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#1 sportfan1969

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 06:50 AM

Good morning everyone!  I, like many others who are budding astrophotographers who use the ZWO ASIair Pro find that the WIFI functionality of the device leads us down a road of frustration.  The ZWO ASIair and ASIair pro are well documented for having less than stellar WIFI range/performance and users are plagued with constant dropouts. 

 

I purchased a RAVpower Filehub portable travel router (model RP-WD009) from Amazon for $33.99 (after a 30% discount).  The RAVpower is a 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz capable device, that features a built in 6700mAh battery, built in USB and SD card interface.  An ethernet port, and a USB C charging port.  This device can operate as a "NAS" with it's built in in Filehub/media Server features and as a power bank that can recharge other devices like smart phones.  The size is small and this device fits in the palm of my average sized hand.

 

After fully charging the device, I turned the device on, activated the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz band with the mode selector on the side of the device, then connected to the device via WIFI on my laptop with the default password of "11111111".  I opened my browser and navigated to 10.10.10.254, when prompted, I entered the username "admin" and left the password field blank, then logged into the device. I selected the Wizard icon to begin the setup of the device.  In all this took about 3 minutes; all of the prompts were fairly self-explanatory, the device rebooted, I reconnected the laptop to the RAVpower RP-WD009 using the login credentials I created a few minutes before.

I then connected the ASIair pro to the RP-WD009 via a short ethernet cable, and strapped the RP-WD009 to one of the legs of my EQ6R-Pro tripod using a Velcro strap, I will spend some time designing and 3D printing a cradle that will more securely hold the device to the tripod.  I then connected my Tablet to the RAVpower RP-WD009 via 5Gzh WIFI, launched the ASIair application and I was off-to-the races.

 

My 152mm Bresser Messier Carbon Fiber Maksutov-Newtonian (The predecessor to the ES Comet Hunter) sits on my patio in the back yard, and i did an initial WIFI range test,  My home is approximately 2500sf and I had more than adequate signal strength in every room of the house using the 5Ghz band.  I live in Miami and the house is constructed of concrete exterior walls.  I was very surprised as the Comcast/Xfinity supplied Gateway/Router (XB7) has less 5Ghz signal strength in some areas of the house.

 

I decided I would spend the night capturing images of Thor's Helmet (NGC-2359), I set up a 5 hour job in the ASIair application, tweaked my focus and autoguiding and started the job just after 2100 EST.  I checked in on it a couple times throughout the night for just about every room in the house with no issues, at about 2330 I decided I would leave the job to fate and went to bed.  I woke at 0430 and made a cup of coffee, sat down at the dining room table, and checked in on the prior nights imaging.  Low and behold, the job completed without a single hiccup!

 

Checking the battery status on the RAVpower travel router, after 9 hours of on-time the RP-WD009 still had 23% power (I estimate that the device would still have approximately 2 hours of batter power before shutting down). 11 hours of total run time is more than adequate for an imaging session in my opinion.

 

I couldn't be happier with this purchase, and I would recommend this device to anyone experiencing WIFI dropouts on their ZWO ASIair Pro!

 

ZWO left a lot on the table by not refining the WIFI capability of the ASIair Pro, especially considering that the issues have been well documented since the initial release of the ASIair, and a simple addition of a Medium Gain external WIFI antenna attached to the aluminum housing would be a simple and reasonably inexpensive revision to an "almost perfect device".

 

I hope this "rant" helped some of you along your journey in Astronomy/Astrophotography.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me here on CN!


Edited by sportfan1969, 05 March 2021 - 11:22 AM.

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#2 james7ca

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 08:17 AM

Thanks for the report.

 

I have two RavPower 83.6Wh batteries that I've been using (intermittently) for my iPad and iPhone for the past three years and they seem very reliable. I  originally bought them when I was using a Stick PC as a scope-side device since that was powered over USB/5VDC. However, for the past two years or so I've been using a more capable mini PC that runs on 12VDC and I'm not sure I'd want to go back to a 5V device.

