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Winter is coming! Please help newbie to set-up my EAA workstation controls in the comfort of home

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#1 vladm

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 03:59 PM

I really enjoyed the first year in EAA.  I saw the objects hidden to visual observation [B 6], and even was able I to see them in color!smile.gif 
However, the winter is coming brining some of its uncomfortable features.  I could survive a couple hours  below freezing; unfortunately, by laptop with LCD monitor could not. 
Also, I don't believe freezing experience should be a necessary part of enjoyment:  I saw  videos people running EAA or AP from home and I would like to join the club.  Please, help.
Here are some specifics:
1.  Observation site is about 25 meters (or 75 feet) away with few obstacles in between.  There is electric hook-up; I do not problem of powering anything.
2.  My scope is C8 Edge HD on Evo mount. I use CPWI to control mount via WIFI .
3.  I connect QHY294C-PRO camera to my laptop through USB 3 cable to use SharpCap [that's leaves out any possible solutions based on ZWO ASIAir incompatible with QHY cameras].
    How can I control everything from home? 
I am thinking about using some desktop PC [no monitor] on observation site [what is the working temperature range of garden variety PC with no monitor?
or do I need industrial PC, which look a bit overprized when portability is not an issue].
Having CPWI and SharpCap on outside PC I would like to connect to laptop using MS remote desktop software.
However, the problem is WiFi connection: it is on the edge of reliable reception. Currently I am using Celestron's Evo own WiFi network signal to connect to laptop at 5 feet; Attempting to run it through home network I had few mount disconnections
 in a middle of the sessions.  What are the alternatives to WiFi? I am not an IT engineer; please be specific what I need.  Do I miss anything?
  Related issue:
  EAA means a lot of cables: SkySync GPS cable, camera power and signal cable, power cable to dew heater, sometimes Evo power cable, etc.
  Despite CPWI settings to restrict scope rotation to 180o the cables routinely end up winding around the scope. 
Could you please share how you manage them?   
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,
Vlad.



#2 Mark Lovik

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 04:19 PM

I have a short run inside and run a minimal EAA setup - so I just have 2 short usb extension cables for the mount and camera controls.  This approach is not very good for the longer runs you expect.

 

Other options to look for

 

1. USB extenders - EmeraldHills had explored this path.

2. Small headless computer running at the telescope, then connect (WiFi or cabled) to your home network.  Often Win10 pro is used so you can remote desktop into the telescope computer. 

3. Newer AsiAir Plus may have the WiFi range to extend into your household.



#3 stnagy

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 04:23 PM

You could look into the PrimaLuceLab Eagle computers. There are a few models. I don't see why the cheapest option wouldn't work for you. 

 

https://www.primaluc...oftware/eagle/ 

 

They run Windows, so you can continue to use SharpCap and Windows Remote Desktop.  

 

The Eagle has its own built-in Wi-Fi. As long as you have a clear line of sight to the unit, you should be able to access from 25 meters away. There are remote apps for iphone, ipad (https://www.primaluc...ntrollo-remoto/), and Android (https://www.primalucelab.com/blog/support/eagle-remote-control-android-controllo-remoto/). As mentioned above, Windows Remote Desktop also works. 

 

It also partially solves cable management, since you run all cables to the Eagle. The best way is to mount the Eagle to your scope and zip tie everything down so that when the scope slews, the cables just move with the scope. Then the Eagle itself just needs one cable -- a power source. 

 

You could also go with an Intel NUC, which can do all the same things, but is not as "plug and play" as something like the Eagle. It would require a bit more effort to configure. 



#4 alphatripleplus

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 04:25 PM

Specifically what sort of winter temperatures are you talking about? Cameras and laptops have operational temperature ranges that you can check before getting a rugged laptop that can handle very low temps. 



#5 Alien Observatory

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 04:26 PM

I would try a couple of WIFI Extender's as a first step to get the celestron wifi connected to your laptop.  I use a couple of these (Link) and they seem to work well.   Pat Utah :)

 

 

https://www.bestbuy....p?skuId=9064008



#6 EmeraldHills

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 05:54 PM

Hello Vlad. I love cabled options. No drop-outs (if you use the right cables). A simple powered USB hub at the base of the scope acts as a collector of all your USB signals. Combine them into one and send them back via this 20-meter active USB cable. It handles USB3 and USB2, mixed, without sneezing. Every time. Never fails.

 

https://www.amazon.c...uct/B01N59XNO7/

 

These sell new for $89 but I have a new one in the bag with all the literature and everything that I could sell for $50.

 

But if you need more than 65.61 feet, then you'll need a different solution.

 

An Ikron Raven will send USB3 and USB2 over cat6 or cat7 without a single cough - for up to 100 meters -- 328 feet. It's substantially more.

 

https://www.icron.co...2-1-raven-3104/

 

I found mine on YouTube for $500 or so. (I forget the exact price - but somewhere in that range.) These things can't be beat. The "remote" unit acts as your USB hub (granted, a very expensive one), then magically translates the USB into signals that travel over the CAT6/7 cable. On the laptop side, your "local" unit acts as the receiver and transates it back into USB3. If there are none on YouTube these are $1000. That's a lot - but this whole hobby is a lot. : )

 

Everytime I post this, a bunch of guys say wireless is better. But if you can't use wireless because the wireless signal is dodgy, these are the best solutions I've found.

 

Thoughts?



#7 Tfer

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 09:48 PM

Where I live, temperatures below -20°C are commonplace at night for 6 months of the year.

 

Your computer will survive happily.  Your monitor will not…

 

I have a permanent installation (SkyShed Pod), so for me, it’s a matter of walking a Windows laptop out to my observatory (about 20’), and as an Apple household, I use an app called Screens to control the scope from my kitchen.

 

The failure of batteries, is their ability to operate in ‘extreme’ temperatures.  Plug your computer in, and setup your local computer to operate with the lid closed.  Do that, and you shouldn’t have an issue.



#8 Gamewarden

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 07:48 AM

Hello Vlad. I love cabled options. No drop-outs (if you use the right cables). A simple powered USB hub at the base of the scope acts as a collector of all your USB signals. Combine them into one and send them back via this 20-meter active USB cable. It handles USB3 and USB2, mixed, without sneezing. Every time. Never fails.

 

https://www.amazon.c...uct/B01N59XNO7/

 

These sell new for $89 but I have a new one in the bag with all the literature and everything that I could sell for $50.

 

But if you need more than 65.61 feet, then you'll need a different solution.

 

An Ikron Raven will send USB3 and USB2 over cat6 or cat7 without a single cough - for up to 100 meters -- 328 feet. It's substantially more.

 

https://www.icron.co...2-1-raven-3104/

 

I found mine on YouTube for $500 or so. (I forget the exact price - but somewhere in that range.) These things can't be beat. The "remote" unit acts as your USB hub (granted, a very expensive one), then magically translates the USB into signals that travel over the CAT6/7 cable. On the laptop side, your "local" unit acts as the receiver and transates it back into USB3. If there are none on YouTube these are $1000. That's a lot - but this whole hobby is a lot. : )

 

Everytime I post this, a bunch of guys say wireless is better. But if you can't use wireless because the wireless signal is dodgy, these are the best solutions I've found.

 

Thoughts?

 

Doug

 

At present I use my 6 foot usb3 cable which is then plugged into a 32 foot usb 2 cable to connect my camera to my laptop which is in the house. It works great but of course I only get USB 2 speeds. Scope is on back deck. I am thinking of buying one pf the TRipp light 32 foot USB 3 cables to get more speed. Did you have luck with this cable and does it need the the poer adapter.

 

Thanks Mark


Edited by Gamewarden, 15 October 2021 - 07:49 AM.


#9 GaryShaw

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 08:32 AM

Our house wifi works just fine to that distance including going through a few walls and a floor structure on the way. Just the usual setup with an Intel NUC at the scope connecting via RDP to my computer or laptop inside. Autofocus is pretty much required or you’ll be running in and out all night doing focus adjustments as you change filters or as the temps drop.

 

Be sure to check your camera and mount specs on operating temperatures. It’s great you won’t need a lithium battery. I hear these don’t play well below 32. I have run my gear down to 10F in WY but no one thinks this is a good idea.

Gary 



#10 alphatripleplus

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 08:54 AM

 For what it's worth, I put a wifi extender just outside the back door, and that gives a strong signal on my laptop next the scope, which is 60 feet from the extender in the back yard.


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#11 vladm

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 10:36 AM

Thank you very much for your very great and informative responses.  I really love them; great starting point.

In summary, I want to set up PC (NUC or something else cold-resistant) at the side and play with extenders to RDP to home laptop.  

This way I do not worry very much about S/N ratio over extended cable.

However, I'd like to dive deep into Ikron Raven extenders.  This way I do not need the second PC; however with extender cost plus active USB will be at least the same as PC and simple extender.

I am on the edge, not outside the reception range, may be Net gear extender will do thew trick.

Again, thank you very nuch for your REALLY great help!

Sincerely,

Vlad



#12 azcubs76

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 05:08 PM

For a cheaper option, I'm using a NUC alternative (AWOW AK41 Mini PC) with Win10 and it runs fine although a little slow. It uses a slightly faster processor than the cheapest PrimaLuceLab Eagle computer though. I use Stellarium for controlling the mount (USB->RS-232 Cable) and SharpCap for capturing/live stacking. The mini PC connects to my home WiFi. I'm a network engineer and use very good commercial grade gear but any decent wifi repeater should work fine in your case. I power the Mini PC and the camera cooler (ASI294MC Pro) with a little 12V 6000mAh rechargeable battery. My mount (iOptron AZ Mount Pro) has a built in battery like your Evo. I attach everything to the mount so there are ZERO cables and no chances of cable tangles or breakage as the cables move along with the mount/scope.

 

Hint: Remote desktop software can be very resource intensive. I've tried them all and have settled on Chrome Remote Desktop as it is the fastest for my setup.

 

gallery_328153_14536_10450.jpg


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#13 tgrlx200

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 11:19 PM

You mentioned that you have electrical power at your scope. If it is connected through the same electrical panel as your house wiring, you could use the adapter below. It plugs into your electrical outlet and turns your wiring into an ethernet cable. I just plug my ethernet from my computer that is scopeside into one of the adapters that plugs into an outlet near my scope and the ethernet cable from my computer in my house into the the adapter that is in an outlet near my inside computer. I used to always have issues with losing wifi connection when the data flow got heavy but rarely if ever have connectivity issues when I use these adapters. I believe these are good for 1 gigabyte of data transfer per second so I don't think you would outgrow hem.


https://www.dell.com...1750/networking

#14 EmeraldHills

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 06:27 AM

Mark, this USB3/USB2 solution is rock-solid:

 

https://www.amazon.c...01N59XNO7/?th=1

 

(I tried daisy-chaining TWO of these together and could NOT achieve good bandwidth, even WITH the recommended power adaptors. I corresponded with Tripp-Lite. They were super on customer service. However - No joy. They had no explanation. With deep respect, I recommended they change their advertising. Bottom line: *One* of these Tripp-lites is a perfect solution. Daisy-chaining two is not.)



#15 Gamewarden

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 11:04 AM

Mark, this USB3/USB2 solution is rock-solid:

 

https://www.amazon.c...01N59XNO7/?th=1

 

(I tried daisy-chaining TWO of these together and could NOT achieve good bandwidth, even WITH the recommended power adaptors. I corresponded with Tripp-Lite. They were super on customer service. However - No joy. They had no explanation. With deep respect, I recommended they change their advertising. Bottom line: *One* of these Tripp-lites is a perfect solution. Daisy-chaining two is not.)

Doug

 

Thanks for the offer but I am up in Canada so easier to buy direct. Did you also need the power adapter??

 

Mark



#16 bmcclana

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 12:03 PM

I am working on setting up an ASCOM remote setup so I can run a low power stick computer at the mount and run everything else on the remote laptop. This bypasses the Remote Desktop of any kind. My sky chart app and even sharpcap run on the local computer and just send commands and take data from the scope side computer.

So far mount and focused control work well, camera control I am still figuring out. Had it working with one setup and was just limited by the image transfer which was much slower over a poor WiFi. But that was just a first proof of concept attempt. Still lots of room to improve.

#17 EmeraldHills

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 12:04 PM

Thanks Mark. I also learned not to offer an item in a thread like this. (Thanks Errol!) 

Their power adaptors aren't needed at all for the 20-meter (one active cable) stretch. I bought them to experiment with the daisy-chain effect. Futile in my experience.



#18 vladm

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 03:42 PM

Thank everybody very much for your help!  

In summary, I will have PC on site (something like  https://www.amazon.c...S0LNL91HQ&psc=1) The main selling point is the operating temperature range from -10 C; enough for my purposes. Also, enough resources for SharpCap,CPWI, and for holding saved files.  

From the site I will run Remote desktop via WiFi to home. A short experiment with a low-end extender showed that my connection problem does not require any sophisticated solutions (probably, dedicated waterproof outdoor WiFi extender, which are plentiful around).

 I learned a lot, thanks to all responders.

Sincerely,

Vlad




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