Aurora.cam was founded in the summer of 2018 by twin brothers Lee and Lucas Brown. This project is the combination of their passion for software technologies, love for sharing unqiue experiences, and their desire to propel crazy ideas into realities as bootstrapped entrepreneurs.
first automated photography tests
As lightness decreased and darkness returned, the Brown brothers were excited to continue experimenting with astrophotography. They wanted to build a system to capture the stars and aurora while they were sleeping. After discovering they had the ability to connect to their Sony Alpha cameras programmatically, they created the first script and began testing out automated photography.
constructing the first weatherproof camera box
With the vast range of weather in Alaska and its ability to change quickly from sun, to clouds, to snow - they knew they needed to protect their Sony Alpha camera from the elements. They devised a plan to build an insulated box with a window on the front to keep the camera warm and dry throughout the winter and guard against condensation on the lens.
The insulation along with a small heater inside the box prevented the cold from impacting the camera's performance, and kept the front window dry and clear of moisture from rain and snow.
success with automated photography
The Python automated photography scripts originally ran on an Apple MacBook with OSX. Since OSX comes standard with the ability to run Python, this was a frictionless way to build, test and iterate upon the prototype.
The script was finally hardened over many days and nights of resolving issues and making enhancements, and can now reliably capture photographs and automatically stream them to the Webcam page.
deploying script to Raspberry Pi
October 6th, 2018
Since the automated photography script was successfully running on the MacBook, it was time to migrate it to a simplified device that would be less expensive to risk operating outside in Alaska's extreme weather (even with best efforts to make a quality weatherproof box). Deploying and operating the script on Raspberry Pi was surprisingly easy.
printing a 3D weatherproof camera box begins
October 8th, 2018
Bradley Pizzimenti at Gennaker Systems, located in Anchorage, designed a CAD model camera box specially for the Aurora.cam project. On this day, he began the 3D-printing process