 

However, it's nice that these travel routers are now supporting 5GHz WiFi, since that may be needed if you plan on using any USB3 devices close to the router itself (since USB3 can completely "kiill" 2.4GHz WiFi).


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#3 rhart426

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 08:17 AM

I used to use a solution like this, but found that if I forgot to turn it off and let the battery drain, it would take over an hour to regain enough charge to turn back on.  I lost a good chunk of imaging time to that thing and more than a little sanity.  I junked it and bought a more traditional type that runs off 12VDC, powers on and off with everything else, runs off the same power source as everything else.  Haven't thought about it since.

 

Obviously, this may or may not apply to the model you have there (For those curious, don't buy the HooToo Tripmate Titan).  In any case, the recharge profile is a really important consideration.  How long does it take to reach a full charge via what source?  Can you leave it plugged in and charging while in use at the scope?  For a portable setup out in the woods somewhere, these are important questions.

 

I'd also put that thing in an enclosure rather than holstering it to the tripod if I lived in Miami.  Humidity and sea air are not going to be kind to exposed electronics over time.


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#4 By-tor

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:04 AM

I only image from my bortle 4 backyard as I don't want to break it down, drag it somewhere and set it back up (old and lazy I guess).  I was having issues with the wifi of my ASIAIR Pro and my solution was to mount a TP-Link WiFi extender to a tripod leg and plug it into the ethernet port of the ASIAIR then connect it to my home network and I power my setup from a long extension cord.  I can place my rig anywhere in my yard and be connected to a small tablet I use from anywhere inside my house..  

 

DSCF3804 small.JPG

 

DSCF3805.JPG


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#5 sportfan1969

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:17 AM

I used to use a solution like this, but found that if I forgot to turn it off and let the battery drain, it would take over an hour to regain enough charge to turn back on.  I lost a good chunk of imaging time to that thing and more than a little sanity.  I junked it and bought a more traditional type that runs off 12VDC, powers on and off with everything else, runs off the same power source as everything else.  Haven't thought about it since.

 

Obviously, this may or may not apply to the model you have there (For those curious, don't buy the HooToo Tripmate Titan).  In any case, the recharge profile is a really important consideration.  How long does it take to reach a full charge via what source?  Can you leave it plugged in and charging while in use at the scope?  For a portable setup out in the woods somewhere, these are important questions.

 

I'd also put that thing in an enclosure rather than holstering it to the tripod if I lived in Miami.  Humidity and sea air are not going to be kind to exposed electronics over time.

The RAVpower RP-WD009 does allow use while charging,  it also acts as a power bank (albeit a smaller 6700mAh one) to provide charging capabilities for a tablet, phone or other small rechargeable battery powered device.  I will test the device to the issue described in your first paragraph and update this thread.



#6 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:42 AM

This is all just for convenience of checking on things from the inside of your house instead of walking outside, right? The ASIAir Pro doesn't NEED to be connected to wifi to do its job. You can use its own hotspot and connect to it via your tablet that way. Setup your sequence, do your polar alignment, etc... then walk away. There's no requirement there to be connected to any wifi.



#7 By-tor

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:56 AM

This is all just for convenience of checking on things from the inside of your house instead of walking outside, right? The ASIAir Pro doesn't NEED to be connected to wifi to do its job. You can use its own hotspot and connect to it via your tablet that way. Setup your sequence, do your polar alignment, etc... then walk away. There's no requirement there to be connected to any wifi.

Yes once I have it running it's mostly on it's own and I keep an eye on what it's doing and change targets when a run is complete from inside the house.  I don't have the best mount and have had guiding issues, but after a breakdown, re-lube and adjustment it has gotten better and this setup allows me to keep an eye on it from time to time instead of doing a 4 hour run and finding out later the guiding went wrong..

 

There is no requirement to be on wifi, but it works for me.

