Open source autoguider using webcam or phone sensor?


Ken Hunter
 

Fast approaching the completion of my scope mounting remodel and the cncV3 Onstep...
looking forward to next project and wondering if anyone has cobbled together a DIY guider
using a smaller Arduino and video sensor to feed ST4 inputs into OnStep? I have seen
the PHD-2 system and wonder if there is a smaller footprint solution to Auto-Guiding.

Keep safe!

Ken


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 04:04 PM, Ken Hunter wrote:
wondering if anyone has cobbled together a DIY guider
using a smaller Arduino and video sensor to feed ST4 inputs into OnStep? I have seen
the PHD-2 system and wonder if there is a smaller footprint solution to Auto-Guiding.
I tried a webcam several years ago. They are not sensitive enough, with one exception
that is not longer manufactured (Philips SP9xxx something or other).

Someone tried the Raspberry Pi camera, and it was not sensitive enough.

What I ended up with is a QHY5L-ii-M mono. It is very sensitive, and not too expensive
when purchased from AliExpress. The guide scope I use is an SVBony 60mm F4.
It is a bit on the heavy side though.

If your imaging scope's focal length is not too long (e.g a short refractor), then a 50mm
scope could do the job.


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 04:13 PM, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
using a smaller Arduino and video sensor to feed ST4 inputs into OnStep?
You don't need that either ...

Neither an Arduino nor ST4 signals. OnStep can guide with 'direct to mount' commands,
which is what I use.

In other words: the guide camera has only one cable: a USB 2.0 cable to the
laptop. It is used for power and data. PHD2 gets the image from the camera,
and analyzes it, and sends the guiding commands to OnStep over USB.

That is how most people use guiding in OnStep: no ST4 signals necessary, unless you
have a camera that can ONLY do ST4.


Alexander Varakin
 

There is a project on CloudyNights which implements what you are looking for:
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/707438-guidoino-first-real-stand-alone-autoguider-based-on-arduino/
Some vendors tried experimenting with this approach but it never caught up.
Regular guider, controlled by a PC with PHD is still a golden standard for imaging.
In case if you want to reduce your footprint, you can use Raspberry Pi for controlling all your devices. You would still need a laptop to initiate a session.


Ken Hunter
 

Thanks for the feedback, I'll look at the possibilities mentioned. My goal was to leave the
laptop behind, utilize the Arduino platform that I have been learning and keep it simple since
I will have the ST4 inputs available on my SMC.

Re: rPi... I'm a Chevy guy. No Fords for me LOL

Ken


 

If you're looking for a 'cheap' but serviceable guiding camera, I've had reasonable luck with a camera that sells for about $100 under various names and prices.  It is ZWO driver compatible.  It even has an ST4 port (I've never tried it, though). Google 'T7 Astro camera'.  Here's one example  https://www.ebay.com/itm/T7-Astro-Telescope-Camera-Color-High-Speed-for-Guiding-Planetary-Y3S8-/184354482264


Ufuk Sandalci
 
Edited

Ken,
I have purchased a SONY IMX290 based USB cam (40 USD) and attached it to a camera lens  (Tamron 75mm f:2.8 or 70-300mm tele). It is sensitive enough to be used with PHD2 and SharpCap straight out of the box, with no need for modification. If you are interested in it, here is the Aliexpres link I bought it:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33009237481.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.27424c4dVfVQjZ


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Tue, Dec 8, 2020 at 09:49 AM, Richard Shagam wrote:
If you're looking for a 'cheap' but serviceable guiding camera, I've had reasonable luck with a camera that sells for about $100 under various names and prices.  It is ZWO driver compatible.  It even has an ST4 port (I've never tried it, though). Google 'T7 Astro camera'. 
Dave Schwartz got one of these a year or two ago.
It did not work.

From what I recall, it was having very bad communications errors with massive numbers of corrupt and dropped
frames. He gave up trying to guide with it.

But maybe since then a firmware upgrade made it better? No idea ...


ghpicard
 

Hi Ufuk
   How did you manage to connect that camera to the lens? Did you use a 3D printed piece or used something else.
BTW the SVbony SV305 uses the same sensor.


Matt
 

I currently use the t7c astro camera for both guiding and planetary. I switched from the zwo driver to the ascom one and haven't had many disconnections. Works in proper fps for planetary though. I still wouldn't recommend it since it's a coin flip on what you'll get with the driver. If you're willing to take a risk and handle all the fiddling it might be worth it.


On Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 4:25 PM ghpicard <ghpicard@...> wrote:
Hi Ufuk
   How did you manage to connect that camera to the lens? Did you use a 3D printed piece or used something else.
BTW the SVbony SV305 uses the same sensor.


UndCon
 

I assume the ones who tested rpi camera for tracking used the old small ones. Now they released a 12mp camera that is much better and I found a project that uses the rpi zero and it acts like a webcam on your host.

This means, for less than 100usd you have a cool Webcam that can hopefully act as guide camera... I have a zero, but need to get the new camera. 


"Guilherme Vênere
 

One other thing to consider for the RPI camera is the IR filter in front of the sensor. those who tested it removed the filter too for the test? 

