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astrophotography with Macbook and parallels

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#1 lantosque

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 02:35 AM

Is it possible to do serious astrophotography with a Macbook and Parallels?  Would this be a solid foundation for using Maxim DL, of FocusMax, or ACP or SGP?

Anyone with experience doing so?  Any suggestions (or warnings, or encouragement) would be most welcome!



#2 Cometeer

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 02:40 AM

I had some issues with accessories being detected with VmWare Fusion, but I’ve never tried Parallels. Why not Bootcamp? You can also access the Bootcamp partition through Parallels/Fusion on the OSX partition. 


Edited by Cometeer, 01 December 2020 - 02:41 AM.

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#3 mjgood

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 08:58 AM

I had some issues with accessories being detected with VmWare Fusion, but I’ve never tried Parallels. Why not Bootcamp? You can also access the Bootcamp partition through Parallels/Fusion on the OSX partition. 

+1 for bootcamp... It's what I'm using on my Macbook, I did a minimal partition and use an external 1TB SSD drive for all the data... also Trackpad++ makes better use of the trackpad with windows..


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#4 Marcelofig

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 09:29 AM

Just get a cheap pc laptop, any recent one will do.

 

And yes, a Mac with Parallels or bootcamp (only on intel chips) can work, but the thing is you have to leave your computer out all night doing the job and you can not / should not use it for anything else during that time. 

 

And of course, you can remotely control the pc from your Mac.


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#5 RonaldNC

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 10:14 AM

I'm using a MacBook Pro with Parallels.  I'm using both platforms, depending on what I'm doing.

 

I use the MacBook Pro for DSO imaging... KStars/EKOS for most everything, APP for stacking, and Nebulosity 4 for post processing.  Lately, I've started using a Raspberry Pi on the mount for KStars/EKOS, accessing it remotely with my Mac using Real VNC.  I'm currently taking a look at Star Tools for post processing.  Nebulosity does "okay", but I'm ready for a bit more functionality.

 

I use Windows under Parallels for planetary imaging... SharpCap for capture, AutoStakkert for stacking, and RegiStax for post processing.

 

Over the last couple of years I've tried a lot of products.  I would love to move everything to the Mac, but I don't see a lot of good choices for planetary work.

If you haven't already, take a look at Andrew's website at macobservatory.com.  It's excellent.

 

Ron


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#6 lantosque

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 02:02 PM

Many thanks to Cometeer, MJGood, Marcelgofig, RonaldNC for your helpful comments

 

It seems that I am not alone in using parallels, which is good

 

My No 1 concern is that my Diffraction Limited Aluma694 camera with Maxim DL seem to disconnect from time to time. Maybe I should say that they crash a little too often.  Could this be caused by Parallels not being a 100% perfect emulation of  the PC and WIndows.

 

My No 2 concern is that running the Mac with Parallels makes me a little bit of a nice user and that some equipement and software providers like Diffraction Limited or DC3 Dreams will finder it harder (or even too hard) to provide necessary tech support, of which I need a lot since I am marginally competent.

 

In response to Marcelofig, I had somebody make a 3 inch hole on the wall of my house so that my telescope cables come into my living room and the Mac never goes outside.  Also, I have a second older mac that I can use when my newer make is doing astronomy so I don't have to worry about loosing the use of my Max while imaging.  

Marcel, is it really important not to use the Mac for other applications when doing astronomy?



#7 idclimber

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 02:12 PM

You can do serious imaging straight in OSX. You can also do all of the post processing. This does require using Mac compatible software like TheSkyX and it isn't cheap or free. The cheaper solution would be to pickup one of the inexpensive Win 10 pro mini PC's and remote into that with your MacBook. 


Edited by idclimber, 01 December 2020 - 02:13 PM.

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#8 Marcelofig

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 07:46 PM

 

In response to Marcelofig, I had somebody make a 3 inch hole on the wall of my house so that my telescope cables come into my living room and the Mac never goes outside.  Also, I have a second older mac that I can use when my newer make is doing astronomy so I don't have to worry about loosing the use of my Max while imaging.  

Marcel, is it really important not to use the Mac for other applications when doing astronomy?

It's a good practice, the less stress on the acquisition computer, the better. For example, if you look at this website you will see that problems with the usb port are relatively common, so the less it is used for other things the better.


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#9 tboss70

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 09:18 PM

I use Parallels  to run Windows 10 without issue.  Plug something in (USB camera) with Parallels running and it will ask you if you want to use it for the Mac or Win10.  I have successfully run my ASI224mc and guided my mount with Win10 running as a VM using Parallels. I have not tried running some things in Win10 and some things in Mac at the same time.  I think it would likely work but you may need to ensure the VM doesn't get paused it you switch over to Mac for several minutes.

 

One issue I did have when I first installed FireCaputre on the Win10 VM was the text was really really tiny. I couldn't even read the text to try and click a menu item to make a change.  The fix was change Win 10 settings to enlarge text, then I found the settings in FireCapture to make things readable. Otherwise I've had good success running PHD2, FireCapture, ASIStudio on the Win10 VM.


