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I want to try a Raspberry Pi AND a mini PC

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#1 hfsarber

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:26 PM

The AP bug bit again last November.  Last time was at the turn of the century. Life got in the way and I sold almost all my astro gear.  Started assembling an AP rig in December (nothing in stock!) and finally started imaging the middle of January.  Still getting up to speed on the mountain of new software, but I'm having a blast.

 

Anywho, now that I'm getting comfortable with what I have I would like to try out a Raspberry Pi.  They look like fun.  Where did you get yours?  I see them listed in a lot of places.  The RPi 4 8gb ram with 32gb SD card and power supply run about $110.  Cheap enough for me to try.  Other than that the only other question is do you have any heat issues?  I see that the kits come with either heat sinks or fans+heatsinks.

 

As far as the mini PC goes I see from my searches that the Beelink U55 seems to be a popular choice.  Does the U57 draw that much more power?  They both use a 3A power supply.  It's an i5 so that will draw a little more power, but is it significant?

 

I'm looking for ways to untether the rig from my laptop.  Right now it's connected by an active 32' long USB 3 cable.  Fairly reliable when plugged into the USB 3 port on my laptop.  Rock solid when plugged into the USB 2 port.  The ASI120MC-S is only running at USB 2 speed then, but who takes images of planets with a 30mm guide scope?  Not me.  :-)

 

I would like to be able to polar align, select a target, plate solve, and acquire images.  I will process the images on another computer.  I'll probably need help with the RPi.  The mini PC will be a piece of cake.  I've been using Windows since version 3.1.

 

Harry

 



#2 RonaldNC

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:49 PM

I've been running my setup remotely on a Raspberry Pi for a few months and really like it.  I bought the RPi 4 with cooler/sinks for around $100 on Amazon, then loaded StellarMate OS for $50 (KStars/EKOS) which does PA, align, plate solve, auto focus, guiding, capturing, etc.  If fact, as I type this reply, I am running an imaging session of Leo Triplet while I'm sitting in my living room!  I monitor the session using Real VNC over WiFi.

 

Before this experience, I had never used RPi or Linux... but it was pretty easy.  Not much different than Windows.  StellarMate makes it pretty easy to download the OS and burn it to the SD card.  Turn the RPi on and your ready to go!

 

Good luck!

 

Ron


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#3 JasonT

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 10:30 PM

I'll throw my experience in there with the RPI4.  I use the RPI4 8gb with astroberry, it has kstar/ekos which I really like and to echo RonaldNC, it does everything in one program.  My experience with the PI and astroberry is very hit and miss.  Some nights it works perfectly and others nights I get a slew of unsolvable issues that make me pack it up, but it will work flawlessly the next time out with no actual changes made.  I think it has to do with the RPI4 and power draw over the usb ports but I don't know.  I want to switch to a mini pc or other SBC that has more power but still small enough to ride on the mount.  My PI is currently strapped under the scope on the dovetail bar, it real helped minimize wires coming off mount.  I only have 2 power (camera and PI) and one com (to mount control) coming off the mount.  

 

My experience with the PI hasn't been the best.  Also this is the second on I've tried.



#4 hfsarber

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:18 PM

I've been running my setup remotely on a Raspberry Pi for a few months and really like it.  I bought the RPi 4 with cooler/sinks for around $100 on Amazon, then loaded StellarMate OS for $50 (KStars/EKOS) which does PA, align, plate solve, auto focus, guiding, capturing, etc.  If fact, as I type this reply, I am running an imaging session of Leo Triplet while I'm sitting in my living room!  I monitor the session using Real VNC over WiFi.

 

Before this experience, I had never used RPi or Linux... but it was pretty easy.  Not much different than Windows.  StellarMate makes it pretty easy to download the OS and burn it to the SD card.  Turn the RPi on and your ready to go!

 

Good luck!

 

Ron

I saw them on Amazon.  Probably where I'll order it from. I've been to Astroberry and Stellarmate's websites.  Interesting stuff.  I'm totally amazed at what's available today.

 

Windows, Linux, IOS, RPi, whatever.  If it does what I want it to do I'll take it.

 

Thanks,

Harry

p.s.  I got a shot of the Leo Triplet the other night with the moon thisclose.  Just fooling around, but I could see all 3.



#5 SteveL42

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:33 PM

I am running a 4G RPi4 with Astroberry and it works great.  No need for 8G, the OS and programs are 32-bit, so you can't address above 4G anyway. Mine is using around 1G when running.

 

I do use a laptop to get setup first - I run Sharpcap's polar align, then use Backyard EOS to do my single star alignment and focus.  Once done, I plugin my USB hub to the RPi4 and head inside. 


