If you dream of having a personal observatory, you will love this project by Manoj Koushik. Considering I found out about it through Particle.io, you are probably thinking there are some Photon microcontrollers involved, and you would be correct. Manoj takes advantage of the WiFi and other capabilities of the board throughout his observatory.
There are 5 photons used for the automation. One monitors weather conditions (rain, clouds, and sky quality through FWHM measurements etc.), two control power, and two control the dome (one for dome rotation and the other for dome slit automation and azimuth measurement).
Some of the magic is seen here with a Photon handling the power for all of the different equipment involved. To handle California heat, a Photon takes in info from a temperature sensor and kicks on the A/C when needed. Additional help is provided by venting with the use of automated shutters. The equipment is further protected since the shutters also have to answer to the Photon powered weather station.
Manoj loves images of space and uses a Photon with various relays to control detailed operation of the cameras in his observatory. Although he has a multiple camera setup, the system allows him to select the one he prefers at the time. You can check out his images on Astrobin, as well as his code on Github. I love the the final outcome of this project, which is basically the ability to send a script and have everything automated, from the imaging to the shutdown of all the equipment. Make sure you visit Manoj’s post for more detail, and if you feel like you’re ready to take the next step with your telescope, then get yourself a Particle Photon Starter Kit. Not only can you tinker with it using your phone, but you can also deploy code using their IDE or web over the air. Let us know how you hack your system!
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