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On The Edge of Defeat

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#1 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:41 AM

I've written extensively about the problems that I've had with PCs, mice, and USB hubs on my remote C14 out at DSW.  After struggling for over a year with random disconnects from my original ASI-1600MM-C I replaced it in early June with a brand new ASI-1600MM-C Pro.  At first, it worked flawlessly and it would run all night without a single problem; but, the idea that my problems were over were short lived.  By mid-July, my filter wheel and focus system started going off-line at random intervals.  The USB hub that they were connected through on the camera got to the point where they would simply disappear after about 10-15 minutes.   That shut down my whole system--making it unusable.  These were the only two devices connected through the camera hub so I flew back out to the observatory and ran yet another cable up through my mount to a separate industrial quality hub to run these two devices.  And sure enough, that worked perfectly!  Unfortunately, the hub problem appears to have been just the tip of the iceberg.   Now the camera dies every session after only a couple of frames.  Last night with perfect seeing and dark skies, I got exactly two subs out of an 8 hour session before the camera went tango-uniform.  This camera has been in service for slightly under 90 days and it's definitely dead.  This failure is different than the failures of the first camera.  When it would hang, the first camera could simply be stopped and restarted.  This current problem causes the camera to completely freeze up.  The only way to get it restarted is to disconnect it from the ASCOM driver and then to restart it.  The camera is connected with a single USB cable directly to the PC so there's a tiny possibility that it could be the cable (which is also slightly less than 90 days old.)  I'll have someone out at DSW check the cable but I'll be stunned if that's the problem.  I just can't understand how so many folks can use this same ASI-1600 camera without any problems.  I've now had two and experienced a 100% failure rate.  And yes, I've triple checked:  I have all of the most current drivers for everything.

 

On top of all of this, the folks at TeamViewer declared out of the blue that I'm a commercial user and kicked me off.  I don't know what precipitated that action since I use one computer to connect to one computer and I've never even come close to violating their personal use policy.  Fortunately, I've had Chrome desktop standing by as a back up it it's been working fine.

 

I'll have to add up the number of trips I've made from Oregon to DSW, but it's a LOT.  My wife is so sick of hearing about all the problems that I won't even bring it up at home any more.  After huge struggles, I've been able to produce one image in June, another in early August, and nothing since.  My system is continuously down because of crummy, unreliable gear (well, that and there were the mice a while back.)  To be fair, my AP mount, FLI cameras, and Optec focusing system have been mostly flawless.  The really big problems have mostly been with Cappuccino computers and ZWO cameras.

 

So I find myself on the edge of a precipice looking down.  I'm either flying out to try one more time to fix this thing or I'm flying out there to rip it all out and give up.  I can't keep doing this so it's down to about 50:50.  I can't keep imaging from Oregon so this may be the end for a while.  I've got a new 20" on order so I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that.  I'm sure not sending it to Chile after this experience.  Maybe I just need to regroup for a while.  I'll talk to the folks at ZWO but unless I can come up with a more reliable path, I might be done.  I value persistence but I'm pretty aggravated.

 

 

John

 

 


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#2 jerahian

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:54 AM

John-

 

I can only imagine how frustrating this all must be.  It is aggravating enough to have issues locally with a backyard setup, much less than a remote observatory and the costs associated with that!  I think with your background, expertise, and standing within the AP community, ZWO would be only happy to hear your frustrations and work with you to resolve them.  ZWO would not have come this far if their products were truly shoddy, so your decision to talk to them is a positive one IMO and I hope will lead to a positive outcome.  Please keep us apprised of how you go with them.

 

Good luck,

Ara


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#3 PirateMike

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 10:09 AM

John, don't give up, you're too deeply involved and stopping will make you a very unhappy camper. frown.gif

 

Have you tried staying at DSW a few nights to "trouble shoot" the issue and control everything without a remote connection? Maybe the problem is your internet connection dropping packets.

 

 

 

Miguel   8-)

 

.



#4 Ed Wiley

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 10:12 AM

Can't help you with your ASI, my Moravian works fine*, as does you FLI.

 

But, I had the same experience with TeamViewer. So I put in a ticket to TV explaining that I was not commercial and outlining my use. Two months later they got back to me and removed the "commercial block." At least one other observatory in our complex was also tagged. My observatory partner was not. At any rate, I also switched to Chrome but now have TV as the backup.

 

Good luck!

Ed

 

*Even with an experienced partner, all this took some time to get right. Fortunately I am only 2 hours east of the observatory, but it took some residence time to work everything out.


Edited by Ed Wiley, 25 August 2019 - 10:19 AM.


