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A New Camera Offering

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#201 ramdom

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 01:29 AM

I don't have a dog in this fight of Mallincam vs. Lodestar or other cameras, etc. and don't mean to stir up any trouble since I'm VERY VERY NEW (a few weeks) to astronomy (since I was a kid) and I've not even started VA yet.  But I was considering buying a number of cameras and have settled down to Mallincam SR-DSc for many reasons after a lot of research and thought, but mainly because of people like Rock, Chris A, and Andy being accessible and helpful on various forums. I'd like to think I've been pretty clear with what I'm writing but I also realise that I constantly am reading the posts on the Yahoo! group and researching and so I might be assuming everyone is familiar with the full context when it may not be the case. So whenever there is a miscommunication from any side, I am happy to have it clarified. Everyone makes mistakes :) and as long as there's malice or ill intent I am all for having a constructive discussion.

 

Now that that is out the way, only issue is hardware. People can believe what they want but it doesn't mean it's real. This is a factual issue, not one of opinion (unless there's semantics involved but I've clarified what I meant when I said "hardware"). The hardware is easy to check - you can open the camera and see what's inside, which you can see on Youtube (search"Mallincam Skyraider").  But that is just icing on the cake. The camera description and Chris's reviews and posts make it clear what's going on. ALL the stuff described here is part of the camera (hardware) side: http://www.mallincam...yraider-ds.html  - I just mean hardware colloquially but there are physical circuits involved as indicated by the Youtube video. 

 

As far as tiling, my original statement wasn't that it's not doable elsewhere, but that it is easier when the camera does most of the processing involved so as to not require stacking and produce respectable quality images. Rock even stated on Yahoo! that stacking wouldn't add much since the sensitivity is so cranked up (paraphrasing, NOT verbatim---please join the Yahoo! group if you're REALLY interested and search for his posts).

 

--Ram



#202 ramdom

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 01:49 AM

curtis, I'm new to CN so I don't know if we get a lot of trolls or not, but I've been using the Internet since 1988 and I can say that on the Internet and outside, it's very very easy to miscommunicate and misunderstand, particularly since people are posting from all over the world and their first language may not be in English, etc. So I try to be patient. 

 

Regarding your question about the images, I agree, it could be an FR issue at the edge but some of this was discussed on the Yahoo! group and both Rock and Chris provided explanations which suggested it could be due to DSc being equipped with an interlaced sensor (as per Rock, on M17---I know you didn't list it in your query) and according to Chris for M16, a tree branch getting in the way. When I first had all these questions about the Mallincams, people advised me to join the Yahoo! group and it has helped a lot. 

 

I am not sure of the control software's functionality but that seems like a pretty obvious feature to have. 

 

Sorry I wasn't that helpful actually! (Tired, time to get some sleep!)

 

--Ram



#203 ccs_hello

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 02:24 AM

First, I have no doubt on Chris' talent and capability of using imaging devices and tools to produce the marvelous images.

 

That is not the focus I have here.

 

====

 

There should be less emotional involved in the discussions.  

If my posts caused people t think that way, I apologize.

Too much motion is not kosher and not beneficial.

 

Let's go fact finding, will we? 

 

The key point is (setting emotion aside), is SkyRaider DS an "image head" or    not <-- such as a videocam which has an internal DSP (ISP) which is processing the raw CCD signals.

 

The difference is the "processing" and how it is done.  Videocam is using its own DSP to do "hardware based" processing,

while an "image head" is sending out raw digitized CCD signal, un-processed,

to a PC and let software in that PC to process the image (which is software-based processing.)

 

This thread goes for 180+ posts and concluded SkyRaider DS is using the image head approach, until Ram's post 188 which has a line saying "hardware based processing".

 

Certainly it deserves a fact-finding conversation (info source and why such claim.)

In the last 20 or so posts, I didn't see previous assumption as "image head" (1-187) was changed.  I am happy it still holds.  That is the only critical data I'd like to know.

 

Please go ahead continue your dialog whatever they are going to be.

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#204 ccs_hello

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 02:29 AM

Ram,

 

I don't have a dog in this fight of Mallincam vs. Lodestar or other cameras, etc.either.

 

I like the facts.

 

I hope this ends personal labeling habit some like to play here.

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#205 ramdom

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 02:44 AM

By "hardware based processing", I mean where is the load/bulk of processing ("process" as in "central processing unit" or CPU or processor) - on the camera or on the connected computer.

 

Highlighting the word "process" doesn't yield facts: that's just semantics which can be subjective.  If I say processing is the same as computing, it is valid, and then the discussion can proceed from there. If you say processing is only about the processing the raw CCD signals with an onboard DSP, then that is also valid, and the discussion can proceed from there. That's assuming one wishes to debate the issues after words that have different semantics are defined. 

