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Computer options: What do you think of this?

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#1 Raginar

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 09:55 PM

http://www.amazon.co...am serial j1900

 

What do you guys think of this?  Big selling points for me are the mini-pc design, sealed, memory (8 gigs), OK SSD size (128GB), and actual serial ports for my roof/weather controllers.  

 

I thought I had my BSODs fixed, but it crashed again after 5 hours. I think it is going to be easier to just swap out this thing and remotely set it up versus trying to talk someone through replacing memory, formatting a computer, etc.

 

Thoughts?

 

Chris

 



#2 tolgagumus

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 10:09 PM

http://www.amazon.co...am serial j1900

 

What do you guys think of this?  Big selling points for me are the mini-pc design, sealed, memory (8 gigs), OK SSD size (128GB), and actual serial ports for my roof/weather controllers.  

 

I thought I had my BSODs fixed, but it crashed again after 5 hours. I think it is going to be easier to just swap out this thing and remotely set it up versus trying to talk someone through replacing memory, formatting a computer, etc.

 

Thoughts?

 

Chris

This thing looks really good. 



#3 ccs_hello

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:52 AM

Wow 4 real serial ports!



#4 james7ca

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 04:37 AM

That's an interesting configuration, but why not a simple Intel NUC with a good multi-port USB to serial adapter?

 

Something like this (Newegg is selling this NUC for $140, but you need to add memory, disk, and OS):

 

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16856102141

 

and the serial adapter (four ports), $48 at Amazon: 

 

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B004ETDC8K/


Edited by james7ca, 29 November 2015 - 05:05 AM.


#5 pedxing

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:08 AM

19V PS. :sad:

#6 james7ca

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:36 AM

19V PS. :sad:

Intel says this about the power requirements for the NUC:

 

 

The Intel® NUC D54250WYB can be run using any input voltage in the 12V to 19V range. You do not need to use a DC-DC converter to up the voltage to 19V.

 

That particular model has a Core i5 with dual channel memory (and is more expensive), but otherwise it is very similar to the quad-core Pentium unit I linked above. Moreover, the TDP on the Pentium unit is only 6W, while the Core i5 model is 15W (with the aforementioned dual channel memory, another power draw).


Edited by james7ca, 29 November 2015 - 08:30 AM.


#7 garret

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 08:28 AM

Quote

A home build desktop in a small case with handgrip.

Windows 7 pro 64 bit

500 Gb Samsung 850 EVO SSD, additional 2Tb HDD

one in all motherboard (sound and graphics)

Intel i5 or i7 processor, 16 GB RAM

bigger cooler, small Seasonic power supply

and a 2x serial extension card

Garret van der Veen

 



#8 Pauls72

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 10:50 AM

Chris,

Looks to be a decent box. Just a word of warning: Since it ships from China, it will take any place from 3 weeks to a couple of months for you to get it using standard shipping. Standard shipping comes by boat from China. So you would really want to use expedited shipping and have it shipped by air (DHL or FedEx). Expedited shipping would still be 5-7 days, because it doesn't ship from the manufacturer for 2-3 days. If you contact them I'm sure you could get the mSATA SSD upgraded to 256GB or maybe even add in a second disk, something like a 1TB 2.5" SATA drive.

 

Here is the manufacturers web site:

http://www.qotom.net/index.php

 

You can buy it in all different configurations from AliExpress:

http://www.aliexpres...archweb201560_7

 

or through Alibaba:

http://www.alibaba.c...0328992040.html

 

I've purchased a number of electronic components from China. So far all the companies been good to do business with. The only drawback is the long shipping times. Also most of them shutdown for a good chunk of January to celebrate the New Years holiday.

 

 

Good Luck,

Paul


Edited by Pauls72, 29 November 2015 - 10:52 AM.


#9 Raginar

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:06 PM

That's an interesting configuration, but why not a simple Intel NUC with a good multi-port USB to serial adapter?

Something like this (Newegg is selling this NUC for $140, but you need to add memory, disk, and OS):

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16856102141

and the serial adapter (four ports), $48 at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B004ETDC8K/


I ran into lots of issues with USB to serial connectors when I first made my observatory. As soon as I added real serial cards, no more problems.

Pauls72, thank you again for your advice. I think I'll do it.

