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All Sky Cam....what are you guys using?

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#1 George P Dunham

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 12:47 PM

I have a Mallicam AllSkyCam.  The clear "dome" needs to be replaced.  I've contacted the manufacture and awaiting a definitive reply.  I am guessing that I will need to replace it.  I am seeing a few available: SBIG, Starlight Xpress and Alcor.  What product are you guys using for your remote observatory?  Any good and easy to build diy kits? 

 

Anyone relpace the Maillicam dome?  I measure an outside diameter of 2.68" and 1.5" inside height.  I haven't been able to find a replacement online.



#2 geminijk

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 01:14 PM

Homemade enclosure (PVC pipe and a 4" Acrylic Dome) for a ZWO ASI 290MM and a StarDot LEN-2M1.55MMCS 1.55-1.55mm f/1.5-1.5 Fisheye Body. This permits a MUCH better view from the stock lens that comes with most ZWO cameras that say they are all sky. A very nice setup that works great.

 

 

John

 

 

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#3 George P Dunham

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 04:40 PM

Would it be possible to send a picture of the setup.

Does this set up have a frosting or dew problem? 

Other moisture issues?


Edited by George P Dunham, 25 February 2020 - 04:46 PM.


#4 my-spot

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 05:41 PM

I use a QHY5L-II mono inside a Telescope Support Systems All Sky Camera Housing... I have modified it to add some heater resistors to limit dew/frost. The QHY5L-II mono is too sensitive for day time but it works as needed at night. The software is custom made... Other than needing to clean the dome every so often it has worked well for quite some time.

 

 

https://youtu.be/KHOQhF9r2yI

 

 



#5 RossW

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 08:33 PM

Homemade enclosure (PVC pipe and a 4" Acrylic Dome) for a ZWO ASI 290MM and a StarDot LEN-2M1.55MMCS 1.55-1.55mm f/1.5-1.5 Fisheye Body. 

John, are you seeing reflections from the dome, as reported on Amazon? It probably only occurs on moonlit nights though:

 

"I would have given it 5 stars if the lens wasn't so reflective, unfortunately I can see a reflection of the dome on the lens and the lens on the dome as light bounces back and forth between the two ..."



#6 SonnyE

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 09:07 PM

If you are adventurous George.... Build one and never look back.

 

https://www.instruct...All-Sky-Camera/


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#7 geminijk

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 10:22 PM

John, are you seeing reflections from the dome, as reported on Amazon? It probably only occurs on moonlit nights though:

 

"I would have given it 5 stars if the lens wasn't so reflective, unfortunately I can see a reflection of the dome on the lens and the lens on the dome as light bounces back and forth between the two ..."

I haven't had a sky capable of testing this out yet, as I went live with it a month or two ago. 

 

 

Would it be possible to send a picture of the setup.

Does this set up have a frosting or dew problem? 

Other moisture issues?

I'll get some pics this weekend IF it doesn't rain.  I have not put any dew control in it yet, I wanted to get an idea of how it will handle it without, but I do anticipate needing something. 

 

 

John



#8 mark77

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:15 AM

If you are adventurous George.... Build one and never look back.

 

https://www.instruct...All-Sky-Camera/

 

I built one of these, it is great and the guy has decent support if you send him email.

 

I made some suggestions which he added to his program.  Additionally its open source



#9 Carl N

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:28 AM

I built one myself, strongly recommend using allskeye as software!

https://www.allskeye.com
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#10 George P Dunham

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 02:17 PM

It looks like I should take this option.  Mallicam is not responding to my request on for a new camera dome. 

 

I am wondering if the ZWO ASI 290MM has enough sensitivity for the application of night sky monitoring?

 

Or I actually have a QHY5L-IIc I'm not using.  Any recommendation on a 180 degree fisheye lens for it?



#11 gregj888

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 12:56 AM

George, the 290 is as sensitive as you can get without spending lot's of dollars.  Qhy5l-iim is not as sensitive but is pretty good, I'd use it if it's not busy.



