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Truly wireless setup without limitations - Raspberry Pi + Remote USB 3.0

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#26 telfish

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:01 PM

Why not just use an ASIAIR pro? An all in one solution. Weight next to nothing. 



#27 gdsolz

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:12 PM

Why not just use an ASIAIR pro? An all in one solution. Weight next to nothing. 

I did consider buying the upcoming ASIAIR Pro but some features that were critical to me would not work with it.

 

The ASIAIR Pro is not compatible with every camera. If some new astrocamera ever comes out from another company that ASI, I'm worried it will end up in the "not supported" list in the coming years. However, for those that already have a ASI branded camera, the ASIAIR Pro is an interesting device.


Edited by gdsolz, 11 January 2020 - 08:14 PM.

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#28 Gyroman

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:30 PM

Why not just use an ASIAIR pro? An all in one solution. Weight next to nothing. 

The ASIAIR Pro looks like another nice solution but like everything else, it leaves the computing power at the scope and you're looking for the best way to connect to that.

 

This solution if it works essentially only has a USB hub at the scope.

 

Also, I can only assume the ASIAIR Pro will be entirely proprietary.  You use the software that's installed with it and have few or no other options.

 

I love Sharpcap, its works great and has a tremendous set of tools, for now I want to keep using it.  However this solution should allow me to use SGP, APT or whatever tool set I desire as long as I have access to the ports.  My software choices are not limited by the device.

 

Also, this will cost less than $150 for the Pi, Case, SD Card, Power Supply and software, half the price of the ASIAir Pro.

 

For me I'm really hoping this works for all those reasons but everyone has their own wants and desires.


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#29 sbradley07

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 09:26 PM

I've been following this thread with great interest, and like others, would be interested in more results from full imaging sessions.  This solution is functionally not that much different than just running INDI server on a pi connected to the scope and running your session from an INDI client remotely connected; the INDI server manages the usb connected devices and makes them available to the client over the network.  The big difference with gdsolz's solution is that those devices are available to any application, so you are free to choose whatever imaging software you want.  (There are other differences I know...I'm just using INDI somewhat metaphorically)

 

Still, the architecture makes the network the critical component of the whole solution.  If you've got a strong, reliable one, this solution is ideal.  Over ethernet, this solution is a no brainer!  But if it's somewhat sketchy or bandwidth-constrained wifi, it could be problematic; a dropped port (or worse, a client crash) would ruin a session.  So I'd love to hear more real world results using this set up.  I'm going to get the trial version and take it for a spin.  


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#30 telfish

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 09:58 PM

The ASIAIR Pro looks like another nice solution but like everything else, it leaves the computing power at the scope and you're looking for the best way to connect to that.

 

This solution if it works essentially only has a USB hub at the scope.

 

Also, I can only assume the ASIAIR Pro will be entirely proprietary.  You use the software that's installed with it and have few or no other options.

 

I love Sharpcap, its works great and has a tremendous set of tools, for now I want to keep using it.  However this solution should allow me to use SGP, APT or whatever tool set I desire as long as I have access to the ports.  My software choices are not limited by the device.

 

Also, this will cost less than $150 for the Pi, Case, SD Card, Power Supply and software, half the price of the ASIAir Pro.

 

For me I'm really hoping this works for all those reasons but everyone has their own wants and desires.

Not really, the computing power is at the tablet not the scope. The Pi at the scope just runs a limited firmware.



#31 sbradley07

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 10:20 PM

Not really, the computing power is at the tablet not the scope. The Pi at the scope just runs a limited firmware.

This is not true.  Almost all of the computing is done on the ASIAir.  The tablet is not running the camera, focusing, guiding, plate-solving, etc.  It is allowing you to interact with and control the software on the device.


Edited by sbradley07, 11 January 2020 - 10:21 PM.

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#32 telfish

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 10:41 PM

This is not true.  Almost all of the computing is done on the ASIAir.  The tablet is not running the camera, focusing, guiding, plate-solving, etc.  It is allowing you to interact with and control the software on the device.

Not as It has been described to me but whatever.



#33 ccs_hello

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 12:22 AM

ASIair (or ASIair Pro) is a completely different approach (traditional doing majority of the work on the mount-side computer) than what this thread is talking about (a USB protocol "RELAY" solution).

Let's not hijack this thread.


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#34 alphatripleplus

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:29 AM

Everyone, please note that we can compare alternative solutions with that proposed by the OP, as long as we do not drift off into a discussion of just the alternatives, without reference to OP's Raspeberry Pi wireless solution. Thanks.


