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Thread: Wireless Telescope and Camera Control for Astrophotography

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    Watching this thread for options for the future. Thanks, guys.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghswen View Post
    Would fix your problem and it wouldn't be much more complicated than "screwing in a light bulb"....
    You can also use one of this if you still need the light bulb. A "ladron" or a thief socket, how we call it in Mexico.

    Saludos and clear skies!

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    Out of interest, is this using an AC invertor, or bypassing the laptops battery altogether, as in a modded dumb battery?? Just curios as most laptops have 10.8v batteries nowadays.
    I have though of modding an old laptop straight to a car battery, via the correct voltage regulators. My dell has 3v, 5v and a 10.8v rail from the battery to the laptop mainboard.

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    I was lucky when I set up the ExploraDome, The wife swapped out the Hot Tub, picking one requiring 200v service. So that left the 110v outlet for Dome service. I bought two sets of construction grade 10 gage extension cords. They are rated for about 16 amps each, boosting the available power to the Dome, even with the power drop.

    The floor of the Dome has 3 layers of .09" Goodyear roofing rubber covered by 3" of filtered sand. Two heat mats [designed to work under area rugs] are laid on the sand and then all is capped by 2-1/2" thick paver stones. Late in the Fall the heat mats are powered and left on all winter. They heat soak the sand and paver stones, and slowly radiate heat upward [due to the rubber liner also]. They aren't hot to the touch in the winter, but even in sub-zero temps, they never feel cold.

    There are two Dog House Ceramic Heaters mounted onto the inner walls. Low voltage will built in thermostats that are set to 30F. They compliment the floor mats nicely with automatic heat. Even with the Dome Shutter open, I get a 12 to 18F temp lift from ambient outside temps. As this is a low temp differential, I have yet to see any air current effect in the subframes. But be careful to isolate heaters to a separate power circuit than your CCD Cameras are using. I have found hash in Starlight Xpress images that were caused by electrical backfeed from the heaters.

    Note to ExploraDome owners. A boat bumper design to mount directly to the squared edge of a dock, while fit nicely on the inner door frame, saving your head from pain.

    Two Laptops run in the Dome, each running up two two imaging Programs. The Laptops are connected to a Linksys Access point in the Dome, and for good measure, also are connected to the house through a AV Home Plug package from TrendNet. It works through you house wiring to provide connection. The Network, I read, is supposed to use the fastest access path to the Hub.

    I run TightVNC from the house to control the Laptops for longer imaging runs. The system works really well EXCEPT when the wife's Hot Tub is cycling. It [and the MicroWave] don't make nice with wireless. I just bought a NetBook to have a very portable means to move me to a better connection point. Should work nicely.

    The Dome is manual rotation for the Shutter. I bought a low lux video camera to mount up front of the scopes. It will display an image to allow me to see when the shutter is going to begin covering a Scope's FOV. This simple lightweight Video Camera can also be controlled by one of the existing Laptops and only requires a single USB cable for power and all control. Some debugging trial-and-error will be required. But I hope to take the guess work out of Shutter indexes... AlanP

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    You can build something based on Intel BOXD410PT ($69) and power it by M3-ATX DC-DC PSU from the Power Tank.

    It has been reported that motherboard with hard-drive consumes 20W. If you swap HDD for SSD you can cut it down even lower.

    Then you can slap liliput touchscreen display on this rig (that is also powered by 12V) and you will be set for field trips as well.

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    Another method I found is using a networking adapter for over power outlet networking. This requires a power adapter connection however.

    Bluetooth 4.0 is coming out, and with a long range bluetooth connection or wireless switch you can operate at longer distances from home.
    Name: Gus OTAs: ED 100 PRO refractor, Orion ST80 (not the CF), 8" Dob stuck in Canada Mounts:HEQ5PRO Synscan mount, Manfrotto Tripod CAMS: Guidecam Philips SPC900 webcams (4), Canon unmodded-450D DSLR

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    I have been working a bit with my various network configurations past few weeks experimenting a bit. My electric setup has been expanding a bit also. Highlights below of the explora dome setup in latest configuration.




