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Equipment Discussions >> Electronically Assisted Astronomy

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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new
      #5804256 - 04/17/13 10:17 AM

Hello World!

Fedex informs me I will in the next couple of days have in my possession a brand new MallinCam X2 with Class 0 CCD and all the accoutrements!

Yes, I drank the Kool Aid...

Even though I am a rocket scientist (I really am!), and 45+ years with this hobby, and have been dangerous with Astrophotography, this video astronomy thing is a whole new world for me.

The big questions I want to really find out -
* I love my eyepieces, but will I finally get beyond the faint fuzzies without doing LOOONG GUIDED exposures (I do love my Canon 60Da btw). Will this camera be my primary way to view the sky?
* Will the faint fuzzies look "real" in 1 minute or less?
* I do public outreach - I think in theory video astronomy is the way to go. Will it REALLY work. I will find out this Saturday...
* How tough is it to use this camera correctly? I do have the wireless exposure control AND MallinCam Control from MiloSlick on the Macintosh. And I also have the wireless control of the telescope via Sky Safari Pro from Southern Stars.
* Testing will initially be on a 10" LX200 and Coronado PST. Next up will be the 14" LX850. Will it really work with ease across the telescopes.

About my seeing conditions - I am in Rio Rancho, New Mexico with reasonably good seeing conditions. Albuquerque light dome to the South, but quite a bit is surprisingly visible. Quite a bit is visible to the East, West and North. It does help being a dry climate and above 5,000'.

And I will have almost 8 straight days of great weather.

Any fun hints, comments, etc are welcome! Thank-you Jack for testing and getting the camera to me earlier than I expected (with all the demand I was thinking I would be lucky if I got the camera in May! And the camera came to Jack 1 month earlier than planned, woo hoo!). Now I hope the camera does not make a wrong turn in Albuquerque!

Stay tuned folks!


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mclewis1
Thread Killer
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5804337 - 04/17/13 10:59 AM

Congratulations Andrew ... you will love your new camera.

While a Mallincam can't completely replicate or replace the experience of direct view through an eyepiece I think you'll find that the camera will take over the majority of "viewing" that you'll be doing. I find that I still use an eyepiece for double stars and some lunar/planetary viewing but just about everything else is done with the Mallincam.

The vast majority of time I work with a minute or less exposures ... I prefer the more immediate experience. The times I go beyond that are for very very faint objects (Hickson 50 for example) or when I want to eke out really subtle details in galaxies or nebulae. Most of the time it's 15 to 45 second exposures with a C6/C11 working at f4 under mag5 skies.

The concept of video viewing really makes outreach an amazing experience. Folks who are usually underwhelmed by a subtle faint fuzzy in an eyepiece are often blown away by an object on the screen that looks like the pictures and has color. Sometimes you get into a discussion about what "live" really means but even that becomes an interesting and educational conversation.

The Xtreme works fine with either the wired/wireless remotes or PC control. You can certainly get into all kinds of additional technology for piping video around but after a while I find that there is very little interaction with the control interfaces (well except for adjusting the length of the exposures), I spend more time with just the brightness/contrast/gamma controls on a monitor or PC display app.

After using my Mallincam with a wide variety of connections and control options I find getting back to basics and keeping things simpler works better for me (and even that is a chuckle for some folks who see my setup as complex where they have a single monitor or PC connected).

The initial learning curve can be a little daunting but if you keep things simple during the learning phase (about a week or two) you'll find that even the more complex stuff becomes second nature. The KISS philosophy really helps here.

Try out the camera during the day or on the moon. This will prove out your focus, control connections and the basic video display. Then move onto fainter objects and the longer multi second exposures. The biggest thing for me to learn was balance of the video output adjustments (brightness, contrast, gain, gamma, and some color balance).

If you are troubleshooting a video display issue learn to put the camera into it's color bar display mode from the buttons on the back ... this is the most basic control and the color bars are the standard method of reviewing and adjusting a video signal/display. The biggest single issue folks seem to have when setting up a PC controlled Mallincam is the USB-serial adapter.

Beyond that just read up a little on the camera's controls and ask lots of questions here or on the Yahoo group and if you're not already on NightSkiesNetwork (NSN) sign up see what other folks are doing.