Edited by tboss70, 01 December 2020 - 09:26 PM.

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#10 amdizack

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 03:46 PM

Bootcamp for sure. I had a post several weeks ago where dove into a bunch of testing as I had issues with keeping my devices connected. Switched to Bootcamp and all issues went away.


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#11 jkcolli

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:14 PM

I use Parallels [Version 15.1.4 (47270)] with a Macbook Pro(late 2016) with 4 USB C ports and  Mojave 10.14.6

 

Sometimes I have problems with Windows locking up and I am forced to use Activity Monitor on the Mac to get Windows and Parallels to quit.

In Activity Monitor select Windows 10 and then select the X at the top left of the Activity Monitor window.  Then select Force Quit in the dialog box that pops up.

Do the same for the following Parallels processes:
  Parallels Desktop
  prl_disp_service
  prl_event_tap
  prl_naptd
  prl_naptd  (there are two of these processes

When I force Parallels to quit this way sometimes upon restart of Parallels and subsequently Windows 10, Windows 10 starts a disk check which can take many minutes(>10 sometimes).  To stop this disk check, I followed the directions below that I found on the internet.  This stops Windows 10 from doing a disk check after what it calls and improper shutdown.

 

Instructions to prevent Windows 10 disk check at startup:

Press your Windows logo Key + R to launch your Run app and then type regedit and press Return.
Click Yes.
Go to this exact location and double click on BootExecute (you can copy and paste this directory at the top and then press Enter to go to it):
   Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager

 

Now delete all the lines in Value data and paste this then press Ok:
   autocheck autochk *   <---Erase this line.

 

Another solution not using the Registry
There is a solution on many websites advising you to run this command in your CMD to exclude a certain drive from disk check at startup (it’s the C drive in this example):
    chkntfs /x C:

 

 

Jack

 

Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/2.8l IS II USM , Canon Extender EF 1.4x III, Canon Extender EF 2.0x III

Mount: iOptron iEQ30 Pro

Imaging Cameras: Canon EOS 90D, QHY 268C

Guide Camera/Scope:  QHY5LII-M with MiniGuide Scope

Lens Controller:  Astromechanics ASCOM Canon Lens Controller Mark II  (when using QHY 268C)

Control SW:  Astrophotography Tool(APT)

Processing SW:  PixInsight



#12 fewayne

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:27 PM

Your mileage may vary, but I use my Mac and rarely -- if ever -- have to drop into VMWare to use Windows. I use KStars and Ekos, which is free. It also has the advantage of supporting remote operation if you like; I have a Raspberry Pi on the scope to which I can either remote-desktop into with Screen Sharing, or I can run the device drivers on the Pi headless and run the user interface stuff directly on the Mac. But I can plug the USB straight into the Mac too; it's just that the Pi will run forever in the field off battery, not so much my MacBook Pro.

 

And if "free" is really your jam, as Teh Youngz say, you can do it soup to nuts on the Mac with KStars/Ekos for acquisition, PHD2 for guiding, SiriL for processing, and The GIMP for final image editing.


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#13 FiveByEagle

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:28 PM

I am 100% Mac based here - 

 

Due to the rougher colder nights here, I do not like leaving my Mac outside - so I bought a $200 Win10 PC - (pos but it runs NINA and PHD2 and SharpCap) and Teamviewer from the Mac inside.

 

For processing, Parallels is great especially for planetary and lunar 



#14 Tom3

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:56 PM

. The cheaper solution would be to pickup one of the inexpensive Win 10 pro mini PC's and remote into that with your MacBook. 

How does one "remote into" the Win PC  with the Mac?

 

Tom



#15 petercoxphoto

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 06:43 PM

 

How does one "remote into" the Win PC  with the Mac?

You use Microsoft Remote Desktop. It's available for Mac - I use it all the time to connect from my Mac laptop to my mini PCs I use for imaging.

 

I tried using the Mac for imaging (both in VMWare Fusion and natively) and gave up on it. While it can certainly be done, for me the headaches simply weren't worth it. Macs are unfortunately fringe in astrophotography and while the software available has an enthusiastic user base, it's small. Astrophotography is hard enough without making it harder!

 

Cheers,
Peter



#16 joeytroy

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 06:53 PM

Check out this site, he uses an apple and list all his software he uses

 

https://www.macobser...ronomy-software



#17 idclimber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:03 PM

How does one "remote into" the Win PC  with the Mac?

 

Tom

I am using a product called TightVNC installed on the PC. Then I am able to log in remotely directly in the Mac Finder using the Connect To Server selection. I have my home router setup to assign a specific IP address for the PC so it never changes. Then to connect for the first time I just have to type this:

 

vnc://192.168.0.231

 

This can be saved as a favorite and subsequent connections are one click away. This also works to log in remotely to another Mac or my Raspberry Pi. 

