Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Astrowl Project : Highly portable EEA

  • Please log in to reply
159 replies to this topic

#1 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 05:29 AM

Hi guys, I hope you are well. I just would like to introduce you my project to create a highly portable EEA instruments.

 

To explain the historic of this project, I must say that I am doing astronomy nearly exclusively visualy.

I had tested so much scopes to find the ones that fits my needs : Dobson (18"), big refractors (150 to 180mm of aperture), small refractors, Mak Newton, Maksutov, SC, unusual optical system (Clavius 166), and so on... But never find the right instrument, sometimes I have aperture fever and sometimes I want portable system.

 

However I always had this frustration to do not access to deep sky objects, and even in dark sites with large aperture looking at faint nebulae, galaxies was a bit frustrating (gray cloud).

 

That's why I was interested by new products like Unistellar or Vianis scopes. I tested one eVscope for several months and it was a great pleasure and easy to use. But as experienced user, I already had my own materials and scopes and it was a bit frustrating not to benefit of my large aperture to get the full benefits of the CMOS sensitivity.

 

That's why I decide to work on a projet where I could get same functionalities but in a very portable system (don't want to bring big camera, computer, big power tank, table, chairs, ....) and continue to use my own astronomy materials and scopes.

 

It takes me nearly one year to get a fully functionnal item and I am very pleased to show you my first prototype and get your feedbacks, critics and idea of improvment.

 

So what is exactly Astrowl ?

It is a very portable system using a very sensitive IMX462 sensor, integrated a 4" display and manage lot of realtime imaging processing. You connect through wifi (using a browser) to the Astrowl box and can change lot of parameters to be able to catch sky objects. With attached pictures you will see what the box looks like, what the browser interface looks like and some first samples of sky objects.

 

There are two main modes : live and stacking.

In live mode you can modify camera parameters and get up to 1sec of exposure. You see in realtime deep sky objects, you can change gain, saturation, contrast, ...

In stacking mode, you will get the best of the Astrowl box, you will stack pictures, virtually getting more and more long exposure, benefit from autoaligning frames, applying some filters (sharpen, denoise, ...) and even increasing red, green or blue stack.

And at least you can save the live or stacking pictures you can see on the 4" display and download it. 

 

The Astrowl box prototype is packaged in a 3D printed plastic box.

 

My attached pictures were taken under a very light polluted sky and with a not so good tracking precision. So I am pretty sure that you can get far better results under good sky and with good tracking.

 

I am very impatient to get your feedbacks. 

 

The well know Orion Nebula with a short exposure of nearly 5 seconds and 7 stacked images. Could greatly improve by pushing the stack numbers.

Attached Thumbnails

  • stackpic0209_193812.jpg.67bbaaf2189e4b047e3f4dfa8275af49.jpg

Edited by watchever, 15 April 2022 - 08:56 AM.

  • zjc26138, roelb, MartinMeredith and 5 others like this

#2 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 05:30 AM

Sorry but cannot add more than one picture on each post... This is M3 globular cluster.

Attached Thumbnails

  • stackpic0326_165229.jpg.e9201822e616f3fb40e1a3253a50089b.jpg

Edited by watchever, 15 April 2022 - 08:55 AM.

  • zjc26138, roelb and Borodog like this

#3 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 05:32 AM

What the user interface looks like.

Attached Thumbnails

  • image.png.5420522fbaf712c3bfa5e3678302aa02.png
  • image.png.c938abfc3319495054e98c26b7731899.png
  • image.png.8b0e947d731fd3b8ec3a301671585ba6.png

  • roelb and Borodog like this

#4 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 05:35 AM

And what the Astrowl box looks like

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1646577995636.jpg.2816c95f6650fbf9c37b64f47f52a37b.jpg
  • 1646577995645.jpg.cf475f2a6ad96ff2d7131c37ef605ab4.jpg

  • roelb, steveincolo, Borodog and 1 other like this

#5 nicknacknock

nicknacknock

    In search of a village...

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 19,998
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2012
  • Loc: Nicosia, Cyprus

Posted 15 April 2022 - 06:05 AM

watchever,

 

An interesting project if you are enjoying it and keeping busy, but these days everyone has a smartphone / tablet, so one can always take a Raspberry Pi option, connect to camera of choice, download the app and have at it.

