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Wireless remote control of CPWI?

astrophotography EAA equipment mount
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#1 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:19 AM

CPWI is the Celestron replacement for NexRemote and offers a Windows version of "SkySafari". It is currently in beta test via TeamCelestron, and my first impression is I like it. It appears far more accommodating with Celestron scopes than (say) Stellarium or similar (notably ease of set up) and offers inclusive controls over the new Celestron focuser etc.

 

It is not yet fully integrated with some of the more sophisticated third party software, but those 'bugs' are fast being eliminated. I think it is a real game changer.  But EAA practitioners will face some implementation challenges. As often is the case, it has been challenging to resolve wireless/remote control issues. Here are some thoughts from my experimentation that may assist others...

 

My pre-2016 internal Evolution WiFi is utter pants. Anything with a 'SkyQLink' signal is pretty useless. So all my wireless tests have been conducted with a later SkyPortal external WiFi device (dongle) emitting the more reliable 'Celestron.xx' signal with fully updated firmware and all other known WiFi improvement tips have been employed . But even that has proved a tad limiting....

 

CPWI running on a Windows PC will connect to a Celestron scope by three routes;

 

a)  USB. 

 

But this only applies to scopes such as the CGX. It won't work with (say) an Evolution that has only a 5V output non-data USB port.

 

b)   Cable between hand controller and computer.

 

This route is very dependable, but it does require a suitable cable. This might be a serial to USB adapter if an older HC; or USB to USB if newer HC. In either case it is inherently 'RS232' and needs a PL2302 driver installed in your PC running Windows 10. But I wanted to avoid this cable as my scope already has enough wires dangling for camera etc.

 

c)    Celestron wireless

 

If you connect your laptop directly to 'Celestron.xx' in the dongles 'Direct' mode I found CPWI works fine up to about eight metres. Sadly, the signal strength of the dongle is limited like so many other direct connect devices of this type. However, many of us require remote control over much longer distances (notably from indoors). 

 

I hence switched to 'Access Point' mode and attempted to connect the dongle via my home network. The dongle refused to connect to my main router/hub due to distance and obstructions. This isn't surprising as I have always struggled  with Celestron WiFi and its limited effective range. The 'Celestron.xx' direct signal strength is perhaps fine for visual astronomers using a tablet, or for Astrophotographers that sit with laptop close to their scopes. But for EAA enthusiasts that like to sit in a more distant warm 'mission control' behind a brick wall, it has always been a challenge.

 

I hence installed an Edimax N300 Multi-function Router (802.11n) in wireless range extender mode in between scope/dongle and router/hub. However, I can't get it closer to my scope than ten metres without losing signal strength from my 'Mission Control'. I suppose I could relay multiple such 'extender' devices, but I fear that won't provide a solution once I add the data demands of my camera. With this single range extender route, I did get CPWI working, but the lag was pretty terrible. As on previous occasions with other devices, I could not resolve this wirelessly over the distance and the local obstructions that I needed to navigate.  To be frank, this isn't a new problem for me as the weak Celestron WiFi signal has always been a tad problematic unless close to the scope. 

 

So, my base point once again became the commonly employed two computer solution running Windows Remote Desktop. A tip here; ensure that your RDP (via experience/options) is not set to <discover connection automatically> as that tends to opt for too low a setting. Instead set it to <WAN 10 Mps or higher> for wireless  or <LAN 10Mps or higher> for cabled between the two computers.

 

What I discovered is that I could now wirelessly connect my Intel NUC computer A (at the scope) to the dongle in Celestron direct mode; the benefit of that being that eliminates the messy HC cable. Then connect computer A to B (indoors) by cat6a cable and it all works fine over RDP including with my 4K UHD camera. No lag, no drop outs. Here, the wireless distance is now merely two feet between dongle and computer A. However, and my core observation I had to ensure that computer B was NOT simultaneously wirelessly connected to my home network. So once indoors, I needed to temporarily 'forget' my home network on B for this route to work. This might sound familiar to those that struggled with pre-2016 Celestron WiFi, but for different reasons.

 

Frankly, it took me ages to identify a solution as it is not obvious to a non-IT expert that a Windows PC can only connect to one wireless network albeit it can simultaneously connect to one wireless AND one Ethernet. I believe this issue arises because Computer B will attempt to wirelessly  connect to computer A, but can't find it on the wireless network because A is instead wirelessly connected to the dongle (hence Celestron.xx'). If you want to run all on one wireless network, you must connect ALL devices in Access Point Mode (which might not work if distance is a problem) or connect A to B by cable having connected Dongle to computer A by wireless in Direct mode. The advantage of the latter being it eliminates the (serial/USB) cable between HC and computer at the scope.

 

In my situation, I am already compelled to use cat6a cable between computers A and B because of distance, also the demands of my 4K UHD camera and my desire to send a 4K signal from camera to 4K UHD monitor. The curious thing I am reporting here is that RDP activated from B does seems to want to select wireless (which is not available when A is connected to Celestron.xx) even where a cable network has been established and <LAN 10 MPs or higher> selected. Hence, the strange need to 'forget' the home wireless network on Computer B to force it to take the LAN route..