 

Thanks



#8 YAOG

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:57 AM

This is all just for convenience of checking on things from the inside of your house instead of walking outside, right? The ASIAir Pro doesn't NEED to be connected to wifi to do its job. You can use its own hotspot and connect to it via your tablet that way. Setup your sequence, do your polar alignment, etc... then walk away. There's no requirement there to be connected to any wifi.

Yes, this is correct. I do the same thing as it is more convenient. But it is not a requirement to use the ASIAIR-PRO. 


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#9 DJL

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 06:14 PM

Yes, this is correct. I do the same thing as it is more convenient. But it is not a requirement to use the ASIAIR-PRO. 

So what's your opinion of the RAVPower vs the Slate?



#10 YAOG

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 07:28 PM

So what's your opinion of the RAVPower vs the Slate?

The RP WD009 is very similar to the VONETS AC750 router being offered by ZWO as both are spec'd as AC750 and crippled by having only a single slower 10/100 Ethernet port. The Slate is also an AC750 Wi-Fi router so that is going to be similar to the other though the Slate has a very fast dedicated router SOC processor. But the big difference is the Slate's 1Gigabit 3-Port switch which is what gives the Slate a huge speed advantage when used as a Wi-Fi bridge to a wired Ethernet device as we use it with the ASIAIR-PRO. If your Ethernet port is limited to only 12.5GBps (10/100 Ethernet port) your router's Wi-Fi will be handicapped because the 5GHz. band Wi-Fi is in theory capable of pushing 54MBps, even the 2.4GHz. band is capable of 3X the speed of a 10/100 Ethernet port. So by now it should be obvious why I only recommend the Slate nano router with its 125GBps (10/100/1000) Ethernet ports for use with the ASIAIR-PRO.  

 

There are a few other 1Gbps Ethernet port routers, some even have faster 5GHz. Wi-Fi but they are larger, need a 50% higher current power supply and do not have the same RF power because they use internal antennas. I have been following the nano routers for use with the ASIAIR-PRO since last May 2020, AFAIK the Slate is the still fastest, smallest, lowest power nano router with the highest Wi-Fi RF power available.

 

Sooner or later someone will build a nano router that in this use will be faster. But the Slate has the most balanced hardware design and cost at the moment. The only way I can see to build a better suited nano router for this application would be if this new nano router only required the same or lower power, had the same dual band external antennas with 866Mbps 5GHz. Wi-Fi speed and cost less. It could happen, I mean the Slate price dropped from $70 last year down to $55 last week! 


Edited by YAOG, 05 March 2021 - 07:58 PM.

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#11 DJL

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 07:45 PM

The RP WD009 is very similar to the VONETS AC750 router being offered by ZWO as both are spec'd as AC750 and crippled by having only a single slower 10/100 Ethernet port. The Slate is also an AC750 Wi-Fi router so that is going to be similar to the other though the Slate has a very fast dedicated router SOC processor. But the big difference is the Slate's 1Gigabit 3-Port switch which is what gives the Slate a huge speed advantage when used as the ASIAIR-PRO. If your Ethernet port is limited to only 12.5GBps your router's Wi-Fi will be handicapped because the 5GHz. band Wi-Fi is in theory capable of pushing 54MBps, even the 2.4GHz. band is capable of 3X the speed of a 10/100 Ethernet port so by now it should be obvious why I can only recommend the Slate with its 125GBps Ethernet port for use with the ASIAIR-PRO.  

 

There are a few other 1Gbps Ethernet port routers, some even have faster 5GHz. Wi-Fi but they are larger, need a 50% higher current power supply and do not have the same RF power because they use internal antennas. I have been following the nano routers for use with the ASIAIR-PRO since last May 2020, AFAIK the Slate is the still fastest, smallest, lowest power nano router with the highest Wi-Fi RF power available.

 

Sooner or later someone will build a nano router that in this use will be faster. But the Slate has the most balanced hardware design and cost at the moment and the only way to build a better one would be if this new nano router used the same or lower power, had the same dual band external antennas with 866Mbps 5GHz. Wi-Fi speed and cost less. It could happen, I mean the Slate price dropped from $70 last year down to $55 last week! 

