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Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera Used for Out of This World Astrophotography

(Image credit: RemovedMoney326)

This Raspberry Pi project is guaranteed to have you seeing stars. Created and shared by RemovedMoney326 on Reddit a couple days ago, it uses the recently released Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera module to act as a portable astrophotography rig.

According to RemovedMonwy326, the ultimate goal was to create a telescope mini-computer that's capable of both astrophotography and night sky simulation.

The maker built the project on top of a Raspberry Pi 4 with 2GB of RAM, noting that a version with more RAM, like the 8GB Raspberry Pi 4, wasn't necessary. They also used a 3.5-inch touchscreen as a viewfinder for the camera.

The Raspberry Pi High Quality (HQ) Camera can easily mount to a telescope using a 1.25-inch C-mount adapter. The unit receives power from the USB slot on a laptop and can be used almost anywhere. 

The setup uses KStars, an open-source planetarium software, to help with sky mapping. It also leverages the KDE platform, making it compatible with the Raspberry Pi.

There are already plans in the works for more upgrades—including a GPS module and larger motorized scope.

"The software side of things is tricky though, and I will need a little more time to get used to controlling the HQ Sensor with Python for proper images of the sky, as well as a more touch-friendly interface for the touchscreen side of things," RemovedMonwy326 said on Reddit. 

"Right now, it serves more as a viewfinder, with the camera preview and KStars for looking up a given object's location on the sky. But for actually taking the pictures/controlling the sensor, I still need to use my laptop with a remote desktop [connection to] the Pi, as well as a USB connection for powering it."

Be sure to follow RemovedMoney336 on Reddit and Github for more updates on this awesome project.

  • Rob Pettengill
    Here’s a link to a first light high quality image of the moon taken with the HQ cam and the William Optics RedCat 250/51 mm telescope: Raspberry Pi HQ camera Moon image.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Rob Pettengill said:
    Here’s a link to a first light high quality image of the moon taken with the HQ cam and the William Optics RedCat 250/51 mm telescope: Raspberry Pi HQ camera Moon image.
    Cool. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, how does this compare in terms of both cost & quality with other amateur asto-photography setups?
    Reply
  • Rob Pettengill
    bit_user said:
    Cool. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, how does this compare in terms of both cost & quality with other amateur asto-photography setups?
    Remains to be seen. It’s value will be in the Raspberry Pi enabling its integration with other astro software and HW without needing a laptop. Not a big difference in cost I think. The HQ module has the potential for some deep sky images while the earlier camera modules were limited to solar system images. Pixel size and IR cutoff on the sensor will result in less quality than real astro cameras. I hope to be able to run RPi HQ cam wirelessly from my iPad and avoid the need for a laptop. I did this with the original cam module years ago but the slowness and latency of the link made it hard to frame and focus images. Hope for better with the Pi 4.
    Reply