Lets Talk Equipment
Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:10 PM
I am leaning towards getting the mono camera because of the shorter integration times and the images I have seen on NSN. Do I get the HAD sensor? The X2?
What guide scope do I get, which F/R to complement my 6.3 F/R and what software do I need? What am I missing? I live in a red zone bordering an orange zone. I am also in the process of building an observatory.
Thanks for your help.
Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:48 PM
What kind of observing do you want to do?
- with friends and family?
- kids and/or adults?
- quick viewing or do you take your time?
- do you want to create pretty images to show folks later on?
- favourite objects ... globulars, galaxies, extended nebulae, Nova, planets, moon/sun, etc?
How are you thinking about displaying the video?
- on a laptop?
- larger video monitor? (do you already have the monitor?)
- at the scope or in the house?
What's your budget like for the accessories (after the MCX purchase?) ... not looking for specific $, just a general idea.
What are your night time temperatures like (summer though winter)?
How long have you had your CGEM?
- done any imaging with it?
How technically inclined are you?
- like to tinker and put things together or prefer to have things in a turn key mode?
Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:55 PM
If you're going to guide, don't worry about how long of exposures you're going to have.
Posted 04 July 2014 - 05:07 PM
I live in central California so hot summers and mild winters.
I would prefer turn key but can tinker if I have to. I have successfully imaged with my DSLR. I can do a pretty good job polar aligning my scope. My budget is flexible. I am semi-retired and want to get all my gear together before I fully retire.
My ultimate goal is to produce real time images like Chris and Don do on NSN.
Posted 04 July 2014 - 07:12 PM
While there are some wonderful B/W images from B/W cameras, I would suggest a color camera for you. You don't loose much sensitivity and you gain some serious "wow factor" on the brighter objects.
As for the choice between regular (418) sensor or ExView HAD (428) sensor. The regular sensor will give you better color saturation on longer exposures but the HAD sensor will show you more faster, which will be more useful under light polluted skies. This will be especially true if you are going to use LP filters. So I'd probably lean towards the HAD sensor. If you spend a little more and have some patience I'd also suggest getting what Rock calls a class 0 sensor. The patience comes into play because he can't always get them so you might have to wait a little. Talking to Jack Huerkamp (Mallincam US distributor) about what's available will certainly help. The class 0 sensor will give you less hot pixels (usually none) and a bit smoother image.
I think an X2 model would be a good choice given your night time temperatures.
You can save some money by purchasing a 3rd party USB frame grabber (the model from Astro-Video Systems is a good example) ... but I have to say that I really like the Mallincam MCV-1E. The E or enhanced model has a black level adjustment that is quite helpful under moderate light pollution. You can however perform much the same enhancement in the Miloslick software with a little practice. This assumes you are going to use a Windows based PC for control and display of the video image ... if however you're going to us a Mac you'll need some other suggestions about a suitable frame grabber.
For an effective focal reducer ... well I'd start with an Antares .5x 1.25" model (because I'm cheap) and use it paired together with your f6.3 SCT reducer. You'll need to work out the appropriate spacing with some SCT threaded spacers and a SCT 1.25" visual back. If you want simpler, then just get the Mallincam MFR-5 and at least a 5mm spacer.
For just you and one other person I think you'll find that a good laptop screen will be fine for viewing. You can always add a real video monitor later on. With a good video monitor you'll usually be able to see even more faint detail in many objects but if you get good at just using the PC and making the appropriate adjustments (brightness, contrast, saturation, black levels, etc.) you won't miss the video monitor.
So to sum it all up ...
Mallincam Xtreme X2 PC model with a class 0 ExView HAD sensor.
Mallincam MFR-5 focal reducer
Astro-Video USB frame grabber
Good quality 3rd party S-Video cable (I like the moderately prices Pearstone cables from B and H Photo ... but any good quality cable is fine).
Miloslick software (download for $49).
You'll also need a USB-RS232 serial adapter - the Keyspan units are popular.
The MFR focal reducer goes on the camera's 1.25" nosepiece, then you can mount the camera in any 1.25" barrel attachment (a good 1.25" visual back is helpful, you don't want any sag in the attachment point).
