Saturday, 26 May 2018

ChromeOS, Android and the SVBONY SV105 camera

There are two operating systems based on the Linux kernel that are not usually thought of as Linux. This is because, whilst they are both based on the Linux kernel, they are both, by design, unable to run Linux desktop applications. With ChromeOS, most of the applications run in the Chrome browser environment. In Android, a whole ecosystem of applications run in the Android environment, and cannot be run on a normal Linux desktop.

The low cost SVBONY SV105 camera and a Chromebook.

There is no good imaging software for ChromeOS, however, there is a simple camera application that can be used in camera auto mode, and is suitable for outreach. It is even possible to grab images. Here is the setup with a Samsung Chromebook and SVBONY SV105 with a Skymax 127 on an iOptron AZ, GOTO mount, along with an image grabbed by the camera application.
Click on an image to get a closer view.

The Setup with scope, camera and Chromebook

An image captured by the camera software

The SVBONY SV105 camera and Android:
The SV105 comes with a 1.8m USB cable which has a short fly-out USB lead to provide extra power to the device which has a power consumption of 150mA at 5volts. This was essential for using the camera with a Samsung 10.1 inch Galaxy Note tablet. The tablet was not able to supply sufficient power to operate the camera. A 5v 2.1A mobile phone portable charging device was used as an auxiliary power supply, connected via the fly-out lead. A powered USB hub could be used alternatively to provide extra power. My Samsung tablet was temperamental so far as detecting the camera, possibly because it is quite an old device. It helped to have the device fully charged.

Auxiliary power supply

The SV105 camera was placed at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 Maksutov and was connected to the Android tablet computer.
There is, available in the Google Play store, a USB camera capture application called USB Camera. This is a particularly good application because it presents the main controls of the camera, enabling the correct exposure etc. to be set. It works with UVC cameras.

Photograph of Android tablet streaming images from the SVBONY SV105 camera

Screenshot of USB Camera streaming video

USB Camera can capture mp4 Movies or still images.

Controls for Video formats

A drop-down menu allows the selection of the camera controls which can be hidden.
Drop down menu for camera controls

Single captured image

The combination of the SV105, Android and USB Capture provides a very credible observing, eyepiece sharing and even imaging platform.

At the moment, Android seems to be the superior of the two platforms for astronomical viewing and imaging, with one caveat; that the aging tablet used for these experiments was temperamental, even with an auxiliary power supply, with respect to detecting the camera (any camera). However, once detected, everything worked fine.
There are available Android notebooks, and depending on the version of Android they are running, they could be more suitable devices than a tablet (or phone), if they can run the capture software.
The weakness of ChromeOS is the lack of suitable capture applications.
Both platforms would benefit from the development of applications that are capable of capturing movies in the SER format, a superior format for astronomical imaging. This would produce data that could be transferred to another computer for processing.