Introduction: Wireless All Sky Camera

An all sky camera is a device designed to take pictures of the entire sky over a certain amount of time, usually to monitor meteor showers or other astronomical phenomena.

I built mine to monitor the northern lights. I live in the Yukon and we sometimes get beautiful aurora displays during the night. However, I also have a day time job and I need my 8 hours of sleep. I created this camera to record a movie of the entire night. That way, I can replay the movie in the morning and never miss any aurora night.

Step 1: Requirements and Materials

My requirements for this camera are the following:

  • needs to photograph most of the sky
  • needs high sensitivity to low light
  • should be weather proof
  • no wires should run to the house
  • needs to be autonomous
  • needs to create a movie from pictures and upload it to the internet
  • needs to start at dusk and stop at dawn

After thinking about it for a while, I decided that the device should include its own computer and send the pictures using wifi. As for the camera, I decided to use an astronomy camera that would be small enough and was powered over USB.

Here's the list of materials:

  • ASI224MC camera from ZWO (ASI120MC or MM works too and is cheaper)
  • wide angle lens Arecont 1.55 (It gives a wider field of view than the lens that comes with the camera)
  • Raspberry Pi 2 (or 3)
  • 64 GB micro SD card
  • Wifi module (no need if Raspberry Pi 3)
  • Short right angle USB cable
  • 4" ABS pipe with end caps
  • Acrylic dome

I thought about adding a dew heater but after a few month of testing, I never got any frost on the acrylic dome. This is possibly due to the heat produced by the raspberry pi itself.

Step 2: Wiring

In this instructable, I will assume that you already have raspbian installed on the SD card.

The wiring is relatively easy. Plug the USB cable to the camera on one side and the raspberry pi on the other. Plug the wireless dongle into one of the 3 remaining USB ports of the pi. Insert the micro SD card in its slot and plug the raspberry pi to its 5V adapter.

In order to keep things tidy, you can fix your camera and computer onto a plywood board like I did on the picture.

Step 3: Build the Enclosure

The enclosure is made of a 4" ABS pipe, a flat end cap and a threaded end cap with its lid.

The flat cap goes on top and is drilled to the diameter of the camera. The threaded cap goes at the bottom and a hole (for the extension cord) is drilled in the centre of the lid.

The acrylic dome can be fixed onto the top end using weather proof silicon. I used an acrylic ring but it makes things more complex than they need to be.

You can now fix the enclosure onto your deck, your roof or any other location with a good view of the sky.

Step 4: Software

Update: If you need to change the way the capture works, you might have to make changes to the C++ source and compile it on your Raspberry PI. To do this, follow PeterD192's detailed instructions in the comments.

Update 2 (Nov 11th 2016): I have set up a GitHub page with an install script to make things easier for everyone: https://github.com/thomasjacquin/allsky If you use it, you shouldn't have to use any of the following instructions.

Original Instructions:

In order to capture images with the camera, we need to run a program in the terminal. ZWO provides an SDK in order for developers to communicate with the camera. Using this SDK, I modified one of their C++ example and compiled it for the raspberry pi. Here's a list of dependencies that need to be installed in order to get the program running.

  • OpenCV to capture the image of the sky (You can get a compiled version here)
  • Sunwait to calculate the civil twilight of your location. There is a compiled version in the archive. Make sure you copy it to your path:
    sudo cp ~/allsky/sunwait /usr/local/bin
  • Required dependencies:
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install libusb-dev libav-tools gawk lftp entr imagemagik

To make things easy, I have attached an archive. Extract it at /home/pi/allsky.

From the lib folder, you will need to run this in order to use the camera without being root:
sudo install asi.rules /lib/udev/rules.d

You will also need to add libASICamera2.so to your library:
sudo cp ~/allsky/lib/armv7/libASICamera2* /usr/local/lib

Another thing you will need to do in order to automate everything is to run the main program on startup of the pi. You can open ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart and add this line:
@xterm -hold -e ~/allsky/allsky.sh

Remember to set your wifi connection in order for the pi to upload videos.

allsky.sh contains all the parameters you might want to play with: GPS coordinate, white balance, exposure and gain.