    Like Alan I have what I call temp construction(jobsite) wiring heavy gauge wire rated for 16 amps. Currently I have run one of these to the observatory where I removed the female end of cord and hard wired it to an outlet. I then feed my other outlets off of this primary outlet. I can run a second power cord if needed. Currently, the one power supply has been more than sufficient and I have seen no interference to date.

    For lighting I moved the red incandescent rope light I purchased from Home Depot to near floor level and located this onto a dual dimmer switch. One dimmer controls the red rope light the other controls a white rope light which is up at about head level so I can have ample light in dome as needed. Both rope lights almost completely circle around the periphery(approx 27 feet) of the dome short just a few feet.

    I also have a few of the clamp on work lights with regular and red bulbs which I can use the white for flats off of the side of dome where a white panel is being mounted, from a parked position at end of imaging session(work in progress), using double stacked tshirt flats where tshirt thread is tangent to one another.

    In the dome I installed indoor/outdoor carpet and have one area with a low voltage protected signal path running from pier under the carpet to the wall adjacent to the warm room. I have two usb hubs located at the pier location, my recent hub is a powered 12 port hub with lit ports. The dome area and control room both have security cameras, the one in dome is fully motorized. Both of these are usb powered. I have few other various networking gear in the control room, including my networked printer scanner.

    The wiring from power supply extends into the control room area where I have a small ceramic heater which on low setting(300 watt) will take the observatory control room to temps in the 60's to 70's on coldest of nights sub zero in less than hour, quicker if I run it on high setting. This unit has a thermostat control, in addition I have a flat radiant panel which can supply heat at desk which consumes only 65 watts. I spared no expense making sure the control room was well insulated. For time being the control room has one surge outlet strip, until I ready to commit to permanent outlets, still experimenting on some accessory locations a bit in the control room.

    I currently have two methods of network connection back to the main router in the house. I have been using a wirless N router which is located in the window of my basement 40-50 feet away, control room is behind dome though not in sight of this basement window. My solution was to install a range extender near ring height of my dome opposite this basement wireless setup. I then run a 150mbps wireless usb key attennae on usb extension to interior of the dome so computer has best reception being located near the range extender. Most nights my video conferencing works well on this setup. I did run into issues of the range extender dropping the connection, later found that I needed to lock the channel of router from switching automatically.

    I also have a temp hard wired network connection currently running at 100Mbps, need to pick up some more Cat 6 cable so my network stays at Gigabit speeds. My house is hard wired throughout at 100% Gigabit.

    My Internet connection at cable modem most of time is a whopping 30 Mbps plus. I have dual cables running from pole in street to my house, one dedicated to hdtv, one just to my computer world ssssshhh these speeds are not part of the normal cable internet package, I am just lucky to get these speeds..... Cable install guy was bored when he hooked up my house and called in truck to run the 2nd cable.

    I have a few other desk lamps and work lights throughout the observatory. The computer is my full tower gaming and video editing rig, which is my number one power consumer.

    I have a small weather and lunar station in the control room. The weather station does pretty decent job forecasting future inclement weather. The dome in winter stays at ambient temperatures quite well, no cooldown required.

    In future I may add one more range extender off exterior of control room which will be aimed to my upper yard where I setup my other scope frequently during warm weather.
    Last edited by DaltonSkyGazer; 12-24-2011 at 07:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Wireless Telescope and Camera Control for Astrophotography

    I travel Monday-Friday and sometimes I don't come home for weeks at a time. This forced me to be a little creative with this hobby. I run my telescope from where ever I am in the world remotely. I do, however, a permanent power source to run the computer and to power the 12v regulator that I have that runs the telescope and other accessories. Here is my setup:

    Computer running TightVNC -it runs all the time: I assigned the computer a permanent IP address and I did a port forwarding function on my router firewall. I opened the port that I needed on the firewall: The computer runs all the time and I can connect to it whenever I want. You can use TeamViewer if you are not ok or if you are not good with networking. However, Teamviewer requires an action on the computer by the telescope to initiate a connection - I did not want that.

