This post is stating what must be obvious to everyone but me, but wow, a "real" computer (mini pc) is a lot faster than a Raspberry Pi 4 w/SSD!
Over the past couple of years I've gone from a Raspberry Pi 3b with 1Gb memory to a RPi4b w/4Gb, to a RPi4 w/8Gb + SSD. I run all of KStars/Ekos/Indi on my RPi, just using my laptop as a remote-desktop monitor. The system has been very good to me, allowing low cost compute for astro-imaging right on the telescope, and for the most part the hardware has been reliable (especially once I ditched SD Cards). Starting with the RPi4, I've been able to compile KStars/Ekos/Indi on the machine, though it can take over an hour for many compiles.
However, I've been getting the itch for a faster telescope computer for some time, mostly because of the slow compiling. In the past year it's been hard to find electronics. Recently I happened to see a NUC10 (
this one the i7
). I picked it up along with
16Gb of DDR4 ram
500Gb M.2 NVMe SSD
and installed Ubuntu 20.04LTE--and that's all that's needed to build the computer. Yes, it's ~$800 vs ~$100 for the RPi4, for sure an unfair comparison.
I put together all the software on my desk and configured Ekos, then moved it outside, and quite literally just unplugging a few wires from the RPi and plugged them into the NUC. I did have to switch to the NUC's power-brick, and am not sure yet how/if I'd power the NUC if I took it traveling (it takes 19v). The NUC's form factor is a little bigger than the RPi, but not bad, it's about 4"x4"x1" (though its power brick is at least that same size as well, but can be placed out-of-the-way). The NUC uses a bit more power, but is not too bad while imaging.
Cutting to the chase, the speedup in UI over remote desktop using NoMachine is astonishing. I used to think I had network issues which caused remote desktop sluggishness. I guess it turns out that the RPi4 was the reason my remote-desktop networking was slow and sometimes flakey. The speedup in compiling KStars is even more astonishing. It went from over an hour down to 5-10 minutes. All that is compared with the fastest RPi running with an SSD, which itself is significantly faster than SDCard-based RPis.
Honestly, I really enjoyed using the RPi4, and it really is "the little computer that could", so, for sure I'll keep around a few RPi4bs and image with them on a secondary rig, e.g. for testing, but from a personal imaging perspective, it would be very hard to go back.
I feel you! I switched from RPi4 4b 4GB to a 240 USD mini PC and the difference is astonishing. I no longer have "weird" crashed (e.g. with gphoto) every now and then that, I think, were related to RPi slowness.
The only regret I have is that now I'll never be able to use the StellarmateOS app! But I favor stability over everything else
Just an FYI, the Intel NUC will run fine from 12v, no need to use the 19v power brick at all, this has been posted many times on other forums as many people in the Astro world use these mini PC’s, also in the BIOS there is a setting which will allow it to power up on its own as soon as the power is turned on, so no need to be by the PC when you start an imaging session….
I switched a few months ago to an Intel mini PC…
ah, ok maybe I am wrong about the NUC 10 I have an older one myself…sorry…that’s a shame as it would have been much more simple for you….
Can I ask, do you still need a dummy HDMI or Display port dongle for it t run headless..??
I made a similar switch to an Asus pn51 which is a ryzen based mini pc. It is setup with Ubuntu 20.04, a Samsung Evo Plus 1 TB SSD, and 64 GB ram. Same result, as expected it is much faster, e.g. downloads from my camera went from a couple of seconds to 0.4 sec. Also higher frame rate for firecapture for planetary imaging. Will still use the rPi for portable setup since it is smaller and less power hungry.
I have an HDMI dummy plug and got a cheap Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse and just leave the dongle plugged in so I can hookup a monitor via usb-c DisplayPort and work locally if I am doing polar alignment or planetary imaging. Otherwise the monitor and keyboard/mouse sits in the shed and I work via vnc.
Interesting. My PN40 is officially only speced for 19V, but I run it on 12V all the time, without issues. After all there's nothing within such a computer that runs on 19V - that (most of the time) is only to guarantee a stable 12V when converted down. So I'd just try it with 12V. You might just need a strong enough PSU or large enough battery that doesn't drop below 12V, as an i7 might well need some power...