Project: EOS Resurrection

Any of you that have the (dis)pleasure of following me on social media will have witnessed the downfall of my original EOS 650D – I banged on about it enough.

To summarise: after a night of imaging, I decided to set the camera taking dark frames whilst packing down. The plan was to leave it attached to the OTA, lift the OTA off the mount, drop it to the ground and leave it snapping away whilst I packed away the mount etc. Whilst lifting the tube and camera off, the camera’s USB cable snagged. As per law of sod, it didn’t pull the USB cable out of the camera… instead it pulled it sideways, shorting power to one of the data paths.

Swearing under my breath in the darkness, I detached the camera, headed indoors and plugged it in to see the extent of the damage. All USB comms between camera and PC: non-existent. The computer ceased to recognise the camera.

The next day I decided to pop the back off and attack it with a multimeter to identify the dead components ready for replacement. In the process, the rear of the camera literally popped off, and once again, a cable snagged. The connection between the EOS 650D’s rear screen and the mainboard strained, snapping one of the unbelievably-fine delicate blue wires. I attempted to replace this with a cheap cable from eBay, however, with no instructions supplied and no way to identify individual strands, the connections in the screen hinge that deal with rotation could only be guessed at. It would appear I guessed wrong. After replacing the cable, the screen remained dead.

So: 1x Canon EOS 650D with dead USB, and dead screen. Everything else about the camera functioned perfectly.

A few months down the line, I have a replacement EOS 650D for regular photography and have been using my full spectrum EOS 1000D for astrophotography, and I find myself bored of a saturday afternoon.

Time to see if yonder EOS650D(uff) can be brought back into a usable state for astro again. A comparison of unprocessed narrowband subs between my EOS 1000D and a friends subs from a newer generation EOS shot of the same target, thru the same equipment, 4ft apart from each other on the same night had left me pondering – his were noticeably clearer given all other variables the same… and the key difference according to the specs of each revealed that the EOS 1000D has a horrendously low QE (33%) at stock, vs the newer generation camera (around 40%). The EOS 650D also has a QE in the 40s… so…


Step 1: Astro Modify!

The first step of the process: astro-modify the EOS 650D(uff). I’m not going to detail that process – I simply followed the instructions of Gary Honis over at DSLR Modifications – BUT – if you want to attempt this I’ll add something to his original instructions that you’ll thank me for…

Gary Honis’ image of EOS 650D Sensor Mount from

When you get to Step 14 you’ll notice that the top left torx screw (picture above) is completely unaccessible. You can fight to get to it, but in reality, the entire process is MUCH quicker and easier if you move the top casing of the camera. Gary doesn’t detail this in his instructions.

  • Remove the 2x screws from the TOP of the camera, there’s one by each of the shoulder strap loops.
  • Remove the screw in the centre of the viewfinder focus adjustment wheel (the wheel will come with it – when it comes to putting it back together, the wheel is keyed to match a plastic crown that remains in the camera. Line the keys up then just nip the screw back up, don’t over tighten).
  • Remove the two screws above the lens mount point.
  • Remove the remaining 4x screws along the base front edge.
  • Lift the plastic moulding of the front body over the tripod mount (I used my excessively thick thumbnail), and slide the front casing off and pop to one side. This can be done with a body cap still in place.
  • Now, gently lift the top of the camera up a few millimetres until you can easily access the upper left torx screw of the sensor mount.
  • Complete step 14 and proceed!
  • Leave the top and front off, as it makes getting the top-edge ribbon connectors back in to their sockets on the mainboard much easier later in the process, as well as setting the sensor position when you put it back in.

Once you’ve removed the LPF2 (hot mirror) filter, if you’re not replacing it with an astro-specific one (a debated topic, my position on which comes entirely down to money – replacing it involves an outlay of cash, removing it without replacing it doesn’t), when it comes to putting the sensor back in the body tighten the 3x torx screws an additional 5/12th (ie: just under half) of a turn past their original position to bring autofocus back in line.