Well, I'm sold. Thanks for the quick replies everyone! It should be here by the 7th with expedited shipping.

Chris

#10 xiando

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:22 PM

My only concern would be the "Pre-windows 7 unactivated(support windows OS/linux)" comment, since I have no idea what it means but sounds slightly ominous on the face of it, or so my advertisement-shrewd gut is wispering to brain-me...



#11 Pauls72

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:41 PM

My only concern would be the "Pre-windows 7 unactivated(support windows OS/linux)" comment, since I have no idea what it means but sounds slightly ominous on the face of it, or so my advertisement-shrewd gut is wispering to brain-me...

 

If you look at the AliExpress site it states "Pre-install Windows 7 without license". So I think this is what you get.



#12 xiando

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:42 PM

If unactivated though, doesn't that mean the OS will still need activation and therefore additional payment for licensing of the OS?


Edited by xiando, 29 November 2015 - 01:42 PM.


#13 Raginar

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:52 PM

Xiando,

 

    Yea, that's what it means.  No big deal since I have several licenses lying around from the last couple of years (to include the computer that is broken). It saves them a few bucks but allows you to have the computer 'running' when you get it. I didn't consider it to be an issue.

 

My primary concerns were power (12V), RAM/SSD (enough to run everything and reliability, I'm done with HDDs), and real serial ports.  Everything else was up for grabs.  

 

The SSD should have enough space for me to image throughout the night and not run out of space.  I figure I'll just setup a backup to move it to network storage each night.  I used to do my pre-processing on my observatory machine, there is an Imac (i7 8 core/32gb of RAM) on this network so I think the new plan will be to transfer the files over to that machine for pre-processing before uploading that data to Dropbox/Google Drive.  A little more convoluted, but I don't think a Celeron is going to be doing drizzle very well.  :lol:

 

I still can't believe this thing has 4 'real' serial ports on it.   :bow:



#14 xiando

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:59 PM

Yup Chris. understood. Even so, it looks likes a nice compact ~industrialized" shelf computer, perfectly suited to ~unattended operation (dome control, remote scope control, etc.)

 

...due diligence and all that. so 239 + ~ 100 for licensing w7 if w7 is what one wants to use... It wasn't too long ago that such a unit would set one back well over a thousand, so it seems something of a no-brainer good deal..



#15 Raginar

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 02:10 PM

I agree, and I assume at this point most of us have a copy of Win7.  Remember when it first came out and cost about 30 bucks for a license?  I have at least 2 of those laying around. 

 

I think it was Tolgamamus who started a thread on these earlier and got me thinking this might be a good route to go.  

 

Chris



#16 xiando

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 03:12 PM

I agree, and I assume at this point most of us have a copy of Win7.  Remember when it first came out and cost about 30 bucks for a license?  I have at least 2 of those laying around. 

 

I think it was Tolgamamus who started a thread on these earlier and got me thinking this might be a good route to go.  

 

Chris

Surprisingly (to me), I've never owned a copy of 7. 3/3.1, 95/nt3.51 nt4/w2k, xp pro/media, 8/8.1 but no windows 7. It was just the particular hardware progression I've made, since my computers usually run for about a decade and the w7 bubble was born, matured, and was over before I considered upgrading the XP machine.

 

- which is still going strong - knock on wood - until I find a month or so for hair pulling to rebuild my workstation environment on a new machine to bring it up to my working standard for the primary of "this thing can do anything", ie, engineering, art, music, programming, etc. etc,  something I realize that occasionally needs be done, but I avoid as much as humanly possible short of joining the church of the luddite. Used to be I had plenty of time for administering computers, now not so much time. And the process is far more complex as my tool set has grown and broadened in scope over the years. 

 

But your point is well taken.



#17 Raginar

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 03:16 PM

I loved XP. The biggest thing that made me change was SGP dropping support for it. It was rock solid.

Once 10 is a little more mature I might upgrade. Or, just keep using 7 until it isn't supported anymore 😂

I think the cool thing about these mini computers is dragging them into the woods with you. At least that's what I'm thinking right now.

#18 xiando

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 03:38 PM

About the intended usage... agreed Chris. My same thoughts.  compact, somewhat ruggedized, no bs to rattle around when transporting... One thing I might do once you get it and before you place it (or bag it for outings) is to "treat" the connectors. It's self contained, but in the ~$200-$300 price range, I doubt it's a true environmental grade, so some wire dry etc might be good to apply before it's exposed to humid conditions, just to maximize its resistance to entropy...

