Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Raspberry Pi IR blaster and Roomba IR codes

When I finally bought an iRobot vacuum cleaner, I went for the Roomba 620 which is the current entry model. This version doesn't come with any accessories like the "Virtual Walls" (infrared barriers), an infrared remote control, or handy features like scheduling.

However, all of the above ought in principle to be possible by transmitting infrared (IR) signals from a DIY circuit... or a Raspberry Pi? For example, with older model Roombas people have used LIRC and an IR Blaster to tell their Roomba to start cleaning by mimicking the remote control - with the computer handling the scheduling.

Raspberry Pi Infrared Blaster,
using a P2N2222A NPN transistor,
and two IR LEDs in series with 3.3V

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Roomba 620 infrared signals

Having been pondering it for a while, I recently bought an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner - the Roomba 620 which is the current entry model. For fun I took some photos with an infrared sensitive webcam (a trusty XBox Live Vision), and then measured some of the IR signal codes with my Raspberry Pi.
Note the four downward facing IR LEDs (cliff sensors)Does the Roomba use IR illumination to follow walls?

Monday, 14 October 2013

Raspberry Pi XBMC infrared remote control

I've added an infrared receiver to my Raspberry Pi, tucked inside a PiBow case with its clear top layer letting it receive the signals. This lets me re-use an old DVD player IR remote to control XBMC running on the Pi.

IR sensor and cable hiding inside PiBow case

Basically I followed this AdaFruit Tutorial for adding an IR receiver to the Raspberry Pi, but not being in the USA I had to substitute parts which I sourced via eBay instead. Despite much searching, the shortest suitable jumper cables I could find (one pin to one pin, 1P-1P, and female-to-female, F/F) were 10cm long - which is a bit much to coil up inside the Pibow case but easier than soldering.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Blue Tit eggs

In addition to automatically monitoring my TrailCam, the garden based Raspberry Pi has continued to watch the Blue Tits in Bird Box III which have this year laid a clutch of seven eggs, averaging one a day.
No eggsOne week later, seven eggs

Monday, 13 May 2013

Raspberry Pi Trail Cam - Update

Its been two months since I posted the first set of photos captured by my Raspberry Pi trail-cam. Since the UK had some unexpected snow in March 2013 - during which the garden based Raspberry Pi continued to work just fine.

Pheasants in the snow

Bar missing some days where the SD card filled up, and a couple of occasions when for reasons unknown motion failed, the Raspberry Pi worked very nicely - despite the cold. There were a few more unexpected sightings in the last week...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Moving the mirror on the SkyWatcher 130M

My SkyWatcher 130M telescope needs a little help to reach prime focus with a DSLR camera (see also this great blog post). So I decided to move the primary mirror up the tube to allow my Canon EOS to reach focus when attached directly to the T-ring for prime focus astrophotography. This involved almost completely dis-assemblying it, playing with new nuts and bolts, then putting it back together.

I started by removing the spider and secondary mirror assembly, which are held by four recessed screws and nuts on the inside (which should not be dropped onto the primary mirror):
Four screws hold the SkyWatcher 130M spiderSkyWatcher 130M (SK1309EQ2) secondary mirror

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Installing Canon EOS Utility on Mac without the CD

My second hand Canon EOS 1000D has arrived (intended for astrophotography), but without the manual or software CD. Canon provide this stuff to download on their website which is great, except that the software is intended only to update an existing installation originally made from the CD-ROM. That seems stupid on many levels - the only people interested in using this software will have a Canon camera. Practically speaking, I have neither the Canon CD-ROM, nor in fact even a CD-ROM drive. Apple don't believe in them any more ;)

Fortunately enterprising people have worked out how to hack the Canon software to install without the CD-ROM, both on Windows (e.g. here) and on Mac OS X. Canon don't support Linux.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Raspberry Pi motion sensitive Trail-Cam

My Raspberry Pi at the bottom of the garden is now monitoring an unmodified XBox webcam pointing at a fence break, rather than the mice visiting the compost heap. This uses the Motion software to hopefully catch anything walking past - like the pheasants I've seen using this route.

Mr. PheasantMr. Pheasant and two wives in two


Pheasant on a sunny dayQuite a regular visitor

While most of the images so far have been of pheasants, there were a few surprises too.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

PS3 Eye Camera for astrophotography

I was inspired to try out the PlayStation 3 Eye camera for astrophotogaphy after seeing this amazing Orion M42 nebula image taken using a PS3 webcam on a SkyWatcher 130P (an hours worth of 4s exposures and a lot of post processing). Here's another nice thread on using the PlayStation 3 Eye camera with a telescope. It's reported to use an OV7725 60fps 6um pixel VGA sensor and image processor from Omnivision.

PS3 Eye webcam with standard lens removed and replaced
with 1.25" telescope nose piece, with threaded IR filter

Actual test images pending - I need a clear night without other commitments.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Trapezium (Orion Nebula) using Xbox Webcam

I first tried imaging the Orion Nebula (M42) with the Xbox webcam on my SkyWatcher 130M telescope last year, and managed to resolve the Trapezium star cluster. Sadly I can't find the original images, so I tried again last night.

No editing other than croppingAnnotated by hand

As you can hopefully see, there are at least five stars here. Top right as show is the Trapezium cluster (Theta1 Orionis, or θ1 Ori for short), of which only the three brightest stars showed up. Centrally is Theta2 Orionis (or θ2 Ori), and another bright star to the left of it. That means I've captured the brightest stars in the centre of M42 nebula, but in the single stills at least there is no hint of the nebula background.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

SkyWatcher Explorer 130M with Canon EOS (Take 2)


I borrowed a Canon EOS 1000D for the weekend, and was lucky to get some clear sky both on Friday and again tonight (Sunday). On Friday I was mostly working out focus travel issues, what modifications might be needed, and how to get any heavenly bodies in focus. Tonight I tried a planet, the moon, and some stars.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

SkyWatcher Explorer 130M with Canon EOS DSLR

This weekend I borrowed a Canon EOS 1000D to try out for prime-focus astrophotography when connected directly to my SkyWatcher Explorer 130M (SK1309EQ2) telescope using a T-ring adapter.

Moon using Canon EOS 1000D, held at prime-focus with
SkyWatcher Explorer 130M telescope (SK1309EQ2).
Single exposure, no cropping, no editing.

As well as doing a lot of reading on assorted astronomy forums, I found this excellent blog post about using a (digital) SLR with the SkyWatcher Explorer 130M telescope very helpful, and this page on taking the SkyWatcher focuser apart was informative: The challenge is getting enough inwards focus travel.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Mouse recorded by Raspberry Pi Compost-cam

The compost-cam (my Raspberry Pi powered webcam in a compost heap) has confirmed there are regular mouse (or mice) visits, I've even spotted a visitor via the live webcam feed from motion.
Mouse eating old melon in our compost heap.
IR image taken with a modified XBox Live Vision webcam,
image captured with Motion running on a Raspberry Pi.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Raspberry Pi down the Garden

I'm now installed a Raspberry Pi with two webcams at the bottom of the garden using passive power over ethernet with a 40m cable. In the autumn I tested this indoors to catch invading mice, but now the snow has gone and spring seems to be on its way...

Raspberry Pi, passive POE, and DC voltage step-down squeezed in a box