Anyone using an Intel NUC or Mini PC?


midmoastro
 

I've been considering an Intel NUC or mini PC for my setup and wondering who is using a similar setup with good results? Presently, I just set up in the backyard, take my laptop out and start. Periodically I go out and check on things. I would like something i can use remote desktop or similar to access from inside the house, especially as it starts getting colder outside.

Is an Intel NUC too big? How many USB ports do you have? Does anyone have pictures they can share?

Right now my setup consists of a 1100GTO on a Losmandy tripod, Takahashi FC-100DZ, FC-35, ASI2600MC.
I guide with a Stellarvue 50mm guide scope and a ASI462MC camera. An electronic focuser is in my future as well.
So at minimum I believe I would need the NUC or mini PC that supports:
1) USB port for main imaging camera
2) USB port for guide camera
3) USB port for 1100GTO
4) USB port for autofocuser

Does anyone have any additional thoughts or suggestions or an idea of what may work better?
Thank you
Todd


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.


Michael 'Mikey' Mangieri
 

I have been using a BeeLink U57 for about a year. Works like a charm. My rig is a AP1100 with EdgeHD11 and WO GT102. Asi2600 camera and both Feathertouch and MoonLite autofocusers. Guide camera runs either a Asi120 or 174. 

Check my blog at 


All my recent Astro photos on Astrobin (https://www.astrobin.com/users/XCalRocketMan/) from about Dec 2020 to present have been done using this NUC. 



On Nov 29, 2021, at 10:33 AM, midmoastro <teche70@...> wrote:

I've been considering an Intel NUC or mini PC for my setup and wondering who is using a similar setup with good results? Presently, I just set up in the backyard, take my laptop out and start. Periodically I go out and check on things. I would like something i can use remote desktop or similar to access from inside the house, especially as it starts getting colder outside.

Is an Intel NUC too big? How many USB ports do you have? Does anyone have pictures they can share?

Right now my setup consists of a 1100GTO on a Losmandy tripod, Takahashi FC-100DZ, FC-35, ASI2600MC.
I guide with a Stellarvue 50mm guide scope and a ASI462MC camera. An electronic focuser is in my future as well.
So at minimum I believe I would need the NUC or mini PC that supports:
1) USB port for main imaging camera
2) USB port for guide camera
3) USB port for 1100GTO
4) USB port for autofocuser

Does anyone have any additional thoughts or suggestions or an idea of what may work better?
Thank you
Todd


Bill Long
 

I use a MiniX PC. Legit Windows 10 Pro license, can upgrade drives and memory as well. Nice price and great performance.


From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> on behalf of Michael 'Mikey' Mangieri <mjmangieri@...>
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2021 8:13 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Anyone using an Intel NUC or Mini PC?
 
I have been using a BeeLink U57 for about a year. Works like a charm. My rig is a AP1100 with EdgeHD11 and WO GT102. Asi2600 camera and both Feathertouch and MoonLite autofocusers. Guide camera runs either a Asi120 or 174. 

Check my blog at 


All my recent Astro photos on Astrobin (https://www.astrobin.com/users/XCalRocketMan/) from about Dec 2020 to present have been done using this NUC. 



On Nov 29, 2021, at 10:33 AM, midmoastro <teche70@...> wrote:

I've been considering an Intel NUC or mini PC for my setup and wondering who is using a similar setup with good results? Presently, I just set up in the backyard, take my laptop out and start. Periodically I go out and check on things. I would like something i can use remote desktop or similar to access from inside the house, especially as it starts getting colder outside.

Is an Intel NUC too big? How many USB ports do you have? Does anyone have pictures they can share?

Right now my setup consists of a 1100GTO on a Losmandy tripod, Takahashi FC-100DZ, FC-35, ASI2600MC.
I guide with a Stellarvue 50mm guide scope and a ASI462MC camera. An electronic focuser is in my future as well.
So at minimum I believe I would need the NUC or mini PC that supports:
1) USB port for main imaging camera
2) USB port for guide camera
3) USB port for 1100GTO
4) USB port for autofocuser

Does anyone have any additional thoughts or suggestions or an idea of what may work better?
Thank you
Todd


michael mccann
 

I use a Nuc and just ordered a beelink off of Amazon. Look for the 12V power input. If just running setup, no photo processing, get a basic setup but 8GB ram. Although I do buy Ryzen with 4 core, it’s overkill.


Derek S
 

I bought one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09DT26QLM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Since I have it under the mount I didn't worry about a fan.  And the RS232 port is super nice.


 

Hi Todd

Like many others, I have used NUC-style PCs for a long time now, on three different setups. 

For imaging (acquisition, not processing) i think you will have many options and price points

One thing to consider is power. computers can take a lot of amps,and it would also depend on what voltage the PC requires. The "True" Intel Nucs i have can run on 12v and i can attach and run to my powerbox ultimate or other 12v source. 

there are some great deals on Lenovo nuc-style mini PCs (think fully loaded Windows 10 pro i5, 8gigs ram, 256gb ssd, etc.) but they require 19v to run. you can use a step up for that if you have 12v power, but if you are AC powered, i think those are unbeatable

On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 7:33 AM midmoastro <teche70@...> wrote:
I've been considering an Intel NUC or mini PC for my setup and wondering who is using a similar setup with good results? Presently, I just set up in the backyard, take my laptop out and start. Periodically I go out and check on things. I would like something i can use remote desktop or similar to access from inside the house, especially as it starts getting colder outside.

Is an Intel NUC too big? How many USB ports do you have? Does anyone have pictures they can share?

