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Old 02-02-2019, 01:43 PM
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All in one astrophotography controller

Hi,

After many ears in purely visual astronomy I decided to take on the challenge of astrophotography. To keep costs down I always try to make equipment. So here is an all in one solution that I made recently.
It sits on a bracket under my EQ6 mount and only needs 1X 12 volt input underneath. Keeps all the cabling neat.
It has
- 3 channel thermostatically controlled (arduino based) dew controller based on Robert Brown's design (bluetooth)
- Arduino motor focuser (Rob Brown design) with temp compensation
- a powered USB 3 hub (3 external ports and 3 internal)
- Ethernet and wifi connection
- Odroid single board computer running Ubuntu
- I upload images to a local 2 TB hard drive through one of the USB ports
- The other two ports are for the mount and cameras.
I polar align using a ASI120 USB3 camera fitted into a 3D printed cradle that fits into the polar scope window of the mount using SharpCap polar tool. Once aligned the camera is used to guide with an OAG.
I use KStars with EKOS as a planetarium and mount control and to schedule and sequence the evening's imaging and although this was a steep learning curve now I have everything working it makes things very simple. Guiding is with eKOS and I plate solve with EKOS using the off line astrometry which is pretty quick and accurate.
The case is from Altronics and the whole thing is cooled by a thermostatically controlled fan.
I seem to be in a posting mood recently so thought that I would share. Hope you like it.

Mike
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Old 02-02-2019, 02:15 PM
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multiweb (Marc)
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That looks pretty neat. Well done.
Looking forward to first light.
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Old 02-02-2019, 05:03 PM
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Cheers Marc,
First light's already done and dusted. Everything works great, however like all things its taken quite a while to get to this point.
Mike
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:58 AM
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sil (Steve)
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excellent, Arduino etc are so handy for all sorts of things. Will V2 have an oled screen or two with gps to display zulu time and location? maybe a countdown to event time and wake up alarm? battery monitor too? proximity detection with warning lights and sound to deter inquisitive pets/children in the dark? see one idea just sparks off more and more keep creating!
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Old 04-02-2019, 11:33 AM
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Good one Steve,
It's a temptation to keep adding. Interestingly, I decided to keep all forms of screens and light to an absolute minimum, so no local light pollution. So despite all the added bits it keeps it all pretty simple and keeps the cost down. I can check on all the working parameters through bluetooth on the laptop as far as the dew controllers and motor focus is concerned. EKOS pretty much runs the show.
Mike
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Old 05-02-2019, 06:38 PM
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I like the added protection of putting the USB hub inside the box. I've got my own Arduino dew heater and same focuser as you in a box, but I just Velcroed a usb hub on the outside. Thanks for that.

Is that a fan on top? Is it for the stepper controller?
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:26 PM
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Hi Chris,
Yes the hub is a standard 5 port USB3 powered hub that is fixed inside so that 3 ports are accessible from the outside. This is powered by using a step down module from the 12 volt internal power to 5v dc. One internal port goes to the Odroid and another to the motor focuser. The dew controller is pretty autonomous. I set it up with blue tooth via a lap top at the start of the evening and don't touch it again. I use an on-circuit board temperature control circuit which you can set through the bluetooth of the dew controller to keep the temp down in the case as the Odroid can produce a fair amount of heat. The thing on the top is a large fan blowing though ventilation holes in the case and the air flows out through the side vents and under neath. As the cooling is thermostatically controlled it keeps everything nice and cool.
Its really handy have a few 12volt DC outlets for accessories like cooled cameras and flat light boxes as well as the mount. I tried to plan the inside cabling to make it really neat even then I nearly ran out of space and it still looks like a birds nest!
Mike
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:58 AM
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Ah, I didn't realise there was an Odroid in there too. What a beast of a box ! Nicely done.
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