Step 5: Collect Images

Now that the raspberry pi is ready, you can plug your all sky camera. The startup script should call allsky.sh which in turn calls the binary file named "capture". It will determine if it's day time or night time. In case it's night time, the capture will start and take a picture every 5 seconds (or whatever value you set in allsky.sh). At the end of the night, the capture will stop and avconv will stitch them together and upload a video to your website using FTP.

Step 6: Watch Your Time Lapse Videos

The video produced by avconv should weigh between 30 and 50 mb depending on the length of the night (here in the Yukon, we can get from 18 hours to 0 hours of night time) and should be viewable on any web browser.

In the event that you find something interesting in the video, you can access the individual images on the raspberry pi. They will be in a folder named after yesterday's date.

Here's a page showing my own videos with almost all night archived starting January 18th 2016. Some have beautiful northern light, others have clouds, snow or rain.

Comments

author
apo77 (author)2017-09-03

Hi Thomas,

Could you help to share how to create the html scripts for creating time stamps and linking to daily .mp4 recordings? Thank you.

apo77

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-09-04

Sure, take a look there: https://github.com/thomasjacquin/allsky-website

I upload the videos with the time stamp already (timelapse.sh). They get uploaded to the "videos" folder on my website. I build the html using the mp4 filename. Have a look at index.php in the videos folder. Let me know how it goes.

author
Deepsky1 (author)2017-08-20

Hi Thomas,

I have an error showing up after allsky.sh loads. the error reads - ./capture:undefined symbol _ZN2cv7puttextERNS_3MatERKSsNS_Point_IiEEidNS_7Scalar_IdEEiib

This occurred after having my SD card fail and needing to re-install Raspian and re-install the all sky camera on a new card. Any ideas what may need to be changed?

Gerald

author
ThomasJ1 (author)Deepsky12017-08-20

Hey Gerald,

Did you see any errors when you ran the install.sh script? Which version of Raspbian are you using?
I would try compiling "capture" to make sure everything is installed properly. You just need to type: make capture

Let me know if that works.

Thomas

author
Deepsky1 (author)ThomasJ12017-08-21

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for your help again! The Raspian version is version 9. I do not recall any errors while running the install script. The good news is after compiling the capture program everything appears to work as it did before. I guess I am living up to my goal of learning something new each day!

Gerald

author
bill110366 (author)2017-08-20

Hi Thomas

I'm impressed by your project :) Really great stuff.

Probably a stupid question, but sorry I'm not a programmer, so I rather ask, instead of pass by!

I have a dusty Orion Starshoot autoguider and wonder if I could use that one with your program ? To be honest, I already tried it, cam not detected as You could imagine. But there's maybe some alternative way to get it alive?

Probably just a dream ! :)

Greatings from France

Eric

author
ThomasJ1 (author)bill1103662017-08-20

Hey Eric,

You won't be able to run the program with your Orion camera because it is using ZWO's libraries to talk to ASI cameras. I'm sure there's a way to use your camera on a Raspberry Pi, but you will need a program that talks to the Orion camera. The one I wrote only talks to ASI cameras.

Thomas

author
bill110366 (author)ThomasJ12017-08-21

Thanks for this quick answer. I expected it, but my level of knowledge in programming made me still hope a bit!!

There are drivers working on Raspberry, the project INDI is a possibility, but nothing like an automated Allsky like You made.

I think I rather gonna try to sell this Cam, and buy a ASI 120.

All the best

Eric

author
bill110366 (author)2017-08-20

Hi Thomas,

I discovered your great job here, and was just wondering about a (probably stupid ) question:

I have a sleeping and dusting Orion Startshoot cam, not used since a while now.

I tried your code with it, and, as every computer programmer (Which I'm not!) will expect, it didn't work of course. But is it like "no hope, not even in your dream!", or would it be feasible to get an SAAG alive on a Raspberry with your program?

I managed to get a SQM with a RP3 running 24h a day (well, at night actually), and i'd love to have an Allsky available beside that.

