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Recommend a robust Laptop

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#26 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 04:24 PM

You need to check first if the software needed to connect to the mini-pc (like desktop remote, etc) can run on the iPad in question.

also, Remote Desktop needs windows professional (I had to upgrade my laptop) and can connect remotely with my iPad Pro. An earlier version of iPad doesn’t run the Software. Once it works, you don’t need an extra keyboard or monitor. All goes through the iPad.

cs Joachim 

If you are using WINDOWS REMOTE, that needs windows pro.  Any other utility works fine.  UVNC, RealVNC, TightVNC, all free, then there is the pay versions.
Don't use tools that require internet, you may want to take this to the site, and remote in directly.

For that I love a portable router, or use the MiniPC under windows 10, as a hotspot and connect directly with that :)  Which is a nice freebie. :)
If it runs on windows, it will most likely run on a windows miniPC.

Clear Skies !


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#27 mikehager

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 03:28 PM

Guys, all the suggestions have been on target and useful.  I've changed my mind a couple times during the discussion, now leaning towards going the mini-PC route, although I do not currently have a suitable tablet for interfacing to it.  So, if you have any input on this choice, I'd appreciate it.  At a minimum I looked to get a system with 8GB, 4 cores, and Win 10-Pro:

 

"Lenovo ThinkCentre M90n-1 Mini PC, Intel Core i5-8265U Upto 3.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, Displayport, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Pro",  $509.99

 

 

It's the brand many have suggested but of course, not the Thinkpad, since I've veered off from the laptop quest, for now.   Don't think this has a cooling fan though and my observatory can get quite hot in the NC summers.  Should this be a concern?



#28 alphatripleplus

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 07:46 AM

I think the question might be how hot could your observatory potentially be when the machine is running? (When the machine is off, I would not be worried about temp unless it is an oven.)


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#29 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 04:00 PM

I think the question might be how hot could your observatory potentially be when the machine is running? (When the machine is off, I would not be worried about temp unless it is an oven.)

Many of the MiniPC's even the cheap ones, are fanless, and throttle down when they get warm.  They don't just shut down unless the thermals get incredibly hot.  It is a concern but was running my tiny atom all summer from sundown till sunrise without issue.  But in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn't normally get incredibly hot, but we get a little less than our share :)

 

 

For the mini, this is my recommendation.
Right now it is 339.00 with a 70.00 Off !  Runs off 12v easily, has RS232, Plenty of connectivity.
This is the machine I am running now.  Well worth it. :)
https://www.amazon.c...18347494&sr=8-3

 


 

Clear Skies !



#30 mikehager

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 09:44 AM

I think the question might be how hot could your observatory potentially be when the machine is running? (When the machine is off, I would not be worried about temp unless it is an oven.)

Okay, good point.  So guessing it'll be okay to go with a fan-less device. 

 

Above, I quoted a target device:  "Lenovo ThinkCentre M90n-1 Mini PC, Intel Core i5-8265U Upto 3.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, Displayport, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Pro",  $509.99

 

Alternatively, (it may be overkill) but I believe I'll look for a 10th generation i5, 8-16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Win 10-Pro mini-PC.  Will try to keep that spend under $600, as I may need to add a tablet pretty soon, as well.  Will most modern tablets be capable of remoting in to the mini-PC?   Actually, most of the time, I'll use a laptop for that purpose but l imagine there will be times that a tablet will be more convenient.

 

So, my remaining decision point is around cost-benefit, on 8th generation versus 10th generation chip.  My guess is that it will not matter for most of the intended use and perhaps I would benefit more from having the greater SSD capacity?



#31 SMigol

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 10:24 AM

I use T430 thinkpads with after market 12V to 20V inverters.  They will not last long on the batteries alone, so I use the inverters all the time.

 

They come in two flavors: i5 and i7 chips.  Either works fine.  Swap to SSD, ensure they have 8GB of ram, and you're set.  

 

I get them refurbished from ebay for about $200.

 

I say "them" because I have 3 because for a while I ran 3 mounts.  I routinely run TSX, CCD Autopilot, web browser, and a little pix insight.  I have run 2 instances of TSX to control two cameras at the same time and it works well enough to leave alone.  

 

The screens aren't bright enough to see reliably well in full sun, but I don't need an astro laptop to work in the daytime.

 

As far as dew is concerned, when the laptops are running, I never have issues with dew.  When they're off... yes, dew can collect but I let them sit in the morning sun while open so they dry out.



#32 mikehager

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 11:50 AM

Update on the decided actions:  My inquiry on a robust laptop, morphed into an alternate plan.  I decided to go with a mini-PC, which will enable remote monitoring of data acquisition, generally from inside a house.  While I do not know how rugged the mini-PC is, I think it will be easier to protect from condensation by making a simple, plastic box of some sort.  Anyway, I'm excited over the idea of easily monitoring, and controlling, data acquisition from a recliner.

