'All Sky' Camera

Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby The Man with the Corrugated Iron Roof » Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:06 am

I've tried using webcams as all-sky cameras and managed to capture the ISS but I have had more success using a DSLR. By adding a reducer I have managed to get really wide views.
How can I be one with the universe when we don't know what 96% of it is.

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Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby Aratus » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:29 pm

I use a DSLR and fish-eye lens if I want to take detailed photos of large areas of the sky - with or without a PC, but it isn't achieving the same thing as a permanent All-Sky Camera. With an ASC I can constantly monitor the sky while indoors and take advantage of a brief unforecast clearing in the sky. It has significantly increased my observing opportunities. Most people can't afford to tie up a DSLR and a PC for a single use like that.

What I have does the job I want it to. Athough having said that things have moved on, and there are now new applications and software which will now allow a lower priced ZWO camera to be run on Raspberry Pi. That may provide hires, sensitive photos of the sky for specific objects AND still offer a permanent monitor the sky. I may try that out at some point but ZWOs are not that cheap - and Picameras, on the other hand, are VERY cheap.
I use an 11" reflector (Celestron CPC 1100) and a 3" refractor, (Sky-Watcher ST80) mounted on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI 120MM, ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 1300D for imaging.
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Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby jfenton » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:15 pm

Have you seen the instructables guide about it, (search instructables wireless all sky camera as I am not allowed to post the URL as a fairly new user) also using ZWO cameras? It seems like it would be unnecessary to get the ZWO Asiair, although that also looks like a great setup out of the box, it seems to be also linked in with mount control and telescope imaging. I've just bought a Raspberry Pi 3b+ and case (looks almost identical to the Asiair) for £30.
That instructables guide looks pretty much along similar lines to your project, so I'm going to look more carefully at that.
Ideally I want a camera that can image eye view or better, at close to real time, although for price, I'm willing to accept around 15s exposures for nice views / timelapse trade-off to start with. I'm guessing I'm going to be looking at the ZWO cameras. I notice you had the mono as opposed to the colour, does it give better performance? Do you have any recommendations with the ZWO cameras?
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Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby Aratus » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:20 pm

Yes, the ASIAIR is a raspberry pi. Even the case they use is a variation on the official case. I did try to get a ZWO to work on a raspberry pi,a few years back, but there are fundamental problems with using it with my ZWO ASI 120MM Mono Camera in that it isn't really compatible. I did try the 'upgrade' but I still couldn't get it to work. My understanding of the Raspberry Pi, and 'python' at that time was pretty basic too. That is why I eventally abandoned it and went with the PiCamera which is designed to work with a Pi, and has a comprehensive library of python commands. When buying the ASIAIR you are mostly paying for the software. If you can write your own, then you can save a lot of money by just getting a Raspberry Pi for £35 or less.

I have checked with the suppliers and the latest ZWO ASI 120MM-S and ZWO ASI 120MC-S are compatible with the Raspberry Pi. They cost about £150. (The PiCamera costs £25. You can see why I made my decision.) Both these ZWO cameras give 1280X960 at 60fps which I would have though was enough resolution for most applications. The lens that comes with it is 150 degree, which doesn't quite give a view of the whole sky. If you have houses and trees round about, it might not make much difference though. You could adapt another lens for it.

I bought the monochrome ZWO imagining that it would be more sensitive. It is a better CCD than the colour one. There isn't any colour in a night sky anyway. However, if I was to buy a new camera now I probably would get the colour one, especially if it replaced my PiCamera, which takes images during the day too. (It takes fantasic sunsets and sunrises)

I haven't decided whether to make a new 'All Sky Camera' using the better ZWO ASI 120 yet. As a 'cloud or clear' camera the Picamera works just fine.

I would be interested to hear about your experience and results. If I, or anyone else here, can help just let us know.
I use an 11" reflector (Celestron CPC 1100) and a 3" refractor, (Sky-Watcher ST80) mounted on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI 120MM, ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 1300D for imaging.
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Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby jfenton » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:00 pm

Thanks. Yeah I'm keen on pursuing this project with the 120 MC-S I think to start with. It's a little more pricey, I know, but I think my use-case is a little bit different to yours. I'd like it as an observation tool, as I mostly have to work and live in the city, it leaves me little choice as an amateur astronomer, without great effort. But if I can set something like this up at my parents which records good quality images, then it could be really useful to me. It will also help for those times when I don't want to get cold! :D
It's great how technology has progressed in this area. It even seems like it could be possible to have the whole setup wireless. My Pi is a Wifi version. Apparently someone following the instructables guide I mentioned, has completed a setup with a 40W solar panel and a lead-acid battery. As long as I position it close enough to my parents house that it still receives a wifi signal, I can have the data sent to me in the city.
We'll see how it goes!
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Re: 'All Sky' Camera

Postby Aratus » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:00 pm

I have an experimental solar power set up. I use a 100W panel. In the summer it can power a dozen raspberry pi computers, and more, but in winter the fractional amount of sunlight means that I only dare power one unit. I may be being over cautious, but I don't want any units to fail, and the batteries don't like being heavily discharged. You may find a 40W will work for one unit. Using a higher capacity battery may help keep things going through a cloudy spell.

Here is a nice sunset I took last summer.
Image
I use an 11" reflector (Celestron CPC 1100) and a 3" refractor, (Sky-Watcher ST80) mounted on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI 120MM, ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 1300D for imaging.
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