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First light with Mallincam Color Hyper Plus at WSO

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#26 bkushner

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 11:51 PM

Here is my very first Mallincam image. Used a Meade CN8 on a Celestron CG5. 7 second exposure on M42.

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#27 bkushner

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 11:56 PM

Here is a SINGLE FRAME unprocessed image of NGC 2683 (Mag 10 ) taken from my light polluted yard using a CN8 on a CG5 14 second exposure. By the way, this is my second ever Mallincam (or any cam for that matter) image.

Brian

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  • 1992670-ngc2683.jpg


#28 Bowmoreman

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 08:37 AM

What scope were you using?

Brian


Vixen ED100Sf (900mm f/l, f9.0) 100mm aperture... Nice ED Doublet APO, albeit a tad slow...

with the MFR3 focal reducer, I figure I was operating closer to f6...

Jack would know exactly (I was using the small, knurled black spacer and the 10mm spacer, then the 1 1/4" tube to the FR, wasn't ALSO using the 5mm spacer).

I don't (with my Vixen flip mirror) have enough back-focus to ALSO use the 5mm in addition to the 10mm)... so I'm just guessing on the actual reduction provided.

clear skies

#29 Bowmoreman

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 08:39 AM

Brian, nice pics! Are you just using a DSLR to take pictures of the screen? Or are you using the PC interface cable into a video card and doing screen captures that way?

I think your point about "first images ever" with it bear noting - this thing is REALLY easy to get up/running and value out of it; I'm still struggling with my SBIG, STV, guiding, and CCDSoft, etc... (but won't quit!)
clear skies

#30 bkushner

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 09:45 AM

Brian, nice pics! Are you just using a DSLR to take pictures of the screen? Or are you using the PC interface cable into a video card and doing screen captures that way?

I think your point about "first images ever" with it bear noting - this thing is REALLY easy to get up/running and value out of it; I'm still struggling with my SBIG, STV, guiding, and CCDSoft, etc... (but won't quit!)
clear skies


I actually record to a Replay TV unit which is like a TIVO. Records a digital file. I had a laptop with capture card but didn't like the look on the laptop. Now I have a professional Sanyo Monitor and I feed it from the Replay unit.

Brian

#31 Bill Weir

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 03:24 PM

Now, I know I'm probably considered part of the enemy camp but I am willing and wanting to learn. These images that I am seeing posted (and I've looked on the Mallincam site) are they good representations of what you see at the screen in the field? I do understand that how good the image you see, will depend on the quality of the monitor, accuracy of the tracking, aperture of scope, etc, etc.

I can see this having some appeal to many members of my club who don't have access to reasonable skies and also mostly seem intent on staring at monitor screens while their various imaging setups work away. I was actually talking to some of them last night about this camera. I was actually talking in a positive manner about it as I could see how they might be interested. None had ever heard about it, so now they have.

It still has no lure for me but that's OK, (with me anyway). As long as we've each found a way to enjoy the splendors of the sky that's what's important right?

Bill

#32 havane45

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 03:59 PM

I am very impressed by pictures and Malincam owners comments.
If I understand correctly, you can watch on the screen quite in real time ?
Even if the feeling you get with the eye in the eyepiece cannot be replaced (I second Bill's comments on that point), I think I might consider such an accessory in the future.
If technology allows me to see what my eyes cannot see from my Paris suburb, why not ?

Laurent

#33 Bowmoreman

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 04:02 PM

Nothing "enemy" about it! Different tools for different problems, is my mantra...

In my VERY LIMITED experience, the actual pictures on my monitor are BETTER than the ones I've seen captured and posted (but I'm ONLY equating those few that have been captured and posted at apertures ROUGHLY equivalent to mine)...

i.e. some of the posts are from 80mm through to 6" (which I consider ROUGHLY equivalent to my 100mm...

I can't say otherwise...

but I know that the Dumbbell I saw on MY monitor (Proton 19" monitor from back in the early 1980s! - but it is possibly the BEST NTSC monitor ever made) were better than any Dumbbell I've seen posted on CN or Mallincam Yahoo group... bar none... Mind you I've not yet played with most of the adjustments available on the Mallincam - so it is possible it might get beter...

I'm sure - with effort - and careful stacking, darks, flat fields, etc, you could do even better - but TO ME that defeats the whole "real time" purpose. If you are going to stack, adjust, edit, etc... just use a CCD and get the ultimate in resolution after all...

