Laptop indoors controls Laptop in Observatory via WiFi WLAN

Recently the screen of my 5 year old and intensively used laptop died (no more backlight) and I bought a new laptop.

However I considered it a sheer waste that my old laptop could not be used anymore, as only the screen had broken down.
And my old laptop has very nice ports: 4x USB, 1x parallel and 1x serial !
A friend of mine - who runs a small business - had switched over to wide screen monitors and he was happy to hand me one of his old TFT normal sized flatscreen monitors for free [he was going to throw them in the garbage can], and of course I was very happy to receive such a fine TFT monitor!

The TFT screen worked nicely with my old laptop [connected as 'external monitor'] and I continued by removing the defective screen from my old laptop and was happy to see that the laptop still started up, even with its original laptopscreen absent.

Next I put my new laptop alongside the old one and on both machines I installed TeamViewer [freeware].
Note: on both machines I run Windows XP Pro SP3.
I inserted the USB Wifi stick in my old laptop and tried if both laptops wanted to talk to each other via my WAP (Wireless Access Point).
The first attempts were unsuccessful, so I gave each laptop a unique computer name, say Indoors and Observatory [Settings -> Control Panel ->System -> Computer Name].
On the 'Indoors' computer I did Start -> CMD -> Ping Indoors which gave me the IP address of this computer.
On the 'Observatory' computer I did Start -> CMD -> Ping Observatory which gave me the IP address of the Observatory computer.
And via Settings -> Control Panel -> System -> Remote I set both computers to allow for Remote Desktop operation.

Additional TeamViewer setting:

When I used the above settings and IP addresses in TeamViewer it worked immediately and from my 'Indoors' computer I could do whatever I liked to do on my 'Observatory machine'.
I did an indoor test [with the two laptops side-by-side] to see if I could 'remote' capture with a webcam and that worked too.
File Transfer also worked nicely: this is handy to transfer files with captured images from my observatory to my 'Indoors' laptop for processing.
For large files I plan to use my external USB 1.5 Terabyte Hard Disk: it is only a very short walk from my home to my observatory.

Next I installed my screenless old laptop in my observatory, together with the TFT screen: splendid !
I connected with my LX200 and ran the Drift Exporer of K3CCDTools to control the LX200: splendid !
Next I installed my long(er) range WiFi 'sieve' antenne [see: bottom of my laptop page] so that I could communicate with my Wireless Access Point (WAP) indoors: splendid ! [54 Mbps]
Now from inside my home and sitting in a lazy chair I can control my old laptop by using the 'Remote Assistance' facility of Windows: splendid !
I tested on M45: that worked great and I could see that the scope had moved after using one of the the NSEW buttons in K3CCDTools: happy !
Using Skymap I slewed to NGC1807: bingo ! And then I imaged while watching the TV and also the imaging !


NGC1807 & NGC1817 - Open Star Clusters in Taurus
December 6, 2009 20:08 - 21:27 UT.
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO with Meade 3.3 Focal Reducer at f/3 [focal length 240 mm], ATK16IC camera, Astronomik LRGB filters.
Exposures: Lum: 18x120s [1x1]; RGB: 10x60s [1x1], all unguided.
This is the first image I captured from indoors by using remote control.

Now I only have to go outside to rotate the next filter in my filterwheel in place, which is just as well because then I also see the stars again (and keep an eye on the clouds !)

I use a plastic bag to cover the old laptop against moisture and the TFT monitor gets the same treatment.
As the TFT monitor is rather bright I have put a plastic bag of ESPRIT over the screen: a nice and inexpensive RED cover :o)

Possible extensions:

  1. Motorised filterwheel
  2. Rain detector
  3. Remote Controlled Motorised Roof Open/Close
  4. Remote Controlled Focuser for WO ZS 80ED
  5. Remote Controlled Focuser for LX200