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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:
Allsky camera and weather station is very important parts of the modern observatory.
Here I wanna describe project that I build for my observatory.
I started a new topic because I believe that this project is unique and I hope this description may be useful because project is open source/open hardware.
This device contains two cameras, one is for beautiful daytime shots (over the horizon) and second for useful night shots. Also there is a lot of sensors: clouds, ir, light, temperature and humidity.
Heart of the device is Raspberry PI 2 microcomputer.
Everything is built in waterproof electrical box which can be found in hardware stores.
Yep this exterior is not very nice looking due to silicone sealant. But nice looking is not most important part, especially when mounting device somewhere on a roof
Acrylic dome is from CCTV camera.
Inside the box I glued a thermal insulation and copper foil which acts like a EMI shield. This foil is connected to the building grounding circuits.
All devices inside the box:
- Raspberry PI 2
- internal temperature/humidity sensor
- powering system (+3.3, +5, +12 volts)
- ethernet lightning protection
- tsl2561 ir/luminosity sensor
- mlx90614 cloud sensor
- cooling system
- rtc with a back-up baterry
External temperature/humidity sensor is mounted in separate aluminium can.
Cameras module is mounted on the bronze pcb stands and will be described below.
Raspberry PI runs all device software except database and long-time storage of the images.
Camera can be accessed through simple web interface which running on nginx server.
All data collecting and generation software is wrote on C, Python and Bash.
All processes is starting by the CRON.
Database is working on the remote server with reliable storage system and can be accessed through network. I'm using Mysql in this project.
I found that this solution is more reliable and convenient rather than local storage on the SD card.
All images are postprocessed by the software. Dark frames is extracted (only for night camera) and generated some text information on the bottom of the image.
Last year I developed an 'all sky' imaging application to run my Starlight Xpress Oculus camera (for Oculus owners you can find out more here: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/allskeye/info). I have recently added 'experimental' ASCOM support for it but don't have any other cameras to really test in on. If anyone is looking for this kind of software and would be happy to carry out some beta testing please let me know. Please bear in mind:
The software is really designed for traditional astronomical cameras using longer exposure lengths i.e. not video astronomy and am not sure how well it will work with faster CMOS cameras The software is mono only, no colour images can be processed (although it might be possible to use a colour camera to produce mono images - something I would like to test) It has been running for a while so is reasonably stable but please bear in mind that this will be a beta test so do expect problems! :-) Oh and sorry but it will only work on Windows computers from Vista onwards (no XP) Thanks,
Seen a few threads on this recently so thought I would post my version, did look at what is available in the market and though some nice units the cost can be prohibitive.
So the DIY route, I had a spare QHY5-II mono that had been sitting in a box since the lodestar replaced it and I also had the premium pack from QHY giving me a 150deg fish-eye lens,.
I did see all the talk about the possible impact of the sun on the sensor and totally disregarded it, commercial units don't seem to have such protection, also the QHY has a temperamental USB socket so would be know great loss.
The search began for a housing/dome, there are a few on ebay, damn cheap at £6 but also very poor quality, as I had never been able to get focus with the fisheye I did some investigation and figured my CS adapter was too big at 10mm, quick call to Bern at Modern Astronomy sorted that out and during the conversation he mentioned he had a spare dome from previous investigations, cut a long story short I got one these - not the cheapest dome but really good quality.
Some wandering round B&Q and some tinkering in the garage and this emerged
Summary of the build, no pictures of the actual build process but is pretty simple. Parts and construction (bits from B&Q) Floplast Black Adaptor (Dia)110mm (L)150mm Floplast Black Access Cap (Dia)110mm (L)360mm Floplast Black Pipe Clip (Dia)110mm (L)849mm PVC Pipe Weld and Self-Amalgamating rubber tape 1. (Adapter)Prise the sealing ring of the wide part of this, this gets you a plastic ring (throw away) and a rubber sealing ring, this fits just nicely over the base of the dome and fits inside this adapter, does seal it but not a strong connection and I have wrapped some Self-Amalgamating rubber tape around the join. 2. (Access Cap) 2 of the above are used, the one that holds the camera fits inside the first adapter, have to open out the inner flange of the first adapter so this just sits inside and is glued in place with pipe weld, there is a 2nd cap under the screw lid and this is not used here. A 32mm hole is drilled in the centre of the cap to hold the camera which is help in place by two parafocal rings. There is a gap formed between the adapter and access cap, I have placed a dew strap for a 5” scope into this cap and drilled a series of 2mm holds around the flange of the adapter to allow airflow, should provide gentle air flow around the inside of the dome, not tested how effective this will be yet. The 2nd Access cap fits into the bottom of the adapter, a 2” hold is drilled in the cap, the blanking plate is retained and a 2.1mm DC socket fitted and the dew scrap cable cut to length and soldered on, this is the 12v feed. I had to drill a 12mm hole to fit the USB adapter to and have not done anything to fill the gap left, this will let out water if any does get inside and should help with the airflow. The pipe clip is fitted to the bottom access cap and the whole lot pushed together. Interesting little project, lot cheaper if somewhat large than the commercial equivalents. Since I built this one the original QHYs USB gave up completely and as the what sun was around had not caused any issues I got a QHY5L-II mono, lot more sensitive.
There have been some design changes based on the results of the last couple of weeks. One problem was that the inside of the dome would mist up due to damp air getting in via the ventilation holes in the flange. I have now fully sealed the camera chamber and included some desiccant to ensure this is a dry as possible. Heating is still provided via the dew strap but the hot side now faces outwards and provides enough heat to prevent the dome from dewing. I have added a small 30mm fan to the underside mainly to stop moist air build-up in the central chamber and pull away excess heat generated but the camera, it gets fairly warm running continuously. Have it running continually along side my cloud sensor, temp location till the obs is completed.
From a software point of view I discovered that EZPlantery (v3.7.7) is capable of doing auto exposure via the histogram tool, has 3 buttons ACE, AGE and one initially marked AVE. The first two are Auto Exposure and Gain and the 3rd seems to define the mode used, this has 3 settings AVE, () and . there is zero documentation bit of a guess as to what mode does. AVE is just an average over the whole frame, not a good mode for an Allsky due to the dark around the fisheye image and this results in blowing out the whole image. The () mode seems to try and keep the histogram at the level you have manually set and this works well. Not sure what the . mode is, maybe spot but results in a lot of image adjustment so I am currently using () and this seems to work well. Another plus point for EZPlantery is the live broadcast mode using the WDM driver, I have a number of CCTV cameras keeping an eye on things here and use some software called Blue Iris to manage, record and motion detect on these. Using live broadcast mode I am able to feed the Allsky into this software. This allow me to access the feed from a web browser and on my phone and also record continuously if I want, useful if want to feed the nights output into one of the meteor detection programs. Blue Iris also allows you to add overlays, I have just added compass points, time and location and allows me to access via a web browser. Most of this has come together now and have it working pretty much as I want, I have seen no issues relating to sun damage but yet to get to the long summer days so time will tell on that one. Next stage is to mount it into is finial position but that will have to wait till the observatory is completed. Cheers