I’m slowly moving towards full automation of my astrophotography. My mount and camera form a stand-alone system which is more than good enough for me to take great pictures, but the addition of a computer-controlled guide system has drawn me into using the computer to manage taking the pictures themselves.
Canon users will be familiar with the well-known “Backyard EOS” programme that fully automates the capture of astrophotos using a Canon DSLR. As a lifelong Nikon user, this option has not been available until now: those lovely people at O’Telescope have brought out the excellent “Backyard Nikon“.
Nikon have always been less comfortable with third-party external controls, so Nikon cameras aren’t quite as cooperative as Canon. For example, my D90 will not accept the Backyard Nikon commands for exposures longer than 30 seconds – which rather defeats the object. The shutter control for the D90 has to come from a serial port, which means a specialised USB-to-serial converter that fits the D90’s bespoke four-pin shutter release socket.
The internet is a great resource for sharing solutions, so I quickly found what was required, and eBay took me to the suppliers of the components.
After a session of gutting a cloned remote shutter release and wielding my soldering iron, this is the result:
It works! In fact it works very well.
Now the clouds will be with us for the rest of the month…