As I noted before, this is NOT going to replace visual for me, no way... but it is certainly going to be a "tool of choice" on nights when LP is bad, seeing is bad, and/or its just too cold to do anything but "quickie" viewing...

for that, and for outreach, I can't imagine how you could beat it with today's technology...

I'm hoping tonight stays clear, I'll go out a bit later, and maybe take DSLR pictures of my monitor... that might be fun! (and I'll stay out long enough to see Orion, etc.!)...

Clear skies all

#34 Bowmoreman

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 04:06 PM

I am very impressed by pictures and Malincam owners comments.
If I understand correctly, you can watch on the screen quite in real time ?
Even if the feeling you get with the eye in the eyepiece cannot be replaced (I second Bill's comments on that point), I think I might consider such an accessory in the future.
If technology allows me to see what my eyes cannot see from my Paris suburb, why not ?

Laurent


Yes, Laurent - it is "near" real-time... for really bright objects, you can make it real-time (e.g. moon, planets) where it has exposures as fast as (going from memory here) 1/12000 of a second... obviously monitors can only update (NTSC) at 30x per second...

for Deeper sky, it has exposures of 2.1 seconds 7, 14, 28 and 56 seconds, so in those modes, it refreshes the monitor after each of those amounts...

but compared to anything else, yeah - it is real time!

And if you look at other pictures, some of them are from WHITE zone urban light pollution and medium (e.g. 4-6") apertures... it only gets better with faster, bigger apertures...

clear skies

#35 Sky Captain

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 04:51 PM

but I am willing and wanting to learn. These images that I am seeing posted (and I've looked on the Mallincam site) are they good representations of what you see at the screen in the field?


This is the best photo I could manage taking a pict. of the screen view. Generaly the view is better live than what a digital cam. can capture.
The exposure is 2.1 seconds. The scope is the 10" SCT W\6.3FR. Heavy light polluted skies. Screen is a 1080i 32" LCD TV.

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  • 1993942-messier viewing via video 005.jpg


#36 bkushner

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 06:09 PM

Yes I agree, as I said I have a good Sanyo monitor, cost about $400 if I remember and yes you see the image right there real time. First few times I was in shock and kept stepping back and looking at the monitor then the area of sky I was imaging.

Talk about sidewalk astronomy, you could really show people a thing or two.

Brian

#37 Mike Harvey

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 08:02 PM

I almost posted this before the question was asked:

NONE of the images I've seen posted (or have taken myself)
show the TRUE SHARPNESS AND QUALITY OF WHAT IS SEEN ON A GOOD MONITOR!
In my case, that's because I'm actually taking a photograph of the monitor screen with a small, hand-held digital point-and-shoot!!
Why they don't look better with a frame-grabber, I dunno...
but they just aren't close to the "real thing".

Something that I haven't seen discussed, but which I think is important, is the SIZE AND RESOLUTION of the monitor screen.

When I run the images from the MallinCam to a 15" HD LCD monitor, the fainter objects lose a lot of detail and contrast. This is simply because the screen is capable of much more resolution than the camera is providing. And we're really STRETCHING those pixels!

The small (3.5") Watek TFT LCD, though, shows razor sharp detail and wonderful contrast. This is because the camera and the monitor are more closely matched in resolution.
And the image scale on the screen is very close to what it would be, visually, with about a 13mm eyepiece.

I've estimated that the "perfect" monitor for the current Mallincam (assuming that future models will have increased chip size and greater resolution) is ~ 6".
In fact, I am ordering a professional video monitor in this size.

Mike

#38 Bowmoreman

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 12:04 AM

I almost posted this before the question was asked:

NONE of the images I've seen posted (or have taken myself)
show the TRUE SHARPNESS AND QUALITY OF WHAT IS SEEN ON A GOOD MONITOR!
In my case, that's because I'm actually taking a photograph of the monitor screen with a small, hand-held digital point-and-shoot!!
Why they don't look better with a frame-grabber, I dunno...
but they just aren't close to the "real thing".

Something that I haven't seen discussed, but which I think is important, is the SIZE AND RESOLUTION of the monitor screen.

When I run the images from the MallinCam to a 15" HD LCD monitor, the fainter objects lose a lot of detail and contrast. This is simply because the screen is capable of much more resolution than the camera is providing. And we're really STRETCHING those pixels!

The small (3.5") Watek TFT LCD, though, shows razor sharp detail and wonderful contrast. This is because the camera and the monitor are more closely matched in resolution.
And the image scale on the screen is very close to what it would be, visually, with about a 13mm eyepiece.

