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Best Entry Level Full Color DIY Camera is LN300-PAL

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#1 photo444

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 03:36 PM

After being successful with the DIY camera for EAA (http://www.cloudynig...ter-than-ln300/) a small group of CN members could't quell the desire for better cameras.  We found one better than the DIY camera.  It is LN300-11673 (PAL).  It doesn't act like its sister LN300-11672 (NTSC) that shares the same RJ11 DSP.

 

It has longer integration time 20sec (NTSC 17 sec) because its base shutter speed is 1/50sec (NTSC 1/60).  The LN300-11673 has full color operation even when AGC is on HIGH.

The LN300-NTSC model is well known in this CN forum.  It's flaw was it became B/W when AGC and SENS-UP were boosted.

The LN300-PAL model, however, revealed its color capability in that extreme conditions.  A frame below is an indoor target made of a foam board painted flat black and a couple of color pictures cut out from an advertising paper to simulate actual targets.  You can clearly see the colors at SENSE-UP x1024, AGC HIGH, 3DNR 5, BRIGHTNESS 99 and so on.  Optimized parameter settings and mode of operation will be discussed in later posts.  Actual DSO images will be also be posted later.

 

We have found a camera at a reasonable price ($69) which may serve well for EAA purposes.  There will be some DIY aspects including control cables and methods that can be covered in the later posts as well.  

 

Clear Skies!
Paul

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1024 Gam 1 WDR A F1p8 BR99.jpg

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#2 Don Rudny

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 07:34 PM

Paul and Charles,

 

Thanks for the info about this cam.  It really looks promising for EAA.  As soon as some links to sources are posted, I plan on getting one and trying out in our dark skies of Hawaii.  I already have all the accessories from my Sammy that conked out a while back.

 

Charles, your results are very good.  Is the DNR=5 mean that there is an internal stacking of 5 frames?  What capture s/w are you using?



#3 Dragon Man

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:54 AM

Good results Charles.  :)

 

Paul, you will find that another reason the PAL versions give better resolution than the NTSC versions in these type of cameras is due to pixel size.

 

The NTSC version sensors (ICX672AKA) have vertically rectangular pixels, at 5.0 µm (H) × 7.4 µm (V) which create long vertical stars.

The PAL version sensors (ICX673AKA) have much squarer pixels at  5.0 µm (H) × 6.25 µm (V) making the stars appear smaller and not stretched vertically.

 

Those are the 1/3" size sensors. With 1/2" sensors the PAL pixels are much more square.

NTSC - 8.4 x 9.8 compared to PAL - 8.6 x 8.3

 

I have noticed the difference with the 1/2" PAL and NTSC cameras I have and it is quite obvious once it is pointed out.

In general, PAL sensors have either Square or near-square pixels. NTSC have vertically longer pixels.

PAL therefore has greater resolution.



#4 David B in NM

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:57 AM

Before I begin, no one in our little workgroup is profiting in any way or form via sales to the sources below.  I along with other members of our group have purchased cameras from these same sources.  My purchases were made on ebay though.  None of us are receiving any "reward" for suggesting the sources below.

 

I've confirmed the sources for this camera if anyone is interested.  In the "first" LN300 thread people were ordering it from two people.  Their names were Elaine and Jock.  I've found out they are partners and sell the same camera.  There are four possible sources for this camera:

 

http://www.aliexpres..._583938938.html

 

http://www.aliexpres..._577804472.html

 

On ebay there are two "possible" sources.  In the past, the cameras were sold by ebay member "Miracle_Cottage".  Recently the cameras appeared under the name "MiracleCottage".  I've confirmed with Elaine they are operating both storefronts:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...5&_trksid=p3692

 

http://www.ebay.com/...=p2047675.l2562

 

The description of the camera is incorrect.  I've talked to the Seller in the past and suggested they change it.  Up to now, they haven't.

 

1.  The camera does not have digital zoom.

 

2. The camera does not use the Sony ICX673 as stated.  It uses the Sony ICX811 ccd.  IMHO the ICX811 is much better.  I have LN300's with both ccds and am not the only one who has this opinion.  When Rock Mallin released the Micro Super, he also felt the ICX810/1 ccd was better.

 

I'll make another post today addressing the Mallincam Micro and Micro Super in this thread (may make owners happy) and the AVS DSO.

  

If you decide to order the camera from one of the sources above, please copy and paste the text below when you communicate with the Seller. 

 

If you want an OSD cable add it to the text to inquire about it.   Elaine said she could offer the cable if anyone is interested at an additional cost.  This thread will contain a DIY for the cable installation as well as other alternatives for remote control.

