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laptop/pc configuration



Hello there, I wondered if anyone could provide recommendations in term of recommended laptop/pc configuration (screen size, processors, RAM memory, etc) to smothly run BY OES and other image processing software.  The system requirements listed on this page are:


Operating System
Windows XP, Vista, W7, W8
32 or 64 bits (some cameras will only work on 32 bits computers, see camera grid)
2GB (4GB or higher recommended)
Screen Resolution
1024x600 (1024x768 or higher recommended)
Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0


How about processors? Should I have/use a iCore 5 or 7? Would the new Pentium process work fine?


I haven't use the Backyard OES or any other software for image processing so I am planning to acquire a new laptop for this purpose and also to control the telescope in some cases. I own a Advanced VX 8Edge HD.


Many thanks and clear skies! 

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You looked at the camera support grid, so you know that some of the older cameras require a 32-bit OS, but you never said what camera you have.


I have an i7 system running Win7 x64 with 8GM memory and a 1TB hard drive, and USB 2.0 ports. It handles both image capture and post processing roles very well.


I think that you will find that image processing programs will benefit more from a fast, large PC than image capture processes.

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There is a very significant difference between the Hardware that one would Recommend for a Laptop designed to be used to run BackyardEOS and possibly PHD2 and the ASCOM Drivers for your AVX Mount while out in the Observing Field, and that which would be recommended for an AP Image Processing Machine.  While the CPU requirements for BYE / PHD2 / ASCOM is rather minimal, the Battery Life and the Connectivity elements are going to be rather important.  On the other hand, when doing Image Processing then Battery Life is not at issue as you should be plugged into a wall jack, but CPU and Memory and HDD/SSD will be quite significant even though they would have cost you in terms of Battery Life.


This is one of the reasons why many of us use a somewhat less-well-endowed Laptop to manage the Imaging Session out in the Field, and then once Home will perform the Image Processing on a higher-powered Desktop PC.


Consider this, and advise if you really do need to devise a Laptop that can fill both roles??


Also, please provide us with more info:


Preferred AP Imaging App(s)

Whether you Observe/Image at a rural site or in your backyard (or someplace that has ready 120V power available)

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No one has mentioned planetarium software. That seems to be quite the CPU hog, especially in combination with PHD2. Also any live stacking, or trying to stack (non live) while acquiring images. E.G. if DSS is set to use all processors you can actually cause PHD2 to lose tracking if you try to stack and guide at the same time. That's on an i7 ultrabook. 

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Unless I had a Powerful Laptop tethered on the end of a 120V Charger, I wouldn't consider either Live Stacking or AP Image Processing while pursuing a Nighttime worth of Image Capture.  But then, by "a Nighttime Worth" I really do mean Dusk to Dawn - I drive too far to get out from under Light Pollution to do just a few hours with shortened Battery Life...

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Hello All,

Thanks for your comments and thoughts! As s3igell has mentioned, in my case I would have to do drive around 2 hrs to get dark skies so battery life would be a must. Find a decent and affordable laptop that fulfils both performance and battery life is almost impossible so I guess I will get something with more toward to the battery side. In this case, I will try for find something with very good battery life but not powerful (probably a Pentium or i3) for image capture. Then, I would use something more powerful at home for processing.

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There are 12v to laptop power adapters. pwr+ is one good brand. It would be one of your largest power draws, so you would need to budget for it when planning for a battery who's AH rating would be at least 2x what you need for the full night.

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The PWR+ line of 12V Chargers are quite good - I have one for my Observing/Imaging Laptop.  It's ONLY real Failing is that it draws very Heavily from the Field Battery (15-18 Amps), with no control to provide more of a "Trickle Charge" or simply an "Operating Current" to the Laptop (unless the Laptop Battery is already 100% Full OR has been Removed).  This can be too large a Hit on a Field Battery that is not itself in a very good (70%+) State of Charge.  This can cause Voltage Drops that might cause your Mount Electronics to Skip a Beat or lose their Alignment/Pointing Model data.


But, on the longer Winter Imaging Sessions (Dusk to near Dawn), I've made ample use of my PWR+ Charger, perhaps in a rather different manner.  I start the Evening with a Fully Charged Field Battery and a Fully Charged Laptop.  I start with the Laptop connected to the PWR+ Charger (yes even though the Laptop is Fully Charged), and remove the actual Laptop Battery shortly after Bootup.  I tuck the Laptop Battery somewhere where it won't bet to chilled over the next few hours (Laptop Batteries lose Efficiency when Cold).  I proceed through the Evening with the Laptop being powered via the PWR+ and the large Field Battery (a Marine-duty Deep-Cycle AGM Series 34 in a Trolling Motor Case), ensuring to keep track of the Charge Level on that Battery.  When the Field Battery starts to show some drop in its Charge Level, I prepare to re-insert the Laptop Battery (warming it if it feels rather cool - I've even used a Dew Heater Strap).  And then once the Laptop Battery is in place, I quickly (so that no Heavy Draw is used to Top-Up that Battery via the PWR+) disconnect the PWR+ from the Laptop.  For the remainder of the Evening, I run the Laptop on its own Battery while dedicating the Field Battery to powering the Mount and Cameras and Dew Heaters.  By morning, I have a somewhat drained Field Battery and a somewhat drained Laptop Battery - instead of a nearly Completely Drained Field Battery and a Full Laptop Battery (because of the PWR+'s constant Charging of that Laptop Battery).  (Remember:  Even a Deep Cycle Battery shouldn't be drained too completely unless one wishes to permanently damage it.)


Moral of the Story:

Yes, one can operate a "Less than purely Battery Life-Optimized Laptop" as an Image Capture platform for long nights worth of Imaging (especially with judicious use of a 12V Charger such as the PWR+), but this is made easier if the Laptop isn't a truly Power-Hungry sort of Desktop-Replacement which would be more suitable for performing regular AP Image Processing.

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I will try for find something with very good battery life but not powerful (probably a Pentium or i3) for image capture. Then, I would use something more powerful at home for processing.

That is the Solution that I'd advocate.

I'd suggest that you look at the i3, as even the level of work necessary for Image Capture and Mount Control and AutoGuiding is enough to need a REAL Dual Core CPU.  And is essential if you also wish to operate a Planetarium App and/or a Plate-Solver.

I'd also suggest that you look at the possibility of a moderately sized SSD instead of a Laptop HDD, not just for the Boot Speedup but because of the Lower Power Consumption.

RAM should be sufficient at 8GB.  And you can also look to use intel Embedded Graphics instead of any Dedicated GPU.  You'll also want to consider keeping to a moderate LCD Size with LED Backlighting in order to minimize the Power Draw (1388x768 is probably the best Resolution for running BYE/BYN with PHD2 in the Background).

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