#5 kingjamez

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 10:15 AM

That is super frustrating John. While my system is in the backyard, I try to run it as if it were remote and yet there always seems to be a need to go outside and fix something.

Do you have a remote power distribution unit? Being able to cycle power in specific order has helped my setup. I've found a few times where my ASI-1600mm-c gets into a weird state depending on when the 12v power is applied in relation to when the USB plug is inserted. On rare occasions, I've had the camera disappear and not come back (even when unplugged and replugged). The only fix was to disconnect power, plug the USB in first, then reconnect the 12v.

If doing this remotely, I would physically turn off the PC and camera. Then one at a time, turn on the PC, let it boot, then turn on the camera power. Of course you'd need to configure your PC BIOS/UEFI to start on power. You might also experiment with the opposite, camera power first, PC connection second.

I don't understand why order of power makes a difference as I think they are separate circuits, but it absolutely does on my camera.

I don't know if your problem is the same as mine but perhaps this is something you already have the ability to try.

-Jim

Edited by kingjamez, 25 August 2019 - 10:18 AM.


#6 TOMDEY

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 10:41 AM

Gosh, that sinking feeling and reminding oneself... "this is supposed to be fun!"

 

There is also the slash and burn, brute force approach... to throw in the towel on the problematic make and model and go with something that has a proven reliable. I know that is not our nature, as engineers... but if it gets things up, running and back in service... worth considering. Especially very remote, reliability goes to the top of the requirements list. At work, we would sometimes get caught up in the loop of trying to troubleshoot some purchased equipment... clock ticking on our contract deliverables. Switching brands was sometimes the pragmatic solution... even though it left that distasteful frustration of our original choice an issue... unresolved.    Tom


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#7 terry59

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:05 AM

I'm a retired military guy, used to 24/7 mission critical ops. Equipment specs were important but how it performed determined mission success or failure. I think I'd try proven equipment before pulling the plug

 

Good Luck



#8 *skyguy*

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:24 AM

I would try powered USB hubs on all the attached imaging equipment.

 

Also, get rid of Teamviewer and try TightVNC. It easy to install and use with quick screen redraws and works flawlessly.

 

https://www.tightvnc.com/download.php


Edited by *skyguy*, 25 August 2019 - 11:25 AM.

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#9 rockstarbill

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:34 AM

Will the SX Ultrastar guide camera work instead of the ZWO?
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#10 scadvice

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:36 AM

The mention of power got me to thinking, "Where does John's DSW power come from and how is it set up?" Intermittent voltage fluctuation, current inadequacy, shielding, and handshaking were some of the main challenges we faced when I worked in the defense industry.

 

Your moving a lot of data around. How do you store and send it back to you? Perhaps some of the problem resides there? 


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#11 FredOS

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:36 AM

I'm not sure if it helps (and it is expensive) but if your remote PC is similar to a Primalucelab Eagle, you can independently shutoff on and off 4 USB outputs and several power outputs. This helps dealing with equipment that needs to be restarted in a specific order. It also has USB3.0 but these cannot returned on /off (at least on my version). I was able to deal with my equipment remotely during the summer in that way. For ZWO, I have no solution, I continue to fall back on FLI camera which works.



#12 Akwilliams

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 01:55 PM

I know your fustrations.... I had many "USB" issues that would ruin a session time after time.   What worked for me was the introduction of a Pegasus Ultimate Powerbox.   Yeah its a bit expensive, but since then not a single disconnect problem.. unless pretty much self induced!   In addtion i have added a relatively cheap mini PC which sits on my rig (both the UPB and Mini PC sit quite happily on all my scopes (70mm, 100mm and 120mm) and can easily be swapped between them all in about 5 mins.

 

Its easy to say this could be you salvation.. but the cost has to be considered.    Just to add (and mentioned by others) the power supply is also critical.  All of mine runs off an AC/DC convertor and i use good quality cable which certainly made a difference.  I now get a steady 12.6v with everything attached and running.

 

I often felt like launching my rig over the wall and being done with it.. but i am glad i didnt.  

 

Also, what OS are you running... Windows 10?   If you are not running pro, then i would strongly suggest that you upgrade from home to pro ($25-30) and use the built in Remote Desktop function.   It is rock solid and reduces overheads on the computers. 


Edited by Akwilliams, 25 August 2019 - 01:57 PM.


#13 dhaval

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 02:24 PM

John,

I think you should remove the ZWO1600 as your guide camera. I think you should go either the SX or ZWO174MM route (or the QHY version). 