Regards, and Hello from France

Eric

author
Deepsky1 (author)2017-08-15

Hi Thomas,

I reset the delay to the default (1000) and so far has been saving images appropriately for the last 40 minutes. I was afraid it was something simple I was missing. Again thanks for sharing this awesome project!

Gerald

author
ThomasJ1 (author)Deepsky12017-08-15

Glad it's working fine for you now. I will take a look at the delay option. I've also had strange behaviour when playing with this value so thanks for reporting the issue.

author
Deepsky1 (author)2017-08-15

Hi Thomas,

This is a great project! I am struggling to get images to save consistently. There will be 10-14 images in the capture file after a night trial run. 1-2 of those will be a "unrecognizable jpg format. The timelapse script will produce an mp4 format video of the few frames that were saved. Any suggestions on where to look?

author
ThomasJ1 (author)Deepsky12017-08-15

Hi,

What are your settings in allsky.sh? I have seen that behavior when I tried to use short exposures (under a second). Also, what delay are you using?

author
Deepsky1 (author)ThomasJ12017-08-15

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the prompt response!

I have a 20 second delay between pictures, and I did not change the exposure from what was in the original script. Do I need to change anything in the capture file? Attached below is the allsky.sh file.

Thanks for your reply,

Gerald

#!/bin/bash

echo "Starting allsky camera..."
cd /home/pi/allsky

FILENAME="Barksdale.jpg"

# Set upload to false if you don't want to upload the latest image to your website
UPLOAD=true

# Set -help to 1 for full list of arguments
# Set -nodisplay to 1 on Raspbian Lite and other OS without Desktop environments

ls "$FILENAME" | entr ./saveImage.sh "$FILENAME" "$UPLOAD" & \
./capture \
-gain 50 \
-delay 20000 \
-exposure 5000000 \
-filename "$FILENAME" \
-latitude "46.59N" \
-longitude "91.08W" \
-wbr 50 \
-wbb 90 \
-textx 20 \
-fontcolor 255 255 255 \
-time 1 \
-help 0 \
-nodisplay 0 \
-timelapse 1 \
-type 1

author
ThomasJ1 (author)Deepsky12017-08-15

Hi Gerald,

I will try at home with your settings to see if I can reproduce the issue. In the mean time, try setting the delay to its default value (1000) and see if it happens again. That would be a good test to help me locate the problem.

author
apo77 (author)2017-05-24

Hi Thomas,

My Allsky cam is working fine and can save images, creating mp4, uploading image to my webpage. But... it can not properly work for a whole day, sometime 2 hrs, sometime 4-6 hrs, then stop working. The Raspbian system still working for web browsing, or can manually restart the allsky.sh.

Tried to swap cameras, use Lan or wifi for image uploading, replaced MicroSD cards, replaced USB power supplies, disable the screen off and power saving process, also tried to stop the image resize process but all no success to make the allsky process run for longer than 12 hours.

I discovered the process is running smoother at daytime period (no image saving and uploading). As the uploading to FTP file size is quite large (~600kb when lens is coved, ASI120 MM/MC) for my ADSL internet service, i tried to reduce the image quality to cut the file size to improve the uploading speed. However, even i modified the quality values from 95% to 50% but the uploading file size stills no change (~600kb when lens is coved). May be this is normal for a totally dark image.

Any suggestion to me for my trouble shooting? Thanks in advanced.

Raymond.

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-05-24

Hi Raymond,

Regarding the file size, I have an ASI224MC and it's rare for me to upload files larger than 250kb. That's when I have lots of features on the image (clouds or aurora). For a black image that should be much less. What are your settings? Can you paste the content of allsky.sh?

Try decreasing the size of the image before upload instead of decreasing the quality. Also make sure to use JPG instead of PNG to cut the size even more.

This is what I use for example in saveImage.sh: convert "$1" -resize 962x720 -gravity East -chop 2x0 "$1-resize.jpg";

Regarding the instability, I had the same kind of problem when my SD card started to fail. Like any computer, when there is a power cut or an improper shutdown, some blocks of memory can get corrupted during a write operation and lead to an unstable operating system. You said you swapped the micro SD so we can probably rule that out.