I've estimated that the "perfect" monitor for the current Mallincam (assuming that future models will have increased chip size and greater resolution) is ~ 6".
In fact, I am ordering a professional video monitor in this size.

Mike


Mike, after tonight (just got in and am thawing out! LOL), I can completely understand what you are saying... and totally agree... that first view on my monitor blew me away!

tonight I did a bunch of targets, started with M27 and m57 (those colors and details are amazing!) then on to, random open clusters in the vicinity (can't remember just now LOL) and not so interesting in my not so wide-field ED100Sf... then on to M31 (nice)... M33 (fan-freaking-tastic! - spiral arms, really nice "shape", etc - spent a lot of time on this! Probably the hightlight of the night until... M1, and ultimately M42...

This was the best; in fact, the clouds were rolling in, so it was somewhat obscured. Nonetheless, it was still colorful (pinkish) as well as it would "bloom" beyond 14 seconds!

What I found seems to agree with your observation, I think that a monitor SMALLER than my 19" Proton might be in order, I noticed especially on M42 that I had more screen "real estate" that was optimal for the resolution being generated by the camera...

Next clear night, I'm going to play with my 7" LCD DVD video monitor/screen to see how THAT works (though I don't have much control of contrast/brightness on that one)...

Tell you what though, I simply cannot wait until my EQ platform arrives so that I can play with my 10" dobsonian instead of this weensy (my 7 year old son's word! LOL) 100mm scope!

FWIW - tonights sky was 19.5 SQM (Unihedron) and -7C, no winds...

Anyone else notice that OPEN clusters are just not too interesting on their Mallincams? (I wonder if that is my longish focal length just turing them into a bunch of fairly unrelated stars though?)...

Galaxies, and planetaries, and nebulas rock though!

clear skies

#39 Bob S.

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 05:05 AM

Dave, Open clusters are not very interesting with the MCHC. I pointed my scope at the Double Cluster and it was a big bore. First of all, you can only get one component in. Secondly, looking a sprinkling of stars on a monitor of any quality just isn't as nice as the real thing. OTOH, globular clusters, WHOA! Bob

#40 Bowmoreman

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 06:54 AM

Dave, Open clusters are not very interesting with the MCHC. I pointed my scope at the Double Cluster and it was a big bore. First of all, you can only get one component in. Secondly, looking a sprinkling of stars on a monitor of any quality just isn't as nice as the real thing. OTOH, globular clusters, WHOA! Bob


Thanks for the confirmation, Bob... that was my conclusion, and nice to have it seconded! Unfortunately, after I was done with M27 and M57, I forgot that M92 was in the near neighborhood, and so didn't check out any good globs...

there aren't that many globulars this time of year (at least that I could remember, and that I cound find in my starcharts last night!)... But still, no lack of targets to use some time til Orion rose up above my Observatory roofline!

clear skies (no more for me, the curse has, alas, belatedly arrived...)

#41 semiosteve

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:23 AM

Go for a color Mallincam. It will reinvigorate your entire experience of the hobby. Much easier learning curve than CCD with more dramatic near real time results.

You will see tons of detail that you never thought you'd see...and often with color to boot.

Comparing the experience to looking at hubble pics (or ccd shots) is just wrong. It is a lot closer to EP observing than it is to CCD pic viewing. But you'd have to give it a try to understand the visceral difference.

The latest wrinkle is to use a small LCD screen near the eyepiece...makes it even closer to an EP experience from what I am hearing.

Steve

#42 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:51 AM

Steve,

Based upon Bob Schilling's recomendation, I bought a Watec-35 3.5" LCD monitor and mounted it next to the FeatherTouch focuser on my 17.5" for ease in adjusting the menu and focusing. I was not intending to use it as the primary monitor. However, after spending 4 nights at a stargaze recently and using it in conjunction with 10.2" DVD players and my 14" Sanyo color CRT monitor, I kept gravitating back to the Watec. On all objects except Comet Holmes, it gave the BEST image. Also, I think everyone that had the opportunity to due a comparison likewise liked the Watec.

Jack Huerkamp

#43 Bowmoreman

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 12:00 PM

How do you control or manipulate magnification, or can you? If not, is there a rule of thumb for computing it and from there the FOV you will get?

tia,
Rick


You know, Rick, that is a good question to which I do not (yet) know the answer... I guess I could ask Rock for the sizing information of the ccd chip and the pixel size, and then plug that into the calculator that came with "The New CCD Astronmony" book... that would do the trick...

