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I'm afraid this will be yet another DIY all sky camera build! 😂 Hopefully interesting though... While developing my all sky software (shameless plug, see signature) one of the biggest problems is that I don't actually have a permanent all sky camera setup myself. I live in the middle of a big city with massive light pollution where the summer temperatures are just creeping up to 40C+, not ideal... So for a while I have been thinking about setting up a remote all sky camera to help with the testing of the AllSkEye app. Initially the idea was to mount it at a relatives house but then once I looked into what would be required to make it fully remote controllable I was thinking that if I go to all that trouble, I might as well look for a location with great weather and dark skies.
After a few inquiries I got a really great response from Jose at the E-Eye remote hosting facility in Spain. This was fantastic news because not only will the camera have nice weather and dark skies but the facility also has fibre broadband which is almost a must for what I have in mind further down the road (I am also planning to transfer some image data to cloud storage for archiving and further processing and that could potentially be a lot of data). So this is where it is going to go (all being well and my 3D printer not packing up!
I'll try to follow my progress here, maybe it will be helpful for someone. The basic idea is pretty simple:
Setup a completely autonomous and remotely controllable all sky camera Sounds easy enough... Well, let me tell you, it is not! To anyone having setup your own remotely hosted scope setup, my hat off to you, it's not an easy task! Initially I split this project into two parts:
The camera, lens, housing and everything that goes with it The control box that will control the above Unfortunately I don't have time just now to go into any details but will hopefully be able to do so soon. I just though if I don't start this thread soon I never will 😀. The state of play at the moment is that the control box is pretty complete and the camera housing is nearing completion (3D printer is very busy, not a fast manufacturing process unfortunately).
Here are a few pictures of what it looks like at the moment:
Despite the wonderfully clear skies last night, I couldn't muster the energy to go out for a session, so just played around with a Mickey Mouse All Sky Camera I have assembled out of bits. Really it is just a cylindrical Tupperware container with a hole cut in the lid for a plastic dome to be fixed into place. I used parts of smart camera bracket to hold the camera in place inside the container, with a Fujinon zoom lens attached. To provide a bit of dew control I just wrapped an 8" dew strip a couple of times around and wedged it in place just underneath the dome. After some messing around with focus and aperture setting, I got it working reasonably ok.
Despite being a complete muppet in IT terms, I managed to get an old laptop setup in my shed with teamviewer on it so I could access it from the house either on my laptop or phone. It seems to work well, got some good views last night, fun watching the planes go over and the constellations slowly moving. If nothing else it is useful to see if it is clear or not.
There is obviously a fair amount of distortion as soon as you get off axis, probably a combination of the lens and the cheap dome. I'm not looking for quality so no need to do anything about this. I will have a play with the aperture to get the best results. With the light pollution around here it is a tricky balance to draw the fainter stars out without blowing the whole lot! I experimented with 30 and 60 second exposures, plus fiddling 'in the dark' with the other settings in SharpCap. A bit of fun, although this morning the dome had frozen over so clearly more heating required!
Later I did pop the Heritage 130P out later on (after watching some appallingly bad film Mrs Stu had selected!) and had a quick run around a few objects. I was struggling with the eyepiece position on the alt az mount. I have the mount quite high on a pillar so I can clear the hedges so the eyepiece is either ontop or below the tube. I fitted an L bracket I had spare and although that added a bit of flex visible at high power, it was definitely more comfortable. The Skysurfer V RDF I have fitted is also a little too close for comfortable use so I need to find a way of extending that out a little.
M42 was surprisingly good at low power, clear green tinge to it unfiltered and the Trapezium split showing all four components at x27. Didn't try higher power.
Not having much time, I wanted to check a few doubles to see how the optics stood up. Polaris first, and whilst the primary was a little messy, the secondary showed beautifully as a tiny sharp pin point, really nice. Collimation seems pretty good but will check more thoroughly next time out.
Sigma Orionis next, and with the 6mm setting on the Nag Zoom, x108, all four components were visible, even the very faint fourth was quite clear, a nice result.
Finally Algieba. Reasonably tight double at 4.7" separation and mag 2.2 and 3.6 components. This too gave a nice split, again stars are not nearly as clean as in the Tak, and bit 'hairy' but as a quick grab and go it was still a nice image.
Actually that was not quite finally, I had a quick trawl across the Auriga clusters, and the additional aperture showed it's worth here, really quite pleasant views, well worth a look.
I guess I'm just reinforcing what others have said. This is a very capable little scope, very compact and light but great fun to use. Now I've finally found my plumbers tape, the focuser is much smoother and holds position well, no real need for an upgrade.
Here area couple of screen shots from the world's worst ASC
EDIT Found some pics of the beast itself ?
Finally a clear night and some good images grabbed with my DIY All Sky Camera.
All stitched together in Light Room and the resulting video stuck up on YouTube and now linked to here
Hopefully it will be clear again soon and can get some more good timelapses. Shame I am not further north with a possibility of an aurora, but hey ho.
Thanks for looking
This is an upgrade of my Mark 4 with different camera and several additions including Peltier TEC cooling to reduce noise and using the Raspberry Pi for image capture and control. In addition I shall be using WiFi to connect from a desktop computer for control and image transfer. I'm currently learning how to use the RPi almost from scratch - I have used Linux in the past.
I'm looking into a suitable lens for my all sky camera and would welcome suggestions, please
I currently have a Fujinon YV2.2x1.4A-2 zoom lens. f1.4 1.4mm - 3.1mm FL 1/3" CS mount. This is reasonable but I feel I could do better for resolution. The camera I plan to use is a ZWO ASI185MC
2.3 Mega Pixels 1944*1224
Pixel Size 3.75µm Sensor Size 7.3mm*4.6mm The camera came with a 2.5mm FL f1.2 prime lens which is nice but the image from a 180° FOV is too big for the camera sensor, being about 7mm diameter and loosing a lot in the vertical axis. The ideal FL would be something like 1.5 or 1.6mm and I would prefer a prime lens for the better resolution.