Right now my setup consists of a 1100GTO on a Losmandy tripod, Takahashi FC-100DZ, FC-35, ASI2600MC.
I guide with a Stellarvue 50mm guide scope and a ASI462MC camera. An electronic focuser is in my future as well.
So at minimum I believe I would need the NUC or mini PC that supports:
1) USB port for main imaging camera
2) USB port for guide camera
3) USB port for 1100GTO
4) USB port for autofocuser

Does anyone have any additional thoughts or suggestions or an idea of what may work better?
Thank you
Todd



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Eric Weiner
 

That MINIX is a little gem, especially with more ram and a fast M.2.  Have you measured how much current draw you're using min/max during imaging?

Thanks for sharing,
Eric


midmoastro
 

On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 10:07 AM, ap@... wrote:
Pegasus
Tons of great information here, thank you Linwood. This and the picture is exactly what i was looking for.


midmoastro
 

Michael, thank you for the reply and link to your blog. I will check it out. Great pictures on astrobin too!


midmoastro
 

On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 11:08 AM, Brian Valente wrote:
brianvalentephotography.com 
Thank you Brian, I will check out the Lenovo options. I really just need something for image acquisition and the majority of trips i take are to my backyard and I have power access there. 


 

btw i am all in favor of the many NUC-style PCs available. Pretty much they will all do the job. 



The good new ones typically cost around $500-600


the lenovo refurb units complete are around $150-200, including windows 10 pro. 


crazy!




On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 10:29 AM midmoastro <teche70@...> wrote:
On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 11:08 AM, Brian Valente wrote:
brianvalentephotography.com 
Thank you Brian, I will check out the Lenovo options. I really just need something for image acquisition and the majority of trips i take are to my backyard and I have power access there. 



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Jeffc
 

2012 Apple Mac Mini i5 w/ SSD running windows 10 pro here.  
The Mac mini has 4 USB ports but I also use a Pegasus UPBV2 for camera, focuser , and dew heater control & connections.

I use an M1 MacBook Air (and now a 16” M1) laptop for accessing the windows Mac mini.
MS Remote Desktop is also free on macOS and works great.

The reason for using the M1 laptop is the incredible battery life… I can run the laptop all night long without having to plug it in.  
This eliminates ALL cables to trip over, and allows me to control the mount in the warm house… or if I’m in the field, in the warm car (the Tesla has no fumes when running the heater at night.). (Plus , pixinsight seems to work very good on M1, tho it seems starnet requires some command line magic.)

I mount the Mac mini on the pier tho.. and one USB to the thru-mount cabling on the mach2.   There’s one USB from the pier to the UPBV2 on the OTA.
The Mac mini uses the other 3 built in USB ports for polemaster camera, AP CP5, and environmental sensor. 

If you mount the NUC up on top, you’ll just need to run a cable down to the CP box, and possibly other USB devices.  (And you’ll need to get power up there.)

I presume you have decent WiFi in the backyard etc…. I installed UniFi access points and have one in the backyard for excellent coverage.   
When I’m remote in the field I use a simple WiFi Router which connects to the Mac mini on Ethernet and NOT WiFi.  This router is not on the internet.   I can find the Windows IP by simply looking at the admin page from a browser running on the laptop.

In the field, the laptop uses WiFi tho.   This way I can pretty much guarantee windows on the Mac Mini will work “headless”… I’m paranoid of some sort of mis-config in windows such that windows needs a keyboard and monitor to fix it… but I have yet to run into this situation when remote.    Part of the reason I mount the Mac mini to the pier is easy access if I do need a monitor / keyboard hooked up for some reason (which has happened at home a couple times with the WiFi configuration.)

On Nov 29, 2021, at 10:33 AM, midmoastro <teche70@...> wrote:

I've been considering an Intel NUC or mini PC for my setup and wondering who is using a similar setup with good results? Presently, I just set up in the backyard, take my laptop out and start. Periodically I go out and check on things. I would like something i can use remote desktop or similar to access from inside the house, especially as it starts getting colder outside.

Is an Intel NUC too big? How many USB ports do you have? Does anyone have pictures they can share?

Right now my setup consists of a 1100GTO on a Losmandy tripod, Takahashi FC-100DZ, FC-35, ASI2600MC.
I guide with a Stellarvue 50mm guide scope and a ASI462MC camera. An electronic focuser is in my future as well.
So at minimum I believe I would need the NUC or mini PC that supports:
1) USB port for main imaging camera
2) USB port for guide camera
3) USB port for 1100GTO
4) USB port for autofocuser

Does anyone have any additional thoughts or suggestions or an idea of what may work better?
Thank you
Todd


Lee Dodge
 

Todd,

I traditionally use an inexpensive Dell laptop and a USB hub to acquire data for my pics.  However, it is usually cold in my dome at 8500 ft. of elevation, and 100 ft. away I have a heated room in my barn/garage.  I set up wifi link with antennas on both ends, and ended up purchasing another similar laptop, installed Windows 10 Pro on the laptop in the dome, and used Remote Desktop to connect the two. That way, in warm weather I can stay in the dome when I want and have full control of everything, and move to the heated room when desired, and still control everything (except the dome that is not automated)  The wifi link is good for 15 miles or so, and it works flawlessly over the 100 ft. or so, even though the heated room is in a metal building.  Of course, I use wiring from the external antenna into the computer in the heated room.  

Lee

Lee


Nick Iversen
 

YCSD mini PCs have versions with 6 or 8 USB ports. I haven't used one but I'm tempted.


midmoastro
 

Thanks Lee, thanks Jeff, thanks everyone. A lot of great options here to aid in my decision.