 

I have imaged for nearly a year using my Mac using TheSkyX. It is certainly not fringe. This software package has arguably the best polar alignment and scope pointing system available on a computer. It is the backbone of the Paramount mounts but also works perfectly well on mounts as simple and old as the Meade LX200. With some basic scripts I am able to image all night unattended. 

 

The Mac is also perfectly usable for all my post processing. Pixinsight and Photoshop run just fine. 



#18 Marcelofig

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:53 PM

You use Microsoft Remote Desktop. It's available for Mac - I use it all the time to connect from my Mac laptop to my mini PCs I use for imaging.

 

I tried using the Mac for imaging (both in VMWare Fusion and natively) and gave up on it. While it can certainly be done, for me the headaches simply weren't worth it. Macs are unfortunately fringe in astrophotography and while the software available has an enthusiastic user base, it's small. Astrophotography is hard enough without making it harder!

 

 

You can also use Google Chrome Desktop or AnyDesk. Both work very well and are free (Microsoft Remote Desktop requires Windows Pro on the target PC).



#19 Tom3

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 12:49 PM

This topic came up when I was unable to connect to the iOptron iGuider with my Mac.  The GEM 45G also has an ST4 port, so I will get a mini-guide scope. I already have a Mac compatible ZWO camera that I can use with the new guide scope so I have decided to forget about trying to do anything with Windows for now as long as I can stick completely with Mac. The mini guide scope is also cheaper than buying  even a low cost Windows computer and I don't have to hassle with parallels or boot camp and have more of my HD taken up with Windows.

 

Tom



#20 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 02:11 PM

I have imaged for nearly a year using my Mac using TheSkyX. It is certainly not fringe. This software package has arguably the best polar alignment and scope pointing system available on a computer. It is the backbone of the Paramount mounts but also works perfectly well on mounts as simple and old as the Meade LX200. With some basic scripts I am able to image all night unattended. 

 

Supposing one wanted to go with TheSkyX on a MacBook Pro, what are the physical connections required? Any products you would recommend?



#21 limeyx

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 02:22 PM

Is it possible to do serious astrophotography with a Macbook and Parallels?  Would this be a solid foundation for using Maxim DL, of FocusMax, or ACP or SGP?

Anyone with experience doing so?  Any suggestions (or warnings, or encouragement) would be most welcome!

I ended up using Bootcamp which was frustrating because my Mac has a small flash drive (250GB) so its tough to cram it all in

Bootcamp supports every program I need for capture. I also just ended up using Bootcamp for processing (PixInsight) but I think more of the processing s/w supports Mac

 



#22 unimatrix0

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 02:26 PM

You can also use Google Chrome Desktop or AnyDesk. Both work very well and are free (Microsoft Remote Desktop requires Windows Pro on the target PC).

I use Anydesk all the time. I even have it on my cellphone and control the PC  with taps and drags. Even now at work, I'm controlling my home desktop and processing my images. lol.gif


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#23 DJL

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 05:58 PM

Mac and ASIAIR Pro here, no Windows. I now use APP, Siril, Observatory, Affinity and Photoshop. Before the getting my OSC and ASIAIR Pro I used PHD2 on my Mac with a long USB cable, and AstroDSLR with my DSLR. 

 

If I had to get a Windows machine I'd consider a NUC before a laptop. 



#24 Tom3

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 07:45 PM

I have StellarMate (I have a Pegusus focuser so I chose StellarMate over ASIAIR).  The StellarMate may have a steep learning curve, so I haven't used it yet. I was about to start using the StellarMate when I had a mount failure.  Once I get StellarMate running I expect to no longer need any Windows products.

 

Tom



#25 idclimber

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 08:18 PM

Supposing one wanted to go with TheSkyX on a MacBook Pro, what are the physical connections required? Any products you would recommend?

I am using a single USB2 cable from my Mac to the MX+ mount. This mount provides two additional USB ports at the clamp on top of the mount. One goes to my ASI camera that is in turn hooked up to the filter wheel and guide camera. The second port on my mount is setup for my focus motor. I don't need any additional hubs. 

 

If I was controlling a 3rd party mount I would probably go with some type of USB hub. I don't care about USB3 as I don't need it unless I setup the system for planetary. Then I used a dedicated USB3 cable for the camera. 

 

TheSkyX imaging edition comes will control nearly any common mount. It will add the T-point pointing system that gives you polar alignment and whole sky mount corrections. It also has a camera module that does guiding and focussing, etc. Their @focus3 focusing module is exceptionally fast and accurate and will even focus on objects like the moon. 

 

To automate this I am using a Python script written by Ken Sturrock. He is a moderator here at CN. To execute the script I just type in a command in the Mac Terminal. This can do multiple targets in one session. 

 

The reason I am moving to a PC instead using my old Mac is to have a low power solution that will work on batteries in remote areas. The second is to start using Voyager for my automation control. The python script works, but I would like to try something a bit more comprehensive. Alternatively if someone was adept at scripting, they could write their own. Many have done this. 




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