Author Topic: Atik Base / Stellarmate  (Read 3222 times)

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NoelC

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Atik Base / Stellarmate
« on: Mar 07, 2019, 16:15:33 »
Spoiler alert -
Atik are working on a new product, the Atikbase featuring single point control and connectivity for telescope and cameras. 

I suspect most people already knew about this, but I just found out.
It will be designed to work with the software platform for the StellarMate  (https://www.stellarmate.com/products/feature-tour.html).   The StellarMate is a Pi based box running everything on USBs via wifi, bluetooth or ethernet.
The AtikBase is supposed to have cross platform (Apple, Android and Windows) IOT support, and include controlling (and powering) mount, camera and dew band(s) + a focuser controller + ST4 from a 12V power source.
The StellarMate runs at $179, if Atik come in with a Pi powered box fulfilling the StellarMate brief (which includes rapid plate solving and polar aligning) with power outputs at £250 or less it could be an interesting product...
However the down side is it runs under EKI, Indi and some new applications to drive everything (was just getting to grips with APT).  Will run a version of PHD, although it includes guiding software in StellarMate.  Naysayers assert it's just a Pi box with power outputs that you can make yourself for £60, I guess we'll have to wait and see.  Currently due for launch in April.

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Apophis

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #1 on: Mar 07, 2019, 16:50:05 »
I wonder how it will fix to the setup,
Roger
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RobertM

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #2 on: Mar 07, 2019, 20:05:13 »
Hmmm... yet another set of software to learn.  A number of pieces of software are available on the pi but in my opinion it lacks grunt for running a suite.  INDI is supposed to be quite good but I’m not sure it’s for me.  Reluctantly I’ll stick with windows software as it runs all the stuff I need.

Robert

NoelC

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #3 on: Mar 08, 2019, 09:49:35 »
As you say Roger, it looks from the initial presentation images as if they have conceived it to sit on the pier, not on the scope (which defeats the object of it).  But perhaps the little slots on the bottom hint at some sort of attachment like the HubPro (zip ties?).

Robert, I'm with you, the thought of starting over with a whole new operating environment and suite of programmes does not enthuse me - until windows updates itself again, when maybe I would be persuaded to ditch it!  The Microsoft policy of making users perform beta test and provide use and preference info for their future products is despicable.

I'm hoping the hint of 'cheap and cheerful' in the info so far results in a low end product with much of the functionality of high end boxes.  On the face of it if; it can platesolve, Polalign, guide and maintain and refine a pointing model as well as capture and focus, it will reduce the entry cost for remoting an imaging setup dramatically.  Of course we have no idea of the price point Atik will pitch at and we do know the software will take time to get to grips with. I was exceedingly underwhelmed with the AtikAir, I've still got the PI somewhere, must dig it out and see if I can do anything with it.
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Carole

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #4 on: Mar 08, 2019, 12:06:15 »
Atik have a tendency to build their products and software only to be used with atik peoducts
as well.

Carole

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #5 on: Mar 08, 2019, 16:05:19 »
I've just come across new Indigo server software, they are doing a distribution to run on Raspberry Pi and APT will interface directly with it. It will act like a virtual USB port as far as I can gather. It sits on the mount and connect via wifi or ethernet and APT or whatever will connect to it's INDIGO server. I don't know if you guys can see this link on the APT forum unless you have a login for it. They sound like they are trying to make it as easy as possible to set up but are a little way off. Interesting. I have too many cables to my mount again since I stopped using the USB3 hub.

 http://www.indigo-astronomy.org/
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NoelC

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 13:27:53 »
Interesting developments with APT Duncan.  I will be interested to see how it all works on a Pi when it's fully loaded.

I've been testing this software (Stellarmate OS) on my Pi.
So far the results are pretty good, but it's taking a long time to work out how to connect all the bits as the operating system is totally alien at present.  The real bonus about this is the cost of a Pi 3 is about £30, and the StellarMate OS software is similar (total £60).

Stellarmate is a 'mate' skin for the ubuntu system that runs the Pi and acts as the interface for everything.  Functions so far achieved:-
  • Control of EQMOD mount
  • Camera connection and live image (there are quite a few camera drivers -Atik, ZWO SX, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax etc.)
  • Run PHD2 (but not guided with it yet)
  • Hotspot remote operation + ethernet operation + driven from mobile phone (pretty much all singing and dancing)
  • The KSTARs Planetarium system is pretty powerful and has some good features- broadly equivalent to CdC, but actually has some better utilities for imaging (plot of target azimuth from location with darkness indication).  KStars also has a comprehensive list of downloadable addons (catalogues) that can be incorporated into it's planetarium functions.
  • The built in scheduler should take care of running the rig when I get it all connected.
There are a lot of Indi drivers for astronomy cameras and bits and pieces on the system, but my focuser is not standard.  The guy who wrote StellarMate (Jasem) has been exceptionally helpful and written a driver for me (still to test it).