 

I don't mean to sound negative - I am really impressed by this home built! I am just questioning the usefulness in terms of claimed portability for example, as there is a camera, a control box and of course, you need a power source. More or less what everyone who uses a Raspberry Pi box (be it ASIAir / AstroBerry / StellarMate O/S) does...


  • bips3453 likes this

#6 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 07:02 AM

Thanks Nick for your feedback.

Astroberry is quite different, you cannot use it without a computer (not sure it is really usable from a tablet, and not talking about smartphone) and the main purpose of AstroBerry is a remote control of astronomy setup (I mean complex setup). You will still have to bring your own camera, setup everything on astroberry not sure it is an easy job for the most of us. And with frames captured, you will still have to stack, align frames by yourself, which lot of people do not want to bother with.

 

The Astrowl box is all in one (computer, camera, automatic frame alignment) and can be put in a pocket. The user interface can be used on a smartphone, just modifying few settings.

 

AstroBerry is more dedicated to astrophotography for advanced astronomer and less for EEA.

Astrowl is more for fast shooting, easy setup, get benefit from a sensitive sensor and more oriented on EEA.

I want to keep it as simple as possible and usable by any astronomer. At present you just have to switch it on and voilà !

 

Just have a look to AstroBerry configuration and installation page, not sure everybody can do that...


Edited by watchever, 15 April 2022 - 07:20 AM.

  • zjc26138, Ernesto.Nicola, Augustus and 2 others like this

#7 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 07:34 AM

And forgot to add the stacking mode user interface. Previous pictures of user interface were for live mode.

Attached Thumbnails

  • image.png.0b98cb8094bb3e3dea0eb0e41965e3a6.png


#8 GaryShaw

GaryShaw

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,088
  • Joined: 28 Nov 2017
  • Loc: Massachusetts / Wyoming

Posted 15 April 2022 - 07:52 AM

Hi

Congratulations on your entrepreneurship in developing your idea to this level.

 

As I read your text and looked at the images, I am unclear how the device you pictured is to be used. Is it inserted into a telescope drawtube and used like the R2 Imager, only with the smaller built-in screen instead of being detached? The R2 comes with a 7” screen which also functions as the setup display but even the 7” images are only marginally satisfying for viewing.

 

Are the control images you show being displayed on the 4” screen or is there another separate screen for the setup and control of the imaging? Perhaps a few pictures showing your device ‘in use’ would help explain it.

 

Good luck with your project. 
Gary


  • bips3453 likes this

#9 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 08:06 AM

Hi Gary, thanks for encouraging.

Yes the Astrowl box is inserted directly in the focuser with 1.25" diameter. The screen does not display anything else than the captured image and it is part of the Astrowl box, it cannot be separated. I'd rather this solution to avoid annoying wires.

4" display is really portable and still confortable to use and view lived frames and stacked frames.

 

The pictures of Orion Nebula and M3 displayed above are exactly pictures displayed on the 4" screen. It is only 10 stacked images in very light polluted place. If you have correct alignment, good tracking you can push stack to 250 and under a good sky surely get lot of more details.

 

The setup interface is displayed on your phone (or any other devices with a browser) with a wifi connextion to the Astrowl box.

 

I also choose a really sensitive sensor IMX462 and it is quite easy to change it and install another one in the future if necessary. The application which runs on Astrowl box which manages frames capture, image processing is not tightly linked with the sensor.


Edited by watchever, 15 April 2022 - 08:16 AM.


#10 GaryShaw

GaryShaw

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,088
  • Joined: 28 Nov 2017
  • Loc: Massachusetts / Wyoming

Posted 15 April 2022 - 08:29 AM

Hi

Ok, that helps me understand your idea.

 

It seems that your product is an alternative to the R2 Imager so you will need to clearly explain how it compares to the R2 and what it’s advantages are over the R2. At first look, your device requires an internet connection and a computer or mobile device whereas the R2 does not. Also, your device provides a 4” screen where the R2 comes with a 7” screen. 
 

