INDI support

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yoandresmza
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INDI support

Post by yoandresmza »

Hi, I'm new here.
Any chance in adding support for INDI devices?
It would be a breakthrough as it would give your already great software a lot of flexibility. This would allow users who have an observatory at home to connect to the devices remotely without the need to have a laptop in the telescope (it would be enough running the INDI server on a Raspberry for example).
Please consider it. They could become the only AP software manufacturer to do so and make a big difference to the rest.
Thanks!
Andres
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Re: INDI support

Post by admin »

Hi,

thanks for the suggestion - I will have to investigate whether there are INDI client libraries available that can be used with commercial software - that would make the development easier. Without that, writing a client library too makes the amount of work much larger.

I will put this on the list of possible features for a future version.

Robin
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Re: INDI support

Post by oopfan »

Robin,

(Disclaimer: I am by no means an INDI expert)

INDI uses a client/server architecture. So, you can run the client on your office desktop and connect to INDI devices running on a Raspberry Pi server at the telescope. Or you can run the client on the same Raspberry Pi, and then "remote" into the client via Ethernet cable or Wifi hotspot hosted by the Pi. There are a large number of INDI clients that run on all sorts of operating systems.

I am guessing that Andres would like SharpCap to be another one of those INDI clients, but for Windows O/S. The only problem I see with that is the high bandwidth required for lunar and planetary. I just visited the INDI website. There are very few lunar and planetary shots in the gallery, and from what I see, the quality doesn't come close to what Dave (turfpit) achieves with SharpCap. One gallery post talked about using FireCapture along side INDI.

You would need to look at the INDI device interface to see if it supports all of the functionality you need to make SharpCap work. And then how do you handle video frame rates to a client over a relatively slow connection? INDI is primarily used for AP and EAA. They recently released Live Stacking. There are a great number of INDI drivers for controlling observatory domes and weather stations, etc.

Perhaps Andres can elaborate on how he envisions it to work. Is he OK with running SharpCap on a Windows laptop or NUC at the telescope? Perhaps, he is just asking for Dome control using his existing INDI infrastructure.

Brian
yoandresmza
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Re: INDI support

Post by yoandresmza »

Hi, thanks for the answers.
As Brian mentions, I am suggesting that Sharpcap act as an INDI client running on Windows and connect via ethernet cable to an INDI server running (for example) on a raspberry pi attached to the telescope.
This architecture would allow all devices such as cameras, focusers, filter wheel, mount, etc. to be connected to the Rpi and could be controlled by Sharpcap as an INDI client (as, for example, Cartes du Ciel does with the mount).
It is true that for planetary photography a lot of bandwidth is needed, but considering that most of the cameras are USB3.0 that has a maximum 5Gbps and that the Raspberry have a GigaEthernet connection of 1Gbps, I think the results would be more than acceptable. .
In this way, those of us who live in cold climates could be inside the house controlling everything from the Laptop and only an Ethernet cable would be required to the telescope.
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Re: INDI support

Post by oopfan »

In your drawing, replace "Giga Ethernet" with "Slow Wifi". You see, in order for SharpCap to function well, it needs immediate access to image data. If data arrives slowly, then the capture rate for lunar and planetary goes in the toilet. I think that the only way for it to work is to break up SharpCap into a client and server. The server runs on the Raspberry Pi, and therefore it would have immediate access to image data from the camera over USB3.

Brian
yoandresmza
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Re: INDI support

Post by yoandresmza »

You say install a lightweight Sharcap component on the Raspberry that acts as an INDI client for the devices and as a server for the Sharcap running on the Windows Laptop? Well, it sounds good, I hadn't really thought about it but I think it's a good idea.
And what do you think of using Giga Ethernet instead of Wifi? Do you think it will reach the necessary bandwidth? Or do you just say it to have a totally wireless rig?

Andrés
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Re: INDI support

Post by oopfan »

What are the advantages of making SharpCap an INDI client? Answer that from a SharpCap user's point of view. I just got back from the field after capturing video of the solar eclipse. I love how SharpCap made it easy. I didn't have to deal with an INDI server and a Raspberry Pi or a Linux laptop. I just went and plugged in my camera. Very fast, very reliable, very efficient use of my time. SharpCap supports a LOT of cameras, probably more than INDI. Please name some INDI devices that a SharpCap user would love to have.

So far, I haven't heard any compelling arguments for making SharpCap an INDI client. However, I do hear the unspoken word: "conform". Frankly, I like living in a world of competing paradigms. Why should SharpCap conform?

Brian
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Re: INDI support

Post by yoandresmza »

I am a Sharpcap user, and I think the answer to your question is that with Sharpcap being an INDI client (in addition to everything it already is) it would add a lot of flexibility to access devices "remotely" (via Giga ethernet or Wifi) and not have to put a Laptop next to the telescope (a raspberry is not only much smaller, but 20 times cheaper).
For people like me who live in a cold climate it is a very convenient solution since I can leave all my equipment in the backyard and control the AP session from the comfort of my home with a PC, Laptop or even a Tablet and not have to spend hours and hours in the outdoors in a cold nigth to do a session.
My proposal is only to expand the possibilities that Sharpcap already offers, not to modify it.
Andres
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Re: INDI support

Post by oopfan »

Andres,

I use INDI/Ekos on a Model 3B+ for AP, and SharpCap for lunar/planetary. The Pi is configured as a WiFi hotspot via Astroberry. Capture runs completely on its own. In fact, many times I'll disconnect from the hotspot and just monitor PHD2 guiding that I have running on the Windows laptop. I have a CAT5 cable that runs from my home network to the telescope's hub. The Window's laptop is connected to the hub, as well as a second Pi that drives the right ascension gearing on my 50 year old mount. This works perfectly fine for me in hot and cold environments. In frigid temperatures (-20C) I place a heating pad under the laptop. I found that my Windows laptop is much more robust and tolerant of cold temperatures than my Linux laptop.

I'm telling you this so you know that I understand the architecture and the challenges. INDI/Ekos is good for AP and EAA. SharpCap is good for AP, EAA, lunar/planetary, and polar alignment. In my opinion, for lunar/planetary to work well, you need SharpCap's architecture.

Brian
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Re: INDI support

Post by oopfan »

Andres,

Also, $30 is the base price of the Pi. That means that you will be running the O/S and the file system on a the micro SD card. Fast. High capacity SD cards are not inexpensive. You will soon fill it up, and need to delete old image files. The SD card can only tolerate so many write cycles before it becomes unstable. Every two to three months, I have to replace my 16GB micro SD card. Of course, a better solution would be to add a hard disk drive or something similar, but that adds a lot more cost.

Brian
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