#12 Larry Mc

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 06:02 PM

hi all,

 

I've also put together a DIY all-sky 'domecam' using a ZWO ASI290MC and a cheap fake security-cam dome. 

https://www.amazon.c...g/dp/B00881QWVY

 

Below is a 30 second test image that I made using SharpCap at the 2019 BFSP @ Cherry Springs using the stock fisheye lens.

The color is a little off as I was still learning how to use the camera and software. I think the gain was set to 300.

The next night I used SharpCap to take a series of time-lapse images and created a little video:  https://youtu.be/-qwceqfJj2A

Unfortunately, I had earlier felt the need to tweak the lens focus, and made it worse,,, lol

Neither of these used the dome at that time, as I needed to first buy a right-angle USB3 cable for the camera to fit inside the dome. Since then, I've been experimenting with the camera inside the dome, but still working out the best way to add a dew heater. Also, I've noticed some scattered glare/refection on the dome from any nearby bright light. That might be due to the dome being 'cheap'.

 

I'm also looking for a better fish-eye lens than the stock, so if anyone has suggestions of one that will work well with the ZWO ASI290MC, please let me know!

 

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#13 dkb

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 10:24 PM

Did the DIY route using that Instructables mentioned earlier.  The author has all the software open source (except of course the ZWO drivers) in github repo: https://github.com/t...sjacquin/allsky

 

You just need Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 and some time and basic materials to build enclosure (or that security cam dome which looks interesting).

 

Here is image from my all sky cam using a ZWO ASI178MC that was scaled down 60% to get under attachment limit:

0455_scaled.jpg


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#14 dkb

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 10:58 PM

Since then, I've been experimenting with the camera inside the dome, but still working out the best way to add a dew heater. Also, I've noticed some scattered glare/refection on the dome from any nearby bright light. That might be due to the dome being 'cheap'.

 

Was curious about that dome you got.  How water tight is that dome?  Can you separate the dome from the flange surrounding it so that it can be easily replaced if necessary?  Since it wasn't designed to be facing straight up just wanted to be sure it can be made rain proof before getting one.



#15 Larry Mc

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 12:12 AM

hi David,

 

yeah, that little security-cam dome isn't very waterproof on it's own.

That white flat plastic flange separates (twists off) from the main body and the dome is removable too. That's how you gut the fake camera.

In my first attempt in building this I was using a R2 camera, but I didn't like the low-resolution images that it produced. The main reason that I upgraded to the ZWO.

As part of that build, I used bathroom caulking around the seam where the dome and flange meet, and along the seam between the flange and body. (see red arrows, you can still see some of the chaulk along the dome).

That seemed to solve the waterproofing issue, and eventually once I get the ZWO cam working the way I want, I'll redo the seal. For now, I don't leave it out in the rain.

In addition to having to drill a hole for the cabling, (which I caulked closed after seeing a wasp checking out the hole), I also drilled a couple of very small holes in the bottom of the main body to act as a drain, just in case it did leak around the edges of the flange. Here's a pic of the R2 domecam version mounted on my teardrop camper using velcro. I eventually moved away from that mounting setup to having it now attached to an old camera tripod on the ground next to the camper where it's easier to tweak.

 

 

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#16 Carl N

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 11:27 AM

At Big Orange, Home Depot, I found a PVC 2"  to 1.5" adapter and a 1.5" slip fit, mated together allowed my qhy 5iii to fit in nicely, then used the par focal ring to lock in place. Also found a shower drain with 2" pipe opening. 

At Amazon I got a security dome cover and siliconed it onto the drain, after removing the wire hair grate. Added screws for fun. I also got this lens that is good with IR

https://www.amazon.c...i_x4OwEbTNRN8ZM

 

This way it is waterproof but can be disassembled with no tools. It's all push fit. It mounts on a pole on the roof with the USB cable coming in a vent, and I have a small mini PC in the attic running allskeye that stores the finished files on my network drive. I can remote access and control using windows 10.