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#35 sbradley07

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 12:05 PM

Gdsolz, I’ve done some initial testing and I gotta say, I am getting more on board with VirtualHere…though not necessarily for the use-case you initially describe. 

 

I actually run with a Raspberry pi and Intel NUC at my scope (permanent setup).  I was a computer geek before this AP hobby, so I am always tinkering with hardware, software, networking, etc.  When I’m imaging at home, I mostly use NINA on the NUC, sometimes SGP.  Stellarmate is on the pi, and that’s for imaging on-the-go, but I keep it out there to keep it up to date and test new releases.  I’ve always had the problem of easily switching my one set of equipment between the two imaging platforms; you guessed it, I have to physically swap usb cables…though I have a KVM switch to make this a little easier.

 

But VirtualHere solves this problem very neatly.  I installed VH Server on the Pi, and connected all my equipment to it.  I then installed the VH Client on the NUC, connected the port (only one port allowed in the trial version) for my Nikon, and had NINA connect the camera.  Worked like a charm!  Now I can test my equipment with both platforms without having to physically intervene at the scope. 

 

Since I only have the trial version, I can’t really stress test it to see how robust it will be from a bandwidth perspective.  Might have to drop the $50 for the full version ;-)


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#36 gdsolz

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 03:43 PM

Gdsolz, I’ve done some initial testing and I gotta say, I am getting more on board with VirtualHere…though not necessarily for the use-case you initially describe. 

 

I actually run with a Raspberry pi and Intel NUC at my scope (permanent setup).  I was a computer geek before this AP hobby, so I am always tinkering with hardware, software, networking, etc.  When I’m imaging at home, I mostly use NINA on the NUC, sometimes SGP.  Stellarmate is on the pi, and that’s for imaging on-the-go, but I keep it out there to keep it up to date and test new releases.  I’ve always had the problem of easily switching my one set of equipment between the two imaging platforms; you guessed it, I have to physically swap usb cables…though I have a KVM switch to make this a little easier.

 

But VirtualHere solves this problem very neatly.  I installed VH Server on the Pi, and connected all my equipment to it.  I then installed the VH Client on the NUC, connected the port (only one port allowed in the trial version) for my Nikon, and had NINA connect the camera.  Worked like a charm!  Now I can test my equipment with both platforms without having to physically intervene at the scope. 

 

Since I only have the trial version, I can’t really stress test it to see how robust it will be from a bandwidth perspective.  Might have to drop the $50 for the full version ;-)

Yeah, that's the whole idea, you have access to all the ports on every device you own on the network. You can decide to do the imagine on the devices on the scope or choose to do it remotely. Earlier today I made some test, everything works but I have yet to test if the small delay introduced by the wifi affect guiding. I'm in Canada near Ottawa so it's mostly a mix of freezing rain, snow and clouds for the upcoming days. If signal is not strong enough, I can always add a USB 3.0 5db wifi antenna to the PI.


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#37 StarmanDan

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 04:53 PM

If I were to install VH on my stellar mate would I be able to interchange using my gear between OS's? At home I prefer to use windows but in the field I like stellar mate as I don't need to bring a laptop.

#38 gdsolz

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 04:57 PM

If I were to install VH on my stellar mate would I be able to interchange using my gear between OS's? At home I prefer to use windows but in the field I like stellar mate as I don't need to bring a laptop.

It should work, that is indeed another possible use-case of VirtualHere. Although it's a proprietary solution, someone with a better understanding of programming might be able to integrate it (I'm positive that it's based on usblib)


Edited by gdsolz, 13 January 2020 - 06:41 PM.

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#39 sbradley07

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:55 PM

If I were to install VH on my stellar mate would I be able to interchange using my gear between OS's? At home I prefer to use windows but in the field I like stellar mate as I don't need to bring a laptop.

This is exactly the scenario I described four posts back.  I use the Stellarmate OS on a Pi 4...I am not using the Stellarmate device, which is Pi 3.  If you have the device, I cannot comment on the performance you will get running VH on it.  Either way, VH will run on the same device you have Stellarmate installed on.  But you only need to run VH when you are using Windows.  When you're in the field, you'd just use Stellarmate as normal.


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#40 hcf

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:55 AM

I tried something like sbradley07 tonight.

