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Android TV Box as mount side computer

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#1 hcf

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 12:39 PM

Has anyone tried using a cheap ARM based Android TV Box running Armbian as a mount side computer? It is like a raspberry pi with USB3 and 4GB RAM (minus the GPIO pins)

 

I got a A5X Max (RK3328 chip) : quad core, 4GB RAM, with 1xUSB3 and 3xUSB2 ports for about $40 and installed Armbian on a SD card. It is supposed to be 1.5GHZ but on Armbian I see 1.3 Ghz.

 

The built in Wifi and BT do not work on the Armbian I have but ethernet does, I use it with a travel router on the Ethernet port. Some say that some USB dongles for wifi and BT do work. I left Armbian on the SD card and did not install it  on the eMMC which is a little faster, as I want to keep the Android on the eMMC in case I want to run Sky Safari on a large screen TV some day smile.gif. I have a Bionic version of the Armbian distro.

 

I am new to Indi/Ekos/Kstars  but my limited uses seem to be working on it, Stellarium works on a monitor but not under VNC .

 

Some of the boxes (not mine) have 5Ghz wifi and Gigabit Ethernet, and some have Octacore processors. If you plan to buy a box check before on 

 

https://forum.armbia...c-rockchip-etc/

 

to see if people have successfully run Armbian on it.

 

You will find these TV boxes on ebay/gearbest/geekbuying/banggood etc.


Edited by hcf, 30 December 2018 - 06:37 PM.


#2 ccs_hello

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 08:59 PM

Shorter version of my view:

 

IMHO, it is not what it can do or TVbox has the highest performance/price ratio, but the long term hardware availability, variations, and supportability.

 

Longer version TL; DR

Funny it's like a full circle...

ANAT (a CN forumer/contributor) and others initially chose to use Rockchip RK3066/RK3188 based TV stick for the same approach as what OP is proposing.

The thread here is Astrohub. 

Lesson learned: lots of product variations (some have bootloader locked, WiFi chipset switched, etc, etc.), suppliers interchange products (same spec.) from different manufacturers with minor internal hardware differences, and also seeing the issues of short product lifecycle (ran out the old design, the new one will be using "a new" processor.) .

This compounded with end users be creative (save few bucks, that product looks even nicer, etc.) and get something else that no one has time nor money to have a same copy in front of him/her to help that end user to troubleshoot.

 

So at some point, iAstroHub 3.0 came to life.  It's Raspberry Pi based and now we have the hardware platform stability (Broadcom custom SoC for it thus single-sourced) and long-term supply stability and support is much easier.

(This is not to say there are other "better", "fancier", and higher performance/price maker boards around.

The issues are related to H/W product lifecycle/purchase-ability, quality unknown, not so popular/ubiquitous, questionable future, etc.) 

One sentence summary: quality one under knowledgeable hand is easy, supporting world-wide amateur astronomy community on goodwill basis is much harder.



#3 ccs_hello

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 09:02 PM

Please note that I am not trying to discourage you on your approach.  The gain from labor, time, love, knowledge gained, and accomplishment are priceless.

 It is the repeatability (by others) that is the question.



#4 hcf

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 10:15 PM

Yes there are many, different variations, and certainly supporting  all of the platforms is impossible.

But iAstroHub/Stellarmate do not have to do that. They could just pick one (per generation), and take charge of the OS as well as the applications and create/sell a uSD card which just works on that box.

 

Owners of the other boxes are on their own. Armbian is the great equalizer and they might  well get  things running on their own. The Raspberry Pi platform stability is indeed a good one, but the specs on these boxes are ahead of the Pi by a lot. And they are actually cheaper than the Pi if you add up the accessories and get in on one of the deal days. Do we need the extra RAM and USB3 support? I will leave that up to the users to decide. My hope is that the improved specs will trigger the movement of more apps to Arm/linux



#5 hcf

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 11:35 PM

Some details on the TV Box I used,  as someone asked about it on another thread.

 

The one I have is the A5X MAX Android 9.0 4GB/32GB RK3328 4K TV BOX

https://www.geekbuyi...Box-388745.html

 

There are a bunch of different TV Boxes not all of which work with Armbian, I have this one working with Armbian with the native wifi and BT working.The Armbian thread on the RK3328 TV Boxes is at

https://forum.armbia...-tv-box-rk3328/

The first post instructs you to install Armbian in the emmc, but I don't do that. I stop after Step 2 and  just leave Armbian on the SD card. That way if I boot without the SD card I can still boot into Android.

 

 

Follow the thread above to pick the Armbian img and a dtb which works ( I use a variant of the rk3328-a5xbt1.dtb) . There are also instructions in the thread to build and install armbian on the TV box itself, which is what I do, to experiment with features which are not interesting to the armbian community (like USB webcams).

I have mainly been using this for my plate solving pushto and it works fine with astrometry.net indi/ekos/kstars. I have been able to just apt install indilib and applications from the repos without many issues. What I don't know is how well different mounts/camera drivers work with Armbian.


Edited by hcf, 29 March 2019 - 12:36 PM.

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#6 starman345

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Posted 05 April 2019 - 09:56 AM

My A5X Max arrived a couple of days ago and I've been having fun with it, really quite impressed for $47 shipped.

Picking out which image to write to the SD card was probably the hardest part of setting it up. Confusing to say the least, dev, NEXT, default, which one to pick? I finally picked an Armbian 5.76 desktop ubuntu image and burned that to the SD card. Powered up the box and it booted right into Armbian. 

I have Armbian on my NanoPC-T4 so am a bit familiar with it. Kstars-Ekos_INDIE setup fine, installed x11vnc server and configured network hotspot, rebooted and logged in with my Galaxy Tab 8. Seems to work okay.

 

Armbian does not see the native bluetooth adapter on the board so I plugged in my usb bluetooth adapter and it sees that as does Armbian on my NanoPC-T4.  Paired fine with my bluetooth device but I wasn't able to connect it to my serial port on my iOptron CEM25p. I use the device to drive my mount.

I noticed the box loses the correct time if not connected to the internet, I took the cover off the box and don't see any rtc there. Not a big deal for me as my iOptron mount has gps and updates kstars.

 

I connected the box to the gear on my scope and it drives the zwo cameras fine as well as the iOptron mount(with the serial-usb cable). The only niggle here is when using the Galaxy Tab 8 tablet to operate the box over hotspot the screen refreshes very slowly, sometimes I need to gently touch the screen before it will refresh. Might be something I need to change in the hotspot setup. 

I'm wondering if there is an image that might help with my bluetooth problem?

 

 

 

 


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#7 hcf

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Posted 05 April 2019 - 05:52 PM

I'm wondering if there is an image that might help with my bluetooth problem?

Try these posts to get the native bluetooth working on the A5XMax. Should be fine with your image.

 

https://forum.armbia...t&comment=71970

https://forum.armbia...t&comment=73872

 

Use the dts from the second post.


Edited by hcf, 05 April 2019 - 05:58 PM.

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