INDI and SGP


#1

I’ve been playing around with getting INDI working with SGP (currently have cameras and telescopes working.) But I’m wondering how everyone would actually use it on their machines…if they feel they would use INDI. There are essentially 2 use cases:

  1. Connect to a remote INDI server
  2. Have a local INDI server running on the same machine that is running SGP.

It seems that 1 has a certain “cool” factor to it and I know a lot of you techies would probably play around with this, but it seems that it also reduces the dependability of your setup.

2 is almost certainly more stable as you don’t have to worry about wifi/ethernet connectivity, but then I wonder “what’s the point and why wouldn’t you use ASCOM here?”

Anyways, just wondering how you all might use INDI and what you would expect for a SGP/INDI implementation. Is this just neat? Does it provide you some additional convenience? Does it somehow give you more options?

I do want to be clear that INDI is something I plan on finishing up support for. I plan on completing the “big 4” (Camera, Telescope, Filter Wheel, Focusers) and will likely release it as a beta in a couple of weeks/months depending on my schedule.

Also I would be interested to hear if anyone is currently using INDI already with another imaging platform in earnest.

Thanks,
Jared


#2

INDI doesn’t add anything for me that ASCOM doesn’t already provide. In fact, some devices supported by ASCOM are not with INDI, i.e. Blue Astro Stickstation. Also some devices are not as “plug and play” friendly with INDI vs ASCOM, i.e. my Flip Flat and Focus Boss II are not immediately recognized under Linux and INDI but work just fine with the proper drivers installed under Windows and ASCOM. This is due more to the operating system implementations but still when gear “just works” it leaves a lasting impression! INDI is more of a curiosity and interesting idea to play with at the moment. ASCOM provides reliable connectivity and operation for my needs. The only concern I have at the moment with using INDI is connectivity and data throughput support for high speed vision cameras, i.e. the ASI brand USB3 cameras. However, since SGP is primary focused on imaging and not high speed video, this is probably a moot point.

I would consider INDI implementation mainly as a remote server with wireless connectivity, i.e. using RPi3 as an INDI server and remote access via adhoc network with a laptop. I don’t think it would be any less reliable than hardwire connection as long as the wifi connection was reliable. Being able to connect all gear locally and remotely connect wirelessly certainly has that “cool” factor! However, small Windows PCs running ASCOM at the mount can already connect direct to the equipment and provide wireless remote access. The only compelling argument I see for INDI functionality is using a low cost remote server to provide equipment connectivity. If SGP were to be ported to Linux/macOS, then INDI support would be instrumental.

I’m just a hobbyist and have only modest equipment. So these are just my humble opinions!

Ciao,
Mel


#3

The key advantage of INDI is that it doesn’t require Windows, unlike ASCOM.

As INDI matures, the industry will likely migrate to scope/camera/filter/ focuser control by an embedded chip on the mount running a lightweight Linux OS. But that day is not this day!


#4

That I guess is an opinion. INDI does not require Windows, true, but then any code requires some form of operating system. This just backs into the tired debate over what operating system is ‘better’.


#5

My use case is 1, using an Up board at the telescope running Linux.

The biggest problem with INDI is the drivers, my Starshoot Autoguider is unstable in connectivity when I quickly reset an exposure, I then have to stop the server and start it again before it works normally. On Windows with SGP, never a problem. I guess this could be the case for more devices, it depends on the closed code that some manufacturers put out and if someone can develop a solution for that. QHY for instance never responds well on Linux issues, so solutions won’t arrive. That said, for me it’s mainly a guider issue, mount, dslr, focusmotor etc all work and sometimes have even better solutions that on ASCOM. I for instance can set the current travel for my Baader Diamond Steeltrack into the driver directly so it knows where it is after a power-down for instance. In ASCOM I don’t have that option with the Baader software, so I need to always wind the focuser back manually when I restart a session after a power down. Just one of those examples.

The big positive for me is that using an INDI server on Linux is rock solid. It’s way better than Windows in keeping a connection going even when you’re using crappy wifi. That said, crappy wifi will ofcourse still cause other problems, but I’ve never had it crash or drop the connection completely. On Windows I tried things like USB over IP solutions, but that never worked in a stable manner. Another nice thing is the WatchDog driver that simply pings my computer inside, if that computer crashes or looses connection, the driver at the mount will park everything. No idea how to do that in ASCOM at the moment. Development of INDI is going super-fast, if only some of these driver issues were resolved it would be my go-to system.


#6

Yes indeed. Just my opinion. I’m not against Windows – I use it on all my astro equipment.

The OS-independence of INDI is the only advantage it has over the much more mature and widely-used ASCOM.