When you say it stops working, does it crash? Is there any message in the console?

Thomas

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-25

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the reply. I use the default allsky.sh setting and using same script as yours for image resizing. Also tried to use size reduced images for FTP upload. Just changed the FTP address to my site. I will show the contents of my allsky.sh when back to home tonight.

There is no error message in the command console and no crash. Desktop and console are normal except the allsky process is stopped but it stills showing 7-8% cpu usage for capture process in the task monitor.

I started with "capture" only last night (without saving image and uploading process) after dinner and found it can run until the timelapse conversion is done at morning.

Raymond

Below is the script of the all sky.sh

----------------------------------------------

#!/bin/bash

echo "Starting allsky camera..."

cd /home/pi/allsky

FILENAME="image.jpg"

# Set upload to false if you don't want to upload the latest image to your website

UPLOAD=true

# Set -help to 1 for full list of arguments

# Set -nodisplay to 1 on Raspbian Lite and other OS without Desktop environments

ls "$FILENAME" | entr ./saveImage.sh "$FILENAME" "$UPLOAD" & \

./capture \

-gain 150 \

-exposure 5000000 \

-filename "$FILENAME" \

-latitude "22.27N" \

-longitude "114.08E" \

-wbr 53 \

-wbb 80 \

-textx20 \

-fontcolor255 255 255 \

-time 1 \

-help 0 \

-nodisplay 0 \

-timelapse 1

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-05-25

Hi Raymond, the fact that capture is still running is a good sign. That means the issue comes from one of the scripts.

Just to make sure though, is your time set correctly on your Pi? I see from your GPS info that you are in Hong Kong. There's a binary called sunwait that return the civil twilight for your given GPS coordinates. Let's say that the civil twilight at sunrise happens at 5:30am, then the capture will stop capturing images at 5:30am but it will continue running in the background until it's dark again. So it's important that your Pi clock is set correctly.

Can you also run a session where you are just saving images but not uploading? If it runs fine, we'll know it probably breaks during upload.

Also, you could try adding -width 640 and -height 480 to reduce your image size by 4 and see if it works better.

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-25

Hi Thomas,

Yes, have double checked the system time is correctly setup. Tried to set for local image saving only, can't pass for 10 hrs. Tried reduce the image size to 70% before current saving and FTP upload, can't pass for 10 hrs. The most longest working mode is to allow capture image only (this process is continue running even at day time but no current image saving and FTP upload), it can pass 12 hrs until the timelapse.sh is triggered. I will disable the timelapse to see if it can run longer.

I will find heatsinks or cooling fan for the pi3 board to see if it can get some improvement. Will also find a faster MicroSD card for it (now using Sandisk 60/90Ms Ultra). BTW, what kind of MicroSD card you are using? Thanks again!

Raymond

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-05-26

Hi Raymond,

I have a 64GB Samsung evo. It works great. The heat sink is a good idea. Here in the Yukon the nights are cold so I never worried about overheating but it may be a problem in your location. Especially if it is enclosed in a small container. You should check the temperature when it's running: https://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/linux-find-out-raspb...

Also, since your image file is fairly large, I would increase the delay between images to give some time for the Pi to write the camera sensor data on file. You can use the option -delay 1000 to have a 1 second delay between shots (the default is 10ms).

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-30

Hi Thomas, i can't find any other solution to fix my case. Bought faster Samsung 128G EVO+ 90/100MB/s card, can't fix. Added 3 heat sinks and cooling fans, can't fix. Bought another Pi3 board, can't fix. Replaced with bigger DC supply, can't fix.. may be Pi3 hardware is not designed for me. Will stop the work and to watch any other users report similar issue and able to fix it. Thank you.

Raymond.

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-05-31

Hey Raymond, That's a really strange issue. I just received some Pi 3 and I compiled the code successfully. I runs without issues. Have you tried to add the -delay 1000 option? It is an option that will wait between shots (in ms). I use it for really short exposure. You should also try the -nodisplay 1 option. It saves the images but doesn't show a preview. It would be less CPU intensive. I'll let you know if I get similar behavior reported by users.

