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Raspberry with a USB for external drive

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#1 Paul Romero

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 11:17 AM

Hi all,

 

I am shortly going to be looking for a Raspberry based telescope mounted control computer to run via wifi from a Mac in the house using Ekos. I have a 4tb external drive, and I would like to use this as the picture storage. I plan on running the server portion of Ekos (Indi?), and I am looking to find a case that is cool, mountable on a telescope, and tiny.

 

Any links would be great! I am aware of the Stellarmate product, and I am looking to save money, though, this is the type of system I am going to acquire.

 

Thanks,

 

Paul



#2 NearVision

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 12:17 PM

Most rPi cases have holes on the back for mounting screws. It would depend on how you want to mount it to the scope. Do you have a Vixen or Losmandy plate on the top or bottom of the scope with room to attach the rPi? Is there a spare bracket for a finder scope that could be used? Once you figure out where on the scope it's going then a simple bracket can be rigged or made if you have access to a 3D printer or simple metal working tools. A search for rPi case mounting plate should give a few actually useful results. :)

 

Something to watch out for with the rPi is the USB ports may have a challenge with external hard drives and some cameras that draw too much power. You may need to look into a powered USB hub.


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#3 astrokeith

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 12:26 PM

I've stuck my Pi to the side of the OTA with a generous piece of Velcro.

 

I also just stick the Pi in a plastic box. It dosent get hot even plate solving and the wifi is better too. I'm running astroberry/Ekos on a RPi4 4GB.

 

The Pi will output 1.2A on the USB ports in total.

 

4tb at the mount is quite a lot of image storage?! How about something smaller on the Pi and transfer what you want? I too use a Mac and have set it up so the Pi appears as a network drive and so I can grab files from the PI SD card straight into the Mac for review and processing.



#4 RonaldNC

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 01:51 PM

Hey Paul,

 

That's basically the setup I use.  I've attached a picture of my setup below (hope you can see the details).  I mounted a piece of acrylic to my OTA on the rings.  Then I used Command Strips to mount my RPi, USB hub, Anderson Powerpole hub and dew strip controller to the acrylic plate.  So I only have one power cable going to the mount from the power supply and no external USB cables.  My intention is to use a similar setup for my other OTAs, making it very easy to change them out.

 

The RPi I bought is:

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

The RPi runs the StellarMate OS, which I control over WiFi from my MacBook Pro in the house via RealVNC.  Works great!

 

I also used to use a USB thumb drive (128GB) on the RPi.  I have a permanent observatory (SkyShed POD) and would go out in the morning and get the drive.  However, over the last couple of months I changed my approach.  I not just use the internal SD, which has plenty of space for the night.  In the morning, I use FileZilla to transfer the files to my Mac... only takes a couple of minutes.  Much simpler and I don't have to run outside first thing in the morning.

 

If you have any questions, please ask!  Good luck!

 

Ron

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#5 tsk1979

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 02:13 PM

4TB disk does not need to be mounted. get a 128GB SD card instead and transfer images. You will not fill up 128GB in a single session. 

 

Is there a specific use case where you want to mount the 4TB along with the Pi on the OTA?

 

Then there is another thing you want to consider. Do not mount it on OTA at all. Connect it to a powered hub and then mount the hub on the OTA if the the mount has a built in hub.

Of course if mount has no built in hub mounting on the OTA may make some sense. 

 

That said, you will need a powered USB hub anyways due to power requirements and USB connectivity headaches when you have too much voltage drop



#6 Paul Romero

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 04:32 PM

Thanks guys. I find this all very interesting! I have never gotten a Linux box running...just Windows and Mac out of the box. Asking my wife should be the next step...my plan is to ask for a Raspberry as a Father's Day present and promise to remove the other two PCs. It could be even considered a telescope accessory, bringing the # of "computers" down from three to one... MAC in house will be it). I sometimes go to the observatory with the PC, and hours will go by....this way, with the MAC connected to the PI via WiFi, an hour or two in the evening then to bed and work in the morning will enable astronomy and a work-life.

