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Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA) with just a camera and Apple iPad...Why isn't there a real option out yet?

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#1 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:22 AM

More than anything this is a question of why or why not?

I started back into the hobby and got more serious back in 2014 and my current telescope is an 8" Celestron Evolution. I joined a club and was very involved. I joined the board, but most of all I focused my attention on the outreach aspect of astronomy. Eyepiece observing has been my focus and im a keep it simple kind of guy. I saw folks persuing astrophotography as almost a natural progression of the hobby, but I stuck to eyepieces. I simply did not need any more stress in my life. I figured I could just appreciate other folk's images. Some folks in our club started focusing on EAA which seemed a little simpler as there were a lot less challenges and pieces of equipment and at outreach events I saw that visitors were gravitating to checking out the monitors of EAA observers as much as looking into eyepieces. I'm also in a state with not a lot of dark areas so imaging brings out a lot more detail than the eyepiece does especially on nebulae and galaxies.

 

Why in the world hasn't someone developed a hub box that regular ZWO or other popular cameras can plug into and then also plug into a tablet device? The hub could have conversion software built in or it could transmit to an app and be converted there. Why aren't there EAA options that work with a basic iPad? If someone did this you'd have to think the business model would be lucrative. I know image files and raw data that comes out of these cameras is large and stacking software is required, but ipads support stacking software in certain apps already so one would have to think this is doable...

 

Why hasn't something "reasonable" been brought to market as of yet..I know there are some expensive options out there probably or screen mirroring options, but again simple things that do their job sell well in most spaces.

 

Jon


Edited by Spacefreak1974, 06 April 2021 - 11:29 AM.


#2 wrnchhead

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:32 AM

So you don't feel the ASIAir pro's EAA functionality fits your use case? I guess it doesn't plug into the phone, it uses WiFi, but otherwise seems appropriate. 


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#3 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:34 AM

So you don't feel the ASIAir pro's EAA functionality fits your use case? I guess it doesn't plug into the phone, it uses WiFi, but otherwise seems appropriate. 

I dont think it can do an image on an ipad though. Fine for controlling the scope, but getting an image feed to the device screen is what im talking about. I can control my Evolution scope with an ipad already...not what im talking about


Edited by Spacefreak1974, 06 April 2021 - 11:36 AM.


#4 Oberon510

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:49 AM

Have you had a look at the Stellarmate solution which is a commercialized KStars/Ekos solution? It requires a Raspberry Pi for the connections but can be managed (including some visuals but not sure to what level you are looking for ) on their iPad app:

 

Connection platform - https://www.stellarmate.com/

App on iPad - https://apps.apple.c...te/id1252626058

 

Maybe Astroberry also but not sure if it has an iPad app

 

Good luck with your hunt for a solution to meet your needs.

 

Ken



#5 Supernova74

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:07 PM

Yes i hear your frustration and unfortunately apple products for instance are great for portable on the go devices and I have two iPad mini 4 i often use with skysafari,skyportal and once you use thease planetarium apps it’s very hard to go back to the handset the telescope is connected to,and to be honest it just takes to long anyway in scrolling in the user database system.im thinking mainly this could do with certain kind of licensing agreements things like that maybe,and the asiair pro is the next best thing at current in making EAA Astronomy a little easier,when folks don’t want to lug laptops around with them 

and make imaging easy as possible.when used with WiFi and a EQ mount.the technology is already here tho as I’m aware 

with stellina smart imaging scope in real time,with more an less plug and play type method.and I’m certain this acts as a hub that many devices can be used from just one telescope.which for outreach would be more desirable to use.


Edited by Supernova74, 06 April 2021 - 12:57 PM.

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#6 S.Boerner

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:07 PM

You can use an iPad or Android to control an ASIAir Pro for Outreach with the free app that's at the store.   One of the modes is live stacking where the ASIAir Pro will take the images, stack them in real time and allow for some histogram adjustments.  All of this can be seen on your iPad's screen.  The club here has been using the setup (C14,.5x FR, ZWO camera, BlueStacks Android emulator in Win10 for the ASIAir's app) at weekly outreach activities since last spring.  Yes, the ASIAir did control the scope, but it does so much more.

 

There are lots of videos out there by a quick scan at Youtube turns up this:

https://www.youtube....h?v=BxIIiVj8sYY


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#7 Supernova74

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 01:03 PM

You can use an iPad or Android to control an ASIAir Pro for Outreach with the free app that's at the store.   One of the modes is live stacking where the ASIAir Pro will take the images, stack them in real time and allow for some histogram adjustments.  All of this can be seen on your iPad's screen.  The club here has been using the setup (C14,.5x FR, ZWO camera, BlueStacks Android emulator in Win10 for the ASIAir's app) at weekly outreach activities since last spring.  Yes, the ASIAir did control the scope, but it does so much more.

 

There are lots of videos out there by a quick scan at Youtube turns up this:

https://www.youtube....h?v=BxIIiVj8sYY

I would like to see a similar arrangement being able to use these devices on an azimuth mount based scope I’ve heard a few already have on CN if this is feasible or not,what the image quality would be like I do not know


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#8 aaube

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 01:14 PM

Perhaps it's not exactly what you're looking for but here goes anyway.

I'm not into EAA myself, my better half is and she uses an Asiair pro.

