Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 Venus

Sadly this might be my shot of the 'year'. My views of a low alt Venus in False Color, comprised of R=IR742, G=50/50 R/B, B=UV. For my 2019 Collection!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

DIY IoT power and cooling considerations

I'm the proud DIY'er who made a solution to monitor the whole night sky in an automated fashion by following Thomas Jacquin's Instructables DIY ( project. Not only did he publish the h/w steps but he's got a killer github repo too (!

Here's the whole article on my process and methods -

Heat on the roofline, where I mounted it, and lack of cooling within the allskyPi forced me to get a creative solution to run properly at night and shutdown when the core cpu temp gets too high.

Shutting a Linux machine like a RaspberryPi is trivial but I'm as thorough as I can be and since my Pi is PoE powered, I wanted an extra layer of assurance.

I also power my PoE adapter via a Cisco IOS Switch, which has a cool feature called 'Energywise'  this allowed that admin to set a schedule of when to power off at a set time of day. 

Shutting the Pi and then 5 minutes later powering off the PoE works fairly well if your clocks are synced.  Syncing clocks is again trivial but because I shut the device based upon the heat the sun provides, guess what problem comes next?  Yes, season variations are at play as my sunset time in winter at 5pm versus 9pm in summer means that I'm potentially missing out on some nighttime observation.

So instead of statically setting the energywise time as in the following example:
interface GigabitEthernet1/0/5
 description Gi1/0/5 - PubVC - AllskyPi
 switchport access vlan 491
 switchport mode access
 energywise level 10 recurrence importance 90 at 4 20 * * 1-7
 energywise level 0 recurrence importance 90 at 51 10 * * 1-7
 spanning-tree portfast
Which power's up the Pi at 8:04PM localtime and powers off at 10:51AM, I can, using a script that runs on the Pi execute the following logic:

  1. Decide normal operation temperature high water mark in a file
  2. Read the temp from file, which allows manipulation without script restart
  3. Clear previous night's start/shut timers with ssh / pexpect
  4. Loop monitor the temperature X < Y
  5. I had to insert a condition when the 'endOfNight' script runs that ups the high water mark before the script starts with a simple echo > and then back to the normal temp at end of script.
  6. If the temp exceeds the limit:
    1. Read new sunset times for boot up time and set on switch
    2. Set shutdown timer +5min from current time on switch
    3. Log messages
    4. Shutdown the Pi
    5. Wait until sunset, power up, rinse and repeat.

Here's some logs of the device booting up:
Aug 12 14:19:09: %ILPOWER-7-DETECT: Interface Gi1/0/5: Power Device detected: IEEE PD
Aug 12 14:19:10: %ILPOWER-5-POWER_GRANTED: Interface Gi1/0/5: Power granted
Aug 12 14:19:23: %LINK-3-UPDOWN: Interface GigabitEthernet1/0/5, changed state to up
Aug 12 14:19:24: %LINEPROTO-5-UPDOWN: Line protocol on Interface GigabitEthernet1/0/5, changed state to up

Finally the script is on my Github page -

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Average Jupiter from father's day!

I was out the night before as well, for the 1st time in over 2 months!  Most nights the clouds are doing this -   but it was nice to have mostly clear skies even though it was just average conditions.

Friday, March 22, 2019

My DIY AstroPi AllSky system

I suffer and greatly from clouds! 

In my pursuit to automate the entire deep sky routine, so I can stay warm indoors I sacrifice some visibility into the overall sky conditions for clouds, haze etc that might be a detriment to the stability of my routine, especially when I plan to leave it imaging while I'm asleep.  😴

I knew that wide-angle, dedicated camera would work.  Looking at commercially available allsky I found them crazy pricey.   Then I thought, hey, I built my own telescope, i can DIY this. That's when i found Thomas Jacquin's Instructables DIY ( project. Not only did he publish the h/w steps but he's got a killer github repo too (!

 It's a full enclosed and fully automated system and I've been loving it!! 🤖💞

Anyway there's tons of variation on the the Instructables site and I'm very happy to have found so many great ideas!

I set it up on the deck without the electronics to find it was a bit leaky so the photos show how much sealant I used RESEALING and retesting without electronics again!

First night out it rained but stayed dry inside!

Some of my details are in this video overview.

Right angle usb, it's tight inside a 4" PVC

POE injector for versatility in placement and remote power control! 

Shot of the Pi and some nails/screws in mounting wood for cord routing. 

Tube next to Pi. 

Cat5 routes under the PVC cap via drilled hole that is filled with a glued down hard rubber cap with an x slit to help keep water out. 


Temporarily bungied to the deck rails 

Then the animation fun started...


I've even begun a weather page that updates a recent gif of the cloud animations

I have a couple loose ends to tie up and might post an update in the coming months.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma 2019-01-26 and stellar occultation

I had some clear skies and decided to take a stab at some DSO's, more on those later.  As I settled in with the kids I found a curious comet near my subject galaxy.  I slewed over and there it was, comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma.  I started shooting it and let it go, after 3.5 hours I found a nice animation!

Here's a DSS stack with comet and stars composited and processed in PS.

Here's the measurement screenshot

and sample MPC submissions:

0038P         C2019 01 27.21045 08 29 52.80 +46 50 30.5          12.7 V   

Finally I used my 14" f/4.5 Custom built Newt -

Monday, January 21, 2019

My Super Blood Wolf Lunar Eclipse 2019

It was cold but worthwhile!  I especially wanted to pay attention to the stars at totality and the color.  My camera does have the IR Filter removed hence the pinkish color that my family took exception towards.

All via my Canon 60Da and 200mm lens via MagicLantern (

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