I’m sure there are advantages that your product has over the R2 which you will want to clearly explain. You mention that it doesn’t need wires as the R2 does but is that really an advantage? The wires on the R2 allow the user to position the display screen wherever the user wants it for convenience and ease of viewing. With your device, the screen will always be fixed in position depending on where the telescope is pointing. Sometimes that could be quite awkward for viewing. You’ll need to prepare to address issues like that when competing with other products with different features and functionality.

 

I’m sure you’re already thinking about all this ….

cheers

Gary


  • bips3453 likes this

#11 norvegicus

norvegicus

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,663
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2020
  • Loc: en route

Posted 15 April 2022 - 08:36 AM

This is really cool and impressive, a great EAA tool because it keeps things simple.

 

Making the built in display adjustable in position would be a big added feature.  Lining up behind a focuser isn't always comfortable.  Perhaps something similar to adjustable DSLR displays.

 

Broadcasting the current image to the controlling device would also solve that problem, although that requires more WiFi resources with good bandwidth.


  • bips3453 likes this

#12 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 08:53 AM

The wifi connexion is between your smartphone and the Astrowl box, not for internet purpose. I do not expect that in the middle of nowhere with you scope you will have an internet connexion :-).

 

Yes 7" display could be an advantage, it depends if you are looking portable device. Because practically where do you put the 7" screen ? Astrowl can stand in a pocket.

 

One more point Astrowl does not only capture frames, it stacks frames, you can apply filters on each new frame stacked, like sharpen, wavelet denoise, ... and see results in live. It also includes an algorithm to auto align frames. It means that it can correct a small guiding deviation (even if it is not really the main purpose).


  • zjc26138 and norvegicus like this

#13 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:08 AM

This is really cool and impressive, a great EAA tool because it keeps things simple.

 

Making the built in display adjustable in position would be a big added feature.  Lining up behind a focuser isn't always comfortable.  Perhaps something similar to adjustable DSLR displays.

 

Broadcasting the current image to the controlling device would also solve that problem, although that requires more WiFi resources with good bandwidth.

I was looking for broadcastring the pictures to the web browser, but not yet time to investigate this solution.

I have used several times the box in observing sessions and did not feel any unconfort to look at the screen, but yes you are right a fixed display is less confortable for sure. For example on a scope with a focuser on the back of the scope I use a star diagonal.

There is also no problem to use the Astrowl box on Alt Az mount.


  • torsinadoc likes this

#14 steveincolo

steveincolo

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,428
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Boulder, Colorado, US

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:08 AM

Interesting project.  What scope did you use for these images?  What is the battery life?  You might be able to improve the battery life by removing the display and using a phone or tablet to display the image via WiFi, as you’re using a phone or tablet anyway to set adjustments and so on.  



#15 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:10 AM

Interesting project.  What scope did you use for these images?  What is the battery life?  You might be able to improve the battery life by removing the display and using a phone or tablet to display the image via WiFi, as you’re using a phone or tablet anyway to set adjustments and so on.  

I use a 5" apo fd 6.7 refractor for the Orion Nebula and a 8" fd4 Newton for the M3 pictures.


  • steveincolo likes this

#16 jonnybravo0311

jonnybravo0311

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 4,928
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2020
  • Loc: NJ, US

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:15 AM

Can you view the images on the web interface, or is that strictly for the setup? If the only place you can view the images is on the little 4" screen, I'd really like for that to have adjustable positioning. If I've got the scope pointed to something near the zenith, I'd have to be lying on the ground to view the images.

 

How does one get the images from this device?

You mentioned downloading... downloading what from where?

If I set it to take a stack, how long is each exposure in that stack?

What is the format of the final image produced?

Are the "live" images saved anywhere, and if so, can they be downloaded?

 

Congrats on creating something like this. Way beyond my skillset :).


  • bips3453 likes this

#17 Ptarmigan

Ptarmigan

    Lagopus lagopus

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,396
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2004
  • Loc: Arctic

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:38 AM

Interesting project. Looks cool. cool.gif waytogo.gif


  • Astrowl likes this

#18 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 09:43 AM

Hello Jonny, at present you cannot view the images on the web interface.

 

You have the same problem with eyepieces... You cannot move the eyepiece in all directions. Astrowl box is the same, the screen displays image in the same direction as your eyepiece does.