    Wireless extender - my observatory shed is too far for my wireless hub

    IP wireless camera - I can control the panning of the camera via a web interface so I can see what the telescope is doing. The camera has night vision.

    I put red markers on the RA and DEC axis so if I loose calibration, I can visually put it back into rough calibration by using the camera. I then use PinPoint to run plate solving and calibrated or synch the telescope.

    The roof open and closes remotely - I used a long threaded rod and I tapped a small angled bracket to push and pull the roof as it rotates. I used a windshield wiper motor that I acquired from a junk yard for $10.

    I have the roof open/close motor, SBIG camera power, Dew heater, camera body heater, Robofocus power, and a flood light controlled via a PLC and relays.

    Basically, other than the PLC programming skills, anyone can make a robotic observatory at a very cheap price. I know it is not quite just a wireless telescope control answer that you are looking for, but I hope this at least shed some light - I meant, the wireless extender part and the TightVNC part.
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    Default Re: Wireless Telescope and Camera Control for Astrophotography

    Hi,
    One of my other interests is computing, and I've been recently doing some things with the Raspberry Pi, a very low cost, low power consumption, credit card sized computer. On the Raspberry Pi forum there are lots of incredible projects people are putting together using this device. One of these projects is called PiAstroHub by a user called anat. I've just copied below a section from his opening post to give you an idea of what anat's project is doing:

    'I am working on using Raspberry Pi as a hub between the devices on a mount and a mobile device (iOS/Android). So, there is no cable between a telescope and a user. The functions of PiAstroHub are

    1. Autoguiding by QHY5, QHY6, or Orion Startshoot autoguider which takes a series of images and sends correction signals to a mount.
    2. Goto bridge between Skysafari (on iOS/Android) and a mount
    3. DSLR control and image display
    4. Astrometry (plate solving) to get the precise location where a telescope is pointing. And the location will be send to Skysafari to re-align a mount. So, an object of interest will be at the center of FOV.'


    If you're interested I'd suggest going to read the full forum thread at the following link:
    Raspberry Pi • View topic - PiAstroHub for Autoguiding+DSLR+Goto+Astrometry

    As I get my own telescope kitted out I'll be looking at implementing PiAstroHub and I'll give some feedback here about how it goes.
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    Default Re: Wireless Telescope and Camera Control for Astrophotography

    Although that is quite ambitious, and I will follow very closely (the above post), I have decided to start a little smaller.

    Gene from this site: Astrogene1000 Stuff

    makes a few neat gadgets. I've bought one of the wifi gadgets that will hook to my celestron cg5 mount, and at least it will remove one cable.

    The one I bought converts serial to wifi. I've separately already tested the pc app called "wifi scope" which will allow sky safari running on my phone or android tablet to control the scope (once it's been aligned). I did this leaving the serial cable going from the laptop to the mount.

    Today, I found out that one can create a replacement "cable" that will interface directly with the mount, thus removing the need for the hand controller: http://www.nexstarsite.com/OddsNEnds/PortsCGEM.htm (Pdf at bottom)

    Ideally, getting the autoguider and dslr to be wireless would be fantastic, but this is pretty good for now. I will have my laptop (which the battery lasts at least 4 -5 hours outside, plugged into the dslr, auto guider, and wirelessly connected to the mount. I plan to still use the laptop at first, to get the mount aligned by using nexremote (and nexgps). But after that's done, I plan to close the lid (I've adjusted power save to not sleep and it won't hibernate until it hits 3% battery left) and stick it in a covered box so it won't get 'dewy'. Then inside a building, car, etc, I will use my android tablet and vnc to control backyard eos imagaing, and phd guiding.

    I'd love for there to be a more automated guided way to polar align, but at least these few things will save a bunch of time.
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