Could you share your experience with CloudWatcher devices?

Hi,

I am in the process of automating my RoR observatory and I am considering a cloud watcher device. I have no doubt Voyager plays nicely with any of the most popular devices. I am considering the AAG because is the cheapest commercial Cloud Watcher I can buy from the shelf.

Can you share your experience? Is it accurate? Durable?

If you have another alternative worth inspecting I’ll be glad to hear it.

Cheers,

José

Hello Josè,

I use the AAG unit that’s connected to one of Lunatico’s Solo units. This runs 24/7 and has done for over 18 months. It took some time to get the rain sensor value exactly right in the settings (there is nothing to worry about with that - I just wanted it to detect and do something at the lightest of rain starting). So yes I can recommend this to you. Again Voyager works seamlessly with it.

Regards
Martin

Hi Jose,

I also have a Cloudwatcher which works very well with Voyager. Have used for last 6 months or so with no issues. I don’t have the solo unit, just run it off my observatory PC. You need to spend quite a bit of time (or I did) to fine tune the cloud detection parameters by watching the sky on a day with passing clouds, particularly high clouds so that it is more accurate. Now that I have done that it is quite good. It only looks at a small area of the sky, so doesn’t always represent conditions at your target. There is an oscillation in the light reading of my unit during darkness which is a bit odd - doesn’t occur when it’s light. Have referred this to my local supplier but haven’t received a response as yet. Not a big issue. Ambient temperature readings during the day are also a bit high, but at night they are fine. Other than that it works flawlessly and does what it needs to do. If you’ve got any other queries, let me know.

Leigh.

Thanks Martin,

could you elaborate on the issues with the rain sensor?

Cheers,

José

Hi Leigh,

Thanks for the feedback, I read some comments in cloudy nights about how hard it was to properly set the AAG, however claudynight most of the time is biased and less objective toward non american products.

Cheers,

José

Hello Josè,

Within the setup screen there are numeric parameters that you can set covering where you want the unit to go from safe to un-safe.
So for an example let’s say that a dry day the rain sensor gives out a reading of 4500, when it starts to rain this number will come down lower.
If you sit monitoring the numbers during an actual transition from dry to raining you can see in real time this number come down on the screen.
What I did was select the value I wanted to use that (for me) best represented the point I wanted to take action as it was raining.
When you get the unit you go through a calibration procedure to set the switching point by splashing droplets of water on the sensors surface and looking at the displayed numeric value to set.
My fine tuning is not essential to the units function but gives me a piece of mind that I used rain instead of splashing water onto it.

Hope that helps

Martin

I have a cloud watcher. I found Jamie and Debora at Lunitaco very helpful, I would not hesitate to do business with them again. I can’t speak for long term use of cloudwater as I have not had it running for very long.

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Tthe Voyager & AAG pair works great together. Leonardo recently introduced the wait safe command in drag scrip. I’m excited to be able to launch the script knowing that even after days the telescope will start photographing automatically these are the warnings that reach me on the telegram app. U

nfortunately the messages are in Italian, in essence I am notified if the script restarts at the end of the night because the weather has not allowed to take photos

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Thanks! It looks like AAG + plus a generic I/O card is the way to go.

Cheers,

José

I am setting up a ROR Observatory and of course I would like Voyager to control it. Many people here said they had not been running the AAG very long. I would like to BUMP this thread and ask you what is your experience with the AAG CloudWatcher device now that more time has passed? I have online access to my very powerful Observatory PC (OPC) so I had hoped to use it without the additional expense of the SOLO. The web server seems somewhat unnecessary if I can look at the computer just as easily. I would like to know what I/O card is most recommended as well. Any input on this is much appreciated.

Hoi String

In general terms i have very good experience with AAG/SOLO, the support is very good, also in combination with Voyager. Although you must always verify the values for clear skies because in the winter the sky temperature is different than in the summer. Also today in the SOLO MQTT is available. SO I export the graphs to graphana to get a good view over time. From my point of view AAG/SOLO is must do solution. But without solo AAG works also fine but like to see the graphs i look daily on it, which are of the last 48h.