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5804940 - 04/17/13 05:18 PM

Quote:





The big questions I want to really find out -
* I love my eyepieces, but will I finally get beyond the faint fuzzies without doing LOOONG GUIDED exposures (I do love my Canon 60Da btw). Will this camera be my primary way to view the sky?
* Will the faint fuzzies look "real" in 1 minute or less?
* I do public outreach - I think in theory video astronomy is the way to go. Will it REALLY work. I will find out this Saturday...
* How tough is it to use this camera correctly? I do have the wireless exposure control AND MallinCam Control from MiloSlick on the Macintosh. And I also have the wireless control of the telescope via Sky Safari Pro from Southern Stars.
* Testing will initially be on a 10" LX200 and Coronado PST. Next up will be the 14" LX850. Will it really work with ease across the telescopes.






I still observe visually. Sometimes it's just relaxing fun. When I really want to SEE, though, it's the Mallincam Xtreme.

What exactly do you mean by "real"? Dimmer objects will look far more like themselves with video, usually, than they will visually in the largest scopes.

It works great with the public. Little more to setup, but they love video.

It's not difficult at all to get it working from the get-go, but it will take you some time to work out the optimal settings for you, your scope, and your sky.

It will IF you get the focal ratio of the SCTs down with a reducer. You need to be around f/3 or f/4, and you may find your 14 a little restrictive field wise even then. For medium small targets like many galaxies, I use the C11. The C8 is the workhorse though.

When you are talking image brightness, focal ratio is EVERYTHING. More aperture just means "bigger" with extended objects.


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: mclewis1]
      #5805451 - 04/17/13 08:51 PM

MC,

Thank-you! I hope I do enjoy the experience! Some of the videos I have seen online have me in shock! And I do like the concept of 15-45 second exposures. I think my skies are mag7, however don't quote me.

And yes I have seen the debates on what live means - too much free time on people's hand. Need more clear skies to get the folks out! I am here to just enjoy this hobby: outreach/education, learning and just looking and going WOW!

The outreach is one of the big parts of the equation. It is fun seeing people lined up and looking through the telescope, but after the 200th time explaining in one night what they are seeing it gets tiring ("this is Jupiter. See the cloud belts? see those dots - they are Moons of Jupiter, blah blah blah" Repeat). I was struck though for the transit of Venus and the Annular eclipse how folks were hovered around my laptop screen using the Canon live view software/EOS utility on my Mac. It became so easy to point on the screen and explain things. Folks were taking picts of the computer screen with their cell phones! The other point at the last event, my scope was on Jupiter, always a massive crowd pleaser. The other scopes were on faint fuzzies. The lines were short - the masses just had no interest. I THINK the MallinCam X2 will bring the best of both worlds and I can move beyond Jupiter for the masses.

But per yours and other folks advice I will experiment on the Moon, Jupiter and M42 first. ;-)

Thank-you for your advice and I am sure I will be bugging everyone in the next 24-48 hrs. The camera and extra goodies come in tomorrow afternoon! Woo hoo!


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5805538 - 04/17/13 09:26 PM

Uncle Rod,

Yeah I figure sometimes I will play with my UW ep, but yes I can see the Mallicam X2 as the go to device.

"Real" is exactly as you put it. Right now, when I look at the Whirlpool galaxy visually, and concentrate real hard I begin to sense I am looking at the Whirlpool galaxy. Regular folk think I am on drugs or nuts, or feel "make the nerd feel happy. say you see it too!". I don't expect Hubble views by any stretch, but when looking at something I would like it to "look more like themselves" as you put it. And for friends, family, outreach, etc they can relate and say "ah hah"!

F-ratio. I do have the Meade f6.3 focal reducer and flattener, and I did get the reducers from Rock and Jack so I should be ok on the 10". For the 14" LX850, who knows? I am very curious!

BUT you raise a very interesting point that I have seen repeated. I do understand focal ratio is everything, but with the larger scope aren't you collecting way more photons than a smaller scope? So yes more detail and bigger, but also shorter exposure times because, well, you have a big bucket collecting all that light. I have to believe at the same f/ratio the 14" will beat the 10" or 5" or whatever in exposure time due to all those photons it is grabbing.


P.S. - I love your blog and articles and can totally relate to your stories! My mother dragged me to sci_fi and horror films too! Some time I have to share a story using an Edmund Scientific polaroid camera on my RV-6...


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mclewis1
Thread Killer
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5805753 - 04/17/13 10:42 PM

Quote:

I do understand focal ratio is everything, but with the larger scope aren't you collecting way more photons than a smaller scope? So yes more detail and bigger, but also shorter exposure times because, well, you have a big bucket collecting all that light. I have to believe at the same f/ratio the 14" will beat the 10" or 5" or whatever in exposure time due to all those photons it is grabbing.