 

I could, of course, alternatively connect HC to computer A by cable and then wirelessly (or cabled) connect computer A to B. But since I know that wireless isn't an option for me due to the demands of my 4k camera, the route that I describe at least avoids the need for a cable between HC and Computer A, and over that short distance its Celestron Direct WiFi signal is wholly satisfactory.

 

If anybody has a solution permitting computer A to simultaneously connect wirelessly to both dongle and network OTHER than in access point mode that would be welcome. Might employing two wireless adapters work (e.g. one to dongle; one to network)? But unless I can solve the conundrum of getting the dongle's wireless signal closer to my principle hub/router, I am afraid I am stuck with cable between the two computers, and even then I am not convinced that the best case scenario 5Ghz 802.11ac can handle 4k UHD camera despite only screen data being transferred between A and B over RDP.

 

The combined demands of CPWI and (say) SharpCap means all the processing donkey work must be handled on computer A, and until better domestic wireless solutions are developed, wireless remote control may remain a challenge where high resolution cameras and CPWI are to be controlled from  distance beyond ten metres/33' (cable is always going to be more dependable over any longer distance).  But don't be deterred, the problems are no more challenging than running SkySafari and CPWI is a Windows solution that I think is a major step forward of benefit to all Celestron EAA practitioners.

 

EDIT/UPDATE

I have since attempted with a second wireless adapter added to Computer A. I did manage to connect one wireless adapter to 'Celestron.xx' and the other wireless adapter to my network and get remotely connected from A from B over RDP . However, using either cable or wireless between A and B it appears that Windows didn't seem to like it (e.g. drop outs and lag). At one point I had a potential camera wrecking wild uncontrollable slew of the type I used to encounter with my Evo's internal WiFi.

 

So my updated conclusion is this;

 

a)   If you want to use wireless between computer A and B then connect HC to A using cable.

b)    If you are content with Cat6a cable between A and B then you can connect A to scope by Celestron wireless.

c)    However, you must use Access Point mode in all other circumstances, or risk conflicts and loss of control.


Edited by Noah4x4, 11 February 2019 - 09:05 AM.

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#2 descott12

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 10:56 AM

I definitely want to try this. A few questions:

1) Does the HC need to be at a certain firmware version?

2) Where do you get the PL2302d driver? Is there a specific one to get?

3) Only CPWI version 2.0.5 is available on the download page. I believe a previous post mentioned need to be a beta tester to get the lastest....how do you sign up for that?



#3 makeitso

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:28 AM

Just a heads up here. If you don’t have StarSense, it’s a pain it’s a problem doing an alignment since you can’t use the HC at all, no slewing at all. You have to either click on slew with a mouse or use the arrow keys on the keyboard to slew.

 

I finally used a wireless keyboard/mouse combo, even then it’s a pain to have to look through the finder if you have a small sensor on your camera, the find the right key to press.

 

Unless I’m missing something. Anybody have any ideas?

 

Jack



#4 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:54 AM

Hi Dave,

 

You can use either Nexstar + or Starsense HC. PWCI offers all formats of alignment, including manual and even 'a wedge enabled Starsense ASPA' (unlike SkySafari).  I am using the latest HC firmware versions, but I mentioned that just to emphasise best case WiFi scenario. I don't think it's critical providing your firmware is recent.

 

Just Google "PL2303". It is the driver required for a serial to USB adapter (not native in Windows). You need the same adapter and cable to perform a HC firmware update. 

 

Yes, you must join www.TeamCelestron.com. It is free to join and your admission is normally granted inside 48 hours. They just need to ensure you are not a robot etc. Becoming a beta-tester is nothing onerous. Just formally try out the software with no obligation and informally report any problems, requests or issues, just as you might do in Cloudy Nights.

 

The more beta testers recruited, the faster stuff can enter the full public domain. One challenge is the global weather, because unless there is a large number of volunteer testers on every continent it can take ages to get enough results. You don't have to test anything that you don't require, and can wait until the more adventurous have taken risks with the early versions. CPWI is now in an advanced and stable state and the last stuff needing fixing is integration with software that EAA enthusiasts are unlikely to use. The Evolution/Alt-Az enhancements have been available for some months, the wedge enablement is more recent (not that will bother us Hyperstar users). 



#5 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:30 PM

Just a heads up here. If you don’t have StarSense, it’s a pain it’s a problem doing an alignment since you can’t use the HC at all, no slewing at all. You have to either click on slew with a mouse or use the arrow keys on the keyboard to slew.

 

I finally used a wireless keyboard/mouse combo, even then it’s a pain to have to look through the finder if you have a small sensor on your camera, the find the right key to press.

 

Unless I’m missing something. Anybody have any ideas?

