Will Barton

My Slow Motion Messier Marathon has become even slower. Five years since the last update, I have another update! This one is less impressive.

  • M8, The Lagoon Nebula.

This photo is actually over a year old at this point, but I was fixing some broken links and noticed I didn’t have it on here yet!

With it added, here is my updated list of Messier objects I’ve captured so far:

The full table (including all the missing objects) is also available on my Messier page.

It’s one of the quirks of the house that I live in is that I cannot easily see the end of the driveway from inside the house. This means it’s hard to tell when someone might have arrived, whether expected or unexpected. The Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm has been a good solution to that problem, as it gives us a nice, loud, BING when its beam is crossed. It’s not perfect — deer and even neighborhood cats occasionally set it off — but I’m happier with it than I was without it.

Having other home automation projects I’ve undertaken using HomeKit (more on that another time), I decided that it would be nice to know if the alarm goes off when I’m not at home. My first inclination was to connect it to a Raspberry Pi, since I have those lying around, and I’ve used them successfully for other home proijects. The Guardline has relay connections, and I wondered if I could wire it up to a Pi and read the change in state from a GPIO pin. Clearly if the answer was no, I wouldn’t be writing this.

It turns out to be fairly simple. I chose to wire the Normal Closed contact to a pin on the Pi (GPIO board pin 37), the sensor pin and the common to a ground pin.

Guardline relay contacts wired to Raspberry pi

From there I could detect events on the sensor pin:

def motion_detected(pin):
    print("Motion detected!")

sensor_pin = 37

GPIO.setup(sensor_pin, GPIO.IN, pull_up_down=GPIO.PUD_UP)

Once I knew that I was getting state change, I built a simple HomeKit accessory using HAP-Python:

import logging

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO

from pyhap.accessory import Accessory
from pyhap.const import CATEGORY_SENSOR

logger = logging.getLogger(__name__)

class GPIOSensor(Accessory):

    category = CATEGORY_SENSOR

    def __init__(self, *args, sensor_pin=3, **kwargs):
        super().__init__(*args, **kwargs)

        self.sensor_pin = int(sensor_pin)

        logger.debug('Setting up GPIO input')
        GPIO.setup(self.sensor_pin, GPIO.IN, pull_up_down=GPIO.PUD_UP)
        logger.debug('Subscribed GPIO events')

        serv_sensor = self.add_preload_service('MotionSensor')
        self.char_detected = serv_sensor.configure_char('MotionDetected')

    def __motion_detected(self, pin):
        logger.debug('Motion detected')
        sensor_state = GPIO.input(pin)

    def stop(self):

Which was easy enough to then run using the HAP-Python example. Once it’s set up in HomeKit, I get handy notifications like this:

HomeKit driveway sensor notification

My brief recommended reading list for a nuclear crisis, in order:

  1. The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes
  2. Hiroshima, by John Henessy
  3. One Minute to Midnight, by Michael Dobbs
  4. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow
  5. Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard

My also-brief recommended reading list for North Korea, in no particular order:

I have had a Fujifilm X-T1 for a little bit over a year now. I am a huge fan of what Fujifilm are doing with the camera controls and sensors. I’ve been able to capture some images that I really love with the camera.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge

I’ve used it to great success for both prime focus astrophotography and wide-field with Fujifilm’s fantastic lenses.

The Great Nebula in Orion Cygnus widefield

However, I’ve had two recurring problems after using the camera in the desert heat and summer humidity: the bowed connection cover door, and expanding and peeling rubber skin/grip on the body. Both of these have been mentioned and discussed on various forums around the Internet, so I won’t dwell on them here. What I do find missing is the process of replacing the grip, and I hope others might find this helpful.

I decided to try to replace the rubber grip on my own. I ordered the parts from Fujifilm North America’s parts department. Interestingly, the new pieces I received this time seem to be made of much different material, which I hope will make them less susceptible to the problem repeating itself. More on that in a moment. There are four grip pieces on the camera, and each piece and tape (they are separate) costs rough $20 each.