Andrew,

It depends on your target. For point sources like stars it's true the larger aperture scope will go deeper and show more (fainter) stars but for extended objects it's different. On extended objects it's all about the f ratio. Your 14" might be operating at f6 and I'll have a 6" at f3 and all other things being equal (skies, camera, etc.) my scope will show a brighter image. Sure the object will be much larger in the 14 but the surface brightness of the object will be greater at f3. The larger scope also gets you more resolution so once you get enough density or surface brightness of an object the larger scope will make a prettier picture. But if you're after fast object recognition (arms of a galaxy, colors in a planetary or extended nebula, etc.) the faster scope setup should be your choice.

Fortunately it sounds like you've also ordered a Mallincam MFR-5 focal reducer (and hopefully one or two of the spacers for it). This reducer will work well with a whole variety of scopes and since it replaces the 1.25" nosepiece on the camera it's very easy to use in just about any scope. With this focal reducer and a spacer you'll be able to get your SCTs down below f4.


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skyguy88
sage


Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5806005 - 04/18/13 01:42 AM

Andrew,

When you get comfortable enough with the camera to try outreach you'll find a world of difference. Since you no longer need to guide individuals through finding, focusing, and positioning themselves, you'll have time to concentrate on the details and significance of the objects that you are observing together and the ideas that make astronomy so exciting. You can use the objects on screen to develop conversations on galaxies, element formation (planetary nebulae start that conversation by themselves), stellar evolution and whatever you feel like talking about. I usually get Einstein, Hubble, Slipher, black holes, dark matter and dark energy into the conversation. Look for ideas that will make your audience think. Video really helps to engage minds.

Make M51 one of your first objects to develop technique. It is bright,stunning and great for working on tweaking skills.

Enjoy!

Bill


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nytecam
Postmaster


Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5806068 - 04/18/13 03:58 AM

Enjoy the ride - mag 7 stars @ 5000ft should help - swap you my 15M neighbours and NELM 3.5 still get down to mag 17 in 30sec on a good night - here's 39 DSOs in <80min gross exposure

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GlennLeDrew
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: nytecam]
      #5806094 - 04/18/13 05:15 AM

Andrew,
To amplify on what Mark stated...

All telescopes at the same f/ratio deliver equally bright images. And for the same camera settings, all exposures wi record to identical surface brightness.

An 80mm f/5, or a 300mm f/5, or a 1m f/5 will all have equally bright images and will record the sky glow to the same degree in the same time.

The bigger apertures will have commensurately larger image scale and detail, and capture fainter stars. But the extended objects and the sky will have the very same brightness.

I know, it seems to fly in the face of 'common sense' that a huge scope at the same f/ratio dies not deliver a brighter image.

This is analagous to the case of the working of the exit pupil. Any scope used visually and at some particular exit pupil delivers an image where extended objects and the sky have identical surface brightness. The only difference is image scale (and fainter stars with the bigger aperture.)


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5806268 - 04/18/13 08:48 AM

Quote:

Uncle Rod,


BUT you raise a very interesting point that I have seen repeated. I do understand focal ratio is everything, but with the larger scope aren't you collecting way more photons than a smaller scope? So yes more detail and bigger, but also shorter exposure times because, well, you have a big bucket collecting all that light. I have to believe at the same f/ratio the 14" will beat the 10" or 5" or whatever in exposure time due to all those photons it is grabbing.







Like I said...for extended objects, galaxies, nebulae...all that matters is the focal ratio for brightness and for exposure length. Upping the aperture makes the image bigger (at the same focal ratio) but no brighter. Being bigger is sometimes good in that you can see more small details.


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Lorence
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5806831 - 04/18/13 02:29 PM

Quote:

The big questions I want to really find out -
* I love my eyepieces, but will I finally get beyond the faint fuzzies without doing LOOONG GUIDED exposures (I do love my Canon 60Da btw). Will this camera be my primary way to view the sky?
* Will the faint fuzzies look "real" in 1 minute or less?
* I do public outreach - I think in theory video astronomy is the way to go. Will it REALLY work. I will find out this Saturday...
* How tough is it to use this camera correctly? I do have the wireless exposure control AND MallinCam Control from MiloSlick on the Macintosh. And I also have the wireless control of the telescope via Sky Safari Pro from Southern Stars.
* Testing will initially be on a 10" LX200 and Coronado PST. Next up will be the 14" LX850. Will it really work with ease across the telescopes.




Eyepieces? I haven't used one since getting my first Mallincam. Find a good long term storage solution for yours or they will end up at the bottom of a junk box like mine.

The objects you called faint fuzzies will actually be recognizable as galaxies or nebula. Faint fuzzies now will be objects you would never have considered looking at.

