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Geektastic

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#257297 24-Sep-2019 22:12
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I am looking for a cheap, reliable Windows laptop for one purpose only - to run telescope guiding software for astrophotography and astronomy. Unfortunately the software is written for Windows only.

 

 

 

It will be outside a lot, will need a good battery or be able to run off a portable power pack that will be providing location power to the telescope mount in 12v.

 

 

 

I do not really know how to use Windows very well (been using Mac for 15 years or more) and won't use it for anything else.

 

 

 

Any suggestions?






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Dynamic
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  #2324247 24-Sep-2019 22:35
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I doubt the computer will require much horsepower to do this job, so consider something like a secondhand Microsoft Surface Pro that doesn't generate a lot of heat, and therefore uses less power.  Something that you can find a car charger for, to make use of your 12v supply.  It's battery may not last long due to age, but as long as your 12v supply is good, that shouldn't be a problem.  Also the tablet-style machines don't take up much space, are highly portable, and easy to hide from the elements in a container.





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djtOtago
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  #2324252 24-Sep-2019 22:46
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What type of connection is required to talk to the telescope? USB, Serial
Some laptops don't offer a lot of external connection options these days.


 
 
 
 


Lias
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  #2324329 25-Sep-2019 08:38
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Have you thought about just running Windows in a VM on your Mac?





pulsta
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  #2324353 25-Sep-2019 09:07
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I bought this as a cheap and cheerful notebook for 3D slicing software and general youtube and web browsing and so far it has exceeded my expectations!

 

 

 

https://www.pbtech.co.nz/product/NBKASU406212/ASUS-E406MA-BV212T-Education-Laptop-14-1366x768-In


sidefx
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  #2324370 25-Sep-2019 09:33
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Dynamic:

 

I doubt the computer will require much horsepower to do this job, so consider something like a secondhand Microsoft Surface Pro that doesn't generate a lot of heat, and therefore uses less power.  Something that you can find a car charger for, to make use of your 12v supply.  It's battery may not last long due to age, but as long as your 12v supply is good, that shouldn't be a problem.  Also the tablet-style machines don't take up much space, are highly portable, and easy to hide from the elements in a container.

 

 

 

 

Good call.  I've still got a gen1 surface pro that's going strong and runs windows 10, visual studio, some games, etc without any issue. 

 

 

 

Other option might be a NUC which I think can run on 12V?  Perhaps with an adhoc wifi setup then RDP from your phone if software you're using isn't too complex to avoid the need for a monitor when out in the field? Might take a bit of setup but I think should be possible...





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Dynamic
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  #2324387 25-Sep-2019 09:55
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sidefx: Other option might be a NUC which I think can run on 12V?  Perhaps with an adhoc wifi setup then RDP from your phone if software you're using isn't too complex to avoid the need for a monitor when out in the field? Might take a bit of setup but I think should be possible...

 

In theory you are right, but in practise if something silly and small goes wrong and you can't RDP to the machine, not having a screen becomes a hassle.  I suspect the OP will be working in the middle of nowhere.

 

An old Netbook might also be an option....  one of the Atom  or Celeron CPU'd 10" or 11" laptops that uses very little power.  I've go one sitting here that hasn't made its way to TradeMe yet.





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Geektastic

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  #2324472 25-Sep-2019 11:20
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djtOtago:

 

What type of connection is required to talk to the telescope? USB, Serial
Some laptops don't offer a lot of external connection options these days.

 

 

 

 

It's USB Type B on the guiding camera to laptop port. Obviously the laptop end can be USB anything that fits I presume.






 
 
 
 


Geektastic

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  #2324473 25-Sep-2019 11:22
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Lias:

 

Have you thought about just running Windows in a VM on your Mac?

 

 

 

 

I did, but t'internet is littered with people who have had a fair few problems trying to do that.

 

The astronomy software is not usually super pro level coding, I suspect, as it is a bit niche so there is not the money behind it to make flawless apps. A lot of it is also free to download and use, so even less money!






Lias
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  #2324671 25-Sep-2019 16:31
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Geektastic:

 

Lias:

 

Have you thought about just running Windows in a VM on your Mac?

 

 

 

 

I did, but t'internet is littered with people who have had a fair few problems trying to do that.

 

The astronomy software is not usually super pro level coding, I suspect, as it is a bit niche so there is not the money behind it to make flawless apps. A lot of it is also free to download and use, so even less money!

 

 

Worth a try before you spend any money I reckon.

 

Virtualbox is a free hypervisor, and you can download a 90 day trial of Windows 10 from Microsoft.





MikeB4
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  #2324713 25-Sep-2019 16:41
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Lias:

Geektastic:


Lias:


Have you thought about just running Windows in a VM on your Mac?



 


I did, but t'internet is littered with people who have had a fair few problems trying to do that.


The astronomy software is not usually super pro level coding, I suspect, as it is a bit niche so there is not the money behind it to make flawless apps. A lot of it is also free to download and use, so even less money!



Worth a try before you spend any money I reckon.


Virtualbox is a free hypervisor, and you can download a 90 day trial of Windows 10 from Microsoft.



It's been a while since I have done it but wouldn't dual booting using Bootcamp be better as it gives Windows all the resources. However care needs to be taken if the MBP has a hybrid drive as Bootcamp can screw with the drives and split them.

cyril7
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  #2324771 25-Sep-2019 19:01
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My guess is the w10 telescope app would not be all that taxing so a virtual box instance has to be worth the try.

Cyril

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  #2325177 26-Sep-2019 12:05
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Geektastic:

 

I am looking for a cheap, reliable Windows laptop for one purpose only - to run telescope guiding software for astrophotography and astronomy.

 

 

Go to trademe.
Spend $100 - $200 on a used Win7 laptop & another $50 on a cheap small used SSD
Bargains can be found if youre patient .

 

Thats what I did . I needed a laptop for just 1 app . So I bought a 14" i5 for about $120 & put a used SSD in it.
Batt life wont be as new  (I get more than an hour , thats plenty for me) , but batts are usually cheap to replace.

 

Or just go to Noel Lemming or PB Tech and buy whatever cheapy you want.
Cheap is cheap, so it will be cheap and run like a cheapy . With cheapies , may not be much differnce between brands , just get whatever , as long as its a modern CPU and not year old stock.
There's still alot of old stock/old models out there .
They newest cheapies are much much faster than they used to be :-)


mdf

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  #2325242 26-Sep-2019 13:12
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What's the app and how do you interact with it? e.g. if it requires keyboard or mouse, I'd shy away from the cheap tablets/convertibles, since the keyboards and touchpad will be tiny and non-backlit. But if it's a touchscreen interface, there is no point carrying around additional keyboard weight if not needed. Do you need full USB or something else? If you're buying a special purpose computer, ideally you want to minimise the cables, dongles and adapters you're lugging too. If it is set and forget, a low res cruddy screen will be okay. But if you're doing astrophotography, you might want to prioritise a sharper screen if you're looking at photos as you go.


gzt

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  #2326276 28-Sep-2019 09:49
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Surface Go $588 + car adaptor $50 is an excellent solution for the above. Not cheap tho.

 

Where did the cheap W10 tablets go? Warehouse had some for a while 


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