 

Jack

The same is true when using Tablet/SkySafari. You cannot do an alignment using a tablet then switch to GoTo on the HC. In a similar manner, CPWI creates a virtual HC replacing the regular HC, hence is ideal for indoor observers typical of many EAA participants. The on screen slew controls in CPWI work accurately and precisely for me, and I believe tactile mouse control is much easier than the lack of feedback from a tablet or phone screen. But if content to control scope in freezing temperatures using the HC, it is probably not for you.

 

The joy is unlike the previous Nexremote you are potentially free of cables; free from SkyQLink software and free from Windows 7 compatibility mode, at last freeing us from serial ports and laptops that are now ten years redundant, albeit one still needs a PL2303 driver if connecting to the HC by cable (which then means no need for Celestron WiFi). CPWI offers many new solutions.  However, I concur life is much easier if you have adopted Starsense for automated alignments. I have and it is excellent. It's probably not ideal if your camera FOV is tiny. It's great with Hyperstar. I have not tried with focal reducer or narrow FOV camera. 

 

I stress that I am NOT advocating CPWI unless your situation mimics mine. Many people will be better served by the greater portability of tablet/SkySafari, but that constrains you to close proximity to the scope or you need high quality connectivity to your home network in Access Point mode. To be fair, that is true of most Wireless solutions. My post was simply about how it can be just as challenging to manage this new software remotely plus highlight an additional challenge if you want to avoid a cable between HC and computer, yet depend on cat6a cable if distance makes WiFi generally difficult. Frankly, none of these solutions are easy, I just think CPWI offers new possibilities, but having Starsense is an advantage, just as it is in any other situation.


Edited by Noah4x4, 11 February 2019 - 12:42 PM.


#6 descott12

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:39 PM

Thanks Noah,

I am looking forward to trying this out.

I typically use my iPhone and SkyPortal to do a 3 star alignment, then I continue to use it for gotos. 

 

Are you saying that if I do alignment with SkyPortal, I won't then be able to switch to CPWI for gotos??  If that is true then CPWI really only would work if you have StarSense and the whole startup process in automated. I know that using SkyPortal and the goto keys on the HC concurrently works fine.



#7 skaiser

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:47 PM

HI Noah

 Yes at one point when I was experimenting, I found with my laptop if you plug in a USB WiFi module, then you can connect to the internet with one and the Evo with the other.

I was doing this for sw updating so I had "live" access to the files on the internet.

 

Interesting on the CPWI wireless connect mode.

I'll have to give that a try.

I'm good on the range distance. I run my scope on my 3rd floor balcony (so I can get above most trees) so my normal working distance is about 2 meters.

I still have my camera cable run out the door, but the wife has given permission to put a hole through the wall for cable routing. (bugs getting in was the motivation)

BY the way, Not sure if you noticed one of my other reply's .

I started having bad control issues with my Celestron WiFi dongle over the past couple months (using this on my CGX mount).

After extensive tests with Skyportal and Skysafari pro to prove the issue, Celestron replaced my dongle (it was still in warranty)

The new one is rock solid with connection and response. 

 

Take care



#8 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:47 PM

Thanks Noah,

I am looking forward to trying this out.

I typically use my iPhone and SkyPortal to do a 3 star alignment, then I continue to use it for gotos. 

 

Are you saying that if I do alignment with SkyPortal, I won't then be able to switch to CPWI for gotos??  If that is true then CPWI really only would work if you have StarSense and the whole startup process in automated. I know that using SkyPortal and the goto keys on the HC concurrently works fine.

To be honest Dave, I have not tried that.

 

I just switch on scope, switch on computer A, switch on computer B, click on connect & align and Starsense does the rest. This is true if I use tablet or PC/CPWI. The advantage is CPWI, like my camera/focuser software is Windows and I can control and align the scope even if 100 yards away using cat6a cable (wireless if shorter distance). It's a pain that SkyPortal/SkySafari isn't Windows unless run in an emulator. But as I said, CPWI won't be for everybody and it probably does work best with Starsense. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 11 February 2019 - 12:54 PM.


#9 garyc11

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 02:50 PM

does anyone know if the enable tracking feature will work before the scope is aligned?



#10 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 02:54 PM

How can any tracking commence before any alignment as surely the scope won't know where it is? It will start tracking the split second an alignment is complete if tracking is enabled.

#11 garyc11

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 05:02 PM

I just tried enabling the tracking before doing an alignment and i  can hear the scope motors running 

so it looks like you can enable tracking without doing a alignment



#12 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 05:21 PM

I just tried enabling the tracking before doing an alignment and i  can hear the scope motors running 

so it looks like you can enable tracking without doing a alignment

Are you attempting this in in CPWI? If yes, this needs reporting in TeamCelestron rather than here as it doesn't sound right to me. What is it "tracking" if the scope doesn't know where it is in the context of the celestial sphere? I don't see the purpose or its validity?  Even if you have somehow aimed your OTA at an object and even if your scope is moving, surely it can't "track" that object unless properly aligned. Can you please explain? 



