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New Obsevatory computer system install.

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#1 Wmacky

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:11 AM

Getting ready to install a new computer system into my Observatory. The computer, and the main monitor will be located in the warm / control room. I would like a secondary monitor in the main OB mounted to the wall on a swing arm system so that it can be pulled out toward the scope. I want this secondary monitor to display what ever the main monitor is displaying. I 'll utilize it to display live video, astro imaging displays, and star atlases.

Questions: Considering the new low prices on small LCD HD TV's, would they be a viable option for this duty, or is a computer monitor still the best option?

I never hooked 2 monitors to a single computer. What do I need to know? I know the choice of a HDTV vs monitor as the secondary display would change my hook up needs. Neither the computer nor the monitors / HDTV has been purchased.

#2 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

I do exactly what you describe. A lot depends on your computer operating system and monitor/video adapter. If your video adapter supports two monitors, i.e. has two monitor/video outputs, and you are running Windows 7 operating system, all you need is ithe second monitor and cable. In my case, the second monitor is a 27" Samsung HDTV/monitor with multiple inputs. In my setup, I have a Dish Network satellite TV receiver I can switch between for getting news/weather and a bit of entertainment when not imaging.

In my system, there is a graphics configuration utility that lets me configure for two monitors and what will be displayed on the second monitor. To switch what is being displayed on the Samsung HDTV/Monitor is simply by selecting the HDTV rear panel connector using the TV/monitor remote control... Then start what software you want displayed on the second monitor which will appear on the computer monitor and you simply use the mouse to drag it off the right side of the computer monitor and it will appear on the second monitor as it slides off the first monitor. The mouse cursor slides left and right between the displays as you use it to make selections on either display...

One of the features of the graphics card/monitor control utility is the selection of what gets displayed on the second monitor, it can be a mirror of the first monitor or a extension/expansion of what is displayed on the first monitor. When imaging I prefer the extension mode so I can split up the different mount, imaging camera, guiding software, and planetarium software between the two displays... Much better than crowded all on one monitor...


Simple and very worth while...

#3 Wmacky

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

Ok, so I need to buy a computer with multiple monitor outputs available, or buy a video card with that option? Is that a spec commonly listed for computers? I thinking I will need to find an older machine with Win 7 for best compatibility with imaging software. Pricing is also a factor. This may limit my options...

So you believe your HDTV's display is as good as a regular monitor?

#4 Charlie B

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

Most laptops have a video connection for external monitors. Both of mine do. Similar, you may find that most computers also support this. Look for one that has an HDMI output to an HDMI monitor to get the best resolution.

Charlie B

#5 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:36 AM

Ok, so I need to buy a computer with multiple monitor outputs available, or buy a video card with that option? Is that a spec commonly listed for computers? I thinking I will need to find an older machine with Win 7 for best compatibility with imaging software. Pricing is also a factor. This may limit my options...

So you believe your HDTV's display is as good as a regular monitor?


First, the Samsung HDTV/monitor has a 1920 x 1080 display and just as good if not slightly better than my computer ViewSonic precision graphics monitor which I consider to be tops... As to the video card, when I ordered a new computer 2 years ago, I ordered it with a AMD Radeon 5700 Series video card which supports 2 monitors. If the computer has a single monitor type display adapter, I believe you can also install a second video card/display adapter for the second monitor...

If you are planning on finding/purchasing a computer for your imaging needs, get one with the Intel i7 processor and a minimum of 8 Gb of RAM, preferably 12 or 16 Gb, and with Windows 7 64 bit operating system...

And I can vouch for Windows 7 Pro 64 bit compatibility with most all imaging software, I use Win 7 Pro 64 bit in both my Laptop and main image processing computer and have yet to find a problem with any software... I run a remote imaging setup with BYEOS, ASCOM mount control, PHD guiding and Stellarium with Astrotortilla plate solving software all operating concurrently...

I have heard from others that Win 8 has compatibility issues with PHD/SSAG autoguiding amongst other compatibility issues however I think most of Win 8 compatibility issues is simply that some software authors have not had the opportunity to upgrade drivers to Win 8 specifications... Win 7 is known to be safe and reliable at this point...

#6 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:43 AM

Charlie B makes a good point, HDMI is the preferred video/monitor connection format altho the video card I am using, the second monitor connection is a DVI connector and I use a DVI to HDMI adapter for the HDMI cable to the second monitor...

#7 ccs_hello

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:50 AM

Wmacky,

In consumer electronics, you get what you paid for. Look for the actual LCD glass resolution. $$$ gets you a 1920x1080, cheapie gets you a 1280x720 or something in between. Computer LCD monitor has a similar story.
Small-screen TV tends to be using a low spec.

TV display is designed for viewers to watch from a distance thus pixel pitch is not a high demand item. Computer display is for viewing in close distance...

P.S. for TV display the gamma setting is different than computer display's. So either the TV side has to have an adjustable menu or the video card side (computer software display control) has to have an adjustment.

Clear Skies!

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#8 Wmacky

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:57 PM

Well I've been searching for the PC. Very hard to finf a Win 7 machine with good specs, and a HDMI / VGA port combo all for a good low price!

This is the best I could find, though more then I wanted to spend on a " Secondary computer. What are your thoughts?

http://www.tigerdire...asp?EdpNo=48...

#9 PGW Steve

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

I run a dual display in my warm room. I've wanted to put a third monitor in the scope area, and I've been intrigued by the use of a touch screen monitor. My IT guy here at work has a touch screen he has offered to let me try to see if it will do what I want it to....tap an object in The Sky X, and then slew basically.






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