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Imaging Mount Computer

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#1 Hypoxic

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 03:55 PM

Computer guys,

 

Just wondering, what are the min system requirements for a laptop out at the mount running ASCOM, Cartes du Ciel, BackyardNikon, PHD2, etc. I'm looking to replace my ton of bricks 17.5" Dell from 2006 with something a little smaller/lighter. Can I get away with an i5 (or i3 even?) with 4Gb ram, or do I need more? What about AMD Ryzen 5 with 4Gb? Right now the Dellasaurus has an Intel Centrino Duo and 4Gb ram on Win7. It seems to be doing fine, but it's just so friggin big! I just want a bare bones, mount driving laptop but don't want to under do it either. I'm basically a Mac guy, so I don't know how hungry Windows 10 is these days.



#2 terrypaula

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 04:11 PM

I'm using a 10yr old Lenovo x201 and it smokes it's way through.  If you need to know what the imaging programs minimum requirements are I'm sure it is written somewhere in the documentation.  I also have a Pi set up to run one of my imaging mounts remotely, plate solving and with all the trimmings.



#3 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 04:44 PM

Acquisition doesn't take much*. Processing images takes more oomph. I don't know if you want a laptop format or something smaller that requires you to network into. If the later, have you seen this thread?

 

 

 

* = Not useful for you with that selection of software, but my usual image acquisition machine is a 2014 Macintosh Mini with 4G of RAM and a fairly pokey hard disk. Previously, I used a 2009 MacBook. Like terrypaul, I also regularly use credit-card sized Raspberry Pi machines.



#4 Alex McConahay

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:12 PM

I use an old "refurbished" Dell. probably ten years old. Of course that means I have serial ports----which is cool. 

 

But, as has been said.....It don't take much. 

 

(However, if you want to have a copy of PixInsight in there just to check things out now and then, consider that it will be slower than other systems.----Oh, and I actually have PI, and PS, and all those other programs you listed, SGP, MaxIm, and others in my old Dell. It works well enough.) 

 

Alex



#5 Stelios

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:27 PM

Acquisition doesn't take much by way of CPU, RAM and disk storage.

 

But there are some other things that can make your life easier.

 

One is a larger screen. I'd take a slow 15.7" laptop over the sleekest 11" with 10th generation Intel i7 and 1TB SSD *any* time. The important thing is to be able to see the captured images well, and have several windows open. When I went from a 11.4" inch to a 15.7" I realized how much I'd been suffering.

 

Then a *red backlit* keyboard (but, if you're imaging alone mostly, *any* backlit keyboard) is also a godsend.

 

Finally, you want at least 2-3 available USB ports, one of which should be a USB3. 

 

Those are more important than the standard criteria for buying a laptop. 



#6 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:27 PM

Computer guys,

 

Just wondering, what are the min system requirements for a laptop out at the mount running ASCOM, Cartes du Ciel, BackyardNikon, PHD2, etc. I'm looking to replace my ton of bricks 17.5" Dell from 2006 with something a little smaller/lighter. Can I get away with an i5 (or i3 even?) with 4Gb ram, or do I need more? What about AMD Ryzen 5 with 4Gb? Right now the Dellasaurus has an Intel Centrino Duo and 4Gb ram on Win7. It seems to be doing fine, but it's just so friggin big! I just want a bare bones, mount driving laptop but don't want to under do it either. I'm basically a Mac guy, so I don't know how hungry Windows 10 is these days.

I run a NUC with an i3 (to eliminate cooling noise, mostly).  It runs Windows10, ASCOM, guide and main cameras, a CEM60, PhD2, Voyager, filter wheel, focuser.  No strain.  Still has headroom to run PixInsight to examine subs, PS2 for platesolving.  I do have 8Gb, probably overkill.  An SSD for fast booting.  512 Gb, because I have a 183 (big files, and lots of them), and I'm lazy about cleaning off old data.  It's in my observatory, no mouse, keyboard, or display.   I mostly run it remotely from my house. Take a 17 inch laptop out to do Polar align with the Polemaster, troubleshoot if necessary.


Edited by bobzeq25, 05 June 2020 - 05:28 PM.