 

With regards to TV - I am going to ditch it for good. The first time I had an issue, I sent them a note explaining what I am doing and after 3 months they came back saying to them what I was doing was commercial. I got a new account with a different email address and last night, I get the same message. I am done with that crappy piece of application. If they want money, they should advertise it like that - maybe a person use license. They are one of the most unethical companies around, that's for sure. I think all remote observatory operators ought to make VPN'ing in to the observatory network mandatory. And then you can use something like Nomachine NX to remote it, done (or RDP or RNC or anything else). 

 

I hope you don't stop, that will be a shame! 

 

BTW, I am getting ready to put a C14Edge at Marathon, looking forward to that!

 

CS! 


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#14 pbunn

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 02:36 PM

John,

 

Sorry about your problems.

 

I have a set up at DSW that has had no problems . It has been there a year and the only problems that I have had is a slipping Alnitak Flip Flap that Ollie swapped out in a few minutes. 

I use an Intel NUC I3 mounted on the bottom of the MX+ Versuplate. The FLI 16200 camera is directly connected to the NUC and I have a USB3 hub that all other USB connection are routed through. These are a NightCrawler, FLI Filter Wheel, an UltraStar guide camera and a Flip Flip.

 

I use the DSW wifi to connect to the NUC evn though I have an Ethernet cable through the mount. I found that the wifi was fine, even when downloading.

 

My system has been very reliable - I have never been to DSW. Tolga set up my system and Ollie has always done anything that was needed.

 

I tried using the ASI 1600 as a guide with the ONAG at home and had poor results. I have had many communication and driver problems with ZWO equipment

in the past. Not sure if that is your problem but the UltraStar has been bulletproof as has been the Loadstar that I use here at the home observatory. I use a NUC with basically  the same setup here at my home observatory..

 

I used Team Viewer and they did the same to me. I bought Remote PC for $65 a year and it seems to work fine.

 

I hope that you get things straightened out soon

 

I am with Dhaval on TV. They operate like a used car company.

 

Pat


Edited by pbunn, 25 August 2019 - 02:38 PM.

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#15 PeteM

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 03:24 PM

Sorry to hear about all this John, that is super frustrating after all the time and money you have put into this. I sure hope you can step back and maybe take a short break to return with a fresh perspective. But it is odd that 2 ZWO 1600's have puked on you.

 

As far as TV is concerned, it really think it is a great product beyond the consumer/commercial licensing aspect. Luckily I have a license via work (you pay the yearly fee and your account can connect to as many TV installed computers as you want). Considering your investment in the gear and remote site, a single TV license might be worth it. Pretty confident the issue with TV + DSW is TV see multi connections going into the various computers via the one IP address (or maybe a couple) at DSW. and that flags it as a typical business setup.


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#16 GrandadCast

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 03:39 PM

Does explain why I haven't seen any of your images lately. Just fix the issue. Make a list and work through it, bang it on the wall and make sure it still works afterward. I worked electronics for 40 years, you need to find the issue and prove it is it (you can make it do the issue at your will), if cable then prove that cable is faulty by using it somewhere else know to be good. A lot of these connection (USB, power plugs etc.) are clean only when plugged and unplugged. Most cables are meant to be plug and unplug, specially power plugs. You see that here with so many saying 'Its a bad cable' when all they did is put a new one and say its was the problem, yea, like cables just rot. Prove its bad and if it just starts to work, welcome to the intermitting world and you will be back again trouble shooting. I sure would hate not seeing your work in the future.

 

Jess

 



#17 TimN

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 03:51 PM

John, you do so many excellent images when things work properly , its a shame you are having all these issues. 

 

I have a backyard observatory and when I think about it, there have been lots of issues. Of course I can easily locate the problem and fix it because I'm local. Rather than recommend different pieces of hardware etc, I think you need someone local to your observatory, that can do basic troubleshooting and fix minor issues or let you know when a piece of hardware needs fixing/replacing. It doesn't necessary have to be an imaging guy - someone knowledgeable in PC's would probably work out. 

 

I have no idea what it would cost but it would have to be cheaper than you flying down. Things would be fixed much quicker and you - and your wife - would be less frustrated.



#18 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 06:04 PM

First, thanks for the thoughts, comments, and ideas.  Second, TeamViewer is the least of my problems and I'm not very worried about it.  It's just that I found the timing ironic given all of the other stuff was happening at the same time.  Finally, while I appreciate all of the suggestions, I've discussed all of this stuff in gory detail in other threads.  I have my system set up so that the various components can be individually powered, the whole system is on a UPS, I have EMI filters everywhere, I have new, high quality cables, and on and on and on.  And yes, I've spent countless nights out at DSW working on my system.  THE problem here is with the relatively new ASI-1600MM-C Pro camera that I use for guiding--and even though I'm not 100% sure of anything I'll go with 99+% certainty on that one.  I know how to get the system restarted if it stops so I can stay up all night and nurse my system along to get data; but, I'm not going to do that.  The whole thing is designed to run unattended all night and it's the end of the line for me if I have to go back to staying up all night to gather data.