To start with, the existing grip has to be peeled off, and all the tape residue on the camera body removed. Because the grip was already peeling, this part was fairly easy, and happily the tape, by and large, came off with the rubber. All it took was simply placing a fingernail under a corner and pulling.

Front of camera Back of camera Old and new grips

Once removed, I noticed something interesting about the old rubber grips versus the new ones. Not only are the new grips made of a different material, but the back of the grips where they adhere to the tape are textured on the old ones, but smooth on the new ones. I suspect that the texturing is one part of the problem with the old grips, and I’m happy to see that fixed.

Back texture of old grip Back texture of new grip

I cleaned up residual adhesive from the camera body with isopropyl alcohol and cotton, and made sure the surface where the new adhesive tape would go was as clean as possible. It was now time to figure out how to adhere the new grips to the camera body.

Fujifilm didn’t provide any instructions, and I haven’t seen anything online specific to Fujifilm’s grips and/or the X-T1. So, here goes:

The tape is provided separate from the grips. One one side, it has a large piece of plastic, and on the other side the plastic is cut to the same size as the tape, with a slight overhang. Looking at the shape of the tape, the camera body, and the adhesive left on the old grips, it was obvious that the tape is intended to peel from the large squares of plastic and adhere to the body, then the fitted layer of plastic is removed, and then the grip as adhered.


I started with the smallest piece, and what I assumed would be the easiest piece, the rectangle above the connection cover door on the left side of the camera.

Small side grip tape Small side grip installed

This piece was easy enough. I moved around the camera from there, doing the piece around the focus mode selector and PC sync port, and then moving on the right hand grip on the front.

Camera front right tape Camea front right grip installed

The right hand grip on the front actually came with two separate pieces of tape and the second, that wraps around the hand grip, has the potential for causing problems.

Front grip tape

In the photo above, I attempted to illustrate how the tape should be applied to the camera relative to the grip. The photo is wrong. The larger piece of tape should be flipped horizontally and rotated 90º clockwise from what you see here, more like the photo below.

Corrected front grip tape

I didn’t take an in-between photo of this one because I actually screwed it up the first time and had to carefully peel it back off. Which leads me to my biggest piece of advice in this process.

When placing the tape on the body, do not press down until you’ve it positioned correctly. It will peel off again if it’s not quite right, as long as you don’t press it down.

front grip

After a bit of a stressful moment then with the right front grip, the rear (where I had initially noticed the peeling) was simple enough as well.

rear grip

And that’s basically it!

Overall I am exceptionally happy that I did this, and I’m happy to see that Fujifilm has attempted to address the core problem with the grip by changing materials. The new material is significantly less “grippy” than the rubber that my X-T1 shipped with (it feels more like the plastic of the connection cover door on the left side). However I feel more confident that it will remain in place for much longer. The grip looks good and feels good. I do hope this helps anyone else who has the rubber grip expanding and peeling issue with their X-T1 and wants to replace the grip.

One word of warning: never, ever, under any circumstance attempt to stick the old grip back on with adhesive you couldn’t remove if you had to. As you can see from some of my photos, there are screws under the grip that you may need to be able to get to at some point in the future. Replacing it is not hard.

The slowness of my Slow Motion Messier Marathon continues to impress me. Since my last update I have a few new photos and few do-overs:

New ones:

  • M1, the Crab Nebula.
  • M78, a reflection nebula in Orion.
  • M96, M105, a couple of spiral galaxies.
  • M97, M108, the Owl Nebula and a barred spiral galaxy.


  • M31, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda.
  • M42, the Great Nebula in Orion.
  • M45, the Pleiades.
  • M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Here is the updated list of Messier objects I’ve captured so far, with the do-overs in their places.

The full table (including all the missing objects) is also available on my Messier page.