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First light with Mallincam Color Hyper Plus at WSO

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#176 Douglas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 03:31 PM

Im leaving work now and have a target list in hand. Can't wait!

Looks good for tonight!

- Doug

#177 ZielkeNightsky

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 05:34 PM

Thanks to this thread my wife's Christmas gift is gone. Just received a notice from FedEx, that my Mallincam is on the way.

So if my wife is starting a thread complaining about CN members, you know why.

#178 Bowmoreman

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 11:30 PM

Yeah!

I got out for about 3 hours tonight! SQM was 19.75, temps about -6C.

I hooked up the RTP EQ platform, aligned it (roughly) to North, and setup my 10" XTi on it.... then, strung the Mallincam power/video cable over the WSO wall, and aligned on M42...

I was able to focus w/o the 10mm spacer using the stock Orion Crayford focuser (I estimate I had about 5-8mm of additional infocus available that I didn't use).

It was impressive on the monitor - when I finally got it focused. The challenge I had was I had to walk about 15 feet around the observatory to check the monitor after each/every focus adjustment - this was hugely frustrating.

(obviously I can't wait til Christmas when I can open one of the two presents from my wife - a WATEC 35 monitor which will get mounted right ON the Dob!)...

But the other problem was, I couldn't seem to get the RTP working to track... It was frankly just too cold, and too icy (we had 2 days of freezing rain) to kneel down, and mess around with it...

So, I discerned the following:

1) the MCHP will work, stock, with a stock XT10i... I do not yet know if it will work with the 5mm and 10mm spacers and the MRF3 focal reducer, but it will reach focus with the 5mm and the MRF3, so that is good to start!

2) I need to find a good night to play ONLY with the RTP!

After the above, I decided to just enjoy (again!) the MCHP on the Vixen OTA/Sphinx...

Tonights targets included: M31 - fabululous as usual - saw two dark lanes no problem... then on to M33 - what a great spiral... then M1 - hints of color in the nebulousity/veiling

Then decided to try some new targets... (for the MCHP anyways!)... Went to M81 - that was cool; could barely make out arm details - emphasis on barely... (but, that is the direction of the high school about 1/2 mile away and for some reason they like to keep their lights on - urgh!)...

Then, because it was finally up (for my Vixen in WSO anyways - remember my Roll Off roof blocks the east sky for a fair bit!) - I went over to M42....

Yikes, Wow! the colors in the nebulousity were amazing... I am not sure what the names of these colors are! Naturally (at 56 second iterations) the core was BLOWN out! But, the "wings" were simply amazing! I spent probably 15 minutes just looking (and playing with color, contrast, and brightness knobs on the monitor!

Then after this was done, just for yucks (and since I was getting quite cold at this point!)... I went to the Horsehead nebula region...

And...

I saw it... it wasn't spectacular... but it was unmistakeable!!!! This was my first sight of this ever!

Just amazing to me that I could see the Horsehead from 19.75 skies (Orange zone on LP map) in a 100mm Refractor!

Then after just hanging with Mr. Horsey for a bit, went over to M1 to close things out... very nice, minimal color, but nice...

At this point, I was cold and decided to pack things in!

Lessons learned:

1) trying MORE than one new piece of equipment on the same (cold, icy) winter night is not a good idea!
2) there's always exciting new targets for MCHP
3) Remotely focusing MCHP via "walk over to monitor, check, walk back, repeat - is NOT a great way to spend 45 minutes!

More reports next clear sky night!

Clear skies

#179 kent

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 11:37 PM

Great report Dave, I have yet to do some serious observing with this thing! The only real experimenting I've done is out the window. But I'm definatly following your reports. Keep up the good work!

#180 b1gred

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 11:42 PM

Very nice report! :waytogo:

#181 smokin oakum

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 12:52 AM

Dave, great report, and I'm sooooo glad that we don't have a focus problem with our scopes. The moonlite that I just ordered, should have no problem with both the focal reducer and extender. Then we will have a 12.5mm camera eyepiece.

Neil

#182 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 01:37 AM

I had a great night tonight with the MallinCam, its 1:30am and just finished packing it in. I tried Mars and played with all the menu settings, did M42, NGC2403 Galaxy, M81 & M82 Galaxy. Mars was tough, I will play with the images to see what detail can be brought out with some image processing.

I learned a valuable lesson tonight with the WATEC, if you are planning on mounting it where I did, next to the focuser, which is great, you have to turn it off if you want to grab awesome images. I noticed the very sensitive Class 1 CCD chip picked up the WATEC screen light and it made a noticeable difference in the images I captured once I turned it off. I hadn't considered that when I mounted it where I did. I like it next to the focuser, I think I will just turn it off when I grab images.

- Doug

#183 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 01:47 AM

Here is M81 from tonight ...

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#184 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 02:08 AM

My SQM read 20.6 tonight and temps cold ... here is M82 from tonight...