The Xtreme control cable (comes with the Xtreme PC model) goes from the camera to the USB-serial adapter and into your PC. You'll need to setup a com port (done by the device driver for the adapter). When you first run the Miloslick s/w you'll need that com port #. This gives you full control over all the camera's functions.
The S-Video cable from the camera to the USB frame grabber and then into the PC. Configure Milosclick to use the S-Video connection. The reason for the S-Video cable is quality of the signal (very slight benefit) and the ability to use the other video connection (composite) on the camera for a future connection to a video monitor. You could if you wish just use the included composite video cable to connect to the USB frame grabber.
You'll now be all set to get the camera to display whatever you want to observe. If you now want to broadcast on NSN you'll need another piece of software, something to split and redirect the video stream - WebCamMax, ManyCam, or SplitCam are popular choices. The folks who regularly broadcast on NSN can help you with this selection and setup. I would however wait for a while and practice with just your own basic setup before jumping into broadcasting. Your broadcasts will be much better if you are well rehearsed using the Miloslick software.
Posted 04 July 2014 - 08:43 PM
I am a long way off from trying to broadcast on NSN but who knows maybe in the future once I get it all figured out.
Posted 04 July 2014 - 09:55 PM
Posted 05 July 2014 - 05:35 AM
I think there is someone on the mallincam yahoo site that is in your city? can't think of his name but he made a great tutorial on video astronomy showing everything needed... I also think he belongs to an astronomy club in your area. hopefully someone can remember more about him.
Posted 05 July 2014 - 03:43 PM
Posted 05 July 2014 - 09:42 PM
Posted 06 July 2014 - 12:20 AM
Posted 06 July 2014 - 06:52 AM
I have the ST80 and Orion Starshoot for my autoguiding setup. I have also tried a 50mm finderscope too with the Starshoot. Have thought about getting a different guide camera. I have had mixed results with guiding in general but I think it is more of me trying to figure out the settings on PHD for the guiding. My Xtreme2 should get here later in the week so I'm excited to try it out. I will let you know for sure the learning process.
Posted 06 July 2014 - 09:54 AM
Get the manual and camera setup guide from http://www.mallincam...s--guides.html.
Download Stephan's Control software - http://www.mallincam...ontrolx_v28.msi
It sounds like a fairly complete package (nice score). You'll probably also need a few things ...
- the PC control cable (it's a 25' grey cable with a 8pin DIN connector and a DB9 RS232 serial connector). http://zengineering....olCablesNew.htm
- USB to RS232 serial adapter
- USB video frame grabber ... see my earlier post.
- video cable ... composite or S-Video (composite can be used in more configurations).
When you first start things up use the MFR-5 without the spacers and point the scope at the moon or something similarly bright and obvious.
You can first test your video connection by either just bringing up the onscreen menu OSD or the color bars using just the buttons on the rear of the camera. Once that works you can fire up the control side of things and try out the camera controls from the PC. Turning on/off the color bars and then try out the pre sets for lunar work. This will set the exposure for something close for working on the moon. Now you can work on focusing and fine tuning the exposure. Notice how many turns from the focus point with an eyepiece the camera/reducer now requires (and what direction), knowing this will save you a lot of time and aggravation. You'll be able to quickly find an object with the eyepiece and then be able to swap the camera in and focus. This is usually only something you'll do as you are getting a feel for the camera ("I can't see anything, am I sure I'm pointed at the object I want?"). Once you are comfortable you'll probably just leave the camera in place to do the initial alignment and jumping around between objects. Less swapping back and forth is much more comfortable.
With the HD updconverter you will also be able to easily use something like a TV with an HDMI input (the HD upconverter will convert composite video to an HDMI signal). Many of the popular and relatively inexpensive 19-25" LCD/LED TVs available today also make nice monitors for viewing with multiple folks.
Have fun and ask lots of questions.
Posted 08 July 2014 - 05:03 PM
Posted 09 July 2014 - 10:11 AM
Posted 09 July 2014 - 01:57 PM