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Equipment Discussions >> Video and Electronically Assisted Astronomy

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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5585127 - 12/23/12 06:00 AM Attachment (219 downloads)

I worked a little more on the camera mods and took some screenshots of my 7" LCD .
The 4 following images were taken from my driveway , West Palm Beach light polluted skies, street light polluted skies by every house having Christmas lights on , and the Moon stil up .
All were taken with an 8" SCT at f/2.4 which while fast for a SCT , is still a FL of 480mm .
I think I now have under control at least in principle the issues that were uncertain and were making this camera hard or impossible to use.
I worked on the AGC , so now I can adjust the gain manually and had a first pass at the black level clamp function, which in the OEM version was setting the black level based on the average screen brightness and was not tracking the actual black level.
I am waiting for a couple of high efficiency low power Peltier elements , because even during this cold (for FLorida) night, the camera temperature was 10C (50F) and the CCD sensor was 18C .
A 12C CCD temp drop would reduce the noise to 1/4 of what it's now.
The M42 image is a screenshot of my 7" monitor with no significant cropping. What you see is the image scale I saw on my screen .


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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5585130 - 12/23/12 06:11 AM Attachment (189 downloads)

M42 above was taken @ 4sec integration.
The next 3 images are all taken at x1024 max integration time and with the gain up as much as noise build up would allow .
I tested the same targets with the unmodded camera and all it gets is the brightest stars in those images , nothing else.
Here is the Flame below.


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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5585133 - 12/23/12 06:13 AM Attachment (166 downloads)

Here is the Running Man.

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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5585135 - 12/23/12 06:16 AM Attachment (180 downloads)

And here's the most ridiculous pale shadow of a Horsehead . But considering it's only 17sec integration and no cooling , I'm happy that there is even a suggestion of a hint of the Horsehead in the image.

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John59
sage


Reged: 11/06/11

Loc: Round Rock,TX
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5585500 - 12/23/12 12:19 PM

All I can say is WOW. Just having control of the gain really improves the ability of this camera. I though it was fairly good before but this tops everything. Excellent job!

Edited by John59 (12/23/12 12:21 PM)


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alexaggie
journeyman


Reged: 01/10/12

Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: John59]
      #5586606 - 12/24/12 02:38 AM

Go Man Go!! Will you be making your mod circuits public?

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nytecam
Postmaster


Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5586650 - 12/24/12 04:43 AM

Great results keep 'em coming and updates on the mods

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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: alexaggie]
      #5592102 - 12/28/12 02:25 AM

Quote:

Go Man Go!! Will you be making your mod circuits public?



I will make the mods available but I'm not sure this is doable for everybody as DIY . The reason is that all the soldering on the original camera involves a stereo microscope , because there are all very fine pitch components . Passives are size 0402 , that means the whole capacitor or resistor measures .04" x .02" and in this rectangle there are 2 separate pads you have to connect to . The center to center spacing for the IC pins is .020" and the pad or component to trace clearances are .004". Then you need a good soldering iron with a fine tip but high power (some parts have multiplane connections to a solid copper area ground plane, which sinks heat like mad and makes soldering with a lower power or non temp controlled iron impossible) . You need also a programmer to read/write the contents of the onboard flash memory . Also you need a different programmer to download the code into the added microcontroller which performs now the manual gain adjustment , black level control , peltier thermal regulation control . Also need to make a board that fits inside the cam and hosts the extra microcontroller plus its supporting parts .
All is not lost, because I am laying out a small board that actually replaces the pretty useless 2nd board in the original cam (the board that only has on it the connectors and push buttons) . This replacement will have on it all the additional circuitry so the problem of making the board will be solved. I hope to update this forum on the progress sometime in January and post some shots with the final camera , using a proper setup this time (frame grabber for pc capture, IR/UV block filter , some form of light pollution filter) .


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StarmanDan
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/27/07

Loc: Deep in the heart of Texas
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5592357 - 12/28/12 09:49 AM

Would it be easier to hack the firmware?

