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Modestly spec-ed acquisition NUC: Wireless HDMI dongle vs RDP/VNC

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#1 AnakChan

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 07:56 PM

I recently acquired a modestly spec-ed GMK NUCBox with a J4125 Celeron core, 8GB RAM, 512GB worth of storage. I've opted to put N.I.N.A. on there along with all the usual associated packages (PHD2, CDC, ASTAP, etc.).  This setup is used for acquisition only, not for any kind of post-acquisition processing. As my camera is an ASI6200MM, I'd be downloading 122MB files. Whilst I don't expect this to be CPU intensive, I would be running USB3 for quicker downloads.

 

Despite not expecting to be CPU intensive I'm still running within tight constraints. I understand that using something like VNC has a slightly higher overhead than RDP from a CPU resource perspective, but I'm curious if wireless HDMI dongles to an untethered 4K portable display (with bluetooth keyboard/mouse) would be even less intensive than RDP/VNC solutions?

 

Does anyone have both and have practical experience on this? If so, which is your preferences? Aside from the CPU resource perspective, is the wireless HDMI more responsive from a GUI perspective?

 

Edit: I should add that initially I was thinking of Miracast (HDMI over Wi-Fi) but I am open to independent HDMI transmitters/receivers too although they are bulkier.


Edited by AnakChan, 21 November 2020 - 09:37 PM.


#2 Noah4x4

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 06:19 PM

I hope I am wrong, but I think you might be making the same mistake that I did.

 

When my large sensor high resolution (4k UHD +) camera spluttered over Remote Desktop solutions, I blamed connectivity.  I subsequently invested a large amount of money on USB active cables, then HDMI extenders, then superior WiFi extenders. Eventually, I upgraded from my Intel i5 with 8Gb RAM to an 8th generation i7 with 16Gb RAM and it cured all my woes.

 

I would be surprised if you get satisfactory performance from a Celeron. But good luck. 



#3 EFT

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 10:17 PM

It's not clear to me what you are trying to do.  Are you trying to use the box as your main computer with a monitor, keyboard, etc., or are you just using it as a system control and data collection device?  If you for control and collection and simply remote desktop into it, you should be fine.  If you are trying to run a monitor (be it direct connection or wireless HDMI), you will be putting a lot more stress on it.  I would not use it in that fashion.  Just place it on the top of the scope and connect all your peripherals directly to it (through a USB hub) and control everything with NINA over a remote desktop program of one kind or another.  You are downloading large files but with USB3 and an SSD you are going to be about as fast as you get.  If there is any type of processing of the images going on (e.g., live stacking or EAA), then you will start to have problems.



#4 AnakChan

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 08:13 AM

I hope I am wrong, but I think you might be making the same mistake that I did.

 

When my large sensor high resolution (4k UHD +) camera spluttered over Remote Desktop solutions, I blamed connectivity.  I subsequently invested a large amount of money on USB active cables, then HDMI extenders, then superior WiFi extenders. Eventually, I upgraded from my Intel i5 with 8Gb RAM to an 8th generation i7 with 16Gb RAM and it cured all my woes.

 

I would be surprised if you get satisfactory performance from a Celeron. But good luck. 

I hope it's sufficient. Right now I'm using an ASIAir Pro which is merely a Raspberry Pi 4. I've also checked on the N.I.N.A. Discord channel and feedback is that I don't need anything too fancily spec-ed.

 

It's not clear to me what you are trying to do.  Are you trying to use the box as your main computer with a monitor, keyboard, etc., or are you just using it as a system control and data collection device?  If you for control and collection and simply remote desktop into it, you should be fine.  If you are trying to run a monitor (be it direct connection or wireless HDMI), you will be putting a lot more stress on it.  I would not use it in that fashion.  Just place it on the top of the scope and connect all your peripherals directly to it (through a USB hub) and control everything with NINA over a remote desktop program of one kind or another.  You are downloading large files but with USB3 and an SSD you are going to be about as fast as you get.  If there is any type of processing of the images going on (e.g., live stacking or EAA), then you will start to have problems.

As per stated on original post, it's for image acquisition only, not for post acquisition processing. I have an iMac Pro (18-core/64GB) for PixInsight processing. The plan is to run the GMK NUCBox headless and I have a few different options for remote access :-

 

PC/Tablet required

1) std RDP protocols but will need a PC

2) std VNC protocols (articles found seem to indicate a little more demanding and slower than RDP, but is OS agnostic)

 

Just display/bluetooth keyboard/mouse required :-

3) Miracast 

4) HDMI transmitter/receiver

 

Options (3)/(4) don't need another full blown OS/system, but just a display with some kind of wireless HDMI dongle (e.g. Microsoft 4K Wireless Display adapter), and bluetooth keyboard/mouse. I was curious if the options (3) & (4) were more CPU-friendly than options (1) & (2), but your (bolded) comment seems to be stating the opposite to what I was hoping. You're saying that a local display (wired or wireless) connected to the computer is more taxing on the computer's resources than RDP/VNC?