 

I have an arm64 box running armbian on which I use gphoto2 for image acquisition, and lin_guider to guide.  I downloaded the Virtual Here server for arm64 and ran it side by side with everything (not a separate boot). I then forwarded one port (as allowed in the free version), the Canon DSLR port to Windows, and used DigiCamControl on Windows to take pictures. So DigiCamControl sees the DSLR connected to USB, but in reality goes over the VH client on Windows to the armbian box VH server to the DSLR.  My network is not optimized, running 2.4 Ghz (mix of N and G) so speeds are slow, RAW file transfer took some time. But it worked.

 

My hope is, if I can get the DSLR ASCOM drivers for my DSLR working on Windows, I could use SharpCap on my desktop inside the house connecting to the camera, with everything else running on the armbian box at the mount. 

 

Virtual Here has optimized versions of the server for many arm processors, but those are only available under a license, so that might help speed things up too.

 


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#41 Noah4x4

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 02:57 AM

The benefit of this project is that I could put a small, compact, internal (HAT) battery powered Raspberry Pi 4 at my scope and replace my heavier, bulkier Intel NUC and it's very heavy 19v battery. This is all about weight reduction at scope for me, and not about technology achievement. It's worth me investing £100 in Pi gear to see if it works for me.

 

The problem with threads like this is they soon become confusing because advanced users start competing for an award for best further innovation before the rest of us have even grasped the basics. Can somebody please bring this back down to simple levels? I currently use twin Intel NUCs and Microsoft Remote Desktop and could write a step by step guide to get a novice using that technique within an hour without them ever knowing how it works.. To me Raspberry Pi/Linux might as well be a foreign language. I need similar guidance. 

 

I get how the Raspberry Pi acts merely as a USB Server/WiFi hub and how data is transferred to be processed on a laptop indoors. But how does a Rasberry Pi novice get started with this project? How do you autorun Virtualhere on boot up? I have no desire to learn Linux or become a Pi Geek. I would welcome simple "how to" instructions that might allow me to get this up and running in under an hour. 


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#42 ccs_hello

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:11 AM

TL; DR

 

Sorry finally got some free time to talk about it.

 

USB, due to its "so universal", has a few corner cases throughout its history.

Some of the issues got us the amateur astronomers that are fairly will known.  So certainly need to be answered before declaring victory.

 

A. Power related

Some astro gears are USB-powered.  In Pi 3/4, etc. its USB ports can only supply juice the Pi board itself is being supplied (typically a 5V 2A power supply.)   This is why ASIair Pro goes extra mile to redo its USB ports to get it to supply extra juice when needed.

 

B. General USB gears related

Some USB gears using the same USB controller with the same USB HID.  This happens the most on USB-serial port.  The USB host side has to somehow remember the matching (the order of port enumeration) such that the order/mapping is correct. 

 

C. Isochronous transfer mode USB with double enumeration

This topic I had stated many times in the past and usually is the gotcha heart sunk disappointing moment.

I.e., many USB 2.0 astrocameras and guidecams are using the most basic Cypress EZUSB-FX2 USB controller and operate it in USB high-speed (480Mbps)  isochronous transfer mode.

Any USB-protocol relay solution has to find a way to tackle that and make it "somewhat" work with the driver.

Some simply falls on its face and some working.  

<--  TEST TEST TEST

 

C1. sub case of (C )

In the past, some had noticed by running two of such devices over the same conduit (USB cable), the relay solution does not work.  Some even found out that by mixing a heavily used isochronous mode device with regular traffic type causes the former to fail.

 

D. non-dedicated traffic channel (wired IP Ethernet or WiFi) vs. dedicated channel (USB cable, or USB repeater cable)

This is physical reality.  USB 2.0 High speed is 480 Mbps.  Some USB methods can tolerate lower speed as choked channel but isochronous mode is very sensitive.  In astrocamera case, it is bursty (need attention when it is needed or buffer overflow happens and software falls on its face.)

Planetary astrocam will stream all the time and will chew the bandwidth as much as it can.

USB 3.x Super Speed (most often seen is 5 Gbps, now getting into 10 Gbpgs and 20 Gbps) will be even worst when time comes .(Luckily, most of the USB3 astrcams I have seen have built-in buffer and stay away from isochronous mode.  Hope it stays that way.)

 

Now if using WiFi, the bandwidth will not always that high (type of WiFi spec it uses and how congested the air is) and can stop at times.

In IP-based wired Ethernet (not just the 4 twisted-pair of wires as pure transport), it is subject to other traffic on that same network so symptom mentioned above may happen.

 

Sorry for a load of tech discussions.  Just try o explain what is underneath and why USB long haul solution is not that trivial.

If V.H. works in all cases, good for them and do report back to the community here.


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