Astronomy and Sky Website of Martin Lewis

Page last modified 20-1-2016


Below you will find pictures and details of the weather-proof enclosure I built in 2013 to house my ASI120 based AllSky camera. The enclosure originally housed my colour ASI120MC camera or my mono ASI120MM planetary cameras both with 1280×9600 CMOS chips although more lately has also housed my ASI174MM and ASI174MC cameras with their much larger 1916×1236 CMOS chips. A range of different 180° fish-eye lenses are used with the various cameras- more of which can be found here.

Whichever camera/lens combination is inside the enclosure, the camera is connected to my laptop via a USB cable and I use the fabulous freeware program Firecapture to control the camera settings and record time-lapse videos. Videos are processed later in PIPP to speed up the frame rate and reduce file size prior to uploading to YouTube or Vimeo.

The main purpose of the enclosure is to prevent rain damaging the camera and lens so allowing me to leave the camera recording unattended overnight. An acrylic dome forms a transparent cover to keep the lens and camera dry but this itself is then subject to dewing so the enclosure has a 12v heater to keep it warmed from the inside. The enclosure also has a sachet of desiccant to keep the contents dry and a circulation fan to reduce the likelihood of overheating during the daytime during summer months.

Although the enclosure I have built is a nice thing to have, very good AllSky videos can be taken with a much simpler set up and I would recommend this approach before considering building an enclosure. A digital video camera attached to a fish-eye lens and having a  dew band wrapped around the body of the lens to keep it dew free will work fine- just so long as it doesn’t rain! All my videos on my time-lapse night sky page here taken before Oct. 2013 are taken with this simple set up using an ASI120MC and Fujinon zoom lens.

AllSky videos taken with various cameras housed in the enclosure below can be found on my time-lapse night sky page here.

Lenses and Cameras for AllSky cameras

See my accompanying page AllSky Camera II page for details of different cameras and fish-eye lenses used with the enclosure described on this page. I show lots of comparison test images with the different set-ups that may be of interest.

Constructional Details of AllSky Camera Enclosure

Here you see a general view of the enclosure with the camera installed. The Fujinon wide-angle lens can be seen in the centre of the baffle in the middle of the dome
This is a view of the camera installed on the end of my garage. It is screwed with a single 1/4″ camera tripod type thumbscrew to a platform on an adjustable pole which is held in brackets to the side of the garage. The power lead (red) and USB data lead (silver) run into the garage itself through holes in the wooden frame of the window below. These then connect into the laptop in the garage.
With the dome opened up you can see the internals of the camera with the key parts labelled.
The underside of the dome showing key parts labelled.
A custom made ‘hat’ can be clamped to the AllSky camera and the whole thing inverted to access the rear. The bottom of the AllSky camera is closed off by the black baseplate of the camera. Three brass thumbnuts can be undo to allow removal the baseplate with the video camera attached (see below). The hat is also used with the camera in its normal orientation to effectively cap the camera to enable you to take dark frames in Firecapture.
Bottom of inverted camera sitting on ‘hat’ showing right-angled USB cable detached from camera to allow its complete removal.
A bit more detail of the camera and its support. The camera is shown removed from the enclosure after detaching the USB cable which sends the data to the laptop.
Note: A desiccant container now sits under the aluminium camera support bracket to keep the inside of the enclosure moisture-free. Also the bracket is now adjustable in height to accommodate different lens lengths and camera body heights.