Astro Computer Solutions
Please click the pages for specifics and read some inside info below
The "Rig Runner" - starting at $650
The "Stacker" - starting at $650
The "Remote" - starting at $750
We are currently offering a line of custom computers taylored to suit different needs with a focus on astronomy related hobbies such as astro-image capture, image processing, remote imaging and home PC. Being much smaller than the traditional desktop PC, they also save a ton of space and can be mounted to the back of your monitor. Believe it or not, they cool really well too. Coming from the gaming world of PC's, I can attest that these little computers are no joke.
Technology has brought us much advancement within the PC world. So, it should be no surprise that smaller, more powerful solutions have made their way into the market. That being said, lets meet the Shuttle chassis. What makes this chassis great for the mini PC market is its number of features for the home, business or hobbiest. It's even small enough to easily pack if you need to travel. I am being asked often what the recipe is for a solid astro-imaging platform. Part of that answer involves computing solutions that are hard to digest. Many folks (myself included) will run out and purchase a laptop for a one size fits all solution. After all, it makes sense for the budget and what you "think" you need. However, I have come to realize very quickly that this really wasn't the best solution.
For astro specific work, the best solution (IMO) is to operate your imaging platform with a low cost computer that contains a moderate amount of RAM and a moderate to high level of hard drive space for those extremely large raw files being downloaded to the computer. The RAM is because we usually have multiple programs running at once. The "rig" computer, as I would call it, doesn't really need a ton of power from the processor. We can save money here. By now, you have probably figured out that low cost laptop is not stacking 100 or more of your subexposures very effectively. Nor is it handling other post processing tasks in a timely manner. This is where a dedicated desktop PC with a powerful processor and minimal hard drive space come in handy. Or, if you are like me, you can make one mini PC to run your remote setup and also handle stacking. With a computer situated at the top of a mountain 8 hours away, do you really want to wait on those individual FIT files to transfer? Probably not. It makes sense to stack on your observatory PC and then transefer the RAW, calibrated stack to your home computer. Save the file transfers for the cloudy nights while you sleep.
On our product pages, you will find just the basic building blocks of these mini offerings. There are a large number of processor/RAM/hard drive options that can be taylored to fit your needs. So while I use the Shuttle chassis, it does not come with a processor, hard drive, RAM or operating system. This is where I come in. The gaming world taught me a lot about different types of processors and RAM. We will build you what you need. It will be fast, reliable and run cool. Let me show you the difference. Take a look at the below .....
The below PixInsight Benchmark score was taken from a monster PC (for 2009). Although it was built in 2009 on somewhat older technology, it still performes very well for what it is. This is a 1st generation Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.4GHz, water cooled, 12 gig of triple channel RAM and 2 western digital hard drives striped in RAID. The case is also as tall as my desk! This computer cost me $2,000 in 2009. I then paid another $400 for a better graphics card.
The next benchmark was taken with a Shuttle DS87 chassis, a 500 gig SSD, 16 gig of RAM and an i7 Haswell processor @ 3.1 GHz. It runs fast and cools really well. Solid, remote stability since last November running in major tempertaure swings.
As you can see, there is a gap in the technology, but this little computer is a monster in a small package. The best part, I have less than $1,000 invested turnkey including wifi. If you run a business or need a new PC around the house, they make great replacements for those dusty, outdated box desktops as well. Very sturdy and very reliable!