 

Her scope is a C8 with an asi533 and the following images are straight from her tablet. (after conversion to jpg and renaming). 

I believe both are about 30 min. stacks.  All in 3 minutes exposures with live calibration.

 

Everything was done on the tablet; goto, plate solve, auto focus, calibration, stacking, stretching...

We could see the images improving as the stacking was adding up.  With Airplay, she duplicate

the ipad screen on a tv in the observatory.

 

To be honest, it was actually a lot more fun to watch than i thought it would be.  Something worth repeating

for friends visiting for sure.

 

 

Alain

Attached Thumbnails

  • EAA_M51.JPG
  • EAA_M106.JPG

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#9 cpl43uk

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 02:37 PM

I dont think it can do an image on an ipad though. Fine for controlling the scope, but getting an image feed to the device screen is what im talking about. I can control my Evolution scope with an ipad already...not what im talking about

Yes AAP can send an image to the iPad. I use it in just that mode. In fact I have one iPad/iPhone controlling sky safari and the other watching an image build up in Live Stack mode on my second iPad. I could do this all on one iPad but I find it easier to avoid toggling between applications. This is using the wifi signal from AAP which itself is connected to the camera. I can tweak the image as it is building and can save an image to my photos on the iPad.I control where the telescope points via SS but I could also control it from AAP. This is with an AltAz mount (Nexstar 8SE). It has a few foibles but on the whole is functioning well.


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#10 Jamez

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 05:06 PM

I dont think it can do an image on an ipad though. Fine for controlling the scope, but getting an image feed to the device screen is what im talking about. I can control my Evolution scope with an ipad already...not what im talking about

Yes, it can control the mount AND view/stack/download image from camera to iPad/iPhone. All via WiFi. 



#11 S.Boerner

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 07:09 PM

I wouldn't really recommend it, but yes, an ASIAir can be made to do what you ask.  As far as I know, an AIR is EQ only but if you'd use something like SkySafari to initiate the gotos, use an ASIAir to plate solve/sync, and repeat a few times an object could be found and centered.  Bump up the gain, keep exposures less than 30 seconds with live stacking,  and pick the part of the sky you are imaging (east & west best, north & south so, so, and ignore the zenith) and your outreach imaging will be good, even for galaxies on nights with the moon out. 

 

(Note:  you need to name the target in Autorun to be saved with the actual name.)

 

 

 

I would like to see a similar arrangement being able to use these devices on an azimuth mount based scope I’ve heard a few already have on CN if this is feasible or not,what the image quality would be like I do not know

 



#12 garyhawkins

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:51 PM

Sorry to play devils advocate, but what's wrong with a laptop.  It's a hub, it's a single screen, it's a dual screen with a second monitor, you can run everything you need software wise, and it's basically 'open source'.  Otherwise, I guess you're looking ASIAir.


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#13 dcweaver

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 12:08 AM

I'm with Gary.  A laptop next to the mount with two cables (camera and mount control) drives everything.  I remote into the laptop using Remote Desktop on my iPad to drive everything and view from the living room.  The iPad also comes in handy at the scope if I need to look through the finder to place an alignment star or planet on the small sensor.

   

EAA rig.jpg


Edited by dcweaver, 07 April 2021 - 12:09 AM.


#14 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 07:49 AM

Sorry to play devils advocate, but what's wrong with a laptop.  It's a hub, it's a single screen, it's a dual screen with a second monitor, you can run everything you need software wise, and it's basically 'open source'.  Otherwise, I guess you're looking ASIAir.

Well, im not permitted to use my work laptop and we have a nice virtually new iPad pro with a much better screen than any laptop. We do have a small laptop that has a broken display and broken keyboard, so I may just buy the parts for that and use the laptop.

 

Jon



#15 alphatripleplus

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 08:26 AM

Well, im not permitted to use my work laptop and we have a nice virtually new iPad pro with a much better screen than any laptop. We do have a small laptop that has a broken display and broken keyboard, so I may just buy the parts for that and use the laptop.

 

Jon

If you do decide to go the laptop route, you'll find even old laptops are adequate for running livestacking software like SharpCap. I have an old astro laptop that I picked up used for under $150 (an old refurbished corporate Dell machine) which is adequate for my needs.

 

The only issue becomes if you have a camera with a large/huge sensor, and need something with more horsepower. That may mean a faster processor and more RAM and more $$.



#16 ccs_hello

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 08:41 AM

Going back to the original question....

 

The OP wants his shiny (with beautiful screen) iPad to do heavy lifting of the common EAA tasks WITHOUT a "heavy lifting box" (a laptop, NUC, or Raspberry-Pi 4 based computer) in the middle....

 

The answer is NO.

iOS as an operating system and iPad as the hardware platform is not suiable for many tasks which need to run simultaneously, (often) RT intensive, no peripheral IO locak-down by Apple, and with lots of memory (RAM and disk storage) as what a general purpose PC/Linux computer would do.



#17 garyhawkins

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 10:10 AM

Hi Jon, I feel your pain.  Perhaps, use your ipad in the way dcweaver is suggesting.  It is nice to be inside, out of the elements, when doing a long evening of viewing.  My laptop cost $299 new from that Costco, and I spent $50 to upgrade the memory to $16B. CS Gary




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