#5 rdmarco

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 08:14 AM

I recently acquired a modestly spec-ed GMK NUCBox with a J4125 Celeron core, 8GB RAM, 512GB worth of storage. I've opted to put N.I.N.A. on there along with all the usual associated packages (PHD2, CDC, ASTAP, etc.).  This setup is used for acquisition only, not for any kind of post-acquisition processing. As my camera is an ASI6200MM, I'd be downloading 122MB files. Whilst I don't expect this to be CPU intensive, I would be running USB3 for quicker downloads.

 

Despite not expecting to be CPU intensive I'm still running within tight constraints. I understand that using something like VNC has a slightly higher overhead than RDP from a CPU resource perspective, but I'm curious if wireless HDMI dongles to an untethered 4K portable display (with bluetooth keyboard/mouse) would be even less intensive than RDP/VNC solutions?

 

Does anyone have both and have practical experience on this? If so, which is your preferences? Aside from the CPU resource perspective, is the wireless HDMI more responsive from a GUI perspective?

 

Edit: I should add that initially I was thinking of Miracast (HDMI over Wi-Fi) but I am open to independent HDMI transmitters/receivers too although they are bulkier.

I am assuming the NUC is to be for a scopeside computer? If so, just about any quad-core celeron with 8-gig will be just fine. My own NUC which I have been using at the scope for the last year has never failed me. I use tightVNC and have never had any issues whatsoever. (FYI, mine is much older and less capable than the J4125, mine is powered by a J3455, circa 2016)

There is lots of misinformation about NUC's being bandied about, I wouldn't pay attention to the naysayers.

 

Stuff you should know:

Nuc's run just fine headless, you don't need an hdmi dongle.

Nuc's run just fine on 12 volts.

You don't need an i9, i7, i5, or even an i3. If this is truly a scopeside computer, all you are doing is running image capture and guiding.

 

I use APT and NINA, the image files are all downloaded directly to the nuc where the image capture software is running. When the session is over, I can pull them over the network to my image processing computer, or simply offload them to a memory stick and handle it that way. Unless the NUC will be at some remote site, I don't see any reason to be concerned about network bandwidth. 

 

Not sure why a 4k screen would be helpful for running image capture software and PHD2. But in any event, NUC's are designed with 4K in mind, as they are marketed heavily as entertainment PC's for video streaming. 

 

Good luck with your project.
 


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#6 imtl

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 08:21 AM

I am using AnyDesk to remote connect. Its simple and just works. Give it a look and see if you like it.



#7 AnakChan

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 09:14 AM

I am assuming the NUC is to be for a scopeside computer? If so, just about any quad-core celeron with 8-gig will be just fine. My own NUC which I have been using at the scope for the last year has never failed me. I use tightVNC and have never had any issues whatsoever. (FYI, mine is much older and less capable than the J4125, mine is powered by a J3455, circa 2016)

There is lots of misinformation about NUC's being bandied about, I wouldn't pay attention to the naysayers.

 

Stuff you should know:

Nuc's run just fine headless, you don't need an hdmi dongle.

Nuc's run just fine on 12 volts.

You don't need an i9, i7, i5, or even an i3. If this is truly a scopeside computer, all you are doing is running image capture and guiding.

 

I use APT and NINA, the image files are all downloaded directly to the nuc where the image capture software is running. When the session is over, I can pull them over the network to my image processing computer, or simply offload them to a memory stick and handle it that way. Unless the NUC will be at some remote site, I don't see any reason to be concerned about network bandwidth. 

 

Not sure why a 4k screen would be helpful for running image capture software and PHD2. But in any event, NUC's are designed with 4K in mind, as they are marketed heavily as entertainment PC's for video streaming. 

 

Good luck with your project.
 

 

Cheers for your reply. W.R.T. bolded points, yes I'm aware of that. I've already got the NUC running headless (a little pain to play with regedit for autologon, and powershell scripts/task scheduler to autorun HotSpot on boot), and 12V powered from the Pegasus Astro PPBA as pictured below :-

 

IMG_4957.jpeg

 

I also have VNC server running on the NUC and that works fine with VNC Viewer on a laptop/notebook (which needs 19V to run). I could get away with a tablet, but I'm also curious if the wireless HDMI adapter approach would be less demanding on the NUC CPU than VNC server protocols. The wireless HDMI adapter with a portable monitor could run off a powerbank.

 

As such, this is really a more "Windows PC" question - are wireless HDMI adapters less CPU resource demanding than VNC/RDP services/daemons.



#8 EFT

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 11:55 AM

I'm not sure about the wireless HDMI.  I played with one a little while back and decided it wasn't worth the trouble.  I suspect that it would be just as taxing on the computer though.  The difference becomes how much heat the computer generates when using the graphics to run a monitor.  Once you remove the monitor from the equation, you will find that the computer runs much cooler which is better for it in the long run.  



#9 sbradley07

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 01:18 PM

Wireless HDMI adapters can be CPU intensive.  Combine that with the pretty modest graphics processor in your NUCbox, and I think it will struggle from a performance perspective.   Make sure to check the cpu and graphics hardware requirements for any wireless adapter you're looking at.  



