Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

"Cordwrap Free" EAA setup without an existing WiFi connection

  • Please log in to reply
55 replies to this topic

#1 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 18 October 2017 - 06:34 PM

Because 3 weeks of clouds it was time to do something else.

I worked on a "Cordwrap Free" EAA setup that can also be used "in the field" without an existing local WiFi network.

 

This setup was mainly inspired by the CN forum contributions. A big thank to everyone sharing their knowledge.

 

HARDWARE

6 SE / Evolution 8 + StarSense (same unit switched between both scopes)

 

Mini PC KODLIX ('Beelink') AP42 with Intel Apollo Lake N 2.5 GHz
Windows 10 Home
WiFi with external antenna (2.4/5.8 G)
3 x USB 3.1 ports
DDR3 4 GB  -  eMMC 57.5 GB  -  SDXCI 128 GB
Supply: 12V/1A DC

 

MAXOAK K2 50.000 mAh PowerBank (57 Wh at 12 V)
1x 20V/3A + 1x 12V/2.5A + 2x USB 5V/1A + 2x USB 5V/2.1A

 

Access Point Mode at laptop with "Connectify" software.
TP-Link AC1200 Dualband WLAN Repeater RE305 with 2 external antennas.
Located in between laptop (inside) and scope.

 

12 V DC splitter cable

The PowerBank supplies the:
- KODLIX AP42
- scope 6 SE
  (the Evo 8 uses his own Li-Ion battery, but can be supplied when necessary)
- Hi-Tec Astro Dew Heater Controller (Dew Strip)
  Because this controller has a cigarette lighter supply, I had to use a 'DC-to-female' cigarette lighter adapter cable.
  Could be simplified by DIY soldering...
- ATIK Infinity (other cameras supplied by USB)

 

The Powerbank is attached at the back of the mount arm with velcro.
The KODLIX is attached to the Powerbank with velcro.
I can easily switch this assembly between the 6 SE and the Evolution 8.

 

SOFTWARE

The KODLIX comes with a claen Windows Home installation, without any third party apps!
Some tuning can be done:
- Windows update cleanup (Settings>System>Storage>c:\Temp.Files>Previous versions of Windows)
- UNinstall needless Windows apps
- Windows Defender switched off.
  Otherwise the "SearchUI.exe" process tries to establish virus definition updates via WiFi,
  which doesn't succeed because their isn't a internet connection.
  This process may consume up to 50 % CPU!
- Switched off 'Windows Indexing Service'
- WiFi set as 'metered' so no auto Windows updates

 

Following additional software installed:
- 'RDPWrap'
  I compared this remote tool with both 'TeamViewer' & 'AnyDesk', and found RDPWrap the most efficient one.
  Leave other 2 remote installations in case RDPWrap fails to connect.
- ASCOM Platform 6.3 using POTH Hub
- StellariumScope
- Stellarium, TheSkyX Pro, Skytools Pro, AstroPlanner
- StarLight Live, SharpCap Pro, Infinity, FireCapture
- Camera drivers
- 'Astrometry.net Local Server' & 'All Sky Plate Solver' installed on SDXC card (runs via symbolic link)

 

POWER CONSUMPTION

With full dew heater supply their was still 1/4 of the PowerBank capacity left after a 5 hour session.
Normally 1/2 dew heater supply is sufficient, so at least a 8h session should be possible with the Evolution 8.
Still need to test with the 6 SE but don't expect problems.

 

I will post later some pictures of the setup.


Edited by roelb, 19 October 2017 - 06:17 PM.

  • ccs_hello, mclewis1, Rickster and 9 others like this

#2 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:10 PM

20171019_164908.jpg


  • nic35 and HSTeach like this

#3 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:11 PM

20171019_164928.jpg



#4 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:11 PM

20171019_165353.jpg



#5 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:12 PM

20171019_165442.jpg



#6 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:13 PM

20171019_165053.jpg



#7 ccs_hello

ccs_hello

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,717
  • Joined: 03 Jul 2004

Posted 19 October 2017 - 06:22 PM

Nice illustration on how modern technologies can do to help in EAA and astro.

 

Also can't help but to notice the make/model: KODLIX ('Beelink') AP42

is begging you to use Kodi to watch movies, when it's a cloudy night :) .


  • roelb likes this

#8 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Aurora

  • ****-
  • Posts: 4,789
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 26 October 2017 - 02:08 PM

Cool system. Based on that particular computer, with it's LAN port, would it be possible to control the telescope through the LAN port to a laptop computer inside the house?