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-06-02

Hi Thomas, already tried to increase wait time to 1000ms before and no big difference. Will follow your advise to try the nodisplay option.

I just checked the system log (/var/log) and found there are so many unknown connection and cron jobs were executed at the background. I just switched off the ssh and vnc sevice to see if it can kill some unknown tasks and let the cam process to run more smoothly.

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-06-02

Oh you're running VNC... I had reports about image artifacts and instability when running VNC. Try without VNC and -nodisplay 1. That should help debugging the issue.

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-06-05

Hi Thomas,

Problem fixed!! No more process breakdown now after the removal of unwanted process and set nodisplay=1.

Now checking your codes capture.cpp and trying to find solution to let the Allsky cam for capture image.jpg (auto exposure mode) at day time and save long exposure images and timelapse for night hours only. However i may not have enough skill to handle it.

Still waiting if you have free time to add day time capturing feature for this great tools. Thanks!

Raymond

author
ThomasJ1 (author)apo772017-06-05

Hi Raymond,

Glad you got it sorted out. I haven't used the auto exposure option yet. An alternative to that could be to change the content of this function like so:

elseif (result == "DAY") {
asiExposure = 50000; // 50 ms for example
ASISetControlValue(CamNum, ASI_EXPOSURE, asiExposure, ASI_FALSE);
cvSaveImage( fileName, pRgb );
}

I haven't tested it but that would take images at 50ms during the day. That's not auto exposure but that a quick way of getting it to work.

You'll have to run: make capture again to compile the new code.

author
apo77 (author)ThomasJ12017-06-05

Hi Thomas,

Tried to append your scripts under the line } else if (result == "DAY") {

asiExposure = 50000; // 50 ms for example
ASISetControlValue(CamNum, ASI_EXPOSURE, asiExposure, ASI_FALSE);
cvSaveImage( fileName, pRgb );

It can capture 1 short image but then program window quit away.

Raymond

author
jeremy_jackson (author)2017-05-28

Hi Thomas,

Installed on Raspbian Jessie Pixal 4-20-2017 and when I launch via ./capture the program exits with Gtk warning ** cannot open display.

I am running via ssh and set nodisplay=1

Thanks for any help!

Jeremy

author

FWIW when I hook a monitor up, a terminal opens and it appears to work.

I hope I am not doing something stupid...

author
ThomasJ1 (author)jeremy_jackson2017-05-28

Hey Jeremy,

What happens if you run ./allsky.sh instead of capture? Also, if it works with the monitor, that's a good start. I have the same version of Raspbian. I will try the -nodisplay 1 option. Also, please note the - before the option and the absence of "equal" sign between the option and the value.

author
jeremy_jackson (author)ThomasJ12017-05-29

Just as I suspected it was something stupid..I was not running allsky but starting capture...I am new to Linux...thanks for the help Thomas.

author
obrien28 (author)2017-05-12

Hi Thomas,

I recently put together an all sky camera using the ASI120MC-S which is the USB3 version of the camera (couldn't get 2.0 when I bought it) it mostly works but I'm having a lot of trouble with image artifacts, basically a grey band in the bottom of the image, link attached, this seems to alternate every other image leading to a nauseating flicker effect. The second issue is that most nights I have to kill the process after it stops working and restart it from scratch, I run the all sky.sh script headless by passing it into nohup ./allsky.sh > /dev/null 2>&1 & maybe that is the issue but I can't imagine why. These two issues have made an otherwise good camera setup somewhat unusable. Any suggestions? Logs I can check? I can provide my script file setup if need.

Thanks, Liam

Grey band: https://cl.ly/kRAm

author
ThomasJ1 (author)obrien282017-05-12

Hi Liam,

One thing that comes to mind is that the ./allsky script may be running twice on the Raspberry Pi.

