What you need to get started with Astroberry (Transform your Astrophotography)

In this article I am going to discuss how Astroberry can be used as an alternative to using the Windows laptop for astrophotography.

Using a laptop with a telescope has always come with several problems one being having to set up a small table or something else to rest the laptop on. This must be done carefully so it is near enough to the telescope so that the cables going from the telescope to the laptop reach without getting in the way, getting caught or tangled and pulling on the telescope at the worst possible time.

The other major issue I have had is because my laptop was a touchscreen any condensation that gets on the screen will cause the laptop to think that is being touched and multiple occasions at once and it makes it pretty much unusable. When this happened, I would have to do a hard restart to start using it again and clean up all that condensation.

So, the ideal solution would be where the computer is attached to the telescope, and it can be carried in one ago. It also had to be lightweight I also wanted to make the whole setup process fast.

This is when I came across Astroberry. Astroberry is a free open-source operating system for Raspberry Pi that allows you to connect all your astronomy gear, such as your mount, telescope and autoguider. To open-source software like KStars and oaCapture and run it all off that without having any other software or hardware.

First, I had to of course get a Raspberry Pi, for this I chose a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with 4GB of RAM. This has been enough RAM and I have never approached the 4GB limit. I also got a metal case for it and a simple Raspberry Pi 4 Heatsink, as the model is prone to overheating without it.

Unfortunately, Raspberry Pi's does not have a built-in clock so I decided to get a USB GPS Module, which automatically sets the clock time. It also has the bonus of allowing your telescope location to be automatically synchronised with all apps on the Astroberry.

Another the item that is essential for the basic Astroberry set up is a mobile power source so I got a portable power bank, with a three-amp output and USB 3. This is because if you do not have enough power for the Raspberry Pi, or the attached astronomy cameras, the system will only work intermittently, and I wanted this system to be as reliable as possible.

Of course, a Raspberry Pi, is headless in that it does not have a screen. So, to connect to the Astroberry to control the telescope I use a VNC viewer app on an Android tablet.

So far there has been no real issues using Astroberry, with Astroberry having most of the same functionality you would expect on Windows available on Linux. To do this it uses the Indi system, so before you get your own Astroberry setup I would recommend that you check if your current astronomy hardware is supported.

If you would like to see a run through of how Astroberry works, please watch the below episode.

I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

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