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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5593026 - 12/28/12 05:50 PM

Quote:

Would it be easier to hack the firmware?



The hardware is a reasonable platform to start from but it's far from being all that's needed.
Up to this point I modified the CCD analog front end circuitry to reduce some of the noise, modified the power supply to reduce the noise some more , added circuitry for peltier control (a sensor to read the CCD temp, some firmware in the microcontroller and some power driver for the peltier) , added circuitry for s-video .
If I only wanted to modify the AGC loop then maybe just hacking the firmware would work but the higher gain without increasing the signal to noise at the source would not improve anything . You'd have just amplified noise .


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svrider1000
super member
*****

Reged: 06/28/12

Loc: Sylmar, California
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5598095 - 12/31/12 02:36 PM

Hi,

I just ordered the small camera via DHL and the C-mount to 1.25" barrel adapter. My test scope is @ F5 so hopefully I do not need a Focal Reducer.

This is a long post so maybe I missed it. I think I will need a 12v 500 power supply and I am not sure what video cable I would need. Also can anyone recommend a inexpensive USB capture card for this? And does anyone have a picture of their setup showing how they connect the camera to their scope and to their computer?

If I am missing anything can someone let me know.

Thanks

Jim


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mclewis1
Thread Killer
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: svrider1000]
      #5598425 - 12/31/12 05:26 PM

Jim,

You've pretty much got it.

The video connection on the camera is a twist on BNC connector. Most composite video connections are RCA type (and therefore so are the video cables) so the easiest thing to do is pickup a BNC to RCA adapter, they're widely available and are usually well under $10. The video cable itself is usually an RCA male to RCA male that has yellow ends. They are very often included with monitors, dvd players and the like. They are also very cheap to buy if that's required. You may also find a pre made cable with a BNC connector on one end and RCA male on the other which would be the perfect solution. These cables are often available as a "siamese" cable where the power cable and video cable are attached to each other, this makes setting up and tearing down in the field very simple (only have to handle one cable).

This little video cable will plug directly into a monitor or into a USB frame grabber. There are plenty of suitable frame grabbers on the market in the $20-40 range. You really can't easily go that wrong if you are using a Windows PC and a composite connection coming from the camera. The frame grabbers just plug into a USB port on a PC or connected USB hub. You can use a basic USB extension cable to get some more length between the camera and the PC but it's actually easier and cheaper to just use a longer video cable (within reason - up to about 20-30') and keep the USB frame grabber right at the PC.

The power supply is simple as well. The camera has a screw down terminal type strip so all you need are a couple of bare wires coming from your power supply (so you don't care what kind of connector the power supply comes with, you'll end up cutting it off). A 500ma model is spec'd just to be safe but the camera draws quite a bit less current than that. What some folks will do to prevent the + and - connections from getting reversed (bad for the camera) is make up a short cable with an inline connector (the kind often seen under the hood of cars or around pc power supplies. The short cable is left attached to the camera and the two parts of the inline connector are attached to the short cable and to the power supply. This way you can quickly and easily hook up the power supply with no possibility of getting the connections wrong. A good source for this (and the BNC adapter and video cable) is Radio Shack

Thread the C to 1.25" adapter on to the camera and then drop it into any spot where you had an eyepiece (diagonal, focuser, or the visual back depending on what type of scope you have). You will find the focus point will be a little bit different and it's sometimes useful to take a cheap longer focal length eyepiece (like a 25mm plossl that comes with many scopes) and set it up with a parafocal ring (this is little ring that goes around the barrel and holds the eyepiece out a bit). The eyepiece with it's ring can usually be setup to come to focus in a similar spot as the camera, this makes it quite easy to find and frame and object in the eyepiece and the simply swap in the camera and make a small adjustment to the focus.