 

quote:
I would like the LN300-11673 PAL version.  The PAL VERSION please.  I would like to have the filter removed.  Please remove the filter.
end quote

 

For those who took part in the DIY thread Paul started, the same OSD cable can be used on this camera if you wish to "retire" your DIY camera and use the cable.  The nosepiece, reducer, power supply and cables can all be used on this camera.

 

I'll be making one or more posts a little later today.

 

PLEASE REMEMBER:  YOU ONLY WANT THE PAL VERSION.

 

David B in NM


Edited by David B in NM, 25 June 2015 - 09:00 AM.


#5 photo444

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 09:28 AM

Good results Charles.  :)

 

Paul, you will find that another reason the PAL versions give better resolution than the NTSC versions in these type of cameras is due to pixel size.

 

The NTSC version sensors (ICX672AKA) have vertically rectangular pixels, at 5.0 µm (H) × 7.4 µm (V) which create long vertical stars.

The PAL version sensors (ICX673AKA) have much squarer pixels at  5.0 µm (H) × 6.25 µm (V) making the stars appear smaller and not stretched vertically.

 

Those are the 1/3" size sensors. With 1/2" sensors the PAL pixels are much more square.

NTSC - 8.4 x 9.8 compared to PAL - 8.6 x 8.3

 

I have noticed the difference with the 1/2" PAL and NTSC cameras I have and it is quite obvious once it is pointed out.

In general, PAL sensors have either Square or near-square pixels. NTSC have vertically longer pixels.

PAL therefore has greater resolution.

Ken,

 

Thanks for filling those useful information.

 

PAL version has more pixel 720x576 while NTSC 720x480, and as you said the pixel size is about 20% smaller.  But this 20% loss is covered with base exposure time 1/50 sec which is about 20% longer than 1/60 sec of the NTSC version.  PAL version's longest integration time is 20.48 sec (1024x1/50) that is 20% longer than 17.07 sec (1024x1/60).  The total light sensitive area of PAL is 12.97 mm square while that of NTSC 12.79 mm square!  The bottom line is that PAL version has more resolution and 1.3% more light capturing area.

 

Paul



#6 David B in NM

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 09:33 AM

I stumbled on the ability to the LN300-11673 PAL version over a year ago and have shared it with a select few on CN.  Paul and Charles were the most recent purchasers.  I wasn't sure if it was a freak of nature or not.  To test the consistancy, I ordered one every now and then.  When I found the performance was the same I recommended it (behind the scenes on CN via pm).  I wanted to compare the NTSC LN300 with the PAL version (RJ11 DSP models).

 

I purchased an LN300-11672, AVS DSO and Mallincam Micro about a year ago for comparsion testing.  AVS only offered an NTSC version (ICX810) while Mallincam offered both a PAL and NTSC version.  To retain "controlled" tests I was left little choice.  I had to order an NTSC Micro.  They only offered the ICX672 ccd at the time.

 

This thread will be of little to no use to AVS DSO owners.  AVS flashes the camera's Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and increases the gain.

 

My past posts on CN have stated I saw no difference in performance between a stock LN300 and Mallincam Micro.  I was honest and truthful.  The only difference was the Micro was pre-wired for RS485 and had a Red LED.  Both had the same features, factory defaults, DSP, menu and even the same "heat shield".

 

This thread may be of some use to those with an NTSC Micro or Micro Super.  When we get to the "auto settings".  Our indoor tests have proven it works well.  Weather has prevented us fro testing it outside.  Of course, these settings will result in mono images.  However, you may find you have a mini-mono XTerminator in your possession.

 

Since I feel the stock LN300 and Micro (and now Micro Super) share the same operating characteristcs, those with a PAL Micro/Micro Super will very likely find this thread may be of use to them.  The color settings and other suggested settings we'll present in this thread, could benefit you.

 

David B in NM


Edited by David B in NM, 25 June 2015 - 09:35 AM.

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#7 photo444

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:37 AM

Another confirmation of the LN300-PAL's performance.  It looks very consistent with Charles' M13.  I believe Charles use 6"SCT with x0.5 reducer (6"F5) and mine is 6"F5 also but thew camera was mounted on the prime focus of the mirror (no secondary mirror).  Charles' M13 appears wider field than mine, indicating the reduction could have been more than x0.5.  At that time the frame grabber did not support 720x576 so it came out 720x480.  Dark lines on the right are due to some of lent from a cleaning q-tip.  The frame was SENSE-UP x32 (0.61 sec), Brightness 99, AGC HIGH, 3DNR 5, Expoure AUTO, and GAMMA 1.0.  The sky was with strong LP in suburban NJ. 

 

Paul

Attached Thumbnails

  • M13 LN300 PAL single  X32.jpg

Edited by photo444, 25 June 2015 - 10:41 AM.