 

In this case, what I mean by processing and what you mean by processing are different (I think - I don't care about the distinction between "raw CCD data"). I mean processing as in "central *process*ing unit" (CPU) - computing - which hardware handles does the major lifting. The dual memory, hypercircuit, voltage step up,  are all part of the camera hardware, which is doing what it is supposed to be doing (processing, as per my semantics).  There is stuff going on inside the camera that Chris then uses which allows him (and us) to not need to stack.

 

The issue of whether something is an "image head with onboard DSP", a very specific hardware requirement, or not is not interesting to me.  I maintain that SR-DSc does a lot of hardware based processing as per my semantics above. 

 

--Ram



#206 nytecam

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 02:57 AM

Very nice images Chris A - good to see Mallincam using the Sony ICX829 - we know the sensor is good with over a year of use.  :waytogo:



#207 A. Viegas

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 06:01 AM

Actually this question of using "image head" vs "internal processing" is an interesting topic all on its own.  

 

As for the SR itself...  until its released and someone takes it apart I think its difficult to know if Rock's additional board (the youtube video clearly shows a second board) is also doing some image processing or if its applying additional gain or whatnot.  Actually, I don't know how the Lodestar X2 works, but I assume if is an 'image head' then all the processing is done via computer program.   I confess I don't know, but it would seem to me that a laptop or desktop computer has way more horsepower than a tiny DSP or onboard image enhancer that any camera can have, so isn't an 'image head' approach always going to be better if you have a single USB based camera anyhow?  I mean DSP based video astronomy is still the only way to go if you are not using a computer with the scope, but if you are then isn't that the right move in the 21st century?

Al



#208 jimthompson

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 07:56 AM

I agree Al (with your statement that "image head" vs. "DSP" is interesting).  I imagine however that the distinction between the two is not as black and white as is being suggested by past posters.  Regardless of the camera type there must always be some level of signal processing inside the camera.  For one thing a CCD is an inherently analog device, so the raw camera signal has to be digitized at some stage before it can get passed along to a PC or onboard DSP.  Some of the processing may occur while the signal is still analog, before the A/D converter, say like amplification or filtering.  So what camera type is giving the purest signal then?  Seems pretty grey to me.  The biggest difference I can see between the image quality of an analog video camera (NTSC/PAL) compared with a direct to PC camera is the bit depth of the output; analog video feeding through a capture device at 8bit and the direct to PC having potentially up to full 16bit.  This makes a tremendous difference to the signal-to-noise ratio that is achievable in the output.  The amount of signal processing happening in the hardware of the camera seems moot in comparison.  In fact in some situations it may be faster to do the signal processing onboard the camera, such as when there is a bottleneck transferring the raw data to the PC.  Such bottlenecks can result in a limit to how fast direct to PC cameras can refresh (ie. frame rate).

 

Cheers,

 

Jim T.


Edited by jimthompson, 09 June 2015 - 07:57 AM.


#209 Dom543

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 12:13 PM

Actually this question of using "image head" vs "internal processing" is an interesting topic all on its own.  l

 

I believe that most CCD imagers purpose built for astrophotography use minimal on camera processing, a.k.a. cooking of the data. Just as much as is needed to turn the signal into a transmittable digital form. The distinct feature of astrophoto cameras is that their ultimate goal is to achieve best signal/noise ratio, i.e. lowest possible noise. In case of the SX cameras, my hypothesis of uniformly minimal on-camera processing seems to be supported by the fact that they all use the same software. The Lodestar may have the smallest and highest sensitivity sensor in the family but appears to provide the same kind of signal to the computer end, as its bigger brothers and sisters and allows to save the same type of 16bit raw data files.

 

Analog video cameras are the other extreme. They do all the signal processing and conversion on the camera. As a result they are self-contained devices, their output can be directly fed into a display device.

 

Microscope cameras are somewhere in-between. The light generated by the fluorescence of the dye is very faint, so gains circuitry to boost of brightness is usually included. Even knowing that the consequent increase of noise will be larger than the gain in brightness. Faster image download times are also important in laboratory work. This requires fast sensor reads, again introducing more noise, faster, more expensive electronics and compromises, like clipping the bandwidth/dynamic range to 12 bits. The download time is not really an issue for small pixel count sensors, like the ICX829 but is getting important for larger APS size sensors, like the ICX413. Nevertheless, for the sake of the uniformity, microscope camera makers with a wide range of cameras using different sensors may apply these design compromises across their entire product line, also crippling down their small sensor cameras.

 

I am not touching DSRL's and other consumer photo cameras, as they are not really relevant to the OT of this thread.