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#7 nimitz69

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:34 PM

I use a refurbed Dell Latitude i5, works fine. now for post processing that’s another story - think high end gaming desktop without an expensive graphics card if you plan to run PI. and don't forget the 27”+ photography editing monitor with a Spxder colorimeter ...

of course if your images never go anywhere except on a computer screen you can pass on most of that. large format prints will show every flaw and demand a different level of attention however.

Edited by nimitz69, 05 June 2020 - 05:35 PM.


#8 MikiSJ

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:49 PM

I use a $210 laptop running an AMD something, not Ryzen and it handles everything scope side. Processing, I would recommend the fastest biggest you can get as you'll eventually want to head over to PixInsight which needs a lot of cores to speed through your work.



#9 OldManSky

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 07:03 PM

I'm using a mini-PC with a 2-core Gemini Lake processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD.  It's $249 new now, I got it for $179 on a black Friday sale.

It's overkill for imaging-control.  Plenty of speed and processor oomph and RAM.  I run NINA, PHD2, ASTAP for plate-solving, Cartes du Ciel, and all the associated drivers (and iOptron Commander) for a CEM60 mount, 183mm-pro camera (20MB images), 2 EAFs, 290mm-mini guide cam, and 8-position EFW.  A big plus is that it runs off of 12V (and is pretty power efficient), so everything I run is 12V and I can use a single 12V 30A power supply.  Image downloads from the camera are 1-3 seconds, plate solves are 1-5 seconds.  It's plenty fast.

 

WiFi on it is very good, but I ran a CAT6 cable from the house to the observatory just so the connection never drops.  I usually control with Chrome Remote Desktop from inside the house, but I can also use Windows RDP.  It came with Win10 Pro (a real licensed version).  I started out saving files to a USB3 thumb drive, but got tired of walking out to the observatory in the morning to pull the thumb drive, so now I just save files to the SSD and copy them over the network in the morning.

 

You really don't need a super-speedy PC for imaging control -- you do for processing, but not control/acquisition.

My mini in my observatory control box below.

 

https://www.amazon.c...Y2s9dHJ1ZQ&th=1

 

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • obscontrolbox.jpg

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#10 astrohamp

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 07:30 PM

Hypoxic:  while running all your imaging tech on the Dellasaurus start up Windows Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and Resource Monitor.  With these monitors running you will be able to see how hard the Dell' is working, and what is being used to make it go.

And don't loose the 'tank' as it could be the Remote Desktop window you may need when you want to sit inside to avoid the bugs, critters, and what-not dark skies nemesis you need to deal with.


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#11 Hypoxic

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 02:52 AM

Thanks for the replies everyone, you've hit on some things I hadn't thought of. I do like that mini PC idea, it got the gears turning and the prospect of sitting inside this winter and still being able to run the gear is attractive. I was searching and reading about the Raspberry Pi earlier and saw a few times where members said that it was a bit of a pain to set up and get running stable, and that if you didn't want to deal with all that, just go laptop. Sounds like this mini PC might be a way to go, so I'm going to add this to my research. I could build a box like you have there, OldManSky, and just plug and play at the mount, looks tidy. 



#12 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 10:58 AM

I think that you've got a good perspective on it.

 

In my opinion: All technology has its annoyances, but the secret is to learn to master the platform that you use and try not to jump from the frying pan into the fire. As an example, I use Software Bisque SkyX Professional which runs on pretty much any computing platform that you'd want (Macintosh, Windows, Intel Linux and Raspberry Pi). What I regularly see is that people who have trouble putting one foot in front of the other on, say, Windows decide that it would be a good idea to learn a whole new world of Linux rather than figure out how to manage Window's automatic updates. Then we get to play twenty questions about the Bash shell.

 

Now, I love to tinker with things. As I said, I already use Macintoshes and Raspberry Pi machines to successfully manage my gear. Yet, I'm about to buy an Intel NUC for no reason other than to play with it and learn it. You need to keep your own motives straight: What's the goal? To play with things or to use the computer as a means to an end and acquire images? There's no right answer and it's probably a mix of both.



#13 ChrisWhite

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 11:07 AM

Minix n42c. I bought this for my mount and love it. Put in an m2 hardrive 128gb so I had more space. Login remotely using logmein from my house.

I also use voyager which has a web dashboard for monitoring whats going on.

Been using it for over 2 years and its been awesome.


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