Is it possible to connect the Stellarmate app with a Linux box running an INDI server?
My thinking is that some of the limitations of the raspberry pi are limited computing ability and its poor wifi performance. If both of these are addressed then the Stellarmate app usability would be improved. So why not connect a mini PC running Linux at the mount, instead of Stellarmate OS on raspberry PI?
It may be that the app is tailormade to interface with Stellarmate OS, but I'm wondering if there is a workaround that as Stellarmate OS itself is Linux-based?
Thank you Jasem for your hard work.
For what my personal opinion/suggestion is worth, I think the following would really help with the live stacking:
1. Basic histogram control: adjust the black, mid and white point. Most other stacking software offer this, and these controls are enough for most adjustments. I have not used AsiAir, but I have read that it stacks on the pi but offers the histogram controls in the app. The existing controls in the Stellarmate app may be working this way too, I don't know.
2. Ability to use darks and flats. I know that Stellarmate has the capability to manage a dark library on the Pi, I don't know if a similar "flat library" exists. In any case, being able to incorporate that into stacking will improve the result (noise, dust motes, vignetting, etc.)
3. I don't know what it will take and whether this is even feasible, but if live stacking is incorporated into Ekos that would be great. Currently as a workaround I used to use Ekos to capture the images and save them in the remote folder, then use Sharpcap on Windows in folder monitor mode to stack. If that can work, so can Ekos on the remote computer.
My main usage scenario is mount + scope + rPI outside on my deck, with me inside the house. My area is too cold for me to be outside or to snake a cable through a door somehow. The rpi has direct line of sight to my router, and is no more than 20 feet away. I experimented quite a lot of times with where to sit inside my house to do EAA, and thought I had found some good spots. The behavior is very unpredictable. One day it will work, the next day from the same spot, it will take me 15 minutes just to get a reliable connection.
But I had learned to live with that. Waiting for live stacking to either be more powerful/feature-rich, and struggling through the latest "optical trains" feature and the forced OS update leading to flashing + re-setup is what finally broke my resolve. I teach programming for a living, so I understand the difficulties of maintaining software and debugging. But seeing new features like optical trains (which did not work for me) when so many users had been talking for a long time about existing stability issues and the need to develop live stacking further, just leads me to believe that the Stellarmate developers seem to have a different vision for the product and different priorities than what I had hoped. I have used open-source programs before, and know that they seem less polished than other commercial products. But since Stellarmate OS is a paid product, I expected a smoother experience and a more robust program.
There are a couple of very long threads on Cloudy Nights: one describing an EAA setup by "cuiv the lazy geek" using Stellarmate that got a lot of interest and likely Stellarmate customers (like me), and another equally long thread of users basically struggling and then giving up on trying to get a reliable setup using Stellarmate. "I am moving on to windows/ASIAIR, but I really like the idea of Stellarmate and will watch to see if it becomes stable and usable enough" is a sentiment that is repeatedly echoed on that thread.
1. There is cable between pi and mount. There is no cable between pi and the app or the client computer. Using a cable between the pi and the device with the app seems silly.
I used my home wifi to connect because it seemed to be the stablest approach.
2. I thought stellarmate is precisely doing this? Stacking on the pi?
I agree with the updates and backups. I updated the Android app. But it forced me to update the OS. The app stopped detecting all my cameras and I interpreted that as a consequence of not updating the OS. So I did.
3. I am not criticizing kstars, ekos or Indi. But I paid for stellarmate OS, so it seems reasonable that I expect a working product.
I do not know how asiair based their work on the free work of everybody here. I think it is fishy too. I have not bought the asiair. But from a user standpoint the product is more usable, so beginners will choose that. That's all I saying, that stellarmate can actually be superior and I gave it time, but the problems never went away.
I am writing this to give feedback on my experience of using Stellarmate. After using Stellarmate for over a year, I have finally decided to move on to a windows mini PC setup because I faced too many problems. I hope that some of these are taken into consideration, as I would very much like Stellarmate to succeed. It has many advantages over its competitors, but sadly my experience has been that they are potential advantages, marred by the constant problems that I have faced.
I installed Stellarmate OS on a raspberry PI 4 with 4G RAM. I chose Stellarmate primarily because I was drawn to the concept of controlling my gear and doing EAA from indoors. I am not really interested in astrophotography. The live stacking was the feature that pulled me in. I was, and am still a beginner to EAA and astrophotography. My equipment is as follows:
1. Mounts I used: Explore Scientific iExos 100, Skywatcher EQM 35. I still have the latter mount, and am trying a new one, Skywatcher Az-Gti in Alt-az mode. I have not tried this with Stellarmate.