#13 star drop

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 06:21 PM

This topic has little to do with EAA so off to the Celestron NexStar Forum it goes.


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#14 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 06:33 PM

Are you attempting this in in CPWI? If yes, this needs reporting in TeamCelestron rather than here as it doesn't sound right to me. What is it "tracking" if the scope doesn't know where it is in the context of the celestial sphere? I don't see the purpose or its validity?  Even if you have somehow aimed your OTA at an object and even if your scope is moving, surely it can't "track" that object unless properly aligned. Can you please explain? 

It has always been possible to turn tracking on in Celestron products (hand control, NexRemote, CPWI) without an alignment for polar aligned (physically EQ mounted) scopes.  It simply starts the RA axis at sidereal rate.  You won't have GoTo (it doesn't know where it is pointed) until/unless you add at least 1 alignment point (more required for accuracy).

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com


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#15 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 07:20 PM

It has always been possible to turn tracking on in Celestron products (hand control, NexRemote, CPWI) without an alignment for polar aligned (physically EQ mounted) scopes.  It simply starts the RA axis at sidereal rate.  You won't have GoTo (it doesn't know where it is pointed) until/unless you add at least 1 alignment point (more required for accuracy).

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com

Thanks for the clarification Mike. I was looking at my Alt-Az situation only. I can see the relevance for prior (manually/physically) Polar Aligned EQMounts,  but even that is an alignment. But as you say, and I concurred, you won't then enjoy GoTo  because the scope doesn't know what it is looking at. I guess it's for use with other alignment methodologies. But Starsense and CPWI is (IMHO) by far the way to best use this new software tool. 



#16 mclewis1

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:46 PM

I definitely want to try this. A few questions:

1) Does the HC need to be at a certain firmware version?

2) Where do you get the PL2302d driver? Is there a specific one to get?

1) First remember that there are two ways of using CPWI -  Bypassing the HC and using wifi for the connection, either using the Evo's built in wifi or via a wifi dongle in an AUX port. Using it this way it won't matter what the HC firmware is. The other method is to go through the HC using it's serial or USB connection and here it will matter.

 

Looking beyond the Evolution mount - CPWI doesn't run with the older v4 NexStar HCs. CPWI is being developed to run with the current Celestron mounts and wifi products. There was a brief discussion about the potential to run it with some other mounts but there doesn't seem to be any current desire on Celestron's part to do anything with CPWI with respect to backward compatibility with older products.

 

I also have no idea if CPWI will ever run directly connected (bypassing the HC) to mounts with the PC Port (like it does with the CGX on mount USB port). It sure would be nice to have this capability ... but I'll bet it would end up being very MC firmware dependent.

 

I think a general guideline will be the older the product (the longer it's been since Celestron sold it) the less likely CPWI will work with it.

 

 

2) I would not just Google a location to download ... I'd use Mike's links - https://www.nexstars.../USBDrivers.htm

 

This will keep you away from some of the dodgy download sites.


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#17 makeitso

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 10:41 AM

The same is true when using Tablet/SkySafari. You cannot do an alignment using a tablet then switch to GoTo on the HC. In a similar manner, CPWI creates a virtual HC replacing the regular HC, hence is ideal for indoor observers typical of many EAA participants. The on screen slew controls in CPWI work accurately and precisely for me, and I believe tactile mouse control is much easier than the lack of feedback from a tablet or phone screen. But if content to control scope in freezing temperatures using the HC, it is probably not for you.

 

The joy is unlike the previous Nexremote you are potentially free of cables; free from SkyQLink software and free from Windows 7 compatibility mode, at last freeing us from serial ports and laptops that are now ten years redundant, albeit one still needs a PL2303 driver if connecting to the HC by cable (which then means no need for Celestron WiFi). CPWI offers many new solutions.  However, I concur life is much easier if you have adopted Starsense for automated alignments. I have and it is excellent. It's probably not ideal if your camera FOV is tiny. It's great with Hyperstar. I have not tried with focal reducer or narrow FOV camera. 

 

I stress that I am NOT advocating CPWI unless your situation mimics mine. Many people will be better served by the greater portability of tablet/SkySafari, but that constrains you to close proximity to the scope or you need high quality connectivity to your home network in Access Point mode. To be fair, that is true of most Wireless solutions. My post was simply about how it can be just as challenging to manage this new software remotely plus highlight an additional challenge if you want to avoid a cable between HC and computer, yet depend on cat6a cable if distance makes WiFi generally difficult. Frankly, none of these solutions are easy, I just think CPWI offers new possibilities, but having Starsense is an advantage, just as it is in any other situation.

Noah, I don’t use SkySafari and a tablet so I don’t why you’re mentioning that in reply to my post. I do have an iPad with SkySafari on it , I don’t use it to connect to my mount though, that would require wireless, which I don’t have. 