#10 dghent

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 01:32 PM

To be honest, you are worrying too much if you're worrying about RDP overhead. NINA and PHD2 are very languid apps, they don't need every last drop of CPU time to be spared for their use. Use RDP and be happy.


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#11 rdmarco

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 05:18 PM

Cheers for your reply. W.R.T. bolded points, yes I'm aware of that. I've already got the NUC running headless (a little pain to play with regedit for autologon, and powershell scripts/task scheduler to autorun HotSpot on boot), and 12V powered from the Pegasus Astro PPBA as pictured below :-

 

attachicon.gifIMG_4957.jpeg

 

I also have VNC server running on the NUC and that works fine with VNC Viewer on a laptop/notebook (which needs 19V to run). I could get away with a tablet, but I'm also curious if the wireless HDMI adapter approach would be less demanding on the NUC CPU than VNC server protocols. The wireless HDMI adapter with a portable monitor could run off a powerbank.

 

As such, this is really a more "Windows PC" question - are wireless HDMI adapters less CPU resource demanding than VNC/RDP services/daemons.

My answer to the HDMI dongle is don't worry about it. It's not going to make that much difference for this application.

What is this "HotSpot" you are running? Do you mean the Java performance engine, or something else? You already have a VNC server running.

It sounds like you just might be overthinking the solution, why do you need an auto logon routine? I just vnc to my box and login.

When I need to use sharpcap for polar alignment, I just grab a tablet with a vnc client on it so I can be scopeside for adjustments.

 

It sounds like you are really close to where you want to be.

 



#12 AnakChan

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 06:52 PM

Thanks for the info & thoughts of the wireless HDMI Adapter. I didn’t know about the heat side effect & being more CPU demanding than RDP/VNC services. Sounds like it’s not a worthy avenue (or possibly even detrimental) to follow down that path. Guess I’ll stick to RDP/VNC then. I’d have to use a tablet to run slim on USB power (won’t have 19V power for notebooks).

I believe my questions are answered now.

@rdmarco
About the hotspot question, I meant turning the NUC into a WiFi hotspot. Windows already allows that but it requires you to enable that manually after login. Since I’m running the NUC headless (I don’t have, nor intend to carry another separate WiFi router), I need the WiFi hotspot to be enabled automatically upon boot up (or upon auto logon). It’s not difficult just needing a powershell script to run in Task Scheduler. I’ve got this working already.

Yes I’m not only close but already have a working setup. I’m just fine tuning the setup further of where I can ditch extra WiFi router devices to carry, replace 19V VNC client notebooks with USB powered display/tablets, & slim down running process/daemon profiles (where possible/practical), etc.
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#13 HxPI

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Posted 24 November 2020 - 07:19 PM

Cheers for your reply. W.R.T. bolded points, yes I'm aware of that. I've already got the NUC running headless (a little pain to play with regedit for autologon, and powershell scripts/task scheduler to autorun HotSpot on boot), and 12V powered from the Pegasus Astro PPBA as pictured below :-

 

attachicon.gifIMG_4957.jpeg

 

I also have VNC server running on the NUC and that works fine with VNC Viewer on a laptop/notebook (which needs 19V to run). I could get away with a tablet, but I'm also curious if the wireless HDMI adapter approach would be less demanding on the NUC CPU than VNC server protocols. The wireless HDMI adapter with a portable monitor could run off a powerbank.

 

As such, this is really a more "Windows PC" question - are wireless HDMI adapters less CPU resource demanding than VNC/RDP services/daemons.

For remote access, any simple computer or tablet will suffice. Don’t expect 4K resolutions but HD is more than enough. I have used my iPad with Microsoft RDP connected through an 802.11AC mobile hotspot and it allows good enough access to the computer for operation. I tried setting up my NUC as a hotspot and it was unreliable at best. I used Connectify but it didn’t work very well. I am considering one of the wireless hardware or second screen software solutions like Luna Display or Duet. Since these are display only, an additional keyboard/mouse device would be needed for control. Miracast is another option. The RDP solution is easier to deal with IMHO. YMMV.

 

For image capture, what you have should be fine. I was able to run my imaging rig using an Intel m3 Compute Stick with 4GB memory. Processor would reach peak performance but it managed. Decided to upgrade to an Intel i5 NUC for improved performance latitude. For video capture, the speed of the storage drive and the amount of memory installed will be a significant factor. FireCapture/SharpCap use the memory as a buffer and the more there is the better the ability to capture data without frames dropping. For solar imaging, I use a MBP with 16GB memory and two external SSDs to capture video streams from my two ASI183 cameras. Get an extremely fast SSD and/or lots of memory, at least 16GB!

 

I have the ASIAir Pro and TPLink WR-902AC portable wifi hotspot also and do not see any improvement in wifi coverage when connecting directly with a tablet. Are you connecting directly to it from a tablet and seeing extended range?


Edited by HxPI, 24 November 2020 - 08:27 PM.



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