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Pi Solar Camera - Astronomy with the Raspberry Pi

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(@dronebot-workshop)
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OK, I'm officially infected with eclipse fever! I looked at the weather again, and it looks like this:

Screenshot from 2024 04 03 17 03 36

Assuming we survive what will actually be the first real snowstorm of the year (in April, no less; we have had no snow this year), Monday looks like a good day for a total eclipse of the Sun. So I broke down and bought this:

51Nf7PcRFJL. AC SL1200

It's a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTI Computerized Alt-Az Mount for on-the-go astronomy. There is no need to polar align it; it uses GPS and a sequence you put it through. The app has a function to track the Sun.

I've been reading and watching reviews and going over the instruction manual. Apparently, the app used to be terrible, but the newer Pro version is much improved, especially for Sun tracking. There are also a few YouTube videos for setting it up for the eclipse.

If the weather prediction holds true I will only have Sunday to do a test run to track the Sun in the sky at the eclipse time.

It will be here on Friday.

😎

Bill

 

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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Ron
 Ron
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@dronebot-workshop Now I am jealous. However, I am looking forward to your pictures.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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JimG
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Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

It's a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTI Computerized Alt-Az Mount for on-the-go astronomy. There is no need to polar align it; it uses GPS and a sequence you put it through. The app has a function to track the Sun.

While I was cruising Amazon looking at telescopes over the past day or so, I was wondering why no one had put together a scope/mount that could figure out where it was and how it was oriented.  It just seems like it shouldn't be that hard with current technology.  Of course, I was looking in the lowest price ranges, so maybe some of the premium scopes are doing more with it.  It just seems like there is a lot of room for creativity there.  I'll have to take a look at this mount that you bought.  🙂


   
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Ron
 Ron
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@dronebot-workshop For anyone interested in Bill's new mount, here is an excellent review by a serious amateur astronomer, https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/836320-my-skywatcher-az-gti-first-light-review/

I had given up on ever owning another mount for many of the same reasons as the reviewer but this mount is a game changer at least for me. I still have a fairly decent tripod but getting a proper very stable tripod would not be a problem.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
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@dronebot-workshop Regarding the following

It's a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTI Computerized Alt-Az Mount for on-the-go astronomy. There is no need to polar align it; it uses GPS and a sequence you put it through. The app has a function to track the Sun.

Can you find time to do a review of the mount? I am very heavily leaning to buying it. I just have to check the weight of my camera+batery pack+long lens.

 

 

 

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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(@dronebot-workshop)
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@zander It doesn't arrive until Friday, and the only test day may be Sunday - Saturday is "partly sunny," so it may clear in the afternoon. So, I won't be able to review it until then, but I'd be happy to share my opinion when it arrives on Friday.

There are many YouTube reviews and instructions; I found this video to be helpful for what I want to do with it:

You can also download the user manual PDF from this page; click on the AZ-GTi.

I'm not sure if I will use it with the Solar Telescope or with the DSLR. I'm likely going to try to get it to work in my "indoor observatory" (also known as my spare bedroom), as I can track the eclipse from beginning to total to about 20 minutes after total. After that, a tree will get in the way, but I can see the remainder from my front yard. Plus, I really want to be OUTSIDE when the actual totality occurs!

So my plan, if it works, is to try it indoors with the Pi Camera and use the DSLR outdoors on the tripod.    Indoors has the advantage of no wind to worry about as well. But I also want to try the mount outdoors, of course.

If I do it indoors, I even have all the equipment to stream it!  But I'm sure there will be several streams much more interesting than what I can do with my limited observing equipment.

The weather still looks good for Monday; it's absolutely HORRIBLE right now. A huge dump of snow after a snow-free winter, which will be followed by a huge dump of rain. But it is all supposed to clear up on Saturday. I really hope this forecast holds.

😎

Bill

 

 

This post was modified 3 months ago by DroneBot Workshop

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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Ron
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@dronebot-workshop I would use it with the DSLR. In case you want or need to use slower shutter speeds the GTi will remove any chance of blurring and manually moving the telescope is much easier.

We are unlikely to see anything here, my interest in the mount is for observing and some quick AP as this mount is not a full AP mount meant for long exposures.

Lot's of good discussion and pictures at https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/901610-alt-az-tracking-mount-az-gti-vs-az-gtix/ Now I feel the pull of astronomy again.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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JimG
 JimG
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We still have a few days to go, but if the forecast stays as it is now, Bill may be the only one who gets clear skies for Monday.  Looks like cloud cover from Mexico to upstate NY with the possible exception of a little patch over Illinois and Indiana.  

image

   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
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@jimgilliland YEP, not looking good here either.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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codecage
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I've made some progress, but it looks like I might not be up and running until the next eclipse.

By the way, I did find my HQ camera, but @dronebot-workshop, I didn't find your missing lens there.

I've got the Pi running with the camera attached and with an Arducam 16mm focal length lens,  But I can't seem to get the focus correct on the object across the room that I have the camera pointed towards.

I have loaded the picamera2-WebUI-Lite from the Tom's Hardware site that Bill mentions earlier in this thread and I can "see" the camera from another computer.

I really haven't ever done any real camera work, so wondering what I might be doing wrong trying to get the camera focused.

SteveG


   
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Ron
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@codecage I don't have one of those (yet) but my reading is that there are 2 focusing rings, one on the Arducam lens, and one on the camera module. The HQ camera model spec shed shows the focus as adjustable but not motorized. Focus the actual lens at infinity and point it at something out there window far away then look at the image as you move the camera back focus ring to see what happens. My poor memory tells me you should see a change in size. Start with the smallest image size, then aim across the room and try focusing with the lens focus ring.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7410
 

@codecage My guess was wrong, here are the instructions for the 'back focus ring' You probably already did this.

Screenshot 2024 04 04 at 12.51.45

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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(@dronebot-workshop)
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@codecage If it helps Steve, I found the best focus was with the tube nearly all the way into the telescope body.  

Another thing to note about the Pi HQ Camera is that it has a built-in IR filter. Raspberry Pi has instructions for removing this, which may be a good idea for a solar camera. I'm not sure if the focus would be affected by the filter.

😎

Bill

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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codecage
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@dronebot-workshop 

I'm just trying to get a focused picture with the camera and lens on an object across the room. No telescope involved at the moment.  Can we move the eclipse back a couple of months?  Maybe then I might be ready.

😎

SteveG


   
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(@dronebot-workshop)
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Well, we just lost all our electricity on the anniversary of our ice storm.  Here we go again!

😖

On the plus side, the weather for Monday is still good. In anticipation of this happening, I charged everything rechargeable and overheated the house.

😎

Bill

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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