Posted Image

#185 Chris Schroeder

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 07:49 AM

:goodjob:

#186 Bowmoreman

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 08:50 AM

Nice shots, Doug! M81 is exactly like what it looked on my monitor too! Your SQM was exactly 1.0 better than mine though :lol:

I forgot to report that the other targets I tried were M52 and from there hopped over to the bubble... I could *just* make out one side of the bubble itself - very faint...

Again, this was all on the 100mm Vixen.

I sure can't wait til the Watec arrives (and I get to "open it"), because having to run back/forth to check the monitor for focus (and acquisition since the Dob is NOT a goto!), was a hugely frustrating effort.

Don't know why (yet) I couldn't get the EQ platform working; I suspect massive user error, but will play around with it at some point on these next cloudy days and nights! Probably just something really dumb on my part.

The only target in common last night between the 10" and the 100mm was M42; frankly the extra aperture and speed of the Dob was only apparent in that what I was seeing at 2.1 seconds on the Dob seemed about equivalent to the 28 and 56 second iterations on the 100mm...

M42 is really an enigma though... at 28 and 56 seconds the core was HUGELY blown out/overexposed... but the colors and details in the nebulousity were fantastic... I'm not sure there IS a good way to even expose the core properly other than having everything else show up as only stars and no nebula at all...

In this aspect, I think visual will ALWAYS be better/different, our eyes have a much more "dynamic" signal to noise discernment capability.

Tons of fun, though!

clear skies all

#187 Bowmoreman

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 08:52 AM

Doug, thanks for the heads up on locating the Watec! I'll factor that in before I drill some holes!

How are you accomplishing tracking? do you have an EQ platform, or are you using ArgoNavis/ServoCat or something? (couldn't tell from your signature).

clear skies

#188 Bowmoreman

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:00 AM

Dave, great report, and I'm sooooo glad that we don't have a focus problem with our scopes. The moonlite that I just ordered, should have no problem with both the focal reducer and extender. Then we will have a 12.5mm camera eyepiece.

Neil


Your welcome/thanks, Neil; Smart choice to go straight to a quality focuser, I'm thinking:

One thing I *did* observe about the Orion, was that the coarseness of the stock Crayford is definitely sub-optimal for achieving good/best focus...

I know I can GET focus, because I could go to either side of best focus quite easily; it was just difficult to make it perfect... Whereas with my MoonLite CF2/TriKnob on the Vixen refractor, it was dead easy to dial in, and lock, perfect focus...

Sooo... I'm thinking about yet another purchase - a MoonLite for the Orion... will this never end! :roflmao:

I have confirmation that the 2nd and 3rd graders and their families will be coming (weather permitting) to my first official outreach/educational event on the 20th! :jump:

This will be fun! (we have a "cloud date" of the 21st of course).

The only challenging part is that we have to start at 6PM since they are only 7-8 year olds... I'm guessing most of them will only "last" about an hour in December cold, my warm room notwithstanding!

My general plan for that event is to setup the Dob on the EQ platform as the purely visual scope, and the Vixen as the MCHP scope into the 19" monitor in the warm room... That way some can be in there (warming), and some can be outside at the dob...

Mars (what they all really want to see; I'm sure) is NOT visible on my refractor until about 11PM right now (obstruction of the roof)... and, frankly, I've yet to get a decent view of it with the 10"... even last night it just was a red blob at 97x with the Ethos...

Ah well, they'll just have to live with a bunch of cool clusters, galaxies and nebulas! :lol:

clear skies all (not for WSO - we're supposed to get 6-10" of Snow starting at noon today - urgh)...

#189 smokin oakum

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:20 AM

Dave - to answer your question "will it ever end" fortunately, NO. I know it's more money invested in a hobby a lot of people wouldn't understand, but you have to ask yourself, what else would I like to buy? I just dropped a load of money to get this setup going, and I'm thrilled.

Neil

#190 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 10:22 AM

Dave: I am using ServoCat Jr. and Argo Navis. The ServoCat will allow me 7, 14, and 28 second exposures without artifacts and about half the time at 56 seconds. I generally use 7 and 14 for most everything with 28 seconds here and there as needed. My 12.5" at F5 seems to collect a fair amount of light fast allowing for shorter exposures. I find the 56 second exposure usually overexposes everything but has been useful for some faint galaxy work. I have found bright nebulas to be the best targets for the color camera.

Regarding Focusers, here is were I stand. I found exactly the same experience as Dave, I knew I could ahieve focus but getting the optimal focus position is difficult with a monitor and delayed image. My feather touch focuser is 10:1 gear ratio, silky smooth, and makes it as easy as I can expect but it can be tough.

