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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Another Slice of Pi

Well, it's almost been a full year in service and I would have to say that we are extremely pleased with how our Raspberry Pi has performed as the primary computer controlling the ATEO telescope at SkyPi observatory in New Mexico. What do we like best? Let's see:
  • Boots up quickly
  • Easy to maintain (at least if you have some Linux experience!)
  • Runs TheSkyX natively
  • Low power usage
  • Stable platform - we've been running for months at a time between restarts
  • Cheap and inexpensive
New Raspberry Pi with battery and power controller board.
New Raspberry Pi with battery and power controller board.

Of course, not everything is roses...what are some of the downsides?
  • If power is lost unexpectedly it may not shut down cleanly, so there is the potential for corruption
  • No internal clock needs to set time from the internet when booting
  • We are running a Linux OS so cannot use many windows only Astro apps

New Pi in its housing, along with the 64GB USB flash drives.
New Pi in its housing, along with the 64GB USB flash drives.

With some experience under our belt, we felt it was time to build in some redundancy into our setup in the event that the primary Raspberry Pi goes down and in the process address some of the shortcomings outlined above. Here's what we plan to do:
  • We have purchased a second Raspberry Pi which will be used as the primary computer to control the ATEO, and the current Pi in service will be kept online as a backup if the primary goes down.
  • In addition, this new Pi will have some additional capabilities added to it:
  • An internal battery that will be used as a UPS to power the Pi in case power is lost
  • An internal fan to cool the CPU
  • Software that will cleanly power down the Pi if it is on battery power for an extended period of time
  • (2) 64GB USB flash drives: One serving as the main drive and the other as a mirror copy of the main drive (a 'pseudo' raid!) to be used as a backup if the main drive goes down due to corruption, hardware failure, etc.
  • Software to allow the ability to run windows apps: we've been able to run Windows apps such as 'CCDInspector' on the Pi, giving us more flexibility
We hope with these improvements we will make ATEO even better!

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to comment on your image of the Owl; crisp!- razor sharp! Good stuff, Muir!

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