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Old 31-12-2018, 10:38 AM
thercman (Greg)
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Will any old laptop work?

Hey guys,

I am setting up my imaging rig and will need a laptop to run the setup. Can I pick up any off the shelf $400 laptop to run the system? It won't be used for processing that will be done on my desktop...

On a side note, are there options to guide etc using my iPad?
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Old 31-12-2018, 11:36 AM
glend (Glen)
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ZWO have a WiFi guide setup you might have a look at:

https://www.bintel.com.au/product/as...v=6cc98ba2045f

It supports Apple IOS and Android. It is also on sale at the moment if you use the Bintel discount code.
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Old 31-12-2018, 12:17 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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if you going to do planetary capture it would be worth considering a laptop with ssd and usb 3. but regular guiding / capture, an old laptop is fine.
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Old 31-12-2018, 04:18 PM
thercman (Greg)
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Thanks guys... I'll look into the ZWO wifi module...
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:28 PM
angelgirl (Melvin)
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Hello from not very sunny britain, I do mostly imaging of the Sun and use either a ZWO 120 mono camera ( on my Lunt 50, no other camera works as well) or a Grasshopper IMX 174, with ZWO it works ok on usb 2 and a normal hard drive BUT the Grasshopper needs a usb 3 and a ssd. I use for capture software, Sharpcap and my other sofware is Autostakker, Registax and Photoshop 2.
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Old 14-01-2019, 10:10 AM
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sil (Steve)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustigsmed View Post
if you going to do planetary capture it would be worth considering a laptop with ssd and usb 3. but regular guiding / capture, an old laptop is fine.
this is the answer you are looking for.
you CAN capture with HDD and USB2 but you WILL not be able to use your camera at its best if at all. USB3 and SSD are essential for stable captures and the rest of the laptop is irrelevant so yes a cheapie or old one will do otherwise.
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  #7  
Old 14-01-2019, 01:08 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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"It really depends" is the answer.

I am currently dipping my toe more in to AP and am giving new software and hardware a crack at once. I am using EQMOD to control my mount, PHD2 for Guiding and APT to control my capture and to drive the other two. I am giving it a crack at running under Windows 10 on an older Intel NUC and it is moderately OK but very slow on plate solving. It is slower than a cheap old laptop I was using before it. I tried out the NUC as while it is old it has one USB3 port which the laptop lacked and I have the imaging camera connected to that.

I am toying with the idea of running a later NUC with a higher specification to improve plate solving speed and general responsiveness, if I recall correctly the later ones all run on anything from 12 to 19VDC, the 12V side obviously being very useful for being able to run the whole show from a 12V power supply. The NUC is small enough to put a VESA bracket on my mount and actually site the NUC right there where the action is.

Last edited by The_bluester; 14-01-2019 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 14-01-2019, 05:14 PM
Pepper (Steve)
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My little eeepc I’ve had for ten years works with the software I’m trying to get my head around.
Puny little 1mega hurts and a smidge under a meg of ram.
Struggles but works.
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  #9  
Old 14-01-2019, 06:35 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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I ended up investing in a Hot Shot MSI gaming machine with 16Gb ram, 1Tb SSD drive and USB3
It is FAST!!!!!
I use it with ASI 174 and ASI 1600 for solar imaging, FireCapture AS3!
Works 100%
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  #10  
Old 14-01-2019, 07:50 PM
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Greg, might be an idea to share specs and model of the $400US models you're thinking about along with applications as people have said (is it guiding and long exposure acquisition, or any need for high frame rate planetary). Anything else you might be tempted to run or play with worth sharing too.

Other things I'd suggest thinking about:

- screen size (very small, light portable "netbooks" can have small screens and lower res - its nice to be able to read what you're doing and spread out your applications though)
- dimmable and backlit keyboard (really miss this off my old laptop surprisingly)
- decent USB

Most new laptops nowadays will have at least a couple of USB ports (3 is nice for astro), SSD not essential but nice for fast booting, ensure you have enough space (unlikely to be an issue).