You give me the impression of a non swimmer about to jump into a pool. Make sure you are at the shallow end.

Take it one step at a time. Set up during the day or very early evening the first few times until you are familiar with all the cables. Move the telescope through it's full range of movement to make sure nothing will get tangled or collide.

MiloSlick is great but it's a bit too big for one mouthful. Ignore the image processing side of the software until you have a good idea of all the cameras settings. That will take a few sessions. Some of the camera setting will only make subtle chances when the camera is used at night. These changes are much easier to see during daytime.

Remember the tortoise and the hare. There isn't a better analogy.

I can't recall any bad comments about using a Mallincam with a Meade LX200. Any size. You do need a focal reducer. No need to look at any other than the MFR-5. I have a bunch of focal reducers laying on top of the eyepiece in my junk box. There's a pile of junk on top of the focal reducers.


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro [Re: Lorence]
      #5807753 - 04/18/13 09:19 PM

Thank-you everyone for the pointers and advice! Much appreciated! And I think I am buying the story on aperature...

Lorence - yes, I am a "non-swimmer" in the video astronomy universe. I never really thought about it at all until I looked at the webcam concept in the fall, and stumbled on this video astronomy thingy. The more I looked into it, the more I thought this could be quite amazing with a lot of potential. And I finally took the plunge and ordered the MX2 with everything (yes even the spacers with the focal reducer, remote and all that). So we will see how it really goes.

Astronomy itself? I have been in this hobby since 1967. However I have not followed the astro bb or forum thing until very recently. I really have been isolated from other astronomers. Need to go to a star party event, or something soon. Also, when observing in Michigan I found it very frustrating with the humidity, lots of cloudy skies, bugs, cold, snow, etc which made the hobby frustrating with lots of LOONG gaps in observing. Moving to New Mexico - it was like I got a new telescope. Profoundly different viewing experience to say the least!

And Bill I will test this out on M51 right after I look at the Moon and Jupiter. Might test on a star for fun for the warm up round...

Eyepieces? I might keep them as a collectors item, or for a novel concept, "I remember when..." and then show the museum pieces!


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5813464 - 04/21/13 04:20 PM

Wow! How do I be brief in this forum?!?!?

I am simply blown away by this camera. Night #1 - mostly cloudy (after a beautiful day of course), so I focused on learning the camera and the setup and to get the kinks out of it. Porch light was on, bright Moon, whatever. I good dry run. LOTS of cables.

Day/Night #2 - trial run at the Rio Rancho Astronomy Club event. Will it work? Would I know what to do? Needless to say IT WORKED FLAWLESSLY!
-- Just at Sunset everyone abandoned their telescopes and came to my command center; all hovered around the LCD screen (it worked fine). Oohs and ahhhs on Jupiter and the Moon. Saturn peaked out, and more oohs and ahhs.
-- Then I had to help a group of college students hunt down and learn about stars. GREAT TEACHING AID COUPLED WITH THE IPAD!
-- At last minute at 10pm we got shooed out - they wanted to turn the lights at the park on 3 hours earlier than promised; then the police came a bit later to see who those folks were at the park?!?!? Astronomers are a rough crowd you know, but police came for a city sanctioned event?????
-- Back home, I was determined to try the camera out more. Winds were calm, temps around 50 sky was perfect barring the bright Moon.
-- First shot Saturn. Looked wonderful!
-- Now onto the big stuff. Ring Nebula came INSTANTLY into view. Simple stunning.
-- FYI, I tried at F10 (to humor myself). DSO's sucked. Went to F/5 - Jackpot!
-- Then M13. INSTANTLY into view. Amazing!
-- Onto M51. That was a challenge. Needed to get the F down (see in a bit). 20 secs and playing with the MallinCam control and learned some more tricks. Still at 20 secs too washed out. So I used the LP filter and 30 secs; that began to do the trick. Need autoguiding though (LX850 will take care of that soon). First time I could actually see the details of M51, live, though any telescope I have owned. EVER!

This camera is simply AMAZING. It is not for the high end art astro picts - this is meant for just viewing, sharing and learning. This camera is a game changer for outreach. Last night my telescope became the only one to go to. Everyone had fun with it, the software and the camera.

NOW the Question: I will eat crow...for DSOs focal ratio is where it is at. f/5 was fine. I used the focal reducer that came with the camera also with the Meade f/6.3 focal reducer. Could never get it into focus. Any suggestions to get to around f3?

Amazing camera, amazing camera...


