Telescope Mini PC Computer Astrophotography Setup


hey everybody I’ve had a couple of viewers requests over time how I use my Intel compute stick specifically how do I have it set up that allows me to remote into it how does it power on when I apply power to it and various other questions I’m gonna cover all of those in this video so stay tuned I’ve got my TeamViewer application up and running and I’ve got the IP address of the Intel compute stick plugged in by clicking connect and now I have the desktop of the Intel compute stick if you would like to learn how to make amateur astronomy as easy and accessible as possible why don’t you go ahead and click subscribe and while you’re at it hit the little bell notification next to that you’ll show me some love and I will make you new videos so when the Intel compute stick first gets power applied to it from the field battery it just boots up I don’t have to worry about pressing any buttons or anything like that if you’re in a remote observatory and you’ve got the ability to remotely toggle your power that could be a way that you get the Intel compute stick to power on unfortunately the Intel compute stick does not have an rj45 or an Ethernet port in it so wake-on-lan commands as far as I know aren’t going to work the first thing that I want to get out of the way is you need to have some sort of wireless networking connection already created to do this you would just plug the Intel compute stick into the back of an HDMI monitor plug a wireless keyboard and mouse into it and use it like it was a normal computer I use a little USB hub to also connect the wireless card that I’m going to be using if you right-click on your little wireless network icon down here and go to open network and sharing Center the first thing that you’ll see is your basic Windows 10 networking configuration we don’t really need this window at this step instead we’re gonna go to change adapter settings as you can see I’ve got several Wi-Fi connections I’ve got an integrated Wi-Fi which I renamed to integrated Wi-Fi by right-clicking choosing rename and giving it that name that’s the wireless connection that was built into the Intel compute stick and as my telescope slews around sometimes the Intel compute stick gets the mount between it and my home router and it will drop connection this Wi-Fi connection is the wireless connection to the Paramount you don’t need this if you don’t have a paramount or any other telescope mount that does not use a wireless connection if you’re connecting via USB straight into it just ignore this part and keep using your USB what we’re focused on is the ICS Wi-Fi which I renamed again by right-clicking choosing rename and typing in ICS Wi-Fi once you’ve picked a name that you want to use and feel free to use ICS Wi-Fi if you want the next thing we do is go back one level to network in Internet and then we click network sharing center the next step that we want to do inside of here is set up a new connection or network you’re going to manually connect to a wireless network you’ll click Next we want to use the ICS Wi-Fi or whatever name you used click Next then we want to enter a network name in this case I used the name that came on the card for the nano router for the security type choose the appropriate security type for whatever device you picked and enter the security key you don’t need to worry about having start this connection automatically but I do anyway if you forget this step or it becomes unchecked later don’t sweat it we’re gonna solve that in next process do not connect even if the network is not broadcasting so now that we’ve got our wireless network profile created we can use a PowerShell script to ensure that we always connect to this network the first command in our PowerShell script is the netsh command this command is going to use WLAN to connect to an SSID called TP-Link_84DD9_5g which is this right over here so whatever yours is you would type that here the name of the profile is the same as the wireless network it doesn’t have to be I do it for consistency the name is this value up here the interface is the ICS Wi-Fi make sure you get the capitalisation correct on all of this when this command runs it will force ICS Wi-Fi to seek out tp-link and connect to it I give it a 10 second pause to allow that connection to take effect and then I create a variable called $conn and I assign the value of this variable to the result of the interface ICS Wi-Fi what that means is I’m taking all of the values of ICS Wi-Fi as a physical adapter and I’m storing all of those parameters into this variable called $conn I then test that variable to see if the connection state is equal to disconnected basically connect to my tp-link nano router and if you fail go to this next step which is the netsh command all over again but this time I connect to my home wireless network Raven3 is the 5g network inside of my house for consistency’s sake the name of the profile is also Raven3 and I’m still using the ICS Wi-Fi I give this another 10 seconds for the connection to take effect and I reassign the values of that interface to conn if both of these connection attempts fail and my laptop is connected to one of those networks then I know that I probably just need to move the router or the telescope into a better position that the antenna can’t see the network it always works in this order every single time there’s no rhyme or reason why I’m