I'll have to do some digging on this (like on the Yahoo forum).

I gotta guess that since I can use it with a FR/FF (the MFR3 is the one you can get w/ the camera), that one would theoretically be able to also use it with a barlow/magnifier of some sort - but truly don't know!

clear skies

#44 NorthCoast

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 12:03 PM

Jack,

Interesting find at the Watec site... they make an astronomical camera also, who knew?

#45 Douglas

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 01:40 PM

I have the WATEC 3.5" mounted on my UTA and use it with my Color MallinCam, I love it. It is perfect for this specific application.

When I spoke to WATEC directly about their monitor they told me they would send me their astronomical camera to try out for free but it's black and white so I passed. You can't beat the color images the MallinCam serves up.

As for magnification. There is a zoom option in the camera's menu option screen to increase the size of the target.

Without any focal reducers, the camera acts like an 8mm eyepiece and with focal reducers and extension rings you can reduce the power and increase the FOV.

I send the video signal wirelessly from the scope outside to my 50" Pioneer Plasma in my living room, it's much warmer in there! I can slew the scope wirelessly using my laptop with Starry Night Pro and my wireless 232 setup. I am ready for the cold weather. I'm looking forward to viewing Mars, as it approaches opposition, while on my couch in my warm living room. I have replaced the TV remote control with my laptop running starry night and now there is something decent to watch on TV !

- Doug

#46 GardnerPacificCA

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 01:51 PM

Doug, Can you tell us a little more about how the Starry Night Pro and the Wireless 232 setup work?...Is that with the Orion BlueStar adapter?...also, please tell us more about getting the video signal to the plasma via wireless...this looks like the future of video astronomy...thanks!!

#47 semiosteve

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 02:13 PM

Thanks Jack.. I am only hesitating as I switch from the AP180 to the Obsession 20" over the course of the night...so I would not mount the Watek permanently I guess.

Here's a sample with the AP180 - Comet Holmes soon after it first brightened...

Steve

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  • 1995743-holmes1asmall.jpg


#48 Douglas

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 02:17 PM

I went with the wireless 232 system as opposed to BlueTooth Technology. My laptop has built in capability for blue tooth so I considered that option first but the signal is not as strong as the wireless 232. Wireless 232 works on a 2.4Ghz signal which is digital and there is zero interference. The range is great. It has 76 available channels. The range is >500' outside and >150' through walls. I have used the laptop inside my house with Starry Night Pro to choose targets and to control the scope which is outside in the backyard. The signal worked perfectly without any issues at all. Solid connection and it put the targets I chose in Starry Night right in the center of my EP. I am very happy with the setup. I purchased the wireless 232 from Gary Myers at ServoCAT ($329): www.servocat.com I mounted it next to the ServoCAT on the rocker box and is completely out of the way. I never remove it, it stays there. I used industrial strength velcro to attach it, hasn't budged a bit with all my trips to dark sky locations. The power cable for the wireless transmitter was easy to feed into the power rail in the rocker box because it is mounted right next to the servocat on the rocker box. The power rail is mounted inside the rocker box against the same "wall" of the rocker box. There was really no set up involved. The wireless 232 came pre-programmed and didn't need any setting changes. It is truly plug and play. Starry Night Pro 6.0.6 has worked without any issues at all. All of this also worked on my laptop which is running on Windows Vista, possbibly the most incompatable operating system out there!

The wireless video transmissiter is attached to my Upper Tube Assembly to the right of my focuser. I use a high gain antenna and there is no interference. I get clean star fields and targets on the TV in the living room. You can get the transmitter and received on 2.4Ghz or 1.2 Ghz and I ordered it from the VFM store ($199): www.vfmstore.com/tr24.htm

- Doug

#49 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 08:19 PM

Dave,

The camera acts like an 8mm eyepiece. With an MFR-3 and 10mm extension ring, it acts like a 12.5mm eyepiece. To get higher power, you can use the built in digital zoom, however, the best way to increase power is to use a Barlow.

Jack Huerkamp

#50 John Miele

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:47 PM

Mike,

Me experience agrees with your prediction. I have tried many portable DVD players ranging from 7" to 10.2" and the best picture by far is the one on my 7" monitor. This is close to your 6 inch prediction. I use a C11 and a MC B/W Hyper plus.

John M.


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