Project by Nigel; Auto Tracking Camera System

I’ve just shared a new project: "Auto Tracking Camera System"

The purpose of this project is to design a system that will automatically track stars or satellites. The first version, described here, is specifically to track stars and operate a Raspberry Pi HQ camera to take a series of long-exposure images that can be stacked to enhance the image.

Read more


Very nice project Nigel! Thanks for sharing! I’d be very much interested in seeing a timelapse of a series of photos this takes from night to night.

Also, June 14th for the next supermoon should help with experimenting for the best exposure on your camera in those lighting conditions.

@Tim - I’m tagging you in this as this seems quite similar to other projects you’ve been working on recently


Absolutely phenomenal project and a great write up too! Demonstrating what the Pi Camera can do whilst capturing two meteors on the first run is amazing :slight_smile:

I remember being awe-struck by the capabilities of Stellarium at university when I was first introduced to it. Would accelerate through time to watch digital eclipses. Knowing that you can incorporate it into the Raspberry Pi ecosystem has me psyched! You’ve inspired me to take my DSLR pan-tilt system to the next level and point it towards the stars.


Jeez, you blokes have too much spare time!! :grin:


thanks for the awesome information.


Hi guys, good afternoon.

@Nigel I wish I could revive this post, because it took me a long time to find it and maybe it could help me a lot.

I am a quadriplegic guy due to a traffic accident, because of this the motor functions of my hands have been cancelled, but I do have functionality in my arms.

The question I would like to ask is whether this software and hardware could be used to operate a PTZ camera. The camera is only for viewing the landscape and stars at night, but I miss the tracking. This camera also comes with an RS-485 connection where you can add accessories such as a joystick dedicated to video surveillance. I don’t know if through this connection and an arduino I could use a video surveillance camera. People like me have very few options in this field of astrophotography, but now we are starting to see EAA devices and for me it is a great illusion.

Some time ago I posted in the github forum on stellarium, but I understand that there is nothing related for this kind of cameras.

The specific camera model is this one:

I would be very happy if through the Raspi and arduino I could track the stars through this camera. The camera motor is really subtle and the speed can be really slow when the zoom is at maximum.

Well, thank you very much for this hopeful post.

1 Like

Hello, good afternoon. I come back to revive the post, which, although old, is still topical.

1 Like

I have also found that the Astroberry software could be used, but these are just my thoughts. I can’t find anyone on the internet who has tried anything I have discussed here with PTZ video surveillance cameras. If anyone could help me, I would be very grateful.

Hi Robertomcat, welcome to the forum!

This sounds like a doable project, but only a some parts of Nigel’s project are applicable here. My understanding is that if you feed Stellarium your location, it will tell you how to rotate your view to point at it. In Nigel’s project, I believe he’s then manually entering that info into his python program to move the camera around, so you’d have to write your own program to control that PTZ camera.

That PTZ camera takes commands over RS485 serial, so I’d hook up a USB-to-serial connector in the middle of something you know sends valid commands over RS485 like a joystick, and reverse engineer the protocol. Alternatively, ask the camera manufacturer for info about the protocol.

Certainly quite the task, but if you’re up to it you’d have a very unique project under your belt.

Hello @James, thank you for your reply.

I bought the camera not long ago directly from a seller in China, who has direct contact with the manufacturing company, so I could ask him what protocol is used for communication.

I don’t have any programming skills, so someone would have to help me with the project, and I fully understand that people are not meant to be involved in someone else’s project.

James, since I have to ask the manufacturer the question, is there anything else I should ask him?

Hello @James

Well, the response has actually been quite quick, but it has also been unrevealing. They replied that the standard communication protocol is used.

Exactly the answer the seller sent me was: “dahua said Standard e RS485 communication protocol”. This is what the seller replied to me, following your question to Dahua.