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I like to keep my configuration as similar as possible between running at home and running in the field.
What I didn’t mention earlier is that the only things that change between the two methods are the power supply and the actual router. I actually have two routers, one that stays in extender mode and one that stays in router mode. I use the extender one at home and the router one in the field. I do not care about bandwidth considerations for extender mode. There is (far) more than enough bandwidth to run Remote Desktop in this configuration, which is how I connect to the observatory computer. Also, assuming that I have the automation software started, the system will continue to image through the entire session, even if the wireless connection completely fails. In a worst case scenario, I can completely skip the wireless and use my “emergency” monitor and keyboard to control the automation.
Regarding Ethernet vs USB, I have several decades of professional software development experience, with most of it involving low level networking. I have no problem with “possible glitches” in the network stack. Not much beats USB for convenience, but honestly, it is nowhere near as robust as Ethernet. That said, lots of people do fine with USB, so if that works better for you, that’s great. In the same vein, I prefer wired over wireless. My priority is reliability.
firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> On Behalf Of
Tuesday, July 13, 2021 1:57 PMTo:
Re: [ap-gto] Off Topic-NUC Computer
I would suggest using a static IP for the Ethernet connection at least when remote.
While the CP5 supports Ethernet , it just seems to me USB (serial) is less problematic when it comes to possible glitches with DNS, ARP, DHCP etc.
TBH , I’m probably missing something but I don’t see the advantage of Ethernet for the single connection to/from the controlling computer.
I’ve used CP5 WiFi a bit with SkySafariPro and for sure it works , but likewise , unless there’s a compelling reason the simple USB seems reliable.
Also, fwiw the I’ve never been a fan of “wifi extender” mode. I suppose you are using wifi to bridge from the home wired net to the mount wired net , so the wifi is perhaps not “repeating”, which results in 50% bandwidth hit. And the “bridge” is just needed to get from the RD client to the mount computer.
Hopefully the computer <-> CP5 mount packets are routed locally (at the mount router) and are not sent over wifi to the main house router, then back to the mount “router”. That’s one thing I’d also verify.
For clarity, I use wired Ethernet over WiFi anywhere that I can.
For my setup, I have a “normal” home WiFi router with 4 Ethernet ports. I use Ethernet wire to connect the mount to the router, and also to connect the NUC to the router. At home, the router is configured to be an extender and joins my home WiFi. In the field, the router is configured as a hot spot and runs the DHCP server and such. This works fine, even with no internet connection.
There are two classes of problems that have needed the “emergency” monitor and keyboard. The first case, is where the computer fails to boot and needs user interaction to either repair Windows or make a bios configuration change. This is fairly rare, and there is usually follow up to determine the reason for the failure. The second problem is that if Windows, for some reason, thinks that you are connecting to a new network for the first time, it will pop up a dialog asking the nature of the network. Until you resolve the dialog box, the computer is not available on the network.
Again, it’s really rare, but it’s a complete show stopper when the machine doesn’t join the network and you don’t have a monitor and keyboard. Most of my dark sky sites are remote enough, that a round trip to the nearest town that could provide spare computer parts are between 80 and 150 miles. I also run several different rigs. I do tend to bring spares and tools to handle most of the problems that might come up.
I’ve seen this problem where Remote Desktop can’t find the windows 10 machine.
I think it may be a windows bug (but could also be related to my home WAN router.)
When I’m “in the field” I use Ethernet from the pier computer to a small WiFi router.
I have not seen any problem there.
At home I connect the pier computer via WiFi (there’s a UniFi setup with WiFi coverage over the whole backyard.). And sometimes in that scenario win10 is not reachable.
However I have a simple solution: I log into the web UI for UniFi (which I can do from anywhere) and issue a “reconnect” for the win10 machine WiFi. This always fixes the issue.
I used to bring a small HDMI monitor in the field as a backup… but I never needed it. I suppose headless is a bit of risk tho.
“you can also just bring a laptop and remote in while next to the NUC. that's why I do all the time
i don't have extra keyboards and HDMI monitors laying around :)”
It’s rare, but I have had the occasional problem where my imaging computer fails to connect to the network properly. In that case, having a laptop doesn’t help. For use when I am set up in the field, I bought a small (10”) HDMI display that runs from 12v and a keyboard with integrated track pad. I keep them in my star party travel kit.
As I said, it’s rare, but it has saved me on a couple of occasions.
If you never travel, and have the option of borrowing a monitor or keyboard from another machine at home, then you wouldn’t need this.
>>> ***The only reason for keyboard and mouse would be needed tests while at the mount, monitor as well. Most all other needs can indeed be done remotely with Remote Desktop or Team Viewer****
you can also just bring a laptop and remote in while next to the NUC. that's why I do all the time
i don't have extra keyboards and HDMI monitors laying around :)
Thanks for the reply Dale. Replies in between the message below:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> On Behalf Of Dale Ghent
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2021 2:14 PM
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Off Topic-NUC Computer
Two things pop out at me:
1) You have a 1200GTO which lacks the through-mount cabling, which means any cables coming off your telescope will be suspended in air for some portion and would present snag hazards and each be subjected to repeated flexing and wear for some portion of their length.