 

 

Since I did not have a monitor or spare keyboard, I added those as well.  Here are the details on the computer, just ordered:

 

Customized Intel NUC10I5FNK Mini PC    $539.00
Intel Core i5-10210U 1.6 - 4.2GHz
16GB DDR4 RAM
Upgraded 256GB NVMe SSD
Card Reader
HDMI, Thunderbolt
LAN, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Windows 10 Pro

 

Thank you for all the suggestions.  


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#33 jdupton

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 12:35 PM

Mike,

 

   Since you have picked a 10th generation Intel NUC as your MiniPC (good choice), I'll pass along a hint that may save you some trouble.

 

   Before you install the Windows 10 Pro OS, go into the NUC BIOS and check under the Power Management settings. If your BIOS is set to something called "Modern Standby" as the default, change it to "Legacy S3". You can then install Windows after this change in BIOS, if the BIOS change was required.

 

   This will save you some trouble later down the line as you configure your MiniPC. Without the change, Windows will not allow you to set some of the options you might like for an Astro-PC -- things like turning off USB Selective Suspend where Windows is allowed to turn off USB devices it might think are idle (like your camera during a long exposure).

 

   The reason to do this change in BIOS before installing Windows is that if you make the change later, the BIOS will force you to reinstall Windows from scratch. For more details, you can read through the various posts I made while discovering and working through this issue with the newer generation NUCs.

 

Search Results for Modern Standby Issue on late generation Intel NUCs

 

 

John


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#34 mikehager

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 08:05 AM

John,

 

My NUC came from the vendor, preloaded with Win 10-Pro.  I'll follow some of the guidance in your link to check out the power management modes.  Very useful link.   Thanks for sharing!



#35 jdupton

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 09:02 AM

Mike,

 

   It is likely that you are in good shape, then. Hopefully the vendor will have set up Legacy S3 power management for you already.

 

   There is a reasonably easy way to check. Open up the Power Options settings in Windows and then for whichever power plan is active, click on "Change Plan Settings". From that next screen, select "Change advanced power settings". A new dialog will pop up that looks like below.

 

PowerPlanOptions.png

 

   If you see all these options, then you are running Legacy S3 power management. If you see only one or two options that deal with what the PC's Power Button does and all the other detail settings are missing, you are running Modern Standby and will likely want to change. Beware a BIOS power management change will probably force a reinstall of Windows.

 

   If the Legacy S3 power management is already active, you can open up the USB Settings twisty while you are there and Disable USB Selective Suspend. You don't want Windows to try turning off your camera to save power while imaging... (It might still turn off the root hub but that can be fixed by making the changes outlined in another recent post by another user here on CN.)

 

 

John


Edited by jdupton, 18 April 2021 - 09:05 AM.


#36 mikehager

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 09:36 PM

John,

 

It appears that I have the 'modern' settings for power management.  I don't see the option to change USB power management.  Is there not a global control of power when you select 'Put the computer to sleep:  NEVER?'



#37 jdupton

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 10:17 PM

Mike,

 

   Sleep is not really the issue. Under Modern Standby, the term sleep is relative. The system never really turn off completely even when sleeping. Much of the system is dropped into a reduced power state but the CPU continues to run and can perform network accesses even when "sleeping" as I understand the management method. It does that so that it maintains an "Instant On" readiness.

 

   Never Sleeping may help but there may be other complications that arise. The linked post in Post #35 above should allow you to keep windows from turning off the root hubs but it will retain the ability to turn off devices if it chooses to do so. The other possible issue you may run into for astronomy mount-side use is that you do not have control over power usage and speed of the CPU. If this is going into an observatory setting where A/C power is always available, that may not be a big problem.

 

   I had to bite the bullet and reinstall Windows on mine since I always run from battery whether imaging from home or a dark site. Modern Standby would not allow me to change the settings that limit CPU usage. Without that level of control my NUC10i7 would draw up to 90 Watts of power when it got cranked up. Once I reinstalled and had control over CPU usage via the dialog shown in my prior post, maximum power usage of the NUC dropped to about 14 to 18 Watts with an average usage around 12 Watts.

 

   I wish I had more encouragement to offer. If you don't need the additional power reduction for your NUC10i5, then you can disable power management for the USB root Hub(s) and use it for a while to see if you have any other unforeseen issues.

 

 

John


Edited by jdupton, 18 April 2021 - 10:18 PM.


#38 mikehager

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:40 AM

To this point, I have not been able to obtain a key for my Windows 10, pre-load.  The vendor response to my query:

 

"Good afternoon,

This unit has been activated with a digital key provided through the Microsoft activation server system."

 

Even if I do get the requested key, I believe I will try to operate with the system, as-is.  Most of the time, I have line power available anyway.  When I do go remote, I will have two, sometimes three, external battery sources.  

 

In the past, when doing more remote work, I often encountered problems, operating from laptops, which gets to the initial point of this thread.  I'm not computer savvy enough to always drill down to the root causes of such trouble, just assuming they were either power supply, cables, or computer glitches of some sort.  So I just try to have redundancy of power, cables, etc.

 

There is some comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one, crazy enough, to stick with this challenging hobby!  Kinda like my golf game...mostly failures with occasional success.  Just trying to shift that ratio to a more favorable level.




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