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Old 22-11-2019, 09:39 PM
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AllSky Camera AS224MC

Hi all,


I have for years resisted the urge to have an all sky camera, simply because the ones available were too expensive to justify buying one.



In the last couple of weeks I have been going through the process of making an allsky camera.



I bought a Raspberry Pi 4 and a ZWO ASI224MC. A day ago a friend of mine helped me with installing the code on to the Mini SD. The code and how to do an Allsky camera can be found here.



The hardware you will need can be found here.


Tonight I had first light of the camera. I have included a couple of images of both the finished camera and of the first light image.


All up it cost a bit over $500 but that is way less than a commercially made one.
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  #2  
Old 23-11-2019, 08:07 AM
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It's a great alternative to the commercially available alternatives, at a fraction of the cost, and it works so well. 👍
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  #3  
Old 24-11-2019, 01:09 PM
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Nice going Paul.
I like the way its self-contained, but what will you use to power it?
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Old 24-11-2019, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua Bunn View Post
It's a great alternative to the commercially available alternatives, at a fraction of the cost, and it works so well. 👍

Well most are several thousand or more dollars commercially and they do the same job, though maybe a little neater looking. This thing produces time lapses, Keograms and star trails. Everything I need really and more.



Quote:
Originally Posted by RobF View Post
Nice going Paul.
I like the way its self-contained, but what will you use to power it?

Power it has been a pain, at present I am only usine a USB cable to power it but have something coming which has a longer cable and will still use USB. I'll have to do something about protecting the power adapter here at home but at the observatory 1.5m will be fine to go inside the obs.
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Old 26-11-2019, 08:10 AM
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Looks the goods I might have to pinch this idea for future reference.
Considering everything else ZWO does regarding cameras I'm surprised that they haven't commercially made one of these yet.
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  #6  
Old 26-11-2019, 11:51 AM
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all sky camera

I have collected the bits to do this as well with a mono ZWO camera, my problem is powering the raspberry pi in the garden. I wondered whether using a power over ethernet POE hat for the pi would then provide enough power for both the pi and the camera?
I haven't tried it yet as I have only just got my boards.
Would be simple if so, a long ethernet cable would do the job(s)!!
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Old 26-11-2019, 08:17 PM
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I was wondering about a small rechargeable battery and solar panel, but then its more complexity and panel might obscure sky.
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Old 27-11-2019, 04:05 AM
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Have you considered this:
https://globalmeteornetwork.org/wordpress/
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  #9  
Old 27-11-2019, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graham.hobart View Post
I have collected the bits to do this as well with a mono ZWO camera, my problem is powering the raspberry pi in the garden. I wondered whether using a power over ethernet POE hat for the pi would then provide enough power for both the pi and the camera?
I haven't tried it yet as I have only just got my boards.
Would be simple if so, a long ethernet cable would do the job(s)!!

I don't know the answer to that question Graham. Perhaps someone here will know the answer. I have used a USB cable with power adapter water proofed temporarily for testing, but you can buy quite long powered USB's that should work too. Digging a trench is also an option. However, at the Observatory I'll be running a long protected USB to the power adapter inside.



Quote:
Originally Posted by RobF View Post
I was wondering about a small rechargeable battery and solar panel, but then its more complexity and panel might obscure sky.

I saw something like this on a couple of sites. I think it was one of the commercial cameras that had it. I cannot remember where I saw it now.


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No I had not considered that. Are you suggesting I buy one of their cameras?

Last edited by Paul Haese; 27-11-2019 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 27-11-2019, 05:27 PM
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BTW here is a time lapse from the other night.



Click here for video


An attached is a star trails image.
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  #11  
Old 27-11-2019, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
...
No I had not considered that. Are you suggesting I buy one of their cameras?

Of course not..
But their software works on Raspberry, it is free, and you can join their network. I think by doing that you may increase the capability of your hardware....
See here:
http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...meteor+network
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  #12  
Old 27-11-2019, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bojan View Post
Of course not..
But their software works on Raspberry, it is free, and you can join their network. I think by doing that you may increase the capability of your hardware....
See here:
http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...meteor+network

Ah, sorry, I thought initially you meant I should join the group, which I think is an interesting idea, but once I saw they sold equipment I then thought that you meant I should buy something from them. Sorry for the confusion and the question.
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Old 28-11-2019, 06:27 AM
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When I saw that website first time, my initial reaction to their "business" was also negative.. it seems they need to work on their public image a bit more.

Basically, they are selling equipment in a kit for people who want the whole solution in a single package.. but by no means this is the only way to go.