Our EOS 650D is now ready to shoot narrowband whilst retaining the LPF1 filter to block (some) IR and UV. Time to move on to the next stage…


Step 2: USB Exposure Control

Even with a dead USB port, a Canon EOS’ exposure can still be controlled by a PC. The same friend I compared subs with happened to mention he had a KMTronic ONE USB Relay Controller that he hadn’t managed to put to good use, so he tossed it my way. This can be used to control the camera’s exposure via it’s Interval Timer Remote port, and assumes the camera is set in BULB mode with a suitable ISO already set. The steps to knock up the cable are detailed in Ivo’s AstroPhotography Tool documentation.

The issue then becomes a matter of control. AstroPhotography Tool still requires the regular USB connection to the camera, so can’t be used despite supporting the KMTronic Relay natively… I’ve nudged Ivo on this over at in the hope he’ll add a mode in a future version to support running without a native direct USB connection, but for now…


Building a Control Interface

To solve this part we turn to my old favourite: Node-Red

I happen to run this already on my RaspberryPi-based focus controller, so I can add the camera control interface to that. Or you can install NodeRed on your regular astro laptop and run it from there. I cover the steps to install Node-Red on Raspberry Pi over in Retrofitted GoTo Dob Pt4  and the NodeRed docs cover installation on various platforms.

Once it’s installed, we need to add node-red-dashboard, node-red-node-serialport, and node-red-contrib-counter.

Now we can build our control flow. The KMTronic just appears as a serial port, so to talk to our camera we need to send the appropriate on / off (Hex: FF 01 01 & FF 01 00 respectively) commands to this serial port, and we need to be able to trigger those commands with buttons via a web browser. The flow I knocked up for this is pictured below:

Pale blue nodes are Node-Red-Dashboard‘s Button nodes. I also use the standard Interval node (purple), Switch node (yellow) and Function node(orange). The KMTronic connection is a Node-Red-Node-SerialPort node (brown). The yellow Counter is our Node-Red-Contrib-Counter node.

Hitting a button node fires a ‘1’ payload to our first Interval node. The Interval node passes this through immediately, waits a defined amount of time, and then fires a ‘0’ message. From the Interval node we hit a Switch node. If the message payload is ‘1’, it triggers our ON function (starts an exposure). Whenever an ON command is sent, it increments a Counter node which updates a field on our control interface so we know how many shots we’ve taken so far. If our switch node receives a ‘0’ it triggers our OFF function (stops the exposure), and also triggers a second Trigger node which waits a predefined amount of time in seconds (our pause between exposures) and then fires a ‘1’ back out to the first trigger node (repeating the process indefinitely).

This block of nodes is replicated for each combination of Exposure & Pause that we require.

The STOP button node sends an OFF command to the camera, resets any running Interval Triggers, then resets the Counter to 0, interrupting any running loop and halting the process.

The ON command function looks like this:


…and the OFF command is the same, but the Buffer payload changes to [0xFF,0x01, 0x00].

You can grab the entire flow and import it into NodeRed (connect the KMTronic to a USB port first) by heading to NodeRed’s menu > Import > Clipboard, and copy-pasting the below:

[{"id":"46fd1242.ee101c","type":"tab","label":"KMTronic"},{"id":"f2a20462.5b19a","type":"serial out","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"KMTronic","serial":"8ba77bd5.caeb38","x":840,"y":500,"wires":[]},{"id":"9ced73b2.9d98c8","type":"function","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"OFF","func":"msg.payload = new Buffer([0xFF,0x01,0x00]);\nreturn msg;","outputs":1,"noerr":0,"x":670,"y":560,"wires":[["f2a20462.5b19a"]]},{"id":"b026a4e.b283058","type":"function","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"ON","func":"msg.payload = new Buffer([0xFF,0x01,0x01]);\nreturn msg;","outputs":1,"noerr":0,"x":670,"y":440,"wires":[["f2a20462.5b19a","9f98faf4.c5bc58"]]},{"id":"343d2a99.8ee16e","type":"ui_button","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","group":"431c549.7ebbaac","order":2,"width":0,"height":0,"label":"10s (5s)","color":"","bgcolor":"","icon":"","payload":"1","payloadType":"str","topic":"","x":80,"y":40,"wires":[["11df5d77.c36083"]]},{"id":"11df5d77.c36083","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"10","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":40,"wires":[["745f7606.a440f"]]},{"id":"745f7606.a440f","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":40,"wires":[["b026a4e.b283058"],["9ced73b2.9d98c8","bdd569d2.8f2178"]]},{"id":"bdd569d2.8f2178","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"5","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":260,"y":80,"wires":[["5a7c8e12.e22458"]]},{"id":"5a7c8e12.e22458","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":80,"wires":[[],["11df5d77.c36083"]]},{"id":"e88738fa.64d75","type":"ui_button","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","group":"431c549.7ebbaac","order":1,"width":0,"height":0,"label":"stop","color":"","bgcolor":"","icon":"","payload":"","payloadType":"str","topic":"","x":70,"y":880,"wires":[["9ced73b2.9d98c8","9fac2f35.62b278"]]},{"id":"9fac2f35.62b278","type":"function","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"reset","func":"msg.reset = 1;\nreturn msg;","outputs":1,"noerr":0,"x":250,"y":880,"wires":[["bdd569d2.8f2178","11df5d77.c36083","6764b9aa.f11fd","ecd802e1.f18ca","21a4f1a4.df64d6","c78c4387.dd4f48","c68ab190.72112","3255b4a1.c7eb14","2056a9a3.45c9a6","7f8b7732.f3643","65654043.6e4918","78c69b3c.af85c4","633c86c2.1a29c8","3128a882.352f5","483c8bfe.12598c"]]},{"id":"6764b9aa.f11fd","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"30","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":160,"wires":[["7740ac3f.c63b6c"]]},{"id":"7740ac3f.c63b6c","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":160,"wires":[["b026a4e.b283058"],["9ced73b2.9d98c8","ecd802e1.f18ca"]]},{"id":"ecd802e1.f18ca","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"20","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":200,"wires":[["af02b9b.f27c0c8"]]},{"id":"af02b9b.f27c0c8","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":200,"wires":[[],["6764b9aa.f11fd"]]},{"id":"7eb25759.101de8","type":"ui_button","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","group":"431c549.7ebbaac","order":3,"width":0,"height":0,"label":"30s (20s)","color":"","bgcolor":"","icon":"","payload":"1","payloadType":"str","topic":"","x":80,"y":160,"wires":[["6764b9aa.f11fd"]]},{"id":"21a4f1a4.df64d6","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"60","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":280,"wires":[["356defd1.3d94a8"]]},{"id":"356defd1.3d94a8","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":280,"wires":[["b026a4e.b283058"],["c78c4387.dd4f48","9ced73b2.9d98c8"]]},{"id":"c78c4387.dd4f48","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"30","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":320,"wires":[["15adf3b1.666114"]]},{"id":"15adf3b1.666114","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":320,"wires":[[],["21a4f1a4.df64d6"]]},{"id":"13b2a8fd.549e3f","type":"ui_button","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","group":"431c549.7ebbaac","order":4,"width":0,"height":0,"label":"60s 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(30s)","color":"","bgcolor":"","icon":"","payload":"1","payloadType":"str","topic":"","x":90,"y":400,"wires":[["c68ab190.72112"]]},{"id":"2056a9a3.45c9a6","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"240","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":520,"wires":[["8ee0d171.f52bc8"]]},{"id":"8ee0d171.f52bc8","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":520,"wires":[["b026a4e.b283058"],["7f8b7732.f3643","9ced73b2.9d98c8"]]},{"id":"7f8b7732.f3643","type":"trigger","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","op1":"1","op2":"0","op1type":"str","op2type":"str","duration":"30","extend":false,"units":"s","reset":"","name":"","x":270,"y":560,"wires":[["69bc4804.06af48"]]},{"id":"69bc4804.06af48","type":"switch","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","property":"payload","propertyType":"msg","rules":[{"t":"eq","v":"1","vt":"str"},{"t":"eq","v":"0","vt":"str"}],"checkall":"true","outputs":2,"x":450,"y":560,"wires":[[],["2056a9a3.45c9a6"]]},{"id":"d01bfdd8.966018","type":"ui_button","z":"46fd1242.ee101c","name":"","group":"431c549.7ebbaac","order":6,"width":0,"height":0,"label":"240s 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msg;","outputs":1,"noerr":0,"x":420,"y":880,"wires":[["9f98faf4.c5bc58"]]},{"id":"8ba77bd5.caeb38","type":"serial-port","z":"","serialport":"/dev/ttyUSB-EQMOD","serialbaud":"9600","databits":"8","parity":"none","stopbits":"1","newline":"","bin":"bin","out":"char","addchar":false},{"id":"431c549.7ebbaac","type":"ui_group","z":"","name":"KMTronic","tab":"278e8c82.ca5b3c","order":1,"disp":true,"width":"6"},{"id":"278e8c82.ca5b3c","type":"ui_tab","z":"","name":"DSLR","icon":"dashboard"}]