The install script creates an autostart script that launches allsky.sh automatically. You can disable that behavior by removing the following line from /home/pi/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart:

@xterm -hold -e /home/pi/allsky/allsky.sh

allsky.sh starts a few processes such as: entr and capture. Run ps -aux to make sure that there are no duplicates. If there are, you can kill them from the terminal or restart the Pi after removing the autostart line and start allsky.sh manually with nohup.

Let me know how it goes.

Thomas

author
obrien28 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-21

Hi Thomas,

I just wanted to follow up with you about the banding issue, it is still happening and makes a good portion of the image unusable. Any hints or suggestions? Have you tested the software with the USB3 version of the ASI120MC (which I have). Thanks

Grey band: https://cl.ly/kRAm

author
ThomasJ1 (author)obrien282017-05-22

Hey Liam,

I don't think you would need the firmware upgrade with the USB3 version of the ASI120MC. Most users reported a segmentation fault with the USB2 version and the firmware upgrade fixed it.

I would suggest updating to the latest SDK: http://astronomy-imaging-camera.com/software/ASI_l...

There might be something specific to the USB3 version in their latest release.

I haven't tested the USB3 version myself. I would try to use the camera with oacapture and make sure it works in order to rule out any camera or Raspberry Pi issue: http://www.openastroproject.org/downloads/

Let me know if you make any progress on that issue.

Thomas

author
obrien28 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-22

Thomas,

TL;DR Update your lib/libASICamera2.so and libASICamera2.a to version V0.6.0414, either armV6 or 7 depending on your Pi.

Yes! Updating to the new SDK files seemed to fix the banding issue, time will tell if it still locks up the Pi, does your script or the ZWO lib do any logging? It would help if I had a place to look to try and pinpoint where things are going wrong. Also, it might be worth updating the library files on the github repo, everything else seems to work fine so it must just fix things for the USB3 cameras. Thanks!

author
ThomasJ1 (author)obrien282017-05-23

Only the headers of the libraries are editable so I don't think I could add logging there. It might be worth looking at dmesg or syslog to see if there's anything there.

author
ThomasJ1 (author)obrien282017-05-23

Thanks Liam for the feedback. I updated the readme and I will update the repo once I get home. I'm glad it fixes the issue for the USB3 version of the ASI120.

author
obrien28 (author)ThomasJ12017-05-12

Yeah, I thought that may have been it in the beginning but I removed that line from the terminal config, now I just run the script directly, still getting freeze ups and the banding towards the bottom of the image.

author
FrankieBUSN (author)2017-03-30

Sorry if this is a duplicate post. It doesn't seem to be showing up. Is there a way to set the exposure to automatic instead of a fixed exposure so that it can run night and day?

author
ThomasJ1 (author)FrankieBUSN2017-03-30

Hi Frankie, the documentation of the SDK mentions the auto exposure indeed but this hasn't been implemented in the current version of my code. Here are the available options:

ASI_AUTO_MAX_GAIN,//maximum gain when auto adjust

ASI_AUTO_MAX_EXP,//maximum exposure time when auto adjust,unit is second

ASI_AUTO_MAX_BRIGHTNESS,//target brightness when auto adjust

I will probably try to include those in the future when I get a bit more time to focus on the code. In the meantime, If you are familiar with C++ development, you can modify capture.cpp to include these options.

author
telescopator (author)2017-03-03

Hi Thomas,

Merci pour vos explications et réponse rapide,thanks for your explanations and fast answer,I think I would go with the ASI224MC ...Which should be still a challenge for me...

Perhaps should I contact you again if in trouble ?

Anyway thanks for the good job already done ;-)!

author
ThomasJ1 (author)telescopator2017-03-03

Please don't hesitate to ask questions if you're having issues during the installation. I'm glad to help.

Also, I forgot to mention that if you want to keep cost down, you can use an ASI120MC-S which is significantly cheaper than the ASI224MC. Maybe a bit less sensitive but if you only use it as an allsky camera, I don't think it would make much difference.

author
telescopator (author)2017-03-03

Hi,

I am a new french member and I have discovered this pages as I was trying to find informations on building an all sky camera...I couldn't find better here ;-)!