 

Without changing everything in sight or designing some new equipment, a viable solution has to fit within a narrow set of parameters.  The way that I have my system configured, I need a large format sensor for the guide system.  This is because I cannot translate the guide sensor.  Without translation, the size of the sensor is what determines the FOV for finding a guide star.  The 4/3", 17.69 mm x 13.38 mm sensor in the ASI-1600MM-C is why I chose that camera--and that's ultimately a very simple approach.  With the 3900 mm EFL of the C14, I get a 15.6' x 11.8' field to find a sufficiently bright guide star, which has been sufficient.  I loved my LodeStar but the 8.98mm x 6.71mm sensor in the UltraStar is half of the ASI-1600 and it's just too small.  A KAF-8300 based camera (17.9 mm x 13.5 mm) would be perfect, if the camera form factor would allow it to mechanically fit on my auto guider under the FLI filter wheel (so large, center port cameras such as SB cameras won't work!)  The readout speed might be a bit slow but I think that it could work.  Finally, a QHY163M uses the same sensor as the ASI-1600MM-C, but I don't know if I'm going to jump from the frying pan into the fire with yet another Chinese made camera.  I've already doubled down on the ZWO bet and lost.  Do I triple down by betting on the QHY option just because it's different?  The cost would be nothing relative to what I've already spent flying back and forth to DSW but I just can't keep experimenting at long distance and my pile of unused cameras is growing.  I suppose that I could build a test rig in my shop in Bend, but the cost to reproduce what I have out at DSW isn't going to be cheap either, but maybe that makes some sense.  The problems that I've had with these cameras have always showed up after the system has been running flawlessly for 4-8 weeks. It appears to be an issue of reliability.  They just don't seem to be built with high-use, reliability in mind.  On the other hand, my FLI camera just keeps ticking along.  Those guys know how to build a reliable piece of equipment.

 

Yes, I could completely reconfigure my system to use an OAG system, although that's a challenge given the 37 x 37 mm KAI-16803 sensor that I use.  If I go that route, I'm going to have to pull the scope out of DSW to completely reconfigure and test the system.  DSW is not the place to make this kind of change nor is it a good place for experimenting.  It is quite dirty, the accommodations are marginal, and there is no clean space (or even table space) for working on stuff like this.  And once I pull the scope, I'm probably not going to take it back out there.  My attention is going to turn to my 20" project but that's not going to be online until next spring at the earliest.  I've ultimately got to either come up with a fix that works reliably with my current configuration or I'm out of there.

 

 

John



#19 zach540

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 05:09 AM

Definitely not as experienced as you or others in this thread, but I recently ran into issues with my ASI1600MM-Pro as well.  I had my filter wheel and guide camera connected to the hub on the 1600.  Could connect to and use the guide camera, and the filter wheel but not the 1600.  I thought maybe it was trying to draw too much for all those through the internal hub, unplugged the guide camera, left the filter wheel connected.  I was able to connect to the filter wheel through the camera, but still not the 1600.  Could also connect to the guide camera through a separate cable, so I started swapping cables around, used different ports, powered USB hubs, etc, nothing worked.  I ended up trying a shorter cable, which worked great, but would not allow the observatory wiring to be routed the way I wanted, and knew it would only be a matter of time before someone tripped over it. 

I decided I'd try a powered cable instead, and haven't had an issue since, I think the 1600 is very particular about it's USB power.  This is the cable I went with:
https://www.amazon.c...duct/B00DMFB5OK

I've only had it for about a week at this time, so take it with a grain of salt, but I'd buy it again at this point. 


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#20 Rac19

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 05:40 AM

I have gone through similar experiences with my Evolution 8 over the past 2 years or so and I finally have a set up that seems to be stable.

 

ZWO recommends against using a USB hub and I certainly found it to be problematic. My, admittedly expensive, solution was to ditch the USB hub and bolt a mini PC with plenty of USB ports to the scope. I used an Intel NUC but there are a number of other similar units. I added a "USB Lid" giving me a total of 6 USB ports.

 

Also, I quickly gave up on TeamViewer for this application. I found it to be too laggy (being a hosted service) and there are those pesky commercial use messages. I now use Windows Remote Desktop, which unfortunately requires Windows Professional on the Mini PC. A Cheaper option (free?) would be VNC et al.