#9 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Aurora

  • ****-
  • Posts: 4,789
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 26 October 2017 - 05:03 PM

I thought of another idea.

 

What about setting up the telescope with the Kodlix Beelink PC attached to the mount. Attach a 8.3 amp hour battery brick to the computer. Attach a wireless dongle for a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. Attach a 30'-50' HDMI cable from the PC to a portable monitor set up in the house or front seat of my car. Attach my ASI224MC camera from the scope to the PC,via USB 3.0 6' cable. Now I can run the computer, through the monitor, wirelessly and control the camera using SharpCap set up on the PC, all of this done wirelessly with just one cable, HDMI.

 

Wouldn't that work?



#10 StarCurious

StarCurious

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 568
  • Joined: 24 Dec 2012
  • Loc: York Region, Ontario

Posted 26 October 2017 - 10:42 PM

David,

 

Your HDMI cable would mean turning ON Cord Wrap.



#11 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Aurora

  • ****-
  • Posts: 4,789
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 26 October 2017 - 11:26 PM

Not really, my Ioptron ZEQ25 mount, the ports are on the stationary part of the mount, since it's a "Z" shaped mount, the center portion of the mount is the part of the mount that does not move. Both the HC cable and the mini PC sit on a pier attached to the mount and do not move. The HDMI cable plugged into the PC would also not move. The only thing that would move is the OTA on the mount, so I would have to ensure that the USB cable from the camera to the PC is loose enough not to tangle during slewing. However, since it only moves in relation to the EQ design of the mount, I do not need to worry about getting it all tangled up.

 

If I mount it on the NExstar SE mount, then yes, I would have to turn on Cordwrap. I need to find a way to remotely operate the whole system so that it is cordwrap free. Perhaps I should give RDPWrap another try.



#12 Rac19

Rac19

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,111
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2016

Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:32 PM

 

 

POWER CONSUMPTION
With full dew heater supply their was still 1/4 of the PowerBank capacity left after a 5 hour session.
Normally 1/2 dew heater supply is sufficient, so at least a 8h session should be possible with the Evolution 8.
Still need to test with the 6 SE but don't expect problems.

I just fully charged my “20 aH” battery and it ran my Intel NUCi3 for about 2.75 hours. The MaxOak K2 at 50 aH sounds like it will comfortably get me through a full session, as it does for you.

 

The KODLIX runs on 12 VDC and I see that the 12 VDC is rated at 2.5 Amps, equivalent to 30 Watts. Just how much power these these mini PCs draw, in normal use, Is a bit of a mystery to me.

 

The NUC can run on 12 to 19 Volts (and I assume 20 Volts  at a stretch) so I am thinking of using that for the NUC (3 Amps x 19 Volts = 57 Watts) and the 12 VDC for a Dew Heater.

 

Thanks for original post, batteries such as this seem to be quite difficult to find.



#13 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 04 January 2018 - 07:33 PM

The KODLIX AP42 only drains max. 4 W at 12 V (the 2.5 A is the maximum Powerbank output at 12 V.).

So, mean power drain will be probably no more than 2 W at 12 V.

 

A alternative to the MAXOAK powerbank: https://www.amazon.c...uct/B016BJCRUO/



#14 Rac19

Rac19

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,111
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2016

Posted 05 January 2018 - 12:50 AM

The KODLIX AP42 only drains max. 4 W at 12 V (the 2.5 A is the maximum Powerbank output at 12 V.).

So, mean power drain will be probably no more than 2 W at 12 V.

 

A alternative to the MAXOAK powerbank: https://www.amazon.c...uct/B016BJCRUO/

I have actually ordered and received the MaxOak K2. It’s quite heavy I must say. I think that the NUC draws quite a bit more power. The AC adapter is rated at 65 Watts, and I think that it might draw 15 to 30 watts in normal operation. Also, I can use the 20 VDC output for the NUC and the 12 VDC output for the dew heater controller.



#15 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 05 January 2018 - 06:05 PM

Hello RAC,

 

I think that you have bought a good powerbankwaytogo.gif

Hope (and I expect) your equipment will run smoothly with it during a sufficient time.

Success!



#16 Rac19

Rac19

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,111
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2016

Posted 05 January 2018 - 06:16 PM

Hello RAC,

 

I think that you have bought a good powerbankwaytogo.gif

Hope (and I expect) your equipment will run smoothly with it during a sufficient time.