 

Im just relating my experience when I used it is all. It’s great that you have lots of money to spend on stuff and that you can be in your cozy room with your dual computer setup, I don’t have that option so yes, I’m outside with a laptop connected via a cable. CPWI is obviously directed to those that have StarSense for an alignment. I can see the mouse being great if you’re sitting in an easy chair in your living room. If you’re outside contorting your body tying to aim at something while still trying to push the right key it’s a pain pure and simple. Clicking a mouse is not an option unless you can figure out a way to have one eye looking for the object you’re trying to center and the other eye making sure you’re clicking on the right object on the computer. 

 

If if you don’t believe me, try it once.

 

I am going to try different ways to do the initial alignment, basically using an eyepiece then switching to the camera after.

 

Jack



#18 Noah4x4

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 12:09 PM

As I have repeatedly said Jack, CPWI is not for everybody. But you broadly criticised CPWI as unsuitable "if you don't have Starsense" without any proper qualification. That particular criticism of its alignment capabilities isn't justified, albeit life is inevitably easier with Starsense and where your keyboard is illuminated. But this software wasn't ever aimed at your particular local circumstances.

 

CPWI was originally designed to support large CGX/L mounts that are often found in observatory or other remote controlled situations and to generally replace Nexremote,  which is similar, but dated Win7/RS232 remote controlled software. So by definition  it was probably never designed for adoption in your situation where local WiFi/Tablet/APP offers better portability should you ever want to embrace wireless freedom. 

 

You argued "it cannot be used with the regular HC". Whilst true, that isn't surprising as it offers a Windows based 'virtual HC' to wholly replace the regular HC. Wireless when using I-Pad/APP is similar as I mentioned and that is hence relevant. Yes, CPWI can be tethered by cable, but that is arguably the least likely remote option to be preferred unless there are specific issues preventing wireless connectivity of the type I originally described . 

 

This thread was hence aimed at assisting those that might benefit from this new software who are indeed highly likely to have more expensive observatory, remote or EAA equipment,  but might be deterred by any unjust comments that wrongly suggest an align not aided by Starsense is unduly difficult or incorrect context applied relating to the HC, albeit one concurs it may be far more difficult if in the dark where a wireless keyboard is not illuminated. But that is the least likely manner in which this software will be used.



#19 makeitso

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 06:19 PM

Once again, just relating my experience with CPWI. I didn’t say it was unsuitable. Just that it is more difficult. I did ask for suggestions which no one has offered yet. I am in the beta test forum and made some suggestions there to improve CPWI  so, please don’t get up on your high horse and start accusing me of knocking it when I haven’t done that. I also stated that I’m going to try different methods in case you missed that part of my post.

 

I appreciate the help you have offered me in the EAA forum, very useful.

 

I think it’s important to hear from all people with different levels of experience and equipment. If you disagree with that then so be it. I believe CPWI is directed to anyone that owns a Celestron mount and wants to pitch in, which includes me. CPWI has the potential to do what I want, and I’m helping turn that onto reality.

 

In the end, I’m just making suggestions I think may help some body work with what they have. Maybe though my testing with my situation, there will be a better way to use CPWI in the future. I certainly hope so.

 

Thanks, Jack



#20 Noah4x4

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 08:17 AM

A few thoughts after some proper testing outdoors last evening;

 

1.

Despite buying a top quality Netgear EX8000 wireless extender I still can't get my second generation SkyPortal dongle to connect in Access Point mode unless I am within 5 metres of it. I am told there is now a third generation device with a longer range, but I am reluctant to spend another £125 to find out.

 

2. I then tried two Intel NUCs with Iris Plus Graphics and 802.11ac wireless adapters using Windows Remote Desktop. The connections with the wireless extender were strong over 15 metres despite a brick wall obstruction. A tip here for users of a BT HomeHub/Router. Don't allow your devices to choose their own channels. Via the hubs advanced control's, seperate your channels into two distinct networks. 

 

a) I tried seperate 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz channels. The results were noticeably better on 5Ghz.

But had I used the SkyPortal dongle I suspect that might have limited me to 2.4Ghz.

b) The lag when using 4k UHD resolution was terrible.

c)  If I switched to 1080p HD resolution, the nominal lag was acceptable on 5Ghz.

 

Quite evidently trying to funnel 4k UHD using Windows Remote Desktop is the problem. You can have high power computers and a high power network, but Windows Remote Desktop doesn't seem to like 4k UHD over wireless, particularly with the extra graphics intensity of CPWI.

 

d)  I switched to cat6a cable. This worked fine, but still some occasional lag at 4k UHD settings.

e)  But cat6 cable worked perfectly at 1080p.

 

Here, I was, of course using a serial to USB adapter from HC to computer at the scope. But I then tried using my SkyPortal dongle to computer A using direct connect (distance one foot!). That worked, then on the cabled LAN I ran the two NUCs. Again that worked. So using Celestron wireless you can eliminate the HC cable, even if you have problems with WiFi between computers and need cable for that. I did try to create two wireless networks without joy, but it appears Skaiser might have had some success.