Thanks for the advice and pics. I just wanted to use the 4tb drive because it's sitting around...I really like the idea of hooking it up to a powered USB hub as a "network" device. The Pi would then share it as a drive to the house computer.

I think I'd like to try to get one with " last year's" top of the line chip...that will lower price. Any tips?

Also..thank you to Andrew over at Ma observatory.com for his articles on how to do this setup type.

Clear Skies,
Paul

#7 astrokeith

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 04:42 PM

Start with a Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB ram, as 32GB micro SD card (a good make like Samsung or Sandisk, class 10).

 

Download Astroberry and install it on the card. The astroberry website has good instructions.

 

The astroberry build has lots of goodies and all you need to get started. It has VNC built in, but I suggest you might want to start off with a keyboard, mouse and display plugged in direct to the Pi. Then switch to RealVNC or similar.

 

Then get used to its features.

 

Worth installing 'netatalk' on the Pi, which will enable you to access the Pi from your Mac really easily.



#8 tsk1979

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 07:34 PM

Thanks guys. I find this all very interesting! I have never gotten a Linux box running...just Windows and Mac out of the box. Asking my wife should be the next step...my plan is to ask for a Raspberry as a Father's Day present and promise to remove the other two PCs. It could be even considered a telescope accessory, bringing the # of "computers" down from three to one... MAC in house will be it). I sometimes go to the observatory with the PC, and hours will go by....this way, with the MAC connected to the PI via WiFi, an hour or two in the evening then to bed and work in the morning will enable astronomy and a work-life.

Thanks for the advice and pics. I just wanted to use the 4tb drive because it's sitting around...I really like the idea of hooking it up to a powered USB hub as a "network" device. The Pi would then share it as a drive to the house computer.

I think I'd like to try to get one with " last year's" top of the line chip...that will lower price. Any tips?

Also..thank you to Andrew over at Ma observatory.com for his articles on how to do this setup type.

Clear Skies,
Paul

Raspberry Pi 4 can be had for 75-80$. Just buy the board and case separately

You won't save much in the grand scheme of things going for a Pi3.

 

That said, it also depends on your budget. 150$ will get you a windows 10 mini PC which will have better performance.



#9 Paul Romero

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 07:35 PM

This one came up for sale on Craigslist a few blocks from me.. I don't suppose it is fast enough?
Raspberry Pi Model B with Case, 16 GB SD Card, Power Supply 5V 2A - $20 (Reno)

I think this item is a circa 2013 model B, not a 3 or 4B.

I'm getting a bit scared off because of the unfamiliarity with Raspberry OS, and I remembered after reading the last post that my 12 year old Windows 10 computer does have Indi server. I hope it works with Ekos on the MAC....

Clear skies
Paul

Edited by Paul Romero, 07 June 2021 - 08:04 PM.


#10 sbradley07

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 08:17 PM

I plan on running the server portion of Ekos (Indi?)

This certainly is an option, but if you are looking to use this configuration as a way to save money (ie. getting an Pi3), I wouldn't recommend it.  In INDI client/server mode, all the imaging operations run on your Mac (except PHD2 if you are guiding) and any connection loss to the server botches your session.  If your network is rock solid this might not be an issue, but if you ever want to run everything on the Pi and remote into via VNC, you will want a Pi4.  A Pi3 would be frustratingly inadequate.  



#11 Paul Romero

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Posted 09 June 2021 - 08:43 AM

Thank you all for your generous time and advice. I am now in "Indi for Windows" mode. My setup is a Windows 10 machine running the retired indi for windows app. I have successfully connected my MAC based Ekos to it over wifi. However, I am unable to get any of my ASCOM drivers to be selected on it's control panel leaving Ekos high and dry.

Any direction on this would be great, as there is no help pdf, that I know of.
Clear Skies,
Paul

Edited by Paul Romero, 09 June 2021 - 08:45 AM.