Guilherme 

On Wed, Dec 9, 2020 at 11:43 AM UndCon <niclas.oberg@...> wrote:
I assume the ones who tested rpi camera for tracking used the old small ones. Now they released a 12mp camera that is much better and I found a project that uses the rpi zero and it acts like a webcam on your host.

This means, for less than 100usd you have a cool Webcam that can hopefully act as guide camera... I have a zero, but need to get the new camera. 


Lloyd Simons
 

I understand the reward and economics of DIY but if i am going to do serious AP I would buy a well supported astrocam with an ASCOM driver. A ZWO 120MM mini is only $139 and is a proven winner. Just my 2 cents. I believe Khalid gave similar advice earlier.


Drew 🔭📷🚴‍♂️
 

On Wed, Dec 9, 2020 at 02:48 PM, Lloyd Simons wrote:
I understand the reward and economics of DIY but if i am going to do serious AP I would buy a well supported astrocam with an ASCOM driver. A ZWO 120MM mini is only $139 and is a proven winner. Just my 2 cents. I believe Khalid gave similar advice earlier.
I too went down the DIY path with limited success. I now have a ZWO 120MM mini. It seems like with the great variety of chips and devices out there with only a few that perform well makes this one, like laying carpet and roofing, best left to the professionals. At least that has been my experience.


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

On Wed, Dec 9, 2020 at 02:48 PM, Lloyd Simons wrote:
I understand the reward and economics of DIY but if i am going to do serious AP I would buy a well supported astrocam with an ASCOM driver. A ZWO 120MM mini is only $139 and is a proven winner. Just my 2 cents. I believe Khalid gave similar advice earlier.
Yes.
Initially, I experimented with the Logitech C270 web cam, which has a 1.25" 3D printed adapter on Thingiverse.
That was not sensitive at all ...

Then Dave Schwartz tested the T7 astro camera from AliExpress, and found it to be lacking

So I decided to pay the $40 or $50 more (can't remember the exact difference) and get a proper guiding camera (the QHY5L-ii-M), again from AliExpress.

It is very sensitive. I don't have any trouble with it, except when trying different cable sizes for better cable management.
Once I settled on a working cable, it works really well with KStars/Ekos/INDI.


UndCon
 

In Sweden a zwo 120mini monochrome costs 258usd
(sek2195)

The Zero cost me 60sek(usd 7)

The camera is usd73

Cheaper than the zwo120.... Better, who knows, if not I can use it for any other project I have rpi's for. 


UndCon
 

I just ordered the new RPI-camera. It will be interesting to see if it can be used as a guider. 


Khalid Baheyeldin
 

This is our previous thread from last year on the Pi Noir camera.

https://onstep.groups.io/g/main/topic/29873031#8148

But we did not get an update on how it performs ...


Ufuk Sandalci
 

Hi ghpicard,

I just used a plastic lens rear cover and I screwed the sensor board to that cover via/through a 2 cm wooden block. The sensor is closer than the normal camera sensor plane but for the infinity, this does not create a focusing problem. Recently I ordered two complementary adaptors for a more professional construction:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32999499169.html
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32828744551.html


James Lancaster
 

Figured since I had experience and annoyance with this I would contribute my experience/thoughts.

Given that will run on a raspberry pi, phd2 isn't too heavy, imo. I have tried other solutions, including a pi guider which is out there. Github. 

The pi camera 1/2 does work (noIR version is better), but it is a tiny sensor, and which means finding a star in the fov and bright enough is not easy. (There are other issues with it, but I think they've mostly been fixed. (Not using standard interfaces well) I should hook up my pi to see. It should be capable.)) If you look on thingiverse there's a pi guider which I made a c/cs mount for. Now, you can theoretically modify it and use another OnStep axis to search for a star. 

I've also used a logitech 9000 pro? (If you look at which ones have defined pixel sizes in INDI, you can probably figure it out.) Also works, but similar problem (Tiny sensor) with regard to stars. 

The solution I use now is phd2 + NexImage 5 (actually have 2, one with the ir filter removed.) Which connects to my mini pc (pi4 equivalent, ECS LIVA (original, the pi4 is probably better)) which runs INDI, and phd2 over VNC. (Can also guide via kstars, but haven't tried it in a while. That camera is temperamental and phd2 is better. Though, I would probably use kstars if not for the camera.)  Usually I run kstars on my laptop which talks to INDI on the mount. (Takes me a few secs between exposures for it to download, but at my usual 30-900 secs, it's not much time lost, and given limited storage on the mini pc...) 

One thing I haven't yet done, but want to is to hook up a focuser to the guide scope. It, polar alignment refining and collimation are about the only manual things left on my scope. 

The new pi camera (hq?) Should be better, but I lack experience with it. 

My recommendation would be a USB3 camera, or if you want to chance it, the new pi hq camera. 

You should be able to start from a phone using VNC or other remote desktop. Or just have your laptop start/do it. 

Anyway I hope that helps you.

On Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 15:05 Ken Hunter <kb7hunter@...> wrote:
Fast approaching the completion of my scope mounting remodel and the cncV3 Onstep...
looking forward to next project and wondering if anyone has cobbled together a DIY guider
using a smaller Arduino and video sensor to feed ST4 inputs into OnStep? I have seen
the PHD-2 system and wonder if there is a smaller footprint solution to Auto-Guiding.

Keep safe!

Ken