small form factor and capable of being run direct from a 12VDC supply? Windows will be the required OS. Probably Win 10.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 21-02-2019, 05:33 PM
lazjen's Avatar
lazjen (Chris)
PI cult member

lazjen is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Flaxton, Qld
Posts: 1,580
I think you're on the right track there. I've got a NUC with Linux on it, but the principle still applied for the plate solving - the more powerful CPU was useful for that.

I suppose with more hunting around there might be a way to find something with an even smaller form factor, but the NUC was easy, I put an SSD in and it has copious USB ports (including USB3), and easy to drive off the DC supply.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 21-02-2019, 05:46 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
You have pretty well nailed my line of thought. Relatively cheap, small form factor, easy to power, enough grunt to do the job well, enough ports, all on the current ones are USB3 which would be nice for speeding up image transfer as my camera port and cable are USB3, 250GB or so SSD will be plenty for Windoze and a weekend of imaging. I am pretty sure that I have some spare properly licensed copies of W7 around too and have read that while the upgrade is not still automatic you can manually do a free W7 to W10 upgrade with a bit of work. Saves paying for an OS, and in fact even an unlicensed version of W10 works just fine. I have been using that on the NUC for two months now, all you get is a limitation in customising the display and a small "Nag" overlay in one corner of the screen.


I just need a 12V supplied router that I can dial the wifi power level down on (It will only need to work for maybe 20M) and I could image from inside the tent in the warm once things are up and running. I was looking at if I can get away with direct connection via ethernet or wifi but it is looking like a pain, easier to just put a cheap router in as the middle man when I am in the field away from the home network.


Now I am considering taking the big deep breath and drilling holes in my mount to take the power and USB cables up through the RA axis with the polar scope removed. If I can make a different mount for my Polemaster I could run them straight up the middle with a bit of work to keep them away from the Dec shaft.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 21-02-2019, 07:07 PM
Camelopardalis's Avatar
Camelopardalis (Dunk)
Drifting from the pole

Camelopardalis is online now
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 4,441
Paul, I bought the NUC8i5BEH4 and I’m very happy with it. It has the i5-8259U quad core and is suitably speedy compared to the Atom based NUCs. The bonus with the taller form factor is that they have space for both M.2 and 2.5” SATA storage.

I’ve not found anything else with such a balance between size, convenience and performance.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 21-02-2019, 07:13 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
Pretty much exactly the one I was looking at, though I considered the BEK version as well for the slimmer form factor. I suppose with the BEH at least I could just get a reasonably cheap M.2 drive as a boot and storage drive and if space got tight, add a 2.5" form SSD for extra storage.


I found last time I looked at them a lot of people were bit dismissive of them and preferred FitPC's and similar. But I figure I can afford to blow two of these up from dew before the FitPC looks at all like a deal. And with a little protection over them and the heat produced internally they would be no worse than the laptops you see all over imaging fields, and a lot cheaper.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 21-02-2019, 07:19 PM
Camelopardalis's Avatar
Camelopardalis (Dunk)
Drifting from the pole

Camelopardalis is online now
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 4,441
I use a $2 hobby box I got from the reject shop, turned on it’s side so the NUC sits inside and mostly protected from the elements but easily accessible.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 21-02-2019, 07:32 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
I was going to make a couple of clamps to fit the VESA bracket that comes with each NUC to the eyepiece tray, then have the NUC right side up on that, I was just thinking about how to cover it, I reckon a tupperware tub with some slots to run cables through will be the ticket, with a dot of velcro to keep it form blowing off if it gets windy.

I am redoing my power system too, it seems that my 12V supply holds up pretty well under load so I am going to put a small SLA battery in a case with it and cable the both of them out to panel mount DT connectors for the gear and maybe a couple of lighter socket profile USB ports to keep phones and so on going. Maybe a voltmeter as well. The battery really only being there to float it over any instances of power cords getting kicked out at star parties, or circuit breaker trips. Been there done that at star parties, only an irritant for visual use but pretty bad times for imagers when all their mounts die at once.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 21-02-2019, 09:02 PM
JimsShed's Avatar
JimsShed (Jim)
Registered User

JimsShed is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Bellbowrie
Posts: 158
Yep I also put an i5 NUC on my mount. For my setup I was able to attach the vesa plate to the under side of the scope’s dovetail plate because it has an adequate rear overhang. I can easily unclip the nuc but holds onto the vesa plate very securely at all angles.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 22-02-2019, 12:00 AM
Hemi
Registered User

Hemi is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Darwin
Posts: 179
I just ordered a nuc 8i7beh4. For exactly the same reasons. Mainly for EAA and early footsteps in imaging. I’ve been using a very old Mac mini, as described in another thread, but it was just too slow, usb 2 only and behaved erratically, despite sticking a ssd in! I’ve gone a bit OTT and ordered 32gb ram and a 500gb m2 nvme for it! It’s mainly for the mount/capture side of things but the i7 coffee lake should handle some post processing reasonably as well so maxed it out. I’ve also got a few very old, now dead, desktops with old win 7 pro licenses and they come in very handy with new installs. Remote Desktop is now a win 10 pro only feature!! Haven’t decided how I’ll power it yet.

Clear skies

Hemi
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 22-02-2019, 06:19 AM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
Remote Desktop also has a cousin, remote assistance I think it was called, but I am not sure that it would work for headless applications, I think the only way to start it was for the user of the pc to be remotely accessed to request the assistance. I had to use it via keystrokes to get in to my wife’s old laptop when she broke the screen.

Looks like I will be staying with TeamViewer, I know they had a data breach a while back, up I am using it without an account for LAN access only.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 22-02-2019, 04:24 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
Went out and got one today, they only had an 8i5BEK but cut the price to match the BEH, so I chucked in a 500G M.2 drive and called it done. I do like dealing with someone who would rather cut his price a bit than have me go to another store, I did not even have to ask.



All I really lose is the ability to add a second SSD, which for an imaging PC I am really unlikely to do given I stuck a 500G one in it.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 22-02-2019, 07:20 PM
Camelopardalis's Avatar
Camelopardalis (Dunk)
Drifting from the pole

Camelopardalis is online now
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 4,441
Congrats
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 22-02-2019, 09:03 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
On the only stars I got tonight (Clouds rolled in just on dark) it plate solved in about 12 seconds with all sky plate solver and offsetting the starting point by about 30 seconds in RA it solved with Plate Solve 2 in about 45 seconds. That is down from about 160 seconds for ASPS and timeouts at 300 seconds for PS2.


Sod the clouds, I was hoping to add some sync points in EQMOD to improve the gotos.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 23-02-2019, 12:48 AM
Hemi
Registered User

Hemi is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Darwin
Posts: 179
Nice purchase.... I prefer the bekís low profile, itís significantly smaller than the Beh. Unfortunately the 8i7 doesnt seem to come in the bek, but only the beh. Alas, living in Darwin usually means you just canít go to a store and pick one up. Ordered from umart and tracker says wonít get here till 1 March. Thatís 10 days from order/dispatch. Youíve got to love our postal systems!

😀😀😀

Hemi
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 23-02-2019, 07:04 AM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
I was quite up in the air about which one to get, the BEH having the advantage of more space for hard drives, the main thing between them for me was cost and the bloke I bought from made that a non issue, he did things skinny enough that I added $50 back in to bump it up to a bigger SSD and negate the rest of the issue with the BEK.

Now, focuser next. I have decided that hand focus is a mugs game for imaging, I will probably buy one of the new Celestron focus motors, no reason it should not be as accurate as anything else and it is designed to fit what I have, I just have to get a part to go back to a stock focus knob.


I did find a Starizona focus motor to fit my Feathertouch focuser, but it is triple the price of the Celestron one.



Aus post
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 23-02-2019, 10:26 AM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
A good bit of a success there I think. I tried stress testing it today by blind solving the only image with any stars I managed to get last night then solving it with PS2 with bigger and bigger offsets in the initial position.

The last one I did it would solve in just over four and a half minutes with an 8 degree offset in Dec in the initial position. Five degrees solved in about two and a half minutes. Two degrees off solved in 21 seconds. If a goto is more than a couple of degrees off, a successful plate solve is the least of my troubles.

With the ye olde Celeron if the target was much more than just off the screen it timed out at 300 seconds without solving!


I meant to add before, the image download occurs a hell of a lot faster than on the old celery. That took three or so seconds and this one is around 1 second, both on USB3 ports to match the cable and camera.

Last edited by The_bluester; 23-02-2019 at 11:17 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 23-02-2019, 11:25 AM
Camelopardalis's Avatar
Camelopardalis (Dunk)
Drifting from the pole

Camelopardalis is online now
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 4,441
That’s quite an upgrade
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 23-02-2019, 12:12 PM
Hemi
Registered User

Hemi is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Darwin
Posts: 179
Hah!

Bluester, we seem to be living in a parallel universe! I am debating the same re focusing. I have a feather touch on my c925. And their motor focuser is expensive especially with wireless. I am contemplating switching back to the standard celestron focus knob and buying their new motor focus. It has good reviews on cloudy. But I do love the feather touch for manual.

H
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 23-02-2019, 12:28 PM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
I mean focus is not difficult, but I don't really want to have to get up every hour or two to refocus, and it definitely does shift as the tube cools.

Last edited by The_bluester; 23-02-2019 at 12:40 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 24-02-2019, 07:16 AM
The_bluester's Avatar
The_bluester (Paul)
Registered User

The_bluester is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kilmore, Australia
Posts: 1,653
Got a chance to live test it last night, much better in real use than the old one. Blind solves in about 18 seconds and typically spiral search solves in around 30 seconds depending on how far off target it landed. I had to be up at a reasonable hour or I would have tested automated meridian flips too.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +10. The time is now 09:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.8.7 | Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Advertisement
Lunatico Astronomical
Advertisement
SkyWatcher WiFi Adaptor
Advertisement
NexDome Observatories
Advertisement
Bintel
Advertisement
OzScopes Authorised Dealer
Advertisement
Interest Free Finance
Advertisement
SkyWatcher 2018 Catalogue
Advertisement
Astronomy and Electronics Centre
Advertisement