poniedziałek, 2 kwietnia 2018

AstroBox v2 cont.

Easter = hobby time ;)

Some progress is done with the AstroBox v2:
  • the box is printed
  • components are collected
Next step is soldering!

Below are all major components, the only missing is a 4-ports relay box, which is currently installed in AstroBox v1...

Windows deploy with Clonezilla

Recently I reinstalled Windows 8.1 on 14 computers (total 15 but one of them was a "donor" of OS image for the rest), using the Clonezilla multicast feature. I'd like to share how does it look like...

The deployment was done from a DRBL server which is including Clonezilla service. All the PCs received the same network packets in a synchronous way - so all 14 PC were re-imaged simultaneously.
The entire process took about 50 minutes over 1Gbit network (the OS image had 53 GB). Here, the DRBL server is relatively weak and old machine with 4GB RAM, running Debian Linux with a DRBL packages installed.

The benefit of DRBL is that any of the PCs can also run Linux directly from the server, without installing it (PXE boot from the network and system via NFS). The boot menu for selecting locally installed Windows or remote Linux is visible at 1:45 in the movie.

The below movie shows just the ending of the process. After re-imaging, PCs were restarted to apply changes made by a small script, which was started automatically, to:
  • change the PC name
  • install proper Windows license key
  • set a nice wallpaper, different for each PC :)

niedziela, 18 marca 2018

AstroBox v2

AstroBox v2

An improved AstroBox is in preparation. I'm using the Orange Pi PC2 development board instead of OrangePi PC. It has four cores and Allwinner H5 64bit processor, running on Armbian Linux distribution.

The v2 has all the capabilities of AstroBox v1, with the following improvements:

  • Orange Pi PC2 has 1GB ethernet and faster processor. 
  • Added shutter interface and power connector for second DSLR. So it is possible to have one DSLR connected to main scope (e.g. SCT 8), and second DSLR piggybacked, with tele lens.
  • Added PWM with 12V to connect heater tape.
  • All four USB 2.0 ports, which are exposed by Orange Pi, are now available. In my case connected will be:
    • DSLR 1 - Canon 400D, on SCT8
    • DSLR 2 - Pentax K5II with 300mm tele on piggy back
    • QHY5 camera - as OAG (Off Axis Guider)
    • DreamFocuser
Here is a screenshot of the case ready for printing on Ultimaker 2 3d printer:

BTW. INDI driver for DreamFocuser is here.

sobota, 20 stycznia 2018

Reces egzekucyjny - ciąg dalszy Ugody Altransztackiej

Udostępniam tłumaczenie recesu egzekucyjnego, który zawiera szczegółowe informacje jak wykonano ustalenia zawarte w ugodzie.
Dziękuję tłumaczce - Pani Aleksandrze Milcarz!

środa, 17 stycznia 2018


Something completely different. I made quite a few wallpapers during several years, sharing it now.
Please check and leave the feedback if you like them!

sobota, 6 stycznia 2018


A little hardware project in the astro-photo domain.

AstroBox v1 :-) contains:

  • Orange Pi PC small and not expensive development board, running:
    • Armbian - operating system for many development boards except RPi, based on Debian
    • INDI - with Celestron Nexstar mount and DreamFocuser drivers. More drivers availabe: QHY, Gphoto2 etc. but not used currently
    • lin_guider - nicely connects with QHY5 and provide guiding with OAG
    • KStars - sky map, mount controll, INDI control panel and Ekos
    • Xpra - which gives X screen for KStars and lin_guider and can be connected remotely in "seamless" mode (each app separately, not the entire desktop)
    • Couple of other small apps and scripts to capture photos with gphoto2, easily steer the mount, preview the photos or enable/disable devices. It can also run Ekos, but I did not master it yet...
  • Relay board with 4 relays. This is used to enable/disable power outlets, 3 with 12V (mount, focuser, heater) and one with 9V (for the Canon DSLR)
  • Two voltage converters to convert input 12V to 5V (for Orange Pi PC) and 9V (for Canon DSLR)
  • Two logic converters from 3V TTL to RS232 standard for the mount serial connection.
  • Shutter release connector for DSLRs, controlled by GPIO port of Orange Pi 
  • The box, which is 3d printed and designed to fit in the place for batteries in the mount. The original battery holder is removed and cables which were connected to batteries are now used to connect power directly from the AstroBox (so there is no loose power cable to the mount hanging around)

How it works:

  • Connection is with ethernet cable, no Wifi yet but it can be added via USB dongle
  • External power supply must provide 12V and enough power for all connected devices

Future possibilities:

  • Would be nice to connect the heater using PWM which is available on the Orange Pi
  • Ideally replace a bulky DreamFocuser box&cables and steer a focuser stepper directly (already bought RAMS 44988 module)
  • attach BT gamepad to control the mount and focuser
  • Add second shutter release connector, so two

poniedziałek, 18 grudnia 2017

Chinese "3.0 Bluetooth Numeric Keypad"

I bought a bluetooth numeric keypad on Aliexpress.
The main purpose was to use it for Blender, to switch views. My laptop has only a basic keyboard, so I decided to try this cheap device. There are also versions with radio dongle but I preferred BT version not to block the USB port. Here is the obligatory photo:
You will find A LOT of these on Aliexpress.

So, problems... and solutions:
  1. There are no instructions bundled! How to enter pairing mode?
    After some trials I found that quickly blinking green diode indicates pairing mode. I managed to enter it by pressing 4 5 6 keys together (not every attempt was successfull).
    In Linux I used bluetoothctl to pair it. Probably using Gnome or some other graphical tools would also work, but with bluetoothd one can see the entire dialog between the system and a device. Bold are commands typed by me (when PIN is given, type it on the keypad and press ENTER at the end):

    > bluetoothctl
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# devices
    Device 00:00:00:00:1C:77 Bluetooth Mouse
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# scan on
    Discovery started
    [CHG] Controller E4:A7:A0:38:D1:BD Discovering: yes
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# agent on
    Agent is already registered
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# default-agent
    Default agent request successful
    [NEW] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Bluetooth Keyboard
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# pair 92:29:1C:04:00:8A
    Attempting to pair with 92:29:1C:04:00:8A
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Connected: yes
    ****** [agent] PIN code: 123456
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Modalias: usb:v05ACp0220d0001
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A UUIDs: 00001124-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A UUIDs: 00001200-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A ServicesResolved: yes
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Paired: yes
    Pairing successful
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A ServicesResolved: no
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Connected: no
    [Bluetooth Mouse]# connect 92:29:1C:04:00:8A
    Attempting to connect to 92:29:1C:04:00:8A
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Connected: yes
    Connection successful
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A ServicesResolved: yes
    [Bluetooth Keyboard]# trust 92:29:1C:04:00:8A
    [CHG] Device 92:29:1C:04:00:8A Trusted: yes
    Changing 92:29:1C:04:00:8A trust succeeded
  2. Now it is connected and working, but... I still can't use it in Blender(!). The device reports normal numbers not the "keypad numbers" to the system! So it can't be used to switch views :(
    Here Linux comes to rescue (I do not think anything similar can be done in  Windows...). In Linux it is possible to remap the keys of any keyboard/gamepad/etc. by placing the map file in /etc/udev/hwdb.d/ folder. Here is the file I used: /etc/udev/hwdb.d/70-pd_bluetooth_keypad.hwdb. It also remaps numlock (and make it always on) as a home key.