trying to connect to the field router first and then the home Wi-Fi second I could very easily switch those around and make it work in fact for the purposes of this video I’m connected to my home Wi-Fi right now but it clearly did try to connect to the tp-link nano router initially the next thing that I want to show you to get this thing all up and running automatically for you is the startup folder as somebody who’s worked a lot in IT having scripts that start up automatically to backup certain files is very nice so I used this a lot and it was the first place I thought to stick these scripts when I decided that I was going to try and automate the startup process of the intel compute stick and it’s been working great you can see that i’ve got four things that load at startup the first thing that I wanted our attention to is the TeamViewer host every time my computer starts up it launches the TeamViewer host and it waits for me to connect into it the next thing that runs is this RunPS.bat if we edit this which is an old-school dos program it’s actually fairly simple it calls to PowerShell scripts in series the first one runs is what I call the power management ps1 script and then the second script it runs is what we just looked at this power management script I’m actually quite proud of a lot of times we have USB devices in Windows 10 that like to go to sleep or go into power saver mode or whatever and it’s this annoying window setting that for some reason keeps renaming it self and it can cause cameras or other equipment to just drop connection in the middle of an imaging session so I wrote a PowerShell script that every time the computer turns on it disables all of those settings for you so your USB devices can’t go to sleep in the middle of an imaging session I’m going to show that script to you also right now what this PowerShell script is basically doing is it gets a list of all of the USB hubs from device manager and it loops through every single one of them looking for that suspend this device to conserve power setting and it sets the enabled checkmark to false it effectively unchecks all of those boxes for you so there you have it those are the scripts that I use to get my Intel compute stick to set everything up for me and be ready for me to connect into it and go ahead and launch my programs speaking of programs one viewer has asked if the Intel copied stick that I use which is the mobile 3 version has enough power to run all the programs we need for astrophotography well let me go ahead and give you a demonstration of that we’re going to go ahead and load up TheSkyX professional I need to use TheSkyX to control my paramount connect to the telescope real quick clutches are disengaged go ahead and home it so the Intel compute stick is currently homing my mount will go ahead and minimize this but it’ll still be running in the background and let’s go ahead and open up PhD guiding two because I know a lot of us like to use PhD we’re going to connect to my asi camera we’re going to connect to the Mount close that and let’s go ahead and begin looping that’s not gonna find any stars and it’s pointed at a pretty white wall right now with all of this light going on so yeah it’s gonna look like crap but while that’s going let’s go ahead and let’s launch sequence generator Pro while we’re at it so we’ve got sequence generator Pro loaded up we have PhD that’s doing some sort of PhD guiding on a wall and we’ve got TheSkyX up and running and as you can see there’s a little bit of latency getting the map to move which is typically the case on this Intel compute stick everything is working if we look at task manager you can see that I’m using about half the CPU and a little more than half the memory which still leaves plenty of overhead to be doing things like taking an image with another camera and downloading it when we’re taking an image every 60 seconds five minutes or whatever there’s 60 seconds or five minutes of idle time on that camera that you’re not needing the computer for and downloading it saving it to a hard drive is a little more than just a file transfer it doesn’t require a ton of resources either so yes the Intel compute stick clearly has the resources to run TheSkyX sequence generator pro PhD guiding and I bet you could use some other imaging and maybe have something else running on it as well so there you have it that’s my Intel compute stick setup I turn it on by just giving it power I’ve got a bunch of scripts that set up all of my networking connect to the network for the mount they get TeamViewer started up for me in the startup folder and the Intel compute stick has the resources adequate enough to run TheSkyX sequence generator pro and PhD guiding so I hope you found this video really informative and if you were thinking about buying any small computer for your telescope the Intel compute stick is a good choice but if you can afford a better computer or a different computer that has more resources than my Intel compute stick by all means go for it there’s no reason why you have to use the Intel compute stick I simply chose it for its small form factor and the fact that I could run it off of a car charger for a cell phone

11 comments

  • Have you been looking for a mini-computer to use as your imaging platform for Astrophotography? Is the Intel Compute Stick on your radar, or do you have your eye on something else? Tell me your top picks in the comments!