 

Clear Skies!

--Dom



#210 jimthompson

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 01:58 PM

Hi Dom,

 

I think it is difficult to draw a line in the sand and say "these cameras do minimal processing, and these do a lot."  In fact I'd wager that no one but the engineers and technicians who design the cameras have any idea exactly how much "cooking" of the data stream there is in one camera versus another.  The fact that all the camera models from a camera manufacturer use the same software does not necessarily suggest that all of those cameras have very minimal processing.  All it means is that the protocol for data exchange is the same.  Consider as an example the Touptek line of cameras.  They have cameras that use a wide variety of sensors, both CCD and CMOS.  The nature of the raw signal from these two devices is fundamentally different, one being analog the other digital.  The only way I can see for so many different sensor variations to work with the same software is for there to be a common data exchange protocol.  This is not a new idea, it has been around as long as there has been a need to communicate between disparate systems (data acquisition, programmable logic controllers, communications systems, etc.)  The truth of the matter is, outside of some notional steps like pre-amplification, bias filtering or correlated double sampling, we have no idea exactly what happens to the raw sensor signal before it finally gets transformed into the data exchange format and passes to either a software program or an onboard DSP for further conditioning and eventual output.

 

Regards,

 

Jim T.



#211 DonBoy

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 03:05 PM

 

I have some comments/questions on those images. One is I noticed the stars on the M16, M27 & M57 shots were not uniform across the field (looked like some elongation on the upper left side), would that be primarily due to the reducers used?

Curtis,

 

As to the coma I believe that this is due to the camera not being square in the visual back.  Chris as many of us experience this when we don't have our cameras seated properly.   If it were the focal reducers I would suspect that it would appear in a uniform pattern with the stars increasing elongation the further one gets from the center and the greater elongation being in all four corners and the center of the screen having the least amount of star distortion and there would most likely be noticeable vignetting.



#212 budman1961

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 11:01 PM

FYI, Astrogate is doing a live demo on NSN as we speak.  I know Al from this thread is participating, I look forward to his comments!

 

Peace,

 

Andy



#213 budman1961

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 01:27 AM

For the folks that missed the live show....video #1

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=EsxgZ4BTKF4

 

Andy



#214 Relativist

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 01:27 AM

It was a nice show! the elongation I noticed in the posted images was gone, camera did great at max gain, which is my favorite setting.



#215 A. Viegas

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 06:50 AM

This new Star Raider camera was really a show stealer last night on Chris A's broadcast.  I was most impressed by how easy it seemed to control and all the images were single frames with no stacking whatsoever.  The quality of the images as single captures easily rivaled anything I have seen posted so far by that sensor icx829 including not just the Lodestar X2 but also Mallincam's Xterminator too.   I think if a stacking feature were to be included or users could direct captures to AstroToaster for stacking the resulting images could be among the best any EAA camera has been able to produce to date.   I know there are some skeptics out there, but the proof was definitely in the show last night.   The only two negatives I would mention are 1) the software needs an image countdown timer big time and 2) the StarRaider color may be even better, so many may wait for that to demo on NSN !

A live show really demonstrates the capability of a new camera like the StarRaider and for potential customers its truly the best way to make an informed decision.   I think there were a couple of long youtube videos taken and for anyone who missed the show please click on the link in post #218 above.

Al



#216 Billingr26

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:07 AM

I was also watching the broadcast last night on NSN and I truly think this one was hit out of the park. I agree with Al a live show really demonstrates the capability of a new camera and this camera has met and exceeded expectations. I would also like to give a kudos to NSN for our ability to enjoy live broadcast from all over the world.

 

Robert Billing



#217 mega256

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:43 AM

Jack did more videos of the show

https://www.youtube....DsHC6Hcw27x67NA

 

But my fav was M16...not sure what part it was on....But what a nice live view!

 

Nice camera

 

Bob



#218 geminijk

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 02:00 AM

Well, saw the camera in live action and it looks great. More folks enjoying live views and getting hooked on astronomy, that's what is important.  

 

John



#219 Dom543

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 01:14 PM

Was Chris using the software the camera will come with? Or was he still using Toupsky?

 

Thanks, 

--Dom



#220 arkosg

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 01:49 PM

Dom,

 

He was using MallincamSky, which is the (beta?) software that will ship with the SkyRaiders, on a PC.

 

I think there will be changes/additions to the software based on his testing, or at least it sounded like it, 

plus some sort of ability to directly interface with NSN for broadcasting.

 

Cheers,

 

- Greg A



#221 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 04:41 PM

SkyRaider cameras will NOT work with ToupSky and non-SkyRaider cameras will not work with MallinCamSky.

Jack


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