 

At this point I noticed something new. It appears that if you download Atik Core software and select Atik Air it (unknown to you) opens in your Win10 start ups and uses 'high resources' despite you not connecting to it.  To stop this, I uninstalled Atik Core Software then reinstalled this time NOT selecting Atik Air. This produced an improvement in performance.

 

I also tried Sharpcap, sadly, not very successfully with my Atik Horizon as Sharpcap supports Atik only via ASCOM and many of the features I was seeking wouldn't work. Then, when I reverted to Atik Infinity, I suffered weird lock ups and freezes until I rebooted the computer. My guess is there was some sort of driver conflict. 

 

In summary, I think adopting 4k UHD resolution is always going to be challenging with any WiFi set up especially if the same Windows Remote Desktop network is used for both camera and graphics hungry scope control. I have bought the best supporting gear and failed with WiFi. But if I drop down to 1080p the problem vanishes. The Windows Remote Desktop solution is fine, but you may need to cable it or compromise on resolution.

 

That apart, CPWI worked fine, except that Starsense Auto-alignment consistently required five plate solves (e.g. two failed). I tried with Starsense HC in the same conditions and that aligned in three (as it always does). But CPWI worked fine and gave me full scope control using Windows from indoors. Connectivity issues are challenging with higher resolution cameras, but you can always view in 'HD' and save in 4K UHD, so that won't be a problem for imagers. But could be frustrating for EAA Observers that desire 4k views, and in all likelihood might need a cable solution (or compromise on resolution). But I am confident the problem is with Windows Remote Desktop, so don't invest a tonne of money chasing the wireless 4k dream unless content with 1080p or having to settle for cable. BTW, USB3 and HDMI are also limited to short distances with 4K resolutions. I am tempted to try an AV/HDMI extender device, but have a suspicion that too might be limited as regards 4k UHD resolutions. Need to wait for wireless technology to catch up with camera technology.


Edited by Noah4x4, 16 February 2019 - 08:25 AM.

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#21 Lemonhawk

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 03:49 PM

Fiberoptic HDMI cables really increase the length of 4k UDH HDMI.  My projector wanted only 16' HDMI cables, but with fiberoptic 4k cables you can go 100'.  The added benefit is that lightning and overvolt don't travel down fiberoptic cables!  


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#22 Noah4x4

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:56 AM

Fiberoptic HDMI cables really increase the length of 4k UDH HDMI.  My projector wanted only 16' HDMI cables, but with fiberoptic 4k cables you can go 100'.  The added benefit is that lightning and overvolt don't travel down fiberoptic cables!  

Yeh, I realise that Lemonhawk, but HDMI isn't my sole issue. I also need to manage camera and focusser controls, albeit I could add a FibreOptic HDMI cable alongside my Cat6a cable and power cables. I did try a regular HDMI cable in this manner and all I got was a black screen as the distance was too far! 

 

But I have made some serious progress today....

 

The first thing I tried was switching power to camera and NUC (at scope) from battery to mains adapter AC/DC. It has since become evident that running an Intel NUC i5 with Iris Plus Graphics plus Atik Horizon using a regular 12v 22Ah Lipo battery isn't ideal despite my Tracer battery exceeding the NUCs 12v - 19v + or - 5% specification. The i5 NUC simply doesn't perform well at "12v". Ever since trying mains (AC/DC) power all round performance has improved (including WiFi). Quite evidently using more powerful computers and higher resolution larger resolution cameras demands significant power. I had earlier tried running the NUC using a 20v MaxOak K2 and the camera and focusser from the 12v Tracer and that did perform better than when running all at 12v. However, that route did require two batteries and I have been attempting a one battery solution. But I think that I must again revert to two batteries when absent from mains power.

 

My pre-2016 Celestron Evolution internal WiFI (SkyQlink) has a range of about two feet. My second generation SkyPortal dongle (Celestron.xx signal) has a range of about 5 metres. I am told a third generation SkyPortal dongle will reach 20 metres, but until I hear somebody independent of Celestron confirm that I don't intend to waste another £130. I can't get either of mine to connect to my high quality Netgear EX8000 wireless extender despite it only being 10 metres from my scope and 10 metres from my 'mission control' (so equidistant). However, the wireless adapters in my computers will connect to it from 30 metres away, so the problem is evidently the weakness of the Celestron WiFi signal. I hence can't use Access Point mode unless I buy a third Celestron WiFi device (and I might if somebody confirms its range is certain to be over 10 metres?!).

 

I have to thank Skaiser for the next idea...

 

What I have now done is put a cheap plug in (£12) USB additional wireless adapter into my NUC at the scope.This means I now have two adapters in the same computer. Temporarily running that computer linked to a monitor, I then connected one wireless adapter to my 5GHz network using "WiFi" and the other to my (2.4Ghz) SkyPortal dongle now in direct mode using "WiFi2".