Double click the KMTronic node, and choose the correct serial port / com port that represents the KMTronic on your device, and you’re good to go.

Hit the Deploy button. Then head to your device’s Node-Red port (usually 1883) in a web browser. You should end up with the following web based interface that can be accessed via a web browser from any device!

The button labels are: exposure time in seconds (pause time in seconds)

Hook up the KMTronic to your PC’s USB port and the camera via it’s Remote Interval port – the top port under the front-most flap on the camera’s LHS. (The cable in the bottom port under the rear-most flap is covered in Step 4)

Via the camera’s viewfinder, use the shutter half-press to check exposure, so you can see to set the ISO. Set it to ISO800. Set exposure to BULB mode. OR you can briefly nip to Step 4 to see another way of setting the camera up.

Pick a button in the control interface to set the camera off shooting according to the button’s label. A count of exposures taken is recorded beneath. Hit the Stop button to stop. I’ve defined the 10S, 30S and 60S buttons for focussing.

How do we get the images from the camera tho without a direct USB camera connection? Enter…


Step 3: Viewing Exposures – Toshiba FlashAir W-04 SD Card

Because I can no longer retrieve our exposures from the camera by USB, and the screen is dead, I’ve no way of currently viewing the shots taken to check focus / exposure etc. Where there’s a will there’s a way! Head to Amazon and pick up a Toshiba FlashAir W-04 SD card. These are SD cards with a builtin WiFi access point / router.

Once the card is configured and popped into the camera, and Eye-Fi enabled on the camera (it will appear in the menu once a FlashAir card is detected) I can connect directly to the SD card by WiFi. How do we enable Eye-Fi if we can’t see the camera menu on the screen? Read ahead to Step 4 for that bit!

With the addition of Yokin’s FlashAir Sync, an app-extension for Google Chrome web browser, I can now auto-sync the content of the SD card to a folder on the PC… and now I can view each exposure as it comes in, load it into APT and utilise focus aid, platesolve etc.

The FlashAir config software is available for both Windows and Mac. There is also a native FlashAir app for both iOS and Android devices, so exposures can be previewed over WiFi from any tablet or mobile device – added bonus!


Step 4: LiveView

Despite the camera having a dead screen, we can also still use LiveView. How? The camera still has an HDMI output!

Grab a miniHDMI to HDMI cable – plug it into a TV, computer monitor or anything else with a HDMI INPUT (your average laptop / PC will only have a HDMI OUTPUT), and hit the LiveView button, or the Info button, or the Menu button.

Fortunately I happen to have a BlackMagic Intensity Shuttle HDMI Capture interface, so I can plug it into that, and get LiveView or the camera’s info and menu displays directly on my laptop screen.

There are cheaper alternatives out there. Just have a hunt for ‘HDMI Capture’ on your search engine / auction / rainforest-based dealer of choice’s website.



That’s our goal complete… we’ve recovered LiveView, we’ve recovered the ability to download our images, and we’ve recovered the ability to control the camera’s exposure. We’ve also added the ability to view and control exposures over WiFi from any mobile device.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still cheaper than replacing the camera entirely, or even just replacing it’s rear panel & touchscreen (£150) and Mainboard (£110), the cost of which is practically the cost of replacing the camera with a secondhand one anyway. And it SHOULD take better subs than the older EOS 1000D I’ve been using in the meantime!