***Reposted from a topic in the DIY section but I was advised it was more appropriate to post here in the computer section***
This is my first post on the forum so be indulgent
Coming from a IT background, I built my astrophotography rig over the past few months using every tools in my bag to make the whole process as simple as it can be without making huge compromises. My end-goal was to have a setup that I could leave in my backyard or at a remote site and let it run overnight without power or human intervention. To give you an idea of what my current rig consist of, here is a bullet list. Keep in mind that this is a "starter" rig, couln't fit a Losmandy in the budget over 6 months.
- Mount: Sky-Watcher HEQ5-Pro
- QHYCCD Polemaster
- Williams Optics Z103 (4inch refractor)
- Williams Optics 6AIII Field Flattener
- Sony A7R3 Camera (I know, not the most appropriate camera but that's the one I had...)
- Orion 60mm Guide Scope
- Orion StarShoot Autoguider
- Celestro LiPO battery tank
So, here is the issue that I wanted to adress. Using that setup, it requires a laptop or a computer of some fashion to:
- Run the mount through EQmod/EQmac
- Run PHD2
- Run Polemaster software
Obviously, that's not very convenient since that means bringing another huge power bank and cable for the laptop, a chair for me and a mini table for the laptop. This is when I remembered that the Raspberry Pi 4 comes with full USB 3.0 ports AND Wifi+Gigabit Ethernet. Since the Raspberry Pi can be powered by a few small batteries that fit in the case (Type 18650 batteries) I figured I had to buy the following:
Powered USB 3.0 Hub (With 7 USB 3.0 ports)
Small Talentcell 12v Battery to power the hub
Raspberry Pi 4 Battery HAT (It plugs itselt on top of the RPI)
That was great, the USB 3.0 Hub only used 1 port on the Pi and could run for 6-7 hours by itself. The Pi could run for around the same time using 2x18650 batteries. Now onto the fun part, there is a software called VirtualHere that run on Linux that can share usb devices over the same network (If I plug a USB key in the pi, the key shows up on my Windows 10 desktop as a normal USB key with full speed (Well, as fast as your network will handle it) This way, once I do the setup and polar alignement + focusing (An electronic focuser is on my upgrade list but that will easily integrate with that setup) I can leave the rig and do everything from my desktop (Slewing, alignement, autoguiding, image capture, etc.)
Everything works, but I'll have to 3D print some bracket to correcly mount it on the side of my scope. The current system of ZipTies + tape works....but it's ugly as sin.
I'm including a picture of the module, it's usually mounted on the side of my OTA, this way cable management is clean and tidy, no risk while slewing.
Let me know what do think of that way of using Raspberry Pi, I think it solves a lot a issues compared to something like the ASI Air or even the newer one that prevents you from using PHD or external guiding and is missing a couple of features. Using a Pi as a bridge, you have full control of all of your devices or whatever OS you choose (Mac/Windows/Linux)