Success!

I am testing it at the moment having fully charged it overnight. The NUC is running at 50% CPU supporting live view on two cameras. After 2.5 hours three LEDs are still lit, indicating 25% consumed. It wouid be an oversimplification to expect it to last 10 hours, will report back in just how long it lasts.

 

I found the list of things in your post to disable (in Windows) very useful. There were a few things that Inwowuld not have thought of.


Edited by Rac19, 05 January 2018 - 10:01 PM.


#17 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 05 January 2018 - 07:51 PM

Happy to hear that it's going goodsmile.gif



#18 nrcapes

nrcapes

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 224
  • Joined: 30 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Minnesota

Posted 29 September 2018 - 08:34 PM

Wow, an incredible setup! But I’m looking for something much simpler - just an interface from my Mac inside the house to the scope and a camera outside the house for visual astronomy, not sophisticated imaging. My house is in a light polluted area so I want to increase what I can see on very short imaging sessions like a few minutes. And stay warm!

 

thanks!



#19 nic35

nic35

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,187
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2007

Posted 29 September 2018 - 09:15 PM

Wow, an incredible setup! But I’m looking for something much simpler - just an interface from my Mac inside the house to the scope and a camera outside the house for visual astronomy, not sophisticated imaging. My house is in a light polluted area so I want to increase what I can see on very short imaging sessions like a few minutes. And stay warm!

thanks!



#20 nic35

nic35

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,187
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2007

Posted 29 September 2018 - 09:41 PM

The only much simpler system know of would be a video camera that transmits wirelessly to a location inside the house. But most of the wireless transmitters I know of have very limited range and might not make it through a wall or window

Plus they tend to operate on android or iPad/iPhones only.

The video cameras provide serviceable images, but don’t rival what you can see with a system like Roel’s

Note that they can’t slew the scope around from object to object, and you need to run a cable to the camera to adjust exposures, etc

Actually, the system roel shows is pretty simple when you get right down to it. Small pc on the scope, a camera, some form of wireless network to connect your Mac to the PC (maybe use your home network) Everything runs on the PC. You use the Mac as a dumb terminal. You’ll need some way to slew the mount around from object to object, which is pretty easy to do with many mounts. Smallest PC,s I know of that work are intel compute sticks, starting around $125 last I looked.

Use the search function to find a topic in this forum that is something like “i’m In EAA heaven”. Long but many useful potholes identified.

The bigger the camera, the more powerful the computer you’ll need, which means battery issues, etc

Good luck

John



#21 Rac19

Rac19

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,111
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2016

Posted 01 October 2018 - 03:34 AM

Happy to hear that it's going goodsmile.gif

Hi Roel, my setup is working well and the MaxOak battery makes a major contribution to that success. I am curious as to how you have attached the battery to the Evolution mount. It is quite heavy so I would have thought that Velcro would be a bit questionable.

 

I have made bolted a polycarbonate mounting plate to the main pillar of the mount and attached everything to that. It involved drilling holes in the plastic cover, which I did after removing from the mount.



#22 Noah4x4

Noah4x4

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,448
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Colchester UK

Posted 01 October 2018 - 08:06 AM

Hi Roel, my setup is working well and the MaxOak battery makes a major contribution to that success. I am curious as to how you have attached the battery to the Evolution mount. It is quite heavy so I would have thought that Velcro would be a bit questionable.

 

I have made bolted a polycarbonate mounting plate to the main pillar of the mount and attached everything to that. It involved drilling holes in the plastic cover, which I did after removing from the mount.

I too was concerned about fixing the devices to my mount. This is my simple solution that didn't require drilling holes in my mount and makes it very portable, also using polycarbonate or similar 'plastic' (drillable) material. See image below. Basically it is a 'cradle' constructed by two 3mm plastic sheets bolted together using M3 bolts, but seperated by hexagonal dividers. The MaxOak Power Unit fits inside (albeit a Tracer Battery is shown in this image). This is affixed to the Evolution Mount Arm by three Velcro Straps that I glued and bolted to the rear sheet. I use exactly the same device on my Nexstar SE4 so it is universal in application for Alt-Az mounts of any size. Undo these three straps and it comes off for transport as a single comprehensive unit. Everything rotates above the mount turntable.