Chris

Indeed, I think the AAG is the best bang for the buck. Thanks for letting me know about the Solo MQTT, I will integrate it with HomeAssistent!

Cheers,

José

Chris,

I cannot find any info about Solo and MQTT, could you please share a link or a reference? I definitely want to give it a try.

Thanks,

José

Jose, the new version of the solo has MQTT in it, its version 3.2. I have still the old on, i use node-red as in between. i need to look up the links. i don’t know if it fits the subject of this forum. so send me PM and i will share all information.

Chris

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That’s really cool! I wasn’t aware of the solo computer. That’s pretty cool!

I’m doing a similar thing, but is more DIY with a raspberry pi pulling data from a BME280 and MLX90614 sensor. It also communicates with my SQM-LE. I still have to get the housing made for the cloud sensor, but have some working code to pull that data in, and push it to an MQTT broker. It also hosts a simple rest api. I also have a Grafana dashboard pulling data through telegraf/influx via the published MQTT packets. Right now, it’s still in my workshop, so the readings don’t make much sense, but here’s the dashboard:

Gabe

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Hi,
Just to say, there is another relatively cheap alternative to the AAG.

I have an Aurora Eurotech Cloud Sensor (£260) which also includes a rain sensor and a relay for activating equipment shutter etc.

Before I used Voyager I had it sending data (HTML code included with the Aurora device) to one of my Web pages which also included an image from a homemade all sky camera – See below

Now I use Voyager, I just use it to generate a Boltwood data line that can be used by Voyager to monitor the weather situation. I’ve had it for about 8 years now and no issues.

Leonardo is at some stage going to include weather data on the Web-dashboard so it will then be even easier to monitor the observatory situation.
Cheers Allan.

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Gents

is seem a subject where a lot of users are interested in. Some explanation what I build so you can take advantage of this information
First little explanation why the AAG/SOLO from my point of view.
I build a lot of weather station by my self but last year I made the step going remote
For me, AAG/SOLO is a proven technology. And seen on many remote observatories.
You can grep the information of the weather station via an API call.
http://192.168.x.x/cgi-bin/cgiLastData”
This is what I use. Within node-red where I build my Observatory Control System (OCS)
Node-RED tutorial (for Dragonfly and CloudWatcher SOLO) – LUNATICOASTRO.COM
(What is node-red see https://nodered.org/) To avoid configurations in my border router I use zerotier (https://www.zerotier.com/) to connect to my observatory over the internet. My plan coming week is to upgrade to the last version of SOLO (with native MQTT Support) and will also install zerotier on the SOLO so I can access the graphs also at home.
There the OCS is running on a raspberry it has become the heart of the observatory, by controlling all equipment based on node-red.
But this can be also Domoticz or HomeAssistant as Jose suggested. It is what you prefer.
I measure for example for power outage but also internet via the network etc, OCS and the Roof are on UPS.

Today I send the weather information also to my MQTT broker via the internet to my home where I load the information into graphana. The reason for this is to have more understanding of the sky temperature over time and better tweak the sky threshold which can be different per session.


The blue line is when its clear in my case based AAG SAFE

below how to push the information via MQTT. Node-Red with MQTT nodes.

some additional information about the new version SOLO
https://lunaticoastro.com/solo-cloud-watcher/version-history/
https://lunaticoastro.com/solo-cloud-watcher/updating-the-solo-v31/

It would be handy that we have in the dragscript also the possibility to send out MQTT messages to control other things, but that is other discussion I think

The cool thing is that Voyager use the AAG/SOLO information on very smart way which is not see in other programs, see the weather tab in the setup screen of voyager

So take your advantage

Chris

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Wow! Thanks for sharing. You’ve inspired me to continue working integrating the control of my remote observatory even further. Nice thing is that Voyager fits right in, with Dragscript it is easy (possible) to integrate image capturing and Obscontrol.

Cheers,

José

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