 

I find that having all software running on a Mini PC bolted to the 'scope and accessed over my home WiF network from the comfort of the indoors to be quite stable. Even if there is an occasional WiFi glitch, image capture is unaffected.

 

The Mini PC has 12 GB RAM, a 250 GB SSD main storage plus a 512 GB M2 SSD data drive (for image storage). It did cost a bit to set up. I also have a 150 (approximately) Watt Hour MaxOak K2 battery which yields 6 to 8 hours of operation. It is relatively easy to bolt all this gear to an Alt/Az mount, not so easy for an EQ mount perhaps.

 

EDIT: A diagram.

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • ConnectionDiagram1.jpg

Edited by Rac19, 26 August 2019 - 06:02 AM.


#21 pbunn

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:36 AM

If you need a wide field guide camera - I'd find a  QSI WS 683 or another solid 8300 sensor camera. My 683WSG is bulletproof.

 

Pat



#22 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:01 PM

Definitely not as experienced as you or others in this thread, but I recently ran into issues with my ASI1600MM-Pro as well.  I had my filter wheel and guide camera connected to the hub on the 1600.  Could connect to and use the guide camera, and the filter wheel but not the 1600.  I thought maybe it was trying to draw too much for all those through the internal hub, unplugged the guide camera, left the filter wheel connected.  I was able to connect to the filter wheel through the camera, but still not the 1600.  Could also connect to the guide camera through a separate cable, so I started swapping cables around, used different ports, powered USB hubs, etc, nothing worked.  I ended up trying a shorter cable, which worked great, but would not allow the observatory wiring to be routed the way I wanted, and knew it would only be a matter of time before someone tripped over it. 

I decided I'd try a powered cable instead, and haven't had an issue since, I think the 1600 is very particular about it's USB power.  This is the cable I went with:
https://www.amazon.c...duct/B00DMFB5OK

I've only had it for about a week at this time, so take it with a grain of salt, but I'd buy it again at this point. 

Zach,

This is a VERY interesting idea!  The symptoms match so perhaps that's the problem that I'm running into.  I can't recall exactly but I believe that the cable that I have running from the PC to the camera is either 9 or 12 feet.  It may be that there's just enough voltage drop to put the camera on the edge.  I'll put this idea into the mix of solutions that I'm thinking about.

 

Thanks!

John


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#23 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:02 PM

If you need a wide field guide camera - I'd find a  QSI WS 683 or another solid 8300 sensor camera. My 683WSG is bulletproof.

 

Pat

Thanks Pat.  I'll check it out.

 

John



#24 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:04 PM

I have gone through similar experiences with my Evolution 8 over the past 2 years or so and I finally have a set up that seems to be stable.

 

ZWO recommends against using a USB hub and I certainly found it to be problematic. My, admittedly expensive, solution was to ditch the USB hub and bolt a mini PC with plenty of USB ports to the scope. I used an Intel NUC but there are a number of other similar units. I added a "USB Lid" giving me a total of 6 USB ports.

 

Also, I quickly gave up on TeamViewer for this application. I found it to be too laggy (being a hosted service) and there are those pesky commercial use messages. I now use Windows Remote Desktop, which unfortunately requires Windows Professional on the Mini PC. A Cheaper option (free?) would be VNC et al.

 

I find that having all software running on a Mini PC bolted to the 'scope and accessed over my home WiF network from the comfort of the indoors to be quite stable. Even if there is an occasional WiFi glitch, image capture is unaffected.

 

The Mini PC has 12 GB RAM, a 250 GB SSD main storage plus a 512 GB M2 SSD data drive (for image storage). It did cost a bit to set up. I also have a 150 (approximately) Watt Hour MaxOak K2 battery which yields 6 to 8 hours of operation. It is relatively easy to bolt all this gear to an Alt/Az mount, not so easy for an EQ mount perhaps.

 

EDIT: A diagram.

 

As I said right up front, I don't have any hubs between the PC and the camera.  It's a direct connection with a single cable.

 

John



#25 Stelios

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:19 PM


As I said right up front, I don't have any hubs between the PC and the camera.  It's a direct connection with a single cable.

FWIW, I also use an ASI1600MM-C (for about 2 1/2 years now), I have a powered USB3 7-port hub and a 6" regular USB3 cable from hub to camera, and have had *zero* problems since (almost 2 years).

 

Initially, I was using an "active repeater" cable (30-ft or something, longer than I needed but at the time shortest I could find) and *that* cable had issues with the camera. 

 

An unscientific appraisal is that the powered USB3 hub has been a positive for me. I have had zero problems running equipment from it, whereas before I got it I had all sorts of problems, some intermittent, some not.




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