After decades as amateur astronomer I am more a telescope builder than a computer handyman...So I am hoping just sticking to your explainations to make the system work...

Sorry if the following question should be a silly one but to reduce cost I would like to replace the ASI224MC camera with a GP224C (which is a Altair GPCAM2 IMX224 colour camera...with same low noise sensor...)

The question is : do I have to change anything on the programming side if I switch to this different camera ?This woul be a big trouble for me...

Thank you for your advice and for sharing all this valuable information with us ;-)!

author
ThomasJ1 (author)telescopator2017-03-03

Hi Telescopator,

I'm also french and a telescope builder ;)

Long story short: I don't think you'll be able to swap the cameras because the code is based on the Software Development Kit provided by ZWO. So basically, in the code, there are functions such as: ASICameraInfo or ASIGetControlValue... which means that it will only make sense when you are trying to talk to a camera made by ZWO.

However, I'm not saying the GP224C can't work with the Raspberry Pi. In order to get it to work, you would need to ask Altair Astro for their SDK and modify capture.cpp. Unfortunately, I don't own an Altair Camera so I can't tell you for sure it would work 100%.

I hope that makes sense.

Thomas

author
cheekygeek (author)2017-02-28

Thanks for sharing this great instructable. I have a couple of questions:

1) would it be possible to make this using the new WiFi/BlueTooth Raspberry Pi Zero W? See: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/201...

2) I'm curious about substituting cameras. Rather than time lapse still shots, is there a camera that could do the same with video (to capture meteors/fireballs, for example)?

3) What are the attributes one looks for in a good camera for an all-sky system? If color is not important, does one mostly look at sensor size/ LUX sensitivity /signal-to-noise ratio?

author
ThomasJ1 (author)cheekygeek2017-02-28

The problem you'll encounter with the new Pi zero W is that there's no USB ports on it and you need to connect the camera somehow. I would chose a Pi 3 since it's more powerful, has more RAM and has onboard wifi.

A lot of meteor survay cameras are using NTSC/PAL video format. Most of them use a high sensitivity camera such as the Sony Super HAD II. You will then need to convert the analog signal to digital. In that case you might be able to get away with the USB ports and use the Pi zero.

You mentioned three of the attributes that are crucial to this kind of camera. the larger the pixels, the more signal to noise ratio you will get.

Also for a larger resolution, you'll need a larger sensor... and then in turn a larger lens, which can get costly if you want one with a fast aperture (1.4 or 1.8)

Keep in mind also that a large sensor produces more data and the Raspberry Pi needs to keep up with it.

For meteor, I think a standard Sony Super HAD II 768(H)×494(V) would be enough.

author
astronomyandrea (author)2017-02-18

Hi Thomas. Sorry. I couldn't edit allsky.sh via terminal, so i opened the file with text editor. Tried to add some entry like gamma value, in the way shown below ( and honestly other ways), but nothing... What should i do?

Anyway last night i caught many meteors with 35'' exposure time, so i'm also trying to modify the code in order to automatically process master dark frames and contain noise.

Thanks.

#!/bin/bash

echo "Starting allsky camera"

cd /home/pi/allsky

WIDTH=

HEIGHT=

BIN=1

MODE=1

GAIN=60

GAMMA=20

EXPOSURE=35000000

FILENAME="OCB_Masera"

LATITUDE="46.1N"

LONGITUDE="8.1E"

WBR="53"

WBB="80"

ls "$FILENAME-full.jpg" | entr ./convert.sh "$FILENAME" & ./capture "$WIDTH" "$HEIGHT" "$BIN" "$MODE" "$GAIN" "$EXPOSURE" "$FILENAME" "$LATITUDE" "$LONGITUDE" "$WBR" "$WBB" "$GAMMA"

author
ThomasJ1 (author)astronomyandrea2017-02-20

Hi Andrea, I think you're using an old version of the code. There was no setting for gamma at the time. I will release a new version probably tomorrow which fixes a few things reported by users. You should check it out. I'll give you heads up when it's published.

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