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#8 David B in NM

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 11:01 AM

Paul has "partially" touched on what we call the "auto setting" in the image above.  The auto setting is:

 

In the EXPOSURE menu (first icon on left) the:

 

1.  LENS is set to AUTO

2.  BRIGHTNESS is set to 99. 

3.  AGC is turned OFF

4.  SENSE UP is used for the INTEGRATION (not the old way using the LENS).

 

The camera's DSP controls the processing and the noise level is lower with AGC off (at least our indoor tests illustrate this). 

 

The NTSC versions of the LN300 RJ11 versions (to include the Micro and Micro Super) will display a very quick mono image.

 

The PAL versions of the LN300 RJ11 versions (to include the Micro and Micro Super) will (should) display a very quick color image.

 

The ENHANCE menu (7th menu icon from the left) controls the GAMMA and DNR.

 

Gamma is used to adjust the image brightness.

 

DNR is always set to 5.

 

The only settings a person needs to adjust are:

 

SENSE UP  and  GAMMA.

 

The camera's DSP does a good job using the "auto setting".  It applies the amount of gain required even if the AGC is off.

 

David B in NM


Edited by David B in NM, 25 June 2015 - 11:02 AM.

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#9 David B in NM

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:04 PM

I was informed by Elaine at "miraclecottage" on ebay the last camera on ebay has sold.  She said she'll list 5 cameras on July 1st.  The last link in this post "should be" the store she'll list them under:

 

http://www.cloudynig...-pal/?p=6649734

 

David B in NM


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#10 Hilbily

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 07:12 PM

Thanks for posting the results of this inexpensive camera, very interesting that it behaves so differently from the NTSC version.



#11 tjay

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 09:12 AM

So basically, I would need this camera, a power suppy, a C Mount Adapter, a focal reducer and frame grabber to be good to go?

 

Thanks for posting this! 



#12 David B in NM

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 09:33 AM

So basically, I would need this camera, a power suppy, a C Mount Adapter, a focal reducer and frame grabber to be good to go?

 

Thanks for posting this! 

 

Tom,

 

I recommend this focal reducer and NP combo.  Normally the Seller accepts a $25 best offer.  It's the same reducer combo Charles used in his sample images earlier in this thread:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...=item339aa86b3f

 

You will need a 12v center positive power supply with a 2.1mmx5.5mm plug.

 

In addition to the power supply you'd also need a power/video cable and a BNC adapter.  Some links in this post may help you.

 

http://www.cloudynig...n300/?p=6454388

 

If you use a PC you'll also need a grabber as you mentioned above.  If you don't use a pc, you'll need a monitor.

 

We are calling this a turn-key camera because it does have buttons on the rear of the camera to control the OSD.  The camera is tiny and the buttons are too.  A pencil with an eraser would mbe very useful to press the buttons (the eraser end).

 

David B in NM


Edited by David B in NM, 27 June 2015 - 09:35 AM.


#13 Censustaker

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 01:52 PM

Darn! Wish I had seen these settings before I went to Joshua Tree this weekend.

 

 

 

Paul has "partially" touched on what we call the "auto setting" in the image above.  The auto setting is:

 

In the EXPOSURE menu (first icon on left) the:

 

1.  LENS is set to AUTO

2.  BRIGHTNESS is set to 99. 

3.  AGC is turned OFF

4.  SENSE UP is used for the INTEGRATION (not the old way using the LENS).

 

The camera's DSP controls the processing and the noise level is lower with AGC off (at least our indoor tests illustrate this). 

 

The NTSC versions of the LN300 RJ11 versions (to include the Micro and Micro Super) will display a very quick mono image.

 

The PAL versions of the LN300 RJ11 versions (to include the Micro and Micro Super) will (should) display a very quick color image.

 

The ENHANCE menu (7th menu icon from the left) controls the GAMMA and DNR.

 

Gamma is used to adjust the image brightness.

 

DNR is always set to 5.

 

The only settings a person needs to adjust are:

 

SENSE UP  and  GAMMA.

 

The camera's DSP does a good job using the "auto setting".  It applies the amount of gain required even if the AGC is off.

 

David B in NM



#14 David B in NM

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 03:19 PM

Perhaps you'll get an opportunity in the future.  The image acquisition is very quick.

 

David B in NM



#15 photo444

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 12:47 AM

The sky was clear but with heavy LP and bright moon. I have tested the LN300 PAL with David's setting and the capture software AstroVideo from COAA on my 6"F5 with x0.5 FR. 

 

The scope was aimed at M51 first, the screen was bright even at x32.  M51 was barely visible but when I capture with built-in contrast adjustment the image came out even at 10 frame stack.  There was high clouds as seen in the picture.

 

The second target was M101. With LN300 PAL/AstroVideo combo imaging was very simple. It was taken by stacking 64 frames at x64.   