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Dwight J
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/14/09

Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5813516 - 04/21/13 04:50 PM

You could try using two focal reducers; ie: a 0.5X threaded into the camera nosepiece and the F 6.3 FR or use the Mallincam MFR 5 FR with both 10 and 5 mm spacers to get to F 3. Meade F 3.3 FR's can work well but only older ones that were made in Japan.

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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5813561 - 04/21/13 05:16 PM

Hello Dwight,

I did try the several combinations with the F6.3 and 0.5x and with spacers, but could never focus. Should I try the spacers in different positions?

Also, could it be a problem with using the 2" diagonal with diagonal spacers? (I just thought of that). Should I go back to the 1.25" diagonal?


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5813564 - 04/21/13 05:21 PM

Now another big question for everyone.

I was playing around using the Mallincam with the PST. No dice getting that into focus either. Anyone have success there?

Then for fun I used the Mallincam on the big scope with solar filter. Yes, can see things, though not as good as the Canon 60 Da. Clearly this camera was meant more for DSOs and to a lesser extent planets for live viewing.

BUT...BUT...when viewing the Sun I noticed dust particles on the screen. Checking everything, the dust was on the Mallincam Sensor, yikes! Can this be cleaned with a camel hair brush/blower combo? Or do I have to accept the dust forever? Afraid to destroy the sensor.


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Dwight J
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/14/09

Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5813790 - 04/21/13 06:39 PM

I would try the 1 1/4" as the extra length of the 2" diagonal might be the problem trying to reach focus. I use mine straight thru but you may be using an alt/az mount configuration. I didn't really like the two reducer combo as there was a lot of coma, likely due to my cheap 0.5X reducer. Others have had success with it but they probably had a better quality reducer. Spacing is something to play with as this can improve things as far as minimizing coma.

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mclewis1
Thread Killer
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5813905 - 04/21/13 07:53 PM

Quote:

BUT...BUT...when viewing the Sun I noticed dust particles on the screen. Checking everything, the dust was on the Mallincam Sensor, yikes! Can this be cleaned with a camel hair brush/blower combo? Or do I have to accept the dust forever? Afraid to destroy the sensor.



Andrew,

The simplest and safest method of cleaning the CCD is with a gentle blast of air ... from a manual blower and absolutely not the can of compressed air. A small soft brush can also be safely used with the blower to dislodge any particles that don't want to move.

You can also carefully use a LensPen (Rock does this quite often).

Once you've got it all clean you'll find it beneficial to keep it that way. Keeping a filter or focal reducer on the end of the 1.25" nosepiece (or just the MFR-5 itself) keeps the sensor area somewhat sealed and free of dust. It's much easier to keep the surface of a filter or focal reducer clean rather than the CCD itself. Keeping a filter or focal reducer on the camera is also beneficial in preventing or reducing the chance of dew forming on the CCD. If you store the camera with some desiccant bags it will keep the relative humidity in that air space relatively low which means the less likelihood of dew forming.

Edited by mclewis1 (04/21/13 07:56 PM)


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A. Viegas
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/05/12

Loc: New York City/ CT
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5814020 - 04/21/13 08:47 PM

To get the PST to focus try using a shorty Barlow. I also had no luck with either my MCX or SSI reaching focus in e PST without using the Barlow. I found however that a longer barrel Barlow would not work, only the shorty Barlow like the Orion 2x shorty for instance work.

Good luck
Al


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GlennLeDrew
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: Fresh Newb Experience on the MallinCam/Video Astro new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5814526 - 04/22/13 01:26 AM

For the fastest final f/ratio, you should dispense with the diagonal. Putting accessories between scope and camera forces you to have to move the focus farther back. This has two ramifications on the SCT. The focal length and f/ratio is increased, and significantly! And beyond a certain point, the aperture becomes reduced (!) which increases the f/ratio even more (!).

You should strive to get everything as close to the OTA as much as possible. To this end, the most elegant solution is the Meade f/3.3 reducer. It has been designed to correct both coma and spherical aberration, and moreover does not cause vignetting nor aperture reduction. It threads directly to the back of the OTA.

Now, the alt-as mount configuration may dissuade you from dispensing with the disgonal, so that you retain swing-through at the zenith. I wouldn't worry about this, for two reasons. The mount can be set to not exceed any defined altitude, which keeps from hitting the base. And in alt-az mode, the zenith is not a good place to image due to field rotation increasing rapidly. You should be able to achieve an elevation of about 75 degrees; the 15 degree radius cap of the sky comprises only 7% of the area of the celestial hemisphere. You need only wait a bit for an object up there to clear the 'zone of avoidance', sampling much other goodies in the meantime.


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