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#17 George P Dunham

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 12:22 PM

Camera and lens ordered.  When with the ZWO ASI 178MC and StarDot LEN-2M1.55MMCS 1.55-1.55mm f/1.5-1.5 Fisheye Body.  Also a ZWO dew heater and thermostat controller.  Will be fun.



#18 Taylor

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 01:07 PM

I'm going to put this on my "to build" list for 2020. There are some nice components on Thingiverse for all sky cameras as well if you have a 3D printer. 

Would be a nice addition to my observatory. 



#19 Lightpath

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 03:53 PM

I've had a bit of a passion for all sky cameras for years.  Having one has been a years long obsession that continued after I finally got one properly installed.

 

I started with a video based all sky camera that requires a video capture device attached to a computer.  I never got satisfactory results and do not recommend going that route.  YMMV

 

After that camera I went in the CMOS direction.  I am using the Thomas Jacquin code on github.   His code has come a long way, and if you follow the instructions it works well.  I've made several cameras using his software as the starting point, all with excellent results:

 

First I built a Raspi 3 with asi120mm-s. Worked pretty well, and was my allsky cam combo for a long, long time.  It has since been decommed and the camera has since been moved to the front of my scope so I can see where it's pointed I have another asi120mm pointed at my camera to make sure I can see when the rotator may be wrapping wire, and it's saved me from torquing apart the rotator multiple times)

 

Within the last four or five months I've upgraded to a Raspi 4 with asi290mm and stock lens.   Works brilliantly and is currently my allsky camera.  I am supper happy with the results.  I bought a security camera housing (outdoor rated) and drilled out a hole for the USB3 cable.  The USB3 cable snakes into my apartment where I have a raspi 4 set up with an SSD for storing the images.  I was concerned about constantly writing to the SD card.  I'm not quite sure if frequent writes are a concern for sd cards anymore, but it used to be, and I had a usb3 ssd hanging around so why not?  An example night:  https://www.youtube....h?v=xvfxEdoo1cE The black plastic shield at the lower side of the camera is to block other apartments for both their privacy and light messing with the auto exposure.  I have a super narrow band of imageable sky, and it's somewhere between class 7 and 8.

 

Over the last couple of weeks I have built a third camera.  Raspi 4 w/SSD, and asi178mm.  Stock lens.  The intent was to leave it at a friend's place that has moved out to an area with class one skies and good LTE service.  The idea was to use the camera to help me figure out if the site was suitable for a remote observatory.  I wasn't happy with the physical build of it though.  In the end I took it up there and got a couple of nights of images, and brought it back home to continue working on it.  It was a fun project and I don't regret doing it.  After taking some time to work on it I may actually install it permanently at my friend's place, we'll see.  Here's the best night of data I got, and if you notice at 1:20 in the video there's lots of streaks in the sky on the left side of the video (to the south).  This is a starlink constellation going over:  https://www.youtube....h?v=LfXaG60syCg


Edited by Lightpath, 29 February 2020 - 11:20 PM.


#20 iwannabswiss

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 05:10 PM

I was concerned about constantly writing to the SD card.  I'm not quite sure if frequent writes are a concern for sd cards anymore, but it used to be, and I had a usb3 ssd hanging around so why not?

I don't think it is anymore.  I've been using Samsung's Pro Endurance micro SD card series; they're made for constant writing for up to 5 years, depending on the size you go with.  However, despite that, I will say that I'm working on moving towards using cloud storage, so I only need a small card just for the OS.



#21 Lightpath

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 12:26 AM

I don't think it is anymore.  I've been using Samsung's Pro Endurance micro SD card series; they're made for constant writing for up to 5 years, depending on the size you go with.  However, despite that, I will say that I'm working on moving towards using cloud storage, so I only need a small card just for the OS.

That's good news on the sd cards!  That's a good idea, moving to cloud based storage.  I am pleased with how the SSDs are performing, and I want to keep things local just in case there are network problems out in the middle of nowere.  




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