OK, thanks for the analysis. 


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#12 james7ca

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 02:30 AM

Since we now seem to be discussing WiFi routers I can report that I've had great success with a full-sized TP-LINK AC-1750 Archer A7 router that is currently available on Amazon for $60 (U.S.). This router runs on 12VDC, has three external antennas, four gigabit ethernet ports and one USB2 port. It supports 866Mb transfers over its 5GHz band and uses only about 250mA (0.25A) of power at 12V (as measured with my setup that includes an active 5GHz WiFi and 2 ethernet connections -- one to my mini PC and the other to an ethernet-to-serial adapter connected to my mount).

 

With my current WiFi setup I can get 60 megabyte per second file transfers between my scope-side mini PC and my desktop that is inside the house. However, I have a short distance between the scope and house and the WiFi only has to pass through a double-paned window in a direct line of sight between the scope-side router and an indoor directional WiFi antenna that is connected to the desktop. Plus, not all desktop or notebook computers can support 866Mb transfers and I had to put an upgraded WiFi card in my Dell desktop to get those kinds of speeds (the file transfers are done while I have an active MS Remote Desktop connection between the two computers so my total throughput is over 60MB/s).

 

Here is the current version of that router on Amazon:

 

  https://www.amazon.c...2DCARZ42S8MSWAM

 

I actually purchased this router a few years ago when on sale at Fry's Electronics when TP-LINK was transitioning to a "new" configuration. My "old" version has screw-terminal (replaceable) antenna connections and a second USB2 port which IMO is actually better than the current version of this same router (the newer model does support Amazon's Alexa, which is something I don't need).

 

In any case, I can't say that this particular device is better than any other competent AC1750 router, but it has worked well for me.

 

I'd also caution against trying to make a direct comparison between wired ethernet data rates and those given over WiFi. Wired ethernet always runs at near to its full, rated bandwidth, which isn't true for WiFi. So, even under the best of conditions you'll probably never see 433Mb data rates over 5GHz WiFi, nor the 300Mb over 2.4GHz (unless the router is sitting right next to the other device or if you are using a high-gain, directional antenna). But, YMMV and I get better than 100Mbs on my WiFi setup (which is running at 866Mb and uses high-gain antennas).

 

My particular setup is documented here:

  

  https://www.cloudyni...s/#entry9123919


Edited by james7ca, 06 March 2021 - 08:07 AM.


#13 YAOG

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 08:31 PM

We are mostly discussing nano routers for use on or at the mount as a workaround for the ZWO ASIAIR-PRO's low power Wi-Fi and inconsistent connections. Most people using the ASIAIR-PRO are working in the field so the main issue seems to be reliable connections that do not get dropped as you move around the device. Super high speed Wi-Fi at long distance is not an issue as the ASIAIR-PRO is a self-contained computer with its own local storage.

 

Wi-Fi speed is an issue for folks doing EAA, livestacking, for short periods when establishing a guide star, for autofocus and previewing an object. If doing normal imaging once these items are established the machine is just collecting and writing data to local storage every 4-6 minutes. The vast majority of the time there is no significant amount of data being transferred. So the best router IMO for this application needs to be balanced between Ethernet and Wi-Fi throughput, package size and power usage.  

 

For portable or temporary use I love Wi-Fi but I have never understood the obsession people have with permanent mounts or observatories and Wi-Fi. A pair of CAT6 or better cables pulled once out to the observatory will always outperform any Wi-Fi and do it much cheaper. If you really want to transfer a lot of data fast just use hardware that can bind a couple or even multiple 1Gbps Ethernet cables it is the cheapest way to go until cheap 10Gbps Ethernet gets here.  



#14 unimatrix0

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 09:30 PM

This isn't a workable solutions for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no way I'm gonna wake up at 4:30am. lol.gif



#15 YAOG

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 10:55 PM

This isn't a workable solutions for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no way I'm gonna wake up at 4:30am. lol.gif

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