Re: Anyone using an Intel NUC or Mini PC?


ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

I use a (real) Intel NUC and it works great.  Mine was a NUC8i5BEH I5 that I put a 500gb M.2 card and 16GB of memory, both of which have been plenty.  It plate solves fast, no issues at all. 

There are a bazillion different "mini PC's" out there, cheaper than Intel.  I have bought several for other things, and they also frequently come with a few challenges - shortage of drivers, lack of legitimate licenses, etc.  But many work just fine and do not have issues. I just wanted this one to be as problem free as I could et, and it was. 

Note that MANY of the Intel NUC's are 19v only, some are 19v or 12v, and some are 12v only.  Obviously these latter two are easier to deal with in an astro setup than the 19v only.  If buying Intel their specs have it buried somewhere (not always the same place). A buck converter is also an option for 12v->19v (or an AC adapter of course if you always have AC power). 

Also, due to microsoft's mess, note that the vast, vast majority of nuc/mini pc's now cannot form their own access point, they can only join one, when running windows.  This means at a remote site you are limited to wired or point to point peer (if it can do that). At home you can join your wifi network of course.

What I did because of that was add a small gig mikrotik router (there are many "travel" routers that are similar, this was about $60USD).  These routers can both form an access point (for others, like your phone, to join) as well as mesh with your home router to be on your home network, and some can do it at the same time.  Mine can.  I put the telescope (i.e. mount, NUC, and router) on its own subnet, so that whether I am at a dark site (connecting to the Mikrotik's SSID) or at home (connecting to my home network) the telescope subnet all stays the same, and I connect the same way.  very handy.   Plus I can plug in a wired connection for a laptop if I wanted a faster connection or have wifi issues. 

Then I connect the CP4 via wired eithernet and it works all the time, every time, with no stupid silly COM port conflicts. 

My NUC had about 4 USB ports if I recall, but I put a Pegasus Pocket Powerbox Advanced on the saddle, and it handles the USB's for everything above, plus dew heater and 12v power distribution.  This means I have only one USB3 and one 12v power running up through the mount (though there is plenty of room for a dozen cables of course). 

I connect to the NUC via RDP from my home desktop, and when I need to polar align or change camera rotation, I use RDP from my Android phone (Microsoft has their own RDP for Android, not sure about Apple).  Works great.  If it was a dark site where I needed to type more would use a laptop, but it works the same way. 

If you get a NUC you need a monitor (HDMI, maybe Display Port depending) plus USB Keyboard and mouse to get things set up the first time, or if something goes wrong and you cannot RDP.   I also keep VNC (an alternative to RDP) running on the NUC just in case I need it if RDP doesn't work, but it has always worked so far. 

If you didn't want something like the pegasus, remember you can always save a USB port by using ethernet for the CP4.  But USB cables tend to be one of the most common problems, and putting a USB hub up above the saddle somewhere is a way to keep the cables very short, which always helps.  Plus a powered hub seems more reliable for some devices than just a computer port (depending on the computer's power setup for the USB hub inside). 

FWIW. 

Linwood

PS. Feel free to laugh at my milk crates, but that carries two 30a power supplies, and all the counterweights and shafts, extra wiring, etc.  One trip vs a lot of carrying, and it just sits there at night as-is.

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