 

Uneven background brightness was caused by light leakage of the poorly shielded OTA.  The moon light and lights from neighboring houses were strong.

 

Paul

Attached Thumbnails

  • M51 x32 100frames.JPG
  • M101 x32 128frames.JPG

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#16 photo444

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 08:05 AM

I am glad David pointed out a couple of mistakes I made late last night.

 

The first picture is from 100 frames. But I saw detailed feature of M51 merging in even at 10 frames. x32 is 0.625 sec , If it were dark sky single longer shot will certainly do the job.  The M101 was x32 128 frames.  I tried x64 because it is dimmer target than M51, but the background was too bright. 

 

Below is out of LN300 camera, see how bright the sky was; the first was x32 (0.625 s) and the other is x64 (1.25 s).  At this kind of condition we do not need dark-frame subtraction or hot pixel correction.

 

I think there are lot more EAAers in the metropolitan area like me. This software called AstroVideo (https://www.coaa.co.uk/astrovideo.htm) does great job for EAA for those who live in RED or worse zone. It applies built-in contrast function in rea ltime and the final stacked frame is almost post-process-free. The software can do a lot more such as dark/bias frame subtraction and even drift stacking.  It works for me anyway.

 

Paul

Attached Thumbnails

  • M51 input.jpg
  • M101 input.jpg


#17 David B in NM

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 04:20 AM

It appears as though the seller listed 3 on ebay.  I don't see the remote offered.  If you're interested in the camera (and remote possibly) here's the link:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...=item4198e0a300

 

Be sure you ask for the LN300-11673 PAL Version and for the IR Filter to be removed. 

 

Delivery normally takes about 30 days to the US.  I'm not sure how long it takes for delivery to other Countries.

 

Post 6 of this thread contains a little more info:

 

http://www.cloudynig...-pal/?p=6649734

 

David B in NM



#18 patdut63fromFr

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 04:33 AM

Hello all,

 

I have a newbie question: how do you connect those cams to a PC ? And how is it possible to use them as guiding cam as mentioned somewhere in discussions around this topic ?

 

Thank you.



#19 Dragon Man

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:14 AM

Hello all,

 

I have a newbie question: how do you connect those cams to a PC ? And how is it possible to use them as guiding cam as mentioned somewhere in discussions around this topic ?

 

Thank you.

Connection is easy. Simply use an RCA (AV composite) cable, and a  Video Grabber  :waytogo:

 

Here's a Graphic I made for my website to help explain it:

 

Basic-Video-Astronomy2.jpg

 

As far as using this camera for Guiding, someone else will have to help. I don't use guiding.  :)


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#20 photo444

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:23 AM

patdut63fromFr,

 

You need frame a grabber something like this (http://www.ebay.com/...=item2ee3118a2a) or equivalent which will be plugged into a USB port on your PC or laptop.

 

From your guiding software (like PHD2 or MetaGuide) select WDM device and your frame grabber to use it as a guiding camera. Rest will be taken care of by the software.

 

Paul



#21 photo444

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:25 AM

Ken,

 

That is a great picture   for illustration!

 

Paul



#22 patdut63fromFr

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:12 AM

Thank for your quick answer.

 

Do you think this camera can be an alternative ?

 

http://fr.aliexpress...2283912829.html



#23 David B in NM

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:31 AM

I have the same camera you linked to (purchased this one):

 

http://www.securityc...-BNC-%2dUS.html

 

It's an Effio E model and has no sense up.  IMHO it's only useful for Lunar/Planetary/Solar viewing.  I don't think it would work well as a guide cam.

 

David B in NM


Edited by David B in NM, 01 July 2015 - 07:35 AM.


#24 ur7x

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:56 AM

I think there are lot more EAAers in the metropolitan area like me. This software called AstroVideo (https://www.coaa.co.uk/astrovideo.htm) does great job for EAA for those who live in RED or worse zone. It applies built-in contrast function in rea ltime and the final stacked frame is almost post-process-free. The software can do a lot more such as dark/bias frame subtraction and even drift stacking.  It works for me anyway.
 
Paul


How did you get AstroVideo to talk with your screen capture (frame grabber) device? I downloaded a demo version of AstroVideo, but it does not work with my USB screen grabber? Is there some setting that I need to adjust?
I got AstroVideo to work with webcams and the like, but it throws an error code when trying to access the frame grabber.

#25 photo444

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 09:00 AM

ur7x,

 

I am glad you are trying AstroVideo.

When you open it the menu on top the third from the left is "Driver" --> "WDM devices" 

Then your frame grabber driver name will show up.  For example, the name of my driver is "EZ Grabber".  It is the same name you have to select for other capture software.

 

Good luck!

 

Paul




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