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I developed an Android app - Telescope.Touch - capable of connecting and controlling INDI/INDIGO devices, for those of you who use Raspberry/Astroberry/StellarMate.
It's really powerful, and a lot of new features are in the works.
Mobile planetarium derived from the Sky Map project Mount and focuser controller with directional pads and speed controls Receive images from INDI CCDs Database full of objects to which you can point the telescope directly from the app INDI control panel compatible with every device Aladin Sky Atlas preview and altitude graphs Astronomy utilities: polaris hour angle, compass, red flashlight Languages: English, Italian and French. Sky maps are translated in almost every language. It is available on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.github.marcocipriani01.telescopetouch
A Pro version is also available, mainly to support the app's development: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.github.marcocipriani01.telescopetouchpro
I hope you enjoy it! I'm open to feedback and improvements!
As I have got older I am increasingly disinclined to stand in the cold for hours trying to obtain passable astro-photos. I am still however, willing to sit in the warm and spend hours trying to obtain passable astro-photos. I have over the past decade set up an observatory in my back garden using mostly second hand equipment. I now have a Celestron C8 with Fastar that I bought second hand in 1999, a WO Zenithstar 66mm Apo that I purchased new in the US some ten years ago and a TS6 achromatic refractor that I purchased second hand last year. The Zenithstar is piggybacked on the C8 and is used with a second hand Starlight Xpress SXV-M7 for guiding with PHD2. I have an original QHY8, again purchased second hand, that I use with the TS6 or the Fastar and Nebulosity. The mount is a second hand Losmandy G11 with a late Gemini I system attached that I purchased from California some 15 years ago . The observatory is from Alexander Observatories.
My aim is to be able to control the mount and equipment from my study in the house. As I work away, it would also be nice to be able to have the capacity for truly remote operation, but one step at a time. It seemed to me that the minumum requirements for remote operation from the comfort of the house were (a) the ability to reliably control the mount and cameras using a remote computer, (b) the ability to reliably see the equipment in the observatory whilst using it remotely and (c) the ability, ultimately, to remotely control the observatory roof, which control would have to have built in safety features to prevent weather and impact damage to the equipment.
For remote control of the mount and equipment, I decided to use Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop to communicate between a computer in the observatory and a computer in my study. Whilst I was attracted to a Windows based system that could be piggybacked on the scopes, I was not willing to pay the high price of bespoke systems like the Primaluce Eagle 3. The solution I arrived at was a HNSUN industrial mini-computer purchased from Amazon for £290. It has a 128G solid state drive, 8G of RAM and has Windows 10 Pro pre-installed. It is also small enough to mount on the TS6 notwithstanding that it has four serial ports, four USB3 ports and four USB2 ports, as well as two LAN ports. Its only drawback is that it does not have the power ports for astro-equipment that solutions like the Eagle 3 Pro give. But it is over £1000 cheaper! Using a wooden backboard, I mounted the mini-PC on top of the TS6's scope rings. On the mini-pc is installed the software for controlling the mount and the cameras via ASCOM and Gemini.net scripts.
At present, the computer in my study and the mini-pc on the scope communicate wirelessly over our household broadband, which reaches the observatory by virtue of a wi-fi range extender. Remote Desktop replicates the mini-pc's desktop on the computer in my study, allowing me to control the mount and the cameras. I hope shortly to introduce digital focusing. It is becoming clear however, that this wireless link is not the most reliable. In particular, when others are using up bandwidth the link drops out relatively regularly. As such, I have decided to install a hardwire LAN link between the two computers by running a Cat 7 LAN cable from my study to the observatory. This will involve drilling a hole through the outside wall and running the cable out from the house to the observatory.
To view the equipment as it being used, I have installed a Reolink wireless CCTV camera in the observatory, which can be viewed wirelessly on the computer in the study. This allows me to keep an eye on things and to make sure the mount is doing what the programmes on the remote desktop are telling me it is doing. It will also in due course permit me to check that the scopes are parked before the roof shuts and that the roof has closed at the end of the session. The wireless link to the CCTV camera seems to be a lot more stable than that to the mini-pc, perhaps due to using less bandwidth.
As to the roof, I am now investigating options for automating the roof. I think the Talon systems looks to be the gold standard but, again, the price for such a bespoke unit is commensurate with its specialist / dedicated nature. Any cheaper ideas would be very gratefully received.
The challenge now is to point the scope, centre the target and take the pictures without leaving the house. Wish me luck!
By Lee Jenson
I would like to buy a remote telescope subscription as a gift. I have been attracted to the Slooh because of it's catalogue that can be used to schedule the taking of images.
I have two qestions...
1. Do you have any remote observatory advice or suggestions for a beginner to take and save images?
2. To compliment my gift, is there such a thing as a book of astronomical pictures with thier co-ordinates that can used to point a telescope?
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:
I continue to get my Star Adventure to perform better.
One very big problem if you have a camera that you can not tilt the display at, no tiltable display. I have the Canon 6D. It's almost impossible to see the display and do settings when the camera aim upwards to the zenith. I have until now used a very tall tripod, but that is something very big and not so friendly when travel.
Instead of buying a new camera I now test to use an app in my smart phone and used that to see the display in live view from the camera.
I have written a tutorial in an early stage of how I do that:
I will correct and add more information when I get more experience from this.
I'm sure most of you alreday have done this, my concern is, how hot will the camera be. I have bad experience from this from earlier test with live view.