 

These Win10 settings  are best accessed via <Start><Settings><Network and Internet><WiFI> . I found that if you try to connect via the task bar WiFi icon your results can be a bit hit and miss. So use this route to install these via <settings>. Reboot that computer before next steps. If you can connect one adapter to the 5Ghz network channel that will improve results. Sadly, my Celestron dongle is slower 2.4Ghz (I am not sure what the third generation version is).

 

I then switch on scope (inc. SkyPortal dongle) and switch on NUC at the scope (now running headless, monitor disconnected). Although you can't see this (e.g. assume you are now indoors!) it will connect the internal "WiFi" adapter to your network and "WiFi2" external (USB) adpater to the dongle. This gets rid of the messy serial to USB adapter between the HC and computer necessary if you don't use WiFI connect with CPWI.

 

I then boot up computer B (indoors) and connect it to computer A using Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop having selected <WAN 10mps or better>. You only need Windows 10 Pro on computer A. All camera, focusser and other software is running to A. I discovered that you must boot up Computer A before B for this to work.

 

You can then see your Computer A desktop on a monitor attached to Computer B. You have therefore established wireless remote control. If you check <Start><Settings><Network and Internet><WiFI> you should find "WiFi" on Computer A is connected to the network and "WiFi2" to 'Celestron.xx'. The internal wireless adapter must obviously  be 5Ghz to connect to the 5Ghz channel. If it is merely 2.4Ghz and that produces poor perfomance, you can always disable it (via Device Manager)and connect two external Wireless adapters. What you by now have achieved is one wireless connection between scope and computer A and a seperate wireless remote desktop connection between A and B permitting control from Computer B.

 

You then fire up CPWI and select connect via WiFi. That connects Computer A to the dongle. Hence, this offers a fully wireless solution where you can't get Access Point mode to work due to poor Celestron WiFI signal strength. Access Point mode should, in theory, be easier, but if your WiFi dongle is out of warranty and has hopelessly short range as it is an early generation device this provides a workaround costing only an extra £12 for the second wireless adapter and utilises the dongle despite its poor range (it can handle the three feet required here).

 

I will caveat this information by saying that whilst the steps above have now got my 'end to end' 4K UHD system running over wireless with limited lag, it isn't as good as cat6a cable. However, what imagers can do is run everything in 1080p HD display mode as that doesn't prevent you saving in optimum camera resolution for later post processing. EAA observers that seek a 4K remote controlled image on screen (indoors) either need to accept there will be some lag; or adopt cable(s) or reduce resolution. However, my experimentation and success with twin wireless adapters should add to the "knowledge base" in Cloudy Nights.


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#23 mclewis1

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:54 AM

Noah, Glad you got success with the second wifi adapter trick. After your earlier post I was thinking that this might be something useful to try.

 

I have a USB wifi dongle with a -5db antenna on it that I use when helping out friends who are using PC sticks or similar small PCs. I bought it to solve some wifi problems on an older laptop and it's now become my goto solution when working on other's wifi problems. In my case my observatory PCs have the antenna connections (but no antennas) and I've never resorted to using wifi on them. The luxury of a 75' cat 5 cable out to the observatory has been hard to beat. 


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#24 Noah4x4

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 06:33 PM

Noah, Glad you got success with the second wifi adapter trick. After your earlier post I was thinking that this might be something useful to try.

 

I have a USB wifi dongle with a -5db antenna on it that I use when helping out friends who are using PC sticks or similar small PCs. I bought it to solve some wifi problems on an older laptop and it's now become my goto solution when working on other's wifi problems. In my case my observatory PCs have the antenna connections (but no antennas) and I've never resorted to using wifi on them. The luxury of a 75' cat 5 cable out to the observatory has been hard to beat. 

Mark, whilst I had the above dual wireless adapter methodology running fine with CPWI and camera at an 1080p screen resolution,  I too have since gone back to Cat 6 cable and am now using the Starsense HC rather than CPWI after a really frustrating session tonight.....

 

1. Tonight, CPWI was taking six or seven plates just to complete an alignment. The Starsense HC merely three plates (as normal); 100 stars found in each; bang on the money. I don't understand why CPWI was so tedious.

    

2. With CPWI and my Microfocusser also running over (wireless) Remote Desktop, Atik Infinity software at 4K UHD resolution was so slow over wireless it was almost unusable.  I attribute this to the combined screen data of my 4K plus camera and CPWI being too much for Remote Desktop (even over 802.11ac wireless). It is only screen data being transferred between the computers, but it is a lot and 4x the volume of 'HD'.

 

3. I suffered a number of CPWI disconnects, just like Skaiser, and yet my dongle was only a foot from my Intel NUC at the scope. My 2nd Generation SkyPortal dongle range is pathetic, else I might try connecting it to my 2.4Ghz channel and mycomputers  to my seperate 5Ghz channel.  But Access Point mode only works if my powerful Netgear EX8000 wireless extender is under a couple of metres from the dongle; yet the extender will connect to my Computer's wireless adapters from 30 metres.I know Skaiser has a third generation SkyPortal dongle; and he seems to be having issues with that. Frustrating!