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#6 hfsarber

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:37 PM

I'll throw my experience in there with the RPI4.  I use the RPI4 8gb with astroberry, it has kstar/ekos which I really like and to echo RonaldNC, it does everything in one program.  My experience with the PI and astroberry is very hit and miss.  Some nights it works perfectly and others nights I get a slew of unsolvable issues that make me pack it up, but it will work flawlessly the next time out with no actual changes made.  I think it has to do with the RPI4 and power draw over the usb ports but I don't know.  I want to switch to a mini pc or other SBC that has more power but still small enough to ride on the mount.  My PI is currently strapped under the scope on the dovetail bar, it real helped minimize wires coming off mount.  I only have 2 power (camera and PI) and one com (to mount control) coming off the mount.  

 

My experience with the PI hasn't been the best.  Also this is the second on I've tried.

In my research I read about the potential of USB issues.  If so, I'll probably get a powered USB hub.  Currently, my only draw is the quide camera.  The DSLR camera and mount hand controller shouldn't draw any power over USB.

 

Sorry about your experience with the Pi.  If you convert to a mini PC I'd be interested in hearing what you selected.

 

Thanks,
Harry



#7 dx_ron

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:37 PM

I bought my rpi from Adafruit. The 4GB is enough and I've heard of issues with Astroberry with the 8GB. A couple of people on the Astroberry forum recently moved to installing KStars/Ekos themselves on a plain Ubuntu installation. My 4GB pi has been rock solid with Astroberry. I use an aluminum case where the whole thing acts as a heat sink.

 

I use a powered USB3 hub to take the pressure off the pi trying to supply power to the usb ports. The camera, guide camera and a flash drive plug in to the pi (writing large image files to the flash drive is a gazillion times faster than trying to write to the SD card), anything else goes on the powered hub (which also powers the pi). pi wifi is an issue for some (me included), so one thing on the hub is a wifi adapter.



#8 hfsarber

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:42 PM

And I also want to replace the Celestron Power tank with a tripod mounted battery.  But, since I don't even know what final current draw will be with the equipment I end up using, it's kind of premature to ask.  What power source are you using for your stand alone rigs?



#9 hfsarber

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:47 PM

I bought my rpi from Adafruit. The 4GB is enough and I've heard of issues with Astroberry with the 8GB. A couple of people on the Astroberry forum recently moved to installing KStars/Ekos themselves on a plain Ubuntu installation. My 4GB pi has been rock solid with Astroberry. I use an aluminum case where the whole thing acts as a heat sink.

 

I use a powered USB3 hub to take the pressure off the pi trying to supply power to the usb ports. The camera, guide camera and a flash drive plug in to the pi (writing large image files to the flash drive is a gazillion times faster than trying to write to the SD card), anything else goes on the powered hub (which also powers the pi). pi wifi is an issue for some (me included), so one thing on the hub is a wifi adapter.

So then a 64gb SD card would be overkill also?

 

I plan to use a powered USB hub and a separate wifi adapter (if it gives me issues).



#10 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 02:34 AM

Running a 4gb Pi 4b with Astroberry. I power it from the "charge port" of a 12v powered USB 3.0 hub. It has no trouble driving two cameras (image and guide) and the mount, with the imaging camera also being powered by 12v for the cooler.  64gb SD card is plenty; it's not there for long term storage.

 

I'm using CCDciel, ASTAP, and PHD2 software for the most part.

 

WiFi can be a challenge. At home it connects to the home network, but outside I have had trouble when it gets cold. No clue if its electrical or environmental, but the ethernet jack works in all cases, so i build an isolated network with a small router.  Using an external Wifi module with an antenna should work too. It's on my list of improvements. 



#11 polslinux

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:54 AM

Running a RPi 4b 4GB with Stellarmate OS. Almost no issues so far grin.gif (I wrote almost because with the last big update I faced boot issues, but reflashing and restoring the backup was a matter of 10 minutes)



#12 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 11:57 AM

Running a 4gb Pi 4b with Astroberry. I power it from the "charge port" of a 12v powered USB 3.0 hub. It has no trouble driving two cameras (image and guide) and the mount, with the imaging camera also being powered by 12v for the cooler.  64gb SD card is plenty; it's not there for long term storage.

 

I'm using CCDciel, ASTAP, and PHD2 software for the most part.

 

WiFi can be a challenge. At home it connects to the home network, but outside I have had trouble when it gets cold. No clue if its electrical or environmental, but the ethernet jack works in all cases, so i build an isolated network with a small router.  Using an external Wifi module with an antenna should work too. It's on my list of improvements. 