  • Cool video 👍:)

  • Dark Energy Studios

    Those are some very creative ideas Mitchell! Your IT background is on display! I really like the Power Shell Scripts ideas. If I'm thinking correctly, you have the Team Viewer come up on Start, but you'll need to transfer the "Partner ID" and "Password" to the host? If we were to leave the mini pc in the sleep state, we could sent a magic packet for WOL? If though power is turned off causing the pc to have to do a cold start, then Windows wants a login of some sort like a pin? Or is there a way around these through a PSS? Once you have a "view" of where your at on the mini pc (Team Viewer) you can launch anything on the Stick.

    I've been working on setting up a Wake on LAN, but those require a hard wired Ethernet cable between systems. While that's fine for experimenting in the house, in practice, I was hoping to do it wirelessly. A WoWlan seems ideal, but research shows it to be a daunting task. I guess, I'll need to design in wire conduit to my observatory.

    Great video Mitchell. You really covered some important topics! Thanks!

  • Thanks man, haven't watched all the way through but I'm thinking this is the route I'm going to take.

  • Hi Mitchell, nice video however, still to deep for my IT knowledge, especially those scripts you mentioned. Any idea where I could find a step-by-step recipe? I guess my main doubt is how to create a WIFI network that can connect my laptop and the computer stick when I am working in remote locations.

  • Allen Mitchell, thank you greatly for your contribution, sharing knowledge the way you do is inspiring me.

    I can carry some extra weight on my mount so I decided on a mini PC for easier plate solving. Other pluses are inbuilt 4xUSB 3.0; strong dual-band WiFi; 12V dc native power, and Ethernet. (Is only 300g so is not that bad). It also saves me the USB hub+. I’m sure you appreciate my thinking.

    My plan is to use un App such as TeamViewer, Splashtop or MS Remote desktop (I’m still researching) to have three control options i.e. WiFi to iPad, WiFi to Laptop or Ethernet cable to Laptop.
    I don’t see the need of ever accessing the internet with this PC and I agree with your comment of avoiding Win updates.

    Having noticed in other videos that you are using a field wifi router, I wander why are you introducing another piece of hardware instead of setting up an ad-hoc network in the Intel Stick. Is there a limitation on the Stick?

    Do you see any problem with ad-hoking for my set-up?
    Have you had any experience with the other apps vs TeamViewer?

    Thanks again,
    Cheers.

  • Hi, very good channel, sorry for my little english.

    I have to remotely control my telescope with mini pc and team viewer, i hope the succeed, thanks for you tips

  • Hi, Mitchell I left the teamviewer to use the Remote Desktop Connection to control the telescope at a distance, it works much better, the commands are faster, try, try.

  • Hi,
    Excellent video. Do you have enough memory to plate solve?

  • Srinivasan Ananthachari

    Hi , I don't have internet where i go usually to observe sky (middle of desert) Is it possible to connect my Laptop to Mini pc without internet and Ethernet cable?

  • Allen I used your Cable Management approach to clean up my wiring on my ES127 refractor setup. Using my iOptron CEM60EC mount with modified wiring, I have no wiring hanging from the DEC or RA movements. Still have a USB cable to my laptop and 12v power cable going to the RA pivot point. It all works great. Thanks. Now I would like to use your Mini PC methodology to eliminate the USB cable. You mentioned the TPLink Nano Router. Where is it located? On the telescope? Michael

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