2. Telescopes: Skywatcher 72mm ED, Celestron C6 with f6.3 and f3.3 reducers.
3. Software setups I tried: VNC from windows laptop to RPI, Stellarmate app on Android, KStars/Ekos running on Windows connecting to the RPI
4. Cameras: PlayerOne Neptune C, ZWO ASI 120MM for guiding
Features I loved the most:
1. The indi drivers worked flawlessly. I never had to do a thing, once I knew which ones to select.
2. Ekos bundles imaging, platesolving and goto all in one. There is no replacement to this on Windows.
3. There is a dedicated app to Stellarmate. This is what separates it from Astroberry, and makes it a competitor to ASIAir.
What made me leave:
1. General software/usability problems: The wireless connection to the Rpi would drop unpredictably (the mount was connected to Rpi by wire, the Rpi was connected to home Wifi). This would happen unpredictably, sometimes in the middle of a session. Then I would have trouble connecting to it again, and unpredictably it would eventually work. This was very frustrating, especially for users like me who are new to EAA. I eventually got tired of reading forums trying to find out how other users fixed these issues.
2. The live stacking feature did not improve: it did the basics correctly. But even the basic controls of adjusting the histogram are not there. The sliders that are there, seem to be about adjusting the image properties like saturation, background, etc. I don't really know what they do, or whether they correspond to histogram adjustment in any way.
I do not know if the live stacking uses darks and flats. I need the flats to work because my telescope gets dew, and then dust motes are very visible on every stacked image. I asked on the forum here, but never got any answer.
This EAA feature should improve. KStars/Ekos supports much more equipment than ASIAir. But Cloudy nights is full of users of Stellarmate moving on to ASIAir for reasons of stability, and the stacking not as developed or smooth as ASIAir.
3. Stellarmate seems to be going in the direction of astrophotography more than EAA. Newer features that I see seem to be targeting users with observatories, multiple equipment and complicated workflows. A good example of this is optical trains. I can see how this would be useful for someone who has multiple setups. But for a user like me, it only added complications. I was never able to make it work correctly on the Android app. I tried adding my telescope with original and reduced focal lengths, added reducers separately, etc. But either it would not recognize the setup, or the platesolving would fail. This was the final experience that made me quit, because this feature broke the thing for me that had been working reliably all along (trying out different OTAs, and platesolving just working). This OS and app update also corrupted my Stellarmate installation, so I had to flash and reinstall just to get KStars and Ekos back.
Targeting astrophotographers is fine. But it seems to me that by offering an app, supporting live stacking, Stellarmate was trying to attract users from the EAA community. For some reason it seems that focus has shifted away from it, judging from new features and recent fixes. I have been on Cloudy Nights forums with many other users who have largely the same (small) set of struggles with Stellarmate (instability of the setup, random crashes, live stacking working but not fleshed out, live stacking not having intuitive controls), and the feeling is that these items were lower priority than newer features.
Didn't know about starry night.
I was trying to use Kstars observation wizard. Basically I do EAA from my backyard, from where I can see only from Polaris on one side to east-se on the other. I got frustrated trying to see what to o serve by trial and error, manually filtering what I could not see. Kstars offers a way to enter portion of the sky, but in ra and dec. I really don't know who they are targeting with that, because anybody who can converse that easily in ra and dec probably doesn't need observation wizards....
Any answer for me?
No, I mean whether it is necessary to add skysafari as an auxiliary for it to work with this setup.
The skysafari app has the observation planner that I seek. Kstars's observation planner is a mess, it's never worked correctly for me. I wanted to view interesting objects in an area of sky that I can see. Kstars wants me to enter the region in ra and dec, instead of alt az that is so much more intuitive to specify.
I am wondering if it is even necessary to add skysafari as an auxiliary in the device profile.
Huh! It didn't work like that for me. I will have to give it another try.
And I am not alone. There are others on cloudy nights reporting that it works (or does not work) the way I described. I hope when I try I get it to work or discover what I am doing wrong.
Just to be sure, I set up the mount as an indi mount, *not* the Meade 200 mount thing that is on the instructions here? The indi mount is a new thing in skysafari 7, and it never asked me for a mount model. Not that it should matter, because I tried this for both mounts that I own.
When I tried it, kstars was running on a Windows computer, and I was operating skysafari from my Android phone.
Thank you for looking into this!
Right, I got that far too. When I ask skysafari to slew, it slews and even kstars at that time shows that the mount is moving.
The problem is that after the mount is done slewing, ekos does not know this is the new target. If I go to the align module and attempt to plate solve (slew to target), it will try to slew to the last target that I used in kstars, not what I just selected in skysafari.
In other words, skysafari does not seem to communicate the target to ekos. This is weird since kstars does know that the mount is moving, just not where it is headed.