 

To form a frame to create the 'battery compartment' I surrounded it below and to the sides by plastic boxes of various sizes that are bolted to the inside of the main plastic sheets. These double up as 'cable tidies' as all excess cable is then coiled inside them. I just leave enough trailing to reach the camera; battery, focuser etc. Note how a twin cigar lighter socket has also been bolted inside the cradle to distribute the power to camera and my wireless MKIT20-WL Microfocusser receiver.

 

I now use Celestron WiFi and MKIT20-WL wireless to control scope and focusser. I made this device for universal purpose, hence in the illustration you can see the Focusser Receiver for wireless use, but with a larger spare velcro strap in the foreground. This is so that if I wish, I can swap in the Focus Controller (for reciever) when I am not using WiFI focusser control (say at a dark site).I can then use the simple 'In' and 'out' buttons on the Focuser Controller (which is larger than the Receiver, hence the universal straps design).

 

I did also have my Intel NUC hanging off this same 'cradle' affixed by bolting its regular (TV) fixing plate to the front plastic sheet. Total weight of the entire contraption including battery and all devices was still under 3lbs. However, I have since switched to having the Intel NUC indoors and have that USB3 'active' cabled to the camera . Not only does this get rid of ocassional nuisance conflicts between USB 3 camera and the various USB2 devices, this route offers me a full 4K UHD experience as I can then connect NUC using 'Thunderbolt' cable to my 4K UHD monitor. Frankly, that step is probably only cost justified for EAA activity on Hyperstar where you might want to compensate for the reduced magnification caused by removing your secondary mirror (hence deeper resolution camera <zoom> is more critical). It also dawned on me that the NUC was capable of processing the 16 megapixel camera's full 4K 'UHD' when my laptop and its display was merely 1080p 'HD'. This route works brilliantly on Hyperstar with an Atik Horizon (should be similar with an ZWO ASI 1600 on Hyperstar). But perhaps less necessary where ones FOV is constrained by camera at the rear end.

 

Cradle.JPG


Edited by Noah4x4, 01 October 2018 - 08:11 AM.

  • S1mas and Stargazer3236 like this

#23 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 01 October 2018 - 04:33 PM

Hi Roel, my setup is working well and the MaxOak battery makes a major contribution to that success. I am curious as to how you have attached the battery to the Evolution mount. It is quite heavy so I would have thought that Velcro would be a bit questionable.

 

I have made bolted a polycarbonate mounting plate to the main pillar of the mount and attached everything to that. It involved drilling holes in the plastic cover, which I did after removing from the mount.

Because I switch regularly from a 6 SE to a Evo 8 and vice versa, I use velcro ("strong" version) + re-usable plastic cable ties.

Works great, no need to drill...done in a second.



#24 Rac19

Rac19

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,111
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2016

Posted 02 October 2018 - 02:30 AM

Thanks Roel. I guess it had to be Velcro, the stronger the better.

 

The attached image shows my mounting plate. I was reluctant to drill holes, just like everyone else, but it wasn’t really a problem. I removed the cover, the only wires are for the two lights which are easily removed and replaced, drilled the holes and fitted the mounting on the bench then reinstalled the cover onto the mount.

 

I think that the aluminium strip, that fills the vertical slot in the the main mount column, is important. It allows the three bolts to be tightened firmly, without stressing the plastic cover too much. There are washers on the inside of course.

 

Similarly to Noah4x4, I have a “caddy”, made from polycarbonate, that bolts to the mounting plate and holds batteries, the NUC Mini PC etc.

 

I am not saying that this is the better solution, but I am quite happy with it. Perhaps it appeals to my engineering instincts.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • CB5EAD4D-41D1-46CF-B5F3-6B72A205E810.jpeg

  • roelb likes this

#25 roelb

roelb

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,748
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 03 October 2018 - 08:22 PM

Thanks Roel. I guess it had to be Velcro, the stronger the better.

 

The attached image shows my mounting plate. I was reluctant to drill holes, just like everyone else, but it wasn’t really a problem. I removed the cover, the only wires are for the two lights which are easily removed and replaced, drilled the holes and fitted the mounting on the bench then reinstalled the cover onto the mount.

 

I think that the aluminium strip, that fills the vertical slot in the the main mount column, is important. It allows the three bolts to be tightened firmly, without stressing the plastic cover too much. There are washers on the inside of course.

 

Similarly to Noah4x4, I have a “caddy”, made from polycarbonate, that bolts to the mounting plate and holds batteries, the NUC Mini PC etc.

 

I am not saying that this is the better solution, but I am quite happy with it. Perhaps it appeals to my engineering instincts.

Nice setupwaytogo.gif




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics