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Planetary AP—ASI AIR vs NUC vs ….

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#1 Renae Gage

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 12:42 AM

Not in terms of “my box is better than your box”, but rather what are the observed differences between such acessories, and which would you (did you) choose for a planetary setup.  Of particular value would be comments from those who have used or continue to use both systems. What are your likes, dislikes and wishlists.

 

It is my intent to mount my Edge HD 8” for full time Planetary and EAA use.  In terms of experience with such systems, I have used a mac-loaded version of ASI capture for image capture.  It seems like it has enough features to satisfy me for the moment.  On my other pier, I am running a Mach 1 with SGP (after polar alignment with PHD2).  I feel like I’ve scratched the surface of ASI and PC based imaging tools.

 

One of these boxes will ride on an equatorial mount yet to be named.  It is my hope to accomplish:

1.  Easy polar alignment

2.  Easy home positioning and plate solving for sky alignment

3.  Camera and focus control

4.  Image aquisition.

5.  Dew and temp-est fan power

6.  Easy start up from a fixed pier every night.

 



#2 bunyon

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 07:48 AM

I have no experience with either but have read that the asiair isn’t fast enough to handle the data stream with bright planets. I’d worry about the same thing with the NUC. you need to be able write data to disk quickly and store a lot a data. I’ve had imaging sessions where I collect 200-300 GB of data.
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#3 RedLionNJ

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 07:55 AM

I have no experience with either but have read that the asiair isn’t fast enough to handle the data stream with bright planets. I’d worry about the same thing with the NUC. you need to be able write data to disk quickly and store a lot a data. I’ve had imaging sessions where I collect 200-300 GB of data.

Echoing bunyon's observations - this is not a path many successful planetary images go down. The power and flexibility of a good, Windows-based laptop is generally the way to go.  You might get more meaningful answers from an EAA perspective in the EAA forum?



#4 Southstorm

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 12:48 PM

I use a Intel NUC at the mount with modest specs, one key part is the NVMe SSD. 

 

It handles 200+ fps from my planetary camera effortlessly.


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#5 james7ca

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 01:12 PM

Definitely wouldn't advise trying to rely on an ASI Air for planetary work. That said, I've used a mini PC with an Intel N5100 processor and 32GB of DRAM and a relatively fast NVMe SSD to do both planetary and lunar image capture and it does just about as well (if not slightly better) than my 5+ year old Intel Core-i3 notebook computer with an internal SATA SSD. But, you can certainly get faster notebooks today but probably not for the $300 to $400 that you can spend on a mini PC (but without a display as I typically use an iPad or MacBook Air and MS Remote Desktop software to control my mini PCs when scope side, or my desktop computer does the control when I'm indoors).

 

That said, you don't get nearly as good of video over a Remote Desktop WiFi connection as you would with a directly attached display or notebook computer. So, while a mini PC might be able to handle the data flow it's not going to offer a very fast screen update unless you attach it directly to a display. It that case, I think you might as well be using an inexpensive laptop that includes both the computer and display. But, if you have a fast network and a way to remotely focus then it's kind of nice to be able to control your scope-side mini PC from the comfort of your office chair (inside).


Edited by james7ca, 29 November 2022 - 01:12 PM.

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#6 RedLionNJ

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 01:36 PM

+1 on "a way to remotely focus" - this is often majorly-underestimated. The display response has to be fast enough to minimize lag, otherwise trying to hit the correct focus can be infuriating.


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#7 tonyb

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 06:35 PM

My rig: Bmax Mini PC Windows 11 Pro, 8GB RAM/ 256GB M.2_NVMe_2280 SSD,  Mini Desktop Computer Gemini Lake N4120

Connected to 5G wifi.

Windows RDP to my indoor laptop.

 

My CEM40 GEM mount is not permanent, so each session I spend a few mins outside, doing polar alignment with the CEM40 alt az knobs.

 

Then, I'm indoors.


Edited by tonyb, 29 November 2022 - 06:51 PM.


#8 Renae Gage

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 09:39 PM

I should clarify.  While working remotely sounds like a worthy perk, I don’t mind being outside for the relatively short periods of time involved in grabbing lunar/planetary vids.  

 

What I’m hearing is a lot of concern that an ASI Air/NUC is going to be able to capture said video.  That would be a problem.

 

Currently, I take my MacBook Pro outside and directly link to my ASI385.  If I didn’t have to bring the laptop outside (especially in the winter) I’d be a much happier camper.  Though I’m not a “serious imager” by any means, I don’t have a whole lot of emotional bandwidth to spend on a perpetually frustrating setup.  

 

If the NUC/Air isn’t viable, how would you set up?



#9 james7ca

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 11:41 PM

The ASI Air is underpowered in relation to some of the faster mini PCs, so don't lump those two systems into the same category.

 

The only performance issue I've had with my N5100-based mini PC is the speed of the display update when using MS Remote Desktop over a WiFi connection. I've been able to use it remotely for both planetary and high-resolution lunar work (20 mega pixel camera, the ASI183MM) but the display update over WiFi is a little slow to use for manual focusing. However, it's okay for planetary work with a small ROI and it's certainly good for focusing on DSOs using a Bahtinov mask, but focusing on the moon when using a full-frame, 20 mega pixel image is nearly impossible because of the lag in the video. So, in this latter case I have to switch to a small ROI, focus, and then go back to full-frame for the capture and even then it's not as satisfactory as using a directly connected display.

 

So, if you attach a display to a well-equipped, quad-core, Intel Jasper Lake mini PC (large and fast SSD and lots of DRAM) then it should do just about as well as a notebook computer for planetary and lunar imaging.



#10 Southstorm

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Posted 29 November 2022 - 11:46 PM

+1 for the NUC mini pc


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