****I have eliminated the clutch knobs and most of what could cause a snag, usually not an issue. Wires have been enclosed in a mesh material used for vehicle wiring bundles.*****
2) Gosh, that's a lot of POS (plain old serial)
My own instinct and from working with mounts that have both thru-mount cableways and not, is to minimize that run of cables to the telescope and not run individual cables for each device up there.
****My concern about mounting the NUC on the telescope is balancing. While it does help a good deal on the length of run and the rotation, it still may limit the use of say a piggyback scope, think my Stowaway, on the RC. My wiring solution was to wrap the wires in several bundles depending on where they needed to go. The USB and Serial cables are in conduit to the control room now, at the mount they are in smaller bundles depending is they rotate or are stationary.*****
On top of the scope, I would place a power pole hub and USB hub such as a StarTech 7-port model. I would run only one 12V and one USB cable from the NUC up to those devices. The powerpole hub would distribute power, and the USB hub would connect your USB devices and, for your devices which have only RS232 interfaces, USB to serial adapters for each. This the lightens the cable harness that comes off the telescope. Because you would use discrete USB to serial adaptors for your RS232 devices, you don't need to worry about having enough RS232 ports.
****Not sure about those USB to Serial adapters as I've heard of many causing issues or simply not working. For power I've been using an IP addressable power switch which allows me to power only those devices as needed. For instance I don't keep power on the flat panel unless it's being used. With the STL-11000 I've had issues where I needed to cycle power to the camera due to a filter wheel issue. If I start the camera and get the error message usually just a disconnect and reconnect or power cycle will clear it. Never found the cause of that issue but easily resolved.****
With all data devices on your telescope occupying only one USB port on your NUC, you can use a second USB port for the 4-port StarTech ICUSB23241. That can connect the dome, boltwood, CP backup, and flat panel. You'll then have USB ports to spare.
*****With the 1 USB and all data....these new CMOS chips send a ton of data for each frame so I'd be concerned with a single USB port handling all the USB traffic. What keeps it from bottlenecking? I haven't tested the serial device for multiple devices at this pint so not sure how that will handle the traffic as well****
I would not bother with trying to pipe the NUC's keyboard+mouse and HDMI video over to your warm room. It's already on a 1Gb network, so just use MS Remote Desktop to remote in from a laptop of desktop PC on the network. Your wired LAN and also have a WAP so you don't even need a hardwire network connection for your latop and can also use tablet PCs or iPads to remote into your NUC to run sessions.
***The only reason for keyboard and mouse would be needed tests while at the mount, monitor as well. Most all other needs can indeed be done remotely with Remote Desktop or Team Viewer****
If you want to at the pier, you can keep a small keyboard and mouse to plug in to the NUC when you need to. Keep a small and cheap HDMI monitor on hand to use with them.
> On Jul 12, 2021, at 13:33, Steve Reilly <sreilly24590@...> wrote:
> I would guess sit on the pier.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> On Behalf Of Dale Ghent
> Sent: Monday, July 12, 2021 1:26 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Off Topic-NUC Computer
> Just to be clear, is this NUC going to ride on top of your telescope on the mount, or sit on/close to the pier?
>> On Jul 12, 2021, at 13:11, Steve Reilly <sreilly24590@...> wrote:
>> Hey Gang,
>> In the process of setting up a 12’ Astro Haven dome and moving my 12.5” RC and AP1200 mount from the ROR to the dome. In the process I’m contemplating replacing the observatory computer with a NUC to both shorten the cabling and have a more compact unit. I counted the ports as the computer is now configured and have the following needs:
>> Serial ports=7 I have a StarTech ICUSB23241 4 Port Industrial USB to RS232 Serial Hub but that still leaves 3 needed ports (focuser, rotator, AP1200 backup, Dew Heater Controller, Flat Panel, Boltwood, and dome controls)
>> USB ports = 4 including the one for the Serial Hub, Guider camera, Main Camera, mouse and keyboard
>> Network minimum=1 then use the 8 port Gigabit switch I have ( 1 AP1200, 1 Computer network, onsite pan cameras (3), etc.)
>> Display port=1 HDMI or DVI
>> Anticipating fiber optic internet connections in the next month or so I also ran Cat6 cabling for network switch and mount.
>> So with that in mind the ports, mainly serial are what have me second guessing the NUC. I have, almost ready to ship out, a OnLogic NUC for a friends SRO system but that’s way more then I care to spend although it has all the necessary ports to hook everything up directly with hubs and so on. So based on this what would be a reasonable budget for what I’m looking for in a quality, reliable NUC? Even if I use the existing desktop computer I have now it will be without all the extender cables I’m using now as the computer is in the warm room 20’ away but the idea of a sealed fanless computer really appeals to me for this type of usage. Hence I’m looking for ideas to explore while this project continues, in of course, the hottest time of the year.