A couple of months back, I put together an all sky camera system for the Martz-Kohl Observatory near Jamestown, in Western New York. An all sky camera provides a (near) 180-degree fisheye view of the sky. This project was a joint effort with other members of the observatory. One member supplied parts for the system enclosure while another donated a Raspberry Pi 4B single board computer and ZWO ASI224MC astro-camera and lens. Others donated time and expertise for assembling and mounting the system on top of the observatory. There were definite lesons learned as the original assembly leaked under severe weather. The fight with dew and frost is ongoing. It will take some effort and thought to automate a method of keeping the dome clear. For now, an occasional cleaning of the dome’s’s exterior keeps everything working 🙂
SO, with lessons learned, I built a version 2 all sky camera system! As opposed to the PVC pipe enclosure, I went with a waterproof box, similar to what other DIY folks have used. I used parts that I had lying around: a Raspberry Pi 4B, R-Pi HQ camera, an Argon Fan HAT and a USB 3 SSD that I was no longer using. I purchased a lens, dome, USB C cable mount, and various hardware and sealants.
On both systems, I use Thomas Jacquin’s Allsky software which is open source and available on github.(more…)