Edited by mclewis1 (12/31/12 05:30 PM)


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GlennLeDrew
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mclewis1]
      #5598530 - 12/31/12 06:34 PM

Jim,
F/5 is reasonably fast, but a focal reducer will really help to further brighten the image without having to maximize the gain. A brighter image on the chip is the best way to reduce noise. Even with my Mallincam (which is cooled) on an f/5 refractor I employ a 0.5X reducer.


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svrider1000
super member
*****

Reged: 06/28/12

Loc: Sylmar, California
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5598548 - 12/31/12 06:42 PM

Mark and Glenn,

Thank you both for the great responses. I cannot wait to get everything working.


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barbarosa
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: "lamorinda", CA
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mclewis1]
      #5598593 - 12/31/12 07:10 PM

Quote:

You can use a basic USB extension cable to get some more length between the camera and the PC but it's actually easier and cheaper to just use a longer video cable (within reason - up to about 20-30') and keep the USB frame grabber right at the PC.




Mark's advice is always good, but there is a useful option for a longer USB cable extender cable that uses repeaters. When I set up on the patio I like the option to move into the family room (warm and comfortable). The USB frame grabber and serial to USB adapter are velcroed to the mount and plug into a 10m dual port USB cable. This gives me a single long cable to my laptop and lets me run a video app (SharpCap) and Stellarium or Nexremote or Nexstar Control Pad software.

If I need more than 10m I can add this 82' cable and a USB hub.

Good luck with all of this and if you are the Jim from LA it was nice to "chat" on NSN.


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svrider1000
super member
*****

Reged: 06/28/12

Loc: Sylmar, California
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: barbarosa]
      #5598612 - 12/31/12 07:21 PM

Quote:

Good luck with all of this and if you are the Jim from LA it was nice to "chat" on NSN.




David.

Yes this is Jim from LA and thanks to you and a few others on NSN I was able to find this post and order this camera. It was great chatting with you too. Once I get all of this working, my account approved and if the skies permit I will try and do a my first broadcast.

Hopefully I will see you on NSN later tonight.

Thanks

Jim


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warbird
member


Reged: 12/19/07

Loc: Sweden
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: svrider1000]
      #5601572 - 01/02/13 04:51 PM

Yesterday I got started with my new observatorium, and first try with the LnTech. Did some tries on Jupiter and got it working before the clouds came in. Today I made a try at the Orion nebula, both film and snapshots.
Here is two images from tonight. One direct snapshot from Sharpcap and the other one is from a film with 100 frames. Avistacked, center pasted from another snapshot and then some(!) PS.





Edited by warbird (01/02/13 05:04 PM)


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mattflastro
Vendor - Astrovideo Systems


Reged: 07/31/09

Loc: Brevard County , FL
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: warbird]
      #5601836 - 01/02/13 07:49 PM

Quote:

Yesterday I got started with my new observatorium, and first try with the LnTech. Did some tries on Jupiter and got it working before the clouds came in. Today I made a try at the Orion nebula, both film and snapshots.
Here is two images from tonight. One direct snapshot from Sharpcap and the other one is from a film with 100 frames. Avistacked, center pasted from another snapshot and then some(!) PS.




Interesting effect in the second image , some of the stars (but not all ) are doubled up . I wonder what caused it .


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svrider1000
super member
*****

Reged: 06/28/12

Loc: Sylmar, California
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: warbird]
      #5602249 - 01/03/13 12:56 AM

Warbird,

Wow this looks great! What scope are you using for this? Hopefully mine will arrive soon.



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warbird
member


Reged: 12/19/07

Loc: Sweden
Re: 17 sec (x1024) Camera Sony 960h Exview HAD CCD2 new [Re: mattflastro]
      #5602273 - 01/03/13 01:28 AM

I think the doubles (at least most of them) just is dimmer starts that got visible in PS. But I noticed in an other stacking last night that a big part of one corner was moved 2-3 mm, so you may very well be correkt!
Thanks for pointing that out.
This is really very quick and dirty postprocessing. :-)


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