I'm back and in one piece (a minor miracle if you flew anywhere on the East Coast earlier this week) from the North East Advanced Imaging Conference (NEAIC) and the North East Astronomy Forum (NEAF). These back to back annual events have been supported by Software Bisque since I think the very first one, and I myself just had my 12th NEAF in a row with Software Bisque! It's another one of my top favorite annual events, and one of the most expensive for me personally... I often will drop most of my annual discretionary $$'s for Astro equipment at this show. This year I out did myself and in addition to the usual books, adapters, and do-hickeys, I took advantage of the nice show special and purchased a Lunt Ha solar scope from our friends over at Woodland Hills (thanks again Farah!). Solar imaging is one of my own personal last frontiers in terms of imaging (I also picked up an IR PASS filter for my full spectrum modified DSLR), plus I'm hoping to interest my wife more in what I do with some visual views of the sun where no one has to stay up past their bed time, or get bitten by mosquitoes :-)
Back to business of course, it's always fantastic when our forum members stop by to put a face to a random name with numbers appended to it, or old friends and acquaintances I've met at star parties throughout the last few years stop by to catch up. At NEAIC we (Steve Bisque was there as always) had the Paramount MYT out, and at NEAF where we had more room we had the whole family on display. Saturday was really quite busy with a tremendous amount of interest in the new MYT mount. I lost count of the people who told me they enjoyed my videos and the Google Hangout demonstrations for the Astro Imaging Channel. Yes, I got the message loud and clear that I/we need to do more of these, and we will. Sunday Steve did an interview with Sky & Telescopes Dennis di Cicco. I'm not sure when the video will be available, but for sure there will be a link from our web site when it does. We all think he did a great job. I used the time while the booth was "closed" to further deplete my cookie jar fund.
A lot of people also came by to see and ask about our "Skunk Works" project involving the Raspberry Pi 2 (thanks Charlie Warren for taking the photo). I have a fully functional version of TheSkyX running on this with at least one (for now) complete set of hardware drivers. I'm able to image from the device via remote desktop (VNC), and via "remote control" from TheSkyHD on the iPad and have done so from the "Back yard test laboratory". I plan to use it live as well at both the upcoming Cherry Springs and Nebraska star parties this summer. From a hardware point of view, the real beauty of the project is that it is low power. As an almost manic portable imager, I've found that it's not too hard to power the mount, and even a cooled CCD camera all night, or for multiple nights with a light-ish battery pack. Keeping a laptop alive... that requires a wheel barrel worth of batteries or a generator! Also ever since we introduced a version of TheSky for mobile devices, people are telling me they want to be able to control the cameras from a mobile device. This is for a lot of reasons not practical (although it is "possible" in a science fair sort of not really real world "usable" sort of way). However, controlling a copy of TheSkyX IS practical, and having a local computer at the mount solves a myriad of problems.
So how is this special compared to just having a small portable computer sitting under your mount and remote controlling it? Well other than lower power, it's not. To get that extra special "magic" is going to require some more software glue... the killer app that any new hardware platform needs, and that I'll have to wait and talk about a little later this year. Meanwhile, stay tuned and clear skies!
04-21-2015 10:53 AM