#12 bips3453

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Posted 09 June 2021 - 08:52 AM

Slightly off track, if running windows, I would try NINA. For using INDI, I would setup a Linux virtual box on Windows. (That is what I currently do.)



#13 sbradley07

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Posted 09 June 2021 - 11:35 AM

Any direction on this would be great, as there is no help pdf, that I know of.

I would say don't go in this direction.  INDI server for Windows is for ASCOM drivers (not INDI) and is unmaintained software (ie dead end.)  Since you have a Windows machine, I agree with bips3453 that NINA software would be a really good choice.  Like kstars/ekos/INDI, it's open-source and free.  Use Remote Desktop (RDP) from your Mac to control everything.  



#14 astrokeith

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Posted 09 June 2021 - 11:44 AM

Thank you all for your generous time and advice. I am now in "Indi for Windows" mode. My setup is a Windows 10 machine running the retired indi for windows app. I have successfully connected my MAC based Ekos to it over wifi. However, I am unable to get any of my ASCOM drivers to be selected on it's control panel leaving Ekos high and dry.

Any direction on this would be great, as there is no help pdf, that I know of.
Clear Skies,
Paul

I agree with Steve. I dont think this is a good way to go for the reasons he gives.

 

Much better go with a tried and tested, current, supported solution.

 

NINA does seem the best if you are keeping a Windows machine at the mount. You were earlier keen on Indi, and i can personally recommend a Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB at the mount running Astroberry/Kstars/EKOS/Indi accessed via VNC from your Mac. I'm a tinkerer and am pleasantly surprised when I change part of my system and It all just works again, immediately!



#15 Paul Romero

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Posted 09 June 2021 - 03:49 PM

Hi again,
I do not want to give up on Windows because I have MaximDL. I do like to tinker, too! I would like to try a Linux virtual machine and INDI on the Windows. For some reason the remote desktop does not appeal to me...I am keen on using the MAC. I will try this route and report back.
Clear skies,
Paul

#16 Paul Romero

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Posted 26 June 2021 - 01:10 PM

Hi all,

Just an update...at this point I will be putting my money into my Windows setup, instead of a new Pi. I am looking into the Voyager program, with it's web based control interface, multi camera capability, and ability to automate the process, as an alternative to a Pi with kstars/Indiclear skies,
Paul

#17 JMW

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Posted 30 June 2021 - 01:58 PM

These are my favorite Raspberry Pi 4 cases. The heatsink cooling works well. I am using a hex core i7 NUC as my mount computer.

 

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1



#18 glancey

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 02:42 PM

I'm running an RPi 4 from a 250G mini USB 3.0 drive plugged in. I don't use an SD card at all. The USB drive loads faster and runs all the indi software and has plenty of storage for images. The RPi should run out-of-the-box from the USB drive, but there are a lot of how-tos on the web if you need instructions.

 

The drives are cheap and you can get larger ones.

 

Glenn



#19 gordoabc

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 10:00 PM

Since firecapture now runs on rPi I decided to upgrade to an 8GB rPi4 with a usb ssd so I could capture planetary at a higher frame rate.  It took a bit of messing around to get it to work but I am now booting from a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO plus and am getting 230 MBs write speed vs 45 MBs off the microSD I was previously using.  I found this guide helpful:

 

https://ioastro.com/...-boot-from-usb/

 

As well as the hardware guidelines here:

 

https://jamesachambe...ork-boot-guide/

 

I was not successful copying the MicroSD to usb ssd with the standard power supply.  Switching to the 3.5 A Canakit seemed to work a little better but still failed.  Only when I used the powered usb hub did I succeed.  It does seem a bit finicky about booting, sometimes I have to try plugging and unplugging power a couple of times to get it to start booting but once it does it seems to work.  Will be doing some darks from my QHY600M overnight and confirm it can make it through the night without incident.




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