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Observatory computer setup

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Americo Watkins's picture
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Joined: 11/03/2014 - 13:12
Observatory computer setup

My observatory computer has died  after several years, and I now need to sort out a "new" reconditioned one for the domed observatory with de-humidifier.

It will control a Paramount MEII  mount using MaxIm DL via The Sky X  + PhD2.

No doubt I will now be using a Windows 10 machine.  I have heard stories regarding Windows 10, particularly now that one can not stop Windows 10 updates, of the telescope/camera side of things failing the following day after a perfectly run night.

Does anybody have any experiences similar to the set up proposed with Windows 10.

I had thought of running the above software with a Linux  OS machine, but  using a Windows 10 emulator to run the software.

Any suggestions?

Eric

Xilman's picture
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Joined: 24/03/2018 - 15:17
Pure Linux system?

Linux can certainly run a telescope control system natively but you'd have to use alternatives to the packages with which you are familiar.

WINE is getting pretty good and may be able to run MaxIm DL et al. but when I tried to run Astrometrica under WINE on a Ubuntu 18.10 system it failed because of the lack of some critical component in WINE.  You may have better luck.

An alternative to WINE is to run Windows 7 (or whatever you have) in a virtual machine.  Again, it may not be completely plain sailing but it may work just fine.

I can go into much more detail but perhaps that's best done off-line.

Americo Watkins's picture
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Observatory Computer control

Hi Paul,

some of my problems may have been related to having older re-con machines.  I'm trying out anew NUC machine with windows 10 and will see how that goes.   Software Bisque have just introduced a Linux  based "The Sky X prof", also Astroart& has a Linux version.  but as you say  the other software I use in conjunction with it have not.

I shall see how I get on with the new set up  for the time being.

Cheers,

Eric

Andy Wilson's picture
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Observatory computer setup

Hi Eric,

I run a similar setup. Windows 10 with The Sky X, Maxim DL and PHD2 controlling an Astrophysics AP1200 mount. It all works very well. I find Windows 10 very good and stable, other than occasional annoying updates. I think you may be able to prevent updates by setting the internet access as a metered connection, though I am not sure if that still works. I tend to spot updates before hand as they will usually happen on my indoors PC first, and then run the update in the daytime.

Cheers,

Andy

Americo Watkins's picture
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Observatory computer set up

Andy,

thanks, that's encouraging to know. I believe that on windows 10 professional the auto updating can still be turned off, but not on the home versions.

I'd be interested in your Ascom settings for Phd2 and the ACOM The SkyX controlled telescope.  I understand that with the lodestar as auto guider the camera to mount cabling is no longer required.  Also if you still guide with Maxim DL what type settings you use to link to the guide camera.

Maybe you could contact me off forum.

Eric

andrew.j.smith1905's picture
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Maxim and The Sky X

Andy and Eric why do you use both Maxim and the Sky X? Don't they overlap in functionality? 

Regards Andrew 

Americo Watkins's picture
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MaxIm and the Sky X

Hi Andrew,

I use my camera via MaxIm i.e. imaging, exposure sequences, focus and  point here functions.   I prefer them to those available on the Sky X.  Sky X have changed and improved some of these functions so perhaps I may give them another try.

Eric

Andy Wilson's picture
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MaxIm and the Sky X

It is the same for me. I like the camera control functionality of Maxim DL. I got the Sky X later when I needed a more capable planetarium software for my spectroscopy projects. The same goes for PHD2. I was using Maxim for guiding but I found keeping the star on the spectrograph slit hard going, so I tried out PHD2 and have never looked back.

I should add I am using Maxim DL 5, an old version. When I need to change software I may look for cheaper options as I am no longer making use of the image processing functionality of Maxim.

Andy

Xilman's picture
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MaxIm DL and The Sky

Much the same with me, but the other way round.  TheSkyX is installed but, strangely perhaps, prefer The Sky 6. MaximDL 6 is used for camera control, including guiding.  My experience is that it guides very well as long as there is a bright enough star within the field of the SBIG-8 / AO-7 AG combination.

For VS work I tend to take enough 30s subs to achieve an acceptable SNR and then move on to the next target.  MaxIm DL's stacking function is invaluable for this.  Given that some variables can change by several magnitudes from night to night, my approach can save significant telescope time.  To avoid confusion: Maxim DL is used only as a first-look eyeballing procedure, not for final analysis where a local installation of astrometry.net and SWarp is used for stacking.

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W10 Home OK for me

I was also concerned by updates and stability, I now run most of my astro software on HP W10  i5 recycled business laptop from CeX, with card reader, DVD, one USB3 and 2xUSB2, 250Gb SSD.  No problem. The card reader provides extra capacity for data.   I can avoid unexpected updates by keeping it in airplane mode.  It will update when reconnecting to the internet, so i keep an eye open for the "feature updates" and just allow them to install when the laptop is not in use. I also set the  "no install" period to include night hours".

So I find W10 fine, I ignore the fancy patchwork shortcuts. I put all the apps in the tray. It looks like W7. There is also a registry hack that will put the seconds display into the clock if you so wish (I found it on the internet). In the system folder there is Internet explorer. You can use this instead of Edge if you prefer it. 

The windows 10 OS is better designed on timing issues, there are fewer, or better controlled interrupts (compared to XP and W7). This would benefit software requiring UT, and the reliable timing of fast data collection.

Ive not used linux or Wine.

Nick Atkinson's picture
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Joined: 11/03/2014 - 23:17
Hi,

Hi,

There are more updates with windows 7 which is the operating system in by observatory based lap top as against windows 10 on my PC. With regard to guiding I have found Maxim 6 very relaible using the sety box tab and multi star guiding with an errror of 0.25 of a pixel being achieved

Cheer

Nick