Alrighty, then.  4gb RPi 4b with 32gb SD card.  Probably order one today.  And a powered USB 3 hub.  I'm using a non-powered one now.  It's what I had at the time.

 

If I setup in the front driveway it's about 35 feet from the router. Setting up behind the house is about 20 feet from the router.  I have a TP-Link router that I can try if it has issues connecting.



#13 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 12:03 PM

Running a RPi 4b 4GB with Stellarmate OS. Almost no issues so far grin.gif (I wrote almost because with the last big update I faced boot issues, but reflashing and restoring the backup was a matter of 10 minutes)

That's great.  Glad to hear restoring is quick amd easy.



#14 Rob Willett

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 02:25 PM

Just to add to the conversation re using a Pi. I use a few at home for driving a 3D printer, a CNC machine and a PiHole.

 

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a very good System on Computer (SOC) device. It does run hot compared to the Raspberry Pi 3 and if it gets too hot, will throttle back. This is not an issue and it's designed to do so. The best way to handle this is to make sure you put a decent heatsink on, which is normally a decent metal case which has the heatsink built in and the sticky pads. Not sure what would happen if you ran it on a very cold night without a case :)

 

Also the Pi 4 (and to be honest the older ones) are sensitive to the power supply. There are no issues with using the 'genuine' one supplied by Raspberry but its well worth checking that the PSU and the USB-C cable is supplying what you think it is. I have had issues with the 3 and a slightly dodgy PSU. However I have run the Pi 4 as an ad blocker for weeks at a time with zero issues.

 

I have a number of SD cards that I can use. Amazon sell them for a few pounds for a 16GB one, so it makes sense to buy them as needed, The nice thing about them is you can simply power down and change the OS in minutes.

 

I can make no comment on the use of it for astronomy but I love them here in the UK, and still have a working Pi 1 (and a Pi Zero and a Pi 2 and a PI3b) and a few Pi 4's. At the price they are, buy them and forget about them. They also make excellent VPN servers and ad block servers (see PiHole).

 

Rob



#15 ChadGray

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:15 PM

My experience with Raspbery Pi's is the faster the SD car you get the faster the computer.  Get the fastest one you can afford!



#16 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:27 PM

After I try it out for astronomy I have other plans for it.  It's so cute! lol.gif  Ad blockserver sounds like something I'll have to investigate.

 

I have the RPi (and a Beelink U57) in my Amazon cart.  Still looking for a powered USB 3 hub.  How do you power the hub from the battery?  12v to 5v converter?



#17 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:28 PM

My experience with Raspbery Pi's is the faster the SD car you get the faster the computer.  Get the fastest one you can afford!

Will do. Thanks



#18 joeytroy

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:43 PM

I have an ASI Air Pro which rocks but I too wanted to play around with Astro Berry as the ASI Air Pro is basically a Pi4/4GB with 4x12v power adapters. So I decided to load it up with Ubuntu 20.04.2 x64 server and then loaded INDI drivers, INDI Web Manager, and it runs much faster than Astro Berry as there is not a desktop GUI and then I connect to the mount with kStars, they have an Android app for KStars but I haven't messed with it yet. I also plan on installing PHD2 for multiple star alignment but haven't gotten there quite yet. I think Astroberry is slick as it's an easy setup to use but I found going the Ubuntu Server route allowed me to use all 4GB of RAM on the Pi as it's true 64bt OS and it also runs much faster with out GUI of course. As always YMMV.



#19 dx_ron

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:48 PM

After I try it out for astronomy I have other plans for it.  It's so cute! lol.gif  Ad blockserver sounds like something I'll have to investigate.

 

I have the RPi (and a Beelink U57) in my Amazon cart.  Still looking for a powered USB 3 hub.  How do you power the hub from the battery?  12v to 5v converter?

I use this one. You run 12v to the hub.



#20 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:03 PM

I use this one. You run 12v to the hub.

Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!  Thanks.  All the ones I looked at had 5V input.


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#21 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:30 PM

I have an ASI Air Pro which rocks but I too wanted to play around with Astro Berry as the ASI Air Pro is basically a Pi4/4GB with 4x12v power adapters. So I decided to load it up with Ubuntu 20.04.2 x64 server and then loaded INDI drivers, INDI Web Manager, and it runs much faster than Astro Berry as there is not a desktop GUI and then I connect to the mount with kStars, they have an Android app for KStars but I haven't messed with it yet. I also plan on installing PHD2 for multiple star alignment but haven't gotten there quite yet. I think Astroberry is slick as it's an easy setup to use but I found going the Ubuntu Server route allowed me to use all 4GB of RAM on the Pi as it's true 64bt OS and it also runs much faster with out GUI of course. As always YMMV.