I've bought my last couple of laptops as refurbed units from local auction site. Usually have full warranty and you get a bit more power at lower cost - if you have anything like that nearby.
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Old 14-01-2019, 07:59 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Rob,
I disagree....
The SSD drive is almost mandatory for fast frame solar/ planetary imaging.
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  #12  
Old 15-01-2019, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Rob,
I disagree....
The SSD drive is almost mandatory for fast frame solar/ planetary imaging.
absolutely mandartory I say for fast imaging. hdd is ok for laptop drive with a usb3 ssd just for capture . anyone saying else is getting dropped frame (ie data loss) and /or using their cam below its performance. since the original question didn't include details we can only guess. for specific hardware/software control see manufacturers minimum system specs.

Merlin's gaming laptop covers all uses with ease, so if you can pick up last generation gaming laptop for cheap (and you can if you look) it'll work well for years for most uses.

Personally I say to avoid using the machine for anything except specifically one use like capture. No internet. no processing. and isolation means stability and no worries. capture direct to external usb3 ssd device, then you can plug into any other machine for backing up safely and processing.
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Old 16-01-2019, 09:24 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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Like merlin66 I bit the bullet and went down the gaming machine path and bought a HP Omen 15” laptop which has 32GB of ram
It does everything for my AP plus more
You have to pay for fast machines
If you have the money I can certainly recommend an MSI or HP Omen gaming laptop for your AP requirements
Cheers
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  #14  
Old 17-01-2019, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Rob,
I disagree....
The SSD drive is almost mandatory for fast frame solar/ planetary imaging.
Fair call - and SSDs becoming much more common anyway
(Unless......fast planetary/solar imaging is not on the menu.....)
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  #15  
Old 23-01-2019, 06:35 PM
thercman (Greg)
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Hey guys! Thanks for the replies!

Well, I am interesting primarily in DSO imaging. I have a pretty fast desktop PC for processing so I don't want to spend a ton of cash on the laptop. I don't really like working on them anyway so it would only be used for this application. I did go to Best Buy the other day looking over the models on display to see what I could get for $400-$500. The answer is, not much. Even if I was to spend a couple hundred more I would only be getting 128-256gb SSD. Really?!? I have that much storage in my iPad!!! I'm still not sure if a laptop is the way to go. With that said, I have been looking at the ZWO ASIair as an alternative. I do worry about the WiFi connection as a possible fail point though unless the ASIair would continue to correct tracking without being connected to the iPad. With a laptop I would be hard-wired to the mount. *shrug*
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  #16  
Old 23-01-2019, 08:12 PM
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Camelopardalis (Dunk)
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Greg, I use an Intel NUC connected to the telescope and camera, and control it over wifi from my laptop/tablet. Several benefits to this approach:
  • they’re relatively inexpensive
  • they run off 12v for use at a dark site
  • small and easy to cover up to avoid dew
  • wifi control allows you to stay inside away from the elements/wildlife

For DSO imaging, you don’t need a high-spec model...mine has a quad core Atom chip which even running Windows 10 is sufficient to run EQMod for mount control, PHD2 guiding and image capture software without breaking a sweat.
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  #17  
Old 23-01-2019, 08:24 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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I am using a NUC as well at the moment a 2820 Celeron one. I am finding it short on grunt but I am having it trying to plate solve. I use it headless (No monitor or keyboard) and am running it via Teamviewer to my PC in the house, or my laptop.


It is working well enough that I reckon I will just get myself a higher powered one later on. I only set it up to see if it was feasible.
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  #18  
Old 23-01-2019, 11:49 PM
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Camelopardalis (Dunk)
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Yeah my first one has the Pentium N3700 chip, which takes 20 seconds or so to plate solve. My newer i5 NUC solves in 3-5 seconds
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  #19  
Old 24-01-2019, 07:07 AM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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The old Celestron is more like 90 seconds to blind solve with all sky plate solver, it is dreadfully slow, but it is the slowest of the first generation ones.

Thankfully it is working as a proof of concept so I am keeping n eye on eBay for a secondhand I5 one.

Last edited by The_bluester; 24-01-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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  #20  
Old 24-01-2019, 10:47 AM
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Saturn488 (Chrys)
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Personally I think it's a good investment to spend a little more on a laptop. These are the specs I consider most important.

- SSD (minimum 256GB but ideally you would want 512GB so you have enough storage space to capture your data). Prices for SSD's have dropped significantly over the last 6 months.
- Minimum 2x USB 3 ports
- 13.3" is ideal! 1080p resolution so you have enough real estate on the screen for your apps. I have seen people use a little 10" netbook. While they are portable and easy to carry around the resolution is dreadful!
- Decent battery (if you have no mains in the field or at home)
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