As embedded hardware and lightweight OS’s become more prominent in the 21st Century, it’s natural that astro-software evolves to continue improving the integration of the many devices and systems that enable our wonderful hobby.


#7

true - keeping it simple is often the best way - the trick is to do it in a way that does not have to re-invent itself every few years to keep abreast of hardware demands. It is the marriage of hardware and software that makes something rock solid.


#8

To echo a few people above, I think the big advantage of INDI right now is operating-system independence. This is not important to me, but I imagine it could be helpful for anybody looking to run their imaging setup with something like a Raspberry Pi. (But isn’t SGP Windows-only?)


#9

Yes, SGP only runs on windows but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk to an INDI server (either running locally on the windows box or running remotely on a Raspberry Pi, Linux Box, Mac, Windows Box, etc). The problem with the remote connectivity is dependability.

Thanks,
Jared


#10

I would love to be able to run INDI… and then I’d start lobbying for you to port SGP to Linux. (Think wxWidgets!) I’ve spent the most of last 30 years in IT… I started before Windows came out, and I’ve never been a fan of that OS.

INDI would provide me some things I’d like in terms of reliability… even if I still have to run SGP on a VM on my Linux box. (And in that configuration, connectivity would be fairly easy to maintain.)

I would happily play with the Beta, if that does you any good.

Thanks,

Karl


#11

Remote connectivity does not have to be over Wifi and over very long distance. The prospect of running a remote server to control equipment from even a hundred feet away could be a great convenience to a lot of us. With a telescope set up in the backyard it would be nice to stay warm indoors. Warm rooms a little removed from an observatory would benefit from a medium distance solution. A run of Cat5e or Cat6 would provide reliable connectivity. I am in the process of figuring out a windows based system with one remote laptop actually working at the scope and using VNC on a tablet or another laptop to monitor over a local lan. I think that also achieves a solution for my needs.

The low power requirements for a Pi is the real attraction for me and could be taken out to remote locations. One could also monitor the scope from the comfort of a tent or car with a tablet which also consumes less power than a laptop. So an important question is whether this solution could finally help us ditch laptops for imaging.

Ajay


#12

I’ve already ditched the laptop and run SGP and everything else on an Intel Compute Stick, monitoring via RDP or VNC from the house, car, cabin, or whatever.

It actually works great and uses way less power than a laptop! Also all the electronics ride up on top of the scope with short little runs of cable that don’t get snagged.

I bet in 5 years SGP or equivalent and the computer it runs on will be built into the mount saddle plate on most rigs. But who knows?


#13

Yeah, the Compute Stick looks like a great solution. What version/model do you use?


#14

I have been contemplating Indi but decided against it because SGP does not support it. If SGPro will work with Indi it will be a nice feature. For me, I would like to use option 1, having a small footprint computer like a raspberry Pi on top of the OTA to which all the other gears are connected to. This will dramatically reduce wire clutter and with enough ports may also avoid the need for an intermediary USB hub. At the moment I have a smallish set top box style PC running everything including SGPro but the box is still too big to go on top of the OTA. I heard about compustick which I think will work but a well spec model is not cheap compared to a raspberry Pi or my current eBay bought set top box style PC.


#15

Ajay, I use the Intel Compute Stick CS125 (standard 2nd gen model), $150 from Amazon.


#16

I would certainly be interested. I’m a techie and therefore lean toward #1. I currently run SGP on a PC stick and it’s worked out very well. It’s quite portable. I’ve thought about switching over to Indi in place of SGP, but SGP is much more mature and polished. I would be happy to help in beta testing and so on for the SGP<–>Indi functionality.

Gabe


#17

Yep, I may just be at home with technology, but I found it really easy to get a remote controlled setup going. It wasn’t for the “cool” factor or because it’s soooo technical (it’s not really), I just needed a solution for not having to sit outside in the cold and not wanting a full computer set-up in the garden (I have no observatory). The Raspberry Pi or Up board or whatever small thing, attached to the mount is ideal.


#18

I use a core M3 Intel stick - running Windows 10 Pro, TSX, SGP and PHD2. I added a 128GB micro SD card to it to store images.


#19

Remote connectivity can be as reliable/unreliable as direct USB and Serial connections, and in some cases beter, my ethernet connection to the mount is the most reliable connection so far …
So first step is INDI, next use QT development so we can use Mac OS X, Linux etc :wink:
No really INDI would be nice to have and can enable some creative use as for example on INDI you can use Nikon camera’s with the hacked FW!

/Yves


#20

Just to be clear, we don’t really have any plans on making SGP multi platform. The amount of risk vs reward just isn’t there. We’ve discussed about creating other “Views” for other OSs, but the core application would likely still run on windows. But that will likely not happen unless we manage to develop SGP full time.

Thanks,
Jared


www.mainsequencesoftware.com