I'm still on the fence with the AAP.  Just when I think I don't want one you go and muck it all up by saying I can use the AAP with a different OS.  grin.gif  Cool.  Let me know how you make out.

 

If I got an AAP I'd also want a new iPad.  I'm due to get a new iPad.  The old one runs IOS 9.  We use iPads (and a 40" monitor) with OnSong to display chords and lyrics.  I'll probably buy a used 12.9" iPad Pro and use that for both astronomy and OnSong.



#22 freestar8n

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:55 PM

I was doing well for a long time with a Corning usb3 fiber cable to the mount and usb3 hubs - but eventually the fiber died.  I don't want the complexity of having a pc on the mount but I do want local control of some devices.

 

So I gave up on usb3 speed and instead have a long usb2 cable that connects to the mount and to the asi1600 - and the hub on the 1600 then connects to the qhy174 guide sensor and efw2 filter wheel.  All of these items rotate together on a pyxis rotator so it's very helpful they are all tethered to the 1600.

 

The remaining devices:  rotator, temperature sensors and sky IR sensor are all driven by raspberry pi mounted to the ota and interact wirelessly through a python rest server on the pi.

 

This hybrid approach has many advantages and has proven to be robust.  The pi is powered by 12V using a small step down converter that drives it.  The only thing lost is usb3 speed to the camera, which does have advantages when doing high speed work.

 

Frank



#23 joeytroy

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:13 PM

I'm still on the fence with the AAP.  Just when I think I don't want one you go and muck it all up by saying I can use the AAP with a different OS.  grin.gif  Cool.  Let me know how you make out.

 

If I got an AAP I'd also want a new iPad.  I'm due to get a new iPad.  The old one runs IOS 9.  We use iPads (and a 40" monitor) with OnSong to display chords and lyrics.  I'll probably buy a used 12.9" iPad Pro and use that for both astronomy and OnSong.

Just know out of the box the AAP only works with ZWO equipment. However it is slick for sure! Here is a demo I did with it if you want to get an idea of how it works and I have an iPad Mini I am using with it https://joeytroy.com/zwo-asi-air-demo/ and also my iPhone when I go out most nights as it's easier to just do the Polar Alignment and come inside and kick back on the couch with a Whiskey or Scotch.

 

Also I did some hacking on it try and force some driver loads but in the end it didn't pan out

https://www.cloudyni...iver-injection/

 

AkanChan on CN uses his AAP with AstroBerry and loves it 

https://www.cloudyni...-functionality/

 

and KenS has also released the ASI Air Power drive for INDI so you can turn on and off the power ports with in KStars or AstroBerry.

https://github.com/i...dparty/pull/329

 

The nice thing about the AAP is it's an all in one solution with 4x12v power and 4xUSB Ports 2 are USB3 and 2 are USB2. You can use the sweet AAP application or get crazy and load AstroBerry our load Ubuntu Server with INDI right on to it. I will be releasing a how to in time on my website and another YourTube video once I get it down pat with KStars and PHD2.


Edited by joeytroy, 04 March 2021 - 05:19 PM.


#24 hfsarber

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:19 PM

I was doing well for a long time with a Corning usb3 fiber cable to the mount and usb3 hubs - but eventually the fiber died.  I don't want the complexity of having a pc on the mount but I do want local control of some devices.

 

So I gave up on usb3 speed and instead have a long usb2 cable that connects to the mount and to the asi1600 - and the hub on the 1600 then connects to the qhy174 guide sensor and efw2 filter wheel.  All of these items rotate together on a pyxis rotator so it's very helpful they are all tethered to the 1600.

 

The remaining devices:  rotator, temperature sensors and sky IR sensor are all driven by raspberry pi mounted to the ota and interact wirelessly through a python rest server on the pi.

 

This hybrid approach has many advantages and has proven to be robust.  The pi is powered by 12V using a small step down converter that drives it.  The only thing lost is usb3 speed to the camera, which does have advantages when doing high speed work.

 

Frank

I have a USB 3 hub and an active USB 3 cable, but when I use it I plug it into the USB 2 port on the laptop.  USB 3 has been fairly reliable, but USB 2 has been rock solid.  I'm not imaging planets, so I don't need the speed.  My goal is to eliminate the cable and use wifi with a wifi extender on the mount.



#25 acommonsoul

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:21 PM

I run a RPI4 4gb model running Astroberry. It works great for me. I like being inside and remoting into the scope. I also use Sharpcap pro for my polar alignment, as I find it a bit easier than Ekos for alignment. I have an EQ6-R pro for the mount and I power everything with a Jackery 500 for all night imaging.
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