Burried in the website are links to detailed technical information.Their software supports cameras with LAN interface (I went for this one), it was only AU$56 complete with optics), but it may also support ZWO (you can ask them).
For example, I will use laptop running Linux, because I have it - so it doesn't make sense (in my case) to buy Raspberry.
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Old 25-02-2020, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graham.hobart View Post
I have collected the bits to do this as well with a mono ZWO camera, my problem is powering the raspberry pi in the garden. I wondered whether using a power over ethernet POE hat for the pi would then provide enough power for both the pi and the camera?
I haven't tried it yet as I have only just got my boards.
Would be simple if so, a long ethernet cable would do the job(s)!!
I think I'd like to take this approach, as my house & observatory are wired with a POE switch. Have you tested to see of the POE Hat can power the camera and the Pi? Running some ethernet out to an enclosure with everything in it seems like a good option.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
I don't know the answer to that question Graham. Perhaps someone here will know the answer. I have used a USB cable with power adapter water proofed temporarily for testing, but you can buy quite long powered USB's that should work too. Digging a trench is also an option. However, at the Observatory I'll be running a long protected USB to the power adapter inside.
I ran my ASI290MM in a CCTV camera enclosure which I found in the junk pile at work, but that required running a USB extension out. Admittedly, I put it out there in summer, so wasn't too risky, but I'd be interested to hear how you waterproofed your USB cable (especially since I'm going to have to run the cable at least 10 metres to get clear of the dome and mount it somewhere nicely out of the way.

I have the video of that attempt https://youtu.be/Le-MwpNq2Wc?t=10.

And the same from inside the dome https://youtu.be/Le-MwpNq2Wc?t=196

You can ignore the rest of the video if you aren't interested in the ASI1600MM.


Also, where did you get the dome cover? The link that is provided on the instructables page has no stock.
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Old 26-02-2020, 06:43 PM
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It's a good idea Paul. I would like to do this myself in the future also and the video looks good.
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Old Yesterday, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbo_pascale View Post
....... but I'd be interested to hear how you waterproofed your USB cable (especially since I'm going to have to run the cable at least 10 metres to get clear of the dome and mount it somewhere nicely out of the way.

Also, where did you get the dome cover? The link that is provided on the instructables page has no stock.
Hi Rob,

in the end I chose a water proof case available from Jaycar. It comes with a seal which slips between the top and bottom. To seal the dome I used aquarium grade silicone.

I used an Ethernet cable and powered it via a adapter from Raspberry Pi.

The dome cover came from Ebay via a friend who was building one too. Apparently only about 7 dollars or something like that.

See photos below for updated camera and in use.
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Old Yesterday, 09:05 AM
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That's a nice implementation.

So looks like the PoE Hat does the job of running both the RPi and the camera.

A couple of questions:

Do you use it in the day time, and can the auto-exposure get it to the point where it's not totally blown out during the day?

Given the box is totally sealed, is there enough airflow to keep the RPi cool enough? I'd worry about the box getting pretty hot outside (especially during the day), without any way to get any cooler air in there.

I'm contemplating using the cheaper ZWO ASI120MC-S USB3.0 Colour cam ($279 right now from Bintel), but it's lower res (1280x960). In real-life, do you think the lower res (vs for example a 19361096 ASI290MC at double the price) is any kind of impediment? I suspect not, but sometimes the on-paper vs real-life experience is somewhat different.
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Old Yesterday, 03:40 PM
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Rob,

the auto exposure handles day time imaging well too. It goes down to fractions of a second to achieve the correct exposure day or night. I did find however, that night time needed to have the gain raised to 300, to obtain the correct exposure for my dark sky site.

The RPi is cooled by a cooling unit which is from RPi too. Temperatures typically look to be around 50C at most during the very hot days. The sensor on the camera gets quite hot but has so far performed well.

The 120 will not work correctly with a Pi4 I believe, but is ok with a Pi3 from what I have been told. The resolution is not really a problem if you just want something to see what the clouds are like. If you want more detail you will need a more advanced camera.
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Old Yesterday, 03:58 PM
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I had not realised that I had not posted a video taken from my observatory south of Adelaide.


Click here for video. You might want to look out for the Starlink satellites just before dawn.
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Old Yesterday, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
Rob,

the auto exposure handles day time imaging well too. It goes down to fractions of a second to achieve the correct exposure day or night. I did find however, that night time needed to have the gain raised to 300, to obtain the correct exposure for my dark sky site.
That's good to know - if you've managed to get any daytime images with it, I'd love to see how it goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
The RPi is cooled by a cooling unit which is from RPi too. Temperatures typically look to be around 50C at most during the very hot days. The sensor on the camera gets quite hot but has so far performed well.
That's pretty hot. The fan can only circulate the air that it has, so although that's better than no fan, if I do it, I might try to put some filtered holes underneath with very fine mesh, just to give it a chance to get some cooler air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
The 120 will not work correctly with a Pi4 I believe, but is ok with a Pi3 from what I have been told. The resolution is not really a problem if you just want something to see what the clouds are like. If you want more detail you will need a more advanced camera.
I think the issue was with the older USB 2 model, not the newer USB 3 one, but I will stand corrected. I have both kinds of PI here. I suspect the older one would do just fine anyway, it's not that "busy".
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