The Pi system is a whole lot clunkier and basic than windows, guess that's RISC processing for you, but hey - who needs an on off button anyway, at least you can turn the updates off!  Will reply when I get it all going.
Noel
Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).

RobertM

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2019, 20:32:01 »
Sounds a bit like needless complication to me and more to go wrong.  If you have too many cables at the mount then put a micro PC there and WiFi off it, that reduces the “to the mount” cables to one.  If you’re in an observatory then that probably doesn’t make sense since you would probably want to automate the roof, have a weather monitor and burglar alarm so in that case it would be two cables, which is what I have.  I’m valuing reliability over most things in these days of bloated software so I’m sticking with Voyager, at least for the time being - it does lack a few twiddly bits but what is there is powerful and robust.

Things to note about running astro software off the Pi:
1) it needs more grunt, you will need very lightweight software to get everything running smoothly.  As soon as you start moving the sky around in the planetarium everything will grind.
2) it needs more memory.  For the most part a lot of programs are conceived on a PC and rewritten for Linux, unfortunately a lot of poor PC programming practice goes with it.  Some of this relates to memory use which is already very tight on a Pi, when too much is used then Linux will spill the excess over to the swap area on that poor SD card.  The net result is that the Pi will seem to freeze for a bit while this is happening.  This also happens if too much software is loaded.

I did have The SkyX running on a Pi but using 70% cpu was just not viable.  I think ZWO get away with it because the software is very lightweight and designed to work on the Pi 3 from the outset; Stellarmate sounds very similar.

There is already software that makes a Pi into remote USB ports - I investigated using that method a while ago but decided not to as I put a PC in the Obs and that wasn’t remote enough from the mount (plus there was license cost).  Another interesting idea is for USB over optical fibre (no interference and very flexible); I think the cost has come down a lot but is still silly money.

Robert

Roy

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 16:39:02 »
Not that I would be interested in changing the way I operate, i.e using a laptop to control everything, but having a look on the Indigo Website I see no mention of Stellarium amongst the compatible software.

Roy

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 12:12:24 »
All interesting stuff. I might try the Pi4 when it comes out. My laptop will need replacing soon as the single USB3 socket is failing. A Pi and a tablet is an option since I VNC into my laptop a lot anyway. I tried a PCDuino 2 (ta Robert) but gosh was it limited.
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NoelC

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 14:05:50 »
Thanks - All good points.
Not able to comment yet, as I don't have it all running - but there is a lot to learn about (took me an hour to empty the trash).
I too am concerned about the processing overhead, but impressed with the capabilities, guess we'll see what it can really do when it comes to platesolving - although it can be overclocked successfully (in most cases).
 
Robert; I bow to your experience on this, I'm not quite at the same level.  I currently use a Win10pc (Beelink) in my observatory, which remotes quite nicely, but I have blown the odd pc up!  I use a powerline ethernet (TPLink AV1300 Gigabit) as BT Homehub6 Wifi was incredibly unreliable at the end of the garden.

Roy:- yes there is a stellarium version that runs under Indi, but KStars is written for the environment and has a lot of imaging features missing from Stellarium (you can run KStars on a PC - for free).  The Ekos equipment management system is tightly integrated with KStars.  https://www.indilib.org/about/clients.html

Duncan; any realistic prospect of a Pi 4 or even the specs yet? As you say; if it's got usb3 it could be quite exciting.

I'm sounding a bit like a convert - I'll shut up and let you know if I get it all working.
Noel
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Carole

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2019, 17:40:45 »
I see you have taken the plunge. 

Quote
I have blown the odd pc up!
! ! ! !

 :boom:

RobertM

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 21:01:20 »
Noel,

If you've blown the odd PC up then you obviously know the ropes !  Personally I bought a cheap Beeline to use as an on mount PC for travel but I've yet to use it (time time time !).

One thing you need to know about the Pi is that it doesn't like having the power disconnected, or rather there are times when the SD card will become corrupt.  After that happens Linux tries to correct any disk errors on next boot but of course that may well take a while... then it might or might not work.  Always have a working backup image of the SD card you're using jic.  A Pi 4 will be a while coming I think but that doesn't stop a lot of people are dreaming about the config already.

Robert
PS. how do you blow your PC's - iron filings ?


NoelC

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2019, 16:42:18 »
Robert
I made myself a dum plugboard to distribute power to mount, camera, USB hub and focuser. Plugging the focuser in with everything on shorted the 12V to ground (PC wouldn't boot after that).  Next time I plugged 12V instead of 5V into the USB Hub (didn't boot after that either).  It wasn't dark, just hadn't conceived the plug board correctly.  Looking at an intelligent power box now...
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RobertM

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Re: Atik Base / Stellarmate
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2019, 17:48:08 »
Oh dear !  I must admit that’s one of my worst fears.  I quite often see sparks when plugging in usb devices due to poor earthing but nothing’s gone pop yet (touch wood).  I agree an intelligent power box is a good thing to have but they can be quite pricey.

Robert