 

PS: to further expound on that principle, I'd also suggest augmenting any use of its USB with a powered hub (as a buffer of sorts), so the inadvertent "Oh f!!!" doesn't leave you with a dead USB port on a tiny self-contained package that can't simply be replaced with a new card, as one would do with a desktop or tower...

 

edit: content


Edited by xiando, 29 November 2015 - 03:41 PM.


#19 Pauls72

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 06:46 PM

It may sound like a good idea to drag that mini PC into the woods, but think of all the stuff you need to drag with you to make it work. :shocked: 

Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse or equivalent and a 12V power source. Or a tablet or laptop that you can do a remote desktop connection to it. :(



#20 Raginar

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:32 PM

So, I was thinking about that. I do pretty well with VNCteamviewer on a phone. I was thinking that you could just use a tablet on a shared wifi network to make it happen. It's not fast, but it works and eliminates the monitor/mouse/keyboard. If you wanted a screen, what about one of those little 8" USB monitors and a wireless keyboard/trackpad?

I think Tolgamamus does sooner hung similar with his MyT.

#21 ccs_hello

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 08:42 PM

Chris,

 

I have a similar mini-Industrial PC as in your link.  It has heatsink fins in the chassis which is the main benefit.

See this thread: http://www.cloudynig...de-headless-pc/

It does not have real serial RS232 ports.

 

I would say these are not weather tight and not designed for such condition.

One just trades the small form factor with some degrees of configuration flexibility (say 8GB 256 GB eMMC and a slightly more powerful CPU/APU) with other classes of PC (e.g., tiny mini PC, PC stick, 8" tablet PC, or  small form-factor PC.)

 

BTW, those "Chinese FTDI" or "Chinese Prolific" USB serial dongles can be tamed.  The key is not to use the official driver but from sellers and stay that way forever.

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#22 Raginar

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 01:29 PM

CCShello,


Agreed. My issue www related to some of my devices. I never had issues with my mount using one; but the roof controller and weather station were very sensitive. A serial card cost me 15 bucks...

The company is awesome, they shipped today and it should be here either Friday or Monday. I'll let you guys know how it goes. If I'm lucky it'll be running by New Moon! 😂

I'll let you guys know how it works.

#23 tolgagumus

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 02:52 PM

Most of the modern equipment uses USB direct connections although there are many focusers, rotators, mounts that still use RS232 connection. This little guy IMO is a great choice. If I didn't have my system up and running already I would try this one. The system I use works great. It doesn't need a monitor to boot up and I have it set up so that it automatically boots when power is applied. It runs on 12Vs and it has plenty of power to handle any app. I have never tried to do to image processing with it and I have no intentions of doing it. I look at it as part on the imaging system and it's a dedicated PC that does just that. It's never connected to the internet. The system runs on a dedicated local network and I monitor it through Windows remote desktop. In fact, if I have the automation software preset to do a run and have it automatically launch when windows starts, it can theoretically work by itself without me. I have never tried this but it's almost at that point. 

 

For me the idea arose from getting rid of cables because at the time I was investigating guiding issues and wanted to eliminate anything (cables) that might cause a problem. But once I found out this wasn't the issue, I still liked the idea of having the system self sufficient. One might ask, what's the difference between this and using a Icron hub to connect to a remote desktop. The answer is field work running off batteries. I can have this system set up and start the imaging run and turn my laptop off and it will run all night without me. Another one is the main camera is connected to the computer directly, instead of going through a hub. I'll log in once in awhile to check progress but I hardly ever have to do anything. It's just my OCD. LOL. 

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Edited by tolgagumus, 01 December 2015 - 05:05 PM.


#24 Raginar

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 04:33 PM

Tolgamamus, I agree. It's a good setup!

The computer showed up after 5 days. Seems to be working and it activated without any problems. Testing it in the observatory now.

So far it's pretty snappy. It had 90gb free out of 120.. Should be enough as long as I keep my files clean.

#25 Raginar

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 06:45 PM

And it's snappy for a little mini-PC.  I had to reboot it a couple times and it happens very quickly.

 

Good purchase! Hopefully it holds up.




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