 

I agree with your comment about the luxury of a 75' Cat 6 cable out to your observatory. Whilst I don't have a permanent pier, by this time tomorrow I will have run out mains AC/DC power; Cat6 cable and possibly an extension cable for my HC under my decking into a waterpoof box that I will install adjacent to my scope, so that I only have to plug in three short cables into that. Frankly, I have completely given up on WiFi solutions with a 4K camera and 4K display.  I am also not convinced CPWI delivers what I need. But I guess I will attempt that again once it becomes more refined.



#25 Noah4x4

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 05:59 AM

Had a radical new idea this morning, it's a bit extreme, but I think I might have cracked this challenge by using a third computer (I have a few lying around from my business days). This is how....

 

1.  I connected camera and focusser to my Intel NUC at the scope using USB3. All principle processing is done on that.

 

2.  I connected outside NUC to my NUC indoors using wireless Windows Remote Desktop. The NUC indoors is hence a dumb terminal. But even so, it has to receive screen data and redraw the screen, a task that requires 4x as much screen data if a 4k UHD display is employed compared to 1080p HD.

 

3.  This is running on my 5Ghz channel with both computers tethered to my Netgear EX8000 wireless extender located up to 30 feet away (e.g. too far for my SkyPortal external WiFi accessory to connect to it). The signal to computers is reported as "excellent with UDP enabled".

 

5.  I now have my cameras Atik Infinity software running on the NUC at the scope and being viewed on a 4k UHD display indoors.

 

There is a little lag, but tolerable, and I could drop to a 1080p display if I was more interested in AP than observing as I could still <save> images in the higher resolution for later post processing. But as an EAA observer I wanted to view in (almost) the native resolution of my camera (that exceeds 4k UHD), also to gain benefit from the extra <zoom> that permits, which is desirable on Hyperstar. Frankly, I had struggled with this until I upgraded my Wireless extender and separated 5GHz and 2.4 Ghz channels. It takes much computing and connectivity 'oomph' compared to lower resolution cameras. 

 

7. If I then connect my SkyPortal external WiFi accessory to the computer at the scope using a second WiFi adapter, it will work via wireless RDP (2), but the lag is terrible. If I connect my 2.4 Ghz SkyPortal external WiFi accessory to my network in Access Point mode, once again, the problem is lag, despite having split my network into distinct 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz channels.

 

My conclusion is that attempting BOTH a 4K UHD display from camera and adding the graphics intensive CPWI is too much for Windows Remote Desktop when wireless given the distance from my Wireless network extender. It does all work over cat 6 cable, but I wanted to dispense with that. However, at 1080p it probably won't be an issue. 

 

8.  My SkyPortal dongle's signal in Access Point mode will also only reach my Wireless extender if almost adjacent to it (e.g. about a foot - hopeless). However, rather strangely, I can bridge the ten feet to my indoor mission control in DIRECT mode. I should explain here that the distances are not equidistant. My wireless extender is in my house, my mission control is an office in my converted garage, and my scope sits in between. What is odd is that the range in Direct mode appears to at least four yards longer than in Access Point mode. But I had earlier tried putting the wireless extender in my mission control, and even tried a second wireless extender without joy. I do feel that the capacity of Windows Remote Desktop to handle screen data is the issue, not aided by poor range of the SkyPortal dongle in Access Point mode (note mine is second generation, third generation may be better).

 

9. But by connecting CPWI via SkyPortal dongle in Direct mode, to a SECOND laptop indoors I have managed to get this working. Success is obviously because I am not squeezing both 4K UHD and PCWI screen data over the same network and/or RDP.  I discarded my cat 6 cable, and it has been working fine in (daytime) test this morning for four hours without a disconnect.

 

My obvious intent was to get both 4k UHD camera/display and CPWI running wirelessly over Windows Remote Desktop viewed on a SINGLE laptop indoors. But every other wireless route I have attempted has failed. This triple PC route won't suite everybody,. Indeed, some might say, why not simply use SkySafari on my Android tablet which is more portable?  However, I wanted a solution with proper keyboard and mouse rather than a swipe screen.

 

I think this route may meet my needs. However, on the third laptop controlling CPWI I did have to 'forget' all other networks that repeatedly wanted to butt in, so the hoodoo of 'WiFi Clutter' remains a problem! 

 

Not saying CPWI is better than Stellarium or Cartes Du Ceil, but at least I have it working wirelessly in a typical remote (indoors) EAA paradigm, albeit I had to embrace a third computer.

 

Lastly, solved the mystery why PCWI was taking multiple plates when the HC takes three. You can change the number of plates in CPWI and the default exceeds three. So if the HC will succeed in three, you can try reducing this number. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 22 February 2019 - 06:12 AM.



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