I am considering a Hartmann Mask, or a Kedrick Kwik focus, which will make the process simple, easy and accurate. You can make a Hartmann mask yourself. An explanation of how it works and a link to purchase the Kendrick version is here: http://www.scopetron...m/focusaids.htm

For the kids, I would suggest a colorful bright nebula like M42 and the Moon. I have done moon videos with the MallinCam which came out great. Kids always love the moon. Keep your target list short and pick wisely! I did some public outreach for about 60 college students, which can be much like 8 year olds!

I hear what your saying about overexposing the Trapezium in M42, I don't think there is any way to bring out the faint nebulosity without overexposing the Trapezium to some degree. Here is my best shot of M42 where you can still see the trapezium but it was tough.

Posted Image

#191 plav1959

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 10:27 AM

As far as focusing, has anyone tried to simply use an 8-10 mm Plossl with a parfocalizing ring? I've only used my MCHP once with not great results ( I'm sure it's just me ). I have been considering a Hartman mask or a parfocal EP. Just wondering what everyone else thought...

#192 smokin oakum

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 10:29 AM

A Hartmann mask is a very easy and usefull thing to make, and with a good focuser it should be easy as pie to use.

Douglas-How fast do you set the exposier times for using the mask?

Neil

#193 midway199

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 10:41 AM

I've found with my StellaCam 3 that you can tweak the focus with longer exposures (such as 6, 7, or 8 seconds) on a faint starfield. Once you have a low magnitude star pretty well focused, as you continue to tweak the focus, faint stars in the field appear that do not appear when not in focus.

#194 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 11:28 AM

Hey Paul, I have a set of parfocal rings which I haven't gotten around to playing with yet. I plan to use them and think they will be very useful for visual work too, swapping out EPs without the need to focus everytime.

Neil: I haven't used a Kendrick Kwik Focus or Hartmann Mask yet but also plan to make / purchase one and see how it performs. It looks like the way to go.

I have been using the 2.1 second mode to achieve focus. I found the same things as Matthew, stars begin to appear from blackness as you achieve focus. I have found tweaking focus on longer exposures difficult so I have been using 2.1 second mode but there is no doubt that there is an art to focusing which takes time to perfect.

- Doug

#195 Bowmoreman

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 11:41 AM

Hey Paul, I have a set of parfocal rings which I haven't gotten around to playing with yet. I plan to use them and think they will be very useful for visual work too, swapping out EPs without the need to focus everytime.

Neil: I haven't used a Kendrick Kwik Focus or Hartmann Mask yet but also plan to make / purchase one and see how it performs. It looks like the way to go.

I have been using the 2.1 second mode to achieve focus. I found the same things as Matthew, stars begin to appear from blackness as you achieve focus. I have found tweaking focus on longer exposures difficult so I have been using 2.1 second mode but there is no doubt that there is an art to focusing which takes time to perfect.

- Doug


For focusing on my refractor, I just parfocal my ep, in this case my Ethos - :lol: in my flip mirror... so then just switch the mirror...

And, since that focuser is a MoonLite CF2/TriKnob with locking knob... it's dead easy to focus... takes no time at all...

But the dob currently has the not so great Orion crayford... so even if/when I have a monitor right on the scope, its gonna be a pain since it isn't dual-speed, nor particularly "fine"...

time to start looking at MoonLite CR2's I guess!

clear skies!

#196 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 11:55 AM

I always thought of the Feathertouch focuser as the Mercedes of focusers but I did have the best experience last weekend when I used a wireless auto focuser on a friends scope. We had a wireless hand pad and could adjust the focus without touching the scope, and we could move in very small increments, finer than the 10:1 gear ratio of the feathertouch. No settle time, it was great. It also kept the readings on how much in-travel so we could go back to that setting anytime we dropped the MallinCam in the focuser.

- Doug

#197 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 11:59 AM

Dave: I just noticed that the feathertouch focuser from Starlight Instruments has an Orion Sky Quest Adapter and they have the motorized system too.

http://www.starlightinstruments.com/

Its worth a look!

- Doug

#198 greg

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 12:00 PM

Here's a shot of M42 from my light polluted driveway in the middle of a large city ( street light only 75' from my scope). I used my MallinCam Hyper Plus,15mm of spacers, and a MFR-3 Focal Reducer. Telescope was a 30'F/4.5 and the time was 2 seconds,any more and the trap was completly overexposed.

Greg

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  • 2048327-M42.jpg


#199 Douglas

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 12:01 PM

Check out this review, I haven't read it yet, just found it, it compares The Feathertouch to the Moonlite CR2 focuser as well as the JMI DX-1 ... I'm goin to do some reading now!

http://www.cloudynig...ts/focusers.pdf

- Doug

#200 smokin oakum

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 12:05 PM

Here's a shot of M42 from my light polluted driveway in the middle of a large city ( street light only 75' from my scope). I used my MallinCam Hyper Plus,15mm of spacers, and a MFR-3 Focal Reducer. Telescope was a 30'F/4.5 and the time was 2 seconds,any more and the trap was completly overexposed.


Where's the shot? I don't see it on my computer.


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