It is even more complicated with an eyepiece, because you have to put your eye on the eyepiece to view something.

For a scope with a back focuser I use a star diagonal, like you do with standard eyepiece.

 

From the user interface (see screenshots above), you click on "Snapshot" button to take a snapshot of the image you see on the Astrowl box display. Then you click on "Download Snapshot" button which brings you on new screen where you see the list of all you snapshots. From there by clicking on the file name it downloads the picture file on the device connected to the Astrowl box.

I usually connect my computer to the Astrow box after my nigh session, using the wifi provided by the Astrow box and then download the pictures from my browser (let's say Chrome for example) on my computer. It is as simple as downloading any file on the net. You can also delete file from this interface.

 

Each stack exposure can be up to 1 second.

 

Pictures are saved in jpeg format.

 

And you can take a snapshot of live view or stack view.

"Snapshot" button is available both on live and stack mode.


Edited by watchever, 15 April 2022 - 10:17 AM.

  • steveincolo likes this

#19 Borodog

Borodog

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,971
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2020
  • Loc: St. Augustine, FL

Posted 15 April 2022 - 10:02 AM

Personally I think it's fantastic. I have wondered why there hasn't been a product like this. Saying "everybody can connect a Raspberry Pi blah blah blah" misses the mark in my opinion, because actually, not everyone can. But an all in one box with a simple phone interface, that lowers the bar tremendously in my opinion.

 

Keep it up. Depending on price, I would probably buy one; it looks great for outreach and family astronomy, where more than one person can see the object at once, and with stacking and stretching aided viewing as well.


  • nic35, Astrowl, Ernesto.Nicola and 4 others like this

#20 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 10:19 AM

Thanks Borodog, I will keep you in touch.  


  • Borodog likes this

#21 steveincolo

steveincolo

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,428
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Boulder, Colorado, US

Posted 15 April 2022 - 10:23 AM

Can you view the images on the web interface, or is that strictly for the setup? If the only place you can view the images is on the little 4" screen, I'd really like for that to have adjustable positioning. If I've got the scope pointed to something near the zenith, I'd have to be lying on the ground to view the images.

 

How does one get the images from this device?

You mentioned downloading... downloading what from where?

If I set it to take a stack, how long is each exposure in that stack?

What is the format of the final image produced?

Are the "live" images saved anywhere, and if so, can they be downloaded?

 

Congrats on creating something like this. Way beyond my skillset smile.gif.

Viewing doesn't seem as much of a problem with a fast Newt on alt-az or a Dob on EQ platform.  With a frac or cat you could interpose a diagonal, if the box will fit.  



#22 steveincolo

steveincolo

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,428
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Boulder, Colorado, US

Posted 15 April 2022 - 10:30 AM

If you mounted the sensor yourself, rather than using an astro camera, I'm impressed by your precision.  May I ask what display you are using, and whether there could be added value to a touch-sensitive display?  Also, may I ask what microcontroller/microprocessor are you using?


  • nic35 likes this

#23 nic35

nic35

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,821
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2007
  • Loc: Beverly, MA

Posted 15 April 2022 - 11:19 AM

Tres bien !

 

Let us know if you'll manufacture these, or offer kits, or post on github or elsewhere as a project.

 

j


  • steveincolo likes this

#24 Astrowl

Astrowl

    Vendor - Astrowl

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 18 May 2009
  • Loc: France

Posted 15 April 2022 - 11:43 AM

I can provide the same Astrowl box as the one you see on the above pictures if some of you are interested let me know. I do not want to make any benefits on them at present, just the cost of components. I have to calculate the cost. I just want to spread the product and let enjoy the first users. Get some feedbacks and see what to do next.
  • Borodog likes this

#25 nic35

nic35

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,821
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2007
  • Loc: Beverly, MA

Posted 15 April 2022 - 12:38 PM

I suspect you will get a fair amount of interest.

 

A few quick questions -

 

Does it have its own on-board wifi capable of being a hotspot?

 

Is there any ability to stretch the image?

 

If I stack images, will using the snapshot function capture the stacked image. 

 

thanks again.

 

john




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics